Survival of the fittest

Survival mode kicks in when nothing else will work. When rationalization and strength are no longer playing fair. Survival in dangerous situations can be boiled down to fight or flight. What happens when flight isn’t working out so well? When I have the character backed into a corner or hotel bathroom? It is in these moments I have to decide. Decide to let logic lead the scene or pepper a bit of panic in to make things more interesting. In time to flip the switch, Sasha didn’t go for the main door. In her flight mode, she took the easiest path. It happened to be backward and into a very unescapable room.

So what does happen when flight fails and the protagonist is trapped? Fight. Fighting is the only option. This is because giving up is not going to happen. I think if Sasha just curled up and resigned to the fate Baylor wishes to bestow, the readers would get mad at me, annoyed with Sasha and stop reading. After all, she doesn’t deserve to be read about right?  So I can honestly say I chose Sasha’s path, I made her go the wrong way. I did this because it’s interesting and it is likely what one would do when faced with mortal danger. Logic often fails in the face of fear. Sasha got to the bathroom before Baylor… barely.

Baylor’s fingers stopped the bathroom door as Sasha pushed hard to close it. Uninjured legs were her advantage and gave Sasha just enough to get the lead. Baylor howled as she pushed. He would be stronger. She needed advantage. She let up a fraction, doubled her force and pushed hard against the door. The fleshy crunch of his fingers made the bile rise in her throat as he bellowed. She let up again and he pulled his fingers out letting the door click closed. She pressed the lock button. He could open it, but not immediately. Would he shoot the door? Would the bullets come through? Every movie or show that ever had someone trapped behind a door with an armed assailant, played out in her head. Sasha didn’t know what to do and fear was taking over quickly.

“Don’t panic. Don’t panic.” She couldn’t manage more than a shaky whisper. As Baylor slammed his shoulder against the door. Glancing around, she spied the curtain rod. “Brace the door.” She yanked on it. It was screwed into the wall. Putting all her weight on it, she tried again and it gave. A few more pulls and it was free. Baylor was pounding on the door then stopped suddenly. She put the curtain rod on the floor and used her feet to wedge it against the door. Putting her back to the door, she put her feet on the front of the toilet and prepared to use her leg strength to keep him from opening the door. 

The rattle of something in the handle made her stomach clench. This was it. Either he was getting in or he wasn’t.

She readied herself glaring at the toilet. “Please be strong and hold.” The porcelain stayed silent denying her any reassurance. Taking shallow breaths, she looked around. Hairspray. There was a can of hairspray on the counter. Non-flammable but it would hurt the eyes. She took the chance to grab it. As she sat back bracing her feet against the toilet again the lock clicked and the door opened. The curtain rod held as Baylor pushed and cursed her.

Tears streamed as she tried to steady her shaking legs. “Come on Sasha.” She cried. “Don’t be the damned damsel now.” She rubbed her legs as he pushed on the door. A slight crack made her look down at the rod. It was bending. “No.” She begged. “No please don’t give out.”

The rod bent and the immediate pressure on her back made her scream in fear. Bracing her protesting legs, she heard the toilet creak. “No!” She had nothing else to brace against close enough. The nozzle of the gun poked through the increasing gap in the door. When Baylor fired, the deafening sound shut her screams and his grunting out from her mind.

This is it, he was getting in. She would die or worse, be maimed for life. She looked up at the barrel of the gun now pushed through. In movies someone brave would grab it. If she moved, he was in for sure. It was out of reach. When she looked around desperate, her breath caught. She could see his face in the reflection of the mirror. He could see her too. The raw fury was terrifying and sobering. His face was close. She could see his eyes as her ears rung. His hand was through and she pushed harder with her legs. The toilet shifted back, she expected water to start spraying everywhere. It didn’t. The door closed enough on his wrist to keep him from bending it and aiming at her directly.

“Stupid bitch!”

She could hear him again, the painful pressure on her back and legs caused whimpers to mix with her heavy breaths. “Do something, don’t give up.” Sasha glanced up at the gun. If she moved fast he might stumble into the room, maybe it would give her an advantage? Her stomach tightened as he made progress pushing the door again.

She moved slowly off the floor bracing herself against it. He moved it a fraction more. She was up enough to move, but which way. Away from the gun, might earn her a smack from the door. Towards it would be unexpected. Before she made up her mind, her body moved fast toward the gun and past it. The door crashed open and he stumbled into the room. Immediately she sprayed hairspray in his direction correcting her aim and finally hitting his eyes. Seconds, mere seconds.

The gun swung toward her and she launched her body at him shoving him with her shoulder, he hit the tiled floor yelling and rubbing his eyes and she ran. Blinded with fear and tears she ran from the bedroom out to the door.

It was as if the handle evaded her fingers, three shaky attempts finally paid off with the door opening. She fell into the hall against the opposite wall. Disoriented she ran aimlessly. Her feet pushed against the rough carpet as she skidded to a stop and pushed the bar on the fire escape door.

“Cal!” She screamed his name repeatedly while running down the stairs. With no clue what floor she was on she moved fast. “Cal!”

“Sasha!”

She heard him below her and nearly fell with desperation to get to him, to safety. “Cal!”

He rounded the stairs and she nearly collapsed. “Bayl.” She gulped. “Up. Gun.”

“I heard a shot.” He pulled out the radio the lead officer gave him and updated the other officers, as he looked her over for blood.

Baylor Crowen was in the hotel. It was surrounded by police and swat was organizing a sweep as they spoke. Cal’s concern was a terrified Sasha.

He picked her up and started down. “How many flights up?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry.” She was beyond remembering even if she had counted.

“He’s above the thirty-second floor.” Cal informed the officers and listened to the radio chatter as he made his way down the stairwell. Sasha clung and cried as he descended the stairs uttering calming reassurances. He turned and opened the emergency exit with his back. The fresh air was too cold and she started shivering as Cal rushed toward a waiting ambulance. He set her down on the back as a paramedic wrapped a blanket around her as another started assessing her.

“No significant injuries.” The paramedic said then started asking her questions. What day it is, the year, her birthday. Then she started asking Sasha about any pain or injuries. The steady stream of questions calmed her mind and her hands shook less.

“I think I’m okay he didn’t get me.” She said sounding distant as they gave her oxygen and spoke soothingly and checked her vitals.

Cal was only ten feet away talking with three other officers in various types of uniform. One looked like the kind that stormed the buildings in drug raids. Sasha looked around at the chaos. Cop cars, ambulance, fire trucks and people everywhere. Hotel guests, staff, bystanders, officers, paramedics, firefighters and reporters.  Cal walked back toward Sasha who was now sipping bottled spring water that the paramedic gave her.

“She’s okay, shaken but not injured Detective. You’re a brave woman Sasha.” The paramedic smiled kindly and patted her shoulder. “She shouldn’t be alone.”

“I know the drill.” Cal smiled. “I’ll watch over her.”

“Bring her in if need be.”

“Will do.” Cal turned to Sasha. “Can you walk?”

She nodded, shrugged the blanket off and took his extended hand.

I bet she didn’t know she had it in her. She did because I wrote it that way. Surviving danger is exhausting and can have a multitude of after effects. Now I did not make her super-heroic that would be dumb. Sasha is resourceful, smart and determined. She is not a cop or trained in any martial art. She didn’t grab the gun or take Baylor down in a magnificent duel. Why? That’s simple; she’s not ready for that yet. She is just a woman with really bad luck these days. Maybe it’s time to turn all that around. Maybe.

My advice about surviving danger.
Stay within the characters parameters, but allow for growth and opportunity to advance. Nothing too crazy or unbelievable. It’s weird and lazy to give someone an ability in a story and declare it a miracle of the moment or call them a “natural” at something they’ve never ever done before. *Totally rolling my eyes ’cause that happens all the time.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Sensible sensation

Wisely Perpetrating Gullibility

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Protest

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Time to flip the switch

Everyone has that point, that moment when they’ve reached maximum capacity and put their foot down.  If they don’t then nobody will care or respect them that’s for sure. I monitor my protagonist’s progress carefully. Toss them a bunch of crap, show them slowly finding fault in their situation and then let them see reality. The moment when enough is enough and they finally stand up and square off to fight back.

This is where I like to have some fun. As with everything else people react differently to everything. So there are no hard set rules on how to make someone react to anything. The only thing I keep in mind is how they have been up to this point. Who have I made them? And where do I want them to go.  I try not to make it crazy unrealistic within their personality. A person that has never shot a gun before can’t just pick one up and take out the bad guys no problem. A person that is terrified of heights isn’t going to magically not be, they will still struggle and it should be a challenge. Nobody’s perfect after all.

Sasha was calm for someone with a gun pressed hard in her back. She’d almost laughed when Baylor skulked in with a gun pointed at her. His face said he meant business even more than the gun symbolized.

She couldn’t let him win; she would not be a martyr. Ben won. Cal was right about that. Ben wasn’t the only one either. Her dad subtly bullied her, Scott and Dale were picking on her in different ways and Amber was in full on war mode. Her stupid boss was playing some asinine game. No. No more losing for her. There was no way to know how long she had, before Baylor did whatever he planned to do. Baylor limped badly. It was more of a hobble since both legs were hurt. He rubbed his broken nose with his bandaged left hand and glared at her with his two blackened eyes. He hissed at her to stay quiet or else. Sasha was over being in danger and almost laughed again at his over the top grotesqueness.

The only thing that stood in the way of her fantasized bravery was a gun. It was obvious he didn’t want to shoot her. Probably because it would be loud and draw attention. The other probably was likely that he wanted to draw out his revenge. That thought made her angry. How is any of this her fault? She was polite and turned him down gently. She hadn’t been so gentle with Cal. But then again Cal was charming and started to wear down her defenses; setting alarms off in her head and she shut him down.

Baylor stopped at the end of the hall by the stairwell and opened a room. It was an occupied room. There were belongings everywhere, not in a messy way, but in the way that suggested the occupants had been there for more than a couple days. Baylor shoved her to the couch. This suite was the same as hers and Cal’s. Only in blues not white and tan.

“Stupid bitch. You’re ruining my life.” Baylor’s fury showed in his face and posture. He smelled as if he’d been living at the bottom of a dumpster or worse. “I’m a dead man because of you.”

Again, she thought of how is it her fault. Clenching her fists at her side, she stared angrily at the gun. She wasn’t afraid of him specifically. He’d scared her too much and she hurt him too badly. Her eyes darted to his legs and widened in realization; Baylor took it for fear and grinned. He’s hurt and his Achilles heel was up for grabs. She gave herself a tiny curt nod. No more victim for her.

“Why? Why are you doing this?” She said the words cringing inwardly at the pathetic cliché of them.

“Why?” His maniacal laugh sent shivers over her skin. “I had to pass up the easy mark. I was okay with it because you were so pretty and different. I don’t normally bother with blondes and now you’ve ruined everything.”

“Why not leave me alone? Go hide until they stop looking for you and start over somewhere else?”

“Oh I will, I’ll disappear right after I ruin you. I’m going to leave you so destroyed no man will look at you again.”

He meant his words and she yelped as he advanced. Then everything slowed. She turned her head and pushed off the couch to the right. Scrambling to the table, she grabbed a chair and swung it at him. Gun or not her instincts took over. No more cowering for Sasha. She swung low and with force. It wasn’t as hard as she imagined, but it was enough when it connected with his bruised legs. She let go of the chair, remembering in that fraction of a second, that in movies the idiot who held onto the swung object lost. The attacked would grab it and game over. More or less.

Her hyper-slowed momentum didn’t falter. She grabbed and threw everything she could at him. She didn’t know when she started screaming. Not the high-pitched one of terror, but the guttural one of ‘I’ve had enough of your shit’ scream. She tipped the table and bolted for the bedroom kicking the doorstop out. The door would close slowly so she kept going for the bathroom. That door had a lock and was metal, she had locked one just like it several times.

Sasha isn’t exactly a knock-em down and fight it out person. She is just a normal person, untrained in any combat or defense skills. That doesn’t mean she’s defenseless or useless. While strong-willed and smart, her strength is in her resourcefulness. She has no idea why Baylor is after her, or why her life is so suddenly messed up. She knows one thing, he means to hurt her and she isn’t interested in his brand of hurt.

It is important to me to keep her the victim while allowing her to break free at the same time. There is however no going back, once she gets her footing and starts to climb back up from rock bottom, she’s not going to revert. I think she’s had enough of being a doormat it’s time to flip the switch and let her find a way out of her misery.

My advice about flipping the switch.
This is necessary in any story, the poor protagonist must eventually learn from their past and press forward to gain ground. However, by this point the reader should really want them to, and cheer that they do.

-Sheryl

Other posts

The limitation of imitation

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Martyr

Take charge already!

People need to do stupid things for exciting things to happen. Sometimes that stupid thing is overlooking the obvious and falling for deceit. Sometimes it can be as simple as making the wrong call or judgement. When I put someone in charge they must be confident and… well… take charge. The person following should do as they are told. (Unless the story is about them defying authority. or it foreshadows their personal journey growth) Generally when danger errupts there are people who jump up and take control and those that shrink back and wait for instruction. A person who is taking the responsibility can succeed magnificently, minimally succeed, fail slightly or fall flat on their face. What a great opportunity taking charge can bring about. This is a chance to let someone shine, rise up and become the hero or fail, fall and hang their head in shame. It could also be the opportunity for both…

To recap, Sasha is with Cal in protective custody at a hotel. The fire alarm has just gone off and it seems suspicious.

Sasha put her running shoes on despite the alarm and Cal’s assurance. She sat on the couch and bounced her feet making her legs shake. In what seemed like an eternity someone knocked on the room door loudly. Cal put his finger to his lips and she nodded. The knock came again followed by the sound of a card key sliding into place. Cal grabbed Sasha’s hand, dragged her to his room and pushed her to the ground between his bed and the window.
“Not a sound.” He laid down nearly over her and wedged them to the bed completely hidden from the door that he stoppered open earlier. Confronting the intruders wouldn’t get Cal any information. If they came too close he would incapacitate them easily enough. 

“Sir? Ma’am? Anyone here?” The man calling out came in, went to Sasha’s room and then approached Cal’s. “Hello? We’re evacuating, there’s a fire on the west side.”

Cal put his hand over Sasha’s mouth the second she tensed. There was no fire. 

“Bitch was supposed to be in this damned room.” The man muttered and raised his cellphone. “Sorry sir she’s not here, she vanished… Yeah I’m sure, I even checked the bathrooms. Either the info was false or they evacuated with everyone else. Let the others know… Sure I’ll see if it’s here hold on.”

The second the man left the room Cal got up. “Don’t move or make a sound.” He whispered then crept away silently with his gun drawn. Sasha couldn’t move even if she wanted to and didn’t recall him having a gun on him.

Cal moved toward Sasha’s room with his gun aimed. The door was just about closed, he stuck his foot in silently and slipped in unnoticed.

“She’s definitely the one, yes the files here… I have no dammed idea why she has them it doesn’t make sense sir… Yes sir… No he’s not with me. I have no control over him or what he does, he took off after I set the alarm off.” The man turned in time to see Cal’s fist. Cal grabbed the phone and saw private number displayed. He could hear “hello?” being repeated. 

“Sorry sir. Thought I heard something.” Cal did his best to mimic the man’s whine.

Leave the file I want to see what she does. Get out and report back before the police see you.” The call ended and Cal looked at the folder the man had opened on the desk.

“What is going on?” Cal said and looked at the dirty man on the floor who smelled like spoiled milk. “I think you need to answer some questions.” Cal cuffed him quickly, went to the main room door to put the bar bolt on, called backup and told them what happened. By the book, he wasn’t willing to risk a case for this anomaly.

“Come out Sasha it’s safe.” He called toward the room. “Sasha?” He ran to his bedroom. “Shit.” He pulled his phone out as he checked the outside hall. Empty. “She’s gone. Block all he exits. They couldn’t have gone far she can’t just vanish into thin air. Get the back-up here pronto… They’re all blocked? Good I’ll wait for him.” Cal cursed again and double-checked the rooms. The second an officer arrived to secure the intruder Cal was out into the hall.

“Okay Cal where the hell would they take her?” Cal looked both ways. Stairs were obvious but have been blocked by officers long enough they wouldn’t get out. The elevator, maybe. He stopped and listened. If he were trapped but still wanted to get the target… “They’re still here.” He walked slowly down the hall listening and looking at the doors. It would take a while to get a master-key to search each room.

The thing about characters taking charge in dangerous situations they either need to be naturally inclined to be in charge(written that way) or there needs to be some sort of character build up toward them becoming strong enough to take charge. What I mean is don’t pull it out of your ass and have them miraculously become someone they are not and have not been on their way to becoming.

My advice about people taking charge.
Someone has to, so choose wisely because if you don’t then the reader might not believe what is going on. 

-Sheryl

Posts from the past.

Show and tell

What happened to that guy?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Vanish

Aftermath and consequences

I’ll keep this brief because the chapter is not. The aftermath of drinking is usually a hangover, the aftermath of prying into ones secrets is usually anger. Actions have consequences and it is important to include them. After all if I went to the trouble of including them I had better have a way past it all. This is something that needs to be addressed before the story can move on. In Drunken secrets Cal gave Sasha rum on an empty stomach and tried to get her to talk about her secret. Now she’s sober and it’s time for a little reality before things get crazy again.

Sasha woke with a pounding head. Sugar and alcohol on an empty stomach was a recipe for disaster. Her faded foggy memories came into focus as she showered her still aching body.

“That slimy bastard.” She muttered drying her hair with a towel. “Once a cop always a damned cop.” She pursed her lips and went out to find the coffee she smelled and hopefully some Tylenol.

“Good morning.” Cal chuckled and looked at his watch. “Or near afternoon.”
Sasha sat after filling a mug with coffee from the pot on the desk.
“Sleep well?”
She glared at him.
“So you are mad.” Cal waited and cocked his head to the side. “You know it’s mean to tell a detective a juicy tidbit then drop the subject declaring it off bounds.”
She narrowed her eyes and sipped her coffee, downing the Tylenol he left on the table for her.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pried.”

“You do realize how despicable you are. How could you ply me with booze and question me like that? Did you think talking about it would make it better? News flash detective, it wont, it will make me bitchier and angrier.” She got up, grabbed a Danish from the tray on the table and stormed to her room, once again the door eased closed with a gentle click even though she pushed heavily on it. Tears fell unnoticed and unchecked.

“Why is he so determined to make me talk about it?” She flopped back on the bed remembering that she fell asleep on the couch.She didn’t mind that he put her to bed nor that he put her clothes away. He was undeservedly kind to her.

Sasha was too distracted to focus on work. “This is crap. My idiot boss wants the impossible. I’m meant to fail this. This is how they get rid of people.” She nearly punched her laptop and when Cal knocked on the door, she nearly threw it. “Dammit I’m mad.” She opened the door.

“I ordered lunch. Mad or not, you need to eat.”

“I don’t want to.”

“Stop acting like a child Sasha. One of these days you have to face whatever was done to make you so angry and unhappy.”

She sat at the table. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Her favorite. She picked up her spoon. “I’m not unhappy. Just one week out of the year, sometimes two.”

“But you are angry.”
“Damn right I am. This is really good soup by the way.”
“Why do you let Ben win?” Cal asked taking a bite of sandwich.
“I don’t let any man win.”

“Sooo many pins. Listen, whatever Ben did is done. He, I’m assuming moved on and is happy, therefore you let him win. The thing is Sasha, being alone is sad, not something to be proud of.”

“Listen detective, I’m happy. This crap with Baylor on top of my usual self-pity party week has me off my game. I’m not myself right now. I earned the right to be miserable for two weeks. Drop it.”

Cal lowered his chin. “Nobody earns misery for being betrayed. Even one second of misery means he wins.”

Sasha ate silently. He was right, but she would never admit it out loud. She couldn’t stop her misery, but it only lasted for a little while. Then it faded. Mostly.

“I need a vacation from this fake vacation.” She sighed. “Any word on Baylor?”

“No. Nothing. He’s hurt and hiding. If he has any underground connections he could be treated off record.”

“Great. So why not use me as bait?”

“No way. He’ll up the ante now.”

“Why doesn’t he just give up?”

“Because you got him arrested, hit him with your car and you snubbed him at the bar. Not in that order.”

“Funny you should say that, I didn’t snub him. I… I did. I let him use cheesy lines then said no thank you. Just like with you moments before.”

“I wasn’t cheesy and I didn’t use any lines.”

“You don’t need to. I can tell which you’d use if you had. Happens every time I say no. For some damned reason guys try harder as if I’ll magically change my mind.”

“Why don’t you?” He popped the last bite of grilled cheese in his mouth.

“Drop it.” She held her breath. 

Cal swallowed while shaking his head. “Okay Ben ruined you. Wow, he must have been impressive. So what? He gets to be happy and you miserably hate men for the rest of your life?”

“Ugh. I don’t hate men. I just don’t want a boyfriend. It’s why I snubbed you at the bar.”

He smiled slyly. “Who said I was looking for a girlfriend. You assume too much.”

Her mouth fell open. “You are a pig.”

“Now that one’s doubly funny.” He laughed. She took a moment to realize why and laughed too. “Sasha you can’t tell me you locked your heart and libido away for two full years because of one jerk.”

Her face went red and she frowned. “What is wrong with you?”
“Incurable snoop.” He shrugged and looked up startled as the fire alarm went off.
“What?” She jumped up dropping her spoon to the floor.
“Stop.” Cal grabbed her arm as she moved to look at the escape map.
“We have to get out.”

“No. We don’t.” Cal took out his phone and dialed. “Theo do you see smoke?” He listened. “Okay send Ducky around back and call back-up.”

“What’s going on?”

“Relax Sasha. No smoke no fire.”

“Baylor?”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“We should leave.”

“Yes and get caught up in all the others panicked and running out the pre-determined exits? We’d be separated in seconds. They’ll call me if there’s real smoke or if they see anything suspicious.” They stared at each other a moment, both thinking the same thing. It’s suspicious.

I know that was a long one thanks for sticking it out. Sasha needs one more push I think. Something to get her back up on her feet. The aftermath was dealt with now I can move the story along.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Switch it up, and swap it out.

Desperately procrastinating

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Faded

Stick a pin in it!

I was asked once what happens when you run out of ideas? When you reach the threshold of your imagination? To which I responded; who says there’s a limit or an end?

I think just beyond the edge, that liminal point is never within reach if you don’t want it to be. It’s like in a dream when you run toward something and it never gets closer. A person who paints isn’t just going to run out of things to paint, a singer will always have a tune, a poets words will never run out. Not unless they choose to. Creativity in my humble opinion is like a muscle. Work it out and it gets/stays strong, ignore it and leave it unused and it will atrophy.

Neither Anne nor Valery questioned her sudden departure for a sudden last-minute American coastline cruise out of Nova Scotia. She blamed the Baylor incident and him being on bail, they didn’t need to know about last nights crazy backyard attack yet. She promised to be back by Sunday. A promise she had to keep since her job was on the line. Calls done, she took the phone out to Cal and went back to her room and spread the file out. Six pictures and descriptions. She could change the image but not the object itself. The car still had to be a car but any type would do as long as it was blue.

“Okay brain, let’s get creative.” She stared at the pictures, The blue car, the large apple, the square clock, an olive, the number 7 and the hand that had to be hidden and subliminal. “Tricky.”

Three hours later she stopped for lunch then went back to her room and skipped dinner. She came out four hours later no further ahead then when she went in that morning. Nothing was working and nothing looked right. Her mind was unsettled, she was at the threshold of creativity and she needed a break.

Cal stood with his arm up on the floor to ceiling window frame looking out at the great view of the lake from so high up. He had a fantastic profile and, she could see his shapely back and shoulder muscles though his blue shirt.

“How’s work?” He didn’t turn around.

“Fine.” She cleared her throat and sat hard on the couch staring at the black screen of the tv.

“You’re as good a liar as you are sweet-tempered.”

“I’m not normally so bitchy.”

He turned and looked at her. “Oh?”

“Well for starters I’m not usually assaulted then again a few days later. I’ve never run someone over with my car nor do I drive so recklessly. I also never lie to my friends.” She crossed her arms. “Until I met you that is.”

“I’ll put a pin in the usually. He sighed and sat beside her. “It was a stroke of luck that Baylor was at that bar. It’s not one that cops frequent.”

“Duh. It’s why Val chose it.”

“I’ll put a pin in that one too.” He narrowed his eyes at her pouty face. “Good luck or bad Sasha it’s as close as we’ve ever gotten to catching the guy. Even if I screwed it up. Now we have concrete evidence of his true nature, he broke bail terms within twelve hours and.” He stopped when she sighed heavily. “I’m sorry you’re stuck here with me.”

“It’s not you specifically. I’m just, it’s just a bad couple of weeks for me to begin with you just have terrible timing, Baylor has the worst possible timing.”

“I’m running out of pins. Let’s go back to the first. Why did you say ‘not usually assaulted’?”

She shook her head. “I hate talking to you, you pick everything apart.”

“It’s my job.”

“Right blue boy. So then you would know if you looked up my record.”

“Let’s say I’ve been busy and now I’m stranded in a hotel away from my desk, fill me in.”

“Is it important?”

“Yes.” He didn’t say why. It had nothing to do with the case.

“A long time ago I was assaulted by three men. I ended up charged since I hurt one of them badly and they all claimed he wasn’t in on the phony assault and they didn’t intend to hurt me.”

“What sort of assault?”

“Attempted rape.”

He relaxed. Attempted was better than actual.

“But because there wasn’t any rape and I don’t bruise easily they got off with community service except Bobbet jr. He pressed charges and I got community service. I was underage.”

Cal cringed. “Okay that is horrible. Next pin, why a bar with no cops?”

“Same reason for the bad timing.” She glared at him. “It’s none of your business and since it’s not public record I’m not explaining.”

“I’m not your enemy Sasha. You don’t seem the criminal type so what happened?”

“My ass-hat ex fiancée was a cop, you’re all tight in your little coppy groups. Therefore, I avoid all the old hangouts. I assume they’re all still the same since you guys never drop a habit.”

“That was seething with contempt. Should I start lumping you in with all blondes everywhere?”

She rubbed her face. “Point taken. Sorry. Like I said I’m feeling a little unlike myself lately and frankly you make a good punching bag.”

“I bet I do. I seem to represent all that’s wrong in your microcosm of self-pity.” He got up and went to the mini bar and came back with six mini bottles.

Sasha’s creative-block is self-inflicted and circumstantial.

My advice about Liminal.
There is no limit, no threshold to imagination unless you set one. Create away.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Over used and oft abused.

What happened to that guy?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Liminal

Bacon, Banter and Coffee

Conversation is a multi layered beast. It can change with the wind, the tone can be misunderstood and feelings altered because of it. Small talk is generic and often dreaded. When people talk in a story it should have meaning, it should have a point and a direction. Whether it’s establishing backstory, character development, relationship development, it should have a place in the story. If it’s put there as filler, the reader isn’t dumb, and will know. I love good Banter, fun dialogue that brings out a characters nuances, hints toward an end goal and show’s us a little about who they are. Banter is easier done once the characters main attributes and position within the story have been set. Why? Because banter is often a friendly exchange, with humor, or even sexual tension depending on who is conversing. A history between the characters is necessary, it doesn’t have to be much, but enough that they can joke or make light of something common.

I just love when I’m reading a book and the characters slip into banter style conversation. It makes me as the reader feel closer to the characters. I become invested and I become interested. Too much drama, tension, or emotionally charged conversation can smack of melodrama. Eye rolling glorious melodrama.

After Sasha’s chaotic evening and past weeks she’s due for a little banter.

Sasha woke to the smell of bacon and coffee. The abnormally comfortable bed cocooned her in warmth.

“I’m not on vacation.” She whispered the words wide-eyed as it all came back. With a hand to her aching head, she slowly moved her sore stiff body from the bed.  She grabbed the soft white hotel robe and covered up. Whomever went through her belongings only packed light nightwear. Nothing practical. It should bother her that someone riffled through her home to bring her things, but it didn’t. She looked at the splay of clothes on the other side of the massive bed. At least there were jeans, some fitted long sleeve shirts and a couple soft sweaters.

“Morning.” Cal didn’t look up from the paper as she padded barefoot to the table. “Hope you like more than fruit with horse food and ruined milk. I already ate.”

“Yogurt is improved milk.” She smiled at the two Ibuprofen tablets beside the plate and sat. “I sometimes treat myself, I think I’ve earned some cholesterol and salt with a side of carbs and grease.”

“I did order you plant matter as well.” He smiled when she snickered.

The article was nonspecific. Sasha’s name was still out of the story but Baylor was now headline news. For now the information, surrounding the case was contained. It couldn’t stay that way for long. He was on baby sitting duty because his superiors caught wind of his history with Baylor.

“So am I news yet?” She bit into the toast and looked at it. Real butter. “Mmm.”

“Not yet thankfully.”

“I wish it would be never.”

“We’ll do what I can. For now you’re stuck here with me.”

“As in all day?”

He turned the page slowly. “As in all day.”

She chewed the fried sausage slowly. She was being rude and knew it. It was partly because he hit on her at the bar on the anniversary of the worst day of her life. It was also because she liked him, was attracted to him and didn’t want to be. Mostly it was because Baylor had soured her mood and tainted her home. Again. Last night had been too much. Everyone was picking at her or asking her to go outside her comfort zone. A zone, she was being told too often lately, was a bit too small.

“I have work to do, I can do it here, but I should call Val and Anne and let them know I’m on an impromptu vacay.”

“Will they buy it?”

“I was chatting with Val yesterday about getting away for a few days. I didn’t say where, she knows about Baylor after the bar and the bail thingy.”

“Staying home isn’t getting away.” He folded the paper and set it on the table finally looking at her directly.

“It is for me.” She looked down at the empty plate. “Guess I was hungry.”

“You probably skipped supper and likely ate grass for lunch. Not to mention that much stress will make you hungry.”

She laughed.

Cal’s head tilted to the side. “What?”

“There was wheat grass in my salad at lunch.”

They both laughed. He pulled out his phone and held it out. “Untraceable and blocked. Two calls.”

She took it with a sneer. “Protective custody. More like Jail for the innocent; except lucky me gets two whole calls.”

“You broke a few laws yesterday, I see no one innocent here.”

“You’re a regular funny guy.” She stomped off to her temporary bedroom. At least her prison was four and a half stars. The door wouldn’t slam, it had a safety slow close. She scrunched her face when she heard Cal’s boisterous laugh behind her. “Jerk.”

In this, I wanted to portray that Sasha is sarcastic and health conscious, Cal is practical and nurturing. While upset about what happened Sasha is aware she is taking it out on a patient Cal. Much of their banter wouldn’t work if they hadn’t had some time together already.

My advice about Banter.
Know your characters and how they interact together (Not everyone is equal in reaction/action). Make sure to keep in mind where you eventually want them to end up. Nothing can lighten a story after a violent storm than some sunny friendly banter.

-Sheryl

Other fun posts

Silliness and seriousness

Ghosts that write stories

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Chaotic

Mood swings

I don’t find people to be even tempered. At rest, at work, at home or at play people tend to be who they are for the most part. But, what happens when tempers flair or stress overwhelms? Can a quiet person become loud? Does a calm person snap and start yelling? Sure, people can behave outside their norm, as long as it is infrequent and outside the norm.

When I work on bringing Sasha down, I have her steady personality of hard working, caring, strong minded and level-headed put to the test. Her snippy and mean responses start to peek through when she’s pushed. So when she falls over, her mood changes, and so it should. When someone looses a good job, they don’t just get mad, shrug and say “that sucked”. It affects them, it worms  into their day and alters their personality until they adjust and move on. Sasha was just attacked by Baylor again at her home. Can’t say for sure but a mood swing or two might be in order. Since she just came out of a traumatizing moment I have to bring the tone down and let her settle, then I can slowly build up the anticipation toward the next dramatic event. For now I’ll let her mood wander a bit.

Sasha leaned her head back and looked at the drop ceiling with frustration in her eyes. “Protective custody?” She grimaced. “Where?”

The officer that took her statement tapped his pen incessantly. “Until we have Crowan in custody you need to be fully protected Miss Parsons. We will take you to a day’s inn hotel and post officers outside to guard you.

“Splendid. Can I just book one myself? If I have to do this I’d rather be somewhere nicer.”

“It can be arranged if you wish.” He got up with a huff. She nearly asked why that was offensive as he left. She had no clothes and was banned from her house until they decided to put her there as bait.

“I’ll never be comfortable in my home again.” She muttered to the tabletop. The officer told her with damage to her car it wasn’t safe to drive. When she went off the road, she hit a rock and caused damage. She didn’t even remember or notice hitting a rock. Shock they said twice; she was still in shock. She didn’t think so but what did she know of being in shock.

Cal opened the door and gestured for her to follow him so she did. He had her things anyway. “Officer Cooper said you wanted to waive our hotel for one of your own choice.”

“I didn’t mean to offend but.” She stopped. But what? It was offensive.

“I booked the Linux for you, I figured you wouldn’t want the days inn that we usually use.” He chuckled. “I had a female officer gather some things for you and they will be in your room.” He led her to the parking lot.

“Oh. Um thanks. I’ll pay for the room.” The Linux was a star above what she would have chosen.

“It’s not an issue. The upgrade however means you have to have direct in-house protection.”

She breathed in the cool calming night air in before getting in the car. “Direct in house?”

“Officer in room. Well in the attached suite. Two plain-clothes officers will be stationed outside as well.

“Oh. Who will be in the room with me?”

“I will.”

“You.” She frowned and looked out the window. That was too close. He unnerved her and since she met him, her life has turned to hell. “Does it have to be you?”

“You sure know how to cut a man down.”

“Sorry it’s just.”

“Look Sasha I get it, you made yourself clear at Starches. You’re not interested, not on the market and if you asked me you’re not even remotely honest about why.”

Her head turned fast, her brow furrowed. “I don’t owe you an explanation.”

“No you don’t, we don’t know each other very well. I meant honest to yourself. You’re miserable for some reason and I’m betting it’s mostly your own doing. Regardless, it’s my job to keep you safe. End of story. If you want total strangers watching over you from a car parked obviously on the road, then go to the days inn.”

“No. You’re okay I guess.”

“Good to know.” The sarcasm rolled thick in his voice.

He pulled into the hotel, they got out and he opened the trunk so she could get her belongings. She followed him numbly as they checked in and went up to their room. She tried to look around and appreciate the décor but couldn’t focus.

The room was divided into three, a common room with a couch, table and two chairs flanked by bedrooms that each had their own bathroom.

“Do not leave this room without me, do not use the phone, you can call work in the morning.”

“Whatever Detective Dictator. I don’t need to call work, I was planning to take some time off to work on a project at home. I’ll have to let Val and Anne know that I lost my phone so they don’t freak out and call the… police.”

“Tomorrow. Stay off the internet and if you need anything let me know and I’ll order room service.”

She blinked her burning eyes at him and held her roiling stomach. She was precariously close to throwing up. Her mind heard his words but her body stopped processing. It all came crashing down, the surreal weight of the evening broke her defenses and she started crying.

Cal saw it coming, she was trying too hard to hold it in and be a tough girl. Save it for the movies, he always said. The real world was a whole lot more emotional. She ran for what she presumed was her bedroom and right through to the small bathroom.

Cal sat on the couch to make some calls. He could hear her, that would have to be enough.

A rough night and a rough reaction. Stress and strain can cause outbursts and behavior glitches that can sometimes be embarrassing or even hard to shake. Sasha probably thinks it couldn’t get worse, silly girl, she doesn’t know who controls her destiny. *insert evil laugh.

My advice about mood swings.
They can be serious, dramatic or even funny if you pace them well. Have fun and try having someone get snitty or even silly on the flip of a dime.

-Sheryl

other blog posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Anticipation

Look out! Danger Ahead

Writing dangerous action scenes can be sooooo much fun. When I write them I tend to type too fast, shift POV about a thousand times and give typo’s a front row to the show. Exciting scenes are my favorite. Once written, I will go over them a few more times to make sure it all makes sense, pluck out the filter words, fix POV and correct the abundant typos. Often I will have someone or more than one someones read the scene to ensure it makes sense.

Action, danger, excitement or fast moving scenes can be anywhere in the story. If it’s early or at the start more descriptions and introductions might be necessary. If it’s after the characters have been established then focus can be more on story and character.

I said before I was going to give Sasha one more kick (The wildcard) before moving on with her story. The kick was received, she’s thoroughly distracted by her boss’s weird assignment and her mother’s interference. Now it’s time to throw Sasha to the wolves and find out what she’s made of.

Sasha pulled her keys from the ignition, saw movement in her side yard and froze. Was it Baylor? Was he back to finish the job?
“If it’s you I need proof.” Locking her car doors with shaking hands, she put the keys back in the ignition leaving the engine off, but headlights on. She fished out her phone and put it on video. The movement came again and she hit record. Was he waiting for her to get out of the car?

The man stepped from the bushes beside her house. Baylor. With flaring nostrils he moved slowly and deliberately toward the car. His lips pulled back in a sneer baring his teeth. Sasha nearly dropped the phone as she turned the engine over. He dashed for the locked door; a flash of silver in his hand. Gun?

Screaming she dropped the phone after a good close up of his face and a car key. She slammed the car into reverse as the lock clicked off. He pulled the door open. She screamed again and backed into the small tree at the edge of the driveway. Her head hit the headrest hard. She shifted to drive, turned toward Baylor and floored it. The jostle of the car driving over his body urged another scream from her. Not looking back she made it to the main road, managed to retrieve her phone from the floor and dialed 911. She ignored the fact that she was breaking a couple of laws.

She saw the oncoming car just in time and swerved back to her side of the road as tears blinded her. She pulled over skidding into the ditch with a thud as the phone picked up. “You have reached…

She cried out in frustration. “You’re kidding me! An automated message!” an operator picked up after several seconds. “Nine one one, what is your emergency?” The car she nearly hit had pulled over and stopped.
“Baylor, He’s at my house.” She yelled. “He had a key, I hit a tree.”
“Are you injured ma’am?”
“No. no he’s at my house again.” She sounded insane, and wasn’t making sense. So much for calm and collected under pressure she thought.
“What is your address ma’am?”
Sasha gave her address as the car behind her opened the door. Was it Baylor? She wiped her tears and locked her doors again. “Like that will help.” She was blinded by tears and the lights of the car behind her. She was ready to try to drive away if necessary.
“Are you in danger?”
“Yes I drove away, he’s there I hit him.”
“You assaulted someone?”
“Car, yes I hit him with my car. He was there he had a key.” She saw the mans face. Cal. “Cal.” She said with too much relief. “Cal!” She said louder and opened her door,  911 operator forgotten. “Cal.”
“What the hell Sasha, you nearly.” He stopped when he saw her wide-eyed makeup streaked face.
“Baylor, Baylor.” She pointed back at her house. “I called 911. I hit him and a tree. He had a car key.”
Cal grabbed her phone. “Get in my car.” He leaned into hers and put her four-way indicator lights on.“Huh, the airbags didn’t go off.” He identified himself to the 911 operator and explained what little he knew. He unclasped his holster and got back in his car. Sasha was shaking and wiping her makeup filled tears on her sleeve. He turned his car around and sped back to her house and stopped on the road.

“Stay here Sasha, do not open the doors and stay out of sight. Take the phone and talk to the operator, tell her what happened in order and as best you can until I get back.”
Sasha nodded, took her phone and crawled into the back of the car as Cal closed his door and moved swiftly, his gun drawn.

It seemed like forever before Cal returned. The operator calmed her down and got her story. The operator told her to stay on the line even though the police cruiser arrived and the officers got out of the car. She stayed out of sight, but they knew she was there from the 911 operator. She jumped at the knock on the window.

Cal looked down at her, she unlocked and opened the door. He took her phone, let the operator know the scene was secure, thanked her and ended the call. “Baylor got away. He’s hurt and bleeding so that’s helpful. Did you hit him on purpose?”
“Yes.” She frowned. It was a horrible thing to do no matter how bad it was. “I knocked him down when I backed up. Then I drove over him.”
“Well that explains what I saw. Forensics is on the way. You’ll need to make another statement, as will I.”
“Am I in trouble?” Sasha looked at her shaking hands.
“For what?”
“Driving while on the phone, crashing… twice and hitting him?”
“I think we can overlook the phone and crashing. You hit him in attempt to escape.” He held his hand out for her and she took it exiting Cal’s car. “This is officer Jenkins, he will take you account and then we’ll go to the station.”

She nodded and answered Jenkins’ questions. When she mentioned the phone footage Cal took her phone out of his pocket and opened the video. After watching he emailed a copy to the Chief and one to himself and his cellphone, in case anything happened to her phone. Jenkins told forensics to take the phone and process it. He gave Jenkins her car keys after retrieving her laptop, file and purse from her car.
“You can’t go home tonight.”
“But.”
“No buts Sasha.” Cal put her belongings in his trunk and got in to drive her to the station. She was in shock and numb for now, that wont last long he thought.
“Bail is stupid.” She said after a long silence.
“Your protection lost you earlier. I was on my way to check on you when you nearly hit me.”
“Sorry. I was acting recklessly.”
“Understandably.” He could still hear her screams from the video. “When we catch him he wont be getting bail ever again.”
“Why were you coming to check on me?”
He had no intention of telling her the full truth. “Your phone was going to voicemail and it’s my job.”
“Oh, my mom was driving me crazy about, never mind I turned the ringer off. How did Baylor get away?”
“He dragged himself bleeding to a car that was parked at your neighbours. I missed him by seconds.”
Sasha bit both lips between her teeth, had she not been a lunatic Cal might have gotten to Baylor sooner.
“Don’t do that Sasha, don’t start questioning your actions. You handled that very well.”
“Oh? I’m a mess, I nearly killed a man then you maybe even myself. I couldn’t string together a coherent sentence and.” She started crying again. “I’m being pathetic.”
“I’m serious Sasha stop it. You had enough wit to get proof he was there, you got away and safely. Nearly doesn’t count. Yes he got away, but so did you.”
She didn’t respond and stayed silent all the way to the station. She gave her statement quickly. Cal suggested to do it now while it was fresh and scorched in her mind. What he meant was to give it before reality set in for real.

Whew, what fun that was to write. It would be silly to have her handle the situation gracefully and with too much logic. People are not perfect and can be erratic when terrified or hurt. People need to have stupid moments to have stupid things happen to them. Lucky for me the writer and the readers, stupid makes for some awesome danger. On the other side of that Sasha is the protagonist, the one that has already been kicked and spat on thanks to some mean writer 😉  So to have her fail miserably and be the complete victim would be ultra boring and annoying to the reader. For now, because she isn’t ready to be the total hero yet, I gave her a mix of bravery, resourcefulness, stupidity and panic-blindness.

My advice about danger.
Normal everyday people are not used to action, violence or real danger. If a character is untrained civilian, let them freak out a bit and don’t forget to let them shine a little too. 

-Sheryl

Other intense posts

It’s a love hate sort of thing

Don’t rush me!

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Scorched

Paint a desperate picture

There comes a point in writing when we need to induce stress in our readers by making our characters live it. Whether it’s a timeline crunch or a race to stop something horrible from happening. Showing the reader how the characters react and handle these situations will establish them further in their mind and hearts.  After as a writer I want people to love and hate my characters as much as I do. Making someone desperate and afraid is a great way to induce stress. 

Some sources of stress

Work/co-workers
Work deadlines
Family
Friends
Money – usually the lack of
Peer pressure
Self degradation
Illness
Threats
Blackmail/Extortion/Bribery
Holidays
Politics
Impending Danger
Active danger
I’m sure there are many more but I just wanted to suggest a few. Now, building tension and or stress is important. These are the moments, the foreshadows for something fantastic or important to the story. This is where I try to set my readers on the edge of their seats or at least be less willing to set the book down. Just one more page… The holy grail of writing, hooking the reader. This is important for many reasons. Good story telling, keeping the reader interested and dazzling the reader so they go and talk about the book to/with others and again, there are more reasons, but these are my primaries.
Stress can go hand and hand with desperation. The more stressful the situation, the more desperate a person can become. Whether the stress is real or mythical doesn’t matter, as long as I express it well. 
To do this I select a moment before the proverbial shit hits the fans. I start to ramp up the tension. This doesn’t necessarily have to be done through the protagonist. It can be anyone in the story thus far. I don’t suggest introducing a new character to create tension at this point, use someone established that has a report with the protagonist or even antagonist. If the reader likes my characters enough then they will be invested to find out what’s going to happen next. 
Cal dropped the keys, cursed and fumbled to retrieve them from the car floor in the dark. With seat-belt on and car finally started he sped out of the parking lot. 
“Dammit.” Sasha wasn’t answering her phone. His cell rang and he answered with his hands free. 
“Thorn.”
Thorn it’s Deputy Chief Jones. Miller filled me in. I have some bad news. Baylor Crowen lost his tail too.
“What!” Cal gripped the steering wheel tight as he stopped at a red light. All he asked was for eyes on both Baylor and Sasha.
The judge ruled him low risk, nobody believes he’s the guy disfiguring those women.
That was no excuse for lax officers. Cal took a deep breath avoiding a string of expletives that would get him reprimanded. “I’m on my way now to check on Miss Parsons.”
Thorn, if he’s not the guy then she’s in no danger.”
The muscles in Cal’s neck went taught as his stomach jumped. “I know it’s him. I’m going to check on her anyway.”
Do what you need to Detective. I agree with you, I think Crowen is guilty.
Cal pushed the speed limit. The Chief’s wishy-washy stance annoyed him as much now as it did earlier. A million scenarios played out in Cal’s mind. All of them berating him for not insisting Sasha have better protection. His gut and logic told him that Baylor was the guy. Sasha pissed Baylor off and he could easily get to her. She wasn’t taking this seriously enough and thought that being followed by a police cruiser was enough. 
“Thanks Chief. I’ll report in if I find anything out of the ordinary. It wouldn’t make sense for Crowen to try anything now.”
I agree. I’ll send the cruiser over to her place as well.”
“I’m almost there Chief.”
Okay then, keep me posted.” The call ended, Cal pursed his lips and flexed his white knuckled fingers. What a mess.  
The oncoming car approached too fast with their high-beams on. Cal would have to let them go by, he had more pressing matters than a car speeding. When the car swerved into his lane he steered to avoid. 
“Son of a.” Cal held his breath as the car righted at the last moment. He watched in his rear view as it careened into the ditch hard. “Of all the dammed, stupid things.” He u-turned his car around, drove closer to the ditched car and pulled over. He put his four-ways on, shook his head and got out of his car. He had to check on the idiot driver and probably arrest them. He took his phone out of his pocket to call it in and for back up. Now he was delayed for checking on Sasha who was just down the road. As he got a closer look at the vehicle, his heart skipped a beat.
“I know that car.” Cal moved fast toward the car as the driver got out.
With Cal’s nervousness, frustration and anger muddled with regret, he paints a desperate picture. Sometimes lack of judgement or complacency can lead to some pretty fantastic situations imagined or real.  The trick here is to use what I call anxious words or movements, nothing calming or ordinary. 
My advice about inducing stress.
Watch the trigger words, keep it tight and avoid filler words and wordiness. Less is more and will generate a better sense of urgency if the reader isn’t lost in a sea of description or narrative.
-Sheryl
Other stressful posts
Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Mythical

The wild card

When I’m writing my story and I’ve got the characters established. Their backstories are hinted at, their interactions are firm and the protagonist is ready for the next stage of their development. The story is moving along and I know it’s now time to shake things up. To introduce a wild card. Something random that may or may not influence the entire story line. At this point, I might introduce something that will expose or foreshadow the main antagonist. The one that will cause major conflict and make the protagonists life hell. It’s time for the wild card.

Sasha sat in her small office reviewing the next client’s requests. Her heart wasn’t in it. Valery grilled her at lunch and suggested some time off. It wasn’t a bad idea so she agreed. A tropical resort sounded much safer than dealing with Baylor and being followed by a police cruiser everywhere. She browsed some last minute vacation ideas until she was paged to the boss’s office. Mr. Clifton had little to do with the day to day. He was a businessman not an artist, he owned the company and spoke only to those well above Sasha’s pay grade. She glanced at the computer. Is it monitored? Would she be fired for slacking on the job?

Checking her hair and make-up she walked quickly to the blue door and knocked. A come in sounded from behind.  Mr. Clifton was bald, very bald. His grey eyebrows and black lashes the only hair on his head. He was an average man. Attractive only because of his expensive suits, money and the power he exuded. Sasha didn’t like or respect him. Aside from the uncomfortable flirting at the office parties and yearly meetings, he usually only grunted at her dismissively.
“Miss Parsons, please sit. Don’t look so frightened, I don’t do the firing around here.” He laughed at his own remark. “Unless you make me very unhappy.”
She licked her lips as he continued.
“I was told you are doing very well lately and that your work has been securing some very large accounts. I asked about you and was assured that you can be discreet.”
She nodded and swallowed hard, the knot in her stomach tightening.
“I have a client that needs some sensitive and confidential work done. I think you are up to the task.”
“Yes sir.”
“Good. Here are the images and message he needs to be contained in the advert. Nothing blatant or obvious.”
“Subliminal.” She frowned. “But that’s…”
“It is not for public, and there is nothing illegal in the message.”
“Okay.” She opened the file.
“I want you to have a proof for me by the end of next week.”
“I can have it ready by then, but there isn’t anything being sold, what is the product?”
“That is not for you to know. The image on the last page is to be hidden.”
She flipped to the last page and bit her lips.
“Your discretion is of the utmost importance. Your career here has been exemplary and I wouldn’t want this to change that.”
A threat. She looked up ready to quit and stopped herself. The look on his face suggested quitting wouldn’t solve her issue with this and she needed this job.
“Wilber is retiring in a few months, his office and title would suit you I think Miss Parsons.”
She nodded. She had no choice. She smiled forcing her lunch down. “I am to understand that if say Valery were to look at this she would see an advert for… say… a security company but if members see it they will get the message?”
“You are smarter than you look.”
She bit her cheek and tasted blood. “Thank you.” It was better than the expletive that she wanted to launch on him.
“My time is important, I will see you next Monday with the final product.”
“But you said…” She would have to drop everything to make this work. If she lost this job, she would lose her house and her dignity along with it. What little she had left.
“I Changed my mind. Is that a problem Miss Parsons?”
“No not at all.” She stood. “I work best under a deadline.”
“Good to know.” He dismissed her by looking at his computer screen.

Sasha walked down the hall holding the file and her stomach. This screamed of illegal and even though it looked innocent, it smelled rotten.
“You look like you chugged car oil.” Valery held Sasha’s purse out.
“Long day. Mr. Clifton just asked me to do a job for him.” Sasha took her purse and they stared walking out to the parking lot.
“The hush hush kind right? What did you do to piss him off?”
“I don’t know, he hinted at Wilber’s position. Why? Has this happened before?”
“Every few months he has someone doing secret projects. They are either fired or quit after a while.”
“Why the hell am I just hearing about this now?”
“There’s no proof and we have a lot of staff that come and go. Barry thinks it’s just coincidence. I try not to let gossip percolate through the office.”
“Well I’ll do what Clifton asks, ask nothing and show no-one.”
“Not even me?”
“He casually hinted I would be fired.”
“Best if you don’t then Sash. It’s probably some weird sex fetish club thing anyway. I’d rather not know my boss’s boss, is into playdoh sex or something.”
“Weird.”
“I bet it’s a thing too. I knew Wilber’s leaving, you’re probably up for promotion, whatever the job, just work your magic.”

Sasha laughed as she got to her car. The idea of a promotion dulled the underlying fear that’s been present all day as she drove. She had a few stops to make before going home. The problem was the cost, was she willing to sell her soul for the position? She knew whatever the message was is illegal. Or would lead to something illegal. The symbol of the left hand palm up in a circle with the thumb crooked oddly up was a sign. It was to be hidden within the image and that was ominous on its own. She didn’t know it, but it wasn’t anything good. She would know about that. Even after visiting with her parents and stopping at the grocery her mind was still stuck on the file and Clifton’s request.
“Maybe it’s just a test, it’s probably nothing.” She muttered as she pulled into her driveway. “After the past few days I’m just being weird.” She looked in the rear-view mirror. “Get a grip Sasha.”

So, I have added an ominous task to distract Sasha. Bad things can happen when someone is distracted (Bwahahahaha). Her mind should be on other things… Right? Adding this unexpected event opens the doors for more, hopefully a lot more. Sometimes these ideas are an innocent distraction and singular, sometimes they are part of a greater plot and the catalyst to start the main story line.

My advice about wild card moments.
Whether you use them as a defibrillator for a dead or dying story or the key to the gates of the actual story, adding something random can revive or open the story.

-Sheryl

Other posts

Silliness and seriousness

The ‘been there, done that’ people

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Percolate