Saturday, February 1, 2014

Family Ties

I finally wrote another flash fiction piece after having been gone for too long! I got it in just under the wire for Rebekah Postupak's Flash Friday! Her year-two rules call for 140-160 words - which is SO difficult for me! For instance, my story idea today started at 557 words. I got it in at 158. Oh. My. Goodness. The prompt was that it had to include a phone call and this picture:

Car wreck, ca 1920. Public domain photo.

For some reason, I went with the photographers perspective and none of the people in the picture (which is odd for me). Plus, it's only loosely based on the photo...I went more strongly with the phone call. :) I hope you enjoy! I had fun figuring out how to condense a huge story into a very small one... I think it worked. SO MUCH changed... I'm considering posting the longer piece, but it's unedited (but that isn't unprecedented). Anyway, here's the entry:

Family Ties


The screech of metal on the road outside makes me flinch. A baby wails as I open the door. A car lost its wheel – pothole probably.

The phone rings. Finally! I’m sure her mage is competent, but…

I run back in and pick up the handset. “Hello? John Davis speaking.”

“A call from Jane-“

“Yes, yes, put her through. Thank you.”


“Niece or Nephew?”

“John! You have to help!” Jane’s voice is strained. My grip tightens. “It’s a boy, but he’s gone! The attending Mage felt a temporal shift - too fast to react.” her voice cracks.

My brain works overtime. “Too fast to detect means too fast to direct. He’ll follow the bloodline – that means here. Was there a substitution?”

“A tire.”

“The wreck!” I drop the handset and dash outside, scanning for the thief.

There! I level a shock at the man’s head and catch the boy with a hover charm.

Nobody steals my nephew.

Okay, so I'll post the original (UNEDITED) version for optional reading. I usually have to write myself into a story, so I'm always longer than I need to be. Also, as a discovery writer, I don't know what's happening until I get there, so I have to look back and see what I wrote and where the story is. I loved the noir feeling I got from this one, but it takes a lot of words to build a setting like that - at least for me! So what did I do? I dropped several characters, some of them big ones. I changed from past tense to present. I removed a setting (he's only inside in the revised one). Anyway, this one definitely needs editing, but I thought it might be interesting to see what I started with. (Oh, and when I started this story, it was going to be about John and Betty, and not about Jane and her son at all! That's how stories go for me sometimes though.) So, yeah...Enjoy! :)

I snapped my fingers to lite my cigarette at the corner before crossing – I wasn’t in any hurry. I leaned against the lamppost to enjoy it for a moment. A car driving by lost its wheel – probably a pothole. A baby started crying.

Betty came hurrying out of the office, blonde curls bobbing with each click of her heel. A guy could watch her curves move all day without getting tired.

But no, she was engaged to that ruffian, Jack Nimble. Best get my thoughts in order before she got here.

Her deep blue eyes caught mine and her bright red smile showed relief. “John!” she called – even her yell was melodic. “John wait!” I wasn’t going anywhere.

I snuffed my cigarette and put it back in my tin. “Hey, Betty, miss me already?” A guy could flirt, even if she was engaged.

She giggled then cleared her throat, “I miss you before you’re gone, John, we’ve covered this. The operator is holding your sister on the line; I thought you’d want to know.”

“Jane’s on the line?” I was going to be an uncle! I ran back to the office and picked up the receiver Betty had left on her desk. “Yes? Hello? This is John. Jane?”

“Hold please.” The operator’s voice sounded nasal and bored.

“John?” Jane’s voice sounded upset.

“What’s wrong? What’s happened?” My grip tightened on the handle.

“A temporal shift. The mage on duty felt it, but not in time.”

“What?!” I exploded out of the chair. “How could he have missed…? So, it was fast. Too fast to aim properly. Which means it’ll follow the bloodline. Which means here. Was there a substitution?”

“A car tire.”

“Damn and blast! Betty, hold the line – I have to get to that accident!” I tore out of the office and into the street.  I approached the car with the missing tire, but didn’t hear the baby.

“Where’s the baby?” I pulled the first man toward me by the lapels.

“Relax, the baby was fine. Its father just claimed it.” The man looked around, “There. He’s over there.”

I dropped the man and took off after the thief. Why didn’t he turn to face me? Ah, he has a silence charm – probably to hide the baby from curious bystanders – the idiot and amateur.

I readied my shock, the man would disappear the moment he knew I was coming – or as soon as he was out of everyone’s vision, whichever came first.

I aimed for his head – I didn’t want to hit the baby.

He went limp and toppled over. I sent a hover charm to catch the baby.

I scooped up the little guy in my arms and smiled down at him. He stopped crying. “Hey Champ. I’m going to get you back to your Momma, then I’ll come see you.”

I walked back to the car and read the transfer line. I held the boy in my hands and shifted him back.

I handed the tire to the driver and collected the perpetrator. I hovered him over to my office and cuffed him in the back. Then I took the phone from Betty.

“Jane? Is he doing alright?”

“Yes, John, thank you.”

“Next time you let me be your mage on duty, got that?”

“Yes John.”

“Oh, and what’s his name?”


I smiled.

No comments:

Post a Comment