Friday, June 25, 2010

#FridayFlash 41: Ransom

Eyebrows were raised when I said @ 9:30 this eve that I was going to write my Friday Flash. Apparently that seemed to be leaving it to the last minute or something. Clearly not as I still have a whole HOUR left in Friday! hahaha. Even more impressive -- I wrote part of this one twice. Started it, got about three paragraphs in, decided I hated it, deleted all but the first line, and started over. Then I finished this one but the ending didn't match the tone of the rest of the piece, so I rewrote that. Still not entirely sure about it -- suggestions?

Definitely not my usual style, but I hope you like it! Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading :)


I could've avoided all that trouble if only I'd taken the ransom note seriously.

But I mean seriously, who ransoms shoes? I mean yes, they were super-cute summer sling-backs that matched my sexy dress perfectly and made me just tall enough to seem petite rather than short. And yes, they cost me an ENTIRE paycheque. Which, by the way, I'd appreciate you not telling my mother. So yes, when I took them off at Lissa's party and couldn't find them in the morning for the walk of shame, I was more than slightly disappointed. But I had to get home and changed for work, so I left with nothing more than a cursory search.

Lissa, being the awesome friend she is, swore to me she'd tear the place apart to find them. She understands how hard it is to find the perfect shoes. Arguably a more important find than the perfect man. And to lose them just as easily. Harsh. Very harsh. So when her text came in a few hours later, I expected a joyous "Found!" or even "U owe me!" -- either of which would've been entirely reasonable. But "Call me asap!" was a bit of a puzzle. Lissa always speaks in exclamation marks though -- that same message could apply because she's being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery or because she's not sure which shade of nail polish to apply.

I didn’t even bother to make an excuse to my boss as to why I was stepping out of the office, just took my phone and went outside. I was reasonably certain this would not be deemed a professional conversation. “What’s up?” I asked when Lissa answered her phone.

“They’ve been ransomed!!!!”

Even for Lissa, that was excessive. “What? Who’s been ransomed?”

“Your shoes!” There was a moment of silence while my brain tried to process that information and form an appropriate response, but Lissa didn’t wait for me to catch up. “I found the note stuck to the closet door. ‘If you ever want to see the shoes again, you’ll meet me at David’s Pub on 44th street at 8:00 on Saturday evening.’ You have to go rescue your shoes!”

“Uh Lis,” I wondered how to point out the obvious, “whoever has the shoes probably thinks they’re yours.” Dead silence from my usually verbose friend. “They came out of your closet, at your party. Points for the most creative pickup line ever – but they’ve directed it at the wrong person.”

“No way!!!” Lissa stated vehemently, “I would NEVER wear shoes like that!”

“Hey! What’s wrong with my shoes? I love those shoes!”

“Oh I know you do, and they’re great for you. But for me? I’d look like an elephant walking on stilts if I tried to wear those.”

I considered this briefly before conceding the accuracy of the analogy. “But it doesn’t negate the fact that whoever the shoe thief…”

“shoe kidnapper!” Lissa interrupted, “or shoenapper? They do intend to give them back.”

“Ok whoever the shoenapper is, probably thinks they’re yours.”

“All the more reason for you to go then. You get your shoes back AND foil their plans in the process. Perfect!”

“Perfect except that I’m left meeting a strange guy in a bar to rescue my shoes.”

“Aren’t they worth it?” She had a good point.

And so it came to be that on Saturday night I was at David’s Pub, wearing totally uncute running shoes and looking decidedly short rather than sexy, wondering how I would know who was holding my shoes hostage.

“I'm glad you came,” the voice spoke from behind me. I turned to see the man I’d spent the first half of Lissa’s party trying to work up the courage to speak to. “I believe these are yours?” he asked, holding up my shoes. My eyes lit up; a petty girlish reaction but I couldn’t help it. They were amazing shoes. But as I reached for them, he held them out of reach. “The ransom is that you have to let me buy you dinner. Then you get your shoes back.”

I raised my eyebrows and looked down my nose at him, trying to do my best Mrs. Smith scary middle-school librarian impression. Let me tell you, it’s hard to look intimidating when you’re wearing running shoes and are a foot and a half shorter than the person you’re trying to look down on.

“And desert,” he added to his list of demands. Clearly my intimidation attempt had failed miserably. I pretended to consider the situation.

“I suppose I can live with that,” I agreed as he led the way to a window-booth. How could I help but be flattered that he’d apparently gone to all this effort for me. Not gorgeous TALL gregarious Lissa. Me. I was starting to regret the uncute running shoes.

I should’ve known then. I should’ve realized that anybody creative and dedicated enough to go to all that effort for a first date would turn my world upside down. If only I’d taken the ransom note seriously, I would’ve entirely avoided all the trouble that followed. All the practical jokes. My wedding shoes disappearing (heads nearly rolled for that one!). Learning to fear April Fools Day. But then I would also have missed out on the one man more important than even the best pair of sexy sling-backs.

Friday, June 18, 2010

WAG and #FridayFlash 40: Fish Out of Water

Originally posted for WAG, I'm sharing for FridayFlash too mostly becaue it was one of those ones that left me shaking my head wondering "where did that come from?" and thankful I don't have a shrink to analyze it *g*

For those who are interested in such things, the challenge was: Sometimes it’s easy to tell when someone is out of their element. It can be their clothing, their manner, what they’re carrying with them… so many things give them away. This week, observe (or create) someone who is out of place and describe what tells you they’re a fish out of water. Your target can be a tourist, someone who is in an unfamiliar place/situation, someone at a new workplace, or any of a million times in our lives we can end up somewhere we’ve never been before.

Let me know what you think!


A Fish Out of Water

“Like a fish out of water,” the woman said as she walked by. As if she couldn’t hear. As if it wouldn’t hurt.

She knew she was different, of course, but would it really be so hard for them to accept her? She expected it from her peers. Children are cruel, and teenagers evil her mother had told her, but when it came from the adults it made the situation seem particularly hopeless. Even if she did outgrow it, there would never be acceptance.

“Don’t go near the river.” It was the only truly unbreakable law. But how was she to know that? They’d only just moved in. Oh sure, she’d been told, but how serious a rule was it? I mean compared to don’t take drugs and stay away from strangers, going to see the river hardly seemed tragic.

And it probably wouldn’t’ve been if it hadn’t been for the other kids. Teenagers now, but mere children at the time. Picking on the new kid and flirting with danger all at once. What could be better? When they pushed her in, nothing was hurt but her pride. She could swim – and it was only a few inches deep anyways. She’d only swallowed a mouthful.

She’d been pleased by the horror on the adults’ faces; thinking for sure her tormentors would be punished. Until she realized the horror was directed at her.
She went home wet and alone. Her parents dried her off and assured her it’d get better. They might’ve even thought they were telling the truth.

That night she awoke choking. Her lungs screamed as she gasped desperately for air. She faded gratefully into unconsciousness as her father desperately applied the little CPR he could recall from a long ago first aid class and her mother ran for any assistance she could find.

They would tell her later what had happened. They would tell her about their elderly landlady insisting they fill a bath tub and put her in it. About how they were so scared of losing her, they tried it. They would tell her how terrified they were by her first transformation and how the wise woman warned them to be there at daybreak to get her out of the water.

They had to tell her because she couldn’t remember. And then she remembered all too well, as every night and every morning was met with terrifying suffocation and her days and nights were spent in fear.

It lasted until the gills broke through behind her ears. Once that happened she could manage the transformation far more smoothly. With that ability she began to venture out on her own; swimming and exploring the aqua world that was rapidly becoming home. Before long, she was spending her human days longing for her aquatic nights in the river where she was, if not entirely accepted, at least not shunned; she could move about the various social classes being claimed by none but accepted by all. Such was the way of the sea. By day, however, she was treated as though she were less – rather than more – than human. To them, she would forever be nothing more than a slightly unusual fish out of water.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

#FridayFlash 39 - Just Another Day - Conclusion

So I know technically this isn't a flash on it's own, but it IS the requested conclusion to a flash I wrote a while back. So I hope you'll read and enjoy :) Just Another Day started with "As her lunch companion's head exploded, Mary took a last sip of her espresso before sliding out of the booth..." and ended with Mary considering a career change as she was unwillingly saddled with a partner. Here we have the conclusion :)

Comments very welcome! Thanks for reading :)

Just Another Day - Conclusion

Mary’s day had started out poorly. Her main lead had been shot before she’d gotten any information from him and the math professor she’d questioned turned out to be the father of her missing person…

“Trevor Peters is my son.”

“Which is precisely why I came to speak to you,” Mary said with just enough derision in her voice to almost cover her surprise. The professor managed to convey his complete disbelief with just a look. He stalked past Mary out of the house leaving her to follow. She got in the passenger side of his car just before he pulled out of the driveway.

“You know where he went?” she asked.

“There’s only one place left.” He didn’t elaborate. “So what has Trevor done that would attract the attention of your employers?” the professor asked after a few minutes.

Mary didn’t even bother to give the standard confidentiality speech. “He wrote some code that can hack our systems,” she told him outright, “which makes him a threat to national security.”

She considered leaving it at that, but her internal code – sometimes at odds with the agency’s – wouldn’t let her. “What makes Trevor different,” she continued, “is that he gave it to us. He’s a brilliant hacker, but he’s using his skills to help his country. We have a vested interest in finding him before the killers do; not only for the sake of international relations, but because we can offer him protection.”

“Protection he doesn’t want,” the professor stated.

“No way of knowing until we find him,” Mary argued.

“He’s my son. I know.”

They drove the rest of the way in silence. Mary noted the twisted circling route the professor took; very much the way she would’ve driven. She wondered briefly what he’d done before he decided to teach undergrad mathematics.

Eventually they found themselves on a dirt road heading up into the mountains. After some time, the professor pulled off the road fairly deep into the bush and parked, a quick look around confirmed his car would be entirely out of site of the road. They hiked a short distance to a clearing; Mary was surprised to see a Kinkade style cottage with an elaborately landscaped garden in front of it. Somehow she’d been expecting a rundown shack, not something quite so elegant and effeminate.

“It belonged to his mother,” the professor muttered out the corner of his mouth, accurately reading Mary’s surprise. “It was her dream cottage.”

“That’s not his car,” the professor told her of the beat-up green Jetta in the driveway. “Trevor would never bring somebody here.” The warning was unnecessary; Mary knew from his body language that the car was a bad sign.

“I’ll go look,” Mary told him. The professor started to argue, but here Mary was in her element. “I’m faster and more flexible,” she told him. “I can get in and see what’s going on and get back unseen.” Acknowledging the validity of her point, he showed her the blindspots that would enable her to approach the house safely and suggested the best window to eavesdrop under.

Following his advice she darted forward. Her heart pounded in the loud but slow rhythm it always entered when she was in a tense situation. The shades were open – a novice mistake. She risked a glance and ascertained there was nobody in sight. Carefully, she crept to the back door, opened it a crack and ducked to the side. With no response from inside, she widened it enough to slip through and found herself in a hallway.

She could hear voices upstairs, but took the time to peer quickly into each room on the ground floor before focusing on them. She was alone for the moment, and judging by what she could hear it would seem that Trevor was still alive.

Her back to the wall, she crept slowly up the cottage steps, testing each stair to avoid a fatal creak. She cautiously approached the room. Risking a glance, she was relieved to see there were only three people in the room. Her quarry was sitting at the computer typing, his body radiating all kinds of stress. A man stood behind him watching the screen, left hand on his shoulder, the right holding a gun loosely at his side. Beside the door, but fortunately not paying quite enough attention was the last man, armed but also appearing entirely relaxed.

Mary took a second to consider her options. One against two, with a hostage. But she had the advantage of surprise. And they were relaxed. No problem. Of course she should call for backup, or at very least go get the professor. But by the time she left and came back who knew what state Trevor might be in? She hoped he was working slowly to prolong his value to the captors, but she couldn’t count on it.

She entered low, fast and loud, using her second of surprise to land a powerful side-kick to the groin of the man by the door while shooting the right shoulder of the man by the hostage. Maybe she wasn’t slipping, she thought with a grin. In the next second she snagged the gun the man writhing on the floor was reaching for and pointed it at the one she’d shot . “Don’t even consider it,” she told him as he went to reach his gun with his left hand; he was stronger than she’d given him credit for. A novice mistake. Definitely time for a new career. “You ok?” she asked the hostage, not sparing him a glance as she focused on the other two men. He grunted something she took for assent. She was debating whether she could trust him to do anything useful to help without causing more trouble when a creak on the stair alerted her to more company. Decision made, she kicked the last gun towards her hostage, suggesting he keep it pointed at the man she’d dropped, freeing her to point one at the shot kidnapper and one at the door. It placed her in a precarious position and she knew it, but it was her only choice.

Mary’s reflexes were fast enough that she managed not to shoot the professor when he entered the room, his own gun leading. “Not bad,” he told her on a split second assessment of the situation. “Trevor put that gun down, you could hurt somebody.” He admonished his son who appeared astounded at the appearance of his father. “Cuffs?” he asked Mary.

“Back pocket,” she told him. He tossed his son a cell phone with instructions to call 911 while he proceeded to cuff the two criminals.

The young man eyed his father warily while he called the cops; Mary figured this was a side of the professor he’d never seen before. “Thanks,” he told them, somewhat belatedly. “Who are you?”

“Mary Lipsitt, INR,” she told him, showing her badge for the first time. “We were hoping to talk to you about the code you provided us with,” she told him. “And offer protection against those who aren’t as civil as we are.”

“Protection offer’s just a little late,” he pointed out, “and besides, I already sent you everything I have.”

“That’s good to know son,” the professor said before calmly turning the gun on him. “When I suggested you were incapable of hacking the INR, I’d expected you to bring me proof I was wrong. But no, you had to go giving it to them instead. There’s entirely too much of your mother in you.” He stated, his disappointment evident.

Trevor sputtered to his father, disbelieving, but Mary instantly understood how thoroughly she’d been played. “Mary, if you still want the chance to speak to him, you’ll put your weapons down.” The professor commanded.

One against three, one hostage, and all alert. Less favourable odds. “You’re not going to let him go,” Mary stated the obvious, desperate to buy herself time to think.

“Why not? He has nothing left, so he’s nothing to me now,” the young man cringed visibly at that, evidently more upset by his father’s rejection than by the gun pointed at him. And the moment he cringed, Mary saw her chance. She shot him in the leg, causing him to drop screaming. When all else fails, shoot the hostage. She darted sideways towards the door at the same instant, barely avoiding the professor’s shot. He never had time to get off a second shot.

She caught movement out of the corner of her eye; turning she fired wildly at the man who the professor had only pretended to cuff. Her aim was off and as she straightened she heard a second shot. A rookie mistake, not accounting for all the weapons. Definitely time for a new career.

But it was one mistake too many.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

#FridayFlash 38 and WAG - First day of the rest of your life

Possibly my shortest flash yet *g*

Sometimes it's the little things in life that make all the difference . . .

This is possibly my shortest flash yet *g* Let me know what you think -- short though it is, does it stand on its own?

The first day of the rest of your life

"I think you may be the woman of my dreams; can I take you to lunch?" he asked the woman standing next to him at the lights with what he hoped was a boyish smile.

Christina considered the attractive man, "So what traits do I share with the woman of your dreams?" she asked with one eyebrow raised, buying time to decide how to answer the unexpected invite.

"You're energetic, as evidenced by the fact that you're out walking, you're confident and kind enough to humour a complete stranger hitting on you, and to top it off, you're stunningly gorgeous; like I said, the woman of my dreams."

Amused both by the comments and by the fact that she found herself reluctantly flattered by them, Christina gave a slow nod.

"So where are you taking me for lunch?"