Short Reads: Jack, Some Cows, a Giant and, Oh, yeah…a Beanstalk

Last week, Chuck Wendig (@ChuckWendig) posted a writing challenge where, if you so chose, you could randomly pick two sub-genres and write a story.  You should have seen these sub-genres!!!  Man…bodice-ripper, heist/caper, time travel, comic fantasy, fairy tale, etc.  You get the point right?  Not the easiest of topics to fit nicely into a story!  (If you want to see the post, here it is.)

Okay, sure.  I was supposed to post my story by NOON Fri, 8/12/16.  Clearly, I did not do that but I wanted to share my post with you guys anyway.  If you feel like it, leave me a comment below about what you think of it.

Thanks for running this challenge Chuck!

***

Jack, Some Cows, a Giant and, Oh yeah…a Beanstalk

By Rochelle Campbell

Jack and his mother lived on Mother Gaston Boulevard and Pitkin Avenue.  They had a blind cat named Milky-white and lived above a bakery.

One Wednesday after school, Jack was sitting at the kitchen table eating day-old donuts from the bakery below them.

“Man, Momma,” Jack said, between bites.  “We never catch a break!  We can’t even afford fresh donuts.”

Jack’s mother wrung her wrinkled hands and just looked at him.  She was older than most mothers as she had waited for better circumstances before conceiving a child.  When that didn’t happen, she and her husband adopted a teen-aged Jack.  Jack’s father didn’t like the instant family and left.

“Child, it will all get better soon,” his mother soothed.  She came to stand beside him.  She was barely four inches taller than Jack in his seated position.

“Momma, you say that every single time,” he shied away from her calloused hands as she reached for his woolly afro.  “Leave the ‘fro, Ma.  I just picked it out.”  He pulled out his cow dog whistle and flipped it around with one hand.

Stung, she drew her hand back quickly.  Her faded eyes had a light blue rim around the dark irises.  Her walnut colored face was compassionate but lined with age and hard labor.  “I was jus’ tryin’ ta help.  You playing with that damn whistle again.  Usually means you’re upset ‘bout something.”

Jack looked up at her eyes widened; he quickly put the whistle away.  “I know Momma.  I just get so frustrated, you know?  I want things to be better for us both but I’m afraid that – “

A loud noise drew their attention to the window.  Jack grabbed her arm and pulled her down to the floor.  Another loud CRACK filled the air.  They heard glass tinkle and fall to the floor.

They laid low for what seemed like ages when in reality it was only for seven minutes.  They heard the sirens of both the cops and an ambulance in the far distance racing towards them.  The closer the sirens came the better Jack felt.  The emergency vehicles stopped right below their third floor window.

Milky-white sauntered up to them and brushed his white and light grey head against their clenched fists.

“Not now, MW!  We’ll pet you later,” Jack shooed the cat away while helping his mother to her feet.

They tip-toed over to the living room window and peeked through the slit in the heavy maroon curtains both wondering what they would see.

Jack’s mouth dropped open as did her mother’s.  Down on the street below was full-sized pickup truck with a turned over trailer that had busted open.  On the street were four black and white cows lying motionless.  One cow had blood leaking from its head.  Another’s leg was at an unnatural angle to its body with a bloody snout.  The other two twitched and shivered near the mouth of the trailer with stakes of metal protruding from their flanks.

“Lord Sakes!  What in heaven’s name…”

The cops were across the street talking to a dazed looking man in denim overalls with a straw hat perched on his head.  The countrified dude was sitting on the curb staring at the cows with tears streaming down his face.  He was clearly ignoring the cop speaking to him.

“Momma…is you seeing this, too?”

“I see cows, Jack.  Dead cows.”

“They might not all be dead – yet.”

“Jack, didn’t I tell you never to lie?”

“Momma!”

“I’ve been on a farm a time or two, so’s I know what a dead cow looks like. Jus’ like these here.”

As she was speaking, an uncomfortable feeling began to permeate Jack’s awareness.  He felt as if the man in the overalls was looking up at him.   Jack turned from her and looked down.  The man, indeed, was looking up directly at him.

Jack’s heart slammed against his chest.  He knew he needed to be downstairs somewhere close to the farmer dude.  Why?  He couldn’t fathom a why.  He just knew he needed to leave their cramped one bedroom apartment.

“Momma, I’ll be right back.  I need to check something real quick.”

“Child – no!  You git back here,” she hissed after him.

But he was already out of their front door and heading downstairs holding his breath in the musty, pee-soaked dank stairwell.  He let the breath go as he opened the front door to the building right next to the bakery.

As soon as Jack opened the door, the denim-clad man raised his aquamarine eyes and met Jack’s dark stare.  Jack felt a zing of recognition but knew he had never met this man before.  The odd déjà vu continued as Jack’s feet took him inexorably closer and closer to the man and the cop.

The cop had turned around to see what had arrested the man’s attention.  Upon seeing the skinny tall Black kid in the ubiquitous uniform of jeans, T-shirt, fancy sneakers with a medium-sized uneven afro, the cop’s brow furrowed.  The cop turned back around, looked at the farmer’s pale sun-burned skin then back at the dark-skinned youth.  He took a step back as his head swiveled back and forth between the two.

Jack stopped five feet from the cop.  He didn’t look at the man in dark blue.  Jack only had eyes for the man he couldn’t help feeling he knew.

“S’up, man.  Sorry ‘bout your cows.  What you doing around here anyway?”

The man didn’t blink in surprise.  He didn’t move a muscle.  He answered simply, “I was coming to see you.”

“Excuse me, Sir.  Do you know this young man?” The cop asked, confusion coloring his tone and face.

“Indeed I do.  He’s Jack – Jack Mackenzie.  Isn’t that right, boy?”  The man’s eyes grew hard as flint and narrowed as he saw Jack’s reaction.

“Don’t call me that!  I don’t know you, Man!”

“So, how do I know you?  And your mother?  She’s still up there looking down at us.  Worrying about the cows.  You should tell her.  She’s wrong.  You’re right.  Only two are dead.  Bessie and LuLu.  They’re goners.  Lucy and Mavis are just stunned.  Good thing for you, too.”

Jack’s brow couldn’t get further into his hairline.  “What you talkin’ ‘bout?!  I ain’t never seen a cow in real life before let alone in the middle of the hood dead on the street!  You talking crazy talk, Mr. Knox!”

He stilled and so did the cop.

“Son, how did you know this man’s name?”

How had he known?

The older man got up and dusted off his bum.  “Officer, unless you need something else, I think I’m fine now.  If you and your fellow officers can help get the cows back in the truck…”

“But sir, your truck is still overturned.”

“Is it?”

They all turned around and the dusty beige truck was right side up and no longer dented.  The cows were still all lying in the street.

The cop’s eyes bulged and he passed a hand over his face.  He took out a white handkerchief from one of his many pockets, lifted his hat and mopped his bald head dried his forehead of the moisture he found there, as well.

“Mr. Knox, we’ll do our best to get the cows up on the flatbed but we may need to call the fire department and their lifting apparatus to help with that.  Those animals are massive.”

“You do whatever is necessary.  But, I think you, your fellow officers and the EMT gentlemen can get a few cows in the truck.  Don’t ya think?”

With a pointed stare, the cop turned on his heel and walked woodenly to his patrol car reached in for the radio and began speaking into it.  He made no moves towards the cows, nor did he turn back around and look at either Jack, or Knox.

Jack took this in without saying a word.  He looked around and noticed that there were very few people about.  In fact, he saw only two other people.  This surreal scene was not being witnessed!  Jack shook his head, rubbed his eyes and looked around again.  Even the two guys were no longer anywhere to be seen.  It was only him, Knox, the three cops and the two EMT guys.  He couldn’t stall anymore and he turned to the man he had been avoiding and the question he knew he needed to ask burned a hole in his mind.

“So what is this all about?  Who – no, what are you?”

“I’ve got a gift for you, Jack,” Knox began digging in his pockets.  “I’ve been looking for your kin for a long time.  Your folks had me promise to deliver this to you ages ago, but time slipped away from me and ‘fore you know it, it was 2016.  But, here I am anyway.  Better late than never right?”

Jack took a few steps back knowing he did not want whatever this man, who most likely was not mortal, had to give him.

“See, Jack.  You can backpedal all you want but I will make my delivery.  It’s what I came to do.”

Jack turned to run and the world slowed down and time slowed down like he was mired in molasses.

Knox reached out in extreme stop action-like motion and touched Jack’s shoulder lightly.

Jack opened his mouth wide to yell but only thick oval waves of molasses-thickened sound came out.  In a moment, the world sped up and did a dizzying 360 turn.  Jack came back to regular reality with a jerk and whirled around to face Knox.  In the process, Jack noted the trees, the wide open fields, the low wooden fence, dozens of cows – brown, white and black ones – milling about the fields.  Far in the distance on his left he noticed a red barn and a windmill spinning idly in the light spring zephyr.  The yellow sundried wild grasses swayed in the wind as Jack stumbled forward falling to his knees as his eyes widened and he took in the pastoral rural scene before him.  He finally looked directly at Knox and said in a strangely calm tone, “Who are you?”

Knox looked away from Jack, plucked a piece of the grass and stuck it in his mouth.  “Funny thing about time; it’s maddeningly fluid, isn’t it?  One minute, you’re stealing a goose, a golden harp and a bag of gold, then the next you’re in a Brooklyn neighborhood hundreds of years later wondering what the heck just happened,” he paused, looked back at Jack and shined a mirthless toothy grin at him.  “Or, maybe it was the other way around. Right, Jack?  ‘Member that beanstalk over yonder?” Knox used his head to point towards the north.

Jack turned slowly, forcing himself to take more complete breaths that would not leave him so light headed.  He blinked rapidly against the glare of the late afternoon sun.  That’s when he saw it.  It was dark green and thick.  Thicker than anything he had ever seen.  It was as thick as a one hundred year old tree trunk.  Dried brown vines seemed to embed themselves into the trunk of the beanstalk.  It was massive, beautiful and terrifying.  It was an impossibility that somehow was a reality.

Picture on Brittany Jones-Cooper's website. Image from Yahoo Travel.

Picture on Brittany Jones-Cooper’s website. Image from Yahoo Travel.

Jack couldn’t help himself.  His eyes rose and continued to rise until they saw the beanstalk disappear amongst the clouds high up in the sky.  A shiver ran down his spine.  Knowingness came unbidden.  He dropped his head and refused to look at the man behind him.

“That’s right, Jack.  You know who I am now, doncha?”

“How long have you been chasing me?”

“The real question was how did you manage to steal my cow dog whistle?  It was so well hidden; so small.  How did you know what it was?  What it could do?”

Jack gulped hard.  There was no way he was going to tell Knox the Giant the harp had told him.  He just blinked hard a few times and tried not to sweat in the high noon sun.

Knox stepped closer to him; grabbed him by the arms and shook until Jack’s mind felt like scrambled eggs.  He shoved him away hard.

Jack fell backward and landed flat on his bum.

Knox went through Jack’s pockets and plucked out the whistle.  “There she is.  My sweet ticket back to my old home; the one you tossed me out of when I followed you.  Not sure why you brought us here but, you can have at it.  I ain’t taking you back.  I’m curious.  How did you travel here without blowing the whistle?”

Knox backed five feet away, put the slim silver whistle to his mouth and blew.  The air turned wavy and thick like molasses once more.  In a few seconds, Knox was gone.

Jack sat up and looked around him and smiled.  The harp had also taught him how to transfer the time walking properties directly into his body.  The whistle probably had only two or three travel jaunts left in it.

He got up slowly and walked to the barn with a smile on his face.  He was looking forward to seeing Milky-white, his prize-winning cow.  After selling the original Milky-white to get the magic beans, Jack had always kept a cow that looked similar.  Having an MW in his life was his lucky charm, or so he believed.  Furrowing his brow, Jack wondered if he should go back and get his mother now, or wait until the sun went down.  It would be easier to explain when it all when she couldn’t see that their surroundings had completely changed.  He would have the whole night to try and make her understand who he was, and what he could do.

Jack pulled open the barn doors and paused to allow his eyes to adjust to the dimness.  With a broad smile, he stepped inside and shrieked.  Knox was sitting on a bale of hay but he had transformed into his original form.  The Giant raised a hand in greeting.

“I was thinking about how we got here and why you would bring us here,” the Giant rasped in his deep gravel-filled voice.  “Then, I realized this damn harp musta told you all of my secrets, including about the whistle.”  The Giant put a hand behind the bale of hay and pulled out the golden harp.

“Noo!  Save me, Jack!  Save me!!”

Jack took a step forward and stopped short when he saw what was in the Giant’s other hand.”

“That’s right.  Look into her eyes.”

Jack stared into the double black iris-less eyes of a sawed off shot gun.

“Hasta la vista, baby.”  And, Knox pulled the trigger.

# # #

Happy Writer Wednesday! (Thanks Liphar Magazine!!)

On this fab Spring Wednesday, there is a wondrous thing afoot…the publication of one of my short stories!

Liphar magazine, an online literary journal based in Australia, is giving voice to over a dozen writers in each issue.  In this, their second issue, you can find interviews, articles, art, new book finds and, yeah — short stories.

ImageVisit the Liphar website and download this second issue, and the first issue at no charge.  Be sure to read my story, come back here and leave a comment.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Short Story: Come From Behind the Chair


Title: Come From Behind the Chair
Author: Rochelle Campbell 
“Come from behind the chair.  You’re being stupid,” he leered at her drunkenly from the open door.  She stood behind the green velvet monstrosity that also happened to be a chair and kept her shirt tightly clasped to her budding chest. 
Heat rose to her cheeks as she looked everywhere but at him.  She knew this couldn’t be happening.  Not again.  It wasn’t supposed to be happening.  Life was supposed to be simple.  Easy.  Like a book.  Life was not supposed to be this dramatic.  It wasn’t supposed to have this too seriously real 250-plus pounds of mature male directly in front of her that wouldn’t easily go away…without force.
She dared glance at him and found him staring at her.  “I said move from behind the chair!  I’ve known you since you were a little thing.  So, ugly and skinny and nothing’s changed.  What’s wrong with you?  I’m like your father!  Come from behind that chair and let me see if anything’s changed.”  He took a step into the room, his feet sinking into the piss yellow-green colored shag rug.
The rest of the house was empty.  Nothing moved or creaked as it usually did.  Even the birds stopped chirping even thought it was only a little past three o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon.  The only day she had a half a day of classes.  The only day she had to be home with him alone.  Mother told her never to be in the house with him alone.  Mother said to go to the library and wait until she got home and then come.  But, he wasn’t there when she first had walked in.  The whole two-story ranch corner house was all hers for a blessed couple of hours before the front door banged open and she knew he had arrived in a foul mood.
She looked out the window and the filmy green and yellow floral curtains lifted gaily in the slight breeze that came into the attic sloped room.  She loved the room.  It had character – like she did.  She didn’t like the color scheme.  Her favorite color was pink but Mother said all little girls liked pink.  Why couldn’t she like a different color?  Maybe blue?  Or, possibly red.  She still had no idea what was wrong with pink.  Maybe pink had done something to her Mother sometime in her mother’s childhood.  Or, maybe pink reminded her of the blanket she was swaddled in when the nurses brought her squalling to her Mother for the first time.  Pink could have been maligned in that traumatically emotionally post-delivery and medicine-induced haze.
“What’s wrong with you?  Are you deaf?  I said come FROM BEHIND THE CHAIR.” 
Her gaze snapped to him.  His voice was too close.  He was by the foot of the first bed in the room closest to the room’s door.  He was a mere six feet from her.  She trembled visibly.  Her lip parted and a half-yelp escaped her.
“Please don’t hurt me, or touch me.  Please…I didn’t do anything.  Mother will be home soon…”
“Touch you!?  TOUCH YOU?!  You’ve got nothing for me to touch!  Not like your Mother who’s a real woman with curves!  You?  You’ve got no shaped no bumps or curves.  Who would ever want you?  You’re ugly, you can’t dance, you have no personality and you smell.  Why would I want to touch you?  You disgust me.  You’re just here because of your mother.  Oh, and you pick up my son and all I have to do is feed you, cloth and house you.”
He sneered at her and took a swig from the long-necked dark brown bottle.  He burped noisily and took another step closer.
She screamed, inadvertently taking a huge step back.  This put her very closer to the window.  Any passerby could easily see her from the street and either ogle or wonder about her semi-nakedness.
 “Stop that screaming!  And come away from that window!!  No one’s doing anything to you!  Why are you acting like this?  I’ve taken care of you almost your entire life.  Why are you acting as if you’re afraid of me?  What’s wrong with you?”
Clutching her shirt closer to her chest, tears slid down her cheeks as she began to cry fearing the worst was going to happen.  She closed her eyes and shook her head from side to side.  She couldn’t live with herself if he did anything.  If he came closer.  She would just curl up and die.  She would run away.  She would kill him.  She would…
The door slammed and shook the whole house with its force.  His angry steps pounding their way down the stairs and down the narrow hall to the kitchen.  Another door slammed open and she heard him thrash his way down into the basement.  Moments later loud music country music filled the clean, light and airy house with the Homes and Gardenfeel. 
 Shaken to her core, she dressed quickly grabbed her bag and ran out the house and headed for the library.  She was safe…for now.
***
“So how come you’re not going home?  You’re going to get in trouble.”  She looked at Dane and looked down at her smooth brown knees and said nothing.  The warm June sun shining on her curly hair.  She had just had her hair done the day before and it hadn’t turned back to its normal frizzy state yet. 
“You want me to go now?  You’ve got another girl on the way?”
He sighed and reached over and hugged her small stiff frame.  He knew things were worse but she wouldn’t tell him what was going on.  He was older, by three years, but he felt imbecilic and useless.  She shut down anytime he asked about her Mother or him.  He learned to ignore that part of her.  When he did, she was so much fun to be around.  He liked that girl.  The one sitting before him was way too much work.  He didn’t want trouble.  He wanted an easy, unloving chick to spend time with.  Sighing when she didn’t relax into him, he let go.
“So, what do you want to do today?  Go to the videogame hall?  Or, are you hungry?  Hmm?”
“Can’t I just sit here in your room?  Do I have to go?  I just need some quiet time.  Alright?”
He sighed again.  He couldn’t stand when she was like this.  She could be like this for days until she figured out internally how she would deal with whatever was going on.  This was her thinking.  She closed out all other input.  It was a serious downer.  There would be no sex today.
***
Sitting under the overhanging trees in the center of the campus lawn by the big boulders, she studiously avoided looking into her friends’ eyes as they blew fragrant plumes of cannabis smoke towards her.  An ephemeral fluffy while ring floated by her head and she swiftly turned her nose up and moved her nose out of its path.
“So if you don’t like it, why you here?”
She turned back and glared at Henrique, the swarthy and handsome guy that she was playing around with trying to figure out if he would be better in bed than Dane was.  But today, she didn’t care about his physical attributes and appeal.  She only cared that he insulted her in some nameless way.  She was hurt – by what, she couldn’t say for sure.  The surge of emotions came so quickly they surprised even her.
“I like you guys – not the stuff you do.  And sorry to say it, but you guys tripping and falling all over yourselves is not cute.  I prefer to be in control and remember the good times I had,” she stood up and slung her bag on her shoulder.  “You probably won’t even remember this conversation tomorrow.  Look, I’m outta here.”   She waved dismissively at them and strode off not looking back.
***
“Uhm, I need some money,” she squeaked while looking at the roses on the bush beyond him.  She made sure to be outside, in the open, in front of the house with the door open before asking him.
“Speak up.  I can’t hear you,” he said already leering.
“Mother won’t give me money for a new pair of jeans.  My old ones have a hole in them.  She said to ask you.”
“Oh, so now you need me?”
She told me to ask.  So, I’m not asking.  She is.”
“Is that how you see it?”
She didn’t answer.  He had stepped closer.  She didn’t dare step back but dropped her head and stared at the toes of her beat up Keds.  Besides, people were passing by.  He couldn’t do anything.  Could he?
He knew she wouldn’t answer.  She had gone into that damned shell of hers.  He wanted that laughing sweet girl that was so full of life and energy.  Her mother used to be like that but work and the long commute to the City had ruined that in her.  But the daughter?  She was life.  He held his breath for a moment forcing himself to calm down and make himself less aroused.  Scaring her wouldn’t work.  Hell, she asked him for money in public.  He wasn’t stupid.
He glanced down at her snug t-shirt.  Her chest was getting fuller.  There was a twitch in his nether regions.  He shifted and stepped back; digging into his pocket he pulled out a few bills and shoved them at her looking down the street.  The money stayed in his hand and she didn’t take it immediately.
“What’s wrong with you?  Didn’t you just ask for money?”
“Maybe you should give it to Mother?  I think she may want it that way.  Yeah, I think that might be better.”
She curtsied and skirted around him and headed off to the library with a quickness in her step; her heart pounding.
***
The coughing kept her awake.  She cried herself to sleep from the pain in her stomach and her throat.  She couldn’t take the change of seasons.  It threw her equilibrium off.  She had to stay home because she couldn’t move.  Everything ached.  At 4:00 am, Mother had bustled up the stairs and inculcated her with things to bolster her system, or so Mother said.
Mother said to call her if she didn’t feel better.  But she knew better than to call Mother from work.  She would have to be on her death’s bed for Mother not to kill her when she got in.  Weak and sick she laid there semi-conscious.  The day passed and she noticed only small bits of it.
Something flicked her nipple.  It tightened and furled upon itself hardening.  It made her surge up from sleep.  The flick came again.  That’s when she felt the hot breath on her face.  She stiffened.  How could she have been so stupid and irresponsible?  Now, it was too late to move.
“Wake up, sleepyhead.  Let’s play.”
She shuddered knowing that there was nothing in his tone that would bode well for anything fun happening for her.  She knew her shirt was lifted up and her chest was open for his viewing pleasure.  Without her knowing it.  The tears slid down her face.
“No, no…we were beginning to have such fun.  Shhh.”
He pushed her onto her back.  She tightened her body and her eyes.  She refused to look at him.  The aches still very real from a few nights before.  He pulled the blanket down slowly and slid her pajama pants down.  She began shivering uncontrollably.  He straddled her and stroked her down the center of her sternum.  His other hand reaching between her legs.
She thought of Dane.  She thought of Henrique.  She thought of Mother.  She thought of his son.  She just thought.  It was better than feeling.  She imagined she was a princess in a full tulle skirt in fluffy cotton candy pink with a shiny bright tiara.  She imagined she had a wand and that she could make her every wish come true.  She wished now for a miracle…none came.  He did though.   She imagined she was the beautiful swan in Swan Lake.  She danced furiously, beautifully as he collapsed onto her.  She wondered if he was done but within a few minutes she felt it stirring again as he flicked and nipped at her now sore budding breasts.  She wondered if other girls had a life like hers and what they did about it.
When he finally left more than an hour later.  She just laid there.  She felt nothing.  She was nothing.  She had finally decided.  She would let Mother find her like this and see if she could deny it then…
#womens #fiction #short #story #creative #writing #urban #AfricanAmerican #Black #domestic #violence #drama

To read more of my short stories, pick up a copy of Leaping Out on Faith today! 

An All-Dialogue Short Story: Loch Ness

Several years ago, a colleague challenged me to write a story using only dialogue.  I thought that was the silliest thing ever…until I tried it.  Very very challenging.  No omniscient voice to fill in the blanks.  No colorful descriptions to help paint the scene — just the characters’ own dialects, words and attitudes drive the plot and story to completion.

Well, here’s my all-dialogue story called Loch Ness.  Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think!
_______________________________________________________

The Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness

By Rochelle Campbell


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“Do you hate me, Kirsten?”
“I wouldn’t say that…exactly.”
“What would you say?”
“I’d say you’d better keep your eye on the Loch.  If we’re really supposed to be looking for Nessie this would be the time.  It’s dusk. “
“I prefer a different view at the moment.  A twin peaks view…”
“See?  That’s why we have issues!”
“Ahoy there, Matey!”
“You guys couldn’t have more perfect timing!”
“Really?  Jeff staring at your boobs again?”
“Well, if she’d cover them up…”
“Why you dirty little…”
“What’s that sound?”
“Maria, Perkins, Jeff and Boob Lady – get into your positions!   This might be it.  I’m going to get the skiff in the water and take out the ROVNav6 equipment to see if I can get a bead on our favorite mythological creature.  Everyone, remember what your roles — go!”
“Aren’t I supposed to go with you?”
“Kirsten, only I’m on the skiff, ‘member?  Too much is at risk if more than one person goes out there.  While we haven’t heard any man-eating stories about Nessie, I’m too much of a pragmatist to take any chances.  You’re working the night vision camera, right?”
“Yeah.”
“Got all your equipment?  Including your radio?”
“You know I do.”
“Right, I do.  I know everyone does because you’re all my best students.  That’s why you’re here.  Ignore Jeff.  He’s just hot for you.  You’re too good for him anyway.  Now…go.”
“Thanks, Professor Tate.”
“Yeah, yeah.  Aren’t I supposed to be seeing your fanny right about now?”
“Going…”
“Damn, it’s nippy out here.  How long do we have to stay?  It’s been 3 hours already!”
“Stop whining, Jeff.  We have no idea how sensitive that 6G sonar is.”
“You need to pay attention to more than Kirsten’s boobs, Blockhead.  The sonar won’t pick up voices.  Its focus is beneath us — 784 feet beneath us to be precise.  Think he’s captured any contacts?”
“Dunno.  I keep remembering Operation Deepscan in ’87.  They captured 3 contacts that were — what was it, Kirsten?”
“…bigger than a fish but smaller than a whale.  Why don’t you ever remember that, Mare?  Oh, and Perkins, it’s 812 feet — that depth was recorded in 1989.”
“See?  You’re the brainiac, Missy; the blonde hair and hazel eyes are just camouflage.”
“The radio traffic is bothering me, kids.  Can we cut the chatter?”
“But the sonar doesn’t pick it up!”
“No, but I do.”
“You sound like my Dad.”
“That’s because he could be!”
“Knock it off.  I’m not…well, forget it.  I’m only a few years shy.  Leave it to you guys to bring up my existentialist issues when I am attempting to solve the mother of all myths.  Good Grief, kids!”
“What was that?  Sounded like a huge blip, Professor.”
“Yeah…it was.”
“Leave him let him calibrate to lock in on the contact signal.  Are you already set up to record to the chart paper, Professor?”
“Damn.  Thank, Kirsten.  What would I do without you?  Got it on.  Yeah…yeah.  This things moving fast and it’s big.  I have it at 190 meters and it’s going deeper!  Hot damn!  Recording now for a full 2 minutes.  Think this is the longest recording in recent Nessie history…”
“You think it’s Nessie?”
“This thing is huge — bigger than a shark.  Like the size of a calf, say 9 or 10 months old.”
“Professor, really?  How dumb do you think we are?  A baby cow?  That’s not that big…”
“The Idiot Pills are working…”
“Perkins, quit it.”
“You’re defending him?  Wow.  Jeff, you may have a shot after all.”
“Owww!!!”
“Ow!  You hit me!”
“Someone clocked me, too.”
“We’re all trying to protect our ears, Blockhead.  That high-pitched keening sound is worse than nails on a blackboard.”
“Professor?!  Are you all right?  The sound’s coming from your direction — Professor?”
“Anybody have a visual of him?”
“Nothing here by Castle Urquhart.  What about you, Blockhead?”
“I’m in position 1/2 a mile down from the Castle and I got nothing; can’t even see his boat anymore.”
“Kirsten, you’re the one with the best vantage point, up on the hills with the night vision equipment.  What do you see?”
“Just a sec, got so worried, forgot I had it.  All right, scanning all sectors — nothing!  No boat.  No, Professor.  Nothing.  It seems like he just…vanished.”
“What was that damn noise?  Could that have something to do with Tate’s disappearance?”
“For a numb nut, you may have a point there.  What do you think, people?  Do you think we just heard Nessie’s voice?”
“If we did, did it sink the Professor’s boat?”
“Or, did Nessie take him into her cave?”
“Remember the walls of the Loch are similar to all other lochs; no caves.”
“Quit it, Kirsten.  This is not just a school trip anymore.  This is serious.  We just heard a God awful screech and now the Professor’s not responding to his radio and we don’t have visual.  This shouldn’t be happening but it is so we have to think outside of the box.  We’re Americans; we don’t know this place like the Scottish do.  Maybe the information we have is not as current and up-to-date as the Professor likes to believe.  Maybe there is a cave or two down there.”
“Well, we do have some Sonar wetsuits back at the hotel.  Wanna go look?”
“Jeff, you can’t be serious.”
“Way, serious.  The Professor’s gone AWOL and I don’t like it.  I’m getting more creeped out with every passing minute.  We can’t just stand here and wait for him to reappear.  What if he doesn’t?”
“Damn, I hate this.  But ladies, Jeff’s right.  We can’t just stand around hoping he’ll show up.  What if he’s drowning as we speak?”
“Was that a splash?”
“Damn him!  Jeff!!  Get out of the water!”
“Kirsten, keep an eye on him.  Start recording now, too.”
“Good idea, thanks Perkins.”
“Jeff’s nearing the spot where Professor Tate’s boat was last seen.  Okay, he’s splashing around — he dove under!  Yeah, forgot he was on the friggin’ swim team.”
“Don’t forget he’s a surfer dude as well…”
“You sound jealous, Perkins…”
“…what’s Blockhead doing now?  Did he come up for air yet?”
“He’s only been under for 15 seconds.”
“I can’t stand all this waiting.  I think I was holding my breath!  How long has it been now Kirsten?”
“Almost two minutes.”
 
“Have you seen Jeff come back up?”
“No.”
“How long can he hold his breath?”
“Dunno.  But David Blaine held his for over 17 minutes in 2008…”
“That’s not real helpful information right now, Perkins.  The average person can do about 2 minutes before coming up for air.  But Jeff?  Maybe he can do longer.”
“Okay, Kirsten.  Let’s hope so.  You’re the leader now so what do we do?”
“Well, we can track Professor Tate through the USBL Scout system and the GPS I suggested he equip it with.  We’ll have to contact the local authorities and let them know about this.”
“Are you crying, Kirsten?”
“Let’s pack it in and get help for them both NOW.”
“How many minutes have they been under?”
“Tate’s been missing for about six minutes and four for Jeff”
“I’m heading to the hotel.  Meet you guy’s there.”
“Should we turn off the radios now?”
“No, leave them on.  I don’t want to take any chances and please — no more heroes tonight, okay?  There’s only three of us left.”
“Should we change?”
“No time; got to get to the authorities.  It’s been 16 minutes now for the Professor.  Let’s get going.  It’s 17 miles to the Northern Constabulary.  You’re driving, Perkins.”
“Why me?
“‘Cause you’re left-handed.  With me being nervous, I don’t want my instincts steering me towards the wrong side of the road.”
“Good point.  But, my being left-handed doesn’t matter.  I drive on the right side just like you do.”
“You’re driving.”
“I’ll drive!”
“NO!!”
“Geez, both of you didn’t have to yell.  And why can’t you forgive a little fender-bender?”
“Because it was with a Mercedes-Benz, that’s why.”
“It’s just a car.  Hey, my legs are shorter than both of yours.  Wait up!”
“So, let us get this straight.  You three are from Columbia University and you had two others with you, your Professor and this feller named numb nuts?”
“No, his name’s Jeff Dawkins.”
“I prefer numb nut..”
“Shut it, Iain.  Sorry there lassie.  Jeff.  And then while your were looking for, hehe, Nessie, the good ole Professor disappeared after you heard a loud noise.  And two minutes later, Jeff jumps in to save the drowning Professor.  Is that about right?”
“Yes, Constable it is.”
“Ach awa’ an’ bile yer hied!”
“Iain!  None of that.  Come back here!”
“Er.  A roundabout translation would be, ‘go away and boil your head’ but he really didn’t mean it.  We get so many crazy stories from tourist that after a while…let’s just say, Iain’s a beat cop.  He’s heard and seen it all.”
“So what do can you do to help us find our friends?”
“File a missing person’s report and in the morning, we’ll send out rescue boats.”
“That’s hours away!”
“Maria, is your name?  Well, we’re a 24-hour operation, but the rescue boats can’t see out there in the dark and it would make no sense to send more people out into risk, now would it?  Go back to your hotel and we’ll meet you at Castle Urquhart at 9:30.  The fog will have burned off…mostly and we should be able to see clearly.  Get some rest.”
“Can’t sleep, Kirsten.”
“Neither can I.”
“That makes the three of us.”
“So, what’re we gonna do?”
“Go down and have one more look around.”
“I’m with you!”
“Me, too.”
“Take all of your equipment.  Never know what we might need.”
“Okay, over here is where Jeff jumped in and out about 80 yards is where the Professor was last seen.   
Right, Kirsten?”
“Yeah.  Okay, I’ve set up the GPS tracker and its calibrating.  Do you have the GPS tracker code of the RovNav6 unit?”
“Got it.  I’m entering it in.  There, done.”
“Good.  It’s tracking it.  Damn!  It’s 685 feet down!  If it’s there, that’s not good for the Professor…”
“Guys…”
“He could have swum downstream and is exhausted and looking for us.  Look at this, it moved!  How is it moving??”
“GUYS…”
“How the hell should I know?  Let’s recalibrate and see if it’s maybe an anomaly –“
“GUYS!!!  Look and don’t you hear the sound starting up?”
“The RovNav6 is almost to the surface!  What does that mean?”
“RUN!!!!”
“Stop dragging me, Perkins — Aww you made me drop the –“
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA— “
“Keep running, Kirsten.  Don’t look back.  Mare’s gone.”
“But –“
“Let’s go faster.  I’ll explain later.”
“Okay, you’ve had 4 cups of tea and about a million crumpets.  What the hell did you see, Perkins?”
“I saw something long and smooth come out of the water and faster than I thought possible it snaked up close and grabbed, Maria.  That damn noise was so piercing I had shut my eyes and was already running inland and grabbing you so I didn’t get a good look.”
“Was it Nessie?”
“Who knows?  All I know is all three of them are gone.  The RovNav6 is inside of whatever that thing is.  They’re all gone Kirsten.  It’s just the two of us left and I, for one, am not going anywhere near the Loch again.  I like being a landlubber.”
“How can you say that?  What’s wrong with you?  I’m going back out there!”
“I suggest you wait for the rescue crew to come in the morning, Kirsten.”
“Why??  So I can be sure my friends are dead?”
“You’re already sure they are right now.”
“Let go of me!”
“I’m not going to let you kill yourself.  I know you were in love with Tate and having an affair with him but…he’s gone.”
“Oh God…no!!”
“It’s okay. Let it all out…it’s all over now…”
The End. 

To read more of my short stories, pick up a copy of Leaping Out on Faith today!

Short Story: Twerking Cougar

Recently, I completed a short story that had been playing around in my mind for a bit.  In the midst of writing it, I fell while rollerblading, fractured my dominant writing hand wrist (ugh, right??) and wasn’t able to finish it in the time frame I wanted to.

So, it is now done!  It’s called Twerking Cougar.  To read it, just click either link.  You can also access it by going to the “Short Story” tab in the upper right of the “Home” page and go right to the story.

From time to time, I will be posting new stories there for your reading pleasure.  Sometimes long ones, (like this one), or sometimes, I’ll post flash fiction (less than 1200 words).

Without further ado, here’s the synopsis of the current story…

Twerking Cougar

Shonell Murphy, a mature and sexy woman in her early 40’s, is a dancing diva at night and trendy working stiff by day.  The typical woman except for the fact that secretly, she never wants to get old.  She dates younger men, she keeps her relationships inconsequential and her friends are at minimum a decade younger as well.  Shonell has a phobia when it comes to ageing.

When her doctor tells her she has extremely high blood pressure and she has to change her lifestyle Shonell…ignores him.

Out clubbing, Shonell meets a Yuandre Maban.  He’s an attractive self-possessed hot yoga instructor that intrigues Shonell with poetry and insightful comments.  However, their budding romance is halted by a downturn in Shonell’s health.  She must face her inner demons; but will she be able to face them head on?  Or, will she take the easy way out?

(P.S. – I am healing.  My wrist still cannot rotate but I can type reasonably well.)