Lost in Space – Short story competition

ON NOW

**Update** 06/19/2017 I won! This is the winning submission for the Lost in Space short story contest. I am thrilled and completely humbled to have won my very first competition.

This piece was written as my submission for the Lost in Space short story competition hosted by Floriopolis.

“I’m sorry, Detective Mackay, but there is no student with that name and birth date at this school.”

“You’re sure?” I knew I was pushing it, but I just didn’t understand how this could be possible. The large red-headed guidance counselor – whose faded name tag identified her as Ms. Simons, ‘Director of Guidance’ – breathed a loud sigh and pushed her glasses up her sweaty nose. She turned back to her computer and banged a few keys on the keyboard. I didn’t miss the longing look she gave the smut novel sitting on the other side of her desk.

“I am positive,” she said, turning back to me. “Would you like me to try an alternate spelling?”

“How many ways can you spell Peter Miller?” I asked. My aggravated tone was immediately greeted with a threatening look from Ms. Simons. I wanted to get right in her face and tell her that a young man, who at one point had definitely attended her school, was missing and I needed to find him immediately. I could tell, however, that she was done with me. My snark was delaying her precious alone time with Mr. Exposed Nipples on the cover of her book, the spine of which looked very well worn from many lonely afternoons.

“Well, if there’s nothing else I can help you with sir, I have work to do,” she said, placing her reading glasses on top of her head.

“Thank you for your time, Ms. Simons,” I said with as much appreciation as I could muster. I pushed myself out of the stiff office chair and made my way to the hallway. As I turned to shut her office door, I watched as the eager guidance counselor picked up her novel and reached into her desk drawer for a bag of spicy Cheetos. Work to do, indeed.

 

I pulled my tablet out of my bag to consult the case file as I walked through the school’s courtyard. Class wouldn’t be out for a few more minutes, so I decided to sit on top of a red picnic table and pull up the victim’s information. Peter Miller. He was currently a high school senior at Ridgemont High – or he was supposed to be, anyway. A quick glance at the sign in front of the building told me that I was in the right place. Peter was last seen at a local coffee shop after school on September 25th, 2028. I quickly opened the calendar application on the tablet to make sure it was in fact the 25th of September. Going back just a few days didn’t usually mess with my devices, but I checked anyway just to be on the safe side. I didn’t understand how there was no record of Peter being a student here. Peter’s parents had given me full access to all of his information, including Peter’s last school yearbook.

I had never had something like this happen on a case. Detectives of my kind were still fairly new since the discovery of time travel was only about a decade ago. Most cases were open and shut. Someone would go missing, get kidnapped, or even be murdered, and if their family had enough money, my firm would be contacted. We conducted investigations in the P.D., or present day, to find out when and where they were last seen and whom they were with. We would then travel back to the time of their last appearance, find them, and get them to a safe house until we were able to catch the perpetrator. The bell rang, bringing me out of my thoughts. I looked up as students began to flood the courtyard.

“Excuse me, what’s today’s date?” I asked a student who was walking by.

“Um, the 25th, I think,” he said while he pulled his phone out to check.

“Yes, but what is the year?” I asked as I looked back at my tablet.

The boy gave me a puzzled look. “Dude, it’s 2028,” he said with an eye roll as he walked past me while mumbling something about pot heads.

Dude, it was September 25th, 2028.

The day Peter Miller disappeared without trace.

One day before his parents had reported him missing.

Two days before they had reached out to me for my private detective services.

Three days before I would call Ridgemont High to confirm that Peter Miller was currently a student and had been in class on the 25th of September 2028.

I flipped through the file, and found Peter’s parking lot number. I hopped off of the picnic table with a new determination. I knew that if Peter was not a student on record he wouldn’t be parked in his spot, but I wanted to see who was.

I pulled into spot 74 and turned off my engine. Peter’s Jeep was supposed to be parked here for another 10 minutes at least, according to the time on my dashboard. I heard a voice outside my window and looked up to find a girl talking animatedly on her phone. I immediately recognized her, and smiled at my luck. This girl had to know Peter. Maybe she knew why he wasn’t a student here anymore, or where I could find him. Bethany Flemming, Peter Miller’s girlfriend. This bubbly girl with the contagious laugh has no idea that in just 48 hours she will be in my office crying, telling me about the last time she had seen Peter. She was the last person to see him at the coffee shop where they had met to study for a calculus test. She would look up at me through her tears, a look of vague recognition in her eyes. “You look familiar,” she will say with a croaky voice as she leaves my office. Even after 5 years of doing this job, it still gave me a thrill when someone subconsciously made a time travel connection.

Only our clients knew what we did; it’s one of our rules. Former clients were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating they would never reveal the identity of their investigator. We aren’t stupid, we know people talk. How else would we get work? Unfortunately more and more people were finding out about us and wanted to either join ranks or stop us. The ones who wanted to stop us posed more of a threat, obviously, because they were mostly the people who got caught.

I opened my door just as she hung up her phone call. I gave her a nod and a smile when she looked up at me.

“Excuse me, miss, who usually parks here?” I asked.

“No one. That spot has been empty all year,” she answered as she threw her book bag in the backseat of her car. This was getting stranger by the minute. How does she not know who Peter is? They had dated for two years and, according to his parents, Peter had wanted to propose once they graduated. I felt my heart begin to race as a million different questions flew through my brain. Where was this kid? Had someone completely erased his existence? Who would be capable of doing that? Someone with access to time travel. The idea that criminals were evolving to outrun us both terrified and excited me.

“Do you know a Peter Miller?”

I shouldn’t have asked that. It could risk too many things, but I couldn’t stop myself from blurting it out. Bethany thought for a moment before answering.

“I don’t think so, does he go here?” she asked.

“I thought he did. Thank you for you for your time.”

I gave her one final smile and turned to make my way back to my car. I sat and stared at my steering wheel as I contemplated the two possible courses of action I could take. One was to go back to the present and check all the facts with Peter’s parents – if they were still his parents, that is. The second was to go back to Peter’s birth date and make sure he was actually born. Having made my decision I reached over to open my glove compartment to get out my travel device when something caught my eye. There was a mark on the front of the glove compartment that I had never noticed before. I ran my finger over the mark, it was a scratch in the shape of an “F”. When I pulled my finger away from the scratch, another mark began to form. I sat back in my seat, unable to believe what I was seeing. I watched as the words “FIND ME” appeared in deep scratches across my glove compartment.

Summer Reading Adventure

Summer reading (1)

I grew up performing in some fashion. Whether it was singing, dancing, or just trying to make my friends laugh. When I was in high school I got into the Theatre and a true passion was ignited. I took a break from the acting world for a few years once I graduated college with a degree in Theatre.

Recently I decided to dive back in and had my first role in 8 years as Blanche Dubois in a local production of A Streetcar Named Desire. It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time and it made me realize how much I had missed acting.

Taking on the role of Blanche is extremely taxing on the actor who portrays her. Even more so if that actor has a full time job and is a wife and mother, like myself.  I can’t wait to take on my next theatrical endeavor, but right now I am taking a break for a little while until another show comes along that I want to audition for. In the meantime, I’ve decided to occupy my mind and satisfy my Theatre itch by making a a summer reading list of scripts to read.

This list is compiled of classics, staples, and new work. I asked friends and the internet for plays that all actors should read and this is what I came up with. Most of these I have not read and some of them I have, but not in a very long time.

So without any further ado, here is a list of 15 plays I will read over the next three months.

Betrayal – Harold Pinter
Richard III – William Shakespeare
Bright Ideas – Eric Coble
Red – John Logan
Uncommon Women and Others – Wendy Wasserstein
The Pillowman – Martin McDonagh
Killer Joe – Tracy Letts
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf – Edward Albee
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
Dr. Faustus – Christopher Marlowe
Long Day’s Journey Into Night – Eugene O’Neil
Machinal – Sophie Treadwell
Oedipus the King- Sophocles
Shadow Box – Michael Cristofer
Private Lives – Noel Coward

 

 

Writing Prompt – Guardians

HALDEN

Prompt- Write a scene that begins with: “Joe was the last person on Earth I expected to do that.”

****This prompt exercise is not super edited and is a very rough draft****

Joe was the last person on Earth that I expected to do that. I mean, I don’t expect a lot of men to show up on my roof at 4:37 in the morning, tell me that I am the leader of an ancient supernatural race, sprout wings, and then fly me to an open field full of men and women with the same wings. Yet, that is exactly what has happened.

Joe, really? He’s always seemed so average. He literally is an average freaking joe! Average height and build with an everyday middle aged male haircut. His hair is even a mousy dishwater blonde. I always overlooked Joe, he was just there in the background. That was his goal, I guess. That’s what a royal supernatural “guardian” is supposed to do, blend in.

So tonight Joe shows up on my roof, wings out, and explains that he has been watching over me. Protecting me my entire life, and that there has been some terrible disturbance in the lives of my “people” and I have to go save them. I literally just met this man three years  ago when I took the job at  Terra Corp, the largest environmental law firm in the city. He’s been my mild mannered supervisor (oh the irony) ever since.

I thought I’d had one too many G&T’s that night and this was just some weird drunken dream, what else could explain it? I turned to go back inside and Joe swooped, like actually swooped in and picked me up. We flew off into the night. I’m pretty sure I screamed and called him every single horrible name I could think of.

We finally landed in the field and I immediately threw up. Yep, too many G&T’s. “What in the actual hell, Joe?” I asked in between ragged breaths. I was doubled over on my hands and knees. “I’m sorry Julie, I know this is a lot to take in. I didn’t want you to find out this way, but orders are orders.” Joe walked to me cautiously and crouched to put a comforting hand on my shoulder. “Would you like some water?” Joe asked as I stood and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. “I’d prefer an explanation!”, I said, sounding completely hysterical. Joe looked around, we were off to the side of a wide field where a few tents were set up with benches and different weapons. It was then that I noticed that the sky looked like it was around noon, instead of the early hours of the morning. “Let’s start with water.” He then took off faster than a human could possibly move.

I collapsed on a nearby bench looking out over the field where incredibly muscular men and women were sparring with swords and spears. Where the fucking hell was I? “You are the only living leader.” Joe’s crazy words repeated in my foggy brain. Leader of who? I’ve never lead anything, or anyone. I did assistant direct a production of Death of a Salesman in 10th grade. Does that count as previous work experience? My head was pounding and my stomach was rumbling.

“What are you thinking?” Joe said as he handed me a canteen of water. I was startled by is words, I didn’t even hear him walk up.“I’m thinking that I am way more drunk than I thought I was, and I have a fantastic imagination.” I took generous gulps of water. “Julie, you aren’t drunk, and you’re not dreaming. There is still more for me to explain, and a lot for you to learn. Are you going to be okay?” Joe looked at me with fatherly concern. That was new. “Yeah, I’m cool.” I said unconvincingly as I finished my water. Joe laughed, and it was the most comforting thing I’d heard in the last 24 hours. Joe stood and reached a hand out to me. “Come on, I’ll show you around the camp.”

White Chapel Avenue Chapters 2 and 3

What happened (1)

Chapter Two

Chaos surrounded the detectives as they exited the elevator on the trauma floor of the hospital. Doctors and nurses buzzed about, taking care of patients and going over charts. A team of doctors pushing a patient on a gurney nearly side swiped Detective Jenkins on their way to the operating room. Nick walked up to the reception desk where several nurses were busy working.

“We’re here to see Jacqueline Maynard,” he said across the desk to the nurses. None of them looked up from what they were doing. The hallway was loud and crowded so he repeated himself a little louder. Two nurses looked up and gave him a dirty look for interrupting them. He turned to Jenkins, throwing his hands up. Jenkins chuckled to himself.

“What? You find this funny, Jenkins?” Nick asked, clearly frustrated.

“You’re such a cop, “Jenkins said as he sauntered over to the end of the desk where a blonde nurse was busy typing up chart notes. He turned to Nick and mouthed, “Watch this.”

The older detective turned back to the nurse as he smoothed his gray hair back and prepared his best smile. Jenkins may have been older than his partner, but he still had his boyish charm and rugged good looks. “Excuse me Miss, I hate to interrupt your work. I know you’re terribly busy…”

The nurse looked up at Jenkins. She couldn’t help but return his smile with her own. “Wow, you have a great smile,” Jenkins said. He made a point to look over at Nick with a big grin. Nick rolled his eyes, he usually hated putting up with Jenkins’s antics but he needed this to work.

“Thank you, “ the nurse said, obviously flattered. “What can I do for you?”

Jenkins pulled out his badge and laid it on the desk, “I’m Detective Jenkins and we’re here to speak with the attempted murder victim that was brought in about an hour ago.”

“Oh yes, poor thing. She’s really shaken up.” Nick moved in closer to hear what the nurse was saying. “I believe the doctor is in with her now, I can check and see if she’s ready to see you.”

Jenkins gave his partner a wink, “That would be lovely.”

The nurse got up and went into a room directly across from the reception desk. Jenkins gave Nick a satisfied smile. “And that is how it’s done, my boy,” he said, slapping Nick on the shoulder. “You need to learn how to finesse the fairer sex.”

“I’ll be sure to work on that,” Nick said dryly.

They both looked over when they heard a door open and close. The nurse was walking back towards them with a doctor following closely behind.

“Are you the detectives that need to speak with Miss Maynard?” the doctor asked as he looked down at the chart in his hands. The two nodded.

“I’m Detective Mendoza and this is Detective Jenkins. How bad is she?” he asked.

“She’s had severe trauma to her head, which could affect her memory for awhile. Other than that just a few minor bumps and bruises. She’s very lucky,” the doctor said, folding the chart under his arms.

“Is she conscious?” asked Nick. He was getting a little antsy to speak with Jacqueline. He knew that having a witness could be a great thing for a case, but waiting too long could cause the witness’s memory to become foggy. The human memory was a tricky thing.

“She’s going in and out, but you may go in if you need to.”

“Thanks, doc,” Nick said, walking past him to the door.

 

“Mendoza!” a gruff voice called from the hallway.

Nick squeezed his eyes shut as a feeling of dread came over him. Why is the captain here? He thought to himself. He turned to the intimidatingly tall man now standing at the reception desk. He was in a suit even though it was two in the morning. This told Nick he was here on business.

“Captain Barrett, I hope my text didn’t wake you. I just wanted to let you know what was happening,” Nick said, walking over to him. “Jenkins and I are about to talk to the witness.”

Captain Barrett, with his buzzed hair cut and square posture, was every bit a former military man. This was the man that Nick needed to impress. This was also the man who scared the piss out of him.

“Of course you woke me up,” the captain said, exasperated with the young detective. “I’m here to make sure you don’t ruin this investigation. A lot can go wrong with a witness,” the captain said, looking Nick square in the eyes.

“I know, sir. I think I can handle it. I already built a rapport with the woman at the scene. I think she trusts me, “ Nick said, feigning confidence. “Plus Jenkins will be with me,” he added quickly.

“I just don’t want to have to tell your father you blew this case,” the captain said. He knew that would cut Nick to the quick, and he used it to push the detective.

“You won’t need to,” Nick said. He was trying to hide his anger, but his fists were clenched tightly by his side. Captain Barrett nodded and Nick turned and walked past Jenkins to the hospital room door.

“I’ll be right here when you’re done,” the captain called as the two detectives stepped into the room.

 

“Man, that guy’s a dick,” Jenkins whispered. “I bet it sucks that him and your old man are such good friends, huh?”

Nick looked at his partner with his fists still clenched. “I don’t want to go there right now.” He walked over to the bed were Jacqueline appeared to be sleeping. “Miss Maynard?” Nick said softly. He hated to wake her when she looked so peaceful, but they needed to know what she saw. Nick waited for a response but she did not move. “She out?” Jenkins asked coming to stand opposite his partner on the other side of the bed. “Looks like it,” said Nick still looking down at her, watching her slow even breathing. There was something about her face that was hypnotic in a way. He found himself remembering her expressive eyes at the crime scene and wanted to see them again.

 

“She’s hot, right?” said Jenkins, effectively interrupting Nick’s thoughts.

He looked up at Jenkins. “That’s what this guy goes for,” Nick answered. “All his Vics have been beautiful.” Not as beautiful as this one, he thought to himself and then pushed that idea out of his head. He needed to focus on the task at hand.

Jenkins nodded in agreement. “Did you see the pictures of that yoga instructor before she got chopped?” Jenkins asked then whistled through his teeth. “Man, it sure is a shame that a body like that went to waste, and a redhead too! You know what they say about redheads…”

Nick was about to tell his partner to knock it off when Jacqueline stirred in her bed. “I must… I… must,” she said as her eyes fluttered open and then closed again.

Nick leaned down close to her ear. “Shh, it’s okay Jacqueline. You’re going to be okay,” he said soothingly.

Her eyes slowly blinked open. “I must… be… dreaming,” The two detectives looked at each other, confused.

“Jacqueline you’re in the hospital, you were attacked. I’m sorry, but you aren’t dreaming,” Nick said cautiously.

“I must be. A respectable cop would never speak that way about a dead woman,” Jacqueline said. Her voice was breathless, but her eyes shot daggers at Detective Jenkins. He looked down at the floor, embarrassed.

“Jacqueline, can we ask you a few questions about what happened to you?” Nick asked, trying to get her attention off of Jenkins.

She looked up at Nick, her eyes brimming with tears. “You can,” she said, “but he has to go.” She spat her words at Jenkins.

“I’m so sorry if I offended you, Jacqueline…” Jenkins began.

“Miss Maynard,” Jacqueline quickly corrected him.

Nick was surprised by her spunk and found himself trying hard not to smile at the discomfort of his partner. “It might be best if you step outside, Jenkins,” Nick said. Jenkins rolled his eyes as he left the room.

 

“I’m really sorry about my partner,” Nick said, turning back to to Jacqueline. She was looking up at him. Her eyes once again seemed to show her thoughts zipping through her mind at lightning speed. Nick wanted to know what she was thinking. “He’s a good cop, not necessarily a good person,” he said.

“You seem like a good person,” Jacqueline said thoughtfully.

Her words caught the detective off guard and a boyish smile broke across his face. “I try to be,” he said. “Do you mind if we talk about what happened tonight?”

Jacqueline nodded as she tried to prop herself up in the bed. Her face pinched together in pain and Nick reached down to help her. He placed a pillow behind her back to make her more comfortable.

“Thank you,” she said quietly.

“You okay?” Nick asked and immediately realized how idiotic of a question that was. Of course she wasn’t okay. The poor woman had walked in on her friend being dissected by a madman and then she almost died from a blow to the head.

“I guess so, all things considered,” she said with a faint smile. “I told you, I’m not sure what happened.” She brought her hand up and squeezed the bridge of her nose with her fingers to relieve pressure.

“That’s fine,” Nick said. “Let’s start somewhere else.” Jacqueline looked up at him with a look of sheer anxiety across her face. Nick continued, “How did you know Miss Kelly?”

“We, um, we work together, or I guess we did,” she answered, looking down at her hands and blinking back tears.

Nick cleared his throat. This was the worst part about his job – dealing with others’ pain and grief. He was the kind of person who took on others’ pain – always had been. He hated it. Solving the puzzle, catching the bad guy… that was what Nick loved about the job. Making sure that people in his community were safe was his driving force. He did not think he would ever get used to a crying victim. He wanted to reach out and comfort Jacqueline, but he knew that was a bad idea.

“Where do you work?” Nick asked, avoiding eye contact with her by taking down notes.

Jacqueline wiped tears from her eyes. “New Horizons Rehab Center. I am a behavioral psychologist. Mary taught yoga to the patients there three times a week. They all loved her.”

Nick had stopped writing and looked up from his notes at Jacqueline. “What? Why are you looking at me like that?” she asked, wondering why the detective had a huge grin that almost split his face in two.

“I’m sorry,” Nick said noticing that his expression seemed to unnerve her. He quickly asked his next question. “Did you or Mary ever have any affiliation with the Center for Hope?”

Jacqueline seemed to think on this for a moment. “Now that you mention it, yes. I consulted on some patient files a few years back at the request of the director; he was a friend from grad school. I don’t know about Mary.”

“What was the director’s name?” Nick asked. He could barely contain his excitement. “Thomas Johanson, but he couldn’t be involved with this,” she said, looking at Nick with confusion. She placed her head in her hands and closed her eyes. “My brain is so foggy. Can we do this later?”

Nick closed his note pad. “Of course,” he said, the smile returning to his face. He handed her a card from his pocket. “Why don’t you give me a call when you’re discharged and you can come down to the station to make your statement?”

“Okay,” Jacqueline said, examining the card with the detective’s name and number on it.

“Try to get some rest,” Nick said as he left the room. Jenkins and the captain were leaning against the wall right outside the door.

“Well, what’d you get, Mendoza?” Captain Barrett asked impatiently with his arms folded tightly across his chest.

“I got a connection,” Nick said, smiling to himself as he walked quickly towards the elevator. Jenkins and the captain exchanged confused looks before they quickly followed behind.

Chapter Three

Where do you start when dissecting a human body? To some, it might seem a little overwhelming. Do you start at the top or the bottom? The back or the front? How do you know the correct amount of pressure to apply to slice through the skin, but not puncture an organ?

My father used to have this saying whenever I would come to him overwhelmed by my school work or some other adolescent problem. He would look up from whatever book he was reading, with his slender reading glasses perched at the end of his nose and say; “How do you eat an elephant?”

After years of this I didn’t need him to answer the question for me. I would simply reply “One bite at a time,” and just like that a sense of invincibility would come over me. That mantra would act as a reset button to calm my nerves. His words were a reminder that anything can be conquered if you take it apart one piece at a time.

 

One bite at a time

 

Some people become killers because they feel like they have no control or because they are damaged. Aren’t we all damaged in some way? People assume the worst about serial killers. You have some weird religious belief. You were abused or molested as a child which causes you to lash out in a horrific manner. Or my favorite, you’re just plain evil. That is not always true. I don’t believe I am evil. Sometimes you just need to find the thing that makes you feel powerful. We all have our own coping methods.

My father’s words still ring in my head every time I drag my blade from sternum to navel. (That’s the answer by the way. Start at the top and work your way down.) All of my anxieties and insecurities, for the time being, float away with every layer I pull back. I get stronger and more powerful with every vital organ I remove.

I know my coping method isn’t ideal. I’m not crazy, I know killing people is wrong. We all know things we do are wrong, but we do them anyway. It all comes down to how bad off you are without your fix. I tried to cut back once. I really did try! I was at a point where I needed a fix once a week. I realized that is just too much. I found that keeping a token was a good way for me to cope between my outings. I chose to cut about a 5 inch length of hair from each of them. Enough to play with between my fingers when I get the itch. It’s always the last piece I remove. The final bite of my elephant.

Mary had the prettiest red hair I’d ever seen. I told her it was beautiful several times before I decided to take it. She would just smile and run her hands through her gorgeous red mane. Now I can run my fingers through it whenever I want.

 

Want More?
Check out previous chapters HERE

 

Timeline Prologue

I had this idea a few weeks ago, what if you knew the exact moment your loved ones were going to die? Then it evolved into more. What if it happened every time you made eye contact with someone.

I wondered what life would be like for that person. I wondered how they would feel about life and death. Would they try to save people? Would they be able to have any sort of relationships? What kind of job would they have?

So, I began to write. Timeline

Prologue

I got used to looking away. At first it was hard not to tell them or at least give them some sort of idea of when it would happen. For a time, I thought it was a great idea to tell them. Especially if it was going to happen soon. I’d be in line for coffee and I’d see someone on the phone and it would change, right then. Their time was sooner than it had been just a moment ago because of a choice they had made right then. I would try and approach them and find some way to let them know they were making a bad decision.Unfortunately you can’t just go around telling people that they will die very soon if they do this or that. They would tell me I was crazy, or call the cops. I learned to keep to myself and look down at the ground as I walked through a crowd.I became a loner at a very early age. I never had too many friends growing up. Knowing exactly when your friends were going to die isn’t something you want to have in your head every time you see them.

I can remember the first time it happened. I was about four or five. You know those hazy memories you have from your really early childhood? The ones that play through your head in a sort of stop motion sequence. I remember sitting on the floor of our living room playing with my new doll that Santa Claus had brought me. She had pretty auburn curls like me. I remember my dad calling my name “Hey, Sarah, look up here at daddy!” When I looked up, half of his face was covered by a big bulky camera. I could see him smiling and making noises to get me to pay attention. I remember letters and numbers appearing right over his head. I pointed at them and dad snapped the picture. I started to tell him the letters I saw. I pointed above his head and said, “M! I see M daddy!” I began to clap my hands in excitement as I identified the remaining letters and numbers. I’ll never forget the way my father’s face looked when he realized what I was reading.

My father also had the “knowledge”, that’s what the two of us would call it. He explained what it meant once I was a bit older. When I was still young and pointing out letters and numbers above people’s heads my dad would remind me it was not polite to point, so I would whisper it to myself. When I learned how to read, that’s when everything changed. I couldn’t understand why I was seeing days of the week and months written above people’s heads. I remember asking him if that was their birthday. He smiled down at me “Sort of, it’s a special day, a day where they move on to a new adventure,” he’d said. My dad was a pretty great dad. He was always so optimistic, which is pretty hard to be when your daughter has told you the exact date you will leave her on her own.

 

Writing Prompt: High School Warning

Writing Prompt

I am in the middle of writing two stories and sometimes I need a break from plotting and working through what happens when. So, I hop on the interwebs and search for a writing prompt to get my mind off of the story at hand. Writer’s block is real and it sucks. I try to combat this by turning to writing prompts. You don’t have to think too hard, it’s merely an exercise.  When working with a prompt, the basic idea is given to you. All you have to do is play.

You can find prompts anywhere, on pinterest, on tumblr, or in books. If you are stuck or bored, I encourage you to try and work on a prompt. Don’t worry about pretense or what happens in the future. Don’t worry about grammar or sentence structure, just start writing.
I found this writing prompt in a book I picked up about a year ago from Barnes and Noble.

 

Prompt: A kid in your grade whom you don’t know very well shows up at your house one day to tell you something important. What does he look like? What does he say?

 

I am staring through my peep hole at Josh McMahon. Why on Earth is Josh McMahon knocking on my front door? Don’t get me wrong, I have dreamed of Josh showing up on my doorstep to proclaim his undying love for me since freshman year, but he would actually have to know I existed for that to happen.

I slowly open the door and just stare at him. He is the epitome of every high school girls fantasy, whether they admit it or not. Low slung well fitted jeans, snug baseball shirt and converse tennis shoes. He looks around nervously and pushes his dark brown hair out of his face.

“Why?” is all I can manage to get out. I instantly regret that this is the very first word that I have ever said to Josh McMahon. His head snaps back to look at me with piercing green eyes. “I have to tell you something, can I come in?” , he takes one more nervous look around and I get the feeling that this is some sort of prank.

“You can’t tell me out here?” I ask, following his gaze to try and see who he might be looking for. “I really don’t want anyone to see me here.” Josh says hesitantly. “Wow, yeah, that totally makes me want to invite you in.” Feeling completely humiliated I go to shut the door. Josh steps forward placing his foot in the doorway. “I’m sorry, It’s just really important, and no one can know it came from me.” I wanted to kick him out of the doorway and slam the door in his face, but I couldn’t. He was looking at me with so much concern that it almost knocked the wind out of me.

I opened the door enough to let Josh pass through, and shut it behind him. Without a word I walked towards the kitchen and sat on a stool at the breakfast bar. Josh stood on the other side, palms on the counter looking around my parents kitchen. “Well?” I said expectantly. This was the weirdest afternoon I’d had in quite some time. He looked down at me and said “Sam Tyndall is going to ask you to prom.” Yep, this is definitely the weirdest afternoon I have EVER had. I sat there stunned in silence. If Josh McMahon was the prince of Duke High, Sam Tyndall was the king. Captain of the football team, only dated cheerleaders, you know the type. “You’re joking.” I found myself saying.Josh looked exasperated. “No, I’m not. You can’t go with him.”

What Happened on White Chapel Avenue?

What DID happen on White Chapel avenue? That is a very good question,  and Detective Nick Mendoza is trying desperately to find the answer. This is the third brutal homicide in as many months that the young detective has been called in to work on.

This is a work in progress who done it story.
In this post you will find The prologue and Chapter one.

What happened (1)

Prologue

If a desirable result follows an action, it is more likely that the action will occur again and again. The feeling of euphoria a junkie gets when they first take a hit. The numbness an alcoholic feels once they’ve passed out. The feeling a surgeon gets while his scalpel glides through human skin with ease. An orgasm.

Addiction stems from actions and results. Once a person has experienced the desired result, that action becomes a compulsion. They are constantly chasing that first high, wondering how they can make this time feel as good as it did then. How does one do that? How do you manage an addiction or a compulsion. You up the stakes.

The junkie seeks out harder drugs. The alcoholic drinks more. And the surgeon? The surgeon finds more people to dissect.

Chapter One

His coffee had gone cold, but he barely noticed. He knew he would need the caffeine, so he gulped it down as fast as he could.The day had been long and it was about to become an even longer night. Police cars and crime scene unit vehicles filled the narrow street in front of the White Chapel apartment building. Rain fell softly and reflected red and blue across Detective Nick Mendoza’s windshield as he idled to a stop. He quickly jumped out of his car, pulling the collar of his rain coat up around his ears.
“Where’s our witness?” Nick called to his partner, Detective Jenkins, who was standing on the sidewalk barking orders at anyone that would listen.
“She’s in the ambulance,” Jenkins said, meeting his partner in the street. “I figured you’d want to take a shot at her first, so I’ll be up at the scene. I heard it’s nasty.”
“Don’t move anything until I get up there,” Nick said.
“You got it, partner.” The detectives parted ways and Nick made his way over to the ambulance.

This is big, he thought to himself. He and Jenkins had been tracking this case for two months with little to go on. The detectives were frustrated to say the least. The only thing known about this guy was his shoe size and that he liked to dissect pretty women.  This killer was clean and meticulous, leaving barely a trace of evidence – but now there was a witness. A witness could change everything.  A witness could break this case wide open, and Nick was desperate for that to happen. His captain was showing a lot of faith in him by letting Nick handle this investigation. He knew if he screwed it up he’d be on traffic duty until retirement.  Although it had not been confirmed that this was the same perp, he had a gut feeling that it was. Cases like this made careers, and the young detective could taste the victory coming. He was going to get this guy come hell or high water.
He rounded the side of the ambulance, stopping abruptly when he saw a slender brunette sitting in the back. Her big green eyes were red and puffy from crying. She was wrapped in a blanket despite the warm night. An EMT stood in front of her as he worked on a gash on her forehead. She looked so small in the ambulance. The detective pushed the image of this young woman fighting for her life out of his head.
“Miss Maynard?” he asked, checking his note pad.

The woman sniffed and wiped a tear from her cheek. “Yes, I’m Jacqueline Maynard.”

“I’m detective Mendoza,” he said, moving his coat aside so she could see his badge. “I’d like to ask you a few questions, if that’s okay.”
“I’m not sure what happened.”
“That’s okay,” he said reassuringly. “Anything you remember could be helpful. Was he tall? Did he have a tattoo? Did he say anything?”

“You weren’t supposed to be here,” Jacqueline whispered as another tear ran down her face.
The EMT turned to the detective. “We really need to get her to a hospital.” Nick nodded. “Miss Maynard, I’ll meet you there and we can continue once you’re feeling a little better.”

She looked up at him, completely exhausted. “Please, call me Jacqueline,” she said softly. Her eyes were full of emotion despite her obvious fatigue. Nick could swear he saw a thousand thoughts dance across her eyes as he spoke to her. He thought she must still be reeling from what happened.

Gently placing a hand on her shoulder, he said “You’re safe now, Jacqueline.” She gave him a weak smile as the EMT helped her up into the ambulance. Nick shut the door and put his note pad back in his pocket.
He bounded up the stairs, taking them two at a time to get to the crime scene. There was a body in the hallway in front of the victim’s apartment. He got closer and saw that it was an elderly woman with multiple stab wounds. Nick knew immediately that she was not this guy’s type. He liked them young and beautiful.

“Collateral damage?” he asked the medical inspector who was standing over the old woman’s body. She nodded as she took down notes. The detective stepped around the body to reach the apartment door.

“Any sign of forced entry?” he asked the CSU technician inspecting the apartment door.

“Nope, just like the others,” the young man answered. Nick knew the answer to that question before it was given, but he liked to make people feel necessary. It came in handy when he needed a favor.

Once in the apartment, he took a look around. CSU were everywhere taking pictures and collecting evidence. In the middle of the living room on a plastic tarp was the body of a redheaded woman. Her abdomen was sliced open with her organs exposed, and her neck and limbs were severed from her body. Nick circled her body like a shark, mentally going over the evidence in front of him.
“He didn’t finish,” Nick called to his partner as he crouched down next to the body. “She’s still got all of her insides.”
“Looks like little Miss Maynard interrupted him,” Jenkins answered, taking a puff of his cigarette. Nick caught the scent of tobacco and his head shot up.
“Jenkins! Put that shit out!” he yelled. Jenkins rolled his eyes and threw the cigarette out the open window. He walked over to his partner, pulling his notepad out of his pocket.
“Our vic,” he began, indicating the woman on the floor. “Mary Kelly, 32. She was a yoga instructor.” He looked at Nick and wiggled his eyebrows.

“You’re seriously messed up in the head, Jenkins.”
Jenkins shrugged and continued. “No sign of forced entry so she probably knew the guy. Her friend, Maynard, came over while the guy was doing his thing and he cracked her in the skull with this.” He handed Nick an evidence bag containing a silver candle holder stained with blood.

“Why didn’t he kill her?” he asked, inspecting the candle holder.

“He must’ve thought he had,” answered Jenkins.
“And the woman in the hall?”
“The neighbor, Ms. Harvey, was stabbed to death. She must have heard all the commotion and came over. She bled out before anyone could get here.” Jenkins flipped his notepad closed. He pulled a straw from behind his ear and put it in his mouth to chew.

Nick walked to the door mat where he had noticed wet boot prints. “Same boots?” he asked Jenkins.

“Same boots. Too bad that brand is a dime a dozen,” Jenkins confirmed, shaking his head.
“Detectives!” A CSU technician burst into the apartment holding a small evidence bag. “I think we got something!” The tech exclaimed.

“What is it?” Nick asked, quickly walking over to him. He yanked the bag from his hand and inspected it. “Jenkins, if this bastard left his DNA, I’m getting a lottery ticket!” he said with a smile. “Where was this?”
“On the fire escape,” the technician explained. “The window that leads out to it was open when we got here.”
“And we’re sure it’s not Jenkins’s?”
Detective Jenkins grabbed the evidence bag and looked closely at the cigarette butt in the bag. “Nope, not my brand. Are we sure it’s not Mary Kelly’s?” Jenkins asked.
“She was a yoga instructor. If she smoked, I’ll buy you a lottery ticket.” He took the bag from Jenkins and gave it to the CSU tech. “Get this to the lab ASAP!” The tech nodded and left the room.
“We need to get to the hospital to talk to our witness,” Nick said, unable to hide his excitement as he turned to leave the apartment. Jenkins found himself having to jog to keep up with his partner. “Her head was banged up, but she seemed pretty alert.”

Jenkins chuckled and shook his head as the two men walked down the stairs and back out to the street.

“What?” Nick asked, confused by his partner’s reaction. He didn’t realize he had a huge smile on his face.

“You look like someone just handed you your first dirty magazine.” Jenkins laughed as they got into the squad car and took off towards the hospital.

 

Want more?
Read the next installment HERE