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.

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.”

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.”