Wednesday, February 26, 2014


What a ride! Thanks to everyone for submitting stories this week! If you missed any of them, go check them out here. Otherwise, let's see what the judge had to say:

Thank you to all who participated this week! All of your unique and creative stories made my first time as a judge truly enjoyable.

@DoctorMikeReddy: I appreciated where you went with the special challenge. Your main character was very unreliable and the reader was really along for the ride with him. One line that really stood out to me was: 'Its spinning slowed and showed a blade burdened with blood.' The imagery here was very well done and I loved being able to picture the blood as being this heavy thing. Also, I liked your use of lyrics to carry the story.

@drmagoo: The beginning of the story was set up in a very strong manner. I could empathize with your main character having the need to escape from the many layers that winter brings upon us. This also brought about the same heaviness the character was feeling throughout the story. Your use of details were quite powerful in placing the reader into the scene. One of my favorite was: 'room of statues'. The cold he felt from the people in that room was undeniable. I was left wanting more at the end of the story. I wanted to see where your main character was going with his actions.

@JMMacF: I laughed so hard while reading this story that I had to wipe tears from my eyes several times. What an adventure you took us on! Your main character's voice was spot on. I truly believed a college aged boy was telling me this story. The line 'Cal grabbed the beer out of my hands, smacked the seal, and crawled up behind me on the moose,' just killed me. The imagery going through my head with a boy wrestling a seal and the other wrangling a moose was so engraved in my head that I can still picture it. And while there were a few parts that needed a bit of clarification the story was such a random experience that those small moments were easily overlooked.

@Chelle87Fox: The way you set up the story was amazingly done. 'My sin weighed heavier on my soul than the drenched shirt did on my torso and I just couldn't take it any longer.' I felt like I was instantly set into the scene and the atmosphere of the story settled in around me. And as I kept reading the unreliable narrator really came through. Slowly this disconnect came through where her actions and sentences really weren't lining up with her thoughts. And by the end I felt like she was more or less putting on a show of how she should act than how she felt. This action really twisted together with the ending well. And while I was a little lost on the last line and I craved a little more, your main character really kept the focus on her.

@TechieJ: I felt for your main character instantly. The set up of his situation in the beginning came off very clear and I was instantly able to empathize with him. Your imagery was well executed during the story. ' ... Dribbling the ball came as naturally as flying to an elephant.' That was one line that really not only stuck out to me as a reader but also helped define the boy and his struggle to be like his older brother. The new light and hidden bond that showed between the brothers at the end really added something special to this story - how they connected even through resentment. Very powerful.

@asekingprinces17: The image of a mermaid riding a dragon put a smile on my face. What an interesting collaboration! And even through all of the detail and secondary characters, your main character really showed through. The need to fit in with her friends and the fear of failing came through clearly but so did the excitement that she felt and the elation when she succeeded. The last paragraph was very well written and showed such an excellent glimpse into this world in such a short amount of space. I was left wanting to know more about this world and your main character. I felt like what you had setup here could easily be extended into a short story or novella (longer if you so choose!) and I was left very intrigued!

Now for the tough part!

Special Challenge Runner Up: DoctorMikeReddy. The reader experienced the actions in the story right alongside the MC and that really enhanced how unreliable he was. The bits and pieces you have to the reader as we went along really kept us focused on what happened next.


Special Challenge Champion: Michelle. Marian's actions made her a truly unreliable narrator. Were her thoughts truth or were her actions truth? We were really left wondering and the twist of it really stood out.


Grand Champion Runner Up: asekingprinces17. So much was able to come across the story in such a short amount of time! Your MC really showed her emotions well and I was so interested in this world at the end. I would really love to see more from this concept. Excellent job bringing such fantastical characters together in a very realistic way.

Grand Champion: JMMacF. How truly entertaining this story was! And even though there was a hilarity to it you really stayed on track and brought the characters to life. I was truly surprised by this story and I loved where you brought it. And I could see your main character at the end so nonchalantly joking about the story before popping open another beer.

Once again, thank you to all who participated this week! I loved seeing so many different stories and worlds come out of this week's sentence prompt. And one more final congratulations to JMMacF for earning the spot of Grand Champion. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go drink some beer and find a moose to ride...

Monday, February 24, 2014


Have fun today with the prompt! I'm glad you came by to check it out. I hope it inspires greatness in each of you. Go write, then share your brilliance with the rest of us! :)

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Caitlin Siem also known as @CaitlinStatus. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #34 is:

The gust stole my breath as it pressed the damp shirt against my chest.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Your narrator must be unreliable.



Here's my entry into Christian Flash Weekly #3 over at Charles W. Short's blog. This week we had up to 500 words (499 for me, oh yeah!) and the following verse to start us:

I Kings 19:14 (NIV).
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, go read the entire chapter; I pulled heavily from the whole thing. Also, just a note, this story (of Elijah) is very near and dear to me because my Daddy wrote a song about it. It's been playing in my head all weekend - and that's a blessing because I miss him dearly. I wish I could share it with you all, but I have no idea how to put a song on my blog. :) Anyway, you came here to read my story (probably), so I should let you get to it!


Xavier ran, boots slipping precariously on the ice before he reached down to extend the spikes. Sure, he could just melt the ice, like he had back on the mountain, but that would leave an obvious trail to follow.

And he didn’t want to be followed, not when they were out to kill him.

The squeak and crunch of the spikes hitting the ice sent shivers down his spine. The sound reminded him just how much control they had over everything. Ice fields spread as far as the eye could see, forcing the population under their control. They killed every heat-bringer they’d ever found – and he just made a target of himself.

It felt so good to do it though, melting the bodylength thickness of ice covering Mt Maximus right in their own backyard – showing them, and everyone, that the cold is not forever. His feet slipped in the slush that appeared around him – radiating heat unexpectedly. He fell.

Normally, he’d be covered head to toe when walking the ice sheets, but he’d taken off his gloves to touch the soft grass and delicate flowers uncovered on the mountainside. In his race to get ahead of the assassins, he’d forgotten them.

Now his hand was sitting in quickly re-freezing slush. He aimed a heat blast so he didn’t get frostbite and found himself sitting in a circle of summer. His fingers brushed the tips of the grasses longingly. This is how the world should look, he thought.

He sighed and stood, lamenting the signpost this hole would be to those chasing him.

He climbed out of the hole, slipping and squeaking as the spikes sought purchase on the now softer surface. He had to get as far from here as possible. He ran all day and into the night, stumbling into a cave sometime after first moonset.

He crawled deeper into the cave and risked another heat blast. He stopped shivering immediately. He lay sprawled on the floor, breathing erratically and wishing for death – lost in despairing thoughts of ‘it’s no use’ and ‘I can’t make a difference’ and ‘they’re going to kill me anyway.’

His heart stirred with an odd warmth.

“What am I doing here?” he said out loud, words echoing into the earth. This cave system must run deep, he thought. Perhaps he could hide better further on. He peeled himself off the rock and started into the dark.



He shucked his protective outerwear, rounded a bend, and saw a thick, glowing red, bubbling liquid giving off unimaginable heat. A bubble rose up and grew tall then formed itself into the shape of a person and spoke, “We have waited for you, Xavier. The heat has been trapped inside for too long. You must release it into the world safely before it destroys everything.”

“How? I am the last.”

“You are enough. Go, warm the earth.”

Xavier took two deep breaths, nodded, and strode back up to the surface. He had work to do.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


What a ride! Thanks so much for each of your stories this week. The judge will be commenting on the threads of the stories not mentioned in the next few days, but wanted to get his decision to us now. Thanks, Karl, for your time and effort! If you missed reading the stories, you can go here to catch up before reading the decisions. Let's see what the judge had to say:

There were some great stories for my first stint as judge at Finish That Thought. Those locked doors kept people in, kept monsters out and kept getting in between our protagonists and whatever they wanted, while the clocks ticked, tocked and generally counted down towards a range of grisly fates.
When I picked my prompts, I was expecting a slew of action sequences, but the flash community is so much more varied and imaginative than that, and we had a number of quieter moments too, although I must give a special mention to Emily Karn’s tale Escape From The Purge, which rapidly rattled through it’s word count so intensely that I had to double-check that I hadn’t missed a paragraph or two.
Two unique takes on the Judges Challenge stand out:
Special Challenge Runner Up: JM MacF. That endless gulf between tick and tock is a beautifully poetic way to show that someone has moved on to a state where time no longer matters.

Special Challenge Champion: Stella Kate T. Stella’s characters are such grounded, domestic Machiavellis, and her treatment of the challenge here shows why; With her subconsciously scheming protagonist in a seemingly life threatening situation, Stella uses the countdown to defuse the tension and get her back to planning tea with the delivery man.

Grand Champion Runner Up: Angelique Rider. Zombies are the last great unreconstructed monster, too rotten and repulsive for a Twilight style romantic lead makeover. In the half century since Night Of The Living Dead, their only real development has been learning to run, but in this untitled piece, Angelique takes them to a new level. All of the old hallmarks are there – the familiar faces turned strange, the herd instinct and above all the desire for human flesh – but by putting such a civilised spin on their unholy appetites, the walking, chatty dead become a whole new kind of scary.

Grand Champion: Caitlin. Putting the brakes on the first line’s momentum, Caitlin pulls us back in to a tense domestic scene which is clearly not as idyllic as the title would suggest. Questions abound as we are repeatedly wrong footed and made to wonder if our narrator is frightened of her new husband, sneaking off to another man or just regretting her choice of partners. In the end, the tale pulls back to reveal a much bigger world, in which the narrator is in complete control. She refers to her husband as Thomas, but after that pivotal phone call, he becomes The Target, dehumanized and disposable, making the false intimacy of that final line all the more chilling.  

Well done to all of the winners, and I’ll be back at some point in the next day or two with my thoughts on the rest of the stories. Thanks again for letting me judge, and good luck for next week Caitlin!

Monday, February 17, 2014


I'm so excited you're back for another week of fun and exciting writing! I can't wait to read what you all dream up for this prompt. I love how each of us take the same sentence in SO MANY different directions! Let me see those brains work! WooHoo! Go write!

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Karl A Russell also known as @Karl_A_Russell. Read his winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #33 is:

I ran for the door, but someone had taken the keys.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a countdown and/or a ticking clock.


Thursday, February 13, 2014


And the judge has spoken!!!! Thanks for participating, everyone! If you missed the stories, you can check them out here. Otherwise, let's see what the judge had to say!

Rebekah Postupak (SC): I loved the setup of the story, and the concept drew me in immediately. I mean, how fascinating (and terrifying) to be out of sync with the world – to have all the capacity to communicate, but still not be able to. It reminded me of this news story ( On the other hand, the ending felt rushed, as if it needed another hundred or so words to reveal itself with the same wonder as the rest of the story.

Jessica West: My inner pedant was startled at first, as you changed the tense of the prompt, but it was such a marvelously macabre story that I decided to ignore that. Nicely suspenseful, drawing the reader along with your protagonist to find out what had happened behind that door. It could have been anything, and then we met the monster in a child’s body, only to know no more.

Emily Karn (SC): I could tell right off that you were bringing me along on a journey to see some ancient site destroyed – Pompeii, Atlantis, something like that – and I was definitely captivated as to what kind of journey it would be. Wonderful imagery, and a well-imagined scene. There were a couple of editing mistakes that took me out of the flow of the story, however – that’s the kind of thing my teacher’s eyes fixate on sometimes.

Stella (SC): A lovely little tale of a quite devious young woman who feels trapped in a life she doesn’t like (although whether she’ll fare any better in the arms of a soldier who just killed her mother is a lesson she’ll have to learn on her own). A little on the short side – I think that using the rest of the allotted room would have helped add just a few more touches, like a hint as to why her mom would be in particular danger.

writtenbetweencovers (SC): A wonderful glimpse into history, filled with tiny touches that painted a vivid scene for the reader. Poor, brave Mansika, about to die (and likely painfully) to help Cleopatra survive. I liked this one a lot.

Amy Wood (SC): A short little tale, but filled with the atmosphere of a time and place far from our own. And when the blood’s already being spilled, what’s a little more, for someone with a knife and an inclination to spill his own self. Chilling and effective.

Karl A Russell (SC): Oh, what a wonderful Valentine’s Day tale! (was this a surplus Love Bites story in another guise?) Very nice use of language, drawing the reader into time and place – although apparently, Carol and Padraig don’t live in ordinary everyday Ireland. The lesson, as always: don’t interrupt a woman in the middle of a good book, even if you are Cupid.

JM Mac F (SC): A jaunt back to the Civil War, and the worries of a young woman on her own (well, with a bunch of servants – although given that this was in the south, I wasn’t sure if slaves were the right fit) in a time of war. Not just any young woman, but one that’s more than a little flighty, offering Valentines to men wounded in battle without proper medical care. Nice job.

Special Challenge Runner-up: Amy Wood

Special Challenge Champion: writtenbetweencovers

Runner-up: Rebekah Postupak

Grand Champion: Karl A Russell

Thanks everyone!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Welcome back to another round! I considered doing another Festive Challenge, but there are enough people out there who HATE Valentine's Day that I just figured I'd skip it. I wouldn't want to turn anyone away, plus Eric would probably strangle me if he got the chance... (but he doesn't live in my state, so I think I'd be safe even if I went for it...) I'd personally love to see you be creative with the words in brackets - I LOVE variety! Anyway, enough of what I want - I'm not judging! Go find out what the judge's prompts are and go write! :)

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Eric Martell also known as @drmagoo. Check out his blog here. Read his winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #32 is:

The cat meowed, and stretched, and that was when I first heard [the scream].

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Set your story before the year 1900CE.


How Champions Are Made

Here's my entry for Rebekah Postupak's Flash Friday! competition vol. 2-9! (By the way, I got Second Runner Up - third place - for this one! :) ) The prompt this week was the word 'envy' and this picture:

Panathenaic Stadium. Olympic Opening Ceremony 1896. Public domain photo.

I had 150 words (give or take 10) to write something amazing... This is what I came up with:

How Champions Are Made


“You cheated!” Kira huffed as she palmed open the hatch to their dormitory.

“I did not!” Arianna stood taller and crossed her arms, indignant. “I am a member of the 57th Intergalactic Olympic Games.”

“So you’re good at covering your tracks.” Kira interrupted and entered.

Arianna stalked in after her and grabbed a holo of an old photograph off her headboard. “My ancestor was a champion at the very first Olympic Games, 1896EME.”

“What’s your point? That was forever ago.” Kira glared before turning around and palming through the color options on the wall, wishing the designers of the Olympic Space Station had installed holographic capabilities.

“I’m merely stating that my athleticism is inherited. I don’t need to cheat.”

Kira snorted. “No one has ever completed a 3240 quad-corkscrew layout-rebound in variable-G before. It’s impossible.”

“You’re just jealous.” She pursed her lips. “Besides, if you’re looking for cheaters, the entire wrestling contingent from Ptaxil grew extra arms.”

The Looking Glass

Hiya! This is my entry for the FIRST EVER Christian flash fiction competition over at Charles W. Short's Christian Flash Weekly! The prompt each week is a single verse from the Bible and the judge and word count will change weekly. This week I was allowed 240-260 words (I came in at 255 this week!) with the verse: Job 42:5

Job 42:1-6 (NASB)
Then Job answered the Lord and said,
“I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;

Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”

I did something completely different than my normal stories. I think it worked. Also, I'm glad we had almost four days - I only got the idea last night! I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you have fun reading it! Thanks! :)

The Looking Glass


I received it when I was young and was admonished to take good care of it. I polished it daily until it shined. I’d check myself, smile, and blow a kiss.

Over time it didn’t shine as before. Dust obscured the view, but I regularly cleaned it once a week. I’d check myself, smile, and nod.

Soon I forgot about it for weeks at a time – not on purpose, but other things came up. It became smeared with the stuff of life and crusted with unidentifiable sludge. Every now and again I’d remember, spray it down, and scrub it clean. I’d check myself, smile, and sigh.

The first crack appeared when I volunteered to go build wells in Africa. I was so excited. And so scared. The preparation – spiritual, emotional, practical – took its toll.  I’d check myself, worry at the crack, and put on a brave face.

The crack crept across the surface as I landed in Africa. So much suffering. More cracks. The sick. The poor. The hungry. Why? I slammed my fist in anger. A spider web of cracks blossomed and filled the frame. I checked myself and frowned.

The glass shattered. Pieces littered the ground. I stared in shock at the shards twinkling in the sunlight. A weight lifted from my shoulders. I checked myself and froze. A little boy stood smiling, beaming back at me – deep black skin, bright white teeth centered perfectly in my now empty frame.

I knelt, and served.

And smiled.

And blew a kiss.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Well, that was fun! Thanks everyone for participating! I had a blast seeing so many new faces (I'm not sure of a more appropriate phrase, seeing as I *didn't* see any of your faces at all....but 'reading so many new twitter handles' just doesn't sound right. Ah well!). If you missed any of the amazing stories, go check out the full offering here. Otherwise, let's read what the judge had to say (Thanks, Rebekah!):

In a display of dramatic historical coincidence, quite a few of you unrolled graffiti and other hilarity in your ancient documents. I loved that juxtaposition of greatness with the banal. As ever, the splendid diversity across the board in your stories was enough to delight even the pickiest of readers. Wonderful job, everybody--wonderful worlds, wonderful words. Thank you!

Special shout out to Dolled Kitten whose description of painstaking study--and I have to quote almost this whole paragraph--was so wonderfully perfect, I laughed out loud. "There was a throbbing in his temples, as if someone were drumming their thumbs against them to make unbearably painful music. He strained to read the symbols. They marched and swerved, making focusing difficult. They mocked and laughed at him because of his ignorance..." This description caused me to relive one of my way-too-many all-nighters back in college days. Awesome.

And another personal shout out to Stella for the Edith Piaf nod--I LOVE her music, and "Je ne regrette rien" is one of my favorites of hers. It's somehow fitting that such a powerful voice should be paired with such a gruesome tale.

Judge's Challenge Runner Up: JM MacF. Unless you speak Greek, you had to look up how to say "eight pounds of fish and two bushels of potatoes" which, given you sandwiched the quotation in melodramatic sarcasm, is hilarious and made the whole thing totally magnificent.

Judge's Challenge Champion: Nada Adel. You included not just one line, but an entire poem in Arabic! The lovely lines were at the story's heart, with its knowing caution to "wait for the light." --And I assure all you skeptics that the final sentence, as glorious as it is, did not bias this award. :D

Grand Champion Runner Up: This goes to ImageRonin, "Lost in Translation," for his wonderful worldbuilding and depth of story, and to Amy Wood's untitled piece, for her snappy dialogue--both of whom ended their stories with very funny mundane translations and abandonment. They were both thoroughly enjoyable reading, beautifully designed and assembled.

Grand Champion: DrMagoo.  Unlike many of the other stories which went in an Indiana Jones-type direction, this story gave us a contemporary woman reeling from great tragedy. I was moved by the parallelism of her physical experiences with her grief (e.g. the car accident with her memories; the pain of fiberglass and sweat in her eyes with her heartache) and by the way her parents joined the pantheon of the past as she found her father's love letter, which in itself was precious, alongside her grandmother's dishes. This story is a sophisticated one of great heart, dancing in time: the protagonist is lost in today, feeling certain there can be no tomorrow--even as she holds in her hands a moment of great love and promise, thousands of tomorrows from then. Beautifully done. 

Monday, February 3, 2014


Welcome back! I'm so glad you could join us for another week of fantastic stories! I handed the last edits to my crit group last week, so I've had a week of what-to-do-in-between. So I pulled out my Nano project and re-read the whole thing (I only wrote 26K, but the book is certainly halfway finished) and it was AWESOME! So now I'm super excited to work on that story while I give this one a break before I revise again for beta readers. :) Anyway, enough about me, let me see what you have to say for this weeks prompt. Go write!

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Rebekah Postupak also known as @postupak and @FlashFridayFic. Check out her blog here. Read her winning tale from last week here!

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #31 is:

Fingers trembling, [s]he slowly unrolled the ancient document.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a sentence in a foreign (non-English) language.


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.