Elizabeth: Wednesday Story Short

Hi there.  Welcome to Wednesday and another story short.

This week we’re continuing the story that started last week.  Detective Cassie is undercover at Barnacle Bob’s Bordello and Steakhouse trying to find out who is stirring up trouble in town. Just as she was about to get some information from Nicolai Papadopoulos, this happened:

Nicolai fell forward, crashing into her. She smacked her head into something as she landed on the ground, his dead-weight on top of her. Her last thought, as the darkness closed in was that this wasn’t quite the scenario she had in mind when she fantasized about getting closer to Nicolai.

And now for our next installment, which used the prompts from a Friday Writing Sprint that included the words from the following list:  harpoon, confetti,, bubblegum, dalliance, anvil, witness, contradiction, ticking, riddle, incinerate, decode, and bluff.

I hope you enjoy it.

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The Saga Continues

“Get off me you big lug.” Cassie pushed at the beguiling testosterone based life-form currently pinning her to the ground. After a few tries she managed to shift him just enough to squirm free.

Once upright she tore off her dolphin mask, quickly regretting the sudden movement. Apparently Satan’s own blacksmith had been using her head for an anvil. “Ouch.” She gingerly felt her scalp. There was a sizable lump but, fortunately, no blood.

Cassie surveyed the scene. The earlier strange glow and big bang didn’t appear to have raised any alarm. Not surprising. The folks at Barnacle Bob’s were used to all kinds of unusual sounds. They probably considered it business as usual.

With dalliance off the agenda for the evening, she reached for the zipper of her costume. It went partway down then stuck fast. After a few unsuccessful tugs, she gave up and ripped the costume straight down the middle. She didn’t have time to deal with a recalcitrant zipper.

“Undressing for me? I guess this evening won’t be a total waste after all,” said a deep, far from innocent voice from the floor.

Cassie glared at the finally conscious Nicolai as she stripped off her costume and kicked it free. Sadly for him, she was fully dressed underneath

“If you’re done trying to incinerate me with your gaze, do you think you could give me a hand here?” Still flat on the floor, he was attempting to reach something on his back.

Cassie let go of her annoyance and focused on the scene in front of her. That’s when she noticed something sticking out of Nicolai’s back, just below his left shoulder blade. “Is that a . . . harpoon?”

“Or a spear. Hard to tell from this angle.” Nicolai glanced up at her. “I’m going to need your help to pull it out.”

“Pull it out?” Cassie crouched down next to him and took a closer look. “Well, I guess it doesn’t look like it is in too deep. Are you sure you don’t want to wait for me to call the paramedics though?”

“We don’t have time. Just do it.”

“Okay. If you insist. On the count of three. 1, 2, . .” She grasped the metal shaft in one hand, braced the other against his back, and pulled.

“Agh!”

“Hmm, that might have been in a little deeper than I thought,” she said as the barbed end came free.

“I’m going to bleed to death here,” he said faintly.

“Oh, don’t be a baby,” Cassie pressed the folded up fin from her costume against the bleeding. “It’s just a flesh wound. Look, it’s slowing down already.”

Her words of comfort fell on deaf ears. Nicolai was out cold.

Cassie shook her head. He looked fearless but swooned like an innocent at the sight of blood – she didn’t have time to ponder the Nicolai Contradiction. After quickly checking to make sure his pulse was strong and steady, she followed the line on the spear out through the door and down the hall.

Naturally there were no witnesses in sight. There was nothing but a treat bag full of bubblegum amidst a pile of glittering confetti at the top of the stairs. The attached note read “use this to keep your mouth busy so it doesn’t get into trouble.

No riddle to decode there. It screamed out Goody-Two-Shoes Gang. I should have known.They believed in the virtue of “good clean fun” and they weren’t opposed to getting their hands dirty to get rid of anything that didn’t follow their rules.

Maybe Nicolai and his brother were in the clear after all. The thought cheered her up immeasurably and had her envisioning sunrise perambulations on the beach, preferably after hot sweaty nights.

She was walking back to check on Nicolai when she belatedly noticed the ticking sound. Well, that can’t be good. Ticking generally meant an explosion wasn’t far behind. A sure way to put an end to playtime.

The bomb could be a bluff of course. The last time the squad had been called out the “bomb” turned out to be a vibrator wired to an old alarm clock. Cassie pushed her personal alarm button, alerting her police backup of the potential problem, while she located the source of the ticking – an elaborate flower arrangement on the console table by the elevator. Definitely not a trademark of the Goody Two Shoes Gang.

As she quickly walked back to her room she pulled the fire-alarm to get the others out of the building. Grabbing the again-conscious Nicolai by the hand she yanked him to his feet. “Honeymoon’s over Cupcake. We need to get out of here. Now.”

Nicolai didn’t need to be told twice. In seconds they were out the window and down the fire-escape. As soon as they hit the ground they sprinted away from the building, making it only a few yards before the explosion hit.

The giant head of the Barnacle Bob statue that stood at the entrance landed a few feet away, followed by various and sundry parts of what used to be the Bordello. And once again, Cassie found herself flat on her back with Nicolai on top of her. Her last conscious thought was still not quite the scenario I had in mind when fantasizing about getting closer to Nicolai.

Flashing lights and sirens filled the night air. So much for a simple undercover assignment.

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If you enjoyed that short and are hankering to see what others did with these same random words, head on over to the original post and check out the entries in the comments section.

Enjoy and Happy Writing!

Elizabeth: Wednesday Story Short

Hi there.  Welcome to Wednesday and another story short.

Today’s offering, which eventually evolved into a book, all started with a Friday Writing Sprint.  I’m now attempting to revise that book into some sort of reasonable shape, but it’s a challenge since the mystery can’t decide if it’s tongue-in-cheek or serious.  As you will see from the snippet below, there was nothing serious about how it all started.

So, without further ado, here is how Cassie and Nicoli first met at Barnacle Bob’s, based on the prompts from a Friday Writing Sprint, which included the words from the following list: salubrious, mythical, high-class, antique, glow, cosmic, costume, wholesome, photograph, barnacle, delightful, legendary, dolphin.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Barnacle Bob’s Bordello and Steakhouse

Cassie dug through the pile of shoes on the floor, searching for the just the right pair for tonight’s undercover assignment as the Dolphin Lady at Barnacle Bob’s Bordello and Steakhouse.

“Perfect,” she said, fishing a pair of green and blue sequined stilettos out from beneath a flip-flop and her old hiking boots. The shoes were just what she needed to complete her costume. She had fond memories of the last time she wore them, though her informer Snake would probably disagree since, in a pinch, the stilettos were detachable and lethal.

Though hardly a wholesome enterprise, Barnacle Bob’s was far from the least salubrious case Cassie had been on recently. She hadn’t exactly volunteered for tonight’s assignment. The costume fit, so the job was hers, simple as that. Better than being back at the precinct dealing with paperwork. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Wednesday Story Short

If this is Wednesday, then it must be time to share another story short.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m reading my way through a folder full of story shorts, written during the Friday Writing sprints–looking for laughs and also possible ideas for new projects.  Some of the sprint results were definite misses, but a few still manage to make me chuckle.

Today’s offering features an enterprising nanny and some troublesome employers.

So, without further ado, here is my short story based on the prompts from a Friday Writing Sprint, which included the prompt “Having poisoned the soup, a disgruntled nanny thwarts an assassination attempt“, and words from the following list:  corruption, severe, healer, aftermath, subsonic, photograph, memory, chamber, brainwash, furious, festival, autopsy, innocent, battle, zebra, panic.

I hope you enjoy it.

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The Perfect Nanny Handbook

Rule #14: Always leave a room in better condition than you found it. A messy room is the sign incompetence.

Frances tossed the handbook down on the table, successfully battling the urge to send it flying out the window, or better yet, directly into the shredder.

Obviously, the handbook author had never met the Smith Family, if that was in fact their real name. In the two months Frances had been acting as the combination housekeeper, cook, nanny, and Jane-of-all-trades, she had far bigger concerns than tidiness. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Wednesday Story Short

As I mentioned last Wednesday, I’ve been looking back at the past a bit lately, digging out old stories and seeing if they can be resuscitated or reimagined.  I’ve also been reading my way through a folder full of story shorts, written during the Friday Writing sprints.  Some were definite misses and their pages could be best folded into paper airplanes, but a few others were amusing enough to keep.

I thought I’d share another one of my favorites today.

So, without further ado, here is my short story based on the prompts from a Friday Writing Sprint, which included the Loch Ness monster and the words: sun, sand, cabin, canoe, heat, melt, ice cream, floaties, bikini, raft, breeze, freckled, hat, campfire, lake, and towel.

Enjoy.

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Nigel vs. the Nephews

“No charades.”  Oh, kill me now.  Nigel Weatherby did his best to ignore the whine of disappointed voices and remained on the couch with his eyes closed against the midday sun, doing an excellent imitation of a boneless mass.

It was just an illusion though.  When he wasn’t draped over the sofa thwarting his nephews, Nigel was a championship swimmer, as well as a black belt and who knows what else.  He merely preferred to conserve energy for when it was absolutely necessary.

Charades in no way qualified as necessary. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Wednesday Story Short

As I mentioned last Wednesday, I’ve been looking back at the past a bit lately, digging out old stories and seeing if they can be resuscitated or reimagined.  This week, those “digging in the past efforts’ were a direct result of a spate of technology upgrades.  There’s noting like having gigabytes of files to move around to make a person think “what is all this stuff and do I really need it?”

One of the things I found, misfiled in a folder entitled “receipts,” was a number of story shorts, written during the Friday Writing sprints.  Some of the shorts weren’t worth saving and took a one-way trip to the recycling folder, but a few others were amusing enough to keep.

I thought I’d share one of my favorites today.

So, without further ado, here is my short story based on the prompts from a Friday Writing Sprint, in which the main character has to deal with a difficult client, including the words: moonbeam, undersea, bulldog, entertain , lonesome, miserable, façade, ambush, bluntness, cynical, wealthy, detox, grill , chain, audience, injury

I hope you enjoy it. Continue reading

Michaeline: Four Questions for Harper Cross

Author Harper Cross, also known as Eight Lady Nancy Hunter, aka Nancy Yeager, author of the five-story series, Harrow’s Finest Five (Starting with novella “Too Clever by Half” and followed by four full-length Victorian historical romance novels) answered a few questions for me regarding her new book, Baby One Last Time, the first book in her series, The Agents of HEAT (published April 29, 2021).

The lighthearted romantic suspense book is a second-chance romance. Cynthia has been expelled from the secret spy agency, HEAT, and her only chance to redeem herself is by working with her “tall, dark and diabolical” ex, Derek Wilder. Harper calls it “a shot of action & adventure, a dash of snark, and a twist of fun.”

She’s got a lot of fun things to say about the process in her interview, too!

Hot guy in black v-neck t-shirt with bracelet and looking over squarish sunglasses at viewer. Tropical palms, fire/scorched earth imagery.
Baby One Last Time is the latest book from Nancy, writing as Harper Cross. and is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers from the Agents of HEAT series. Image from Harper Cross.
Continue reading

Elizabeth: (More) Unfinished Business

Last week I posted the beginning of my Short Story Week offering.  I’d like to say I planned to make it a two-part story, but honesty compels me to admit that I actually just ran out of time last week.  And then, of course, I managed to get myself stuck, unable to decide exactly how my undercover agents were going to get their happily ever after.

Fortunately, after a week’s worth of thought and a fair number of deleted words, I think I finally got it.

Without further ado, here is the complete Short Story Challenge story with, I think, all of the random words included.

Enjoy.

Unfinished Business

“Is this some kind of joke?” Amelia glared across the desk at Mr. Saunders who sat in his tufted velvet ergonomic desk chair like he was royalty, rather than the mid-level bureaucratic puppet she knew he was.

“Mr. Saunders—if that was really his name—steepled his fingers over a protruding belly that would have put Kris Kringle to shame and adopted a benevolent master-of-the-universe expression that invited Amelia to cooperate and comply.

All it did was make her wish she had a blunt instrument handy. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Unfinished Business

One of my early attempts for our 2018 short story challenge included a pair of spies working undercover who had been trapped into getting married, so as not to blow their cover.  Unfortunately, the bride just could not seem to keep the look of loathing off of her face during the ceremony, which made me think it was going to take more than a short story for me to get them to any semblance of a happy ending.

I swapped out the troublesome spies for a more amenable couple and wrote A Change of Plans instead, but I didn’t completely forget about the spies.  When I saw this year’s words, I thought maybe it was time to give the two of them another chance, after all, they’ve had two years to get to know each other and work out their differences.

Surely they’re ready for their own happily ever afterby now, right?

Let’s see how it goes, shall we?

 Unfinished Business

“Is this some kind of joke?” Amelia glared across the desk at Mr. Saunders who sat in his tufted velvet ergonomic desk chair like he was royalty, rather than the mid-level bureaucratic puppet she knew he was.

“Mr. Saunders—if that was really his name—steepled his fingers over a protruding belly that would have put Kris Kringle to shame and adopted a benevolent master-of-the-universe expression that invited Amelia to cooperate and comply.

All it did was make her wish she had a blunt instrument handy. Continue reading

Jeanne: Charlie’s Golden Anniversary

As I was typing out the list of words in Elizabeth’s short story prompt on Friday, the word “bucket” capitalized itself and I immediately knew what I wanted to write about. Anyone who is a fan of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or the movie starring Gene Wilder that was made from it, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, will recognize the characters below (except the new ones I created and even those apples don’t fall far from their respective trees).

Charlie Bucket opened the door of his chocolate factory and shivered. The courtyard was freezing. Overhead, a banner read, “Welcome Back Golden Ticketers!” Beneath the banner stood eight people. He rubbed his hands together. “Thank you all for coming today.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” A smooth-faced woman who looked like she’d been poured into her figure-hugging purple jumpsuit pushed forward, hauling a young girl along with her. The jumpsuit wasn’t the purple of royalty, but an obnoxious shade of puce that made Charlie want to squint, even in the thin winter sunlight.

She extended fingers encrusted with purple gemstones. “Amethyst Darlingstar.”

Charlie peered at her through his bifocals. “I’m sorry. I don’t recall inviting an Amethyst Darlingstar.”

The woman stretched her red lips into a smile, though not one other muscle in her face moved. “You knew me as Violet Beauregarde. I changed my name when I became an actress. Perhaps you’ve seen some of my films?”

Charlie shook his head. “I don’t get out much.” He smiled down at her companion. “Is this your granddaughter?”

The girl, who looked less like a child than an undersized adult, curtseyed. “Lavender Bloom, sir.”

Charlie tried to shake off the sense that he was looking at a grown woman in miniature. “Welcome.” Continue reading

Sara Sartagne: A Fairytale Ending

Sara, a regular reader of Eight Ladies Writing, submitted this story in response to Friday’s prompt

Traditionally performed at Christmas, British pantomime is a popular form of family theatre, incorporating song, dance, buffoonery, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, topical references, audience participation, and mild sexual innuendo. It’s a popular family Christmas outing, often on Boxing Day, with storylines based on children’s classic stories and fairy tales – Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, for example. Standard jokes include villains creeping up on the hero and his sidekick who are always looking the wrong way. Audience participation is strongly encouraged – “He’s behind you!”, “Oh yes, he is!” and “Oh no, he isn’t!” are standard responses.

A Fairytale Ending

It was just as the kids in the audience screamed “He’s behind you!!” that Henry threw up.

Tom, as he struggled to mop up the vomit with a handkerchief, now knew for certain that an ice cream feast before the pantomime would indeed, all end badly. Nearby children scooted away as though burned.

As the smell started to roll through the warm, packed theatre, Tom could see the usherettes confer and then split up. One came straight towards him, looking determined and carrying a fire bucket, the other diving out of the door. Henry, like the villain, was washed luminous green. He was trying hard not to cry. Ignoring his new leather jacket, bought to cheer himself up, Tom drew the boy into a hug.

“I’m sorry, Uncle Tom,” Henry whimpered. Tom grinned.

“No sweat. Feeling better?”

Henry nodded, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. An actress glared down with a most un-fairy-like demeanour and Henry looked tearful again. Tom glared with raised eyebrows and to his surprise, the dancing bear came to the edge of the stage and shouldered her out of the way. The fairy stumbled, clutching her fake amethyst tiara and stalked into the wings. Continue reading