Write about now

February 8, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge -The Subgenre Tango

Filed under: flash fiction challenge, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Eva Therese @ 7:16 pm

It’s been forever since I last did one of these, but fortunately I am unable to withstand the lure of a random subgenre mash-up. I rolled a 9 and a 10 and got Whodunit?/Military Sci-fi. Yay! I don’t really know anything about the military, but sci-fi means that I can just make stuff up.

Challenge courtesy of the lovely and very bearded Chuck Wendig.


”Ma’am?”

Hale turned away from the transparent wall, where she had been staring out at the electric typhoon which, half a kilometre below, was tearing up the surface of Kepler-184, know by the settlers as Iuiturn.

“Is there a reason you have brought us here?” The speaker was a woman in her late forties who carried herself with an air of authority, even though she held no military rank.

“I have gathered you here, because I know who the killed General Tibbett and Cody.”

These words were greeted by a muttering from the three people gathered in the mess deck.

“I cannot claim much knowledge about legal procedures on Earth,” said Joger, a large grey and green alien, who spoke via voice synthesizer. “But should there not be an arrest made? A trial of some sort? Why are we here?”

“Because the killer is among us.”

As opposed to her last words, these were met with complete silence as everyone eyed each other nervously.

“Why don’t you arrest them, then?” asked Kirts, who had been Tibbett’s orderly before the general had been killed.

“All in good time,” said Hale. “You see, this was a very clever killer, who led me on a merry chase.” She narrowed her eyes. “Helped by everyone in here.”

This time there was the sound of outraged protestations, until Hale raised her hand and they fell into a disgruntled silence.

“Surely,” began Kirst, “you don’t mean everyone. I certainly …”

“Kirst,” interrupted Hale and pointed a finger at him. “You claimed to be oh-so-fond of the general, when in fact it was so strained between you, that she had been planning to fire you as her orderly. That meant that you would have to join the rank and file and maybe even get in a real battle.”

Kirst started stuttering, but no real words came out, as Hale continued. “Did you tell me any of this? No, I had to dig around in Tibbett’s waste paper basket, where I found the draft for Tibbett’s letter where she was writing to request a replacement. The typhoon stopped all outgoing communications and you managed to delete the message, she was going to send, but she always wrote a paper draft first. And if you hadn’t been such a poor orderly you would have known that.”

“I swear,” Kirst was sweating now. “I didn’t kill her. It’s true she was going to fire me and when I found her dead, I thought that maybe she hadn’t sent the message yet and so I deleted it. But I didn’t kill her!”

“Of course you didn’t,” said Hale. “You’re still fired, however. Have fun fighting the Vreosk.”

She turned to Joger. “And you’re here as a negotiator on behalf of your people. But very conveniently forgot to mention that you have a history with Tibbett. Back when she was Sergeant of the Riders she led Operation Zero Hour in which your home town of Moegawa was annihilated. I only found out because Tibbett regularly sent money to a foundation for veterans from the battle. And I only knew about that, because Tibbett mistrusted the computers enough to keep a written record of all transactions she made. Took a while to unravel it, but I found out in the end.”

“That was then. We must focus on the now, if we are ever to achieve peace.” Joger replied in his clipped speech. “I did not kill the general.”

“I know.” Hale turned to the last person, the woman who had first spoken. “And then there’s you, Justicar Franklin, who came to a remote military base on an inspection, right before getting caught by an electric typhoon. And at the same time as the general was here, no less. Very peculiar timing, if you ask me.”

Franklin smirked. “Surely, you’re not accusing me of being uncooperative. I’ve told you all about the general and my relationship with her; not that there was much to tell.”

“True.”

“And why would I have done that, if I had killed her.”

“You didn’t.”

“I’m confused,” said Kirst. “You said the killer was among us. But if none of us killed Tibbett, then who did?”

“Cody.”

“Cody?” repeated Kirst and Franklin at the same time as Joger said: “The cook?”

“The cook, yes. You see, Cody wasn’t his real name and he wasn’t even from Earth but born and raised on Plewua.”

“A spy?” breathed Kirst.

“Exactly. He killed the real Cody and took his identity. Then he got himself a job here, near the front, where he could send back whatever snatches of information he could pick up.

But then the general came to visit and she would be able to discover the truth. Because the general knew the real Cody’s brother, who also took part in Operation Zero Hour and died in the assault. She would want to meet the brother of her soldier, but there’s no way that Cody’s cover story would stand up to that kind of scrutiny. So he killed the general, hoping that the killing would be blamed on someone else, probably Joger.”

The alien gave a grunt, which needed no translation.

There was a moment’s silence as everyone digested the news.

Then Joger asked: “Did Cody kill himself?”

“No, he was killed by another person, for reasons that had nothing to do with him being a spy or the general’s murder. He was killed by the one person who had been completely forthcoming, because she knew that she would never be suspected for the murder of the general.” Hale turned towards Franklin. “She came to this desolate piece of rock and had herself stranded in a typhoon, wanting to get to another person entirely.”

Franklin was pale as a sheet and shaking all over. “When?” she asked breathlessly. “When did he kill Cody and take his place?”

“It’s difficult to be exact, but somewhere around standard year G7 or G8.”

With a groan, Franklin covered her face with her hands. “Then I killed the wrong man. The real Cody was already dead and I killed the wrong man.

I’ve waited so long for my revenge. And now I find out it’s all be for nothing.” She looked at Hale, her eyes wet. “You can’t possibly know what he did. So how did you find out it was me?”

“I knew it, when I found out Cody had been the killer. That’s when I started to suspect, that that the reason you had been so helpful was that you wanted the general’s killer found, so you could pin the murder of the cook on them as well. Everyone would assume that they had been killed because they saw who poisoned the food and leave it at that. But since the cook killed the general himself, there had to be another reason entirely for his murder.”

Franklin nodded gloomily. “It would have been very convenient.”

“I found out the truth about Cody, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to kill him, rather than just reveal his secret, which would lead to him being executed. Then it finally dawned on me: someone had a beef with the real Cody, but didn’t know that he had been replaced in the meantime.”

Franklin looked down. “A ‘beef’ you call it. He killed my friends from the orphanage, all of them. He was a guilty as if he had slit their throats himself and it would have been kinder if he had.” She swallowed. “I lived there for a time, after my parents died, until they could find my relatives. I made friends with the other children. I returned nine years later and found out, that not a month after I had left, there had been a outbreak of water swellings. The medicine had arrived too late and no-one had survived.

I always suspected the truth, but it took more than a decade before I could get access to the records and look into it. They covered it up, you see. Cody was supposed to deliver the medicine, but he stole it. His superiors didn’t want the truth to come out, didn’t want people in the colonies to lose faith in the military, but the truth is there in the records, if you know what to look for.”

Hale nodded. “The typhoon is moving on; we’ll back in touch with the rest of the world in a few hours time. Are you going to come quietly?”

Franklin sniffled and blinked a few times to keep back tears. “I will. I should be punished. I killed the wrong man, after all.”

“Yes, well,” said Hale as she waved one of the soldiers to come forward and handcuff Franklin. “All things considered, I suppose the court might look favourably on your case.”

Advertisements

February 12, 2015

Flash Fiction Challenge – The Four Part Story Part One

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , , — Eva Therese @ 10:23 am

The is the first part of a story, written for a flash fiction challenge courtesy of Chuck Wendig.


 

The smell hit her while she was still in the hallway. Thick, sickly-sweet, but without the note of iron usually associated with blood. Rather this had a hint of something sharp, maybe alcohol. It smelled, she decided, as cough syrup tasted.

Evelyn ducked under the yellow tape and entered the hotel room. Her eyes were immediately drawn to the bright green spatter on the otherwise pristine bedcover.

She walked around the bed and took in the crime scene, the body lying on the carpet. The back of the head was smashed in, but the face was undamaged. It was a decidedly ugly face. It put Evelyn in mind of Dopey from Snow White if he’d had skin like wrinkly parchment and really ugly teeth.

She looked up and met the gaze of Andrew. His large hands were holding a small pair of tweezers which he was using with surprisingly delicacy to examine the damage.

“What have you got for me?” asked Evelyn.

“Dead for around four hours.” Andrew had lived in Aliceville for the better part of fifteen years, but still retained a hint of a Jamaican accent.

Evelyn nodded. “Fits. Officer Young filled me in. The night porter says he saw the fairy return to the hotel around five in the morning, but didn’t see or hear anything else until half an hour ago, when he heard the cleaning guy scream his head off. I’ll get a full statement later, but I don’t expect much.”

“Cause of death is a single blow to the back of the head. Fairies have more brittle bones than humans, but it would still have taken some force. They haven’t found the murder weapon yet, but I’m thinking a wrench, something like that. Iron of course.”

“Not something normally found in a hotel room, which indicates premeditated.” Evelyn scratched her nose, then snapped on a pair of rubber gloves. She knelt beside the victim and started going through the pockets. The second one yielded a wallet and she pulled out an ID-card. Next to the name ‘Tierny Belenus’ there were two pictures. One of them was a photograph showing the ugly face on the body. The other was a small scan of a rendered drawing of how the fairy would have chosen to look to any humans, while he had still been alive to uphold a glamour. It shoved an eerily beautiful young man with silver hair and striking green eyes.

Evelyn showed the picture to Andrew.

“Hot,” he commented. “You’re thinking crime of passion?”

“Too early to say. But it’s interesting to note that he wasn’t trying to blend in. Apparently, he wasn’t worried about hate crimes.”

“Which means he must have been powerful and thus high up in the hierarchy,” Andrew finished for her.

She nodded and bagged the wallet and the ID-card before getting up to have a look around. She looked in the garbage can and fished out a take-away coffee cup.

“It would seem our fairy had a visitor,” said Andrew and got up from the floor with a grunt.

“Really? How do you know it isn’t his?” asked Evelyn.

“Fairies like sweet things. Coffee is bitter.”

“Oh.” Evelyn turned the cup over. There was a name scrawled on the side. “Rowan,” she read.

“Fake, but still significant. Twigs and branches from rowan trees can be used to ward off evil, including fairies.”

“It could be someone who sees themselves as a weapon against fairies. But all fairies in general or just this one?” A notion struck Evelyn and she looked at Andrew thoughtfully.

“No,” he said. “Absolutely no.”

“We don’t have a fairy-related crime division; we don’t have anyone to handle public relations. We have to investigate the murder of a high-ranking fairy and you’re the only expert we have on the subject.”

“And as an expert, my opinion on the subject is, that it’s a horrible idea. Fairies don’t like halfbreeds,” he pause for a moment before adding, “either. Especially not those high up. They’ll see my inclusion as an insult.”

“We won’t tell them, obviously.”

Andrew just gave her an exasperated look.

“Okay. Maybe that won’t work. But look, this is what I’m talking about. I’m flying blind here; I don’t know anything.”

Andrew sighed and rubbed a big hand over his forehead. “Okay. I’ll go with you. But you do all the talking; I’ll just stand in the background and take notes and, I dunno, look pretty, I guess.”

“Very pretty.”

“Shut up.”

 

The night porter hadn’t had anything to add to his explanation and trying to track down whoever had bought the coffee, had given them nothing more than a description of a nondescript black woman in her late thirties, early forties.

If they wanted information, they needed to know about the victim and this was why Evelyn and Andrew were right now standing outside a nightclub which was currently closed. It was named Dunluce Castle and Andrew had reluctantly told her that it was the place to be and be seen for fairies and their hang arounds. If Mr. Belenus stayed out till five, this was the likeliest place.

Evelyn knocked at the door, waited a moment and when nobody answered, she pounded on it with her fist.

There was a sound of incoherent muttering and then the door was unlocked and opened just a crack. A pale woman peered out at them, blinking owlishly in the sharp midday light.

“Homicide,” said Evelyn and flashed her badge. “We need to speak to you and anyone who was working here last night.”

“About what?” The voice was beautiful, melodic, making the two words sound like a poem. Behind her, Evelyn heard Andrew clear his throat loudly.

She unfolded a scan of Mr. Belenus’ ID-card and showed it to the woman. “Was he here last night?”

The woman’s eyes went wide and she made a jerk as if to slam the door, but then changed her mind. “Better come in,” she said.

January 28, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge – Fairy Tales Remix

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , , , — Eva Therese @ 7:42 pm

Challenge as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here. I rolled a natural 20 and got Detective as my genre and in my head Detective always translate to Noir.
Note, it’s be years since I read the fairy tale or watched the adaptation in Jim Henson’s Storyteller, so if the details differ from what you remember, that’s why. I don’t have an old or rare version lying around somewhere, I just have a bad memory.

———————————————————————————————————————————–

Like all the others, this story started with ‘a dame walked into my office’. After that came trouble, as always. It’s not that I never learn; by now I’m perfectly well aware, that a beautiful woman walking into my office means trouble and lots of it, but somehow my common sense is always overruled by wishful thinking. And in this case, there was more than enough to be wishing and thinking about. Long red hair, legs that seemed to go on for miles and eyes dark and dangerous like the sea during a storm.

And so it was that, rather than send her packing, I told the lady to have a seat and pour her heart out. I even offered her a drink, which she declined, so I drank it myself, while I listened.

“Please, Mr. Horowitz “It’s my husband … He’s … He’s disappeared.” She lifted a handkerchief to her eyes.

I frowned. “Listen, Mrs…?”

“Kitsis. Emma Kitsis.”

“Mrs. Kitsis. In most of the cases I have involving disappeared husbands and boyfriends, I find things that make my clients wish that they had never hired me in the first place.”

She looked at me indignantly. “It’s not like that,” she said, like so many before her.

“Be that as it may, I will be requiring payment up front.” Some things I had learned.

“Very well. Money is not an issue.” She folded the handkerchief with a brisk movement. “But once I’ve told you my story, you’ll see that it’s not like that at all.” She hesitated. “I suppose I should go back to the very beginning.”

“Please do.”

“A year ago my father found himself in a dark place. I won’t go into details, sufficient to say that it was a very dark place. My husband … Well, he wasn’t my husband back then … Mr. Kitsis, helped him out of the situation and in his gratitude my father promised him anything. Anything at all. Imagine his dismay, when Mr. Kitsis asked for the hand in marriage of one of his daughters.” She looked down at her immaculately manicured hands and added in a low voice: “He had a deformity, that made him very unattractive to look at. Had never had any luck with women, I guess.”

“That sort of thing is against the law,” I pointed out.

“Oh, there wasn’t actual forcing involved. No-one was dragged off to the altar. My father wouldn’t even ask me or my sisters to do it. But I felt it would be very bad to go back on a promise that had been given out of gratitude, even if Mr. Kitsis was asking for something that, strictly speaking, wasn’t my father’s to give.”

“And maybe you feared repercussions. After all, Mr. Kitsis must have been a man with some power.”

She licked her lips. “Maybe,” she said dismissively. “But that hardly matters now. The important thing is that we got married. And then we got to the wedding night.” She actually managed to blush prettily as she said the words. I wondered how she did it. “And he …” She hesitated once more and frowned. “He transformed,” she said finally.

“Transformed?” I eyed my by now empty glass and wondered if I should have another. “Metaphorically?” I ventured.

“Literally. When he lay down beside me, he turned into a beautiful young man. He told me he was under a curse and that I could help him break it.”

A curse. There was trouble and there was big trouble and then there were curses. My common sense was getting the better of my wishful thinking and I was seriously considering asking the lady to get the hell out of my office. Instead I grabbed the bottle and poured another drink. “A curse. Go on.”

“By agreeing to marry him, I had lifted the curse at night. But for it to be lifted completely, I would need to keep it all a secret for a year and a day. I couldn’t tell anyone.”

I knew what came next.

She looked down and lifted the handkerchief once more to her eyes. “But I couldn’t keep it. My sisters weaseled it out of me. They pretended to be worried about me, about my happiness, but really they were just jealous because I was happy. Anyway, the moment the words left my lips, I heard a roar. I ran upstairs, but my husband was … gone.” She sniffled and looked up at me with those huge, dark eyes, shining with tears. “You have to find him, Mr. Horowitz. Find him and break the curse.

I cleared my throat. “I may not be an expert, but shouldn’t it be you who go looking for him? You, who break the curse?”

She lowered her gaze demurely. “I am with child.”

I looked at her stomach, but there was nothing to see. I fact, it didn’t even look like she had had any breakfast, that was how flat it was. Still, it wasn’t hard to believe that spending several nights in bed with a handsome young man, could have had that result. “Yes, I see why your delicate condition would make it impossible for you to travel the world, looking for your true love.”

She smiled at me, a little too eagerly. “So will you find my husband?”

My common sense and my wishful thinking had a short but heated debate in my brain. There’s no telling who would have won, but then the two glasses of whiskey interfered and reminded both sides, that the lady was married to a wealthy man and that I needed to get paid if I wanted more whiskey. This made my common sense pause and my wishful thinking started to dream about whiskey.

“Yeah, I’ll take the case,” I said, already thinking about where to start. I knew a few birds who might be willing to sing for me.

Blog at WordPress.com.