A Baby’s Cry

The Genre Stretch challenge this month was for a ghost story.  There’s a description of a murder.  It was interesting to be able to connect it to another set of stories that I had written long ago.

**

Sometimes we must do terrible things in the name of love.  Love had turned Henry into a killer.

It had all started out so innocently.  He’d been interested in the girl and, after seeing her a few times from afar, he’d decided to talk to her.  That was how all the great romances started, wasn’t it?  A chance encounter that led to so much more…

However, Henry hadn’t realized when he met Connie Blair that he wasn’t living a modern day romance.  If anything, he was trapped in a horror story.

It wasn’t until he had dated Connie for a few months that he met her father: Boss Jacob Blair!  Her father had big plans for Henry and he was in a position to put Henry just where he needed him to be.  Before the next month was out, Henry had been promoted and placed on a team within the wardens office.  Of the five wardens on that team, two were already in Blair’s pocket.  Now, thanks to Henry’s love for Connie, there was a third.

Even so, Henry mostly just warned Blair’s people of pending raids.  There was no harm in that, just no arrests.  That had changed when one of those calls had resulted in a death.  There was a witness that could tell the wardens where Blair’s people had gone – who had proof that they were there in the first place.  That would never do.

Henry had waited for the girl at an appointed time – late in the night, when no one would see what was about to happen.  She came out of the library and he followed her back to the garage.  Hers was the only car in sight and, as she hurried to it, he stole up behind her.

He caught her around her waist and covered her mouth.  No one had told him about the baby.  As Henry dragged the woman into a dark corner of the garage, it began to cry.  He pushed the woman to her knees and forced her to lay the infant, still wrapped in its blanket, on the ground.  Then, as the baby’s cries grew louder and more frantic, Henry did what he’d been ordered to do.  He wrapped a cord around the woman’s neck and tightened.  He used another cord to bind the woman’s wrists.  Then, he lowered her to the ground and let her die.

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A Bit Lost

My genre stretch story this month.  The challenge was to write a fairy tale retelling.  I think I did a pretty good job…

**

 

Roland gave his younger sister a sidelong glance.  May was sitting quietly beside him as the train rumbled through the tunnel towards the next stop.  She was swinging her feet and looking around at the other passengers with wide eyes.  He could tell that she wasn’t nervous, the way he was.  Why was that?

He heaved a light sigh as the train rumbled to a stop.  Standing, he reached for her hand.  “Come on, May-bird,” he said, using her childhood nickname.

May caught his hand in hers and let him lead the way off the train and onto the platform.  “Everything is so big here,” she said, looking around.  She quickened her pace and then looked up at Roland.  “Do you think we’ll find Lukas?”

Roland shrugged.  “We have to,” he said.  The problem was, he didn’t really know where they were going.  He knew this was the stop they were supposed to get off on.  However, that was all he knew.  Now, he just had to hope that he could find the place.

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Doing What’s Expected

So, this story is going to serve as both on of my answers for a DreamWidth picture prompt and my genre stretch story for the month.  The chosen genre was “Fantasy of Manners.”  I’m not sure how well I did, but it was fun to try.

**

ee65e7c8763f2f4c7b1a1470fb48a339It was quiet and peaceful.  There were clouds, but most were the high clouds that came with fair weather and all of them were colored brilliantly with the pinkness of the rising sun.  There was a storm on the horizon, but it seemed far away.  Carrie wasn’t worried about it.

She continued to walk along the edge of the bay as the sky grew brighter.  The sky and clouds were reflected in the rippling water.  As she continued down the beach, she listened to the cries of the gulls that wheeled overhead.

She slowed her steps as she spotted William ahead of her.  He turned and raised his hand, waving a greeting.  As she waved back, he began walking towards her.

Carrie sighed softly and pushed her hair back from her face.  Was there anything more beautiful than being on the beach as the sun rose?  She didn’t think so.

As William joined her, she said, “How much longer to we have?”

He glanced out at the bay and shrugged.  “About an hour,” he said, catching her hand.  Turning to her with a smile, he said, “Let’s make the most of it, shall we?”

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Here Comes Trouble

I’m going to be doing the Genre Stretch again this year.  I might be using the same characters for them all… I might not.  January’s challenge was Bizzaro Fiction.  I’m not sure how successful I was, but I enjoyed writing the story and I’m pretty happy with it.

**

“According to the reports we’ve been receiving, livestock started going missing about a month ago,” Ruby said, as they drove into the campground.  “Then, just this week, three campers went missing.”

“Hence, why we’re stopping here, rather than one of the local farms,” Konrad said, his voice soft.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  “So, you’re thinking, what?  A dragon?”

“Maybe,” Ruby said, grinning brightly.  She shoved Konrad playfully when he heaved another sigh.  “Come on, Konrad!  Where’s your sense of adventure?”

“Must have left it in my other suit,” he replied.  He shook his head as she pulled the car to a stop.  “Seriously, Agent Montgomery, this is all fun and games for you, but I’ve got four younger siblings that depend on me.  I can’t just get eaten by a dragon.  You know?”

“It shouldn’t surprise you but I’m none to keen about being dragon food either,” Ruby said, chuckling.  She bounced out of the car and grabbed her bag out of the trunk.  She frowned when she noticed that Konrad was staring at his cellular phone.  “You aren’t going to chicken out on me.  Are you?”

“No,” he said, rolling his eyes.  He heaved a sigh and held up the cell phone that she could see it.  “No signal,” he told her.  “We’re in the middle of nowhere, Agent Montgomery!  What if we get into trouble?  What if we need backup?  What if my sister tries to call me?  What if my brother has a flare up?”

“Stop already,” Ruby said, rolling her eyes.  She tossed Konrad his bag and then headed towards the cabin they would be sharing.  “There’s a landline from the cabin.  We can use that for emergencies.”  Glancing back at her partner, she added, “If it makes you feel better, call the house and give Markus the number for the cabin.”

“I may do that,” Konrad said, as he shouldered his bag and followed her towards the cabin.

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Hostage Bride – Part 2

This is the second part of the story I started a couple months ago.  It’s an answer to the genre stretch for last month: low fantasy.

**

It hadn’t taken Richard long to find Erin. The problem was that she was, to him at least, entirely unreachable. He was forced to retreat for the moment. He returned as night was falling with two others: Franz Edelstein and Dietrich Schneider. Erin didn’t particularly care for either of them. However, they were on her side… most of the time.

“Why are we here, Moore?” Edelstein asked. “What’s this to do with Erin’s disappearance?”

Richard scowled at the decrepit old building that served as a prison for Erin. “She’s in there,” he said, glancing over at Edelstein. His brows furrowed. “Adler kidnapped her. You recall Adler, do you not? Wanted for murder? Summoner of demons? The man who assaulted Erin just over a year ago?”

“If you know he has her and that she’s here,” Edelstein asked, his tone one of annoyance, “why haven’t you stormed the place and rescued her? Surely, it’s not an impregnable fortress. Once night has fallen…” he trailed off to wave around at the gathering gloom.

“It’s not so simple as that, sir,” Schneider said, his voice soft. He gave Richard a wry smile. “You can’t enter a house where you haven’t been invited. Is that it?”

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Hostage Bride

The Genre Stretch for the month is Gothic fiction.  I think I did a pretty good job of getting this story into that genre, but Erin’s world lends itself well to that genre.  I’m going to do the same thing with this story as I did with my previous one: the Genre stretch for next month and the month after will be used to work on this story.  My goal is to finish it in the next couple thousand words.  I think that’s doable.

**

To say that Erin was angry would have been an understatement.  She was so much more than angry.  She wanted nothing less than to kill Heinrich Adler.  The problem was, with her wrists shackled in heavy chains, she was having trouble lifting them.  That made strangling the life from her captor rather impossible.

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Invaders From Another Space and Time

Genre stretch story for the month… Alien Invasion!  It was fun getting this to fit with the rest of the story.  Actually, the story is now complete.  I might end up using the rest of the genre stretch challenges to fill in the story a bit… or I might use them to start something entirely new.

**

He could hardly believe his luck.  Things were going so much better than he could have ever anticipated.  Not only did the chief of the peacekeepers believe that Pemberton was responsible for the murders, the werewolf was being implicated.  By the time he was through, both of them would be off the force.  Without work to keep him there, the werewolf would return to where he’d come from.  Perhaps the other interloper would leave as well.  Alternatively, he might be arrested and his powers bound.

Yes, all in all, things were going well.  He settled back to plan his next move, even as he awaited news that the two fugitives had been apprehended.  A loud crash sounded through the warehouse and he moved to his feet.  A part of him was screaming at him to leave.  However, he couldn’t help but wonder: just what could that possibly be?

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Implications of Guilt

Here is the latest part of my continuing story featuring Lachlan McClelland and Ezra Metternich.  Ezra’s now a suspect in the murders, because his magical signature was found at the crime scenes (it’s a set up – he’s being framed).  Ezra was ordered to return to the car.  They’re probably expected to report in now…

Eileen Lupin, who appears in this section, is a fan character that my sister and I created – daughter of Remus Lupin from Harry Potter.  Obviously, I don’t own her father and I’m not making any money on this story.  She’s sort of an homage to my favorite Harry Potter characters.

**

By the time Lachlan reached the car, Ezra had calmed down.  He’d been able to push aside his hurt and anger and look at the situation impartially.  He met his partner’s gaze steadily.  “The person you’d scented on me,” he said, his voice soft.  “You said he’d been at your apartment and, for his scent to be on me, he must have been near Nowell.”

“He’s the killer,” Lachlan said, nodding firmly.  His brows furrowed.  “I’m thinking that this is the work of those bent on keeping my kind out of the peacekeepers, Ezra.  They’re building distrust of you to play on my loyalty to you.”

“Guilt by association,” Ezra said, nodding.  It made sense.  Lachlan was an unknown.  It was clear that they couldn’t make anyone suspicious of him by simple virtue of his nature.  If they could have done that, he wouldn’t have been allowed on the force to begin with.  So, they were using Ezra’s less than sterling reputation and Lachlan’s unswerving loyalty instead.

“By making it seem you are the murderer,” Lachlan said, his voice soft, “they cast you as a dark wizard and, being a dark creature, of course I should be loyal to you.  Aye?  ‘Tis proof that they cannae trust my kind as peacekeepers.”

Ezra bit his lip and nodded.  “How are they doing it?” Ezra said, shaking his head.  “I just don’t understand how they’d be detecting my magic on the victims.  I’m following procedure perfectly.  You know how careful I am about such things.”

He took a shaky breath and shook his head.  “The only way they’d be detecting my magic would be if I were the killer,” he said.

“And you’re not,” Lachlan interjected.

Ezra nodded once and continued, “or if I wasn’t shielding properly before using the detection spells and I am!”

“What if…” Lachlan started.  Then, he bit his lip and ducked his head.  “I don’t know much about magic, I’ll admit, but… could they somehow link your magic to the victims when you’re doing the shielding itself?”

For a moment, Ezra just stared at Lachlan.  Then, slowly, he nodded.  “They would have to be in the area when I’m performing the shielding, Lachlan,” he said, his voice soft.  “You – you’d know.”

“The first crime scene the wild basil ruined my nose, Ezra,” Lachlan said, shaking his head.  His brows furrowed.  “The killer could have stood just behind me, looming over my shoulder and I wouldn’t have had his scent.”

“And this time?”

Lachlan scowled.  “The water,” he said, snapping his fingers.  He pointed at Ezra and nodded.  “That’s why the killer lure Nowell out to the lake!  The scent won’t carry over water, Ezra.”

“I know that water would wash the scent away,” Ezra said, shaking his head, “but… if he were near the scene…”

“The wind came in to shore off the water, Ezra,” Lachlan said, shaking his head.  He grinned and nodded when Ezra’s eyes widened.  “All he needed to do was stand further up the bank.  I’d have not been able to catch his scent.”

“He would have been… downwind of you,” Ezra said.  When Lachlan nodded, Ezra heaved a sigh.  “How do we prove any of this?  Right now, I’m a suspect and they won’t believe you either!”

For a moment, Lachlan chewed his lip thoughtfully.  “We’ll need to find someone else, then,” he said, his voice soft.  “We’ll need to find someone that will believe us long enough to hear us out, but who our superiors will feel is above reproach.”

Ezra bit his lip and then nodded slowly.  The question was: who?  After a moment, his eyes widened.  “I think I know just the person,” he said, as a smile touched his lips.  Meeting Lachlan’s gaze, he said, “Fancy going back to school, my friend?”

“Fancy I do, aye,” Lachlan said, nodding.  He hurried over to the passenger side of the car and got inside.  Once Ezra was in the driver’s seat and they were both buckled in, they headed out onto the main road.  There was probably only one person who would hear them out now.  He was the same man who had trained both of them when they’d first joined the force.  He was also the same person who had suggested Ezra as Lachlan’s partner: Alistair Brody.

As they headed towards the Academy, Ezra could only pray that whomever the killer was, they wouldn’t realize what Ezra and Lachlan were planning.  Otherwise, the former peacekeeper might be in grave danger.  Chewing at his lip, Ezra pressed harder on the gas pedal.  It wouldn’t hurt to hurry, just in case.

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A darker journey

The genre for Genre Stretch for May was Imaginary Voyage which is a kind of narrative in which utopian or satirical representation (or some popular science content) is put into a fictional frame of travel account.  I’m not sure how successful I was, but here’s the next part of my continuing story.

This is set directly after “Mischief on the Lake” and before “The Empty Boat”.

**

Lachlan stared out at the field with the lone tree, in which they’d found O’Neill’s truck.  Behind him, Ezra was working some spell that would keep the basil from affecting him, provided that it worked.  He glanced around and then turned to face the trees.

The area was actually quite beautiful.  The trees were beginning to change color.  There were golds and oranges mixed in with the greens of the scattered pines.  Somewhere, Lachlan could hear the lapping of water.  There was a lake somewhere beyond the trees that he could see from the edge of the field.

“All set,” Ezra said, nodding.

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It’s All a Bit Absurd

The next part in my continuing Genre Stretch story.  For April, the challenge was to write something absurdist.  It was a real stretch for me, but I made the attempt, at least.

**

When Lachlan had first joined the department, he’d assumed that all the strange looks he got were because of the kilt.  He’d worn a kilt for as long as he could remember, so it was comfortable for him.  It didn’t take him long to realize that it was because he was a werewolf.

He couldn’t figure out if his co-workers expected him to turn violent any moment or if they were just surprised at how quiet he actually was.  The only person who treated him halfway normal was his partner.

Ezra was the sort that took a while to warm up to you no matter who you were.  He called everyone “Officer This” and “Mr. That.”  He kept a neat desk that had none of the personal touches that most people normally kept.  There were no photographs with family members smiling and waving at him.  There was no candy jar.  There wasn’t even a pen holder.  He kept his pens tucked in the top desk drawer, along with the paper clips and other odds and ends that littered desks everywhere.

Lachlan was the exact opposite in that regard.  He had all the things that Ezra didn’t.  Not only that, he had a growing collection of stuffed ducks.  He didn’t know who had brought him the first.  He’d simply found it on his desk one morning.  Since that day, five more had been added.

He gave Ezra a wry smile when his partner strode over to the desk and set a small yellow duck in the center of his blotter.  “My daughter made it,” he said, shrugging.

Lachlan lifted the little desk into his hand and smiled.  “Tis a cute wee thing,” he said, as he set it on top of his pen holder.

Ezra nodded and then began checking through his messages.  “Have you gotten word from Esther recently?” he asked as he set one of the papers on his desk.

“She called during breakfast,” Lachlan said, nodding.  “She’s settled back in with the pack all right, but she’s missing me something fierce.”  Truth be told, he missed her terribly as well.  However, he’d rather she was safe than close.

“What’s on the agenda for tonight?” Ezra said, as he finished sorting through his messages.  He tossed a handful of them into the trash.  The rest went on his desk, so he could follow up with them later.

“Chief wants us to go back to the crime scene and see if we can find anything we might have missed,” Lachlan said.  He grimaced.  “Can you do anything about the basal?  That stuff will ruin me for the night, and no mistake.”

“There’s a spell that I can try,” Ezra said.  He stood and grabbed his cloak.  “Ready to go, then?”

Lachlan nodded and moved to his feet.  He froze and then stepped closer to Ezra.  He sniffed lightly at his partner’s cloak.  “Who’ve you been near?” he asked, his voice faint.

“Peter Nowell,” Ezra said, blinking.  “We worked together when I lived in the States.  He moved to England a few years before me.  Why?”  His brows furrowed.  “You know his scent from somewhere?”

Shaking his head, Lachlan said, “Not his.  He was near someone and… they were at my apartment.”

“When it was firebombed?” Ezra said, his eyes widening.  When Lachlan nodded, his brows furrowed.  Lachlan could tell that they were thinking the same thing.

“It doesn’t mean that he was involved,” Lachlan said, shaking his head.  “It just means he was there long enough for me to still find his scent.”

“Right,” Ezra agreed.  He smoothed the folds of his cloak and said, “Let’s get over to the crime scene, then.”

As they headed out of the office, Lachlan noticed that people would stop speaking as they passed their desks.  At first, he thought it was because they were reacting to him being a werewolf.  Then he realized that his partner was getting tenser by the moment.  They were reacting to him?

“Want to talk about it?” Lachlan asked.  Ezra looked sharply at him and he smiled.  “I’ve gotten that nervous, suspicious glance enough times to recognize it, Ezra.  Thing is, now you’re the one as is getting it and that makes no sense to me.”

Ezra gave him a tight smile.  “I never mentioned why I left the States,” he said.  He fidgeted with his cloak as they started down the steps towards the main floor.  “There was an incident… Dark magic was detected at a crime scene and, somehow, it was traced to me.”

Lachlan’s brows furrowed.  “Let me guess: the boys that came to take care of the body detected your magic signature on O’Neill’s body?” he said.  He wasn’t surprised when Ezra nodded.

He chewed at his lip.  “I know you weren’t involved,” he said, his voice soft.  “You didn’t know O’Neill from Adam.  You’d have had no reason to kill him, using dark magic or otherwise.”

Ezra heaved a sigh and gave him a weak smile.  Lachlan blinked.  Ezra was seldom anything other than business-like when they were working.  The fact that he was looking for encouragement from Lachlan told him more clearly than words that the situation was bothering him.

“Are you a suspect, then?” he asked.

Shaking his head, Ezra said, “They’re going to re-run the tests.  The thinking at this point is that they were somehow contaminated.”

“Meaning that you did something wrong when you were trying to detect the sort of magic used,” Lachlan said.  It would be a problem, but far less of one than if he was actually suspected of murdering someone with dark magic.

“It just… It feels like, no matter what I do,” Ezra said, “nothing changes.”  Then they were outside and approaching their vehicle.  He stepped over to the passenger side of the car.  “No matter where I go, I end up making everyone suspicious of me, even when I don’t do anything.”

Lachlan didn’t quite no how to answer that.  Finally, he said, “I know exactly what you mean.  It’s all just a bit absurd, isn’t it?”  Ezra nodded and he smiled.  “I trust you and… you trust me, yeah?”

“With my life,” Ezra said, smiling.

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