Flash Fiction Contest Entry: The Disavowed Agent

My Prompts:

Genre: Sci-Fi

Setting: A Hiking Trail

Object: A car battery

We had 48 hours to complete a 1,000-word story. This is my entry:

The Disavowed Agent

“I think you were wrong about the target,” I pulled my binoculars away from my face and turned to my partner, “He hasn’t been spotted since the initial sighting.”

He stared at me, and I rolled my eyes in return.

“Of course I’m ready.”

I’d been training for this moment for years. He just couldn’t admit he might be wrong, even though we both desperately wanted him to be right.

But, the hiking trail was quiet and the looming trees were starting to block out the remaining light. I stood from my makeshift seat on the abandoned car battery and reached for my partner. I swung the stuffed tiger by his lengthy limbs, ready to attach him to his spot on my backpack and abandon the mission for the night.  

He insisted on staying longer though.

“Fine.” I plopped back onto the car battery, propped him next to me and unzipped my backpack. “I need a drink. Are there any juice boxes left?”

That night had started out like any other and I had high hopes for the mission when we set out a few hours earlier.

“This is Agent Noah Parks reporting for duty with my partner, Stripes, recording mission details.” Stripes made a good best friend because he didn’t say much of anything, and he made an even better partner because of his listening and surveillance  skills. He kept my observations safe and always seemed to catch things I missed. Like the man on the trail that day. Stripes was the one that pointed out how familiar he looked.

I opened the bedroom door and stepped out into the hall, reporting my findings to Stripes as I did.

“Dwelling is empty. Female occupant is at work for the remainder of the day.” I passed the kitchen. There was a note on the table, but I didn’t need to read it to know what it said. Dinner in the freezer, warm up for five minutes.

“Dwelling is secure,” I said as I pulled the front door shut behind me, locked it, and shoved the key in my pocket. On either side of our house, cars were pulling into driveways, neighbors were greeting neighbors, work days were ending, kids were playing. I ignored them. I didn’t have time to play. My day was just beginning. I was ok with the hours I had to put in. When you found your true calling, you couldn’t deny it, and mine was practically handed to me the day I discovered why he left.

I went into the garage through the side entrance and lifted the main door by hand. The fading evening light revealed the concrete floor, my bike, and then my viewing area as the door rumbled up its rails. I’d set up the old TV and VCR out here to watch the tapes my mom had tried to throw away. Dad left when I was four, but when I was five, Mom decided she just couldn’t stand to look at the stupid tapes he loved to watch so much. So, she boxed them up and set them on the curb. Stripes and I rescued them. We stayed up all night watching movies about secret agents and the CIA. By the next morning, I knew why my dad had left.

My mom said he’d left because he was a quitter. Now I knew he was just protecting us. Life as a secret agent was way too dangerous for a woman and a kid and so, even though it hurt him, he left. “We’d still be miserable if he stayed,” she’d said, tossing my frozen chicken nuggets into the microwave and punching the buttons. That’s what she said, but I knew what she meant.

I threw my leg over my bike, made sure my backpack and Stripes were both secure, and took off down the street. At 7-years-old, it felt like all my training had led to this moment.

“5:10pm,” I recorded, “Regular surveillance of town still on hold to pursue new mission.”

Stripes had spotted the target a few weeks ago on one of our routine sweeps of the trails surrounding the town. I’d been doubtful, but he’d insisted the target matched his description. I was starting to forget his face, but Stripes had been the last one to see him.

I could still hear him whispering his code name for me, “Night, Tiger. Sleep tight…” as he tucked his final gift in next to me. The next day, he was gone and I had Stripes. But, I knew he’d be back. Once I knew his secret, I decided that when he came back to check on us, I’d be ready to go with him. And I was. Sure, Mom would miss me, but maybe she wouldn’t have to work so hard if I wasn’t around. And even though dad hadn’t, I’d find a way to send some money.

“6:45pm,” I glared at Stripes, “Still waiting for target.”

It was getting late. We would need to go soon.

There were no snacks left and I was starting to think about whatever frozen meal was waiting for me at home.

“Are you sure it was him?” I asked Stripes. He stared.

“Ok! I’m sorry but…Wait. Someone’s coming.”

They called out. It was a man.

I jumped up.

A figure scaled the hill.

“I have the target in sight…” I whispered shakily. I reached down and grabbed Stripes. “Confirm identity. Is it him?” The man turned and my heart skipped. It was him. I threw my backpack over my shoulder and stepped forward, ready to reveal myself, when he turned again, calling to someone behind him.

“C’mon, Tiger! You can do it.”

I froze. My heart stopped. A smaller figure emerged over the hill. The boy was beaming up at the man.

“You did it!” He reached down and scooped him up, “Great job, Tiger!”

I stepped back into the woods and Stripes slid from my grip.

“Mission aborted,” I whispered.

The Freedom Journal Journey- The Truth About The Freedom Journal

So, it’s time to get honest.

The Freedom Journal is pretty awesome BUT you want to know the truth? The Freedom Journal is NOT a quick fix to your focus problems.

My current Freedom Journal Lesson? The Freedom Journal is not magic.

It IS a guide. It’s a template. It’s a plan. But, it’s a plan you have to be willing to stick to. It’s a promise to yourself that for 100 days you will have the discipline to set goals and complete them in order to complete a much bigger goal that, for whatever reason, you were compelled to create. It’s a promise you must be willing to keep, no matter what.

Because, newsflash, life WILL get in the way. It’s not realistic to think that you can completely set aside everything in your life that might distract you for 100 days. But it’s also not realistic to think that you will be able to complete your goal in 100 days without pushing aside some of those things or sacrificing some of the things that pull you away from progress. The Freedom Journal will not magically make you able to do this. This, I have learned.

And, guess how I learned this? Life. Life happened. Distractions happened. Things got hectic, emotional, overwhelming and I let life derail me from the progress I was making toward my goal. Because that’s what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. And, like I said, the Freedom Journal is not magic. It did not change my personality.

But, it did give me a new tool with which to face the shortcomings (or should we call them “unique charms?) of my personality.

Because now I have this pretty book. I have a goal written in that pretty book. I have a promise made to myself that I will not stop until I complete the goal written in that pretty book, even if it takes longer than 100 days. Because that partially completed book will drive me nuts. And I knew that it would. Which is why I bought the pretty book in the first place. I knew I needed help accomplishing my goals. Not a miracle solution, but help. And The Freedom Journal has given me that.

So, now I will get back to it. I will not let life derail me because I have a tool that gives me motivation, guidance and that shows me the small steps I need to take to make big things happen. Making them happen, though, is up to me.

Fiction 440: The Final Light

My latest Fiction 440 piece: For this event, we are given 3 words and asked to write a story in 440 words or less. This time, the words were- meteor, Ceasar, and neon.

It was also the first time I organized and led the event, borrowing the idea (with permission) from my friends in Lansing and bringing it to Grand Rapids. It was small, but a lot of fun.

So, here is my story.

____

She paused and looked around the quiet stretch of land, dotted with the proof of life once lived. No one else had chosen this spot for this night, and she supposed that made sense. But, for her, the lines separating the living and the dead had always been thin, and they were getting thinner with each passing moment. She’d always preferred the company of the dead anyway, why should now be any different?

Final spot chosen, she turned and watched for his approaching figure. He’d been close behind the whole walk here but she couldn’t make out his frame in the last of the light. The very last of it actually, she thought and chuckled.  He should have caught up by now and she called into the falling darkness. Nothing.

Her skin prickled but she refused to let herself panic. There was still time, she thought, let him enjoy himself. That was the whole point of their meeting, after all. Comfort, enjoyment…

The rest of the world had paired off immediately after the announcement, contacting loved ones, holeling up with families, or running off to be with friends. But, ten years as a coroner’s assistant had given her a certain aversion to the living. So, after the announcement, she’d had no one to turn to for comfort, until she saw him. He was alone too and his deep brown eyes caught her attention immediately. He shouldn’t have to spend this time alone, and neither should she.

They’d gone home together.

She turned again, squinting through the now complete darkness. She said his name. Then again, louder. “Caesar! C’mere boy!” Only silence answered her call and her stomach clenched. It was getting close and she was suddenly very aware of how badly she did not want to be alone. It was why she’d been drawn to him on the street. Why she’d chosen this place for their last moments. She’d been alone most of her life, she couldn’t stand the thought of being alone in death.

“Caesar!”

She looked up to the sky.

The moon shown neon bright, catching the stones around her and bouncing back into the charged atmosphere. Then, the light was gone.

It was here. She fell to her knees in the pitch black night, the last night, and reached out into the nothingness around her. She called again, one last time. This time though, there was a bark. Soft fur brushed her hands and a cold nose pressed against her cheek. Her arms closed around his solid form and he sighed against her as the meteor met the Earth and the last darkness met the final light.

 

The Freedom Journal Journey: Starting is the Hardest Part

So, I’ve been rocking out the Freedom Journal for a week now (yes, rocking it!) and I have to say, I am pretty pumped about my progress. It’s amazing how one simple change can affect an entire mindset. I now have chapter ideas, some chapter descriptions, pages of notes, an overall theme and an elevator pitch for a project I’ve been putting off for at least 6 months. I’ve worked on it every single day for a week when just a month ago I’d barely touched it since I had the idea.

So, yay for the Freedom Journal! Continue reading “The Freedom Journal Journey: Starting is the Hardest Part”

The Freedom Journal Journey: Here Goes Nothing

So, I’ve got this book I wanna write. Big surprise, right? Look, a writer that wants to write a book. Want another big surprise? I’m not writing it. I started it…and stopped. I kept trying to get back to it and stopped again. Whoa, shocker. A writer with an incomplete book.

But, that’s a thing. It’s a common thing. But, it doesn’t have to be.

I want to stop complaining about my unfinished work and start being proud of my finished work. Continue reading “The Freedom Journal Journey: Here Goes Nothing”

Networking for Writers Who Hate to Public: Getting Started

In my last post, I laid out a scary truth. Writers should be networking. And while many of you already knew this, it’s still scary. And it’s tough to figure out where to start. Writing is a whole different ballgame than say sales or marketing.

Or is it?  Continue reading “Networking for Writers Who Hate to Public: Getting Started”

Yes, Writers, You Need to *Gulp* Network (Here’s Why)

So, there’s this thing that I used to fear. I would avoid it all costs and when I had to do it I would get all nervous, sometimes sweat a lot, forget my own name and usually drink a little to help me get through it. But, there were always people telling me to do it, that everyone was doing it and I would feel better when it was over. And, this was one instance where the voices of peer pressure were actually right. Continue reading “Yes, Writers, You Need to *Gulp* Network (Here’s Why)”

Supposed To Syndrome

There’s a disease spreading through the general population and it can be hazardous to our health. It can eek into our everyday lives, infecting our insides and spreading to our loved ones. The more we let it affect us, the more it affects others. It’s called Supposed to Syndrome and it is spread simply by speaking. Continue reading “Supposed To Syndrome”

Seventh Inning Heat Hits a Home Run (Or, How I found myself reading romance & using baseball puns)

(BTW, Yes. Yes, this is a Kissing Book)

When I first started reading “Seventh Inning Heat,” by Lyssa Kay Adams (Book 1 in The Vegas Aces Series) I was simply reading it because she is my friend and a fellow author and I wanted to support her. I don’t typically read romance. I don’t usually read about sports (or watch sports or talk about sports). It is a book I never would have picked up if it weren’t for the obligation I felt toward my friend. BUT, that feeling of obligation disappeared after only a few pages. Soon, I was reading for me. I was reading for the characters. And I was reading because the writing was amazing. Continue reading “Seventh Inning Heat Hits a Home Run (Or, How I found myself reading romance & using baseball puns)”

I Found a Hobby Not Related to Writing, and I Won’t Feel Guilty About It

For most of my life, writing has been my passion. It’s always been one of my only passions. Then it became my passion, my hobby and my job.  I’ve never had many other things I could say I was really excited about. As I got older I discovered Geek Culture and going to Conventions and now I would definitely call that a hobby. But, for the most part, I’ve never had anything else that I really enjoyed doing outside of writing and reading (and a lot of the time reading was simply used to fuel my writing).   Continue reading “I Found a Hobby Not Related to Writing, and I Won’t Feel Guilty About It”