WEP February Challenge: Heart’s Desire

A new year of challenges hosted by the wonderful Yolanda and Renee of Write, Edit, Publish! The first theme of the year: Back of the Drawer.

As the name suggests, the prompt is all about what a character finds at the back of a drawer. Love? Riches? Horror? Who can say?

Presented for your reading pleasure, here’s the tale of a thief called Len, who once stole the biggest prize of all: the love of his life.


 

“Whatever you do, don’t open the top drawer.”

Mal had been very insistent about that. The top drawer was to remain untouched. She wouldn’t say why, and Len knew better than to badger her for answers. She kissed him before he left, holding her lips to his a second longer than usual. If she said to leave that drawer alone, he’d damn well leave it alone.

It was a simple job: break into Mal’s old apartment and retrieve a few items from her bureau. Dob, her drunken pig of an ex-husband and former partner, would probably be out with his floozy of the week, so there was little chance of running into him. Of course, he’d probably have a few people posted around the roofs and balconies, just in case. Still, it was no big deal for Len; getting past security was his specialty. Some reconnaissance, a little sneaking around rooftops and a couple of chokeholds took care of Dob’s crew. No sweat. All he had to do was hop onto an adjacent balcony to get to Mal’s building, then find the right window. But before he could jump, there were footsteps. He’d missed one. The guard emerged from the stairwell to find his partner knocked out and Len standing at the edge of the roof.

The guard pulled out a gun. Len broke off part of an antenna. A bullet shot through the air, missing Len’s neck by inches as he twisted and dove to the ground, flinging the antenna piece. It hit the guard square between the eyes, knocking him off balance. A running jump, a flying kick, some punches, some blocks and one karate chop (not necessary, but fun). It was over. All clear. Len hopped over to the next building and found his window.

Breaking into the actual apartment would be a lot easier. Dob was paranoid but sloppy: his locks and latches didn’t put up much resistance against Len’s deft fingers. He opened the window as quietly as he could and slipped inside. Len was standing in Mal’s study, which Dob had converted into some sort of gaudy trophy room. Many of Mal’s things were untouched, though, including her bureau, pressed up against one corner of the room. Len went over to it and unlocked the drawers. All except the top one, just as instructed. He took out some papers, all stapled together. There were also some folders, Old photographs. One very particular photograph that Mal definitely wouldn’t want Dob to keep. A journal. And her favorite knife, thin curved blade and an intricately carved bone hilt. Her name had been engraved on it, in a language that many had forgotten. That was all. Job done.

As he was getting up, a voice in the back of his mind asked why Mal had told him to leave the top drawer. What was the big secret, and why did she want it to stay with Dob? It didn’t matter. None of Len’s business. He would take Mal’s things back to her and then they could start their new life together. Simple as that.

The voice wouldn’t let up, though. What was the deal with that drawer? Len grunted impatiently and looked at it, really looked for the first time. It was different from the other drawers. Same faded green wood, but an elaborate golden border. Even the knob was different, molded to look like the head of some weird animal. Len could feel the hairs standing on the back of his neck, like they were trying to pull him away. Whatever was in that drawer was bad news, that much he could tell.

But what if he just got a peek? He wouldn’t take what was in there. Just look and lock it up again. Dob wouldn’t know. Neither would Mal. The job was still done and Len would still get paid. What was the big deal? He was standing over the desk, thumb tapping a frantic rhythm on its weathered surface. Just one peek. For curiosity’s sake. Len smiled. Curiosity. It killed cats. But Len was no cat.

He put his tools to work, picking at the lock of the top drawer, but nothing happened. He couldn’t get the damn thing to open. He couldn’t find a latch or a bolt or a way to make that lock go click under his fingers. A voice in his head again, but a different one. A woman’s voice. Soft. Sultry. Soothing. And click. The drawer was unlocked. Len was surprised, but relieved. One little peek. That’s all he wanted. He grabbed the drawer handle. It felt so warm in that cold, cold room. Like it was alive. Len hesitated. And then he pulled. The drawer slid open with a groan. Len peered into it, holding his breath, then letting it all out in one little whoosh. Empty. The drawer was empty.

Len laughed. Mal had made an ass out of him. All that spooky junk about locked drawers and it was empty. He was about to close it when he saw a shadow near the back. There was something there. The drawer wouldn’t open any further. Len craned his neck to get a better look but he couldn’t see anything except shadows. He reached inside and felt around. Felt something small, squishy. It was a heart. Mal’s heart. It glowed bright red, pulsating slowly under his palm. Somewhere across town, Len knew Mal felt her chest tighten. Why was she leaving her heart with Dob? She hated the bastard. Unless she didn’t.

Len closed the drawer and locked it again. He could still feel its pulsing rhythm along his hand. So that was it. Mal belonged to him now, mind, body and soul. But he knew where her heart truly lay. Len climbed back out the window and made his way to his car. He wished he’d never opened that damn drawer.

Word Count: 986

Three Line Tales: Silence

tlt-w9
Photo Credit: Moritz Schmidt

They stared at her, unable to voice their horror.

She smiled and returned to her book.

Peace at last. Their silence was her reward.

I fell behind on Three Line Tales over the past month or so because of the April A to Z Challenge and various other matters that were pestering me for my attention. It’s time to get back into it. And I intend to catch up on all the prompts I missed, starting with Week Nine.

Write On!

Well, it looks like 2016 is off to a pretty great start in terms of writing!

My entry for Last Week’s Three Line Tales went on to become my most popular post yet, which is pretty awesome! If you haven’t already, you can check it out here.

And just yesterday, I got an email thanking all the writers that participated in the WEP Valentine’s Challenge and announcing the winners. As it turns out, I had the winning story!

When Yolanda and Renee at WEP announced that their first challenge of the year would be related to Valentine’s Day, I was stumped. Romance is not my genre at all, and I didn’t want to attempt to write something sappy. Part of me considered skipping it altogether, but then what’s the point of a challenge if you’re not going to challenge yourself?

So I decided to give it a shot. After a lot of thinking and several abandoned ideas, I finally came up with something that seemed like it would be a worthy entry. I was pretty happy with it overall, considering how reluctant I’d initially been about writing it. And it seemed to garner quite a bit of praise when it was submitted. But to win? That was completely unexpected!

And now, I’m more eager than ever to dive into more challenges and see where they take me!

My WEP entry is posted here.

Here are the runners-up, both of whom had wonderful takes on the theme:

Olga Godim – Hannah’s Rugelach

Writerly Sam – The Bridge Between Lost and Found

The full list of entries can be found on the WEP Challenge page. I’d recommend reading them all.

Literary Lion: Lady of the Lake

As part of my ‘MORE WRITING’ resolution for this year, I’m trying to get in some more flash fiction prompts. There were a few I participated in last year that ended up fading away. I think now’s as good a time as any to get back to those.

One that I really enjoyed was the Literary Lion challenge put out by Laura Feasey. In fact, I’ve written one of my personal favorite stories during one of those prompts. Alas, the Lion went on a small break as life got in the way and then I went on an involuntary hiatus as life got in the way and it all went downhill from there.

The Lion has started roaring again recently, and while it’s taken me a while to get there, I’ve finally answered the call. This fortnight’s prompt is to write a tale in 25 words or less on the phrase ‘Drink Me’. Here’s my contribution:

Drink me. Go ahead. You’ve heard all the stories. I can heal you. Grant everlasting life. A soul is such a small price to pay.

WEP Valentine’s Challenge: Forever

Yolanda and Renee of Write, Edit, Publish have put forth their first writing challenge for this year, based around Valentine’s Day. The challenge is to write a fiction or non-fiction piece in 1000 words or less. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.


 

John couldn’t believe it was Valentine’s Day already. How time flew.

It was one of the most important days of his life. The day when he and Marnie had decided to take the next step in their relationship.

John adjusted his hat and walked along the same street where he had taken so many moonlit strolls over the years, hand in hand with Marnie. He smiled. The city had changed so much over the years, but it was still beautiful at night, pulsing with life and vitality. The both of them had had many wild nights together, painting the town red.

They were inseparable, always with their arms around each other. Her sing song laughter echoed in the evening air, replaced by ecstatic moans as the night went on. His thick, stubby fingers would comb through her dark tresses, caress her pearlescent skin, trace the contours of her sanguine lips. She in turn would let her spidery fingers roam over his rough form, from his scruffy brown hair to the slight bulge of his gut. The passion they shared could scorch the world, but that wasn’t all that they had.

Marnie was one of the few people, perhaps the only one, that truly understood John. The both of them could spend hours engaged in the most idle conversation, or simply watching the world go by in complete silence. They were content to simply exist together, two bodies and minds joined as one.

John’s footsteps grew a little heavier as he walked away from the city, towards the small hill that lay on its outskirts. He paused before the iron gates at the foot of the hill and took out a small package from his coat’s inner pocket. He opened the package carefully, removing the wrappings to reveal a single, blood-red rose. With a sigh, John walked through the gates.

He hadn’t expected his romance with Marnie to end as abruptly as it had. Though perhaps he should have. They had become too reckless, drawn too much attention to themselves. With the number of people that had gone missing in the wake of their nightly escapades, it was only a matter of time before a hunter showed up in town. John and Marnie hadn’t been concerned. They thought they could handle things. But they were wrong. The hunter was cleverer than they had anticipated. He laid the perfect trap, and they fell for it.

John knelt down and placed the rose on top of an unmarked gravestone. Marnie had made the ultimate sacrifice so that John could escape. This was where she rested now, though he wondered if she’d found any peace. He patted the stone and started to walk away. All good things came to an end, he thought.

His jaw clenched.

But this wasn’t supposed to.

John walked out of the cemetery and back to the city, running a finger along the bite marks on his neck, still as fresh as they were 150 years ago. Eternity was too long a time to be spent alone.

Word Count: 509

Moving Forward

Sonya over at the blog Only 100 Words conjures up thrilling and compelling tales in..well, only 100 words. She’s recently started up a flash fiction series called Three Line Tales, where a picture serves as an inspiration to pen a short story or poem that’s three lines long. I missed the first week because I’ve been a bit spacey when it comes to my Reader, but I’m going to keep an eye out for it from now on. This week’s prompt can be found here.

tlt2-bridge

My path has no end in sight.

But I’ve already come so far,

And only shadows remain behind me.