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Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 247 (Jan 29-Feb 5). Stories. Topic: Investigator

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message 1: by Ryan (last edited Jan 29, 2015 02:34AM) (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments You have until February 5th to post a story, and February 6th - 8th we’ll vote for which 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.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Investigator

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Have fun!

Thank you to Joseph for suggesting the topic!

message 2: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Awesome! This might give me the motivation to work on a story I've been wanting to write for a while now...

message 3: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Oh, have I got the perfect story for this prompt. You may have seen the synopsis for "Sex and Lies" in the Story Ideas thread, but in case you haven't, here it is:


Tommy Spears, Evasive Ex-Husband
Bill Osborne, Detective

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Bill Osborne is an investigator. That’s how he found Tommy Spears in the first place.

SYNOPSIS: After losing a divorce case, Tommy goes off the grid so that he doesn’t have to pay alimony to his wife. He eventually gets captured by police and interrogated about the matter by Bill, who shows him photographs of Mrs. Spears living on the streets with her baby boy. Tommy refuses to have sympathy for her since he claims she lied in court to win the divorce case. It gets personal for Bill when Tommy shows the same coldness toward his baby son.

FUN FACT: The title is taken from a Nothing More song of the same name.

message 4: by Edward (last edited Feb 03, 2015 07:19PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments This is a character I've been thinking about writing for a long time, and here is my introduction to her. Took about two hours to write (stream of consciousness, you are my friend)

Title : The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Mystery
Word Count : 2081
Rating : U

When Antimony Holmes turned six years old, she received a very special gift, one that would stick by her through thick and thin throughout the years to come.

It was a boxed set of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, and having read them she instantly fell in love.

From A Study in Scarlet to The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place, Antimony ate them all up with gusto. And it helped that she could imagine that she was one of Sherlock’s distant relatives, what with them sharing a surname and all. It’s probably why we became friends in the first place.

After all, my name is Watson.

The only problem was, once she’d started reading the fifty-six short stories and four novels contained in the two large volumes, she started to see mysteries everywhere she looked.

At school, if someone lost a pen, she’d assume there was something sinister behind the disappearance, even if it had just rolled under a desk.

At home, if one of her parents was working late, she assumed that there was some sort of conspiracy involved to prevent them from being at home and suspected that someone would break into their house a kidnap her or one of her siblings, holding them to ransom.

But so far none of her imaginings had ever come true.

Until Antimony turned seven.

Her birthday party had been arranged for the Saturday afternoon before she turned actually turned seven, so as luck would have it she’d be getting all of her presents early this year. I was the first of her friends to arrive, and sat patiently at the dining room table. Her fifteen year old brother, Bromine, had been allowed to invite a couple of his friends along, and they were hogging the TV so none of Antimony’s friends could watch when they arrived. They were playing X-Box, and making an awful lot of noise about it. Bromine’s friend Mickey was picking his nose, then touching the pads on the controller. Antimony made a mental note to wipe the controls down before she had a go. The other kid was called Albert, and he looked shifty. He kept looking round the room, examining things, appraising them, as if he was planning on taking something. Antimony narrowed her eyes at him; she’d have to keep an eye out for anything that might go missing and remember to check Albert’s bag before he left.

Her younger sister, Astatine, was sat in a corner, playing with her doll’s house. She was pretending to feed her toys cups of tea from a plastic tea set, which made her look a little on the crazy side in my opinion, but at least she was being quiet. And not hogging the TV like some people I could mention.

Antimony’s oldest friend Violet was the next to arrive. She was holding a large box in her arms, wrapped in paper that was covered in ponies. Ponies were Antimony’s second great passion, after mystery novels.

“Hey, Mony,” Violet beamed, having not seen her friend since the day before, “Happy birthday.”

“It isn’t until Tuesday,” Antimony replied, graciously taking the box from Violet, “but thank you.”

“Welcome,” Violet said, running into the living room to play. She stopped short when she saw the three older boys, then looked at Antimony.

“Where can we play?” she asked.

“Don’t worry about them,” Antimony reassured her, “they’ll be fine, just grab a seat.”

Violet looked at the boys nervously as Antimony took the present into the next room, placing it on the kitchen counter. Violet thought about sitting in the living room, then changed her mind and had a seat at the dining room table next to me. She gave me a little smile. We weren’t close.

“Hello Violet,” I said weakly.

“Hello Willa,” she replied, then turned her attention to where Mrs Holmes had laid out plates of food. There were sandwiches filled with cheese, ham and lettuce, fairy cakes decorated with tiny ponies, bottles of orange squash as well as lemonade and cola, and a box of chocolates – Cadbury’s Favourites, to be exact. They’d been a present from Antimony’s grandma, who hadn’t been able to make it due to an ongoing illness that had left her bedridden. I couldn’t help noticing Violet watching the box, but she looked away when she caught me watching..

I glanced away from the food to where Antimony was standing close to the front door, still waiting for the rest of her guests. As they arrived one by one, she greeted them each cordially and guided them into the living room. Inevitably, they all veered away and ended up at the dining room table with Violet and myself.

Mr and Mrs Holmes soon emerged from where they had been preparing a birthday cake for Antimony – I say preparing, but what I mean is putting candles on the store-bought sponge they’d picked up in the morning. They walked cautiously into the kitchen, carrying the cake box between them, and started to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. All us kids joined in.

As they approached the dining room table, Antimony’s little sister Astatine waddled into the room, carrying one of her doll’s in one hand. It was a character from Frozen – I’m not sure which one; Anna or Elsa, I never watched it – and it dangled from her hand by one arm. With the other hand she started to tug at her mum’s skirt.

“Mum, can you tell Bromine!” she said, not clear on what he should actually be told.

“What’s the matter, honey?” her mum asked calmly, “What has he done?”

“Nothing,” Astatine admitted, “I just think that Antimony should have the room – it is her birthday, after all.”

Mrs Holmes smiled at her four year old daughter, then gave Mr Holmes a look. He rolled his eyes behind his glasses, then headed into the living room.

“But dad!” we could hear Bromine shouting after his father had spoken quietly to him, “You guys said I could play games with my friends.”

“Not in the living room,” Mr Holmes said more silently than his son, “you know it’s your sister’s birthday.”

“I got her a card, didn’t I?” Bromine replied.

“No, your mother and I got her a card and you signed it! You didn’t even get her a present.”

“Well, it’s not like I have a job or anything,” Bromine replied haughtily – I don’t know what he had to be haughty about, admitting he didn’t have a job. He’d never even had a paper round as far as I was aware.

“Just go to your room,” Mr Holmes said in a defeated tone, “you can take the X-Box up there if you want.”

Noisily, Bromine stormed up to his room, his two friends unhooking the game console and following him up the stairs.

“Come on kids,” Mr Holmes said, coming back into the dining room, “let’s take it into the living room.”

Antimony’s guest started to file into the living room as Mr and Mrs Holmes picked up the plates of food and drink to take in to them. As they did so, Mrs Holmes noticed something was wrong.

message 5: by Edward (last edited Jan 29, 2015 03:50PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

“Malcolm, honey, have you seen the box of sweets?”

“They were on the table a moment ago,” Mr Holmes replied, gesturing toward the dining room table, “they probably just fell on the floor.”

Mrs Holmes crouched down on all fours, lifting the linen cloth and peering under the table.

“It’s not here,” she said, looking at her husband, “where could they have gone to?”

“I think I have an idea,” Mr Holmes fumed, marching up the stairs to Bromine’s room.

Antimony watched him leave, then approached the table, looking at something on the linen. A chocolate covered finger print was on the table cloth, a perfect smear in the middle of the table. Antimony looked at it closely, picking something from the cloth, then walked back towards me.

“I don’t think this was Bromine,” Antimony mused, silently confiding in me.

“Why not?” I asked, puzzled by her certainty that her rebellious brother wasn’t responsible for the missing chocolate box.

“Call it a hunch,” Antimony grinned, “Come Watson, the game is afoot.”

I rolled my eyes. Sherlock Holmes had, according to Antimony, only said these words once, in the 1904 story The Adventure of the Abbey Grange, but I guess it was such a famous quotation that she couldn’t resist. This was, after all, her first real mystery.

Voices could be heard from upstairs, raised voices as Bromine declared his innocence, “I didn’t take no stupid chocolates! You’re always blaming me!”

Mr Holmes walked back into the dining room, looking dejectedly at his wife.

“He doesn’t have them, Gabby,” he said.

“Then where could they have gotten to?” Mrs Holmes asked rhetorically.

Antimony walked into the living room, where her friends all sat around on the floor playing with her new toys, and I followed her. She walked slowly amongst them, watching them keenly, as I watched her from the corner of the room. She passed her sister Astatine who had somehow managed to worm her way into the birthday celebration with her doll’s house and Frozen toy, and she gave her a smile, then Antimony’s gaze stopped next to Violet, a concerned look on her face.

I think she’d found her culprit.

“Can everyone be quiet please,” Antimony said loudly, causing everyone to stop playing, “there has been a theft.”

Mr and Mrs Holmes heard this from the dining room, and rushed into us, looking appalled that their daughter was accusing an entire room of children of being thieves. I smiled as I watched the action unfold – I’d never much liked Violet anyway.

“A box filled with chocolates has gone missing from the dining room, and I suspect that someone in this room knows where they are.

“At first,” she continued, “I suspected, as my parents did, that my brother Bromine was responsible for the missing sweets. However, although he may have had the motive, he did not have the opportunity. At no time between the chocolates being on the table and going missing did Bromine actually enter the kitchen.”

Mr and Mrs Holmes looked down at their feet, obviously feeling guilty about blaming their innocent son.

“Therefore my suspicions next lay at the feet of Violet Johnson...” Antimony announced. I smiled, waiting for the accusation.

“...Although she may have had ample opportunity,” Antimony continued, “and clearly coveted the said confectionary as I observed from when she’d been sat at the table, it is clear from her clean hands and a lack of any hiding place for the chocolates that she is also innocent.”

I furrowed my brow. If it wasn’t Violet, then who could it have been?

“It was then that I started looking closer to home,” Antimony said, “I noticed when I first checked the area where the chocolate had been that there was a brown, chocolaty fingerprint, most likely left by the thief... even from a distance I could see it was too small to have belonged to my brother, thus clearing him once again, but upon closer inspection I could see, by comparing it to my own hand, that the print was also much smaller than my own.”

Smaller than her own? Then who was left?

“There was also a strange material on the cloth,” Antimony observed, “a small piece of shiny fabric that, although I didn’t instantly recognise it, has since struck a chord.

“Finally,” Antimony concluded, “as I walked around the living room, I noticed another fingerprint, similar to the one on the table cloth. This one was on...

“...The doll’s house!”

Everyone looked at the doll’s house, then at the little girl sitting next to it. Astatine started to cry as Antimony approached her.

“I only wanted my dollies tea party to be more real!” she blubbed, as Antimony opened the front of the doll’s house to reveal the missing box chocolates.

“My word, Antimony,” I said to her from across the room, “However did you know?”

“It was the piece of material that convinced me of the solution,” Antimony revealed, “once I saw the print on the doll’s house I suddenly remembered where I had seen the piece of material before. It was a piece of the snowflake cape on Astatine’s Elsa doll!”

“I don’t know how you put it all together,” I mused, shaking my head.

“Why my dear Watson,” Antimony Holmes smiled at me with pride, “it was elementary.”

message 6: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Sex and Lies
GENRE: Crime Drama
RATING: PG-13 for swearing

The white-painted walls of an interrogation room can be more claustrophobia-inducing and intimidating than prison itself. If he was frightened out of his wits, Tommy Spears wasn’t showing it. He sat at the steel table opposite of the one-way glass with his fingers tapping against the metal and his foot tapping impatiently. He didn’t fit the profile of a criminal necessarily. He had a neatly shaved head, a friendly brown beard, and wore a maroon sweater with tan khakis. Someone from the opposite gender might have called him “handsome” at one point. However, Tommy was here for a reason and he knew full well what it was.

To remind him of those charges was Detective Bill Osborne, a horseshoe-patterned haired, middle-aged man who walked through the door donning a gray suit and blue tie and carrying a thick file folder. Bill slowly sat across from Tommy and slammed the file down on the table, never taking his deathly eyes off of the would-be criminal. Tommy’s mood refused to change. No matter what kind of look Bill shot him, he swore in his own mind he was in the right.

Bill folded his hands across the steel table and said, “You won’t need a lawyer for this conversation, Mr. Spears. You know why you’re here. You know you screwed up badly. You can claim innocence all you want, but we’ve been keeping track of your electronic payments and they’re not looking good.”

He opened the file and looked at it as if he was reading a splatter-punk novel. The charges weren’t anywhere near as violent as that, but Tommy was starting to tell that Bill was taking this personally. Detective Osborne said, “For the last eight months, there hasn’t been a peep from you. No phone calls, no reporting into work, no digital footprint, nothing. Even more disturbing is your payment history; there is none. As of today, you owe your ex-wife $8,500 in unpaid alimony. That pretty much explains where you’ve been for the past eight months: trying to get out of these payments. That, Mr. Spears, is completely unacceptable to me.”

Tommy itched his beard and said, “You know what’s unacceptable to me, Detective? Lying in court, that’s what. I don’t know if you’ve been following the goddamn divorce case, but my now ex-wife lied about being ‘emotionally abused’ and my ‘drug problems’ the whole time. I tried to tell that jury God’s honest truth. I tried to tell them about how many guys she slept with and about how our only son was somebody else’s. But because she had a better lawyer and a better tasting bullshit, she’s the one who gets the alimony. Where’s all your zeal now, Dickhead Tracy?”

Bill furrowed his brows and let his jowls tremble in anger before he methodically flipped through the file and began pulling out photographs. Each of these photographs depict Mrs. Spears and her baby boy living out in the streets with blankets wrapped around them and their hands in front of garbage can fires. Tommy wasn’t the least bit moved by these pictures, but Bill was just getting the ball rolling.

The detective said, “Truth is, I don’t know what happened in that divorce case and quite frankly I don’t give a good goddamn. What happened in that courtroom has already taken place and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Those officers dragged you into my interrogation room for a reason, Mr. Spears. Thanks to your negligence in paying your alimony, your ex-wife and son now have to live on the streets instead of in a nice warm home. Yes, your payments were probably expensive. But they were also necessary in keeping those two indoors.”

A smug grin spread across Tommy’s face as he folded his hands in confidence and said, “That’s real cute, Detective Osborne. But if I wanted a sob story, I would have read ‘The Goddamn Fault in Our Stars‘. My wife had an endless supply of fake sob stories. She made me look like a complete jerk in that courtroom. And now she has the nerve to…pose for these pictures? For what, another handout?”

Bill slammed the table with open hands and stood up to get in his suspect’s face, which erased the smug smile in a huge hurry. With an angry whisper, the investigator said, “The more I talk to you, the more I think that Mrs. Spears wasn’t lying in court. You say she made you look like a jerk? Well, I don’t think you needed her help in that regard.”

The cop trembled in anger with his veins getting ready to blow, which started to bring on trembling with in Tommy Spears as well. Bill Osborne took a few deep breaths through his widened nose and sat back down. He said, “I don’t even know what the hell I’m doing here to begin with, Mr. Spears. You’re automatically guilty. But now that I think about it, I was going to offer you a plea deal to try to lighten your sentence. But since you decided to make an ass of yourself in my interrogation room, I’ll make sure you get the maximum. Have fun in prison.”

Bill folded up the file and got up to leave. Tommy stopped him with a, “Wait!” The cop turned around and gave him a devilish glare. Nervous, evasive ex-husband followed up with, “What exactly was the plea deal?”

“Oh, NOW you’re interested. You didn’t give a damn before because you thought this was all going to blow away. But now that you’re caught in your own goddamn game, you suddenly want to hear me out. How convenient!”

“Please, just tell me what the deal was. I mean…I have the right to know what’s happening to me, don’t I?”

“So it’s about rights and responsibilities now, is it? You don’t give two damns about your wife and child freezing to death on the streets, but you have a sudden interest in keeping yourself out of jail. You are the worst kind of degenerate scum there is, Mr. Spears. I’m not so sure I want to be in the same room as you anymore. I’m going to get the prison van ready for you now.”

“HEY!!” yelled Tommy as he stood up to confront the menacing detective. He continued his shouting oratory with, “Look, I know I haven’t been the perfect husband! My wife made that very clear to me in court! And yes, I was pissed off for the longest time about how things went down! But you know what?! That’s what divorces make people do, Detective Osborne! These alimony payments weren’t just part of some stupid law; they were a way to get in my head! Sometimes relationships end badly! Sometimes people hate each other afterwards! Do you not understand what the hell’s going on here, Detective?!”

“Of course I understand how badly divorces can end. I was a married man once myself. Now it’s all over and she gets a portion of my paycheck every week. That’s why I don’t get in relationships anymore. If you didn’t want your relationship to end badly, you shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. You say divorce does weird things to people? What about marriage itself?! What about all the fights and the arguments?! You think I’m forgetting about those anytime soon?! If I have to pay up, you have to pay up too! It’s only fair! Now sit down and wait for the officers to come pick you up!”

Tommy slowly eased into his metal chair and said in a soft voice, “Just so you know, Detective, the only reason I had any money at all was because I was staying with another woman while I was off the grid. She’s awesome. She’s truthful. She’s hot. But if my relationship with her ends when I go to jail, then I won’t have any regrets. You’re forcing your own unhappiness on other people and I’M supposed to be the scumbag?”

Those last few words stung Detective Bill Osborne, mostly because there was a little bit of truth to them. He left the interrogation room with a saggy frown on his face and with a stomping pace.

That whole interrogation had been about jealousy and nothing more. Bill wanted everyone around him to empathize with his own heartache and he lost sight of his duties as a cop along the way. He thought about this as he sat at his desk typing up a report on his computer. He had been there the entire night despite the fact that paperwork was the easiest thing about his job. Several cops and detectives said, “Goodnight” to Bill and he just waved them off haphazardly.

When he was sure everybody was gone from the building, including the infamous Tommy Spears, Bill pulled up a new window on his computer and typed in the web address of a dating site. It only took him a few minutes to create a profile and upload a picture. He looked at his picture and said, “God, I look awful.”

And yet, despite his lack of confidence, he got his first email within half an hour of creating his profile. The woman was cute. She liked the same kind of music Bill did. They both believed in the same things politically. This was too good of an opportunity to let slip by.

Even so, Bill almost did. He took a deep breath as his hand shook over the mouse to reluctantly click the inbox folder. The message he got was along the lines of, “Hi! How’s it going?” With unsteady fingers, Bill typed in his equally simple reply of, “Hello. I‘m getting ready to go home. How are you?”

Bill Osborne hadn’t seen this kind of interaction in a while. It made him nervous, and yet, it was exciting as well. He couldn’t wait to meet this woman and start the love cycle all over again at the age of 43.

message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Nothing to do with topic but just got my first review on Amazon.

Cigerets, Guns & Beer on Kindle http://bit.ly/1yMiVR6,

Thanks to everyone in the group!

message 8: by Joci (last edited Jan 30, 2015 02:43PM) (new)

Joci (kdemiweall) | 434 comments Edward wrote: "This is a character I've been thinking about writing for a long time, and here is my introduction to her. Took about two hours to write (stream of consciousness, you are my friend)

Title : The Adv..."

Excellent, Edward! I'm myself a big fan of Sherlock Holmes books and series (especially those from BBC). I loved the way you took all of that "magic" and put it in the "eyes and mind" of a child. It just flew so well and perfect. I'm looking forward to reading more of her character and her fellow Watson. :)

message 9: by Phillip (last edited Jan 30, 2015 03:18PM) (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments All of my stories about Nick St. Bohr, and the week I think about branching out we do Investigator. Must be a sign.

Just posted a review of Rayne Hall's Twitter for Writers in my blog Wind Eggs
for those of you exploring Twitter to promo your books. She has good tips for novice writers looking to hone their writing skills on how to eavesdrop on Tweets from pros.

message 10: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Jocilene wrote: " Excellent, Edward! I'm myself a big fan of Sherlock Holmes books and series (especially those from BBC). I loved the way you took all of that "magic" and put it in the "eyes and mind" of a child."

Glad you liked it. I'm hoping I can adapt this as a prologue to a full book, and make the mysteries Antimony solves more complicated as the book progresses. Fans of Holmes might also notice that the title is lifted from one of Doyle's short stories!

message 11: by Joci (new)

Joci (kdemiweall) | 434 comments Edward wrote:

I did notice that, too. :)

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Here is my short story submission for the topic: Investigator. Feedback is ALWAYS welcome!

Curious Mist by Melissa Andres
Word Count: 1,299

She winced as he leaned back in his antique wooden office chair; the squeak reverberating in her ears.

"So, what can I do for ya, doll?" The man, a grey suit hanging on his thin frame asked.

She watched warily as he placed the heels of his size eleven wingtips on the edge of the scratched desk, crossed his ankles and lit a cigarette.

"I hear you're the best," Yvonne Hyland stated. Plucking a silver nameplate from atop a stack of books, the young woman ran a manicured fingernail along its engraving.


A ring of smoke encircled the man's greasy black locks and slowly dissipated throughout the small, dimly-lit room.

"Don't wanna toot my own horn ..." Sebastian grinned and shrugged lazily.

Yvonne crossed her long legs nervously, rubbing her moist palms on her tight black skirt.

"So's your husband or boyfriend carousing with another dame?" The P.I. leaned forward, crushed his cigarette butt into an ash-laden tray and licked his chapped lips. "Or ya got an enemy you wanna get some dirt on and get sweet revenge?"

Shuffling coffee-stained papers, Sebastian Kelley discreetly ogled his potential new client's cleavage. The woman had to be at least twenty years his junior and quite stunning.

Yvonne noticed the man's roaming eyes and batted dark lashes seductively. "No, no, nothing like that, Mr. Kelley. I have no boyfriend, no husband either." She opened her pocketbook, extracting a thick wad of hundred dollar bills. "And, I have no enemies, at least not to my knowledge."

The man's mouth began to salivate at the smell of the cash that was being pushed across his desk. His stubbled chin quivered. "So, why ya here, toots?" Sebastain tapped his wrist watch. "Time is money."

"I need to have, well, an investigation done."

Loosening his tie, the investigator laughed; an awkward, false and forced sound. "You've come to the right place, babe. Gimme details. I'll give you a price."

Rising from her cracked leather chair, Yvonne walked to the smudged window and looked out upon the city of Hannity Falls. She had never wanted to move to this place. She had never wanted the house, the memories; the hassles.

"I've inherited a home from my grandmother who recently passed away, Mr. Kelley." She touched the pane with her forehead as she watched a teenage boy and his hound dog cross the street and amble down the sidewalk. "Something is going on inside the house and I'm terribly frightened."

Sebastian's thick brows connected curiously and he lit another cigarette. "What kind of 'something'? Like a Peeping Tom?" He wouldn't have blamed any man for coveting the woman's hour-glass figure.

"Inside the house, Mr. Kelley." Yvonne's inflection was shrill as she turned back in Sebastian's direction. "It's happening mainly at night but is beginning during the day as well. I would sell the house and move on but my grandmother's will stipulated that I must live in the house until I marry or forfeit the one million dollars she also left in my name."

Sebastian placed his feet firmly on the floor and stood up quickly; clumsily. "You tellin' me you got a house and a million bucks and you get the million bucks when you get married?" He looked up and down the length of Yvonne's body, lingering for brief moments at each curve; imagination running rampant. "Piece of cake. So, what's the problem?"

"You don't understand, Mr. Kelley. I'm well, not the marrying kind." Yvonne crossed the room, returning to the leather chair.

"So, you're...?"

"Yes," Yvonne interrupted the investigator with an affirmative nod. "My grandmother never approved of my lifestyle and this, in a way, is her last attempt to convince me to be, in her words, 'society normal'." Digging through her pocketbook, she extracted a wadded Kleenex and dabbed at her ocean-blue eyes. "But I can't stay in that house."

"Explain what's goin' on that's creepin' you out." Sebastian grabbed a notebook and leaned on the desk's edge.

Shredding the Kleenex in her long fingers, Yvonne Hyland described items that had been moved in the Victorian-style home on the outskirts of the city. Books that she was certain she had left on the kitchen counter, wet laundry strewn throughout the house and an old handmade quilt tucked between tree limbs in the backyard had her mental state on edge.

Sebastian laughed hoarsely and began to cough. "Sounds like ya got a ghost."

Yvonne sat, stoic; non-responsive.

"You think you gotta ghost?"

"Do you investigate things of that nature?" she asked hopefully.

Brown eyes flitted over the cash near his fingertips and he hesitated for just a moment. "Umm, yeah, sure, all the time," Sebastian lied. Flipping pages in his appointment book, the pair decided to pursue the elusive entity the following morning.


The two-story home was gorgeous. The gardens had been meticulously kept and the light yellow paint caught the sunlight causing Sebastian's mood to lighten even further. He couldn't imagine a mischievous ghost invading such a cheery space. Not that he believed in such things.

She came to the door in a short cotton robe loosely tied around her tiny waist, blonde hair tousled.

"Morning, sunshine," he announced.

Refusing the coffee she offered, Sebastian began removing homemade gadgets and gizmos from a black duffle bag. He was eager to begin this ruse, pretend to rid the home of unwelcome guests and collect easy money.

Opening his laptop and hitting a few keys, he grinned. "Oh, yes, yes, there's a definite presence here." The glint in his eyes began to dance and Sebastian turned his head to the side to avoid Yvonne's attention.

"Is it dangerous?" she asked innocently.

"Oh, very," the investigator announced, "but with all this sophisticated equipment we'll have it out of here in no time."

Over the course of the next several days, Sebastian Kelley witnessed many odd, unexplainable events. Eerie noises in the night, the television turning off and on, lights flickering. Nothing major. Nothing too ominous. Nothing that would propel him to become a believer.

"Mr. Kelley!" Yvonne screamed. "Mr. Kelley, come quick!"

Bounding up the stairs, two at a time, Sebastian found his client clad in nothing but a towel, trembling like a scared kitten. She was standing at the balcony doorway overlooking the treeline beyond the garden.

"I was going to take a shower when I saw something through the window," she explained. "It was a woman, all dressed in white, some sort of mist swirling around her."

"Where?" Sebastian opened the double-doors and walked out onto the balcony.

"Down there. She was coming out of the woods." Yvonne pointed. "I think it was my grandmother."

"Your grandmother?" he questioned. "Sweetheart, she's dead."

"That's what you think!" Myra Farrell, Yvonne's seventy-seven-year-old grandmother, very much alive, ran full-force, slamming into the thin, greasy-haired, chain-smoker and watched him tumble from the balcony to his death.

High fives ensued.

"Thanks, Grammy," Yvonne kissed the older woman on the cheek. "How many is that now?"


"No one's going to foreclose on this house. Nobody. If it's haunted, no one will dare. It's ours and always will be. That dead P.I. is our ticket. An investigation will prove a ghost killed him. Piece of cake." Yvonne threw back her blonde head and laughed manically.

"Speaking of cake, get dressed. We'll go down to Hattie's coffee shop to celebrate. She's got a new worker there. I believe his name is Simon."

"Cut!" The director rose from his chair. "That's a wrap!" He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. "Very well done. Very well done."

As the actors dispersed and the movie sets were disassembled, a woman in white, a foggy mist swirling about her transparent frame, hovered silently in the corner.

message 13: by Garrison (last edited Jan 31, 2015 07:14PM) (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Edward, your story had the perfect mixture of cuteness and detective work. It was cute because something as simple as chocolates became the centerpiece for the mystery and the detective work was intricate enough to be believable to the audience. That young lady is going to grow up to be a famous detective someday (last name coincidence aside) and we’ll all be smiling when she does. Thank you, Edward, for such a cute, cuddly, and wonderful treat! I’m talking about the story, not the chocolates. Hehe!

Melissa, I always enjoy a well-executed twist at the end of a story and yours has one of the best. Like Sebastian Kelley (no relation to me), I too was skeptical about ghosts being in such a lovely house. And then the whole thing turned out to be a rouse cleverly concocted by a grandmother and her granddaughter to get some extra cash. This couldn’t have come together more perfectly than it did. Congratulations on pumping out a clever story, my friend!

message 14: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Melissa wrote: "Here is my short story submission for the topic: Investigator. Feedback is ALWAYS welcome!

Curious Mist by Melissa Andres
Word Count: 1,299

She winced as he leaned back in his antique wooden of..."

Edward wrote: "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

“Malcolm, honey, have you seen the box of sweets?”

“They were on the table a moment ago,” Mr Holmes replied, gesturing toward the dining room table, “the..."

Melissa, I am in AWE! A triple-whammy surprise. Loved it. Well done!

message 15: by Edward (last edited Feb 01, 2015 05:48PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "Edward, your story had the perfect mixture of cuteness and detective work. It was cute because something as simple as chocolates became the centerpiece for the mystery and the detective work was intricate enough to be believable to the audience. That young lady is going to grow up to be a famous detective someday (last name coincidence aside) and we’ll all be smiling when she does. Thank you, Edward, for such a cute, cuddly, and wonderful treat! I’m talking about the story, not the chocolates. Hehe!"

You're very welcome Garrison, and thanks for the high praise!

message 16: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments I'm happy to do it for you, Edward. :)

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Edward - That was so adorable! I love how you had this child become a detective and the needed inspection to find the missing chocolates! What a mystery! I have always loved mysteries ... even as a child I loved the Nancy Drew series! I think we have a new Nancy Drew on our hands! Loved it!

Garrison - I really enjoyed your story and I loved the ending! It made me smile! Funny, the story was about divorce and how Bill didn't want to get involved again. My ex-husband's name is Bill! Haha! He has been married four times and then lived with a woman for 10 years who had enough of him (she's a slow learner I guess!) and finally kicked him out! Good job!

And, thanks for the compliment on my story. I am glad you liked it!

Anne - Thank you very much for your compliment also! I am glad you caught that "triple-whammy". Makes me feel good when people actually "get" what I am trying to pull off! :)

message 18: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Melissa wrote: "Edward - That was so adorable! I love how you had this child become a detective and the needed inspection to find the missing chocolates! What a mystery! I have always loved mysteries ... even a..."

When I was about 13 I did have an obsession with The Hardy Boys - must have bought about a hundred of them! Still have them stored at my parents house. :)

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

That's so cool! I wish I had saved a lot of my books from childhood! Would be great to pass down to my grandchildren now! :)

message 20: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Melissa wrote: "That's so cool! I wish I had saved a lot of my books from childhood! Would be great to pass down to my grandchildren now! :)"

I've got to organise to get them shipped over from the UK to New Zealand for when my son gets older!

message 21: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Melissa wrote: "Garrison - I really enjoyed your story and I loved the ending! It made me smile! Funny, the story was about divorce and how Bill didn't want to get involved again. My ex-husband's name is Bill! Haha! He has been married four times and then lived with a woman for 10 years who had enough of him (she's a slow learner I guess!) and finally kicked him out! Good job!"

A smiling Melissa is a happy Melissa! I'm glad you enjoyed my story this week! Isn't it also ironic that a guy who pays alimony every week is called Bill? That's like a chef whose last name is Baker or a librarian whose name is Booker. Hehehehehe!

message 22: by Phillip (last edited Feb 03, 2015 08:00AM) (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Title: Paradox
Author: Phillip T. Stephens
Word Count: 3450

Part 1
Carmen Maverick travels in time. Not the way you might imagine. She travels in dreams. Only one other person, Robinson, can do this and he’s lost on a bus in Cleveland, trying to dream his way home. They’ve met a dozen times. She learned to travel farther back and farther away, but he draws no closer to his family.

Robinson told her once, as they sat at a roadside diner in 1947 San Antonio on the Austin Highway, (he showed up as Clark Drake, balding insurance salesman in a threadbare suit and cardboard shoes. She came as teenager Betty Sue Stockton, in a Rayon summer dress and clunky pumps, who applied so much lipstick it soaked halfway down her cigarettes. Smoke choked the diner and every patron drank sweet tea or Coke. Half the men wore the same cheap suits as Robinson; the others wore jeans, boots and Stetsons. Carmen was one of three women, and the only teenager. The men ogled her like a hooker), Robinson told her once, “There’s price. You can’t change the past and our our families always pay the cost.”

Carmen studied the view of Fermion Bay from her hotel window. The ferry pulled away from the dock. A man chatted up a girl at the rail. Four co-ed girls tried to squeeze into a selfie. Further in the distance, the boardwalk carousel ground away next to a silent Ferris Wheel, waiting, perhaps, to load. She imagined organ music; the smell of popcorn, cotton candy and stale urine under the piers. A few blocks closer she could see the Bartholomew Cubbins Office Building. The lights still burned in Nick St. Bohr’s fifteenth floor corner office.

“You hate Nick because he understands the universe better than you,” Cameron accused her. As if Carmen could hate a man she never met, a man Cameron would never let her meet. “He can unravel the routes you travel,” she said, then broke down uncontrollably into giggles. They sat in the darkest booth in a broken down hippie hash joint in the squatter’s district of Elmwood, Cameron’s hair in dreadlocks and barbell piercings in both eyebrows. She called herself Cherish.

The accusation was nonsense. But Cameron did pay the price for Carmen’s time travel.

Carmen traveled in time and Cameron fractured. Carmen would return from a successful run, deliver her clients’ goods—information on a long lost family heirloom, to the location of ancient property deeds—and Cameron would be gone again. She might reappear again six months or two years later, just not as Cameron.

She'd be Daphne the bank teller or Dusty the stripper. Cornflower, window dressing for a real estate scam. Beckette, babysitting a grow house on Federal land. Her hair might be purple or she might be covered with tattoos. Once she returned with an amputated leg, limping on a cheap prosthetic. Cameron paid the price for time travel, but Nick St. Bohr ignited the fuse.

Carmen kicked off her shoes then draped her blouse over the bureau chair. She glanced in the mirror and pushed her red hair past her scalp. She adjusted her glasses back on the hooked edge of her nose and picked up the “Do not disturb sign” for the door. (She’d left explicit instructions with the front desk not to send the maids in during her stay, but she wanted to make sure.)

Cameron began to unravel during childhood. It didn’t help that she told their parents Carmen traveled through time and wouldn’t take her along. The doctors responded with schizophrenic cocktails—Haloperidol and Chlorpromazine. The drugs held her together, but only at the fringes.

Cameron survived UCLA thanks to Leoben and Robert Anselm, friends from an influential San Noema family. She and Robert ”fell in love.” The Anselms kept Cameron in therapy and used their connections to establish her career with Gemchi Art, a consulting firm.

Cameron made it five years before the nasty business with that detective. Granted, Cameron created the situation when her asshole boyfriend convinced her to embezzle the art firm. But had St. Bohr only stayed away, Cameron might have escaped without her first complete fracture. Leoben and Robert could have smoothed things over; they had the money, the connections.

Carmen opened her travel kit and set up the IV and catheter next to the bed. Quite necessary should the dream state last on for days. Once she entered the stream she had no control over the flow of time or how many connections she needed to make. She could be trapped in one persona until the next one she needed to connect with fell asleep. She prepped the lines and settled her head onto the pillow.


Somewhere in the hotel people slept, people susceptible to suggestion and influence. When she was six years old Carmen learned how to enter susceptible dreams. From there she could follow the branches to the dreams of others. Each dreamer linked her to more dreams; it was only a matter of searching those dreams until she found the dreams of the person she wanted.

The first time it happened she had no idea she was drifting through someone else’s mind. She started in Cameron’s dreams—Cameron dreaming of their grandmother, who used to tell the girls they were part fairy. That night Cameron dreamed their grandmother took them for ice cream at the old creamery by the mill by the waterfall and suddenly she was grandmother dreaming of a Sunday picnic with her own sister at church, trying not to stain their dresses or scuff their polished shoes. Then she was her great grandmother dishing out flapjacks to her grandmother at the breakfast table, only she couldn’t speak. Her grandmother said, “My goodness, Carmen, is it really you? I wondered when I would see you.”

It was a dream, so Carmen wasn’t surprised, but next her grandmother said, “I have the sight, Carmen. I knew you’d travel back to see me once I died.”

Then Carmen woke, and it was morning. Cameron said, “I dreamed grandmother took us for ice cream at the old creamery by the mill by the waterfall. Only we switched minds. You went away and grandmother told me you had the gift and I would have to understand. What did she mean?”

It meant Carmen could enter Cameron’s dreams as a launching pad to the dreams of others. At least she would until, years later, Carmen learned to find dreamers without using Cameron as her starting point.

It meant Cameron became lost in Carmen’s wake, and that loss would fracture her. Now Carmen had to dream her way into the past to face off with Nick St. Bohr and restore her sister.


Carmen drifted from a pharmaceutical rep working the Northern California coast, to a UCLA debater exhausted from too many days on speed. Carmen parked there until she connected with her coach who connected her to a network of dreamers from UCLA.

The coach dreamed of a night with a theater professor, who, as luck would have it, studied with Leoben. Carmen parked in her dreams until a door opened and Leoben drifted to sleep in his mansion in the Northwest hills of San Noema.

Carmen slipped through the stairways of memory to the days before Cameron splintered, hoping to find clues to the cause. Strangely she found nothing. She found no sign of his brother Robert either, as though the experience were so traumatic for Leoben that he purged it from memory.

No matter. Carmen honed in on a surrealistic dream of Leoben studying his foundation’s donor organizations. He scans the line item, Gemchi Art, and suddenly words leap from the spreadsheet in Cameron’s voice: “i am not myself no more,” she says out loud, the words simultaneously scrolling in lower case courier. “i don’t think i ever was.”

Carmen hibernated until he woke. Once in control, her subjects had no awareness or memory.

She and Robinson discussed the time paradox only once. He said people under their control can’t alter the past because only their consciousness is affected. That was the conversation in San Antonio. “You can’t change the past and our our families always pay the cost.” She returned from that dream to find Cameron missing and, for the first time, heard the name Nick St. Bohr,

Leoben/Carmen sat at his computer and scrolled through his files for a picture of Cameron. He found only one. She sat comfortably between the brothers on the family yacht off the coast of Cancun—before they began argue incessantly about the course of Robert’s future.

Next Leoben searched the Internet for Nick St. Bohr. Carmen sneered at the ad. “Whether or not you need me won’t be determined until you contact me.” He picked up the phone.

end part 1

message 23: by Phillip (last edited Feb 03, 2015 07:59AM) (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Title: Paradox
Author: Phillip T. Stephens
Word Count: 3450

Part 2
door sign
The sign on St. Bohr’s door looked more old fashioned than the card in her purse on the hotel bureau. His receptionist looked like a Pfish groupie, surrounded by a fortress of cat pictures and brownies, wearing a knit hat and tie-dyed dress. She kicked her six-inch cork soled sandals against her clear acrylic desk. Everything in the office was sculpted from glass or clear acrylic.

business card

She assumed the blonde with broad shoulders and pepper beard sitting in the big office behind the acrylic desk with nothing but an Apple laptop would be the 1995 version of Nick St. Bohr. “Is the detective in?”

The receptionist cast a puzzled glance, as though Carmen were asking permission to breathe. She pointed with her pen, the corner of her nose and eyebrow curled.

Carmen/Leoben peered cautiously through the door. “Detective St. Bohr?”

St. Bohr pushed his chair back, glancing up with the same puzzled expression. “What’s up?” He beckoned to one of the acrylic chairs across from his desk. He wore a desert jacket over a bush shirt and khaki pants. The outfit matched his tan boots, which, surprisingly, looked scuffed and worn—as though he spent as much time out of the office as in.

She dropped into the closest chair. St. Bohr waited for some explanation, so she opened Leoben’s manila envelope and slipped Cameron’s picture across the desk.

“My friend Cameron Maverick. She went through a bad breakup with my brother Robert a while back and ended up involved with a ne’er do well. Calls himself Slinky Granger.”

St. Bohr drummed his fingers on his desk. On the glass it sounded like marbles in a jar. “‘Ne’er do well?’”

Carmen blushed. She felt Leoben’s face blush, even though she imagined a man wouldn’t allow himself. “Crack. Clubs. Probably gambling. He talked her into stealing money from her boss, Gemchi Art. I think she’s embezzled more than 20,000.”

St. Bohr tilted his head. “She told you this?” It felt like more like an interrogation than a client interview.

Carmen realized she could have better thought this through. She should regroup quickly. “Gimchi reached out to me. Cameron’s missing. I’m hoping you might find her.”

Even beneath his jacket Carmen could see his muscles ripple. She’d never pictured him as a man who worked out, or even worked hard. She had pictured him in his office, hacking into computers, stealing data, letting others work for him. Not a guy who could be in movies. “You understand what I do?” he asked.

“You’re a detective,” she said.

“I’m a quantological detective,” he said. “I look for answers in places other detectives would never look, in places that have yet to determine themselves. Very much like quantum states. They don’t appear until I shine my light on them.

He proceeded to describe a moment when she noticed her wedding ring is no longer on her dresser.

Carmen knew this speech. She researched it. She’d researched him. She learned it eavesdropping on Nick’s clients’ dreams. She jotted notes on waking, kept them in her briefcase with photos she had to take from a distance because Cameron wouldn’t let her meet him.

She recited it silently to herself, her pace matching his: Ordinary detectives assume it’s stolen. Show followed him into tangents about the ring being lost, forgotten, or hiding because it’s shy that morning. Then on to questions of identity and imagination and so many other tangents that she could barely hold her breath, much less follow a single strand of thought (even after listening in so many dreams.) But she’d never imagined the passion, the uptake in his voice, the way his hands drew her in with his gestures. She began to picture the logo in the “O” on his door, spinning at the edge of the galaxy, the strange attractor compelling her.

No, she refused to be drawn in. She placed her hand over her breast, struggling to catch her breath. It was like following a shooting star past the event horizon.

She closed her eyes, slowed her breathing, forced him to come back in focus. “You’re saying we’re all entangled, and you can follow those threads to Cameron,” she clarified.

Nick tickled the laptop mousepad. “Of course not. That’s the quantum universe. We’re in the macro universe, which is a different bailiwick. What I don’t understand is why you didn’t settle with Gemchi personally? Wouldn’t it be cheaper than hiring me?”

Carmen stared at St. Bohr, wishing her eyes could drill holes through the sky blue eyes in his skull. Surely he wasn’t turning her/Leoben down? “I’m quite wealthy.”

He waved her off as though he couldn’t care one way or the other. “$5000 up front. $2000 a day. Expenses. One week minimum. Settle with Serenda.” He began to type as though she were no longer there.

She felt her seat sizzle. How could he be so rude? As though she were unattractive, even invisible. Then she remembered that Carmen Maverick wasn’t sitting in front of him, legs crossed and worthy of seduction, but the middle aged and pre-maturely balding Leoben Anselm.


She waited in Leoben’s Mercedes near the Cubbins building garage entrance. She’d ditched Leoben’s jacket and changed shirts. She wore a new set of Ray-Bans and a golf cap from a nearby Nordstrom’s.

St. Bohr didn’t leave the office that day. What was he doing, she fumed, pissing away the retainer channeling Einstein?

That night she dreamed with Leoben, bizarre dreams of beings dreaming themselves into their own existence and brothers arguing about wave states while drifting on waves of light.

The following day she followed St. Bohr to every seedy crackhouse on the south end of San Noema.

The third night Leoben dreamed he was divided schizophrenically between two dissertations on the soul of the family, his words typing magically on two monitors: commerce or conscience, myths of Cain and Abel, one brother devouring the other, Esau and Isaac, hair of the goat, deception for the birthright. Only the type faded and the myths shifted to Inanna and Ereshkigal—who ordered Inanna’s death for visiting the the land of dreams, and Luluwa and Aklia—twin sisters of Adam and Eve, who competed for Abel’s love.

On the third day Carmen/Leoben followed Nick and Serenda across town and into the suburbs, to a small cafe tucked away in an orange grove. She glanced in the window on her way inside. Nick sat with Cameron, holding her hands, while Serenda ordered coffee at the bar. Cameron dressed like white trash Barbie in flip flops and cut offs to her hips.

Carmen fumed. The bastard knew where Cameron was all along. She marched to the table and sat across from them.

“Detective, I’m so glad you found Cameron.” She nodded to her sister. “Robert and I were worried. We hired St. Bohr. At great expense.”

Cameron flushed. Deep red. She leaned across the table to study Leoben carefully—his eyes, cheekbones, chin. She touched his nose and ran her finger down his mouth. Suddenly she pulled back, as though burned by an electric spark. “Carmen?”

Cameron kicked her chair back and stood, gripping the edge of the table. “How dare you?”

Carmen/Leoben’s jaw slipped. “How could you know?” It never dawned on her to apologize or explain. Nor would she have the chance. Cameron ran to the women’s room without another word.

Carmen ran after, but St. Bohr grabbed her belt. “Give her space.”

Carmen pushed his hand aside and quickened her pace.

Cameron stood at the sink, trembling, her face mottled. “What gives you the right?”

“I didn’t come after you,” Carmen explained. “I came after St. Bohr. You don’t know what he does to you.”

Cameron escaped into one of the stalls, slamming and locking the door. “You do it to me,” she said. “You do everything.”

Cameron must have tucked her feet onto the toilet because Carmen couldn’t see them. “He does it. He pulls you to pieces. I can’t let that happen.”

“He never invaded my dreams,” Cameron sobbed. “He never pulled pieces of me with him by jumping from my dreams to others like you did. He didn’t leave me when he found better dreamers.” She blew her nose into the tissue. “He never came back as Miss Perfect to tell me how wrong my life was.”

“For Christ’s sake,” Carmen said, pounding the door. “Quit singing the same sad song. I’m here to keep you from shattering completely.”

Cameron didn’t answer. Carmen continued to pound and still she didn’t answer. Finally Carmen peered over the door, but she only saw Cameron’s flip flops and clothes.

Carmen backed against the sink. Serenda appeared in the door. Carmen could see St. Bohr standing just outside. “How’s Cameron?” he said over Serenda’s shoulder.

Carmen couldn’t stop shaking. “She’s gone.” She pointed to the empty stall. “It’s your fault.”

St. Bohr pushed his way into the restoom and looked over the stall door. He grabbed Carmen’s arm and dragged her outside. “My fault?” He practically bit off her ear. He guided her back to the table, twisting her elbow. “You’re the one inhabiting my brother.” He tossed her into a chair. Serenda collected their drinks from the bar and placed them on the table.

She felt she was melting in her seat. “You knew?”

“The minute you walked into my office and called me ‘detective’ instead of Robert.”

She gripped the table to steady herself. “You’re Robert Anselm?”

He blew his lips with exasperation. “I ended up on the outs with the family. They were happy I changed my name. A gumshoe in the woodpile isn’t something the Anselms want advertised.”

Carmen slammed her fist, knocking Cameron’s mug to the floor. It shattered into as many pieces as her sister’s soul. “You fractured her. Do you know what that means?”

“You don’t think Carmen’s told us about you since we’ve known her?” St. Bohr said. “Who do you think held her together all these years? Her thread was so frail it took all the nurturing I could muster. If you’ll recall, you insisted she break up with me when I was Robert because you didn’t want her depending on a wealthy family with no work ethic.”

Carmen looked away. She’d forgotten, so focused on St. Bohr as the enemy, she overlooked how much she encouraged Cameron to sever her connections to the Anselms.

Serenda brought cinnamon from the counter and sprinkled it in St. Bohr’s espresso. She gazed intently as he explained further.

“By the time I established my firm, for you, Cameron fell in with Granger. But I took care of Granger. Set him up with his favorite crack dealer to get his mind off Cameron. Found him overdosed yesterday. I talked Cameron into patching things up with Gemshi this morning. Then you showed up time tripping as my brother and the thread that bound her to us snapped.”

Serenda watched Carmen accusingly.

Carmen picked at the thread of her pants. “You’re saying this is my fault?”

“Let’s call it self-fulfilling prophecy.” He finished his espresso and said, “I need another. Too bad they don’t spike them.”

Carmen fumed as he walked to the counter, surprised his little receptionist didn’t follow him like a puppy. Instead Serenda poured lemon into her tea and stole the abandoned newspaper from the next table to peruse the headlines. “It’s obvious you’re in love with him,” Carmen said.

Serenda sipped her tea and continued to scan the paper. Then, when it became clear Carmen expected an answer, she laughed to herself and replied (with what seemed like as much frost as she could muster), “Too bad they don’t print metaphor crosswords. I could pick between glass houses and kettles.”

message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Garrison -- Haha! That is funny! I didn't even think of that! There is no alimony in Texas, unfortunately but I am okay with that. I didn't want any of my ex-husband's money (yes, that is very rare for an ex-wife). I took my own personal belongings and left. It had been an abusive situation and I took my things, a lot of courage and was done.

message 25: by Laura (last edited Feb 03, 2015 08:25AM) (new)

Laura R | 59 comments So I tried something a little bit different this week than my normal style. It's a little bit short, but I hope you enjoy it! Feedback is always welcomed and appreciated!
(**Although it's not clear, he's supposed to be about four years old**)

Title: Night Terror
Author: Laura Lavelle
Genre: Mystery
Word Count: 1,207

Benji looked around, a frown marring his tiny face as his eyes scanned the laminated pages of the story. His mother sat there patiently as he searched in vain for the tiny character with the red and white striped hat. Suddenly he squealed, pointing with his tiny fingers towards the corner of the picture.

His Mom smiled, “Very good, Benji! You found him!”

He giggled as he bounced about, grinning from ear to ear. “Another! Another!”

She laughed, turning the page over, “Alright, where’s Waldo?”

His face contorted in concentration, scrunching up his eyebrows and chewing on his lower lip. After only a few moments he squealed again, pointing towards the book. “I found him, Mommy!”

She leaned over, kissing the top of his head. “Alright, are you ready for bed?”

He shook his head violently, “Can you read me more stories tonight?”

He looked up, his eyes pleading to his mother. She placed the book down and switched it for another. This one was a bit older, the cover worn around the edges and the spine wrinkled. She perched herself on the edge of the bed, opening the book up to where the bookmark lay. “Alright, but just a little bit more for tonight, okay?”

He nodded vigorously as he pulled the blanket up beneath his chin, his eyes never wavering from his mother’s face. She began to read a tale about Sherlock Holmes and his eyes began to waver; images of a man with his cap and pipe flooded his mind, entwining with his dreams. As soon as his quiet snores began she put the book down, kissing his forehead and pulling the blanket snugly around him. She flicked off the lights, leaving the door cracked open to allow the light from the hallway to spill in, keeping him safe from the terrors of the night.

He awoke with a start, wide awake and alert. He had heard a noise from downstairs; a crashing noise followed by tinkling. It wasn’t loud enough to wake his mother, but he had heard it loud and clear. He got up, listening to the sounds that drifted softly upstairs and into his opened room. Heart thumping, he grabbed his cap, placing it on his head and reached over for his bubble pipe; a gift from his mother. He gulped loudly as he stood there, his fear slowly replacing his curiosity as he crept towards the door.

“If Sherlock Holmes can do it, so can I,” he said under his breath, closing his eyes and counting to three before he slipped out of his bedroom. His footed pajamas padded silently across the carpet as he made his way towards the landing.

A light shimmered and then disappeared and he froze. He turned his head back around, wondering if he should call his mother but instead he began making his way down the steps towards the sound. The living room was dark and he had a hard time convincing himself whether or not he should take that final step off of the staircase into the unknown or continue to cling onto the railing.

Another tinkling sound came from the kitchen behind the staircase and he placed his foot down, padding his way over towards the kitchen. He peeked in and found nothing except that the garbage had been knocked over. He looked around, craning his neck to peer up at the counters but everything looked normal; the wind chimes hanging in the open window tinkled again as it rocked on its hinge, distorting the light that spilled into the room. He let out a sigh of relief as he stood there, turning around to pick up the garbage from the floor. He stopped, seeing a trail of crumbs leading from the pile of trash out into the den.

He stooped down, pretending he held a magnifying glass in his hands as he began to follow the crumbs into the black of the den. He hesitated as he stood at the top of the stairs leading down, standing on his tip-toes with his hand hovering over the light switch. He pressed the switch and something went scrambling about in the room below. He nearly cried out, jumping back before realizing that nothing was coming up the stairs.

He crept down each step, his tiny fingers squeezing around the pipe in his hand. He stopped on the last step, looking around. The crumbs stopped at a piece of pie crust; the leftover shepherd’s pie sitting like a beacon in the center of the floor. He waddled over, bending down to see a paw print within the mess. He whipped his head around, looking for the animal that could have left it.

He heard scratching and panting coming from a corner of the room. He made his way over cautiously, peering under the couch. He yelped as his eyes met with another set. They were a greenish yellow, wide and nervous; reflecting the light right off of them.

A pounding of feet on steps rang through the silence and his mother stood behind him, her eyes wide and alert. She wrapped one arm around him, kneeling down and shielding him from the unknown intruder.

“What are you doing out of bed? It’s dangerous!”

“Mommy, there’s something under the couch!” he said quietly, pointing towards the pair of eyes.

She knelt down, peering beneath the furniture. She nearly laughed as she stood up, grabbing the leftover food from the floor and placing little bits of it near the couch. Slowly the creature began to make its way towards the opening, sniffing the air as it approached. A tiny, black paw reached out and pulled the bit of meat into the darkness. Again it reached out, grasping the next piece. Finally it emerged from the darkness, slowly stretching until it slinked out. A tiny black head with fuzzy ears that were slanted back straight came poking out first; whiskers stretching to either side. Its tiny body was covered in the same black, peach-fuzz fur, ending with a long tail that was nearly the entire length of its body. It ate the meat from the floor and the boy’s mother reached out and grabbed it by its scruff, holding the tiny kitten within her palms.

“Benji, is this what woke you up?” she asked, a smiled smoothing her features once again.

He nodded, looking down at the tiny kitten that had begun to purr quite loudly for such a tiny body. “Mommy, can we keep it?” He lifted his hand towards the kitten and the little creature licked his fingers and he giggled, scratching behind its fuzzy ear. “I’m going to name you Watson.”

“Are you going to take care of him?” she asked as the kitten nearly fell out of her palms, rubbing his little head against the boy’s fingers.

“I promise!”

“Alright, you can keep him.”

He quickly scooped the kitten from his mother’s hands, holding him against his body as he made his way back up to his room. “We’re going to be best friends,” he said as he placed the black kitten on his bed. Watson curled up into a ball by his head and Benji curled his fingers into his soft fur.

message 26: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9063 comments Melissa wrote: "Garrison -- Haha! That is funny! I didn't even think of that! There is no alimony in Texas, unfortunately but I am okay with that. I didn't want any of my ex-husband's money (yes, that is very ..."

Good call for you to get out of that relationship. You deserve happiness and nothing less. (hugs)

message 27: by Phillip (last edited Feb 03, 2015 07:33PM) (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Laura, Night Terror

Great use of the topic

message 28: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Stephens | 76 comments Joseph, you had me with the title, but, given the tone of this, I wonder what would happen when Inspector deSophia and Rashnish set their sights on you. The Farrelly brothers would be proud.

message 29: by Joseph (last edited Feb 03, 2015 10:00PM) (new)

Joseph Maas (josephmaas) | 42 comments Hey thanks Phillip. Don't tell anyone, but truth be told; I've got soap bubbles coming out of my ears all the time these days.

We even got a call from Lucasarts the other day. They wanted me to come in an apply for some kind of special effects gig. I guess they're doing a lot of non-digital these days.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Garrison - Thank you! There are a lot of things I regret about my first marriage but I learned a lot about myself and what to do and not do in a relationship. Even bad experiences can be LEARNING experiences! :)

message 31: by Connie (last edited Feb 05, 2015 03:37PM) (new)

Connie D. | 656 comments The Curious Sort
By: Connie
Word Count: 1370
(comments welcomed)

It was not unexpected to open his eyes and find himself in a new place, yet he was still surprised. It seemed that whenever he was warm and his stomach was full, he could not fight off the overwhelming desire to sleep that the vibration and humming brought on. He was almost certain that at times they created this environment, just to subdue him. Usually, he just woke up to find himself back in the cage, but many times he had woken up in entirely new places they had taken him to.

What was surprising this time, is that he was alone and freed from all his bonds. Given the level of dependency he had upon his captors, one might think he would be frightened to find himself in this predicament and cry out for comfort or assistance, but not Jameson. He had other ideas.

Escape? No. So far he felt no desire to escape. His captors treated him kindly and provided for his every need. They seemed very determined to keep him amused as well. At times he found their behavior quite amusing. Other times it was annoying and intrusive, and he was beginning to suspect that during those times they were actually using him to amuse themselves.

Jameson was the curious sort. He wanted to use this opportunity to investigate his surroundings without their interference. He was lying on his back in a dimly lit area, and most of the shadowy shapes he could see towered over him. He had no idea how he would reach them, but he was determined to try. First he needed to roll over. His bulging well fed belly and weak muscles made getting up from this position difficulty.

Once on his stomach he realized that the sweet smell he had been inhaling was coming from the soft surface beneath him. He liked it, so he buried his face in it to get more of the scent. But the surface was deeper then he realized and some of it pushed up into his nose, provoking a series of loud sneezes. He froze for a moment, waiting to see if the noise he made had alerted them. No one came.

He got on his hands and knees to get away from the smelly softness before it made him sneeze again. He rocked back and forth in this position while he surveyed his surroundings, deciding where to start. A tall mountain loomed in front of him with a loose canopy of vines and flowers covering it. He thought he might be able to use them to climb up it.

He crawled the short distance to the mountain undetected. His first victory! Excitedly he reached up, grabbed a handful of the canopy, and began to climb. It was short lived. He had just reached upward with his other arm and secured a second handful of the canopy, when it started to move. It slid downward, causing him to fall on his butt with an unexpected thump. He frowned with displeasure. Clearly this wasn’t going to work. He decided to try something else.

There was another mountain off to the side of this one. He had dismissed it at first, because it was much taller, and the surface seemed to smooth to scale. But the dim lighting had hidden something from his view. Now that he was closer he could see that there were places on the mountain every so often that stuck out. He thought he might be able to use those to climb. He began his journey towards it.

When he reached the second mountain, he could see that the hand holds were further apart than he had realized. But still, he had to try. The ground beneath him was solid and secure, so he stood on his toes and reached up, stretching his arm as far as he could. The hand hold was still out of his reach, so he moved himself closer, pushing his self against the side of the mountain. He could feel the handhold with the tips of his fingers. He just needed to get a little closer. He turned his huge head sideways and placed his face against the side of the mountain. It felt smooth and cool. He liked the way it felt on his cheek. He’d grown warm and sweaty from all his hard work and it felt so refreshing it almost diverted his attention from what he was doing.

He stretched on his toes a bit more, opening and closing his hand, groping blinding for the handhold he could no longer see. There it was. He had it! It fit easily in his hand and he closed his fist around it in triumph. Again it was short lived. Now that he had his face pressed sideways against the side of the mountain, even if he managed to pull himself up he could not see where the next handhold was. Reluctantly he released the handhold and stood back flat on his feet.

He was looking around in frustration, when he heard the whoosh of water. He was getting tired, hungry and thirsty. The sound of the water swooshing made him feel a longing he couldn’t name. It reminded him of the place he came from. There had been warm water everywhere, and a rhythmic swooshing sound to which he had spent long days gently rocking. He decided to see if he could find it.

He turned towards the sound, and noticed there was a crack through which bright light was shining. He’d have a better chance there, where he could see more clearly what he was doing. His legs were growing tired of holding him up, so he got back on his hands and knees and began crawling toward the light.

Once there he realized the crack was quite narrow. There was no way he could fit his head and body through it. But he could fit his arm. Cautiously his poked his hand through the crack; nothing, just empty space. He tried feeling further, pushing his arm deeper in. The crack seemed to get larger all on its own. He didn’t understand how, but it was a great opportunity. Quickly he pushed the rest of his body through the opening, before it had a chance to shrink up again.

The sound of the water had slowed to a soft trickling noise. He crawled quickly toward it, trying to find it before it he could no longer hear it. His hands made loud slapping noises on the hard flat surface he was moving across, but he didn’t notice. Finding the water had become his purpose. He stopped in front of a short smooth rock, almost the same height that he was. The water noise seemed to becoming from it, but he couldn’t see it. He would have to get back up onto his tired, unsteady legs to find it.

He grasped the top of the rock and discovered it had an edge. He used it to pull himself up. Now he was towering over the rock looking down at it. The rock had a hole in the middle and the water was trickling down the sides, landing in a pool. He’d found it! He reached into the pool, and quickly drew his hand back. The water was not warm and comforting like the place he had come from, it was cold and unpleasant.

He decided to try again. Perhaps it was just the shock, because he had expected it to be warm. He plunged his hand back in and was delighted by the way the water moved. He plunged his hand in and out, back and forth watching the water jump up off the surface. He was so busy doing this, he failed to notice that all the noise he’d been making had drawn the attention of one of his captors, the one who seemed to be assigned to him.

The loud sounds his captor made startled him into stopping. It sounded upset with him. He knew that his investigation had come to an end when the giant rushed forward, grabbed him, picked him up, and said, “No, No, Jameson. That’s Yucky”.

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

Phillip - Extremely interesting take on this topic. Dreams and dream hopping from one person to the next, future, past ... I could never keep all the details straight writing something like this. Good job!

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

Laura - A very nice, sweet story! I could see my grandchildren, independent as they are, investigating sounds in their home while Mommy's sleeping. Of course, that could be potentially dangerous but, thankfully, in this mysterious case, it wasn't! :)

message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Joseph - How funny and clever! You have such an imagination! I can tell you worked really hard on this! You had me sucked in from the very beginning!

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Connie - You did a really excellent job with all your descriptions! I can't say I am 100 percent sure but I am imagining that Jameson is possibly a baby monkey in a zoo? Please correct me if I'm wrong! You had me wondering throughout and that's a good thing!

message 36: by Connie (new)

Connie D. | 656 comments Melissa, Thanks for appreciating my story. I rewrote it several times because I felt like I was giving things away to earlier. Apparently I didn't give it away well enough!
The inspiration for the story was actually a baby. I've often wondered what goes through their heads when they fall asleep in one place and wake up in another.

message 37: by Connie (new)

Connie D. | 656 comments Joseph, I really enjoyed laughing my way through your story. It reminds me of the kind of stuff my son used to write. Unfortunately he has stopped writing. At least as far a I know. That profile picture could be a fake!!

message 38: by Connie (new)

Connie D. | 656 comments Laura, Loved your story. A brave child on their own standing up to fear is my weak spot. ;)

message 39: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Melissa wrote: "Here is my short story submission for the topic: Investigator. Feedback is ALWAYS welcome!

Curious Mist by Melissa Andres
Word Count: 1,299

She winced as he leaned back in his antique wooden of..."

Not just a twist but a triple twist! Loved it!

message 40: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Maas (josephmaas) | 42 comments Melissa wrote: "Joseph - How funny and clever! You have such an imagination! I can tell you worked really hard on this! You had me sucked in from the very beginning!"

Hey Malissa, thanks a bunch!
However, you should know that you are encouraging some pretty weird behavior over here; especially every time I sit down a the keyboard. :-)

message 41: by Joseph (last edited Feb 08, 2015 05:02PM) (new)

Joseph Maas (josephmaas) | 42 comments Connie wrote: "Joseph, I really enjoyed laughing my way through your story. It reminds me of the kind of stuff my son used to write. Unfortunately he has stopped writing. At least as far a I know. That profile pi..."

Hey Connie, Thanks muchly.

Yup, I just wanted to write something that was squeaky clean for a change.

TIP: Send your son a good cheap (used) copy of Kurt Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan. That should get him going again.

Profile photo? Oh yeah, that one. I was doing my best Sling Blade impression, "Umm Hmmm, I like dem french fried taters. Umm Humm."

The person taking the photo turned around and ran away, shortly thereafter.

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