Friday Flash Fiction Post: Images of a Black Flame

Images of a Black Flame

I dredged up this prompt from long ago and for some reason, it spoke to me now. I have written a chapter of what seems like a longer work. Do you like it? Do you want to read more? Let me know. If there’s no interest, I’ll let the story drop, never to be seen again.

Chapter 1

Anrak woke with a gasp and sat straight up in her bed. She pulled her russet hair, come loose in her sleep, back from her face and flipped her braid to her back. Deep calming breaths, just breathe. She looked around her tiny room, the embers of the fire close to gone, and tried to reorient herself while her heart beat slowed. The dream had seemed so real.

In the morning, she rose from her pallet and began the day’s work. Breakfast for Master Eddan and herself was first before they began the task of taking down the dried herbs and putting them into jars and boxes.

Eddan came into the main room as Anrak scooped oatmeal into bowls. “I put dried cherries in it this morning.”

Eddan sat at the table and nodded. “I’m pleased.” He eyed her, his face, wrinkled with time, showed concern. “I heard you call out last night. The dream again?”

Anrak swallowed. “Yes.” She sighed. “I wish I knew what it means.”

“Just the image of a black flame? Was it on a table, an altar, in a building, the woods?”

The apprentice rubbed an eye. “There might have been a candle, or that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I don’t understand why it terrifies me.” She scooped oatmeal into her bowl and sat across the table from her master. “It’s as though the flame is alive, can see me.” She stirred the mush around the bowl. “Or that there’s someone near, in the same space with the flame.” Anrak shook her head. “It makes no sense.” She ate a spoonful of the oatmeal.

Eddan stroked his beard, gone white in the twelve years she’d been his apprentice. “I’ve been thinking about your flame. I’ve read through all of my books looking for a reference. It might be time to go to the Mage Council to collaborate.”

“Is that wise?”

Eddan snorted. “They’ll have to get over themselves. They know I was right, it just galls them that I saw the dragon coming before the rest of them did.” He scooped up a spoonful and ate it.

“Good thing you did. Otherwise the land would have been seared from one end to the other. The King was happy.”

“Yes, but I’m concerned that you keep seeing this image and are fearful of it. It could be a portent. That’s why I took you as an apprentice. Your dreams are strong and even as an untrained child, could foresee events. We’ll go today. After breakfast, pack us some travel food, prepare our bags. We’ll go to the council and get some help.”

#

After four days walk, Eddan and Anrak reached the castle where many of their brother and sister mages lived and studied. It was located in the capital city, making it easy for the King to summon them should he need counsel or assistance. They were ushered to the rooms of the head of the council.

“Gar’dyne!” Eddan strode across the carpets strewn across the stone floor like pools of color. “So good to see you.” The two men clasped each other’s arms and hugged in greeting.

“It’s been too long, Eddan.” The mage held his friend at arm’s length and studied his appearance. “You’ve gotten grayer.”

“And you’ve gotten thinner. Doesn’t your apprentice feed you?” Eddan laughed.

“He does, but I don’t always remember to eat what he brings me.” He looked past Eddan. “And this is Anrak?” Gar’dyne walked to her and gave her a gentle embrace. “You have grown into a fine young woman.” He studied her face. “But you have dark circles under your eyes. Are you well?”

She smiled at the kind old man. “I am well.” Anrak looked to her master.

Eddan spoke up. “She is dreaming. We want the council to help us.”

“Come, sit.” He led them to a table and chairs. “Tell me everything.”

#

After the tale, Gar’dyne called for tea, bread and cheese. “It seems to me, this black flame is a symbol, a warning perhaps.”

While they ate, Eddan said, “That’s my thought also. The library here is large, there may be some reference to a black flame and one or more of the council may have knowledge of this image.”

“We’ll meet after supper in the council chamber and tell the rest of the mages. He stood up. “I’ll have Yawo escort you to your chambers. Rest, have a quiet supper and meet us after.”

Eddan shook Gar’dyne’s hand. “Thank you. I feel this is a threat. We should be prepared.”

#

At the meeting of the mages, they hashed over Anrak’s dream. By the time they finished, she was exhausted.

“I don’t know,” Tankal, a middle-aged man whose main talent as a mage was creating flame, whined. “None of us seem to know what this image she dreams of is about.”

“Belsing,” Gar’dyne called out. “You’re the one with the best knowledge of the library yet you’ve said nothing.”

Anrak turned to look at Belsing. At least ninety, he looked as fragile as the ancient manuscripts he studied.

“There might be something, a prophesy, very old. Something about a war with black flames. I’d have to research it.” He scratched his liver-spotted bald head. “I would suggest a dream reader stay with Anrak tonight and view the dream with her.”

“Excellent idea, Belsing.” Gar’dyne turned to a woman that was near his age. “Releh, you’re the best dream follower we have. Would you help us tonight?”

Relah looked at Anrak. “If the young woman gives me permission, I’d be happy to help.”

Anrak nodded. “I would appreciate that service. Thank you.”

“Then it is done.” Gar’dyne clapped his hands. “We’ll reconvene in at mid-morning to discuss what has happened over the night.”

 

End of Chapter 1

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Flash Fiction Friday Story: Chapter 1 from It’s a Question of College

Soccer, Randy Cockrell

Soccer Game by Randy Cockrell

I have a confession, I totally did not get a story done for today. *blushes* By way of apology, I give you the first chapter to It’s a Question of College. Some of you know that I’m writing a YA series called All About Bob. This series is a result of a writing exercise I did over a year ago. It’s still rough, I’ll be editing and rewriting after it’s finished. And if you can think of a better title, I’ll be happy to consider it.

This chapter is over 1600 words, so a little longer than normal. Enjoy.

Chapter 1 It’s a Question of College

Bob ran as fast as he could taking the front porch steps two at a time gasping for breath from the run up the hill where his parent’s run down two-story frame house stood. He’d stopped looking at the neighborhood years ago. Dead grass, mattresses with the stuffing coming out, crappy sofas and armchairs on sagging porches were so normal he didn’t even notice them anymore. He raised the rusty hinged top to the mailbox now only loosely nailed to the wall beside the front door. Shit, he thought as he peered inside. She’s already gotten the mail.

He left the top open when the hinges froze in place and opened the screen door, more holes than screen, to open the front door. The glass was duct-taped along three long cracks radiating from the edges from the last time his father slammed the door in one of his drunken rages. He’d stopped noticing that, too. He closed the door quietly. Maybe his mother was up in her room, sleeping off the afternoon binge. School books tucked under his arm, he stepped softly across the worn carpet to the kitchen.

His mother was in front of the stove, stirring what smelled like spaghetti sauce. He rolled his eyes in his head. Of course today she felt like staying a little sober, he could see the bottle of beer, condensation on the outside of it, sitting on the counter beside the stove. And she’s fixing dinner — of all days. He looked on the kitchen table, there was the mail. Just as he was going to fade back into the living room she turned and saw him.

“Bobbie, didn’t hear ya come in.” She reached for the beer and took a long pull, setting it back on the counter with a burb. “Opps,” she giggled. “Sorry.”

“Uh, yeah. Soccer practice is over.” He took a breath and walked into the kitchen. “You’re makin’ supper.” He did his best to look casual as he went to the table and dropped his books next to the mail. The top envelope was the light bill. He didn’t dare search the pile while she was watching.

“I felt like spaghetti tonight.”

He wasn’t surprised. It was about the only thing she ever made. “Great, Ma. Sounds good.” He went to the fridge and opened the door. Inside was two 18 packs of beer, the kind his father drank, three sticks of butter, half a loaf of bread and two colas. He took a cola and shut the fridge door. “I’ll do my homework while you cook.” He went back to the table, shoved up against the dirty white painted wall, and casually knocked the mail to the floor as he picked up his books. He put the books back on the table and crouched down to pick up the mail, being careful to pick up one at a time so he could skim the return addresses. It wasn’t in the pile. Bob stood and tapped them into a neat stack and put them back on the table.

“Sorry about that.” He got his books and went to his room. The days were getting shorter, he had to turn on the lamp on the rickety desk he’d found three blocks away a couple of years ago with a Free sign on it. The chair was from a yard sale. He traded the owner a yard mowing for it. The books fell on the desk with a thump, causing the whole thing to shake. Bob flopped in the chair a sigh escaping. That was close, he thought as he dug a pen out of his notebook. I thought for sure the report card was supposed to be out today. He did not want his parents to see that card.  He opened his math text and found the page with the homework problems. Math was his hardest subject so he tended to do that homework first.

An hour later he heard his mother shout from the kitchen, “Dinner!”

He had one more problem to do but decided to do it after supper. His stomach was growling. The two hour soccer practice after school burned the peanut butter sandwich he had for lunch away fast. He was halfway through the kitchen when he noticed his father sitting in the end seat at the table. Bob stopped. “Uh, Hi dad. Didn’t hear ya come in.”

“Nose always stuck in a book,” Ted Kowalski snorted. He drained his can of beer and slammed it on the table. “Get me another one, kid.”

Bob got the beer as his mother drained the spaghetti and put it next to his father’s plate. He took the empty and tossed it into the trash. When he was ten he’d learned about recycling in school. That night he’d picked up his father’s empty aluminum can and rinsed it out and set it on the drain board.

“What the hell ya doin’,” his father had screamed at him from the kitchen table.

Bob walked over to his father and explained. He knew his father, a sanitation worker, would understand. Ted reached out and cuffed Bob in the head leaving a red mark across the left side of his face. “Don’t be a smart ass. That recyclin’ is a bunch of shit. Just something to make my life miserable.”

Bob never tried it again, at least in the house. He got a glass of water from the sink and sat down at the other end of the table. His mother, Marcy, sat on the long side of the table, between them. She put the pan of pasta in the middle of the table. No bowl for her. That was one less thing to wash.

After Ted and Marcy dished up their food, Bob put some on his plate. His mother passed him the green can of parmesan cheese. There was only a teaspoon left in the can. Bob sighed to himself. Sighing aloud would only get him a slap. He wound the pasta onto his fork and took the bite. The pasta was overdone and mushy. “Good dinner, ma,” he said as he went for the next forkful. It was food and would fill his belly.

Marcy drank some beer, burped, and said, “Thanks, Bobbie.”

Bob had tuned out his father’s detailed description of his miserable day on the garbage truck, his thoughts were on the report card his mother had. He tried to think of a way to tell them he really wanted to go to college. His soccer coach thought it could be done. Bob didn’t want to work on a garbage truck like his old man. There had to be something better. They were half way through their plates of spaghetti when his mother pulled an envelope out of her sweatpants pocket. “This came in the mail today.” She put it next to Ted’s plate.

Her husband eyed the envelope. “What the hell is it? A bill?”

She grinned at her son. “It’s Bobbie’s report card.”

Bob’s stomach sank. He’d managed to keep them from seeing his report card all last year. Why the hell didn’t she stick to her routine!

His old man put his fork down and picked up the envelope. He pulled the two page computer printout from the envelope. “What the hell is this shit? When I was in school ya got an actual card.”

Marcy giggled, her thin graying dirty blond pony tail swinging behind her head. “It’s all computers now, Ted.”

“Bullshit,” he muttered as he peered at the small print. He flipped the page, read it, then slapped it on the table. “B’s and C’s. I always knew you was stupid.” Ted picked up his beer and drained it. “Get me another one, stupid.”

Bob picked up the empty, dropped it in the trash and got the new one, putting it beside his father’s plate. His stomach was churning the spaghetti as he sat back down. “I’m doing better this year than last.”

He father eyed him across the table. “I don’t remember any report cards from last year.”

Bob kept his face neutral. “No? They weren’t that great. Nothing to remember.” He picked up his fork and twirled spaghetti around with it.

Ted snorted. “I’ll bet.”

Bob choked the rest of his plate of food down. His father wouldn’t tolerate wasted food. Marcy picked up her empty plate and her husband’s. Ted got up and went to the living room after draining his can of beer and getting a fresh one.

“I think you’re doin’ good, Bobbie. Don’t pay him no mind, school was never his favorite.” She rinsed the plates and put them in the sink, grabbed a beer and went to watch TV with her husband.

Bob scraped the rest of what was on his plate into the trash. His father wouldn’t know. He never touched the trash. That was Bob’s job. He rinsed his plate and put it in the sink. Then he dug the left over spaghetti out of the pot and put it in a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. He rinsed the pot. He left the dishes for his mother. She tried to have him wash them one night a few years ago and Ted exploded. That was women’s work. His son wouldn’t do women’s work. Bob shrugged. He’d prefer to do the dishes. At least then they wouldn’t be sitting there for two or three days.

He picked up  the forgotten report card, tucked it into his shirt and went to his room. His parents had already forgotten about it. Bob would forge their signature and take it to school in the morning.

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Flash Fiction Friday Post: Mean Girl

Preacher's Cave Mouth by Randy Cockrell

Preacher’s Cave Mouth by Randy Cockrell

I wonder at times if my readers are interested in the writing process? I wrote this as part of a 3 day mini-workshop. This is the final step to the workshop, writing the opening scene to a story. What do you think? Do you want to read more? Is the character engaging? Do you sympathize? Comments are open.

Mean Girl

“Don’t leave me!” sobbed Sonia Lizzaro to Kortni Forsythe but Kortni had already crawled ahead, leaving Sonia in the pitch black cave, bugs crawling all over her and with a broken leg besides. She was on her own. She couldn’t even hear Kortni any longer.

Sonia wiped her teary face on her shoulder. She could feel the mud slide across her face. She sniffed and could smell the decay around her. “Serves me right,” she said out loud. The cave was too quiet. She wanted to hear a voice, even if it was her own. “I should have known better to try and save her. She’s picked on me since we were in grade school, why would she change now?”

Sonia steeled herself to crawl through the mud and muck of the cave floor. It was certain that Kortni wasn’t going to help. Her broken leg hit a rock in the dark, sending pain shooting up her leg to her brain. She groaned but kept moving. Chubby and out of shape, Sonia gasped for breath. The mud and cave were cold but she was sweating.

“I should have let that crazy hike have her. I shuld have run back to the teacher as soon as I got up from where he knocked me down. Nooo. Instead I go after them, watching till he left. She’d do the same for you, I though. Ha, what a joke. Who was I kidding?”

She slithered forward, the cave ceiling just inches over her head. “She was so grateful when I untied her. We cleared the rock fall together. I thought we’d be friends. Yeah, friends. As soon as I showed her the direction out she left me. If only that rock hadn’t fallen on my leg.”

Another wave of pain flooded through her. She stopped and gasped. A wave of fresh air hit her face. “Maybe I’m nearly at the entrance,” she told herself. “Come on, Sonia. Get a move on. It’s freezing in here.” She crawled further, raising her head and forcing her eyes wide to catch any glimmer of light.

She screamed and brushed wildly at her face where a bug was crawling. Sonia sobbed with fear and disgust. “Let me out of here,” she wept. “Please, God, just get me out.” Crawling again she counted every arm pull forward. “You can do it. Keep it up. Go ten more.”

It seemed to take forever but after ten sets of ten she saw a glimmer of light. “Thank you, God.” She moved faster not that she could see the way out.

Finally she stuch her head out of the crevice. She wept with joy at the sun’s warmth on her face. Sonia slid out of the hole onto the rock surrounding the cave mouth and lay on the warm rock. She looked at herself after she caught her breath. She was covered in mud and squashed bugs. Kortni’s scarf, tied around the gash in her leg was filthy. “That’s never gonna come clean,” she said to herself.

Sonia pulled herself up on a rock then stood on her good leg. She looked around for a stick to help her walk. She just wanted to go home and get clean. If she never went outside again it would be too soon. She hobbled from rock to tree, finally finding a stick. When she got back to school she was going to tell everyone how Kortni had left her.

Struggling to stagger along, she didn’t hear the brushes rustling. It wasn’t until a shadow fell across her path that she looked up.

“You again,” the hiker grinned. “You look like crap.” He frowned at her. “You took my girl away from me.”

Sonia’s heart fell. The fear and terror of the cave came boiling out of her. “Leave me alone!” she screamed at him.

He laughed then grabbed her arm. “You’ll have to do.” He pulled her back the way she’d just come.

She began to cry.

 

The End

664 Words

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Today It’s All Writing News

I have TWO books coming out at the end of July. One is the final book in the Gulliver Station series, Revolution. The second is the first book in a new series, a dystopian science fiction about two young women, one of whom is very special, who set out to heal the world. It’s called The Beginning: A Where The Brown Rain Fell series. I’m writing the second series in conjunction with a writing class about series. I’m very excited to both finish one series and start a second one.
So the covers. The first is, obviously, for Revolution. The second is for The Beginning, The Brown Rain Series. Under each cover is a snippet of story for you to enjoy.
Revolution Cover

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

Revolution: last book in the Gulliver Station Cover Reveal by Connie Cockrell

Kenna stood in front of fifty of her members, men and women, in a Level 8 warehouse. “You’ve been selected by your team leaders for your knowledge of this station. You know every nook and cranny. It’s your job to search this station, from Level 9 to Level 1 and find my daughter.”
Sean and Darin stood to Kenna’s left behind her.
“I want every room searched. Not just the empty rooms, every room. I don’t care how you do it. We do not have StaSec support, it may get ugly. I’ll do the best I can for you and your families if things go wrong.”
She stopped and looked them in the eyes. “Think about how you’d feel if it was your child.” She stopped again as she choked on the last word. Kenna cleared her throat and took a deep breath, controlling the tears that threatened to flow. “I’m trusting my daughter’s life to you. Please find her.”

The Beginning Cover (Draft) Tell me what you think about it. Would you make any changes?

The Beginning, 1st book in the Brown Rain Series, Draft, by Connie Cockrell

The Beginning, 1st book in the Brown Rain Series, Draft, by Connie Cockrell

Kyra held her shot. Now that it had come down to it, she was reluctant to kill the dog. She was reluctant to kill anything. She’d only shot at targets back at the school. Malcolm had told her not to hesitate. “The first time is going to be hard, Kyra,” he told her. A faraway look shone in his eyes. “It will be the hardest, but if you’re threatened, don’t hesitate. Doesn’t matter if it’s an animal or a human. Hesitation will get you and Alyssa killed. Take the shot.”
Sweat ran down her forehead and into the outer corner of her left eye. She blinked and the center dog, crouched down, still approaching slowly. The first dog was on her right, also in a crouch. “Alyssa. Is your dog in a crouch?”
“Yes. I think it’s going to attack.”
“I think so, too.” Kyra pulled the string back just a hair more and fired at the center dog. The dog screamed and flipped around as the arrow hit him in the middle of his chest. She turned and pulled a new arrow in one fluid movement. The first dog was charging. She could hear Alyssa scream, “Look out!” behind her. The first dog was five feet away when Kyra pulled the bow and shot the dog in the neck. She dropped the bow and pulled her boot knife while spinning around to Alyssa. The last dog was in the air, a snarl sounding as it leapt straight for Alyssa’s face.
Kyra threw her knife, hitting the dog in the ribs and knocking it aside. It yelped and rolled. Kyra grabbed Alyssa’s knife from her hand where she was frozen with fear and charged the dog. It rolled to its feet and crouched, ready to lunge, it’s mouth in a snarl and teeth ready to tear her apart. The blood pounded in her ears as she circled the dog. The thing must weigh about fifty pounds, she thought. It’s wounded. I can do this. It leapt, her knife falling out of its ribs. She slashed at the throat, as she braced herself in a crouch for the impact. The knife slashed the animal but not enough. It yowled as she spun to get out of its way. She crouched again, knife ready as the dog hit the ground, spun around and leapt at her again. This time she let the creature hit. It snapped at her, its breath foul in her face. From her left she could hear a yelp. Alyssa! screamed through her mind but she had to deal with this dog first. Holding the dog’s throat with her left hand, she swung with all her strength for the dog’s ribs with her right. The knife plunged into the dog, she could feel the blade scrape a rib as the knife went in up to the hilt. She pulled it out as she rolled over, the dog thrashing, and on top, she stabbed it again. The dog screamed and she rolled to her feet in a crouch. Where’s Alyssa!
In front of her, Alyssa stood over the first dog, Kyra’s knife in her hand, blood dripping from the tip. The dog lay at her feet, unmoving. Kyra ran to her. “Are you all right?”
Alyssa stared at the dog, her eyes filling with tears. “I had to, Kyra. It was getting up. Getting ready to kill you.”
Thanks for stopping by my blog today.
Like any author, my books sell based on reviews. Would you be interested in getting a free copy to review for me? Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link. Let me know you’d like to be a reviewer on the e-tailer or Goodreads site of your choice.
I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here. Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.
Hard Choices: A Gulliver Station Story released May17th! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Friday Flash Fiction: The Hacker and The Girl

Two weeks ago I joined a writing challenge on Chuck Wendig’s site: Terrible Minds. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/11/22/flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-one/comment-page-1/#comments  I wrote a 200 word opening for a story and posted it. I was very interested in what someone else would do with my beginning. While I waited, I went ahead and finished the story. You can see it below. Note: Someone, Ken Crump, did pick up my beginning and wrote a really good 2nd part. You can see it here: http://brickhousepiggy.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/terribleminds-com-flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-two/

This is fun! I’ll try and follow the story as others write it and post the links here. In the meantime, here’s my take on the story.

The Hacker and The Girl

Ewan Gilroy backed out of the library stack in a hurry. He peeked around the corner. Oh no.

He crept along the next row to watch the co-ed over the books. Ewan sweated as she checked the paper in her hand. She’s looking for something specific. Can’t be my book, no one’s checked it out in three years. She ran her finger along the titles. He froze as she pulled a book from the shelf. That book has the stolen code. I can’t finish this hack without it!

At the check-out Ewan walked up behind her with a random book.

“Nice to see you again, Brooke,” the librarian smiled. “Science of Computer MetaPhysics and Interdimensional Theory,” she stamped the lending card and her record book and handed the book to Brooke. “Research?”

“From Professor Ingles’ additional reading list for my final paper.” She tucked the book under her arm. “It looks like heavy reading.”

“You’ll do fine. Have a good day.”

“Thanks, you too.” Brooke left.

“May I help you?” the librarian asked.

“Uh, no, changed my mind, thanks.” Ewan dropped his book on the counter and hurried after Brooke. He’d follow her and with luck, get the book back.

Ewan followed Brooke to the Student Union. He called his partner. “Malcomb.”

“Yeah, where are you? I expected you fifteen minutes ago.”

“I’m at the Student Union. Some chick named Brooke snagged the book just before I could. I followed her but I don’t know what to do next.”

“Holy Guacamole, Ewan! If we don’t get this hack done the mob is going to string us up! Why’d you let her get the book?”

Ewan ran a hand through his buzz cut sandy brown hair. “Tell me something I don’t know, Malcomb! How do I get the book away from her?” He could hear the chair Malcomb sat in creaking. Malcomb was a good 300 pounds. He wouldn’t be able to run from the mob.

“I don’t know! See if you can’t borrow it long enough to get the codes out of it.”

“Yeah, good idea.” He hit the end button and hurried to the coffee urn. He didn’t need any more acid in his stomach but it was cheap. Until he could get out from under the gambling debt he and Malcomb owed the Mob, he watched every cent. Taking a breath, he strolled by Brooke’s table. She had the book open to the first chapter. Good, at least she’s not flipping through it.

He stepped past her table then backed up, staring at the book. She looked up at him. Ewan grinned, “Oh, sorry. Isn’t that Science of Computer MetaPhysics and Interdimensional Theory?”

Brooke’s eyes went wide. “Yeah. How did you know?”

“I read that four years ago. Deep topic.” He held out a hand. “I’m Ewan. Nice to meet you.”

She shook his hand. “Nice to meet you. I just started it. I’ve got a paper to write.”

Ewan pulled out the chair next to her. He could hardly breathe looking into those deep blue eyes. Keep your mind on business, he told himself sternly, but it was hard to ignore how fast his heart was beating. “Do you mind?” he asked as he sat. He put the cup down and deliberately tipped it over. Hot coffee sloshed all over the pages.

He leapt up and grabbed the book. “Oh no! I’m so sorry! Let me clean it up.” Ewan ran to the men’s room at the far end of the cafeteria. He ripped paper towels out of the holder and blotted the coffee from each page. The pages mostly dry he flipped the back cover open and pulled up the cover paper. There was a small square of microfilm. He pulled it out, tucked it into his pocket and smoothed the back paper down over the cover. Before he left the bathroom, he grabbed a few more paper towels. On the way to back to Brooke he made a show of blotting the pages. She had wiped up the mess on the table.

“Sorry,” he said. He wadded up the paper towels and gave the table a last wipe. “I hate defacing books. I don’t even write notes or highlight in mine.” He handed the book back to her.

She sighed. “The pages are still wet. I’ll have to dry it open tonight.”

“I’m so sorry,” he apologized again eyes on the table. He looked up at her out of the corner of his eyes. “I feel like such a klutz.”

His tone of voice finally got through to her. She stopped flipping the pages and smiled. “That’s alright. I guess it could happen to anyone.”

Ewan grinned. “Look, I’ve got to go, but I’d love to discuss the book. He scribbled his phone number down on a scrap of paper from his pocket. “Call me.”

She took the paper and nodded.

When Ewan got back to the apartment, Malcomb spun around in his chair. “Did you get it?”

“Yeah.” He pulled it from his pocket. “Who uses microfilm?” He handed it to Malcomb. “Can you read it?”

Malcomb held it up to the light. “Yeah, I can get the data.” He set to work. Now that they had the code, they finished the hack.

Ewan didn’t want to know what the buyer was going to do with a hack into the University’s research center. He only cared that they paid on time. The mob wasn’t going to wait.

Malcomb and Ewan were high-fiving each other when Ewan’s phone rang. “Hey,” he said after checking the screen. “I’m glad you called, Brooke.”

“Yeah, I’d love to meet tomorrow. Coffee at the Student Union sounds great. See you then.” He clicked off, grinning.

“You got a date?” Malcomb asked, wide eyed. “From the chick you poured coffee on?”

“I didn’t pour it on her,” Ewan protested. “But yeah, she seemed to like me.”

Malcomb shook his head. “Unbelievable.”

954 words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Chuck Wendig Challenge: 1st 1/5th of a Story

Found a challenge on the Chuck Wendig site: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/11/22/flash-fiction-challenge-200-words-at-a-time-part-one/

I’m to write the 1st 200 words of a story, anything I want. Each week for the next 4 weeks, we’ll pick someone else’s piece and write the next 200 words. Sounded like fun. Here’s my 1st 200 words.

First 200 words of 1000 Word Story (200 words exactly)

Ewan Gilroy backed out of the library stack in a hurry. He peeked around the corner. Oh no.

He crept along the next row to watch the co-ed over the books. Ewan sweated as she checked the paper in her hand. She’s looking for something specific. Can’t be my book, no one’s checked it out in three years. She ran her finger along the titles. He froze as she pulled a book from the shelf. That book has the stolen code. I can’t finish this hack without it!

At the check-out Ewan walked up behind her with a random book.

“Nice to see you again, Brooke,” the librarian smiled. “Science of Computer MetaPhysics and Interdimensional Theory,” she stamped the lending card and her record book and handed the book to Brooke. “Research?”

“From Professor Ingles’ additional reading list for my final paper.” She tucked the book under her arm. “It looks like heavy reading.”

“You’ll do fine. Have a good day.”

“Thanks, you too.” Brooke left.

“May I help you?” the librarian asked.

“Uh, no, changed my mind, thanks.” Ewan dropped his book on the counter and hurried after Brooke. He’d follow her and with luck, get the book back.

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Writing Workshop Mapping Exercise

I’ve been taking this writing class called Mugging the Muse by Holly Lisle. (http://HowToThinkSideways.com) One lesson has us think of a new story idea by drawing a map.

Here’s mine.

Image

After you have some things like cities, mountains, lakes, oceans on the map, you start naming things, coming up with ideas about who lives there, what are they all about, and so on.

I’ve developed a whole Fantasy story from this map with people and 2000 year timelines and wars and social strata. Pretty exciting. I don’t know when I’ll write it but if you ever wanted to know the thought process behind writing a story. Here’s just one.

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Flash Fiction Friday: A Chapter from Recall

I wrote a new flash fiction for today’s post but made other plans for it. For those of you following this blog, you may need an explanation. I post these stories every Friday for your enjoyment. They are mostly writing exercises for me. I like to fool around with Point of View, or a new genre, for example Westerns or Ghost Stories, in addition to my favorite SciFi.

The problem is, if I post them here, they’re considered published. What’s that mean? It means that if I like a story and want to submit it to a print or e-magazine, it’s already been published. First publishing rights, is the official term. That means, they don’t want the story, won’t pay me anything for it.

Normally, not a problem. But the story I wrote for today is one I feel pretty good about. I want to get paid for writing it. So, no story. I’m having a number of other people critique it so I can polish it up and submit it to a magazine or e-zine.

But I hate leaving you all, who have been so kind as to follow my blog, story-less. Therefore, I’ve found a Chapter of my recently released book, Recall, that’s under 1000 words, to share with you.

If you’re intrigued with the chapter I’m posting, you can find the whole book both print and e-book, on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Recall-Connie-Cockrell/dp/1484886224/ref=la_B009O6199C_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1371780926&sr=1-2) or on Smashwords.com (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/320233). If you get the book and like it, a review would be nice.

Enjoy!

Chapter Sixteen 

Dr. Jim Abernathy was in his office going over monthly budget reports. Ha, Alan’s team is under budget again this month. I don’t know why the other teams can’t do that.  He initialed the bottom of the last page and dropped it in his out box. He looked up at a knock on his door.

His secretary Mrs. Townes opened the door. “Mr. Parker to see you sir.”

“Show him in.”

He put down his pen as Dwayne Parker came through the door. Dwayne was an ex-special forces officer. He wasn’t a huge man but if you looked, you could see he moved with cat-like grace and an economy of motion. As Bioline’s Director of Security, he was all business.

“Is there a problem, Dwayne?”

“A small one Dr. Abernathy. The computer security team has noticed a significant number of searches on the company and its records. We get those occasionally as people search the company on the web for employment info, drug information and so on. This particular batch of searches is by a local reporter.”

Abernathy sat back in his chair. “So? Maybe he’s doing research for a story about us.”

Dwayne nodded. “Could be. But he’s got a reputation for taking down companies and politicians who are dirty. Could be he’s writing an expose. He’s searching for dirt, the computer guys can tell by the keywords he’s searching on.”

Dwayne stood in front of Abernathy’s desk at parade rest while Abernathy thought.

“What’s he found so far?”

Dwayne pulled the folder he carried around in front of him and opened it. “He’s searched you, Dr. Briggs, the company financials, and previous problems the company has had with the FDA so far.” He closed the folder and went back to a parade rest position this time with his hands clasped in front of him.

Abernathy picked up his pen and turned it end over end on his desk. “Any other searches?”

Dwayne didn’t have to look again, “Information on Dr. Sparks.”

“Hmm, Dr. Sparks again.” He put his pen down. “Have the computer boys set up a false file on LeanderAll. I’ll send them the data to put in it.”

“Yes sir.”

“Oh, and set up a false file on Dr. Sparks. I’ll have some data for that one too.”

“Yes sir.” Dwayne nearly came to attention, turned and left the office.

Abernathy hit the intercom button for Mrs. Townes.

“Yes, Dr. Abernathy?”

“Get me the electronic files on Dr. Sparks and the files we submitted to the FDA on LeanderAll.”

“Yes sir. Is this urgent?

“Yes, as soon as possible.”

#

Angela was in her apartment on her computer. Since her job had cut her hours to just three days a week, she had plenty of time to work on her new project. She had the jewelry her mother recovered from Elaine’s apartment sitting next to the monitor. It glittered in the sunlight coming through the window. She couldn’t resist reaching out and letting the pieces run through her fingers, sending sharp flashes of light all over the living room.

She put them down and turned back to her computer screen. She dropped the dating sites and was now signing Elaine up on Escort sites. “She thinks she’s so smart, calling all of those magazines and dating sites and getting her name removed. This is better. She’ll be getting phone calls all day and night.”

“There,” she finished putting in Elaine’s statistics, “now I just need a picture.” She pulled up Photoshop and started modifying an old picture of Elaine she’d pulled out of her scrapbook. She and Elaine were at the beach, one of the few times they got together while they were still in college. Elaine was in a two piece suit, and Angela had caught her looking out over the water. Angela had called her name and snapped the picture just as she turned to face her. The sunlight had been good to her in that picture, she looked beautiful.

She loaded the picture into an electronic file and pulled it into Photoshop. She enhanced Elaine’s breasts, cleaned up the picture and uploaded it onto the Escort site. “There, let her get out of that one.”  She laughed as she hit the save button; then went to the next Escort site.

Words: 718

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Game of 7’s, Author Style

I was going to do something else for today’s post but this came by me this morning in one of my facebook writer groups and I thought it a great idea. The below snippet is from a novel I’m in the middle of revising and I haven’t revised that section yet so you’re getting the raw, unedited, first draft of my novel with the working title of Recall.

Who doesn’t love a Game of Sevens, author-style? Thanks for the tag, Jamie Raintree!

Go to either page 7 or 77 of your manuscript. Count down 7 lines, then copy the next 7 lines to your status. After that, invite 7 more authors to come out and play.

…face. He easily grabbed her other hand and tied it down.
He stood back, his eyes roaming over every inch of her body. She thought she would retch. Tears were running down the sides of her head, soaking the sheet under her head.
Reaching out to stroke her flat belly he said, “My, my, who knew under all those frumpy clothes you were such a firm little peach. Delicious.”

Chapter 17
The door opened and Abernathy stood there in his dockers and polo shirt, feet bare.
“Alan? Hi! It’s late, something wrong? Come in.” His friend looked surprised, then concerned.

From Working Title: Recall

If you’re an author, play along!

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