I seem to be having technical difficulties today. I post my blog, and all the content disappears. *sigh* So, I'm going to try this from the beginning. Again. For the third time. If it doesn't work, I think I'll discard this and try again another day. Also, formatting seems to be my nemesis today.
Whatever I had typed the first time had been nicely thought out, so I apoligize if my introduction is a little lackluster this third time. I've been working on some short stories with the characters from my Isabella Howerton series, and some of the things that happened before the first book. The following short story takes place about a year before Bloody Beginnings. So, without further ado...
Sign on the Dotted Line
Copyright © 2015 Laura Hysell
“So, what’s the big news?” Jared asked as he pulled up a chair and aligned himself so he could see the rest of the room. The bar Justin had chosen was just outside of the hub of Portland, looking more suited to a small town than the big city. Jared had picked out a single bartender, two older men sipping whiskey, and a young couple attempting a game of pool. Not exactly a lively tavern.
Justin glanced up over the rim of his beer and grinned. “I found you a job,” Justin responded, running a hand through his blond hair.
Jared blinked at Justin and opened his mouth to respond when the bartender walked over. She was an older woman with her mousy hair pulled back in a bun. “What’ll it be?” she asked.
“Bring a pitcher,” Justin responded quickly, pointing at his own beer. “And three more glasses.”
The bartender nodded and ambled off. “Three glasses? Who else is joining us?”
Justin grinned again, and the excitement he’d been trying to suppress began to leak through. His blue eyes lit up as he looked toward the opening front door. Jared watched warily, his hand idly going to the gun on his side, until he spotted Kirk walking through the door wearing a rumpled suit, obviously just coming from work. He eased back as Kirk ambled to the table and plopped down in a chair. The bartender came by as well and set the pitcher and mugs on the table.
Jared filled his own mug and drank it slowly as Kirk and Justin made small talk. They’d all met their first year in college and became fast friends, but after the death of Justin’s dad, the three had gone their separate ways for a time. Kirk finished college with a business degree, and ended up working a series of odd jobs. Justin took a couple years off to work and take care of his sister before finally going back to school. As far as Jared knew, he was working on his PhD while employed by some pharmaceutical company. Justin had always been the smartest of the three friends. Jared had quit college just six months from graduation and enlisted in the Army. It was both the best and worst decision of his life.
“Are you going to tell us what this job is?” Jared asked, interrupting Kirk as he began describing his latest supposed female conquest.
“Job?” Kirk asked, his playboy façade quickly changing. Kirk was all talk and no action. “You know I’ve been looking for a new job.”
Justin nodded and pulled two packets from a bag sitting on the floor. He slid the packets toward the two men and leaned back, the grin still plastered to his face. “You don’t even have to interview. I’m going on a little expedition, and was told to put a security team together.”
“Security? What sort of security?” Jared asked as he perused the document. Nuva Drug was offering a very handsome pay for Jared to be the supervisor of a security team for a special research expedition to an undisclosed location.
“Jared, with your military background, I want you in charge. We’re going on a little research expedition in Romania. I know you speak a few languages,” he added.
Jared grunted in return. At least Justin was disclosing the location. “I speak little bits of a lot of languages. I would hardly consider myself fluent in any though. And I don’t speak Romanian.”
Justin shrugged, seeming unconcerned. “It doesn’t matter. You speak more than the rest of us do. This is an easy job, Jared.”
“A lot of money for this easy job.”
“I’m in,” Kirk said as he poured himself a beer and immediately took a long swig.
“Aw, Justin, did you tell them already?” a sweet, southern voice drawled from the front of the bar.
Jared looked up as Sarah ambled in, sashaying her hips side to side with each step of her black high-heeled boots. She quickly slid a chair next to Justin’s and reached over to give him a long, sloppy kiss. Jared and Kirk exchanged glances, both men shaking their heads. Neither of them had expected to see Sarah.
Justin finally detached himself from Sarah and looked back at his two best friends. “Sarah is working with me at Nuva Drug. She’s on the expedition. Guys, this could be the breakthrough of a lifetime. I want you two there with us. If we find what I’m hoping we find, it could be a real game-changer.”
“What are you hoping to find?” Jared asked as he darted looks at the couple who had broken up and gotten back together over a dozen times.
“A miracle cure,” Sarah responded in her thick accent. Jared noticed her accent always thickened when she was being overly dramatic.
Jared cringed as he watched Kirk scrawl his signature across the paperwork. Kirk looked up at him sheepishly as he slid the paper back toward Justin. “I’m working at a mall, Jared. Do you have any idea what it’s like managing a mall? And I’m not even the manager, just the assistant manager! This expedition pays twice what my yearly salary is. You don’t even have a job, Jared.”
Kirk’s words were a bruise to the ego, but they were true. Since Jared had left the Army, he’d been hard-pressed to hold down a steady job. Now, one of his best friends was offering him a great paying job, and he was questioning it. Justin would never lead him into something dangerous. Jared stared at the paper in front of him, feeling a strange sense of unease. It was probably just because of Sarah. She and Justin had a rollercoaster relationship that made him sick.
Kirk slid his pen over to Jared, urging him to sign the paper. “It shouldn’t take more than a couple months. We’ll be back home before you know it!” Justin pushed. “Come on, Jared. Please.”
Jared sighed and looked back at the papers, his eyes skimming over the legal jargon as he flipped pages. He stopped at the last page, staring at the spot waiting for his signature. What did he have to lose?
I'm sure you've all heard of the infamous "writer's block". Here you are, writing along just fine, and maybe you get to the end of a chapter and you just go blank. What now? Sometimes writer's block hits at the beginning of a story. You have this great idea, but when it comes to writing those first few lines, you stare blankly at the computer screen or paper.
Everyone has a different take on why writer's experience writer's block... and what it really is. I don't know that I'd say it was definitely a "block", just more a break in the flow of work. Some times words flow so quickly from my brain that my fingers have a hard time keeping up. Other times, I stare at the screen. Like now.
I had this whole list of blog ideas, but none of them jumped off the page and said, "write me!"
Stories are so different than any other type of writing. You mesh with your characters, feel for them, feel with them... even the villains. Sometimes though, the stories go quiet. Many times I find myself drifting back a few chapters, or even to the beginning, and thinking of things I need to change when I haven't even finished the book yet. When that happens, the story I'm writing might go cold... blank. Not necessarily a block, just a break in the flow of writing.
My advice for dealing with writer's block, is just to keep writing. Don't stop your story flow to worry about what needs to be changed in the past, or about grammar. Just keep writing. And, if you do get stuck, I have two main tips I use.
First, write something else very different. Several years ago I came across a website that had short story contests every few months. I only entered a few contests, but I loved the different types of stories that were asked in the contests. Flash Fiction was one of these, and it works wonders on a writer's skill. A couple other ones I'd suggest trying are trying to write a story in all dialogue. That's a difficult one, but can be fun! Also, try writing a story with each sentence beginning with the next letter in the alphabet.
Writing something else can take some time, but sometimes refreshes the creative flow. Usually though, if I get stuck, I do one thing: SLEEP on it! So many times this has helped me when I've had a story issue I was worried about. This works in writing, and in life. Just sleep on it.
So have fun and keep on writing. That's what I'm going to do!
I dug out another old short story. It's longer than the flash fiction, and was written in early 2010 I think, but has never been published. As with everything on my site, please feel free to share the links and credit me, but please do not cut and paste. Thanks and enjoy!
Copyright © 2015 Laura Hysell
By Laura Hysell
Jessica lay quietly, barely breathing a sound, her thick black hair pulled back out of her face. Her position in the ceiling air ducts wasn’t perfect for seeing, but that wasn’t necessary. Her first official solo assignment was Senator Mayerson, a fat, balding man in his late fifties, who was currently suspected of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the government itself. How and why he was doing it was of no consequence to Jessica. She was just the information girl. She had no official title in the FBI, just a badge that helped if she was ever questioned by any other law enforcement about her activities. New as she was to the FBI, she had never actually had to use the badge, but if felt right at home on her belt clip.
The senator moved slightly in his chair, and Jessica held her breath. He leaned toward the computer and began clicking keys on the computer. She listened closely, not with her ears, but with her mind, to the soft words he spoke to himself. She opened her notebook, jotting down his bank account number as he typed it in. She listened more, hoping he would “say” something else. He turned away from the computer and picked up the phone. He dialed slowly, and Jessica wrote the numbers as he thought them.
He’d better be able to explain this, he thought and Jessica held her breath, waiting. “Parker, what is the meaning of this? My account… yes, I understand that there is a suspicion, but where is my money? Don’t give me that line… hmm, well, I understand. Well, what’s the new account number?” Jessica scribbled as he thought of the new number and typed it into his computer. “Good, it’s under my alternate name. Alright, just let me know before you do something like that again,” he said as he slammed the receiver down. George Randolph, I’m sure I have that ID around here somewhere. I can’t believe that backstabbing Parker Andrews. First thing in the morning that money is out of here!
Jessica smiled to herself as she wrote down the Senator’s alias, George Randolph alongside the multi-million dollar computer programmer Parker Andrews. Things were making sense, not that it mattered to her. Now all she had to do was quietly and quickly head back and meet her contact, Agent Pierce, who would be waiting for her at their meeting place down the street.
Jessica carefully packed her notepad away in the side pocket of her cargo pants. She began to ease away, when the Senator’s mental scream of rage stopped her in her tracks. She carefully leaned forward once more, looking through the narrow vent at the Senator. He was once again staring at the computer, hands clenched at his sides. His thoughts came like a torrent into her mind. No, no, no! The money should have been enough! He said it was enough. Now what am I going to do? If he goes public I’m ruined. The thoughts trailed off as the senator frantically searched his desk, coming up with a small scrap of paper. He punched in the numbers on the paper, his thoughts reeling so fast Jessica couldn’t keep track.
“What do you think you’re doing? I already paid you!” Senator Mayerson screamed at the person on the other end of the phone. “If you print that I’ll be ruined…” the senator panted, waiting, listening to the reply on the other end of the phone. “Gunter, look, I’ll talk to Parker, but they are already on to me. This is blackmail, you know that! If I go down I’m taking you with me!”
The senator sat listening to the man on the other line, his mind a rush of information, too much to interpret. Jessica sat watching the senator as he nodded to himself, as though Gunter on the other line could see him. Then he spoke, his voice low and raspy, “I’ll do what I can, Gunter, but if you print this I will come after you, and be damned with the consequences! If this comes out I will be a wanted man, but remember, Gunter, I’m a hunter.” Senator Mayerson slammed the phone down, grabbed his navy blue coat, and left the room.
Jessica leaned back, listening to her own pounding heart. What did he mean by that last remark about being a hunter? Senator Mayerson was very anti-gun and anti-hunting. She shrugged and pulled her notebook back out, scribbling what she remembered of the conversation. Agent Pierce would be very interested to know that there was a third party in the embezzling scheme. Hmm, the name Gunter was not common, especially among reporters. Gunter Jamison was the only name that came to mind, but he was not a political writer. Gunter Jamison wrote controversial articles, mostly conspiracy theories about the supernatural.
Jessica put her notepad away and began the slow, long crawl through the ducting. She finally emerged and dropped quietly into a small broom closet on the first floor. She listened at the door, with her ears and her mind, and finally emerged, walking carefully toward the small bathroom window she had secured as an exit.
She dropped out of the window and pulled her long black coat back on. She casually walked down the small alley, acting as though she had every right to be there. She sent her senses out, feeling a presence at the end of the alley, but not gathering any thoughts along with the presence. Most likely it was an animal. She felt the presence of animals, but they didn’t have true thoughts like humans do. Still, Jessica was always cautious. She carefully drew the small 9mm gun from its inner pants holster and pushed her hands into her coat pockets.
She exited the alley, and turned toward where she had felt the presence. Nothing was there now, and she sent her mind further out around her. She had been so preoccupied securing her gun from sight that she hadn’t been paying much attention. The street seemed filled with presences now, but again no thoughts came with them. She calmly turned down the street, keeping her senses open, and walked quickly toward the late night restaurant.
She breathed a sigh of relief as she opened the restaurant doors and sighted on Agent Pierce sitting at a table along the back wall, decked out in a gray trench coat and slacks, black sunglasses lying on the table. All he needed now was a big sign saying FBI and he’d be set. Jessica began walking toward him, when he gave the most imperceptible shake of his head. She frowned, but casually moved toward the bar instead. She sent her senses out again, and that’s when she felt it. The hairs began to rise on the back of her neck as she felt the same empty presence coming from the man seated at the far end of the bar from her. A quick glance showed a large man in a bulky navy jacket with a ball cap low over his face. Jessica looked again at the jacket the man was wearing. Her position hadn’t been good for spying with eyes, but it certainly appeared to be the same coat Senator Mayerson had put on just before leaving his office. Jessica examined the man more closely, noting the dark dress slacks and shiny black shoes. Exactly what the senator had been wearing, and even the build was right.
Then the man’s face turned towards hers, and she felt a thread of fear trickle through her body. It was definitely Senator Mayerson, but when she sent out her senses there was nobody home. How could it be possible? She had been inside his head, listening to his thoughts only minutes before. Jessica nearly jumped out of her seat when the waitress appeared before her, asking what she wanted. She ordered black coffee, her hands only shaking slightly.
She sipped her coffee, her eyes playing over the tip of her mug as she watched the senator hunched over the plate the waitress set in front of him. He began cutting into a very rare steak, then devoured the pieces in quick gulps. And that’s when it clicked. Fear rose along her spine as she stared at the senator. She recovered before the senator spotted her and stared into the black depths of her coffee. She sent her mind out, searching the small restaurant for Agent Pierce.
There weren’t many patrons at this late hour. A small elderly couple occupied a booth near Agents Pierce’s, their eyes only for each other. A middle-aged man sat two seats down the bar from Jessica, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. Another man sat at a table by the door, tall, large build with one hand tucked casually inside his jacket. Definitely hired muscle, but whose?
Her mind wandered toward Mr. Muscle, easily piercing into his few thoughts. His thoughts strayed with his eyes as he searched the room. Then his thoughts turned feral, and Jessica felt the hairs rise on her neck again. Well, he was definitely with the senator. She quickly scanned the minds until she landed on Agent Pierce. His mind was as closed down as his face, but it was still fairly easy for Jessica to penetrate.
She reached out, gently brushing her mind across the agent’s mind, speaking to him as though she was whispering in his ear. He sat up straighter in his seat, as though he was suddenly listening to something, and Jessica knew she had his attention. Do you know what he is?
She felt Agent Pierce gathering his thoughts, trying to communicate back to Jessica. His voice shouted back to her, giving her an instant headache. Not sure, but my guess is werewolf, considering his company. The man by the door is Yurian Polson, a known werewolf and hired gun. He’s wanted by Interpol and the Soviet Were-Hunter Society for multiple mass murder charges. That one’s evil, Jess, pure evil!
Jessica nodded to herself. The few moments she spent in Mr. Muscle’s mind had indicated not much thought other than death and destruction. Yurian had likely been a criminal before he became a werewolf, but something about becoming a werewolf makes even the average person more aggressive. So, what were the senator and his hired gun werewolf doing in this small diner blocks from the senator’s office? Fear began to sneak up on Jessica again, but she pushed it away. Werewolves were said to be able to smell fear, and she didn’t want to give herself away.
Once again Jessica sent her mind out into the restaurant, settling gently on each person. She shifted toward the man reading the newspaper. His thoughts weren’t on the newspaper at all, but were on Agent Pierce, wondering why the FBI was following Senator Mayerson. His thoughts then drifted to Jessica, and how she had been emanating strange fear scents. That one thought alone told Jessica that his man was also a werewolf with the senator. Her eyes followed her mind as she settled on the elderly couple. They were set to guard the back door, to keep someone from getting away. They too were werewolves.
Jessica shifted her attention to the waitress as she came to refill her coffee. Her mind was wild, similar to that of Mr. Muscle. Jessica took the coffee mug and raised it to her lips, savoring the sweet scent that came to her nostrils. This may very well be her last cup of coffee, so she might as well enjoy it.
They’re all werewolves, Pierce. Every single one of them is, even the waitress. They seem to be waiting for someone. When I was at the senator’s office he spoke to two people, Parker Andrews, the computer guy, and a reporter named Gunter. I think maybe Gunter Jamison is the reporter, and he’s coming here to con money out of Mayerson. If that’s the case I’m afraid Gunter is in for a heap of trouble.
Agent Pierce replied quickly. There is an agent in place by the back door. Can you reach him with your mind and tell him to call in for back-up? Tell him this comes from Agent Pierce, authorization number 1182, Code 14.
What’s his name? I don’t want to scare him.
He knows there is an agent of your abilities on this case, so he shouldn’t scare too easily. His name is Agent Rickman.
Jessica felt her mind floating away from her body and out the back, searching for a non-werewolf presence. There were several beings in the alley behind the diner, and most of them seemed animalistic. This normally wouldn’t have been much cause for concern, but then again, there weren’t normally this many werewolves this far inside the city. She located Agent Rickman’s mind, his thoughts holding only worry for Agent Pierce and the operation. She tentatively reached out and settled on Rickman’s mind.
Agent Rickman, my name is Jessica. Agent Pierce asked me to tell you to call for back up.
You’re that PAN girl, aren’t you?
PAN, or Psychic Awareness Network, was a group working secretly for the FBI. Jessica had always thought the name PAN was funny, like Peter Pan. Rumor had it the name had come about because some psychokinetic could actually make herself fly. Cool.
Yes, I am, but that’s beside the point. The situation inside is getting a little critical.
What’s the authorization number?
Authorization number 1182, Code 14.
Jessica felt the fear spike in Agent Rickman. His thoughts were a jumble of panic for several minutes before he got himself under control. You’re sure it’s Code 14?
Yes, I’m sure.
What is it?
Werewolves, and there are five inside the restaurant and possibly more in animal form outside with you. So I suggest you hurry up and get back-up here before things go bad.
Jessica turned at the sound of the door opening and felt her stomach drop. Gunter Jamison stood at the door, surveying the room. He was easily 6’ with thick blond hair and pale blue eyes. His eyes widened as he spotted her and began to walk toward her, an easy smile on his face.
Gunter, don’t! She shrieked at him.
He stopped mid-stride, then casually walked toward Senator Mayerson. He sat down beside him, and Jessica noticed Mr. Muscle’s slight shift in stance. Jessica sighed and pulled her coat around her as though she was cold, feeling for the heavy weight of the gun in her pocket. In college Gunter had always said Jessica would get him killed, but this time it was likely to be the other way around.
“Senator, I do hope you have good news for me,” Gunter said as he leaned toward the senator.
The low growl that emanated from the senator made Jessica’s hair stand up on the back of her neck. Gunter straightened, leaning back away from the senator. “I’ve already e-mailed the article to a friend. If anything happens to me you will be buried,” Gunter said calmly. “You know what I want. It’s really not about the money, Senator. It’s about the truth. I can keep it strictly confidential. I told you before; I’ll give you back all the money if you’ll just consent for me to interview you. Only one story need ever surface.”
Jessica, Gunter’s voice echoed her name, until Jessica latched on.
What’s going on Gunter?
I’m working with the local police. I stumbled upon some strange account activity, and linked the senator to an embezzling scheme with that computer programmer, Parker Andrews. I was working under cover already, so I told the police. The only one that knows is the police chief, Mark Bentchy. What he doesn’t know is that I unearthed proof the senator is a werewolf. Chief Bentchy knows I’m blackmailing him somehow, but he doesn’t know the whole story.
That’s what you really want though, isn’t it? Jessica couldn’t keep the frustration out of her voice. You want your story, as always. You are in far too deep. The FBI are working on this case and you’re not only bungling it, but you’re probably about to get yourself killed. This entire place is crawling with werewolves.
Gunter ignored her as he focused his full attention on the senator, who finally pushed his plate away and spoke. “Don’t print that story and I’ll give you the proof you need of werewolf existence, but no more.”
“No problem,” Gunter said slowly, as he pulled an envelope out of his pocket. “Look, here’s the money and documents back. I told you I just wanted to hold onto it as insurance. So, do we have an agreement?”
Mayerson nodded as Gunter handed him the envelope. Gunter smiled brilliantly as Mayerson tucked the envelope away. “You needn’t worry about names, I just need proof. A blood sample showing human and wolf DNA, something along those lines,” Gunter added as he pulled out a notepad.
“Oh, don’t you worry. You will definitely have a blood sample,” the senator responded, his words coming out as a low rumble.
Jessica’s heart began to pound as Mr. Muscles moved lighting fast behind her, a gun pressed into her back. “You’re in the wrong place, missy,” he spoke in a deep timbre. He breathed along her neck and the copper smell of blood on his breath almost gagged her. “Get up and get out.”
Jessica nodded her head and slowly stood up. A quick glance around the room told her the other werewolves were all in position. Agent Pierce was on the ground, the old man straddling him, while the old woman had taken up position guarding the back door. She couldn’t see the waitress or the newspaper reader, but she suspected they were guarding other areas of escape.
“Wait, Yurian,” Senator Mayerson said as he moved away from the counter. “She’s a part of this. Gunter here recognized her when he walked in. Besides, she’s smelled of fear far too much for a young girl just sipping coffee in a diner.”
Yurian, sniffed the air around Jessica, moving his nose toward the gun hidden in her coat pocket. He reached in and snatched it out, securing it in the waist of his pants. His hands grabbed her upper arms, squeezing just enough to let her feel the strength in his hands, not that she had any doubts that he could snap her like a twig. She stifled a whimper as he increased the pressure, then closed her eyes and tried to let her instincts take hold.
Pain and fear drove her into the deepest recesses of her own mind, drawing power as someone else draws breath. Her mind reached out, seeking enemies, starting with the man holding her arms, hurting her. She screamed in her mind, long and loud, echoing and growing with each moment. Yurian let go of her arms and grabbed his head as the pain blocked out all other senses. He fell to the ground, his body jerking with pain, until he finally slipped into unconsciousness.
Jessica turned as though in slow motion toward the senator. Much fighting had gone on while she had collected her powers. Now time was speeding back up. FBI agents swarmed into the restaurant, firing off tranquilizer darts at every moving target. Senator Mayerson roared in anger and Jessica watched in morbid fascination as his body reformed into a giant wolf. Gunter had backed away from the bar, bumping into Jessica, who stood in transfixed horror. The wolf form of the senator was huge, easily four feet high at the shoulder. He shook his thick black fur and jumped on the nearest FBI agent, shredding his chest through the bullet-proof vest. Blood poured from the man’s chest, but the giant wolf simply turned toward its next victim.
Gunter grabbed Jessica’s hand, pulling her back toward the front door, where two FBI agents had dropped their tranquilizer guns and were now showering the room with bullets, trying desperately to keep the other werewolves from changing form. The old woman was down with three tranquilizer darts in her chest. The newspaper reader had returned with several other werewolves, and was shifting quickly into wolf form, thick brown fur folding over the skin of his face and hands. He had a tranquilizer dart in his neck that seemed to be slowing his transformation, but not stopping it completely.
Jessica’s eyes scanned the room for Agent Pierce, but he was nowhere to be seen. The room was in chaos. Men, women and wolves were screaming, dying and fighting. Bullets were flying steadily from the agents at the front door. The front glass window suddenly shattered, startling Jessica out of shock. She turned to see two large wolves jump through the window, taking down another FBI agent in the process. Several agents littered the ground and the large black wolf form of the senator turned toward Jessica and Gunter. Gunter pulled Jessica behind him, shielding her with his body, not that it would do much good. The two standing FBI agents at the door began concentrating their fire on the senator, while the other wolves left the injured on the ground and began circling toward the four survivors.
Jessica bumped into the wall, her heart pounding in her chest. Things had gone so very wrong so very fast. The gunfire dwindled, then died, and Jessica turned to look at the last two agents, who held their empty guns at their sides, staring wide-eyed in fear at the large beasts before them.
The black wolf form of the senator moved forward, his nose sniffing Gunter’s chest. He spoke, his words sounding strange in a wolf’s mouth. “Give him. Make. Proof. No more.”
Jessica swallowed, glancing at Gunter. His blond hair was plastered to his forehead with sweat and she could hear his heart pounding in his chest. She reached up and touched his shoulder, and he glanced quickly over his shoulder at her, his eyes full of sadness. “I’ll go with you if you let them go,” Gunter said quietly, turning back to the wolf-senator.
Jessica tentatively reached her mind out toward the wolf, searching the strange animal mind for any coherent thoughts. All she saw was death; images, flashes of blood and food. Jessica sent her thoughts to Gunter. I don’t think he is going to promise you anything. His mind is too animal right now. He must be very powerful to be able to recall his human self in this form. Try to stall.
Jessica closed herself off mentally from Gunter. She took several slow, calming breaths and once again attempted to harness her power and attack again with her mind. She was usually able to attack one person or everyone in a room, but she had never attempted to target a specific group before. Werewolves, just werewolves, she thought to herself. She continued the thought with every breath she took as she stretched her mind to encompass the animalistic minds of the werewolves. With each breath she stretched her mind farther across the feral minds in the room, until she thought she had them all.
She closed her eyes as she opened her mind fully, and instead of screaming she thought of pain, a sharp sword of pain. Screams suddenly filled her ears as she let her power stream outward. Strange howls of fear and pain echoed through the small café, bringing Jessica to her knees. Gunter’s arms pulled her close as she too began to scream, clutching her head. The power overwhelmed her and she screamed along with the animal howls. As the last howl stopped so did her pain and she slumped against Gunter in the suddenly quiet café.
Tears streamed down her face as she fought to sit upright, pulling away from Gunter’s strong arms. Panic suddenly seized her throat as she noticed the blood covering Gunter, running down one side of his face. She reached up to touch his face, but his hand grasped her first. “It’s not my blood, Jess,” he said softly.
Jessica frowned, her mind trying to contain what her eyes were seeing. Blood and raw meat were plastered to the walls, floor and ceiling. Animal furs littered the floor, but the bodies that normally contained them were now strewn across the floor in a mass of blood and skin and bone. Jessica turned to see the two FBI agents were unhurt, but staring at her in shock. A body began to move on the floor as the blood-covered form of Agent Pierce removed himself from under the body of several dead werewolves, whose bodies were slowly returning to human form. There was a large gash in the side of his head and he walked toward her with a limp, but he was alive. Jessica breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of him walking toward her, then darkness overwhelmed her.
Jessica paid for her non-fat latte and sat down at the small window table across from Gunter. Three months had passed and all his tests had come back normal. He had had a small cut on his hand and had been worried about becoming a werewolf, but he was apparently infection free. Agent Pierce, on the other hand, was not so lucky. He had tested positive for lycanthropy and had been put in a special FBI hospital, where they were supposedly working on a cure. Gunter’s theory was that they were training super werewolf soldiers in their special hospital. Who knows?
All the werewolves in the diner were dead, except two who had been knocked unconscious. The two unconscious wolves had been placed in a special werewolf prison, location known only to a few elite FBI agents. Again, Gunter had his own conspiracy theory on that too. Jessica sighed as she looked across the table at her old college flame.
Gunter was playing with his coffee cup, twirling it in his hands. His editor had turned down his werewolf story, so he had quit. He was still currently looking for a job, but the only place that had offered him was a tabloid paper in New Jersey. They loved the werewolf story, but Gunter had standards and he wanted his story to be read in the Times or Journal or some other reputable paper. Neither the Times nor Journal would accept his phone calls.
“So, Jess, what now?” Gunter asked as he picked up his cup, then just as quickly set it back down when he realized it was already empty.
“I go back to work, Gunter. That’s the way it has to be.”
Gunter leaned forward, his hand brushing across hers. She felt her stomach clench at his gentle touch, and found herself wishing he would take her in his arms. “They’ll make a weapon out of you now, Jess. A spy is one thing, but they’ll try to turn you into an assassin! I know that’s not what you want.” His voice was a harsh whisper, but Jessica found herself glancing around the coffee shop.
“It’s just training, Gunter, so I have better control. You know I don’t want what happened in the restaurant to happen again. I lost control. That can’t happen again. Besides, this is more like Special Forces type training,” she added, forcing a smile.
“No, it’s not, and you know it. Jess, I don’t like this. No contact for six months. Isn’t that a little extreme?”
“Don’t worry so much, Gunter. I’ll be home for New Years, and then maybe we can start all over again.”
Gunter stood, smashing his coffee cup in his hands. “I can’t be with you Jess; not as long as you’re still working for some strange off-shoot of the FBI. I just don’t trust what these people are going to do to you. I’ve spent my life trying to expose cover-ups, and here you are helping them. They said a gang hit that diner! A gang, can you believe it? How any human could do that much damage is unthinkable.”
Jessica felt her throat constrict with his words, and she looked up into his face with hot tears streaking down her face. He opened his mouth to speak, probably to apologize, but they both knew it was too late. “Yes, impossible for a human, a normal human, you mean. It wasn’t the wolves that caused the major damage, Gunter, it was me. And if being a member of the Elite PAN FBI will help me control this, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’m damaged goods,” she whispered the last and stood slowly. “Don’t try to contact me again, ever.”
Jessica turned and calmly walked out of the coffee shop, wiping away the single tear that had leaked out. A part of her hoped Gunter would run out and try to stop her, pulling her into his strong arms where she could forget everything, but he never moved. He stood where he was, rooted to the ground, as she walked out of his life once more. Too bad he was right about so many things. The FBI did want to make her an assassin. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that right now. Only time would tell what she chose to do. The power she had unleashed had felt good, too good. She yearned for that power again, and it scared her. Now she would train those powers, hone them, concentrate them, and become perhaps the ultimate weapon.
Flash Fiction, for those who don't know, is fiction in a flash. Short, very little detail, yet a whole story. I like to try my hand at various different writing strategies to exercise my writing skills and try new things! I wrote this story for a short story contest, readingwriters (which is no longer online), and received Honorable Mention, which was reserved for the top ten entries. This was my first attempt at flash fiction. I hope you like it. As with all of my everything on my site, feel free to share this post, but link back my website, and share in its entirety. Thank you!
By Laura Hysell
My heart raced with each step. I glanced at Mark as he hurried purposefully beside me, the tight-packed snow barely slowing his movements. Crunch! My heart thudded as Mark pushed me down beside a fallen tree, his eyes scanning for the source of the sound. Crunch! His eyes darted left, toward the sound. I felt myself shivering, whether from the cold or the fear, I wasn’t sure. Mark pressed his finger to my lips, silencing my chattering. He moved quickly toward the noise, a gun appearing in his hand as though it lived there. Crunch!
Mark was gone, hidden in the twilight, hunting for my pursuer. I strained my ears, trying to follow his movements with sound rather than sight. Crunch! The sound was behind the fallen tree I shivered behind. Mark? No, he was a hunter, of man and beast. Crunch! The sound was to my right, circling around the base of the fallen tree. My eyes strained to see even as my body cringed away, trying to bury itself in the dead tree.
A ratted tennis shoe moved into view, turning toward me, as I looked upward at my pursuer. His thick facial hair obscured most of his features, save his yellowed teeth as he grinned down at me. I saw him move and I scurried away, raising my arm in defense. A burning sensation ripped across my forearm as his knife sliced through, and a small gasp escaped my lips.
“Don’t move,” Mark said as he pushed his gun into my assailant’s back. I breathed a sigh of relief, which turned into a scream as my pursuer turned toward Mark, slashing out with his knife.
The men were suddenly both on the ground, struggling over the knife that crept closer to Mark’s exposed throat. Blood covered the ground, flowing from Mark’s wrist down his elbow to spatter the pristine snow. I shivered in fear as the knife inched closer to Mark’s throat once more. My mind turned faster and faster, seeing every detail of the attack as though in slow motion. Then I saw it.
I hurled myself to the snow, my hands scrambling for the piece of black amongst all the white and red. My hands gripped the handle and I turned just as the knife bit into Mark’s collar. He screamed out in pain and I joined my scream of rage to his. Bang!
Bang! Bang! Bang! Thump. Gasp. I knelt shakily next to Mark, pressing my hands on the delicate wound at his neck. “I’ll live,” he said softly, removing the knife with a gasp of pain. “Let’s get you home.”
I nodded as I carefully pulled Mark into a standing position. The badge on his side bit into my hip as he leaned against me, but I didn’t mind the discomfort. We turned as one and began our slow journey back toward civilization. Crunch!
Copyright © 2015 Laura Hysell