In Someone Else’s Shoes

Although I’ve been rather absence of late, several other fine writers from around the globe continue to participate every week by writing 100-word stories based on a photo prompt. You can join the Friday Fictioneers too by writing your own story or simply reading along.

2015 11 17 CE AyrCopyright CE Ayr

In Someone Else’s Shoes

Agent Lauren Schrecklich turned onto Pershing Road as she waited for her Bluetooth to connect. She took a deep breath and prayed Senior Agent Morales would pick up.

“Schrecklich. Talk to me.”

“Ben’s checking out the locker at Union Station. I’m headed to Missy B’s. Too many people there might recognize him.”

“Good call. But you’re on your own. No heroics tonight.”

“Yes, sir. But . . . “

“I mean it, agent.”

“No heroics. So I can ditch the high heels?”

“Not a chance. You have to fit in.”

“Yes, sir. Operation Tomboy to Drag Queen commencing immediately.”

***

Want to read more? Follow links in the word salad to your right to read more about Agent Lauren Shrecklich.

Under the Clock

Yes, this is my response to the week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt. It’s a little later than usual, but as today happens to be Friday, you could say I’m right on time.

Before we proceed with the usual excitement, I want to take a moment to celebrate. Although I married my wife before God, family and friends on a lovely May afternoon four years ago, today my state and my entire country finally recognizes our commitment to one another. To all the haters out there, I’ll simply say, “I’m sorry you feel so insecure in the love that you have in your own life. My love and my marriage is but one among millions. It is personal; it is real; it is a lifelong commitment. I pray you will someday find something as wonderful to keep you warm in this cold world.” To everyone else, I say, “LET’S CELEBRATE!”

Love Flag

The regular programming for the week is part of a challenge in which about 100 writers from all over the globe participate each week. Below is the photo prompt to which each of us respond with our own 100-word stories. You are welcome to participate by reading and commenting as well as by writing your own story to post on your blog. My story this week weighs in at 99 words and catches up with one of my favorite characters in my hometown of Kansas City. This one is meant to stand alone, but you are welcome to read other stories about him by clicking on “police chief” or “Ben” in the word salad along the right side of this blog.

Copyright Kent Bonham

Copyright Kent Bonham

Under the Clock

The hands of the clock in the grand hall slid passed 11:00 as Ben strode into Union Station. The legendary timepiece hung as he had always seen it—silent as the grave, an irony not lost on the undead police chief.

“Under the clock.” Ben muttered the phrase to himself. A pungent odor halted him 40 paces from his destination. Garlic. Leftovers, he assumed, glancing toward Harvey’s. Then he caught sight of the aroma’s source—ropes of garlic hanging above the shops in the station’s foyer. Someone knew something. He wouldn’t rest easy until he discovered who and what.

The Maryville Encounter

Author’s Note: I’m fully aware that most of you were expecting this post to be my response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, and I promise to have that posted before the week is out. However, the prompt this week got me back on track with my Lauren Shrecklich saga, so please bear with me. Let’s join her as she stands outside the trailer of Maryville’s former chief-of-police. (Although this portion of the story should be able to stand on it’s own, you can click the links throughout to catch up with the tale thus far.)

The Maryville Encounter

Lauren absently played with the second button of her blouse. Beneath it, a crucifix lay next to her pounding heart. She held Ben’s gaze, alert and conflicted.

In Washington, two men, both superiors, were expecting different outcomes from Lauren’s journey west. Senior Agent Michael Morales, the one she trusted, had told her to trust this particular vampire. Director Lukke, apparently unaware of any vampiric activity, expected her to be taking out an art theft ring in Kansas City. He would be unpleased to learn of any deviation in her prescribed itinerary, but that wasn’t the reason Lauren didn’t like this detour. She took a deep breath and resisted the urge to touch the scars on her neck—two deep punctures set about an inch apart.

“You’re here for the information about the art theft issues in Kansas City?” Ben held the trailer door open wider. Lauren nodded in surprise and reluctantly accepted the vampire’s invitation to step inside. Immediately, her gaze fell on a pile of papers and photographs spread across his kitchen table. Clearly, he had been investigating the art crimes longer and more extensively than anyone at the Bureau.

Lauren’s mouth gaped. Ben shrugged. “I don’t need much sleep these days, and obviously, I can’t get out much either.”

“You certainly have more information than I’ve been able to uncover. I just hope it’s what we need to break this thing open.”

Twenty minutes later, Lauren was driving back to Kansas City, this time with an undead police chief riding shotgun.

“Vivian isn’t the only one who will recognize me if I join you at Missie B’s.”

Ben’s comment broke into Lauren’s train of thought. She drove a few more miles in silence. “Right.” She paused. “So . . . “

“What if you drop me off at Union Station? I can determine if we are correct about the stolen art while you case out the drag show.”

“That sounds like a plan.” As dangerous as it seemed for Lauren to be driving through the Missouri countryside at night with only a vampire for company, Ben made decent company. At least she could talk to him. None of the white-collar agents in Kansas City had been read in concerning local vampire activity—not as far as she knew, anyway. Besides, this wasn’t the type of information you just spring on another field agent without proper clearance.

Interview with a Police Chief

First, please allow me to apologize to any readers who are feeling neglected these days. I’m working extra hard these days and have been short on time and energy. Thanks for coming along to read and comment. I appreciate you, and I promise I’ll be back mingling soon.

Now, it is time for Friday Fictioneers, and most of you know the drill. Write a 100-word story based on the photo prompt. Then join the rest of us by reading and sharing your thoughts. This week’s photo comes from the inimitable Jennifer Pendergast of Elmo Writes.

Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

Copyright Jennifer Pendergast

Author’s note: It’s been a while since we’ve caught up with Lauren Shrecklich, and today she’s meeting another of my characters for the first time. I think you can enjoy this story on it’s own merit, but feel free to follow the links to read related stories.

 Interview with a Police Chief

Darkness enveloped the small Missouri town as Lauren turned south on Railroad St. She pulled up to the trailer home, and her cell phone rang.

“You found the place.”

“Yes.”

“Ben is not your mark.”

“But isn’t he . . .”

“A vampire? Yes, but he’s working with us. He’s been successful in eliminating several sexual predators, and I have reason to believe he has other insights to share.”

Lauren disconnected the call.

The trailer door opened before she knocked.

Agent Schrecklich.”

Lauren gasped, recognizing the face of Maryville’s former police chief—the one recently killed in the line of duty.

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for October 31. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. The photo prompt this week comes from Melanie Greenwood. My piece this week weighs in at 98 words. I’m returning to the story of Ben, former police chief turned undead. You can read the other story about Ben here.

2014 10 31

Copyright Melanie Greenwood

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

Ben found it incredible that his conscience remained silent as he used the stolen key to gain entrance to the police station. The attack that stole his mortality along with his reflection had left him desperate to maintain a sense of integrity without an internal moral compass.

Tonight, the former police chief sought justice. Unable to bring it about directly, he chose an indirect method. Ben reached into his knapsack to pull out a sheet of paper and two photographs. By the light of the emergency exit signs, he located the head detective’s inbox and deposited the evidence.

Encounters of the Second Kind

I’m dreadfully late in posting my response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, and it’s been several weeks since life has allowed me to participate. However, I’m back with a story from the Lauren Shrecklich saga, this time from someone else’s POV.

Every week, people from around the globe participate in the Friday Fictioneers challenge. This week, my photo is featured as the prompt, and many writers have already submitted their 100-word stories. Play along with us if you like. The more the merrier. My story this week weighs in at 113 words (making up for all the words that have been missing over the past month).

20140926 Marie Gail Stratford

Cheri hadn’t stopped thinking about Lauren since she met the petite FBI agent on a flight to BWI. As she slipped into the South End pizza parlor to meet with her writers group, Cheri did a double take. There stood Lauren. Cheri occasionally ran into passengers near her Boston home, but this stroke of luck surprised her.

Throughout the evening, Lauren remained aloof, avoiding Cheri’s gaze. At the meeting’s end, she finally made eye contact. “You should find a new writers group,” Lauren snapped.

Cheri swallowed the fury rising in her throat, turned, and fled the restaurant. She blinked, trying to see past the tears into a dream that had become a nightmare.

Pigeon Holed

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for August 15. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. My piece this week is just slightly overweight at 111 words. I trust Rochelle’s henchmen will allow me to keep all of my remaining fingers this week, however, since a few of my previous flashes have come in under weight.

2014 08 15

Copyright Jan Wayne Fields

Pigeon Holed

Director Lukke hoped the news would devastate Morales. The agent’s services would now be rendered from behind a desk.

Ever since he and Peters had investigated the case that landed Lauren Schrecklich in Mass General, Morales had been uncontrollable—jetting off to take care of white collar crime on location rather than putting in the usual hours of research.

The director chalked it up to some juvenile infatuation. Still, Morales had managed to get Schrecklich a position with the agency. “Let’s see how he takes to being her handler,” Lukke muttered to himself. The orders came from above, but the director hoped this would give Morales enough rope to hang himself.

Relocation

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for August 1. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. My piece this week weighs in at 99 words.

Author’s Note: Although I work to make sure my loosely connected flashes stand alone, I’m not 100% certain that this one is a completely stand-alone piece. However, as it fits the photo prompt perfectly and is an important turning point in my Lauren Shrecklich saga, I am serving it here anyway. I’ve linked to other stories throughout so any new readers can catch up on the tale if you find holes in this flash or simply want more background information.

View from the Plane

Copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Relocation

Lauren Shrecklich did not need to fall in love—not on New Year’s Eve, not with an airline attendant, and not in front of senior agent Michael Morales. But Cheri was the kind of woman that always made her look twice.

Throughout the flight, Lauren distracted herself with her rosary each time the attendant passed by. While pouring complimentary champagne for the two agents, Cheri noticed the rosary and showed Lauren her charm bracelet. “St. Christopher. I feel safer having him around.”

While waiting for their luggage at the baggage claim, Michael asked Lauren, “Did you get her number?”

Joining the Bureau

This is my response to the Friday Fictioneers prompt for July 25. The challenge is to write a 100-word story inspired by the photo prompt. Play along by writing your own, reading others and/or commenting on the flashes we fictioneers create. My piece this week weighs in at 99 words.

Copyright 2014, Marie Gail Stratford

Copyright 2014, Marie Gail Stratford

 

Joining the Bureau

Michael slathered his pad Thai in Sriracha, picked up a pair of chopsticks and dug in.

“How can you do that?” Lauren burst out.

“Some like it hot.” Michael shrugged.

“That’s not what I mean. It’s—well, the color. Besides, isn’t it ironic for you to be eating with a pair of wooden stakes?”

“Lighten up, officer.”

“I can’t think of anything funny about vampires, Michael, not after one got drunk on my carotid.”

“There isn’t anything particularly funny about them, Lauren. But if you don’t look on the sunny side, a career fighting the undead gets rather grave.”

 

Two author’s notes:

1. The photo prompt chosen this week by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, queen of the fictioneers, is one I took in response to a story written by David Stewart in response to another fictioneers prompt. The story, definitely worth the read, is titled “Nobbly Chopsticks,” and if you haven’t followed David already, I strongly recommend it.

2. It is my hope that each of my Friday Fictioneers stories stands on its own. Regular readers, however, will recognize my two characters from other flashes. I’m not posting these or composing them in chronological order. This one takes place the winter following Lauren’s hospitalization, which I explore in my post “And So It Began.” To read more, check out all blog posts with the tag “Lauren Shrecklich.”

And So It Began . . .

This week’s prompt for a weekly contest on LinkedIn has led to the creation of a prequel to my stories about Federal Agent Lauren Schrecklich and the vampires she battles against. Enjoy!

Gold_medal_of_St._Michael

 

Lauren Schrecklich fingered the St. Michael medal on her rosary—a gift from her father on the day she graduated the police academy. As she lay in her hospital bed, the words to the familiar prayer from her childhood rose unbidden to her lips, “St. Michael, archangel, defend us . . .” Her thoughts migrated to the events that had landed her in Massachusetts General.

 

St. Patrick’s Day topped Lauren’s list of least favorite days. This year, she was scheduled to patrol the city streets on the day, which was named for a saint but reserved for participation in every imaginable vice. Although, like most every Irish saint, Patrick was famous for having turned water into wine, that seemed a poor reason to turn his feast day into a bacchanalia.

 

Late that evening, as Lauren and her partner patrolled the emptying streets, they heard a woman scream. Immediately, she and Arden took off down the alleyway toward the sound. Arriving at the scene, they discovered a man attacking a young woman. Both officers drew their firearms, and Arden commanded the man to release his victim. The attacker, using the victim’s body as a shield, reached a long arm toward Arden and wrested the gun away from him.

 

Well-trained in hand-to-hand combat, Lauren jumped into the fray. Later, all she could remember was the thud of Arden’s body hitting a brick wall, the feeling of panic as the attacker held her against the ground, the sensation of life draining from her as he bit down on her carotid, and a brief moment of surprise as her attacker suddenly backed away just before she passed out.

 

Days later, she had awakened in the hospital, surrounded by tubes and monitors and two g-men that kept wandering in to ask her questions until the charge nurse shooed them away.

 

The agents’ questions disturbed Lauren. “How did you know to confront the attacker with your rosary crucifix?” They kept asking this. She answered truthfully. Still, they kept probing.

 

“I hoped to be able to strangle him with the chain of beads,” Lauren would reply each time Agent Peters posed the question. Agent Morales, who had told her to call him by his first name, Michael, had sensibly stopped asking that particular question.

 

As Lauren caressed her rosary, the agents arrived for another inquisition. She hastily dropped the beads and slid them under a piece of paper on her bedside tray.

 

“How are we feeling this morning, Officer Schrecklich?”

 

Lauren gave a non-committal shrug. She loathed the unsmiling senior agent.

 

“We have just a few more questions for you, Lauren. Then we’re leaving town, so you can rest without us pestering you.” Michael flashed his boyish grin.

 

“Officer,” Peters jumped into inquisition mode immediately. “Can you tell us what caused you to use the crucifix on your rosary against your attacker?”

 

Lauren rolled her eyes. “Look, I’ve told you. I was hoping to get the chain around his neck. Don’t know if it would have been strong enough to strangle him, but with my gun out of reach, it was my only chance.”

 

“Do you regularly carry a rosary?”

 

Exasperated, Lauren sighed. “Only since my dad died. I’ve told you I don’t believe in magic. I miss my dad. I was fighting for my life. That combination seems to have saved me this time around.”

 

“Thanks, Lauren,” Michael smiled. “That’s all we need to know.”

 

Peters didn’t seem convinced but nodded and left the room.

 

Michael hung back. “We’ve run background on you, officer.” His kind eyes sparkled. “I noticed you’ve had an application sitting in our offices for a while.”

 

Lauren’s mouth dropped open.

 

“Your recent encounter might open some doors if you’re still interested.” Michael retrieved the rosary from its hiding place and handed them to her. “Looks like you’re reconsidering your faith. That’s good. Fighting people like your alleyway attacker will introduce you to a new level of vice. You need a way to defend yourself.”

 

Michael slipped out of the room before Lauren had a chance to respond. “A rabbi—just what a lapsed Catholic needs,” she thought, remembering the term used for FBI agents who open doors for people like her. Despite lingering doubt, she grasped the rosary and began to pray, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit . . .”

wood rosary