Secrets Within

Writing Prompt: Secrets Within

The police come to your residence with a search warrant. But somewhere inside, there is something you don’t want anyone to find, ever.

Respond to the prompt in 500 words or fewer in the comments below.


This prompt was inspired by our annual Writer’s Workbook.

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57 thoughts on “Secrets Within

  1. Jennifer Park

    19. The Ummahamamm

    [Follows “18. The Temptation”, posted under “Dinner for Two.” You can see a listing of the Darth Barbara saga chapters—all of which are posted under WD prompts—by clicking on my name above.]

    The knock on the door was insistent. It was early, and the front door to the subconsulate was far from the apartment in the back.

    Barbara ignored it, but crawled out of bed nevertheless. The mood was ruined, and she did need to get ready for drop-in hours.

    “Awwww…” protested the protosecretary, although her mood was ruined as well.

    Barbara gave her an erotic stroke, to reward her for her eagerness, and proceeded to the shower.

    The knock came some more, “Ummaë mmahehe!” shouted the knocker.

    The shout was unexpectedly loud, and in an unfamiliar dialect, and Barbara decided to investigate. This was a minor consulate on a minor continent of a minor planet. They were lucky to have one visitor a day with a serious business. Travel visas. Inquiries about trade opportunities. More people stopped by, seriously, to ask for directions to various tourist destinations than for consular business.

    Barbara grabbed her bathrobe, trudged out of her apartment, and headed to the front door. “Mummua?” she asked in the local dialect. She had not had the chance to learn the official language.

    The knocker switched to the local dialect as well. “Ammumaheamma, em mummum ehu ummem emmem ammeamam a!”

    It was spoken too fast, but it sounded like “emmem ammaemam”. Police.

    Barbara debated whether to make them wait while she changed into the official costume, but she decided to play a minion instead. She did, however, want to insist on speaking Earthling as she opened the door. “Hello.” She shoved the translator forward.

    There were five police officers standing at the door. “We speak-to Subambassador.”

    “She is not here. What do you need?”

    “We search. We have warrant.”

    “You know it is useless here. This is Union territory.”

    “We do not enter. Warrant allows search.” The police officer held up a scanner. Scanning of the consular office was permitted under the diplomatic treaty.

    “What do you seek?”

    “We search-for fugitive, Memhamumhammemem Amhmamemmumammemmem.”

    “A Ummahamamm?”

    “No, local.” Ummahamamm was a term Earthlings used for the inhabitants of the planet, but the Ummahamamm only used it for those living in the central continent.

    “Right. Well…”

    “Fugitive disappear-did here. We search-did all other place.”

    “How about this? One of you can come in and take a look around. No scanning. No touching. Just looking.”

    The officers looked at one another, then they began to mumble a quiet discussion, which lasted about a minute. “Yes. I go in.” The Ummahamamm much preferred to trust their own eyes than scanning devices that the Earthlings had sold to them at a steep discount.

    Barbara let the officer in, hoping that the protosecretary was enrobed. She was. Not that the officer would have cared. The officer looked thoroughly through the office, then the apartment, and left, thoroughly satisfied, and very grateful for the cooperation.

    Never having discovered that Barbara’s first mission was to smuggle in a cache of explosives to an insurgent named Memhamumhammemem Amhmamemmumammemmem.

    They should have trusted the scanners.

  2. Kerry Charlton

    DR. MISS KITTY, D. P. P.

    After all she was my rescue cat, not theirs. I knew I might regret letting her earn an advanced degree in Philosophy of Physics at Princeton. What I didn’t know was that halfway through the course, she passed the knowledge of her professor and had talked to him about researching Einstein’s theory of time travel. Then the Provost called for a meeting and offered me three million dollars for my cat.

    I of course said ‘no’ much to Miss Kitty’s pleasure and found myself faced with a summons from the director of the FBI, stating what a security risk Miss Kitty had created for herself. Being a national security risk to the nation, she therefore was seized as dangerous. At that moment, Miss Kitty threw a fit and being a 22 pound calico, she caused such a diversion, we managed to escape the office and ran for the nearest hallway.

    Once in the hall we headed toward the electrical service room which I knew from my business, would always be locked. I asked her,

    “Why stop here?”

    “Because I have learned to control locks with my mind and they’ll have to get a key from the janitorial to open it.”

    “But we’ll be trapped.”

    “Not hardly, because we won’t be there. Now what city and what year would you like to go to?”

    “I still don’t understand.”

    “Well Kerry, you knew we were researching time travel, remember?”

    “I do but ………………….Good Lord, do you have the key to time travel, really.?”

    “I do but my professor still struggles cause I tweaked the equation for him.”

    “But where is the machine, the time machine?”

    “Look in your right front pocket, a very small computer, that’s it.

    I pulled it from my pocket, a small black box, the size of a pack of cigarettes. I couldn’t figure out how to open it.

    “Quit fiddling with it. There’s enough energy stored there to wipe out half of Philadelphia. Besides it’s mind controlled, my mind.”

    At that moment, a rapping noise on the steel door filled the energy closet.

    “Shhhh”, she said, ”hand the box to me, now what city, what year?”

    “Philadelphia of course, earyl 1776.”

    “Okay, stand in the center of the room and touch no walls. They will start to melt from the energy field. But don’t worry, inside the field will not be hot. Ready, hold your ears.”

    The noise was as deafening as a run-away steam railroad train. I could see a time portal being formed at the edge of the energy field.

    “Carry me,” Miss Kitty said. “We need to go through at the same time.”

    And we did. I could hear the force field slow and the roar decrease. Then it was gone and we stood in front of Betsy Ross’ house.

    “Put me down!” Miss Kitty said. “Ben Franklin’s just ahead and I’m dying to meet him.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you John, always glad to hear from you. Been settled with more work than I can.handle. that’s why I am so late. Plus ten inches of rain in the last eight days. Small flood in the house to boot. Need a let up from God and two weeks in Bermuda. Want to go along and count belly buttons?

    1. writer_sk

      Kerry- I read it twice. So creative using the time travel aspect. I agree – such a fun read. Reminded me of “The Shaggy Dog”

      Funny and somehow plausible (in my mind) to have the cat as a time-traveling genius. My 7-year-old loves hearing stories I tell him about his cat going joyriding on his scooter at night or cleaning the house with her tail while he’s at school. So I can relate. Can’t wait for more Ms Kitty in future…

      1. writer_sk

        By the way the line about them needing to “go thru at the same time” could be a foreshadowing for a future snag in their time travel if you continue w these characters

  3. writer_sk

    The offices at UniBiology were kept at a very low temperature and my whole body shivered as I crossed to the file cabinet. My gloved hand shook but not due to the cold – I was breaking into my office after hours to get evidence. I lifted the cabinet, an obvious decoy, and revealed a locked wall-safe behind. The numeric combination had come to me in my psychic vision but I had been unable to decipher the final number- it was either 81 or 31.

    I fumbled the pen light to the floor, my nerves getting the better of me, and it clanked against the file cabinet. I grabbed it and crouched to the floor, the only sound my beating heart. No sound permeated from the long window-lined sterile hallway at UniBiology which connected the labs to the office building. The company had its hands in several industries. My job was largely to do with testing but I often consulted with financial. In the past six months I’d uncovered the company’s plan to falsify test results done on its popular toothpaste and tooth whitening products. There were test results showing that clients were diagnosed with cancer due to even short term use of the toothpaste and whitening trays and gels. UniBiology wanted to continue to sell the products while developing a stand-in for the harmful chemical which I believed to be the UniBiology subsidiary-manufactured additive, “RecnacPure.” While it made one’s teeth gleaming white, it also caused mouth, throat and esophageal cancer. The company’s stocks had hit a market high and sales were at a high as customer-testimonials hit the web and tv airwaves promising a quick result.

    I steadied my body against the wall and stood fully up. The third incorrect try at the combination set off an alarm. I had thought any alarm would be silent to me but it was loud. I shifted the cabinet back and crouched beneath the window leading to the long hall. I shook physically, head to toe, as I took off my knit face mask and slipped out the door, the security guard heading the other way. I rounded the corner to my office and realized the door was locked as I turned the knob that I’d left unlocked. Red and blue lights flashed between the gaps in the office blinds. I ripped my keys from my coat pocket shaking to locate the correct one. I heard someone approaching and finally felt the key go in and the knob turn. I sat down at my desk and put on my earbuds. I took out the large stack of documents and assumed a position (I hoped) of nonchalance- work shirt unbuttoned with tie off and an old mug of coffee sitting out.

    “Sir!” Someone rapped on my desk, knocking to get my attention.

    “How long have you been here this evening?”

    “Oh,” I stood up, feigning a casual unawareness, “‘bout two hours- give or take.”

    “Did you sign in and scan your badge?”

    “No.” I paused and though I didn’t seem prepared, I’d thought of every scenario.

    Calmly, I looked the rookie- looking man in the eye and lied “I never left. You’ll see I’ve been here working since 5.” Meanwhile I planned to break in again and perhaps disable the alarm ahead of time.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Quite a trip of tension, high stakes indeed
        Your words put me next to your MC .some parts were almost terrifying, especially as he fumbled for his keys. I wish for the future you would continue in another prompt as this is the last day for this one. Kept me pealed to every word.

  4. GrahamLewis

    I feel a strong need for a disclaimer here. The following piece is absolute fiction, and the views expressed are expressly not those of the author. I apologize in advance if anyone is offended.

    HOW SHOULD I KNOW?

    The knock was sudden but hardly unexpected. My lawyer had told me it was inevitable, and we both knew they liked late night visits. I know what they want to find, and what they will find. The house is clean. Nothing they discover here can hurt me.

    I didn’t mean for the guy to die, but in our work those things happen. I was swinging my placard in self-defense. How was I to know he had an eggshell skull, and one misplaced whack with the corner of my sign would do him in. I know Jews are lousy fighters, but I was as shocked as anybody the way he crumpled to the ground. I was lucky to melt back into the crowd so my comrades smuggled me home.

    I knew the cops would come for me, so I took steps. Once here I burned the signboard and the mask, and the clothes I wore that day. Even the shoes (two sizes too big in case I left footprints). I know there was no video because if they had one they would have nabbed me long ago. So all they have are witness statements and the presumption that I was the one, because of my record and my organization. Like every skinhead is a murderer. Come on. Talk about profiling.

    Our organization has never advocated murder, but we do advocate white and Christian power. Real Christianity, I mean, none of this gentle social diversity crap. The Bible is a violent book, lots of righteous killing. When the cause is right, any means are right. Like that old political slogan from, I think the Goldwater campaign back in the ‘60s, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.” We take only the steps that need taking, but mistakes happen and things sometimes go too far. Then we take precautions. Let them search, let them haul away bundles of documents and my laptop and phone, and go through my clothes closet. I’m not afraid of anything they will find here.

    I fear only one thing, and I don’t think they will go all geneological on me. Far as my story goes, I’m the latest in a long line of proud and pure Aryan stock. But if some needle-necked twerp starts digging into historical records, I’m sure my great-grandparents’ name of Weinstein will come up. And if that gets out, they do, then the DA won’t have to worry about prosecuting me. My erstwhile comrades will take care of that, no trial, just a bullet to the head for “treason.”

    1. writer_sk

      Hi Graham! Great start. Good, dark topic. A part two would be good so we can see them raid the house or find some tiny piece of DNA to connect your MC maybe…

      1. GrahamLewis

        Thanks SK. I was afraid it might be too dark for this site. Wasn’t what I initially set out to write, but that’s what came out after several hours of ruminating.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Don’t apologise for the datkness. It is all around us, we choose not to look. When you consider WWII and all the horror stories surrounding the war, this is relatively mild in comparison
          I also would appreciate hearing from you on a continuation. Good writing here.

  5. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    “Did you see that?” officer Cross asked, nodding deftly toward the window.

    “What?” his younger partner turned clumsily, eyes wide with a curiosity that the years had not yet killed.

    “Someone was peeking behind the curtain. He’s in there. And he knows we’re out here.”

    The partner looked wildly from side to side, his mind likely running with stories he’d heard in the academy about shootouts and psychopaths. These stories were told by people not much older than him, and were often eerily similar to action movies and detective shows.

    “I’m gonna kick the door in. He isn’t dangerous, but you can’t be too careful, so keep your eyes open kid,” Cross got in position and looked at his partner, who was still staring blankly at the window.

    “There’ll be time for daydreaming later kid. Were you listenin’ to a word I said?” he asked gruffly, the wrinkles on his forehead deepening.

    “Yeah,” the kid snapped suddenly out of his internal reenactment of Lethal Weapon and moved to side of the door.

    “Alright,” Cross whispered, throwing three fingers into the air. His lips mouthed through his fingers movements.

    Three. Two. One.

    The moment of silence made way for a deafening crack as the door collapsed in front of the men. Cross turned immediately to point his weapon toward where he’d seen movement, while the kid followed. But there was no one standing at the window, and as Cross scanned the room, he found that there was no one here at all.

    He holstered his weapon and looked at what actually was in the room.

    Papers, tons of them, littered every inch of the dark space. Cross picked one up and read it. There were poems scrawled all over it, from corner to corner, front and back.

    The kid gasped. “Never read anything like ‘em. What’re they doing in this guys house? Aren’t they illegal? I thought we were just here cause some neighborhood kid said this guy was strange.”

    “The neighborhood kid was right,” Cross mumbled, for once in an awe that surpassed that of his partner.

    Cross had read poetry before, in his training, but it was mostly just sonnets or limerick-like poems with no real substance. These poems were as free verse as free verse can possibly be, used swear words, painted graphic images, and worst of all, called for action.

    Cross crumpled the paper and let it fall back to the floor, but for a while the words seemed to float in front of him.

    He blinked and saw the devil words scrawled on the inside of his eye lids. His partner gave him a small push.

    “Shouldn’t we probably get some backup… this isn’t what we thought we were…” he was interrupted by the sound of movement. It was a frantic, hurried movement coming from upstairs. Cross recognized from just the sound what the movement was. He was hiding something.

    “Come on!” Cross yelled out, running up the staircase, his hand falling for his weapon once again.

    The partner starred for a second, and then followed, his lanky legs carrying him somewhat slower, despite his youth.

    Cross came to a closed door, where he heard the sound coming from. He pointed his gun and kicked in the door. A pale, scrawny man, not much older than his partner looked up from the desk drawer he was quickly pushing shut. His hair was wild and tangled, a deep brown that made the pale of his face even more evident. His clothing had colors that Cross couldn’t remember ever seeing before in his life, and it took him a minute to pull his eyes off of them. This was the poet. And he looked terrified.

    “Please…” he mumbled. Cross thought his voice sounded too soft and calm for the man to be any danger. He didn’t move his gun.

    “Shut up. What were you just hiding?”

    “I…”

    The partner reached Cross and looked at the poet he had cornered. Tears were beginning to stream down the poet’s cheeks, and his paleness grew red with stress and fear.

    “What were you hiding?” Cross shouted again, realizing his own eyes were beginning to water. He ignored this, and blinked the water away.

    “Answer him,” his partner muttered, clearly shocked watching as a grown man completely broke into nothing in front of him.

    “My heart!” the poet suddenly shrieked to the ceiling and the clouds, his entire body shaking with his sob.

    “What do you mean?” Cross asked, still blinking excessively.

    “I’ve hidden my heart. I’ve hidden my soul. I’ve hidden my entire being away in this desk drawer, in this house. I’ve hidden it for years and I am done hiding it. I am done!” the poet’s face grew more and more red and he began to stand. Cross adjusted his grip on his gun, which was beginning to slip with the sweat on his hands. The partner just stood mindlessly, for different reasons than he had before.

    The poet lunged at them, and Cross squeezed the trigger. As he did, his entire body jolted through time to the first time he’d killed. He closed his eyes, not wanting to witness his own destructiveness, but there it was worse. On his eyelids lines of poetry still lived, practically screaming at him. He opened his eyes and forgot to blink back the moisture. He didn’t understand why, but tears were running down his rough cheeks.

    The poet fell to the floor, the blues and greens and yellows of his beautiful sweater taking on nothing but the deep red of destruction.

    Destruction. Cross’ mind ran. Was destruction all he was? Was it all he would ever be?

    The partner walked away and vomited, the puke coating several papers, which he now realized covered every floor and surface in the entire house.

    Cross bent down and picked up one of the papers. It didn’t matter what it said. He stuffed it into his pocket and turned toward his partner, regaining his self.

    “This’ll be a shit ton of paperwork,” Cross called, “But it’ll have been worth it.”

    1. jhowe

      This was really well done. The writing flows well and is tight and packed with tension. Luckily, we’ve not reached such a state of censorship to this degree. Hopefully never will.

  6. rottifan4

    Here is my submission. I am a beginning writer. Any suggestions or critique is welcome.

    Secrets Within
    [Knock knock knock]
    “Joey you better want something good this time. I’m painting my toenails and if you make me”
    “Police, open up” they interrupted.
    Landyn paused briefly, stunned then began walking towards the door at a slightly quicker pace now.
    “Uh, hold on officer, I’m coming.” She hobbled across the floor on her heels. Toes in the air, cotton balls between each toe. “Oh” she said when she opened the apartment door.” Officers, plural. What can I do for you?”
    “Are you Landyn Kelly?” the taller officer near the door asked with no indication in his tone if what he was about to deliver was good news or bad news?” So many things ran through her mind. Was it her mom? She should have her this morning and”
    “We have a search warrant for this address and we’re going to need to you to step out of the way, please”. He handed her a copy of an official looking paper, but all the words just blurred together in one unreadable smear before her eyes. One officer went to her room on the left. The tall one went to Jack’s room and the third just stood, his hands clasped in front of him as he stood next to the couch. Landyn took the paper, walking normal again. She had forgotten about her toe nails for the first few steps then bent over and pulled out the cotton balls that were between each toe. She successfully continued to walk and remove them at the same time, although not gracefully. The cotton balls remained strewn on the living room floor, spots of Jack O’Lantern Orange polish decorating them.
    “Excuse me, um officer. What is this about?” But before he had responded she suddenly remembered something. Where was it she wondered? She had changed where she had hidden it several times, but where did she put it last? If they found it, she would definitely have some explaining to do. Was that what they were here for? If Joey had let it slip and the police found out she knew it would be hard to explain why she had what she did.
    Forgetting she had asked the officer a question, he finally responded “Mam, everyithing is in the court order that I gave you. We received some information that there may be items in this apartment that are connected with a recent murder.”
    “Murder?” she spurted out. “You think I murdered someone?” she asked, stunned. What she was concerned they might find could not possibly be a murder weapon. It might be evidence of something but not murder. She turned and slowly walked to the kitchen table. Placing her hand on the back of a red leather cushioned chair to brace herself, she had no idea what they were talking about. She hadn’t murdered anyone. She took Ambien sometimes at night to sleep and it made her a little goofy but not goofy enough to murder someone and not remember it. Could it?

    1. jhowe

      Not bad for a beginner, rottifan4. Your writing skills are good. I like the story but I’d kind of like to see just a hint at what Landyn was hiding so perhaps it might point some doubt her way. Then, when we find out she wasn’t quite sure if she could have been involved in the murder, we’d have reason to wonder.

    2. writer_sk

      Aah very good. No, I couldn’t tell you’re a beginner.

      I liked the detail of the orange nailpolish and the twist of doubt of a possible Ambien-induced memory lapse murder.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      I liked the everydayness of worrying about smearing nail polish just before the shock of police at the door. Nicely done. Welcome to the site, nice folks here.

  7. ReathaThomasOakley

    Secret Within
    (True Story, but I hadn’t thought of it for the prompt until my husband suggested it and another one I might also do)

    “The police are at the door,” I whispered into the phone to the voice that had kept me calm since I’d dialed 911. “Thank you.”

    After I hung up I realized I now had to get up from where I was huddled on the floor between my bed and the wall and go to the door. I wished I could just stay hidden, how could I ever explain how I was dressed, jeans I’d discarded earlier now under my nightgown, a dirty sweatshirt over the ensemble. But, I rationalized, when one hears footsteps in the dry leaves under one’s window at 2AM, it makes sense to crawl around on the floor feeling for clothing rather than turning on a light and going to the closet.

    I’d only lived in the house a few weeks after accepting a new job back in Billings and moving from Florida. So, when I first heard something I waited a bit before making the call. Perhaps I just wasn’t yet used to normal house settling noises. But, when the emergency operator said officers would soon arrive because other calls had come from my neighborhood, I stopped feeling foolish.

    I overcame my fears of being seen as a fashion disaster and went to the back door where two uniformed young men stood. They took no notice of my outfit.

    “Mam, we’ve checked all around your house and yard, couldn’t see anything,” one reassured me.

    “Now, with your permission,” the other started, “might I take a look in your garage?”

    “Oh, yes, yes, please do. It’s unlocked and so is the car.” I hadn’t even thought of the garage.

    “You told the operator you haven’t lived here long,” the first officer said, probably making small talk while his partner faced the unknown.

    “Yes, new job after being away a few years,” I started, but stopped when the garage door opened and Officer Two walked out carrying a rifle.

    Oh, dear, I thought, oh, dear.

    “Uh, mam, this weapon yours?”

    “Yes.”

    “From the trunk of an unlocked car in an unlocked garage?”

    “Yes,” I had to think fast, but sometimes I think too fast. “Yes, but I can explain. I don’t really think of that as a weapon, more a legacy from my father. You see that was his first gun and because he was nearly forty when I was born it’s really old, practically an antique, and because I was a good shot with it when he died my mother gave it to me and I’m going to give it to my son in Sheridan but just haven’t yet and I didn’t want it to be in the moving van so I put it in the trunk back in Florida and was leaving it there until I went to Sheridan or he came here and I certainly didn’t expect a prowler.” I reached for the rifle. “Thank you so very much for bringing to me.”

    The men looked at each other, One gave a slight nod, Two sighed and handed me my weapon.

    After a few instructions and admonitions the officers made certain the garage door was locked and started to leave.

    “Oh, wait,” I’d had a brilliant thought. “I’m the new Executive Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters and we’re getting ready for Bowl for Kids’ Sake, our fall fundraiser, and I’m told police and fire secure teams and vie for the Pig Bowl championship. I have some entry forms. Can I give you a few?”

    “Uh, no mam, not tonight, we have forms at the station.” They kept on walking. “Good night.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You are one cool-minded woman. Bad luck to anyone who grabs you, by the time you tell then they have crooked teeth, smell bad and need a shave.
        Only funning with you Reatha, I enjoyed this and everything else you write. This is no exception.

  8. Sethjaden

    I was sound asleep until I heard knocking on my door. I grumbled and sat up, waiting to hear the sound again. Bang bang bang! I cursed under my breath as I stood up, walking over to the makeshift ladder, knocking over a few glowing plants disrupting my hybrid who was peacefully sleeping on her pillow. “Sorry.” I said in response to the hiss. I climbed up and opened the trapdoor. Looking out the window to see red and blue lights flashing. “This again?” I pulled a rug over the door and set a fake bookshelf, with hollow books to make it lighter, on top of the rug and finally adding books on top of the bookself to add weight. I opened the door as a search warrant walked in followed by police. “Hello again, officer…” “Lake, my name is officer Lake. by this time I would have imagined you remembered that.” The officer said with a tired tone in their voice. “Aw yes, officer lake. What seems to be the problem this time?” One police man looked at the book self and past by it, just like last time, and the time before. Hidden so well, might I add. “One neighbor complained of a law violation, exclaimed that you have an illegal hybrid on your property.” I rolled my eyes, “Let me guess, Sheral told you that? She always up my tail about this stuff.” I watched as police overlooked my bookshelf and search under pillows, behind chairs, even on the ceiling fan. When they gave up and left I snickered. Another knock came from my door. I opened it to see my wife, Lake Waters. “So how convincing was I?” I asked smirking my tail dragging, under my robe, back and forth across the floor in slight excitement. “Other than the occasional glance towards the bookshelf. You did good.” She smiled and hugged me. We moved the bookshelf and open the door. Our little hybrid jumped out and hugged Lake. I smiled and chuckled to myself as river, our hybrid, showed her mom around her room that I added to the lab in the ‘Never to Find’ basement.

    (A world where hybrids are illegal, a search warrant falls in love with one and they have a hybrid of their own.)

    1. jhowe

      What a strange and wonderful story. Good one. I like how you simply mention the hybrid and the walking search warrant without explanation and leave it to the reader to interpret.

  9. W Brown

    Ribbons

    We have a warrant to search the entire premises – the words echoed in her mind over and over. “But – but-“ she swallowed and then inhaled deeply. “I don’t understand. Why – what are you looking for?” Her voice was half hoarse, half screech. Oh god, oh god. Sweat started to roll down the back of her neck, under her hair.

    “Ma’am, step aside. It’s in the warrant.” The detective brushed past her, leading a charge of police officers. They fanned out and went to separate parts of the house.

    A few went upstairs. She clenched her hands and pressed her back against the wall. Just not the attic, she thought.

    “You’ll need to wait here. Johnson, you know the drill.”

    Johnson came and stood right next to her. Apparently, he was her babysitter. She tried to swallow but her tongue caught on her sand coated throat. Her heart continued to hammer in her chest. She had a hard time not swaying with the rhythm of the beats.

    The noise of things being moved, pushed, and knocked over began to drown out the sound of her heart. She flinched every time the noise got especially loud. She could hear the unmistakable thuds of her books being thrown on the floor from the bookcase in her living room, picture frames being slid across shelves and the torturous sound of drawers being opened – and the things, private things in those drawers being moved, handled, touched.

    It’s ok, as long as I don’t hear that squeak, she tried to calm herself. They might not even notice it. She knew it was about a 50/50 chance. Not great odds.

    “Hey, boss, look at this.”

    Oh god-but wait, wait, that’s in the living room. She sagged a little and breathed slower. There’s nothing in there.

    “That’s nothing, keep looking.”

    Squuueeeaaakkk….

    It seemed as if everything stopped and that squeak was as loud as a siren on an emergency vehicle. Her knees started to buckle. Her breath was coming in quick shallow bursts.

    Then another noise. Someone was talking but it sounded like they were under water or she was under water.

    “…found him. Let’s go.”

    The cops once again shoved past her. They left.

    She stumbled to the couch and dropped down. A few minutes later her breathing and heart had started to calm down. She finally opened the search warrant.

    They had been looking for evidence about the disappearance of a missing boy. She didn’t like boys. Boys were messy and rambunctious.

    Her girls were sweet and gentle. She’d never taken any boys and never would.

    She needed to get to the attic. She held the hair ribbons from her various girls and looked out the window. Thank heaven the police hadn’t looked out there.

    Of course they wouldn’t have seen anything. Only the dogs, if they’d brought them, would have known where her precious girls are.

  10. jhowe

    I taped the curled strand of hair to the cork board and mused at the collection. The doorbell rang and I covered the board with a sheet before peeking through the curtain. Drat, the cops.

    I froze, thinking she would assume I wasn’t home. The officer spoke through the open screen.

    “I see you standing there, Murphy. Open the door.”

    “Officer Tate, good to see you.” This wasn’t a good time.

    “Do you mind if I look around?” She handed me the warrant and pushed past me.

    I ran to the refrigerator and stood in front of it. “Don’t look in here… there’s nothing in here.”

    Tate shook her head and lifted the sheet from the cork board. “Still collecting pubic hair I see.”

    “It gets me by on rainy evenings.” I ran to the hall and closed the door to the spare bedroom. “Don’t look in here… there’s nothing in here.”

    Tate brushed by me and entered the master suite. She opened my nightstand drawer and rifled through the myriad of condoms and lubricants. “Magnum size… nice try, Murphy.”

    “It takes a real woman to get me up to my true potential.”

    She wiped at an eye and turned away. In the master bath, she opened the mirrored cabinet. “You never needed these before.”

    My heart sank. She was right. The blue pills were becoming more and more necessary since she left. “I, uh, I really don’t need them that much.”

    “You’d need to find a woman first, right Murph?”

    “I do ok.”

    “Is that why you play darts at Livewire every night, with the guys, and sing really bad karaoke to a crowd of drunks and losers?”

    “I didn’t think you paid attention.”

    “Oh, I pay attention,” she said, tears streaming. “And I’d take you back in a heartbeat if you’d lose the attitude.”

    “And I’d take you back if you didn’t bitch all the time.”

    “I don’t bitch,” she said. “I make suggestions.” She slammed the cabinet closed. “And do you really think that’s Taylor Swift’s pubic hair?”

    “It came with a certificate of authenticity.”

    “It’s a rip-off, Murph. Celebrities don’t send out things like that.”

    “Fine,” I said. “I’ll take you back.”

    “Now I’m not so sure I want you back.”

    I walked to the kitchen and broke the cork board over my knee and threw it into the garage. I took a bottle of pinot from the fridge and twisted off the cap. “Wine?” I said.

    “I can’t. I’m on duty.”

    “When are you off duty?”

    “She looked at her watch. “Actually, now.” She wrapped her arms around me we kissed passionately.

    “I’ll send for your things tomorrow.”

    “They’re in the squad car.”

    “Everything?”

    “All I care about,” she said. “I downsized.”

    I poured the wine and we sat at the table. I picked up the warrant and looked at it.

    “It’s fake,” she said.

    “Can you do that?”

    She removed her handcuffs from her belt. “I can’t do this either but I am anyway.” She took my hand and we retired to the bedroom.

  11. Nicole Coffey

    A grown witch shouldn’t be hiding with a cuppa wishing away monsters, but here I was. Three harsh knocks on the door shook through the apartment. Whoever it was would go away, right? Contrary to my hopeful assumption the knocking came again, harder. With one hand clenched around the scalding tea like a weapon, I pulled open the door.

    A man with stern, cold eyes waited there. His arms crossed, threatening to tear the seams of his uniform shirt. “Austin Greenway?”

    “Is there a problem?” I asked.

    Those eyes, so dark blue I wondered if I’d drown, narrowed further. “I’m with the BPD, Paranormal Investigations, my name is Ezekiel Dawn, are you Austin Greenway?”

    Terror burned through my stomach up to choke me. There was no use denying it, among the investigators were empaths and mancers, so there was no doubt this man could read either my thoughts or feelings. I nodded.

    “You’re the last of the Greenway witches, warlocks now that you’ve been outcast as dark magic. I’ve come to collect the stone. I know you have it, it wasn’t found in the family manor or on your parents persons.”

    Oh, gods. The tea threatened to swim up with my fear. I mentally repeated the goddess’s prayer as a precaution of telekinesis, and did the only thing I knew to do, lie. “They never told me where it was before they…died.”

    “Lie.” the investigator growled. He shouldered past me and scanned the shabby apartment, until he settled on tossing books from their shelf. “Each magi family has a heart stone, one for water, fire, and earth. Your family has the earth stone, it’s bound to your bloodline’s hearts. Any witch who has a stone’s direct power could cause chaos, and the Delano girl made off with water. Although the family the stone belongs to can cloak it, the stone still calls to any mancer of it’s ability. I am a terramancer.”

    He was the monster I hid from. The council was collecting the stones, to protect them from being stolen by outsiders according to their speeches, but Rita Holland collected them for their power. This was something my parent knew, the Delano family too, and our parents left it up to Scarlett and I to get the stones to safety. I was on my way to the elvin kingdom, outside of the council’s jurisdiction, outside of any shifter, mancer, or magi community. I just hadn’t made it yet. Ezekiel’s hands rested on the emptied bookshelf and crumbled the wood. Pieces scattered over the floor, dust clouded my eyes, but I didn’t need to see to know what was going on. He would dig through the wall to find the stone. Not only would I fail my parents if he got to it, but I used the stone to create this building. Once removed the apartment would disintegrate and the deaths of those here would be on my conscious.

    1. writer_sk

      Meticulous story-telling. Although I often shy away from the fantasy genre, I really enjoyed this. The use of a witch as a character grabbed me at the first sentence. Deft exposition and rich details really brought this together.

  12. rlk67

    I cried over my laptop in one of my basement offices. Another five grand. Sigh. Such a dark future for…

    There was knock! I quickly slipped the thin computer into the drawer. Bang! The false bottom fell through to a hidden compartment. Bang! The second false bottom fell through. Bang! Bang! Drat, I must fix that one day.

    I ran up the fourteen carpeted stairs and slid across the marble foyer to the door which was almost twice my height. The realtor should have just sold us an airport hangar.

    I peeked out. Someone with a badge peeked in. NO!

    “Open up. Officer Karney of the Mosstown police department and I have a search warrant.”

    I was frozen. No way. What did I do?

    I slowly opened. “Uh, hi, sir. I’m not sure…”

    “That’s okay. I am sure.” He moved through to the inside, peering at the high ceilings and extra plush furniture. He shook his head. “I guess this will take a while.”

    “But officer,” I protested, “I think…”

    “I also think. I think this is a big house. I think I need to find something. I think…” Kearney stared at me. “I think I will explain and you will listen and I won’t need to repeat myself. Got it?”

    “I think.”

    “It seems that the huge manufacturing warehouse down the street has been losing money.”

    You don’t say.

    “And it seems that someone has been hacking into their computer systems in order to make a profit.”

    No! Don’t say! It’s not…

    “And it furthermore seems that we are checking out all of the people who had any past dealings. And it seems your address was found written in blood on a napkin.”

    “Blood?!”

    “Okay, I made that up. It was found in a few files of their system which keeps getting broken into. Well, that’s enough for me. Take me to your computers. Now.”

    Oh, well, okay. The laptop is buried under a few feet of wood, so at least that’s safe. And he’s not walking near the kitchen, so the files are safe. “Right here in the living room, officer.” He went over to it, and tried to find the on button. “How do you…”

    Ahem. “Computer turn on! It’s voice activated.”

    Kearney shook his head again. “All right, go run along, I’ll just be checking this out.”

    Have fun. It’s just loaded with games for my four-year-old grandson. While he was busy with that, I ran downstairs to the basement. With the laptop out of sight, I could breathe much easier. But I still had som much to do. I waited about twenty minutes, and finally went back up to see if he was able to get the Frogger across the street.

    When I reached the living room, I saw he was gone. I guess he gave up and…wait. The door to the kitchen was open. No. Please.

    I ran past the table and almost fainted. The cookie jar! It was…sideways! NO!

    I took it slowly and reached in. The papers were there. I opened them. Nobody could ever see these! All the names of the employees from the warehouse. And their account numbers, with automatic deposit codes and amounts I place in each month. I put my head down. They all got pay cuts and will be losing their jobs soon. No food on the table. No money for doctors, or gas. And it was all up to me.

    It was hard, but hacking into the system to get the information was worth it. I imagined the joy when each one sees that they are still being paid in full, thinking it’s from the company. And after, when each one gets their ‘pension’. I was keeping them alive, and no one could ever…uh, oh. What was this?

    I stopped on the third page by a name. There was handwriting not my own! I grabbed my reading glasses.

    “This is my brother-in-law. Thanks. I won’t tell. Kearney.”

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