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:
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