The Party: Chapter 5 Duncan Angelson – Friday Flash Fiction Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 5: Duncan Angelson

After Andy McGuire left, Duncan got to work. He knew exactly why Mr. Joe Evans, The People’s Party leader, wanted to talk. There was much to do. Too soon, his secretary, Wendy Ackerman, buzzed. “Mr. Evans to see you, Sir.”

He punched the intercom button. “Send him in.”

As the door opened, Duncan stood and walked around the desk. “Joe. Good to see you.” He held out his hand.

Joe Evans strode in and shook hands with the Chief of Staff. “Good to see you, too, Duncan. It’s been too long. Emily says you and Monica need to come out to the farm for dinner.”

“Let us know the day and time, Joe. We’d love to come out.” He motioned to a loveseat in the middle of the room. “Have a seat. What can I do for you?”

Joe Evans sat down, his bulk nearly filling the loveseat.

“Drink?”

“Scotch. No ice.”

Duncan nodded and poured his best into a heavy, squat, cut-crystal glass. He poured one for himself then handed over the glass before sitting in the armchair across from a small, glass-topped coffee table.

Evans sipped, smacking his lips. “You know how to take care of a visitor, Duncan.”

Duncan smiled and put his lips to his drink, then placed it on the table. “I know you didn’t come all the way into Washington for a Scotch.”

“No.” Joe Evans sighed, drank again, and held the near empty glass in his lap. “You reading the Immaculata reports?”

“The summaries, of course. A full report when there’s something of interest, why?”

“Well, it’s a good thing, bad thing sort of issue. The Immaculata were very efficient. We had them started rounding up dissidents and activists before the President’s second term was only half over. And you know, by the time it ended, we’d put all of our people in place and had the electorate whipped into a frenzy about illegal aliens. Then we rolled back all the civil rights legislation since 1959. The next three years, we had anyone not a citizen and anyone with any Negro or Chink blood rounded up, or nearly so. This last year, anyone turned in by people they knew who had even the smallest amount of black, chink, or Hispanic blood was fair game.”

He laughed. “Damn but that marketing campaign was effective. Suspicion, greed, jealousy—all of it ramped up until we were working 24/7 on rounding people up.” He drank the last of his scotch and motioned, asking for another.

Duncan nodded and got up, taking the glass to his little dry bar. “So, what’s the problem?”

“It worked too well. The Immaculata are rounding up people now with so little taint in their blood that we’re damn close to making it up.” He took the glass from Duncan and drank some more. “We’re not sure what to do now.”

Duncan sat back in the armchair. “Are the people being turned in actually bad people? They complain about the president or the party?”

“No.” Joe Evans waved away the thought. “Matter of fact, a lot of them are party members and donated to the President’s reelection. Voted him President for Life, too.”

Duncan rubbed his cheek. He could feel the stubble already forming. “How about letting some of them go, then. You know, they were examined and found clean, politically correct. It might be time to show how fair the party is.”

For a moment, Evans rubbed his chin, nodding, as he thought that idea over. “Perhaps. I’ll take it to the committee.” He sipped, then changed the subject. “How’s the President?”

Duncan shook his head. “It’s like minding a child. But we knew that six years ago. How’s his wife?”

Evans sighed. “She’s happy to be in New York. Their girl is in that special school she needs. But Mrs. Margaret Masters wants to divorce. We can’t allow that.”

“Any particular reason? I mean other than she knows he’s a horndog?”

“She wants to be free to see other men. Understandable. She’s only thirty-two. But we can’t allow that.”

“What about if she sees men discretely? Would she go for that?” Duncan was thinking furiously. Maggie Masters knew the whole story. If she decided to spill the beans, that could cause a huge problem. Mainly for her. Duncan didn’t want that. He personally liked Maggie and her daughter, Bectie. It wouldn’t do for her to have an accident.

A slow head shake from Evans was the answer. Then he shrugged and drank another sip. “Maybe. I’ll take that to the committee too.” He sighed again. “We can play off anything that happens in the press, of course. Most of the media outlets know where their bread is buttered now. But there’s always a few reporters still willing to kick up a fuss.”

Duncan shrugged. “What about the President. I don’t think there’s enough hookers in the country to satisfy the lecher-in-chief.”

“Start bringing back the ones he started with. His dementia is far enough gone by now, and the girls all look the same anyway, he’ll never know.” Evans drained his glass and rose ponderously from the loveseat. He smoothed what little white hair he had into place. “The doc’s giving him a clean bill of health?”

“Yeah. As much as possible. Dementia has it’s health side effects, you know.”

Evans nodded. “Do what you have to. By the time he’s too sick for any appearances, we’ll have the entire country nailed down.” He turned to the door and took a step. “Oh.” He turned back. “The Eastern Federation wants a sit down on nuclear issues.”

“President Popov?”

“Right. When they rolled over Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Germany, they acquired a lot of material.”

“I’ll set something up.” Duncan walked Evans to the door, opened it and shook his hand. “Give me a few days.”

“Keep in touch.”

Duncan nodded and went back into his office as Evans waddled out of the secretary’s office. Nukes, he thought. Great.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 4 – Andy McGuire Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 4: Andy McGuire

Special Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of the Chief of Staff Andy McGuire entered the President Jeff Master’s private office. The Chief of Staff, Duncan Angelson was standing in the middle of the room. The president was on the sofa with a young, blond, woman in his lap. The young woman was wearing a sleeveless, low cut, tight fitting blouse in hot pink and the president had his hand up her tiny skirt, grinning like a small boy with his favorite toy. Andy thought the woman was barely legal but who knew. He moved his eyes to his boss, Duncan.

Duncan read from a folder. “Mr. President. After four years, the internment of undesirables is down. They’ve mostly been sent to internment camps and put to work for the good of the motherland. Dissidents, on the other hand—those numbers are up. But they’re getting harder to catch.”

Out of the corner of his eye Andy could see the president nuzzling the woman’s neck. He focused. “Chief, a message from the Secretary of Homeland Security.” He handed McGuire the sheet of paper and waited while the man read it.

“This is some news, Mr. President. The Immaculata have seized a small group of dissidents right here in Washington. They’re being interrogated as we speak. They expect they’ll get a number of leads on other groups.”

“Good,” the President said into the woman’s neck. “Good.” He moved his hand down her bare leg to her knee and moved it further aside. His hand went back up her skirt. “Keep me apprised. Dismissed.”

The Chief of Staff nodded. “Very good, sir. A reminder that the women’s volleyball team will be here in an hour and a half for a photo op.”

The President raised his head and grinned. “Excellent. Lovely young ladies, those.” He went back to his nuzzling, pushing the woman further back.

The Chief caught Andy’s eye and we left the room. Andy swallowed his bile and wished to go wash his hands, but he followed the Chief to his office. He closed the doors behind them.

“Make sure the President is cleaned up and in the Oval and the woman paid off and escorted out as soon as he’s done. Get the news crew into the office and set up before he gets in there.”

Andy nodded. The whole situation was disgusting but that was the world they were living in now. “The People’s Party leader, Mr. Evans, wants a meeting today.” Evans was the brains behind the president, who Andy was starting to believe was more than a little senile. But as long as he was kept in blonde young women and had time to watch eight hours of news and political commentary a day with his phone in hand to send out tweets, he was controllable. Evans, however, was merciless. Paid off by the top one percent of the one percent, the ultra-rich were now in charge of the country. Mega-corporations pretty much owned everything. The air, water and land was becoming more polluted already as environmental laws were repealed.

“What’s he want?”

“I suspect the little revolt in Congress the other day concerns him. He’s going to want those Senators taken care of.”

McGuire nodded, sighing. “Yeah. I figured as much. Can any of them be bought off?”

“Anyone who would take a payoff has pretty much been in our pocket for two years now. These are the radical hold-outs.” Andy wasn’t sure how the People’s Party had missed taking over those districts but that wouldn’t last much longer. The mid-term elections would see those Senators replaced. If they lived that long.

“See if they’ll be bought off. If not, arrange something.” He turned on his computer. He had work to do.

Andy nodded and left, stomach rolling. He was hoping they’d take a bribe. If not, the party had some people I could call. It would all look like accidents of course. They always did. And, for the sake of the visuals, they wouldn’t happen all at once. But it would happen. Oh yes. It would happen.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 3 Devon Brown, Flash Fiction Friday Post

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 3: Devon Brown

Devon trembled in the backseat of a monstrous black SUV beside his sister, Caitlin. The truck was so big, the officers had had to lift them both up to the back seat.  Both of them had their hands handcuffed behind their backs. Caitlin was crying, calling out, “Mommy, Mommy,” snot running down her face. That bothered him. His mother wouldn’t like it but what could he do?

He didn’t understand. Did Daddy do something wrong? Why’d they take him away? Why did the soldiers take him and Caitlin away? He slid a little closer to his sister so that they were side by side. What was going to happen? Where were they going? He was too short to see out of the windows. When he tried to crane up, all he could see were rooftops. He stopped when the soldier riding up front told him to sit back.

They drove for a long time. He was glad when Caitlin fell asleep, her little blond head against his shoulder. He was too upset to go to sleep. His hands were full of prickles, but he didn’t want to shift around, it would wake his sister. Every few minutes the soldier checked his mirror, watching Devon. It scared him, so he sat very still.

It seemed like a long time but finally the car pulled up to a gate. The driver’s window went down and a soldier stuck his head in to look in the backseat. “Go on,” he said, and the car went in. They came to a big building and the car stopped at the front door. The two soldiers got out and Caitlin woke up as the doors slammed shut.

“Devon?”

“We’re here,” he told her as the passenger doors opened at the same time. The driver pulled him out of the car as the other soldier pulled Caitlin out. Devon’s legs had fallen asleep along with his hands and he collapsed to the sidewalk, skinning his knees.

“Stand up, kid.” He pulled Devon up by the back of his t-shirt.

“My legs are asleep.”

“Great.” The soldier kept hold of Devon’s shirt and joined Caitlin and her guard at the door. They went in and nodded to the soldier at the desk near the door. He nodded back and they went across a lobby and down a hall. There were a lot of halls, Devon thought, and soon, he had no idea where they were of what was going on. They were taken to a place where people in white uniforms, like doctors, took them after the handcuffs were taken off.

The soldiers left and the aides made them undress. Devon had trouble. His hands didn’t want to work. One aide had to undress him. Devon didn’t like that but there was nothing he could do. They were sent into a shower together. Devon helped Caitlin wash her face and when they came out, they were given gray cotton pants and shirts with numbers on them to wear—and picked up and put in barber chairs. Devon didn’t think he needed a haircut, he’d just been a few days ago with his dad. The barber took clippers and ran them over his head. Horrified, he watched as they did the same to Caitlin. She began to cry and fight them. One of the aides grabbed her hands and told her to shut up. It was over in just a moment, her blonde hair scattered all over the floor.

They were escorted to another place and a doctor looked at them. Then another place where there were other kids, standing in lines. Girls in one and boys in another. Caitlin didn’t like that and started crying again, calling for Devon. An aide came down the line and slapped her and told her to shut up.

“No!” Devon yelled and began to go to her. An aide grabbed him by the arm, slapped him, and shoved him back into line so hard he fell. “Get up, kid.” And the aide walked away. Devon, shaking, stood up. He’d never been hit by an adult. Never. He didn’t know what to think. Caitlin cried quietly, watching him, as the line kept moving. She reached the desk first.

“Six years old,” the man said. He waved his hand and an aide led her away. She didn’t want to go and fought the aide, but it did no good. He dragged her, screaming, “Devon,” until they left the room. Then it was his turn.

“Eight years old,” the man said as he checked a tablet. He waved and an aide took Devon away in a different direction than Caitlin had went.

“What about my sister?” he asked.

“Shut up,” was the only answer.

They entered a room where there were other boys sitting at desks. Devon saw that the boys sat, hands folded on their desks, eyes straight ahead. Not one boy turned to see him come in.

The man in the room checked his tablet, then nodded at the aide, who left.

“Boy. Pay attention. I’m Mr. George. You are now called 9280970. Remember that. It’s the number on your shirt. Say it.” He stood, staring at Devon.

“9280970,” Devon said in a voice that cracked.

“Good. There is no talking unless you are asked a direct question. Is that understood?”

Devon nodded.

“Do what you are told and it will go easy on you. If you disobey, or don’t follow directions, you’ll be punished. Do you understand?”

Devon nodded again. He tried to swallow but his mouth was dry. This place was scary.

“Sit over there, Row four, chair six. That is your place.”

Devon nodded and walked over to the seat.

“Hands folded on the desk. Eyes to the front.”

Devon did as he was told. This is not good, he remembered his father always saying. He was right.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 2 Capt Flynn – Flash Fiction Friday Post

Just by happenstance, I recently picked up a copy of Trevayne, written by Robert Ludlum. In his introduction, he mentioned that he wrote the book after the Nixon Watergate scandal. In part he says of Watergate: “Here was the government, the highest of our elected and appointed officials entrusted with the guardianship of our system, not only lying to the people but collecting millions upon millions of dollars to perpetuate their lies and thus the controls they believed were theirs alone to exercise.” He goes on to point out that their meaning was to keep the country theirs. Not yours or mine, or even the neighbors across the street or across town. Only theirs. “The rest of us were somehow neither relevant nor competent. They knew better, therefore the lies had to continue and the coffers of ideological purity kept full so that the impure could be blitzkrieged by money and buried at the starting gates of political contests.”

It was like that during Watergate.In my humble opinion, it is even more so now.

Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist slurs and comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

Chapter 2: Captain Flynn

Captain Tyler Flynn closed the electronic notebook after Bill Brown was taken away. On either side of him, Lieutenant Daryll Moss and Lieutenant Lee Woden, stood up. They’d been at the interviews all afternoon.

“Why do they all say the same thing? I want to slap every one of them.” Moss shoved his chair under the table.

“I hear ya.” Woden did the same with his chair and they headed for the door. “You’d think one of them could say something original.”

“Captain Flynn?” Moss stopped a moment at the door. “More of this tomorrow?”

“Yep.” Flynn tucked the notebook into his briefcase. “The round-up are continuing.”

“Jesus Christ.” Woden opened the door. “Who knew so many non-whites were in the country. Like that last guy. Didn’t even know he was black?” Woden shook his head. “No wonder the country’d gone to hell in a hand basket.”

The officers left the room. Flynn headed for his office. “See you tomorrow, guys.”

“See ya,” the two offices said as they went the other direction.

Flynn knew the statistics, a good portion of the country had genetic markers for other races than Caucasian. That poor bastard Brown was turned in by a neighbor for unpatriotic activities. Flynn saw from the report it was bullshit, but the genetics didn’t lie. So he’d been rounded up. Flynn sighed to himself. Cameras were everywhere so there was no show of questions or remorse allowed about carrying out commands from headquarters.

At his office he locked the notebook in the safe, it had records of thousands of people in it, and checked for end of day messages. Nothing important, he was relieved to see, so he headed home.

The next morning, he was in a meeting with the Commander, 43rd Mobilization and Relocation Squadron and other squadron department heads. It was near the end of the meeting and Flynn was feeling thankful nothing strange was relayed today. Since President Master’s had declared marshal law and declared himself President for Life, things had been crazy. Hopefully it would settle down now.

Commander Green cleared his throat. Flynn looked up. That always signaled bad news. “Gentlemen.” The commander took a breath. “Any remaining female officers and enlisted in your departments are hearby issued orders to report to Personnel for honorable discharge.”

All around the table, each department head’s notebook began chiming. “Those are the orders. Share that information with your female subordinates and send them on their way. They’ll have a week to clear base quarters if they reside there. Personnel will take care of everything.”

Flynn was relieved. The Immaculata had been male only from the start, the seventh year of President Master’s legal presidency. He’d hate to face good subordinates with that news. The other people didn’t look happy but said nothing. There was nothing to say.

He wasn’t so relived at the next announcement.

“Lastly, the transport company we’ve been using for prisoner transport has lost their contract. Now we’ll be using Weyland Industries beginning Monday. They’ll also be responsible for prisoner feeding. You’ll find new forms available to you starting Friday. Call Contracting if you have any issues. That will be all. All hail President Marshall.”

“All hail,” each man at the table responded in unison. Then they all rose and left the room.

Outside the command admin, Captain Dean Joyce caught up with Flynn. He checked the hall around them and in a soft voice asked, “Isn’t Weland Industries owned by the President’s sister?”

Flynn gave a short nod. “Yep.”

“Isn’t that nepotism? At the least, conflict of interest?”

Flynn gave Joyce a look, eyebrow raised.

Joyce took the hint. “None of my business, I guess. I just hope they feed these poor bastards better than the last company. I wouldn’t feed that swill to my dad’s pigs.”

A short shake of the head was Flynn’s response. “Seventeen hundred calories is the regulation. Doesn’t say anything about the gourmet level.”

“I guess.” Joyce dropped back and turned right into his corridor.

Flynn agreed with the guy, but he wasn’t going to say so. Too many cameras and out in public spaces especially, microphones too. He was sure his office was bugged. He was also sure his car was too. No matter. He’d joined the Army fifteen years ago. He’d pledged to support and defend the country every four years since then. He’d been chosen to join the Immaculata. An elite force, he’d been told. Part of Homeland Security, helping to combat attacks against the United States.

And so it seemed, the first couple of years. They’d rounded up several groups identified by the FBI and the CIA as fomenting dissent and radicalizing youth, especially in urban areas. He thought he’d been doing some good. Now, this wasn’t what he’d signed up for but there didn’t seem to be any way out. His own wife was Army. While he didn’t have any female members, his wife worked in Communications, the squadron commander, for Pete’s sake. Dinner was going to be unpleasant.

At his office he reviewed the interviews for the day. He was a third of the way through the list when a name popped out at him. Zuri Flynn. His breath caught in his throat. It was his sister-in-law. His heart sank. Her family was Jewish. His brother was going to be crushed. He loved Zuri.

Flynn closed his eyes. Thank God there were no children. That would be too much. Why did they put her in his interview room? A message, he was sure. If it could happen to his family, it could happen to anyone. He leaned over and grabbed his trashcan and vomited. Better to get it out of his system now. He wouldn’t be able to offer any emotion in the room. Zuri would be devastated.

Thank you for reading.

The Party: Chapter 1 Bill Brown

From Deviant Art https://www.deviantart.com/mrwicked/art/SWAT-5990228, SWAT_by_mrwicked_d3ke38

I’m exploring possibilities based on things I am seeing on the news and comments made by some people in the government. Yes, this is political. I offer you trigger warnings for language and sexual and racist comments. Future episodes may also contain rape, abuse, and other unpleasant things.

If you think this is all too much, you’re not paying attention.

Bill Brown

“Best thing to happen.” I had waved my beer to emphasize my point. I knew some of these people didn’t agree, but what the hell. “I know you all think it was wrong for President Master’s to rig the system then declare martial law. But he’s in his fifth year now and the crime rate in the whole country has dropped to nearly zero.”

“But Bill, really, it’s not a democracy anymore.” Dave Apple said. “What have we lost?”

“Not a damn thing,” Bruce Leightner said. He sipped from his beer can. “Everybody has a job. Like Bill said, crime is down, and the criminal class has been rounded up and taken care of.”

The circle of men mostly nodded. Dave was one who shrugged. “Still. Didn’t seem right to me that within a month, all the black people were rounded up and put into the camps. I mean, my doctor was rounded up. I haven’t found as good an orthopedic surgeon since he was taken.”

Bruce laughed. “All the chinks, too. I was so sick of one of the gals at work.” He spat on the ground. “Could do nothing wrong. The boss loved her.” He snorted. “Now the rest of us have a chance to get ahead. What a cunt. I’m glad she’s gone.”

Dave shook his head and wandered off. Bruce laughed again and pointed his chin at the guy and in a low voice said, “Glad he’s gone.”

The rest laughed with him.

Bill Brown looked around his yard. He’d invited everyone over for a watch party. President Masters was going to be on in half an hour and talk about what was next for the country. Bill thought the man had everything lined up just right. He wasn’t a big fan of Bruce, but he had a point. With all the blacks and Asians and Hispanics rounded up, there was a lot more opportunity.

He left the group to make sure his big screen didn’t have any glare on it and that the wifi was working. The tv was already tuned to the right channel, though that didn’t make a difference anymore. Whenever the President spoke, it was televised, live, on every channel.

They were in front of the tv at the end of the speech. They’d all cheered at the president’s promise of a new moon base within the next four years. Jobs for everybody, they all said. Bill looked at his wife, Mara. Aerospace and rocketry had been her career, before the president’s take over. Now, she was a stay at home wife. Unless declared a national security asset, women lost their jobs to men. It wasn’t really fair, he thought. She was excellent at her job. But you had to go with the flow, right?

That’s when the garden gate banged open and SWAT team members came rushing in. Women and children screamed with fright as more men came pouring from the house doors as well. Men, women and children were separated into groups. The commander, the word Immaculata, stenciled on his dark green uniform, stepped forward with a pad.

“The following people are hereby collected for deportation: Dave Apple, Jenna Apple, Anna Apple, Griffin Apple.

Bill was stunned. What was happening? The Apple’s were good people! The list of names went on. Then, his heart nearly stopped. Bill Brown, Devon Brown, Caitlin Brown. Mara began screaming and tried to reach her children. The Macs held her in place while the ones guarding the children pulled Devon and Caitlin forward. He tried to hurry to his children, but the Macs pulled him over to where Dave Apple was standing, pale and shaking.

The commander stopped reading names. “You are all designated racially impure. You will be sent to the camps and put to work for the good of the country.

Bill looked at his friends. Bruce was smirking. That asshole, Bill thought. Standing there with my beer in his hands. But he didn’t have time to think about that anymore. He was shoved along the grass to the gate and into a big, windowless van.

The ride was long and when the door slammed open, he was hurried forward to a warehouse-looking place. It was humiliating. Stripped, showered, dressed in gray canvas with a number stenciled on the back, they were tattooed on the arm with the same number. “Memorize it,” the tattooist said. Then he was moved at a trot to stand in a large open room and wait.

One at a time they were brought to a room with three Immaculata at a table. He was shoved into a chair.

“Do you know why you’re here?” the middle one said, Captain bars were on his shoulders.

“No, I don’t.” Bill was cuffed.

“You’ll address him as Captain, scum.”

“Captain,” Bill said in a hurry. “I don’t know.”

“Records indicate you’re part black.” The Captain was reading from an electronic pad. “Part of your DNA test.”

Bill was confused. “What DNA test?”

“At your last checkup. A sample was sent for purity checking.”

“You can’t do that! It’s against…” He was smacked in the head again.

The Captain sighed. “It’s not against any law. Every person is being checked for purity. Been going on for over a year at any check-up.”

Bill didn’t know what to say. “How can I be…”

“Doesn’t matter,” the Captain said.

“My kids?”

“Black, of course, since you are.”

“We’ll be together, right? Caitlin is only six. She’ll be scared. Devon too.”

“There’s no place where you’re going for children. They’ll be sent to their own camps, educated, cared for.”

“My wife?”

“She isn’t black. She will be fined for marrying outside her race. I suspect your house and property will cover the fine.”

Bill didn’t know what to say. His brain wasn’t working. How could this be happening? “But, I’m a supporter of President Masters. I donated.”

“That’s noted. Your work assignment will reflect that.” He nodded to the guard. “Take him away.”

Thank you for reading.

The Crib: Flash Fiction Friday Post

The Crib

I watch the stock market feed on the square’s monitor. Three stories tall, the monitor can be seen for twenty blocks. No one can afford private monitors anymore. This is where we get the news. That and the black-market feeds. I wonder, as the rain drips from my broken umbrella down my upturned coat collar, if the feed is right. Or if the black-market is right. Or if it is all a bunch of crap and we’re all being fed a bunch of lies.

More likely it’s all lies.

That’s what ma told me long ago. I believe her. She passed a year ago but she told it true. Always. She had a knack. She could spot a lie a mile away. I wish I had her gift. It would come in handy, it would.

I rubbed my calf. It was hot, and a lump, I was sure. I shook it off. No one could pause for something like a lump. I couldn’t stand around. I had a route and a package. It had to go where it needed to go.

That was another of Ma’s sayings. By way of meaning, do what had to be done. I said I’d do it and by dang, it had to be done. I could feel her hand clouting my head when I’d said one and did another. She didn’t hold truck with that. So now, if I said, I did. Despite the lump.

I run. The monitor news runs through my head. Aliens, they say. Something about aliens. I think that’s a bunch of crap. I think it’s just the posh making it all someone else’s fault. Yep. Why else all the hype. I dodge a youngling beggin’ in the street. More and more of those, and oldsters. But what the hell. They’re no competition to me.

The lump in my leg aches. I ignore it. I can’t make my credits if I’m not moving.

I bound around a rickshaw, then a scooter. They carry people. Ugh. I can’t imagine. What a pain, the people constantly bitching about every damn thing. Better to be a messenger. I just carry small packages, envelopes. Fast! Quick! Snappy! That’s me! That’s until my leg gives way.

I roll. Quick, so no one sees. Like I just tripped on something. The leg aches. The damn lump! But I move on. No one pays a slow messenger. Three blocks to go. A barrier across the street. Criminy’s sake! Another parade? What is wrong with the leaders? Don’t they know what they’re doing? I shove through. I don’t give a crap about who ever I knock down. I need to get this envelope to the address.

Three blocks I shove, elbow, knee. They need to get out of my way. I deliver the message, breathing like my lungs will explode. The secretary gives me a pitiful two credit tip. I push her flowers over and water spills all over her desk and onto her suit. Serves her right. I’ve just run twenty blocks through a parade! She should have more manners.

My comms beep. I have another client, three blocks away. I hurry to the site. Just like every other day.

Six months later I’m in my crib. Bed-wide and two feet longer than the mattress, I lay in pain. I’ve braced my leg up on the top of my crib. My upper neighbor doesn’t’ like it. He’s complained to the owner about the stench, but the owner doesn’t give a flip. What’s it to him? As long as I pay the rent, I can rot in here.

That’s what I’m doing. Rotting. I can’t run. I can’t even walk. On my better days I roll out of this damn cage and pull myself out to the sidewalk. Not an easy feat as I’m three cages high, but I do it. My saved tips won’t last forever.

I make the bandage look extra gross with beet juice but lately that’s not really required. It’s bad enough all on its own. I can just see the neighborhood monitor from the stoop. It’s election season. The monitor is full of the jack-asses claims to help. Damn! What a bunch of crap. Who are they helping? Not people like me. Not people with long-term illness. Not people who can’t pay for medicine. Not people who need a living wage. Damn. I’ve never voted. Never had the chance.

But really. Why would I? Those people aren’t about me. They’re about the rich. The ultra-rich. The people who can buy health. The people who don’t worry about lumps in their legs. The people who I used to run messages for.

I’ll be dead in another six months. The owner will sell off my pitiful belongings and another poor sap will take my crib. And no one cares. Not even me.

Kindred Spirits Release Day: Monday Blog Post

Draft front cover: Kindred Spirits

Draft front cover: Kindred Spirits

Hoo! I’m releasing the third book in my Brown Rain series, Kindred Spirits, today. I mentioned last week that I’m doing something different this time. Usually I put the book up for sale, mention it once or twice and call it a day. This time I’m really get some excitement going. I’m actually promoting the release. I’ve made up little meme cards and posted every day. I’ve started a giveaway. More about that below. I’ve created a video of all of the meme cards and quotes I’ve made and put it on YouTube. Here’s the link. Please share it with all of your friends, family and significant others. Note that the cards have links on them. Not clickable, unfortunately an  issue with jpeg files, but I encourage you to check out the links. Every link discusses something in the book. I hope you find the information both informative and fun. The book is up on Amazon, paperback and Kindle, and Smashwords and GumRoad for the other ebook formats. Soon it will be out on the other ebook sites and up on chatebooks as well.

So what’s this about a giveaway? I’ve started a giveaway on Amazon that ends March 20th. I have 10 First Encounter ebooks to give away. You could win one! You’ll have to follow my Twitter account but that’s all it takes! Click on this link to enter. https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/402a5ef0fe1e0234

Last week was Author Interview week and Terra Luft (terraluft.com) was my guest. What do you think about the author interviews? Have you found a new-to-you author that you’re checking out?

A friend of mine just gave me some tomato transplants. She always starts way more than she needs. She gave me six plum tomatoes and six unspecified cherry tomato seedlings. About for more of each than I need. I’ll give those away. I will, however, still grow or obtain Sungold cherry tomato plants and some Early Girls. Both of those varieties grow really well for me here in central Arizona. And we LOVE the sungolds. There’s no way I’m going to have tomatoes and not sungolds.

Have you entered the Luck O’ The Authors giveaway? This is going to end at midnight St. Patrick’s Day, just 3 days away. That means a lot fewer contestants over some of the longer giveaways. Go to www.conniesrandomthoughts.com/giveaways to enter the Rafflecopter. Even if you’ve signed up for all of the authors, there are daily ways to win. Check it out!

Another fun thing I found a few weeks ago is called Cover Wars over on http://authorshout.com. I submitted my book cover for Mystery at the Fair even though I knew I was going to revise it. Anyway, here’s the fun part. You can go to the site, vote for my cover or someone else’s every day through Saturday. You get to see some new to you authors and I get a little free publicity for my book. It’s a big win all the way around. Stop by http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/ to vote and/or share this page so that all your friends can vote. You don’t even have to sign up for anything. Just scroll down the page past the covers and vote for me or someone else daily through Saturday.

Speaking of covers and Mystery at the Fair. I’ve been thinking about redoing the cover before Mystery in the Woods comes out. A friend of mine had some time and designed me the best cover ever, and one for Mystery in the Woods! It is so awesome! Can you tell I’m excited about it?  Here it is. What do you think?

Mystery at the Fair New Cover2

I’m continuing to work on Mystery in the Woods. There are only a few more scenes before I finish the first draft. To be honest, I still don’t know who did it. I’m also now writing non-fiction hiking stories for my local paper. Hubby does most of the photography. A friend of mine told me he ran into some hikers on a trail I wrote about a few weeks ago and they were there because of the story in the paper. How cool is that! April is Camp NaNo and I’m plotting out my next mystery book, Mystery at the Book Festival. It takes place the summer following Mystery in the Woods and poor Jean Hays is starting to look like the murder whisperer. In the mean time my novel Zoe Ohale is up for rewrites and edits, then after that, my still not really titled book, All about Bob. I’d like to get both of those out this year!

Where will I be? Here’s the scoop.

April 11th at 3pm Arizona time I’ll be on the January Jones Sharing Success Stories web talk radio show. Have you heard me there? Don’t miss out.

April 16th I’ll be at the Tempe Public Library book festival where I’m on a panel talking about Science Fiction and World Building. I’m looking forward to meeting you there.

June 2nd and 3rd I’m at the Scottsdale MysteryCon, Death and Deception in the Desert. I’m giving a presentation there as well on writing a mystery.  Tickets for both days are only $35. I do hope you can make it to that one.  Here’s a flyer telling all about it.

Mystery Con Flyer

July 23rd is the Payson Book Festival. I’ll be at my table all day, ready to talk to YOU! I hope you can make it as we will have over 70 authors attending as well as music, food, author presentations and workshops. It will be stupendous!

Want more details about these events? Click here for more information.

Click here to sign up for my newsletter. If you are a Brown Rain series fan, I’ve created a list just for you! If you join my regular newsletter, that’s all right too as I’ve put sign-up prizes on both. That’s right. If you sign up for my newsletter you get a free story from me. My next newsletter is being drafted so sign up today. The YouTube video I just made about Kindred Spirits will be in the newsletter. Just a note. I’m going to be sending out newsletters more frequently. Be prepared for fun and contests!

Kindred Spirits released today! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Gumroads  or Chatebooks today! You can also see all of my books on www.ConniesRandomThoughts.com. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s a big help to me in the book rankings each vendor uses to promote the books on their sites. Thanks in advance.

Flash Fiction Friday Post: Extra Baggage

Farmer's Market by Alaniz25 via DeviantArt.com

Farmer’s Market by Alaniz25 via DeviantArt.com

Zoe Ohale squatted in the shade, her back against the brick wall of the pawn shop. In front of her was the market in the parking lot on Antares Road between the pawn shop and discount clothing store. She could feel the sweat running down her temple but it was too much bother to wipe it away.

She was here because there was food here, especially if she was quick. It had been four years since her mother had died and had to learn to live on the streets. Now sixteen, Zoe knew all too well what it was like to be hungry. Today she hoped a distracted stall-keeper would be her opportunity to pick up a loaf of bread or a piece of fruit. Both, if she had any luck at all.

Standing up, Zoe wandered along the stall fronts, casually looking over the goods in each stall. Her goal was the baker, halfway down the row. There was always a big crowd at his counter and the odds of him being distracted were high. She edged up to the counter behind a large bodied woman with a baby on her hip. With the baker at the other end of the counter and using the woman and baby as a shield, Zoe slipped her hand between the plastic tent wall and the counter to a table with a wicker basket of rolls. She’d slipped two out and into her pockets before the baker came to help the woman with the baby. It was easy to fade back and move on before the baker got to her.

Across from the baker, a woman had her produce stacked in bins. Zoe was reaching for a tomato when a girl, not much younger than her, came screaming past the stand, four teen boys in pursuit. She crashed into Zoe, nearly knocking her off her feet. The boys grabbed the girl and began shoving her between them.

Zoe yelled as she rubbed her arm where the girl had hit her. “Stop that.”

“Mind your own business,” the biggest boy said as he held the girl by the arm. “She ratted on us. Now she has to pay.”

The other shoppers melted away. “Not four on one.” Zoe stepped toward the group. “She’s half your size.”

“I didn’t rat on them.” The girl’s face was dirt streaked. Her brown hair was a tangled mess and her clothing hardly more than rags. “The owner caught them breaking into his store and they saw me hiding in the alley. So they blame me.” She tried to jerk her arm out of the biggest boy’s hand. “Not my fault they were noisy.”

Zoe stared at the biggest boy, apparently the leader. “That true?”

“She must have ratted. Why else was the owner there after hours?” The other boys were nodding. A couple reached out and smacked the girl in the back and the arms.

“Quit that,” Zoe took another step forward. “Ever hear of vid?” She asked the leader and pointed at the roof of the discount store across the parking lot. “Look up at the corner.”

All four boys turned to look. “Most places have vid installed. That’s how the owner knew. He must live near the store.”

The leader scowled and shook the girl again. His cohorts stared at him. “Maybe. But she ran. Why’d she run if she didn’t snitch?”

“Because four of you were chasing her.” Zoe rolled her eyes. “Turn her loose.”

The leader glared at Zoe then at the girl. He shoved her away from him. “Don’t hang in our turf again or you’ll get what’s comin’ to ya.” He motioned to the other boys and they hurried off.

“Oh, thank you.” The girl grabbed Zoe’s hand and shook it. “You saved my life. I’m Lindy.”

“I’m Zoe.” She shook Lindy’s hand. “No problem. Take care.” Zoe turned to leave. She wanted to try and snag some more food.

Lindy looked around. “Uh, you don’t mind if I hang with you for a minute, do you? In case those guys are waiting around the corner?”

Zoe shrugged. “Just stay out of my way.”

The crowd in front of the vegetables had returned. Zoe edged between an elderly woman with a string bag and big guy that looked like a workman on his lunch break. She snagged an apple and a tomato and slipped out of the crowd. Lindy caught up to her as Zoe walked along the stall fronts.

“That was pretty slick. I’m always too scared to try that.”

Zoe eyed the girl. It was obvious that Lindy wasn’t doing well. “How come you’re on the street?”

“Parents overdosed a year ago. I wasn’t eligible for foster care or the orphanage,” she said in a low voice. “They kicked me out of our apartment with whatever I could shove into my backpack.” Her voice quavered.

“Same here.” Zoe was still angry about it. “You have a gang?”

“No,” Lindy shook her head. “I’m afraid to ask.”

“That’s how to survive. Get in with a group.”

“Are you in a group?”

“Yeah. It’s not much but we look out for each other.”

Lindy sighed.

Zoe knew what was going through the girl’s head. Could she join the group? Lindy didn’t bring much to the table. She couldn’t shoplift, it looked as though she didn’t scavenge, and was skin and bone. She did run fast, though. That was something. “Look. You can come hang with my group. See if you fit in.”

A wide smile brightened Lindy’s face. “Thank you,” she grabbed Zoe’s hand and shook it until Zoe had to forcibly remove it.

“You’re welcome.” She already regretted making the offer. “It’s not up to me, but hang around the edges. Don’t be a problem. They’ll probably let you stay.”

Lindy danced up and down. “Great, thank you.”

Zoe introduced Lindy to the gang. She stayed a year, learned how to survive and left for another group where her boyfriend belonged.

 

 

The End

1000 Words

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

 

Flash Fiction Friday Story: After the Falling Stones

Camp, Fire, Randy Cockrell

Camp Fire by Randy Cockrell

Erig inched closer to the campfire.

“Get back.” Ma poked at him with the stick she used to stir the fire. “You don’t take mor’n yurs.”

He scrambled back but he was cold, so after a moment he inched back in. “Tell a story, Ma. Bout the old days.”

She eyed him, graying eyebrow raised.

Erig knew she saw what he was doing but forms were satisfied, so she let him stay.

“Yeah, Ma.” Erig’s sister, Kony, pushed her brushy hair out of her dirty face. “Tell us a story.”

Ma looked at her current mate, Harld.

“Go ahead.” He scratched the long scratch on his rib cage. Erig was with him when another man tried to steal the whitetail deer they’d just brought down. Harld had squared off against the man and after the scratch, hit the man with a rock and brought him down, then smashed his head to mush. Erig felt bad about the man’s family but he shouldn’t have tried to steal their food.

“Tell us about the falling rocks, Ma.” That was Erig’s favorite story.

The woman nodded. “Kay.” She poked the fire again and added another stick. “It was back in my mother’s, mother’s, mother’s day. The world was different then. People lived in big buildings and never went hungry.”

That was Erig’s favorite part. What kind of world had it been where people weren’t hungry all of the time?

“How big were the buildings?” Kony sat forward. The buildings were her favorite part. She hated being wet and cold.

“You’ve seen the ruins.” Ma spit in the fire. “Taller’n trees, they were. Taller’n ten trees, some of ’em. And people rode around in machines. And machines carried them up and down the tall buildings. People went to the moon and back, and to Mars.”

“Tell us about the clothes, Ma.” Erig was fascinated with the clothes part of the story.

“No one wore leathers. Everyone wore clothes that came from oil or chem – I –kals.”

“How’d they do that, Ma?”

She sniffed. “I think my Ma made that up. I don’t know no way to make clothes from oil. And who knows what them chem – I – kals were.” She waved her hand, shoo’ing away their questions. “Anyway. One day, in my great, great, Ma’s time, huge stones fell from the sky. They smashed the big buildings. They splashed into the lakes and oceans making the water boil. The rocks made big holes in the ground and animals and people were killed from the shock of it all. Dust rose in the air,” she raised her arms high above her head. “Water, too, that rose up from the oceans. The sky went black and the sun was hid for years.”

Erig nodded. “The cold time.”

“Yep, the cold time. The snow came and seemed like it would never leave. Anyone left alive,” she stopped, interrupted.

“Like the great, great!” Kony broke in, excited.

“Yep, like the great, great, anyone left alive didn’t know what to do or how to hunt. They’d never had to do it. But even if they did, the animals had been kilt, too.”

“How did she live?” Erig shuddered. He knew the answer.

“The way anyone lives.” She looked at her two living children, then her mate. “You eat what there is to eat and fight when you have to fight. Your great, great, was a hard woman, my ma told me. She ate the dead when she had to. She was twenty-three when the stones fell, never had wanted for a thing before that. She was lucky, she told my Ma and my great Ma. She had been outside of the city on a road trip. She said she cursed the day.”

“I’m named for her, ain’t I, Ma?” Kony sat up and tossed her hair back from her shoulders.

“You are. A girl needs to be tough. Mabey her name will bring you her toughness.”

“You’re lucky,” Harld spoke for the first time. “Most kids don’t know nothin’ bout the falling stones, or about their old family. Your Ma is tough too. Lookit her! Thirty-two winters she numbers and still strong.”

Erig studied his Ma. Her black hair was stringy and mostly white. Her arms were thin to the bone but stringy with muscle. Wrinkles covered her face and he knew that in the mornings, she stifled the groans that came when she rose from her pallet in the tent.

“What will we do now?” Erig was curious. “What about the rumors, people getting together and living together, planting food.”

Harld snorted. “What’s it been, seventy, eighty, winters since the stones fell? If gettin’ together in towns worked, I’d’a thought it would’a happened before now.” He picked up a flat stone and began to whet a piece of steel he’d found. He needed a new knife. “It’ll never work. It’s fine for family groups, like me and my uncles and brothers to band together to hunt and to overwinter, but strangers!” He spit into the fire.

His Ma poked the fire again and Kony wrapped her skinny arms around her knees. They all stared into the small fire. Erig wondered what it would be like to grow plants that didn’t run off or fight back. To have lots of food stored for the winter. To not kill other people for a deer.

Ma stood up. “I’m goin’ta bed.”

He watched as she staggered a bit while walking to the tent. This next winter was going to be hard on her. Erig sighed. He’d have to do more for his Ma. It was a tough life after the falling stones.

The End

941 Words

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

Flash Fiction Friday Story: Betrayal Moon

Moon, Super Moon, Randy Cockrell

Moon Set by Randy Cockrell

Zoe Ohale cursed the day, seventeen years ago, her mother gave birth. She pulled her ratty sweater up over her mouth and nose to hide the breath that steamed in the night air and threatened to give her away. It also helped to block the reek of the garbage bin she hid behind. Not hearing any pursuit, she chanced a peek into the alley.

It couldn’t be this easy, could it? She lost the hunting party in the maze of backstreets and alleys of Baia Mare? The space-faring tourists who came only saw the nice parts of town and the sea shore the city used as a major marketing point. She spit into the alley, clearing the distaste from her mouth. Tourists. That’s what was wrong, everything for the tourists, nothing for the inhabitants.

Still hearing and seeing no chase, she pulled her frayed knit cap down over her ears and crept out from behind the dumpster. Staying close to the alley walls, she worked her way right, keeping to the shadows and opening her mouth to hear better.

A siren wailed in the distance. Some other poor jerk wasn’t as lucky as she was. She kept to the back streets. Someone turned her in; that much she knew. Her stomach growled; a reminder that her hoped for dinner money was lost when the cops swooped in on her sale. It was only luck that the taser point missed her by a hair. Her buyer, Andy Many Fingers, wasn’t as lucky. Last she saw him, he was jerking spastically on the cobblestones, his purse open and credits spilled on the street.

Damn, she could have used that money. In the street outside the building where she roomed, she hid in the doorway of the house two up from hers. No way she was going straight in. The place might be watched. She hunkered down, butt to heels, and wrapped her arms around her knees. Again, she pulled the sweater up over her face. Zoe looked up and down the street. Who knew I was meeting Andy?

Maybe it was Dallas. She traded for the roll of copper wire she had been selling with a broken watch made of titanium. The watch was useless and she had no buyers for titanium. Dallas was a hustler. She had to watch the dude every minute to make sure he wasn’t cheating her but Dallas didn’t seem like the sort to sell a girl out. He was in it for the long haul and betraying his buyers and sellers was poor business.

She quieted her breathing when a young couple passed by the house. They were arm in arm, heads together. Must be nice. Out walking in the cold instead of holed up inside where it was warm. Maybe they were too poor to worry about mugging. She focused on them until they were out of sight.

She rocked a little, to keep her blood moving. Who else knew I was trading? Nick Silento, perhaps? He was a shifty little runt. Always staring, always hovering on the edges. That was the kind of guy her father called a hyena, back before he was arrested. Always ready to run in and snatch the crumbs other people dropped.  But he was a nervous sort. Zoe didn’t think that Nick had the nerve for dealing with cops.

Kortni French, now, there was a fem who had the venom to do another person dirty. Kortni had it in for any girl who she thought was after her guy. Zoe didn’t know why. Sharif Savant was a joke. Sure he was a looker but aside from the fact his parents were still numbered in the middle-class, he had nothing going for him. He was dumb as a box of rocks and the clumsiest person Zoe had ever seen. She didn’t know why the guy hung around with the gutter rats but it was a cinch Kortni was after his money. Maybe it was Kortni. Zoe had made a joke in the group three days ago and Shariff laughed and laughed. Kortni wasn’t amused. Would the fem really turn her in because her boy toy laughed at a sad joke? Zoe clucked her tongue against her teeth. She might. She just might.

A patrol rolled silently down the street. The little electric cars held two cops and a host of surveillance equipment. She shut her eyes and wished for the car to keep going. Maybe they would ignore her heat signature in the doorway and keep moving.

Zoe waited another hour. Nothing moved on the street but the rats and the cats. Moonlight eased over her building and lit the damp street. She stood with care, letting the blood flow back into her legs. Pins and needles prickled but she ignored it until it went away. Still no movement. There were no tell-tale plumes of breath in the cold night air. She eased down the steps and into the street. Her head swiveled, left then right, no alarms, no sirens, it seemed safe.

She was halfway up the steps of her building when the floodlights pinned her mid-step. A voice blasted out of a speaker “Stop where you are!”

There was nothing to do but stop. She put her hands in the air. An entire SWAT team surrounded her, tasers humming. Zoe was grateful they didn’t all tase her at once. Someone grabbed her left arm, pulled it down behind her and did the same with the right. She could feel the zip tie pull her wrists together. Two cops grabbed an arm each and half-dragged her to the wagon. As she passed the cop in charge, she could see Nick twitching next to him, his hand out and credits being dropped into it.

She spit in his direction. He jumped and spilled the credits all over the street. She looked up, the second moon intersected with the main one. A betrayal moon, her dad called it. He was right.

The End

1000 Words

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