Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Second Chance (three word Wednesday - abstain, halo, prayer)

A sudden whirl of air startled Russell awake. The discomfort told him he dozed off in his recliner again. The flickering muted TV was the only source of light in his living room. What time was it? He peered, but the clock was obstructed by a thin boy in his pre-teens. The boy wore exclusively black, and appeared surprisingly pale in the darkness of the room. Russell was taken aback by this visitor. He was at the empty nest phase of life, yet his grandchildren were not yet as old as this stranger.

“Who are you? What are you doing here?”

The boy stepped forward, “I am Death.”

“You’re... excuse me? Death?” Russell tried not to laugh. The boy nodded affirmative, showing no hint of humor.


“You disbelieve me? Try to move.”

Russell found himself unable to simply move his arm from his chest to his face. “I… I’m dead?”

Unable to smile, the boy squinted in confirmation, “Heart attack.”

Russell absorbed the realness of his grim news. “Why aren’t you a big scary skull faced Reaper if you are Death?”

“Death can come in many forms,” the boy summoned a spiral-bound notebook from thin air. Russell decided to abstain from further patronizing, “So, what happens now? Do you have a halo for me or something?”

“Halo… hardly,” Death observed information from the notebook, “three counts of charity donations, but two counts of stealing... not many random acts of kindness… a regular prayer though… look at all those lies…”

“So it’s to hell with me then?”

“Not so fast, you’re what we call an Almost.”

“What happens to Almosts?”

“Nothing really,” Death lowered the notebook, “You’re looking at it. You don’t go anywhere.”

Russell was able to see his own body lying cold and motionless, clutching his heart in his favorite recliner, “But... my wife... my kids…”

Death stared indifferently.

“Death, you take many forms, why come to me as a little boy?”

“I have prepared for an upcoming event.”

“An event?”

“A mass homicide. First day of school at the local middle school. Lone gunner, goes crazy.”

“What?? That’s horrific! We have to do something!”

“Yes quite a tragedy,” Death stated, devoid of emotion, “Kids aren’t receptive to the Grim Reaper look, so here I am.” He looked down at his ‘costume.’

“When is the first day of school?” Russell reached right through a calendar that still displayed the month of July.

“In two days.”

“We have to stop it from happening!”

“How are you to stop anything? You’re dead if you haven’t noticed.”

“Is there anything I can do?” Russell pleaded to the boy.

Death folded his arms, staring through him to his corpse on the recliner. “Well I have liberty to give Almosts another chance if I see fit. Your heart is in the right place. We cannot use that anymore however,” he gestured to the cold sixty four year old body. “I tell you what. I will grant you your halo if you stop the school shooting.”

“Really? Thank you! I’ll do whatever it takes...”

Death waved his arm. Russell propelled back into the recliner and solidified. His feet hardly reached the footstool of the chair, and his clothes draped over him like a king sized bed sheet.

Death spoke, “You have one chance to save many lives. Don’t mess it up.”

The hand across his face revealed no scruff, and a full head of hair.

“Being forewarned and failing to act will get you a ticket in the other direction.”

Russell picked up his reading glasses with a small hand, and angled them to view his reflection. A prepubescent version of himself stared back. “I… I’m a little boy!!”

Death gave another affirmative squint, “I’ll see you in two days, one way or the other.” He disappeared abruptly, a clapping sound of air reoccupying the place he stood.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shootout (three word Wednesday - grimace, phase, stumble)

“All right they’re coming in. Mitch, Nick, Carla go right, try to flank them. Randy, hold the middle with me. Rich, take the others left into the brush.” Eight people in full camouflage nodded their masks in accordance, readied their guns, and carried out Jacob’s plan. The dense forest around them sloped uphill on the right. Mitch would get a good vantage point and wait for an opportunity. He was the ace sniper of the team.

Jacob heard rustling of branches from ahead of them. He took cover behind a large rock, while Randy stood against a wide tree to his left.

“See anything?”


Tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat…

Gunshots. From the left… Rich’s side. Someone had seen or been seen by the enemy. Jacob raised his head, nothing but forest through his visor. A bullet grazed the large rock.

“Get down,” Randy swiveled his firearm around the tree and fired towards the source of the bullet targeting Jacob.

“Can you see them?”

“I saw something move…”

“Don’t waste ammo if you cannot see them…”

Tat tat tat tat tat tat… this time gunfire spawned from the hill. Shots were flying actively from several sources on the left. “Ungh,” the grunt warned that Rich’s side was down a gunner. Rich yelled to fall back.

From the right, Nick’s voice declared a small victory, “Got him...” before tat tat tat tat… “Ou… Got me.”

Jacob peered up the hill, then to Randy, “They got Nick… Randy?”

Randy had advanced twenty feet and shot determinedly forward. He had his eye on something Jacob could not see from his vantage point. Randy ceased his fire, apparently successful. He looked up the hill. Carla had pointed out two more enemy gunners. Jacob stumbled from the rock to Randy’s first tree, scanning the far left. Rich was now alone, running backwards, shooting into the foliage. Rich ducked behind the stump of a fallen tree, signaling two fingers to Jacob before pointing forwards. Shit. They were coming in hard on the left. Rich poked his head over the stump over to receive a splattering on the side of his head.

“Randy! Randy watch out left! They’re coming!” Knowing half the team was down, Jacob resorted to regrouping for stronger defense. He had hoped it would not get to this phase, but their backs were to the wall. Randy had advanced too far ahead into the center to hear Jacob. Jacob heard sticks breaking deep in the foliage on the left. He retreated up the hill.

“Carla, they’re coming around.”

Carla covered Randy in the center until Randy stopped running, a contrast of color from the camouflage across his back.

“Shit they got him.”

And just like that, they got Carla, too.

Jacob hit the ground. Where the hell was Mitch? Jacob pivoted his line of vision. Behind him, two were closing in. Ahead, at least one gunner was over the mound of earth. He had no choice but to disallow the pincer attack to happen. He ran forward, gun extended.

Tat… tat… tat tat tat tat…

He scaled the mound, strafed right to the cover of a tree, and fired openly. His back would be open to the foes behind, he had to land a hit and land it quickly. His foe jumped backwards in surprise, receiving the full impact of Jacob’s gunfire across his collarbone. Jacob circumnavigated the tree taking cover from the two in the rear.

“Hey,” a voice came from ten feet behind him. The voice was not Mitch’s. Jacob swung his gun around, but it was too late…

Tat tat…

Pink paint splattered across the visor of his face mask. Jacob lowered his gun, wiping the visor clean with the backside of his glove.

“Got you!” It was his brother’s friend Kyle. The eyes were all Jacob could see of Kyle’s taunting grimace behind his own face mask.

Kyle extended a hand to Jacob while his two teammates came into the clearing, “Good game, we win!”

“Did you now?”

Tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat tat...

Mitch always was our ace sniper.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

As Advertised (three word Wednesday - joke, leverage, remedy; and flash Friday)

“Can you get the door, honey?” Shelley shouted from the kitchen.

Shawn placed the newspaper down on an end table and moved briskly to the front door. Who could be ringing the doorbell during the dinner hour? He gazed through the peephole. A distorted image of a bulky delivery man awaited his response. Shawn swung the door open.


“Mr. Gelinas? I have a package you’ll need to sign for,” he extended a clipboard with a delivery form and a pen clamped under the hinge. Everything appeared legitimate enough. The large brown van parked on the street matched the color of his uniform. Shawn passed the form back, looking around for an absent package.

“Thank you sir, you’re all set!” The large man tucked the clipboard under his arm and left the front steps. In his place, a young woman stepped forward. Bright green eyes gazed playfully under dark, long eyelashes. Her lips were full and glossed, catching the light as if they were wet. Straight blonde hair draped aside her defined high cheekbones and rested on smooth shoulders. Her curves at the bust, the waist and the hips were nothing short of majestic. She wore nothing more than a leopard print bra and briefs. Shawn’s jaw conceded to gravity. A blonde strip of well-groomed eyebrow raised and her welcoming lips formed cute cheek dimples as she smiled. “Hello, Mizzer Gelneez, I am Katya,” her soft voice hinted at a strong Russian accent.

“Uh… hi Katya,” Shawn blinked intentionally to cease ogling. My God, there was a half naked Russian model on his front steps! There are families in his neighborhood with small children! He glanced down the street; a basketball game between the neighborhood boys had come to a grinding halt. “Please please come inside,” Shawn stepped aside, holding the door open. He escorted her into the living room, “Katya, might I ask what you’re doing coming to my house in lingerie?”

“You order zis, no?” She rolled her arm as if presenting herself.

“I ordered… what are you saying?”

“Online order. Lingerie site from Belarus. Remember? You order zis online.”

Shawn jogged his memory. He did place an order a few weeks back for some lingerie for Shelley’s birthday. Of course he opted for an online purchase, buying lingerie in person was one of the most uncomfortable things a man could do. He looked Katya up and down. She was wearing the exact lingerie he had ordered! He recalled the blond in the photo, wearing the lingerie with such a sultry pose. He remembered thinking the message in the margin, ‘As advertised’ was somewhat out of place.

“You like Katya picture online. Your order here now Shawn Gelneez.” Katya winked and sat herself on the couch.

“Katya I ordered the lingerie only, not the model too! You can’t stay!”

“But Katya come from Belarus for you.”

Shelley appeared in the doorway. “Shawn, why do we have a mail order bride in on our couch?” She spoke through gritted teeth and flaring nostrils.

“I, well, uhh… you see, I ordered you some lingerie dear…” Shawn shrugged hopelessly.

“Shawn order from lingerie model site. I am Katya,” she waved innocently at Shawn’s wife.

“Shawn there had better be a good…”

“I told you I only ordered lingerie,” he scurried for some leverage in the argument, but understood how bad this looked to her.

“No need for mad Misses Shawn Gelneez. Shawn got good deal. Pay low moneys. Katya, uh, how you say, on sale.”

Blood rushed to Shelley’s head, “…and how much exactly did you pay for Katya?”

“Well it was in foreign currency but it didn’t look too expensive.”

“Twelve thousand,” Katya again displayed her wonderful dimples.

Shelley roared, “US DOLLARS??”

Katya nodded affirmative.

“Shawn you did not bother to figure out the exchange rate to US dollars?!?!?”

Shawn slouched. He knew he had forgotten to do something. He recalled concluding the order quickly when a call came in over Skype. He could not believe what was happening. He stood there speechless, glancing between Katya and Shelley, searching for something he could say to remedy the situation.

The doorbell rang. “I’ll get that,” Shawn approached the door wanting to crawl under a rock. Whatever news awaited him on his front steps had to be better than his current conundrum. The delivery man stood there once again. “Mr. Gelinas?”

“You didn’t tell me you had a model with you…” Shawn pointed accusingly.

“I have another package for you.”

“Oh no, don’t even go there…”

The delivery man stepped aside, revealing TV personality Ashton Kutcher. “Shawn Gelinas,” Ashton extended his hand. ”You’ve been Punk’d!”

Katya and Shelley laughed and clapped behind him. Ashton pointed out hidden cameras. Shawn reddened in embarrassment. His wife orchestrated the best practical joke he’d ever witnessed. And worse, televised it.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This week of 3ww

The Cortez Case series has moved! Please visit this page for the ongoing story, as well as the collected past installments.

The Cortez Case