October Blog Chain–“Masquerade”


Welcome to the Masquerade

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This month I’m both hosting and kicking off the blog chain.  Our prompt is Halloween-based: “Masquerade”. Following me will be Hillary Jacques.  All the other chain participants are listed at the end of this post.

My post is a flash fiction teaser to introduce my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel.  I’ve had my outline done for months and have been chomping at the bit to start it.  In keeping with the spirit of NaNoWriMo, any words recycled from this post, I won’t count toward my 50k goal.  In its first draft glory to provide a taste of what I’ll be up to next month, here’s Sins of Our Mothers:

<<<—nicked an early peek at the 2010 logo

Neely stared at the spreadsheet on her computer screen, searching for the logic flaw that had stumped her staff.  It had to be there because the result made no sense.  She knew she’d find it though; she always did.  That’s why she was the manager, why she had ascended to the top financial position in the mid-sized company that employed her.  Problem-solving was her special forte.  No malfeasance went undetected on her guard.

The corporate cream walls of her office bore no photographs or art, only diplomas, licenses and plaques celebrating her successes.  The surface of her desk was free of clutter and personal effects other than a small figurine of a child’s cartoon character.

Neely turned from the screen and removed her glasses, pinched the bridge of her nose.  Her company had installed forced break software to prevent cumulative trauma injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome.  A video of a man doing various stretches filled her screen.  She was supposed to do them with him but the break Nazi went unheeded.

Fingers reached out to stroke the head of the figurine, evoking a small smile.

Her phone rang and she welcomed the interruption.  Its display revealed her caller to be Gretchen, her administrative assistant.  She answered on the second ring.

“Neely, there are two men here to see you from the FBI.”  In a softer voice she added, “They have guns.”

Neely swallowed.  FBI?  At her office?  They wanted to see her?  She’d filed a claim when some fraudsters started writing counterfeit checks on her company’s bank account.  Sending two armed FBI agents to investigate seemed a bit over the top.  Surely…

Her gut clenched and the blood drained from her extremities as she rose to greet her visitors.

With a shaking hand, she smoothed down her pencil skirt then slipped her feet back inside her heels.  She didn’t bother to check her reflection; she knew what she’d see but didn’t care.  At forty-five years of age, the Greys had begun their Hun-like invasion, inviting their friends the Wrinkles and the Sags to encamp with them.  Her Auburn forces would soon be overcome; her skin had surrendered long ago.

Five more steps brought her into the lobby area where two very large men stood, and yes, they were armed.  The fog descended in her head, and ghosts from her past wagged accusatory fingers.

The taller man turned when he saw her approach.  “Ms. Neely Shaw? formerly known as Neely Dawn Spencer?”


“Ms. Shaw, you are under arrest for capital crimes against the British government and its citizens.  You will come with us pending your extradition to the United Kingdom for prosecution.”

Gretchen stood, her face ashen.  “What?  This has to be some mistake.  Ms. Shaw is a U.S. citizen.”

“Gretchen, in my contacts list is the name of an attorney, Ray Reynolds.  Please call him for me.”

“Yes, uh-of course.  Should I call Mark too?”  Gretchen had her telephone already in hand.

“No!  Not Mark, not yet.  Just Ray.”  She looked at the man who’d spoken to her.  “Where are you taking me?”

He addressed his words to Gretchen, “She’ll go first to the Justice Center for arraignment then to the federal jail next door.  Her attorney can meet her at the Justice Center.”  To Neely, he said, “Ms. Shaw I must inform you of your rights…”

Neely didn’t listen.  She’d seen enough television to have practically memorized the Miranda rights recitation.  It was a formality.  She had nothing to say, wouldn’t say anything, not without her attorney present.  A quick glance at Gretchen’s face offered some relief.  They couldn’t actually have a case against her…could they?

The shorter man produced a pair of handcuffs.  “I’ll need to cuff you ma’am.  I’m sorry.”

Gretchen jumped from her chair and stood between Neely and the taller man, her hands clenched into fists.  Her phone’s headset dangled off the edge of her desk.  “You guys are making a horrible mistake!  Ms. Shaw has never even left the country.  She’s terrified to fly.  How could she possibly have done anything warranting extradition?  She doesn’t even have a passport.”  The face she turned to Neely puckered and wrinkled.  “Tell them they’ve got it wrong!”

Neely shook her head but smiled, remembering Gretchen’s tut-tutting over her inability to cross the Canadian border the prior month for a special meeting with their largest Canadian client.  Gretchen had grumbled for days about having to coordinate the video-conferencing.

Her smile faltered when she remembered the events of twenty-five years ago.  She’d been a naive girl fresh out of college, looking for a summer of carefree fun before taking on the strictures of Corporate America. Once upon a time she’d had a passport, hadn’t been afraid to fly, hadn’t been afraid of a lot of things.  That girl was dead, long ago buried and she’d hoped, forgotten.

She was wrong.

Her masquerade had come to its conclusion.  What she’d dreaded most now stared her in the face.  Just when she’d finally allowed herself to relax, to open up, to love again.

As the two men led her out, each holding one of her elbows, she glanced at her wrists manacled in front of her.  Not unlike another pair of wrists she remembered, wrists that belonged to a soldier, a man kidnapped and tortured by enemies she’d aided, a man for whom she’d lied and killed.

She caught sight of herself in the mirror behind Gretchen’s desk as she passed.  The face she saw, unmasked and unguarded, mouthed, “Finally…”

More to come of Neely’s story in November.

Next in the chain:
Auburn Assassin https://clairegillian.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post
Hillary Jacques http://hillaryjacques.blogspot.com and direct link to her post
Aimee Laine www.aimeelaine.com/writing/blog and direct link to her post
Ralph Pines http://thewonderingswordsman.wordpress.com/ and direct link to his post
Veinglory http://erecsite.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Laffarsmith http://www.craftingfiction.com and direct link to her post
PASeaholtz http://paseasholtz.com/ and direct link to his post
Madelein.Eirwen http://madeleineirwen.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Amy Doodle www.mindovermullis.com and direct link to her post
CScottMorris CScottMorrisBooks.com and direct link to his post
Orion_mk3 http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com/ and direct link to his post
FreshHell http://freshhell.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
IrishAnnie http://superpenpower.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Dolores Haze http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post
Aidan Watson-Morris http://mangaka-tales.blogspot.com/ and direct link to his post
WildScribe http://polyspace.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
Hayley E. Lavik http://hayleyelavik.com/ and direct link to her post
Bettedra http://bettedra.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post
Aheila http://thewriteaholicblog.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post

33 thoughts on “October Blog Chain–“Masquerade”

    • Thank ye kindly, Ms. Dooley. I hope you’re doing NaNo too. The more’s the merrier. The one you beta’d for me was my last year’s NaNo.

    • Thanks, Madelein. I’m chomping at the bit myself, not that I don’t have a zillion other projects ahead of it in line to dispatch before 11/1…just wish I didn’t.

    • Dude yourself! You’ve had the full plot outline/synopsis since about April, Missy. How quickly they forget. LOL And yes, you’re my first beta.

  1. Holy Cr*p…but in a good way. Liked the greys to the sags, loved Gretchen…adored “Once upon a time she’d had a passport”…

    However, you seen to have made a mistake and left out the other 90,000 words. If I say “please”, will you post them? Please.

    • Thank you ma’am! I wish I could say I have those other 90k words but alas they are under lock and key in my brain until 11/1 and then I’ll probably have to bribe them out.

  2. Hillary is right:
    “you seen to have made a mistake and left out the other 90,000 words.”

    AGH! This is marvelous. I can’t wait to buy this one! I absolutely love the last bit as she’s walking out and sees her reflection. WOW. Isn’t that really how we feel when we finally reveal our MOAS?

    Great start to this month’s chain! 🙂

    • Thank you, Semmie!

      What does MOAS stand for though? Sorry to be dense. Most Outrageous Ancient Secret?

    • Thank you! I have no doubt that my successors will whip out posts to put mine to shame. I look forward to everyone’s take on the prompt.

  3. Excellent hook! I’m curious to read more, and also like the fact that you worked the word “malfeasance” in.

    Good to see another AWer using their blog for a little Nano prewriting too, even if it is technically against the Nano code of honor 🙂

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  9. Wow!

    You pulled me into the world, I was hanging on every word. Also, the ending suprised me!

    I love how you cleverly wove the theme in, as well. 🙂

    Your NaNo piece sure stars an interesting character! I’d like to know more about her…

    Subscribing to this blog, awesome writing. 🙂

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  11. I’m a little late to your post, but all I have to say is “Wow!” Like everyone else, I *really* want more!

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    • Probably spam, but I translated using Google. Looks like the above comment is Hungarian for: “This article is the light which we observe in reality.” I can appreciate that.

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