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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 145 (November 18-26). Stories. Topic: Espionage Tricks

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message 1: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments You have until November 26th to post a story, and on November 27th-December 1st we’ll vote for the one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one story per member please!

Please keep your story between 300 and 3,500 words long. We don't reject longer ones, but they are less likely to be read.

REMEMBER! A short story is NOT a scene. It MUST have a BEGINNING, MIDDLE, and END.

This week’s topic is: Espionage Tricks

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject. I do not care, but it must relate to the story somehow.

Have fun!


message 2: by Alec (new)

Alec (downearth) | 38 comments haha, uh, what is espionage tricks?


message 3: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments Megan, let your imagination run wild: is it a double-crossing double agent or a general's secret tryst? Is it a trompe-l'œil or paranoid housewife trying to trap her gay husband? Is it the CIA spying on the FBI or teenage hackers breaking into on-line gold-mine banks.

Good luck and, above all, have fun.


message 4: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments I have a story for this, but I probably don't have the time.


message 5: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments Go for it anyway, Edward. I think I have an idea for this one too.


message 6: by Saira (new)

Saira (Herumouni) | 667 comments I JUST HAD A PROJECT! I cen incorporate my Counter-Terrorism project into a story. :D


message 7: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (aldersoj40hotmailcom) | 46 comments Andy Gavels noticed his new neighbor, Forsythia Riskin, planting tulips. He watched as the hem of her oh-so-short skirt tightened around her bottom. She was wearing high heels besides. It was midnight. She must, he chuckled, be awfully impressed with the necessity of having the neighborhood’s best yard. Nobody—except Andy—ever saw her.

But then, Andy saw everything. Andy’s buddy Earl called Andy “the espionage man.” Andy’s knowledge of the intimate details of his neighbor’s lives was something he took a great deal of pride in. The high and mighty of the neighborhood—the PTA board, the minister’s wife, the president of the teacher’s union—all of them had their secrets—and he knew them all. Who knew that the head of the PTA had spent a year off because the secretary had gotten pregnant and needed an abortion? Who knew that the president of the teacher’s union was institutionalized in a mental hospital? Who knew that the minister’s wife secretly drank gin when her husband was out of town? Andy knew. And he got a few extra dollars monthly because he was blackmailing them and other people lest their secrets be told. These were merely the plums.

Publicly people crossed the street when he came to avoid being seen with him. Privately, heh-heh, privately they were not so uppity. They could not afford to be. The only friend with whom there were no secrets was Earl Hiney. Nobody admitted to having dealings with him, either. The two of them played a game: Andy would give Earl the tantalizing details of a sin—some teenage girl had gotten pregnant—and Earl would try to guess who the sinner was. Then Earl would discuss it with one of his cronies—he had a few—and within a few days there would be all kinds of scintillating rumors about the victim. Of course, Andy never told Earl the name of the person who had committed the “crime.” Equally, of course, he kept his “plums” to himself.

She was lovely. Slender, supple—she was really quite something. Of course, he couldn’t see her face from the distance from which his house stood. Even at his age, a look at such a flower as this kindled the old spark, the flame within—the flame that got him started. For the lurid sensuality of a teenage girl with her football player boyfriend was what had gotten him started on charting other people’s sins.

She looked vulnerable, alone in the dark.

So Andy walked up to where she was.

“Forsythia…” he whispered.

Forsythia looked up. Forsythia’s eyes were like a wounded deer’s. Her black hair—down to her waist—was thick and luscious. Her legs were covered with black hose. And beside her tight silk skirt she wore a cashmere sweater.

“Do you know who I am?” Andy asked.

Forsythia, looking at him like a cat, said nothing.

“I am the secret-keeper of the neighborhood. I know everything to know about everything. Tell me your secrets, my dear.”

“I have no secrets,” Forsythia said.

“O but of course you have,” said Andy. “Everyone does. The Sunday school teacher isn’t a widow—that child she raises is out-of-wedlock.” Andy imitated, “‘But I was only sixteen. I needed some place to make a new life.’ Think of that the next time you hear her charges sing ‘Jesus loves me’ with that saccharine slut. And there are others. Not one clean soul in this neighborhood if you get my gist. Excuses. Hypocrites. All alike.”

Forsythia tilted her chin.

“I keep virtue’s mill going.”

Andy walked over to where Forsythia was and whispered in her ear, “Tell me your secrets.”

“Well, I do have one,” said Forsythia.

“Ah, let me find out myself,” said Andy. “That’s the fun part.”

“Oh, but I want you to know.”

“Really? Why?”

“Because I almost regard you as virtue’s keeper.”

“So what is it?” said Andy.

“Look down,” said Forsythia.

Andy saw blood squirting out of the earth. He tried to scream only to find and iron-gripped clutch chomped down on his throat.

“I’m a vampire.” Forsythia’s voice rang clear as a bell. “I’ve been watching you for some time.”

And then Andy Gavels went unconscious with laughter ringing in his ears.

Now if that wasn't a trick on a spy, what was?


message 8: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5262 comments Wow! Jenny, what a fantastic story! The suspense built very well to an unexpected ending. I enjoyed every word-couldn't stop. I thought that was extremely well-written and very entertaining. Well done!


message 9: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (aldersoj40hotmailcom) | 46 comments Well... thanks, Ryan, it took a lot of work to figure out what it was going to be about.


message 10: by Kate (new)

Kate | 29 comments I didn't see that coming, Jenny! Loved it!


message 11: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (aldersoj40hotmailcom) | 46 comments Thanks... I guess I built up the personality of the old man spying so that, well, the ending would be jarring.


message 12: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments Okay, I'll read yours soon, Jenny.

I wrote this in two-and-a-half hours as a sort of challenge. It's a bit straightforward for my stories, but I hope y'all like it:


message 13: by Edward (last edited Nov 23, 2012 01:22PM) (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments Lucian & Kane: Next Best Thing
Word Count: 2,076


You and your company are butchers, bastards that look at people like pieces of meat to be properly disassembled.

Detective Adam Rogers’s insult still burned in twenty-three-year-old Candido Hernandez’s thoughts as his boss Adrian Cornwall caused a similar burning in his ears. The Lucian & Kane regional project manager had continuously admonished him for the better part of an hour, speaking in his cunningly controlled voice, never once shouting or resorting to profanity. Candido quickly realized that he preferred his father’s fluent cursing to his mentor’s deep chastisement. He could blame his father; he couldn’t blame Cornwall.

“Detective Rogers was meant to be a great ally,” was Cornwall’s refrain, repeating it after making each individual point in excruciating detail. “Because of you and that buffoon you call a junior partner, he will never trust another associate of Lucian & Kane again. He seems adept at pick us out in a crowd, and he knows we’re after him. We can no longer approach him as friends.”

Candido had stopped offering a meek, “Yes, sir,” a while ago, reduced to merely nodded silently, never looking his boss in the eyes. The regional project manager had just summed up his entire chastisement, so the young operative expected his chewing-out to end momentarily.

“One more thing, then you can work on redeeming yourself in other projects.” Cornwall moved around his desk – an act made dramatic due to its rarity – and stood right beside Candido. The young man force himself to look up into his boss’s eyes. “Detective Rogers is supposed to be at the warehouse on 34th street at noon in three days. If he isn’t, three months of maneuvering will have to be reestablished before we get another chance. That’s more money than we can afford to waste on the project, potentially scrapping the whole thing and moving you from the disappointment list to the unemployed list.

“Do you understand what I am telling you?”

Candido carefully scrutinized his boss’s face, trying to find an answer to his abrupt confusion. Slowly, he replied in a questioning tone, “Detective Rogers has to be at that warehouse? Or everything goes downhill?”

Cornwall nodded sharply – then suddenly replaced himself in his seat on the other side of his desk. Candido blinked. He hadn’t seen the older man move.

“You are dismissed,” he said simply, already absorbed in paperwork once more.

Candido sat frozen for a moment before slowly standing up and extracting himself from Cornwall’s office. Outside, he found his partner and longtime friend, Jose X, waiting outside. He was sitting on a cushy bench in the middle of the hall, head leaning against the wall and fast asleep. Candido kicked him.

“Wha-what? I’m ready to fight if you are!” he declared as he stood up. Then he seemed to recognize his surrounding as the middle floors of the local Lucian & Kane high-rise. It took him another moment to recognize his best friend. “Oh, ‘sup, Dido? Boss really hard on you?’

“Not as hard as I’m going to be on you,” Candido lied. “This is really your fault.”

“Then why’re you getting the third degree and not me?”

“Because you’re my junior partner and my responsibility. The only reason Vance isn’t the one chewing me out is because he can’t afford being seen near the office for the next week. Bet I’ll get it from him too, when he returns.”

Elias Vance was their immediate boss and direct orchestrator of the plan that the dysfunctional duo had apparently ruined. When he arrives at the warehouse and finds that his pet police officer wasn’t on the scene – and, in fact, openly distrusted him – he was going to be understandably angry. At Candido, mostly likely.

The senior operative took a deep breath. “I think Cornwall wants us to salvage the situation.”

“Whoa,” Jose declared, hold his hand between himself and his friend. “Stop right there. If we’re going to have this discussion, I’m going to need a drink. Or ten.”

Candido rolled his eyes, but obliged. Fifteen minutes later they both had a lager in front of them and a bowl of peanuts between them. Jose has also ordered a burger, but the senior operative wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. Instead, he explained the end of the conversation he had with their boss.

“In the end, his point was the Detective Rogers needed to be at the warehouse – it sounded like he thought we still had a chance.”

“Bullshit,” Jose called. “Everything he said before that was absolutely dead-on. We can’t make friends with that pig. Definitely not in three days.”

“Mostly because he made you as a car thief, and, instead of playing it cool, you decided the appropriate response was to pepper spray the man in the middle of the street,” Candido pointed out scathingly.

Jose looked surprised. “It wasn’t in the middle of the street; we were safely on the sidewalk. Besides, cops make me nervous.”

“You’re not a car thief anymore – you’re an operative for Lucian & Kane. One of the good guys.”

“Clearly, the police don’t realize that.”

Candido couldn’t argue with that nor did he care to. He was silent for a moment, carefully considering his options.

“We can’t call in an anonymous tip. It has to be Detective Rogers that answers the call, and naming a particular detective may raise too many red flags.”

“Why does it haffta be Rogers?” Jose asked through a mouthful of burger.

Now that he was contemplating solutions instead of wallowing in guilt, Candido could admit that he was hungry. “Apparently he’s the only cop in the area that would know what he’s looking at.”

“Oh, some of Lucian & Kane’s hoodoo crap.”

Candido shrugged. They heard the rumors that Lucian & Kane had departments for dealing with some weird and potentially supernatural things, but neither operative in that bar had ever seen any concrete evidence for such a notion. It didn’t really matter to them, anyway; all that matter was getting Detective Rogers to that warehouse in three days. Somehow.

“Can we have someone else make the approach?” Jose suggested after Candido ordered a plate of spaghetti, clearly resigning himself to the pointless conversation.

“Use a proxy?” Candido grimaced. “Good in theory, but all of our associates outside of the firm are criminals – criminals from a neighborhood that Rogers seems to know, judging by the way he called you out.”

“What about inside the firm?”

“Cornwall doesn’t think we can risk that.”

“What about someone inside the firm loaning us a contact from outside the firm?”

The two partners stared at each other for a long moment. The bartender set Candido’s spaghetti in front of him and replaced their beers without either noticing. Jose almost seemed embarrassed.

“You want to use a friend of a friend?”

“It sounds ridiculous, but is there any reason it shouldn’t work?”

“Too many variables,” Candido answered simply. “We can’t rely on someone like that to turn a cop into an asset in three days.”

The junior operative actually pouted. “Well, fine. Then it’s impossible.”

“Pessimist,” the other scolded. “We’re probably looking at this too narrowly. Maybe we don’t need to turn Rogers – maybe a close friend or his wife – “

“As much fun as it sounds making his wife into an asset, what happens when he asks them where they got their tip-off? That has more variables than the friend-of-a-friend play.”

Jose only played dumb around others; with Candido, his intelligence was obvious – and annoying. The senior stabbed his noodles irritably. The junior downed half of his second lager. The answered occurred to Candido in one brilliant stroke while he stared at a television depicting an intense football play. He laughed suddenly and looked back at his alarmed partner.

“Ghostfingers,” he said, using his friend’s old neighborhood nickname. “If you can’t make a friend, what’s the next best thing?”

* * *


message 14: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments ***



“I still say the answer is ‘hooker,’” Jose grumbled, three days later as they waited in the diner to make their move.

“And I still say ‘making a hooker’ is nonsense,” Candido retorted. “This’ll work – it’s the plan with the least variables.”

“Yeah, but some of those variables concern whether or not I go to jail – or get shot.”

Candido ignored him, carefully studying his laptop in the table before him. He studied the map of the city, the blinking red dot, and the time as if they contained the secrets of the universe. Finally, he nodded.

“Okay, that’s as good as we’re going to get. You’ll have to head a street over – ideally right in front of that furniture store. You have maybe five minutes.”

“Damn it, Dido, I haven’t stolen a car from this area before – I don’t –“

Candido cut off his friend’s hissing. “Five minutes!”

Jose abruptly stood up and stalked out, sticking Candido with the bill. The latter sighed, dropped enough money for a thirty percent tip, and followed at a much slower pace. His partner had already vanished by the time he stepped out onto the city street. He checked his watch, laptop safely stowed in his shoulder bag. He would have to jog to make it to the warehouse in time.

In actuality, he didn’t go to the warehouse; he made it to the apartment overlooking the warehouse that his company rented so that he could watch his plan play out. He reached the empty flat out of breath, but had plenty of time to recover it before the fun started. Eyes nearly one with his binoculars, he watched.

After a short wait, he spotted a ’03 Lancer careening towards the warehouse at a clip generally considered dangerous in the city – and empty country roads. Candido laughed and looked behind the stolen car, spotting the nondescript sedan that had been outfitted with red and blue lights in the grill and astoundingly loud sirens. Unless some extraordinary mix up had occurred, Detective Rogers was in that vehicle.

He looked back at the Lancer just in time to see it crash spectacularly through the warehouse door, twisting flimsy tin around weak fiberglass and instigating an alarmed chorus of dog barking over several blocks. The police car slowed to a stop behind the damage and two men got out, drawing pistols as they approached. Candido could tell, even from this distance, that one of the gunslingers was Detective Rogers. They found cover around the damage, undoubtedly waiting for backup.

Whatever transaction took place inside that warehouse, the perpetrators were undoubtedly spooked, and they had no way of moving their merchandise past the cops. They and their merchandise were bottled in, and Detective Rogers was on the scene. Candido allowed himself a cheer of wild abandon, celebrating his simple, but brilliant checkmate.

If an operative couldn’t make a friend, the next best thing was an enemy. Jose, the best car thief in their neighborhood and now a thorn in the Detective’s side, only had a steal a car in front of him and Detective Rogers would go wherever he led. Friend or enemy, Candido controlled his actions.

This more than saved the senior operative’s career. Had he simply turned the Detective into a friendly asset, he would’ve merely kept a clean record. By turning a failure into a victory, he undoubtedly earned more respect than he would have otherwise. Lucian & Kane was no ordinary organization. They didn’t need mere chess players, but chess masters.

In that moment, having proved himself something close to that lofty goal, Candido felt on top of the world.

* * *

By the time back up arrived, the black market traders had become desperate and, most of them unwilling to explain their mysterious items, took the joy rider as a hostage. In the confrontation that followed, several of the criminals were killed, two cops were shot, but Jose survived to be arrested and convicted of grand theft auto, vandalism, and public endangerment. His attempts to make a deal to turn on Lucian & Kane were ignored as absurd.

Detective Rogers made sure that the merchandise remained indefinitely in police evidence. The surviving criminals were convicted of a myriad of crimes, creating a vacuum in the criminal underworld – a vacuum soon filled in by Lucian & Kane operatives.

Jose made his desire for revenge very well known. A month into his incarceration, he was killed in the mess hall. Although he was never caught, the killer was a man by the name of Norman Lawhead.


message 15: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments Excellent story, Jenny, and it certainly lacks nothing in narrative. I did think it odd that such a proficient spy would simply ask for a secret, though. Also, the last line seems to weaken the effect; the irony is clear without lampshading it. That said, I did like the irony of the old man appearing to be in control, when the "young" lady was. I also like the fact that you made me pause on her name, so that the vampire revelation was more of an "Oh, I see," than a "Huh? Why?"


message 16: by Tim (last edited Nov 26, 2012 08:00AM) (new)

Tim | 71 comments Leaflet

Ministry document: 2151616ii
Provenance: undetermined

     I am a spy for a different culture. I dress just like you; I have no detectable accent. I will marry one of your kind. My children will play with your children, they will go to each other's birthday parties.

     You will suspect, or course, but you will put it down to your prejudicial upbringing. You will cut me some slack, because at heart you are more compassionate than your politicians would have you believe.

     You needn't be afraid: I mean you no harm. But I do take my job seriously and will sacrifice myself if necessary. If there is collateral damage, well, that is the nature of espionage.

     From a certain perspective, one might view our agents as counter-terrorists. And, you must admit, your culture is renowned for spreading terror, both abroad and amongst your populace. Terror is the great stick with which you beat your subjects, and your subjects are many.

     Our greatest thinkers have debated how to counter your threat. Perhaps the only answer is complete eradication, but then we would be forced to employ the strategies and techniques of
your culture, the very behaviour against which we fight. I suspect that those who speak most loudly for the annihilation of your culture are themselves moles trying to turn us into agents of your culture.

     But my job is not to question the directors of our organization. My job is to be the eyes and ears, to report back to our people before you strike. With sufficient advance warning the worst atrocities might be avoided.

     The following highlights some of the atrocities perpetrated by your culture: Death squads in Central America, genocide in Rwanda, Nanking, Hiroshima, the firebombing of Dresden, the Final Solution, the Black Hole of Calcutta, Tripolitsa, Chios, the Alibigensian massacre, the Bonfire of the Vanities, the sack of Carthage, the burning of the library at Alexandria, the Assyrian Reign of Terror, the Talheim Death Pits.

     I could go on and on.

     You could go on and on.

     Or you could join us.


     Cormac turned the sheet over and examined it for clues, something forensics might have missed. Nothing. The report identified the paper as typical of the stationery available at big box stores, likewise the printer ink. The typeface was default, purposely generic.

     The content wasn't especially threatening, but anything calling for the overthrow of the order had to be given due consideration.

     Its provenance was hazy. The single sheet leaflet began to appear between the leaves of books sold at various chain outlets several months ago. It was thought at first to be a publisher's gimmick, but the books and magazines in which the leaflet had been inserted indicated no particular publisher, consortium or trade special interest group. In fact, there had been no discernible pattern at all, even as far as the subject matter of the publications in which the leaflet had appeared. And yet...

     The phenomenon was widespread. Follow up with remote branches of the ministry indicated that the leaflet had appeared simultaneously not only in every major global city, but in minor towns as well. It defied traditional epidemiological models.

     Cormac stared accusingly at the contents of his styrofoam cup, as if the answer to the problem was hidden in the random distribution of coffee grounds.

     Success of a political tract lies not in its aesthetic qualities but in its efficacy. Had the leaflet actually changed anything? It was too early to tell. Violent crime had indeed declined, but not in any statistically meaningful way. The decline could just as easily be attributed to an aging demographic.

     Cormac dropped the cup into the wastebasket. The situation would need to be monitored. Which is to say, Cormac decided to do nothing.


message 17: by Tim (new)

Tim | 71 comments What's going on here? Now Edward's comments have disappeared!


message 18: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments Indeed. I was waiting to see when you finished messing with your post (and my head). I loved it, but the way, especially the last line.


message 19: by Tim (new)

Tim | 71 comments Thanks, Edward. I was just having a little fun, letting my inner trickster come out to play.
I enjoyed your story. Have you ever written for TV or film? As I read it I could easily imagine it playing out on the screen, edgy music in the background.

Jenny- entertaining story. I was suitably surprised by the ending. Vampires... you never know where they'll turn up next.


message 20: by Edward (new)

Edward (EdwardThereseJr) | 2434 comments No, I've never written a script. Well, I did write one goof-off piece about zombies, but that one didn't even contain a real plot.

I do have ideas for two different television series, though. Unfortunately, I doubt I'd ever be able to pull those together - one of them isn't really marketable, and the other would probably be corrupted by viewership demands.

Thanks for reading. I'll expand on that and its two companion stories eventually.


message 21: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (aldersoj40hotmailcom) | 46 comments Tim--well, I suppose I could have used a more unique creature, but I do what I can. Once I wrote a story about an elderly bachelor who found a naiad at his doorstep. I don't know how that's relevant. It just is.


message 22: by Tim (new)

Tim | 71 comments Jenny- that sounds intriguing. I like the idea of the supernatural popping up where you least expect it.


message 23: by Saira (new)

Saira (Herumouni) | 667 comments Wish I had had the time for mine.


message 24: by Guy (new)

Guy (egajd) | 10976 comments Entertaining stories, Tim and Edward and Jenny. Jenny I enjoyed the irony of the neighbour spy failing to detect the vampire in the neighbourhood. Edward, clean writing and fun. Tim, as always, creative and interesting. I would have liked to have seen Cormac going into hiding because of trumped up paedophilia charges.


message 25: by M (new)

M | 10156 comments I have a feeling Andy would have been better off if he had wondered why he was the only one who ever saw Forsythia. I didn’t expect the ending in Jenny’s story about the wages of sticking one’s nose into others’ business.

Edward’s “Lucian & Kane: The Next Best Thing” is a hoot to read, the dialog witty and engaging, the plot carefully worked out. I was a little disappointed at the end that Jose gets sent to the slammer, and especially that he’s murdered, but it’s a device that makes the story slightly shocking, a sort of literary palate cleanser, that makes it seem as though the events in it could really have happened.

I found Tim’s “Leaflet” thought provoking. I don’t think Cormac has anything to worry about, however. If Western man had, collectively, the kind of introspection that would make him inclined to give up the age-old foolishness the spy is supposedly here to monitor, such a spy would be unnecessary in the first place. If the letter could change anything, far more eloquent appeals by poets and philosophers would have done so long ago.


message 26: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie  (ChasmofBooks) | 2868 comments Congratulations to Edward who took first place in the polls this week

Tim pulled in at second place and Jenny arrived at third place.

I didn't get to read any of the stories but I'm sure they were great. Thanks for participating, everyone!


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