#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Eight

I love to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate link) and its creative games, even if they always cause me to end on a cliff-hanger. Unfortunately, all games must come to an end. While I may choose to revisit these characters one day and continue their story, the following is a conclusion to this particular series.

Once again I would like to thank Jamie Cat Callan of the Writer’s Toolbox for sponsoring the original posts, in spite of them going a little dark, and for creating such a fun and easy tool for priming the creative process. 

May you all have a safe and happy new year.

To read from the beginning, visit the first post here.


A Writers Toolbox #ShortStory - conclusion - www.alliepottswrites.com

An ear-piercing squeal jarred Margaret back from the darkness. As another dose of adrenaline spiked her bloodstream, her vision cleared enough to see the unguarded doorway. Thoughts were difficult to string together. Margaret didn’t need them. Animalistic instinct took over.

She could sense an overwhelming pain as she pulled herself out of the chair, but it was as if the pain belonged to someone else. One foot dragged behind the other as she crossed the room. She barely noticed. A man’s voice complained about a sticky wheel in the background. It was all she needed to fuel the urge to get away.

The knob turned in her hand, opening to a kitchen staffed by many who’d long since learned to turn a blind eye to the goings-on of the back room. All it would take one to raise the alarm. Though it was empty, she dropped to the ground. The brown tile floor bit into her knees as she crawled through the narrow pathways separating the stainless counter-tops.

She glanced over her shoulder. Her captors had not yet noticed her disappearance. A trail of red marked her progress. Margaret risked rising up into a crouch as she looked around the kitchen for anything that might aid in her escape.

Aprons marred with spots of gray from contact with grease hung from a line of hooks on the wall. A pair of rags draped over the edge of an industrial sink within easy reach.

She grabbed the rags scented thick with bleach and tied one around her largest wound. Margaret tried used the other to wipe away the trail leading to her but only managed to create a pink blur. Wrapping the rest of her body with one of the aprons, she made her way toward the swinging door of the kitchen’s exit, hoping the disguise would be enough to keep her from being noticed.

A foursome blocked her final path to freedom.

One of the four spotted her. “Daisy?” His face drained of color. “You were here this whole time?”

“Out of my way Bill,” Margaret growled. Muddled thoughts continued to swirl, forbidding her from letting her guard down. It didn’t matter if he was her brother. If he was here, he could be one of them. She couldn’t afford to lose her edge now. Not when she was so close.

One of the others raced to her side, pulling her into a crushing embrace that made her eyes water. “I thought I lost you.” He relaxed his hold. “I mean, I thought we lost you.”

The warmth of his arms was unbearable. “Not you too, Larry,” Margaret whimpered as tears filled her vision. “Let me go.” She fought against his hold as a new sort of pain entered into the mix.

Her brother’s best friend released her with wide eyes. Larry’s gaze dropped to the apron, now spotted with pink as well as gray. “I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He took another step back. “I’d never–I’m not–”

Light spilled into the dining room as the kitchen door swung open once more. Margaret didn’t have to turn to know that a large man stood on the other side. She screamed as she attempted to push past Larry, only to be caught by her brother as her legs gave out.

“Donald.” The woman standing closest to Bill smiled, stepping between them and the man. “If you are here, does that mean Frank is close by?” The woman’s voice was smoke and honey. “Ah, there’s my favorite artist.”

“Laurie?” A voice that would haunt Margaret’s dreams, spoke up from behind the large man. “And here I thought you still held hard feelings.”

“Tough day at the office?”

The man shrugged. “I’ve had better. Speaking of work,” He nodded in Margaret’s direction. “I’ve got a delivery to make, but if that past business is behind us… Afterward it can be like before.”

“Oh, I’ve learned a lot since then,” the woman practically purred. She reached into her purse and rummaged around until she pulled out a tube of lip gloss. She coated her lips in slow meaningful strokes as she crossed the room before pulling Frank’s head down to meet his lips with hers.

Frank broke the kiss first. “Now that’s my kind of hello.”

Laurie shrugged. “If you say so.” She walked to Donald and kissed him on the cheek. “I choose to think of it as goodbye.” She returned to Bill’s side.

Frank grabbed at his throat as bloated hives broke out across purpling skin. Donald scratched his cheek where Laurie kissed him, then clawed at his pockets before similarly turning red followed by blue.

“Looking for this?” Laurie asked brandishing a tube in one hand as both men dropped to the ground. Gone was the warmth from her voice. “I keep a package of peanuts in my purse, to keep my metabolism up while dieting. Good for me, but bad for those with allergies.” She let the injection tool taken from Donald’s pocket fall to the ground and crushed it under a shoe. She looked down at the men gasping for breath on the floor. “The next time either of you see Leslie, be sure to tell him I can too act.”

Returning her attention back to the group she smiled. “It is time we all enjoyed a change of scenery, don’t you think?”

Margaret was reminded of their childhood as her older brother scooped her up and carried her out of the diner. Police cars raced by in the direction of Leslie’s penthouse. She’d traded more than cooking tips at the class in Duluth. Her lips turned up as she allowed the darkness take over once more. And now, the scenery wasn’t the only thing that would be changing.

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#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Seven

As much as I absolutely love to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience), I have found it always makes me end on a cliff-hanger. As I am curious as to the story’s end (and hope you are too), I have decided to continue the series with a few more posts. While these posts are not sponsored and do not conform to the rules of the game, I hope you enjoy them all the same.

If you’d prefer to start from the beginning, you can read the first post here.


A Writers-toolbox inspired short story - www.alliepottswrites.com

A crimson ribbon swirled in the sink as Frank rinsed off the tools of his trade. He twisted the faucet knob, slowing the flow of water to allow the color to expand and formed intricate shapes before contracting once more and disappearing down the drain. He sighed as the water ran clear. As much as he tried, he could never quite capture the raw beauty created by the drowning art on his canvas with paint.

A grunt behind him reminded him of the task at hand. Frank turned to his partner, Donald, who was still standing guard by the door. “The girl’s tougher than she looks,” he gestured at the crumpled figure in the chair. “Stupid — but tough. Leslie isn’t going to be happy.”

Donald didn’t need a tongue to tell Frank his feelings on the subject. The expression on his face spoke volumes enough.

Frank looked at the girl again. “Guess there’s nothing left to do but clean up.” The girl. Margaret was her name. Emphasis on was, Frank thought as he shook his head. He remembered how she’d looked when she’d arrived with eyes that flashed between hope and fear. And those pouty lips.., he savored the thought as he would a snifter full of high-end brandy later that night. At one point he’d found himself almost ready to believe her. He shrugged, dismissing the image. Such a waste. Thoughts like that served no one and they still had work to do.

Donald’s face was once again a mask of granite as walked over to one of the large plastic drum style containers the restaurant hiding the back room used to transport leftover grease to the biodiesel processing plant. He picked up the drum and positioned it on the hand truck with an ease that came from years of practice.

An aroma of freshly baked bread tickled Frank’s nose and made his mouth water as he dried the last of his instruments. The kitchen’s really stepped up their game today, he thought as he packed his tools back into their leather case. The scent of rosemary was normally not so strong. His stomach rumbled. It would have to remain empty a while longer. In his line of work, it was never a good decision to delay sharing the results of an interview, no matter how enticing a meal was.

Frank winced as an ear-piercing screech came from the direction of the hand truck. “Stop, stop, stop,” he said coming to Donald’s side. He crouched down to examine the base. “Here’s the problem. The wheel’s stuck.” He poked at the wheel, looking for whatever was blocking its axle. The cool metal rim was tacky to the touch with strands of matted hair stuck to its surface. “Is this the same one you used on the last job?” He pushed on the rubber of the tire, but the wheel stubbornly refused to turn.

He frowned. If they didn’t clear whatever it was out now, there would be no way to get the container out of the room once it was filled. Then again, Donald had more muscle in a finger than most did in their entire arms. He might not even need the cart. The girl probably only weighs one hundred sixty or so, he thought as he glanced over his shoulder.

The chair was empty. Frank jumped up and spun on his heel. His gaze followed a trail of red spatter from the chair to the unguarded door.

Donald grunted.

“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Frank whistled. Donald wasn’t the only one getting sloppy. “Maybe she’s not so stupid after all.”

His partner snorted.

“Well, don’t just stand there.” He gestured at the open door. “Go get her. She can’t have gone far.”


Read the conclusion here

#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Six

As much as I absolutely love to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience), I have found it always makes me end on a cliff-hanger. As I am curious as to the story’s end (and hope you are too), I have decided to continue the series with a few more posts. While these posts are not sponsored and do not conform to the rules of the game, I hope you enjoy them all the same.

If you’d prefer to start from the beginning, you can read the first post here.


A Writer's Toolbox Inspired Short Story - www.alliepottswrites.com“What exactly are you saying?” Bill asked looking anywhere except into Iris’s eyes.
She reached out and covered his hand with her own. “I think you already know.”
Their waitress chose that moment to approach their table. “Can I get you guys anything else?”

“Not unless the kitchen stocks whiskey as well as handguns,” said Larry.

The waitress frowned as she placed their copy of the bill on the table’s edge and walked away.

“What the hell Larry,” said Iris pulling her hand away from Bill’s. “Are you insane?”

“What? It’s not like she knows I was being serious.” Larry leaned forward as a pimpled teenager wiped down the table behind them.

Bill wrinkled his nose. From where he sat, the rag the kid used smelled like his grandmother’s laundry room. “So what do we do now?”

“Do?” Iris blinked. “Weren’t you listening to anything I was saying? There is nothing we can do.” She frowned at Larry. “Besides if the kitchen did sell guns, what would we do with them? None of us have the first clue how to use them?”

“You don’t need guns.” A woman motioned for Bill to make room on the bench. “Though the whiskey might be nice.” The woman slid next to him, pushing his water glass to the slide to make room for a red leather journal. “I know I should probably mind my own business, but it sounds to me like you could use all the help you can get.”

Larry cocked his head to the side. “Do we know you?”
The woman beamed. “My name is Laurie.” She tapped the bottom of her hair. “But you might know me as Candice Wentworth from The Bus Shelter in the Rain.

Larry’s brows knit. “I’m not sure I—”

The smile left Laurie’s face as her shoulders sagged. She made her voice take on the high-pitched tone of a child’s. “Should’a done it my way.”

His eyes widened. “Bill. Do you realize you are sitting next to Bethany Hallows. As in the Bethany Hallows from Beth Knows Best? I loved that show growing up.” He turned to Iris. “Tell me you watched it.”

Iris looked from Bill to Laurie with twisted lips. “If you heard that much, you know who is involved.” She reached for the scrap of paper that was their bill. “It’s nice to meet a celebrity and all, but I think we should go.”

Laurie’s smile returned. “Oh, I know exactly who is involved. And more importantly, I know where your friend is.” She pulled out a credit card and took the paper from Iris. “Consider this, my treat.”


Jump to the next installment here.

 

#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Five

The following is the fifth post in a series of sponsored short stories written using Jamie Cat Callan’s fun and easy to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience). You can read more about Jamie’s other creations at the bottom of this post.

For those not as familiar with The Writer’s Toolbox, it prompts you with a first, middle, and last sentence as well as a series of descriptions, some more random than others, which help your writing pop as well as a protagonist complete with overarching goals and an obstacle to overcome. I absolutely love it.

If you’d prefer to start from the beginning, you can read the first post here.


How I beat writer's block with one creative game - www.alliepottswrites.com“There she was, Amy Gerstein, over by the pool, kissing my father.” Laurie looked up from the script. “I’m not sure about this line. Do you think my character more upset because her father has a thing for Amy, or because she does?”

The waitress shrugged as she poured Laurie another cup of coffee.

“Hmmm, I think it’ll try it both ways in rehearsal and see which one gets the better reaction.” She slapped the pages down on the table next to a dog-eared copy of an old Danielle Steel novel. “Would it kill the writers to give us an entire script to work with all at once?”

“If you are going to order anything other than coffee, I’ll need to put it in now,” said the waitress. “The kitchen is going to be closing soon.”

Laurie sighed. “I have to lose fifteen pounds by the end of next week. I know. You don’t have to say it. My personal trainer tells me he’s never seen me so fit too, but that’s the biz for you. If you ask me it’s completely unnecessary. There is nothing in the script that says the character has to be skeletal thin and my costume designer is having a fit, but what can you do? I was told in no uncertain terms I either I lose the weight or I lose my job. It’s almost as if they are looking for an excuse to renege my contract.”

Laurie raised the mug to her lips and muttered, “I bet the first thing they’ll do is give the role to that woman from the Stop & Shop too. If she wasn’t Leslie’s current favorite …,” Laurie words trailed off. Losing her job was the least of her concerns if anyone heard her badmouthing someone connected to Leslie in public.

“So that’s a no.”

“That’s a no.” The liquid burnt her tongue. If she didn’t need this job to pay her mom’s rent, she’d have walked off the show long ago.

The waitress turned away to serve the table on the other side of the aisle where a pair of men and a woman sat. None of the trio acknowledged the waitress refilling their drinks, too absorbed in a conversation that was growing more animated by the second.

The fresh floor wax caused the waitress to slip on her way back to the kitchen sending her tumbling to the floor. Laurie jumped out of her booth to assist the woman, but the waitress was already upright and heading back into the kitchen before Laurie could reach her.

On her way back to her table she overheard a piece of the trio’s conversation. “He was skating on thin ice – that’s all I can say.”

Laurie slid into her chair and strained her ears while trying to make it look like she wasn’t listening. Whatever the conversation was about, it sounded far more engrossing than re-reading lines from a two-bit script any day.

The sound of the dishwasher in the back shouting something about clean plates and Laurie stifled a curse. The drama going on in the kitchen prevented her from hearing what the woman at the table said next.

“But Daisy would never agree to do that,” said the man seated closest to the aisle. “Not for him. Not for anyone. She would have to know she’d be the first one they’d sell out and risked even more if our father caught up with her first.”

“I’m sure she thought it was the only way to help your mom. Daisy told me her condition was getting worse,” replied the woman.

“And how does getting involved with those people help my mom.”

“Bill, you may want to lower your voice,” said the second man, meeting Laurie’s eyes.

Laurie took another sip of her coffee and shuffled the pages of her script in an effort to look pre-occupied.

Bill ignored his friend’s advice. “If what you say is true, why tell us about it? Aren’t you afraid your own life will be in jeopardy?”

The woman picked at her food. The plate was as full as it had been when the waitress first sat it down. The second man looked at their female companion and then at Bill. “You still don’t get it, man, do you?”

The woman shot a pointed glance his way. “Larry, don’t. Please.”

“What?” Bill asked. “Why?”

The woman continued to look at Larry. “Let’s just say it has to do with the time Leslie called me a leech.”


Will Laurie find a role worthy of her talents? Will the waitress place a worker’s compensation claim? Who is Leslie and why is everyone so afraid? The series is coming to a conclusion.

Jump to part six here.


I believe in this product so much I reached out to its creator, the lovely Jamie Cat Callan, author of the upcoming Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy, and That Certain je ne sais quoi (available January 2nd, 2018) to tell her how much I loved her creation and was beyond thrilled when she allowed me to use her prompts for these posts.

Those who pick up Parisian Charm School will enjoy reading about secrets such as

  • The Charming Benefits of Travel
  • The Art of the French Flirt (And Why Conversation Matters)
  • Food Is Love: The French Dinner Party

You can find a sneak peek here

In addition to her upcoming novel, she is also the author of the books Bonjour, Happiness! , French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, and Ooh La La!: French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day.

#ShortStory Saturday’s Flash Fiction Fun with The Writer’s Toolbox – Part Four

The following is the fourth post in a series of sponsored short stories written using Jamie Cat Callan’s fun and easy to use The Writer’s Toolbox (affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience). You can read more about Jamie’s other creations at the bottom of this post.

For those not as familiar with The Writer’s Toolbox, it prompts you with a first, middle, and last sentence as well as a series of descriptions, some more random than others, which help your writing pop as well as a protagonist complete with overarching goals and an obstacle to overcome. I absolutely love it.

You can also read the first post in the series here.


How I beat writer's block by playing one creative game. www.alliepottswrites.com #thewriterstoolbox #shortstory“I like hats.” That’s what Donald said the day before he killed Sally. They were also the last words he spoke to anyone, their boss had seen to that. Frank shared a look with his business partner as Lillian walked into the back room bringing a dark-haired woman in tow.

Frank dropped his brush into a glass of water, enjoying how the leftover paint spread out in the liquid like a red cloud. The movies made his profession out to be much more action-packed than it was.

The movies left out how much waiting was involved. There was waiting for a guest to arrive, then the waiting while fear simmered to a breaking point, followed by even more waiting for a guest to come back to after Donald got through with him or her.

Frank took up watercolors to pass the time. He’d found it excited him and yet simultaneously relaxed him even more than the feel of spandex.  If his therapist was still alive, she might appreciate the fact he’d taken up a hobby.

“Hello Margaret, so nice to see you again.” Frank smiled and gestured for Margaret to have a seat while Donald locked the door, his expression as cold as November in Cincinnati.

“This is all a big misunderstanding,” said Margaret as Frank pulled over another chair and sat down across from her.

“You hear that Donald? It’s a misunderstanding.”

Donald grunted.

“Well now’s your chance to clear everything up. I suggest you use it. What you were up to, that weekend in Duluth?”

“It was the bartender from Seattle. He started to ask questions. I decided the only solution was to seduce him. We went on a date, a couple’s cooking class, and spent the night together. That’s all.”

“Is that so?” Frank arched an eyebrow. His gaze swept her body from toe to the top of her head, lingering on all her curves. She raised her arms, crossing them over her chest and hiding her breasts from view. He shook his head. The woman across from him didn’t have the first idea how to use her body to save her life. She was no calculating seductress. He’d been with enough of them to spot their tell-tale signs. Some people might even say that kind of woman was his addiction. Too bad for us both.

“I’m telling the truth.” Margaret’s eyes darted around the room. “There was a man selling bananas outside. The instructor ran out and had to buy a quarter of his supply. I still have the receipt for the class in my purse. All you have to do is call the number and ask him about it.”

Frank reached out a hand. Margaret drew back. The corner of his lips crept up as he slid the strap off her shoulder. He turned his head. “Lillian, be a doll and check out her story, won’t you?” Donald moved to the side to allow Lillian to pass leaving Margaret alone with the two men.

“So say your story checks out –”

“It will.”

Frank had to admit Margaret had spunk. “That still doesn’t explain why you were seen hightailing out of town.” He leaned back in his chair. “I mean why run if you have nothing to hide?”

“I wasn’t running. I was on my way to see Leslie, just like I promised.”

“Funny. From what I heard, you were spotted going in the exact opposite direction.”

“I can explain that too. I can explain everything.”

Frank snorted. “I’m sure you can.” He motioned to Donald, who approached the chairs and dropped a black leather bag by Frank’s leg. Frank turned the metal dials on either side of the clasp and a latch popped. He pulled the sides of the bag open so that the overhead light could reflect on the metal tools inside. Painting with watercolors wasn’t his only artistry.

Margaret blanched and her shoulders slumped as he pulled out a device with a diamond-sharp edge. “It all started the day Lillian learned to drive…”


Oh dear, things are looking bleak for Margaret. I hope for her sake they believe her story, as unbelievable as it sounds, without things having to get too messy. 

You can jump to part 5 here.


I believe in this product so much I reached out to its creator, the lovely Jamie Cat Callan, author of the upcoming Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy, and That Certain je ne sais quoi (available January 2nd, 2018) to tell her how much I loved her creation and was beyond thrilled when she allowed me to use her prompts for these posts.

In addition to her upcoming novel, she is also the author of the books Bonjour, Happiness! , French Women Don’t Sleep Alone, and Ooh La La!: French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day

Thanks to Jamie, I’ve learned there is a word for a woman who emphasizes a life of passion, expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life’s pleasures. That word is quaintrelle. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that word would look great on my business card.