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Jan. 2018 Writers Challenge

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  • 13 Jan 2018 8:13 AM
    Reply # 5681242 on 5662416
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)
    Dana, what a tale of intrigue and espionage, if this is the beginning of a longer piece, I’m hooked! 
    Dana Silkiss wrote:

  • 12 Jan 2018 4:28 PM
    Reply # 5680715 on 5651353
    Gloria A. Gould-Loftin


    Mrs. Ann Kettering, age 96 sat by the fire. Her head lowering onto the back of her chair.  Her comfy slippers and a warm robe around her.  Her old cat Cara sat as usual on the arm of her chair. Memories came flooding back to her of New Years’ long gone by.

    Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and come with their boisterous noise out of the cold to wish her a Happy New Year this morning, just exhausting her. She smiled and gave hugs all around.

    They had asked her to come with them to a fancy, smancy restaurant, her always upwardly mobile grandson was always trying to drag her to.  She declined, stating her years, as the reason she did not wish to go with them.  They all bundled up and departed as noisily as they had come.

    The truth is she wanted to be alone with her memories of her family and friends long gone. As usual, her son and grandson told her she would be much happier in the “Old Folks Home” as she called it.

    Her grandfather, William Ainsworth came to California from New York City. To make his fortune in the gold rush, but fell in love with the city and its houses on high, Russian Hill and Nob Hill.  He decided instead of looking for gold he would build his family a home on Russian Hill. He married, established his name in business and proceeded to have children to keep his legacy alive His son William, Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps.

    Generations of Ainsworths had called the Russian Hill their home. She would never leave this house until her last day of her life.  She would be the last of the Ainsworth- Ketterings to live here and that thought made her melancholy. She had been born here, married here and all her children had been born in this house.

    Memories flooded back of her beautiful mother and strong father, who told her the story of her grandfather and that this home was where he wanted his family to live forever. She had perfect birthday parties, prom and then her engagement to Robert the love of her life in this home. In fact, she had met Robert at a ball given in honor of her parent’s 60th anniversary.

    They were married in the front parlor of the Russian Hill home by Monsignor Hannan her family’s priest. He had baptized her, given her First Communion and then her Confirmation. When he died the whole family had gone to the Vatican for his Funeral Mass.

            Ann and Robert then moved into the big house on Russian Hill in San Francisco with her parents and sibling John.

             In the next year, John had gone off to WWII, his duty to his country as strong as his duty to his family.  He died a hero’s death saving his comrades’ from an ambush in a small German town in Europe. Her parents proudly accepted his Medal of Honor from President Truman with the “thanks of a grateful nation.”

    Ann and Robert had only two children, Christa and Patrick. But between them they had a gaggle of children and grandchildren. Making the old house light up with raucous laughter. 

    Patrick and his wife and children moved out first to the dismay of their father and me. We were proud when Christa was promoted to her position at the bank, but it took her and her family off to England for two years.

            The house was lonely for a few years until everyone again filled up the rooms and playrooms in the old mansion on special holidays. It was the happiest day of Roberts’ and my life.

            Robert died on a Summer day in June with the flowers all in bloom. A new parish priest, Father Mason came to give him last rites. He was buried in the family plot on Russian Hill and I go to see him every day.

    That is when the kids first started trying to get me to move into a smaller home or a nursing home. They said that the old house was too much for me to handle.  Like, I did not have a gardener, housekeeper and many people that became old friends in my later years. She would never leave this house that meant so much to her and Robert.

    “Well Cara, it looks like it's just us two now. I guess that we should head up to bed before I fall asleep in this old chair. It gets harder and harder to walk up these stairs each year.” She told her old cat.

    The grandchildren found her the next morning when they came to take her to church. She had a peaceful smile on her face. A picture of Robert held in her left hand close to her heart and Cara snuggled up close to her in her right. She would not be parted from her mistress on this last journey.

    The children heard laughter coming from the old house and their mother and father’s voices bidding them one last goodbye.

    Death had brought them back together again for all time.


  • 06 Jan 2018 8:24 PM
    Reply # 5665276 on 5651353
    Louis Edwards

    Dana, very intriguing story. I enjoy the way you hook the reader. I love the way you build the intrigue and suspense. The only thing I have comment about is the Master Character didn't seem to be to worried about the abduction of his wife which leads me to believe he didn't care about her much or that is a deeper meaning. I am amazed at the story spin you gave to the picture. Great Job.

    Is this a longer piece or just a short story from the prompt?

  • 06 Jan 2018 7:56 PM
    Reply # 5665255 on 5651353
    Louis Edwards

    Michael, that was a great story. I liked the twist of him having a emergence button. And I love the way you left Bob in the dust only later to wonder if someone picked him up. Nice way to tie-up a loose end. Great story.

  • 05 Jan 2018 2:36 PM
    Reply # 5663793 on 5651353

    Phone Call Adventure

    I was dozing in my recliner, when my home phone rang. Irritated, I just let it ring; probably a telemarketer; anyone I really cared about called my cell phone. Just as I was about to drift off again, the phone rang a second time. I heaved myself out of the chair and glanced at the caller id. The number looked faintly familiar—but conmen had started spoofing local numbers.

    I snatched up the receiver. “Hello,” I barked.

    “Hey,” came the faint reply. “This is Bob. I really need a favor. I ran out of gas out on Community Road—you know, off Turnpike Road in Newland. Could you bail out a friend?”

    I thought about the request; it was the middle of nowhere. Bob was an acquaintance who sometimes came to VFW meetings. But I was retired, so I had nothing better to do.

    “Okay, I’ll leave now and get there in 30 minutes or so.”

    “Thanks, you’re a real lifesaver!”

    I sloshed the lawnmower’s gas can, and it was mostly full. I set it in the back of my F-150 and started out for the wilds of Newland. Two men stood beside a car on the shoulder of the gravel road. I pulled over when I recognized Bob, but it was the stranger who walked over to my truck. Something poked me in the back as I climbed down from the cab.

    “Put your hands up and stand still.” I felt fingers poked into my back pocket and pull out my wallet. “Turn around and hand me your keys. Where’s your phone?”

    A pistol pointed at my face so I gave up my keys, “My phone is on the seat.”

    “Good. Now get over there by your friend.”

    I lowered my hands as my pickup drove off.

    “Sorry,” Bob said. “He carjacked me in town and forced me to drive out here. I think he was going to just leave me on this deserted road, but when we ran out of gas, he went ballistic! If you hadn’t come, I don’t think I would still be breathing. What are we going to do? We’re out of gas and he took our cell phones!”

    I touched my chest like in Star Trek. “I need help,” I said into the air.

    Bob jumped when a voice answered, “Mr. Jones, I have your location. What emergency services do you need?”

    I touched my chest again, “I’ve been carjacked. Could you send police?”

    “Yes sir. Do you need medical attention too?”

    “No, I’m not hurt.”

    “Okay, the police are on the way.”

    “I have an emergency pendant,” I explained to Bob. “I sprained my back doing yardwork last spring, and I just laid there for about an hour before I attracted the attention of my neighbor. Then my daughter insisted I get one.”

    Blinking lights shown out of a dust cloud as a police car barreled towards us. The car slid to a stop and a female deputy sheriff jumped out. When she established that it was my vehicle that was stolen, she asked me to get into her car so she could radio in a description.

    “I can do better than that,” I said. “If he hasn’t turned off my cell phone and I can access the web, I can tell you its exact location.”

    She looked at my dubiously, but handed me her smart phone. As I keyed in the web address and my id/password, I explained. “I downloaded a tracking app on my phone in case I lost it. Once I ping it, the phone will transmit its GPS position every ten minutes. See here, the position shows on this map.”

    I handed the phone back to the officer. She read the address into the radio, and performed a perfect three-point turn. A rooster tail of dust rose behind us, choking poor Bob. It was fun! I had never ridden in a police car with its lights flashing and siren blaring.

    After ten minutes or so, I could see a crowd of flashing blue lights ahead of us. Patrol cars from several agencies surrounded my pickup truck in the parking lot of what appeared to be a salvage yard. A group of men sat on the ground with their hands behind their heads, including my thief.

    “This is a chop-shop,” the female deputy explained. “If you hadn’t been able to pinpoint your truck, it would be in pieces by tomorrow.”

    “Can I drive it home?”

    “Sorry, but we need to hold your vehicle as evidence. We can release it once they photograph the crime scene and go over it for fingerprints—you can pick it up at the station in the morning.”

    Just then my daughter drove up. The pendant service had called her and directed her to my location. I thought I would just go home and sleep awhile; and hope they remembered Bob.

  • 04 Jan 2018 8:36 PM
    Reply # 5662416 on 5651353


     The phone rang again! Glancing down at the phone for the seventh time in as many minutes I realized I had to make a dreaded decision.  I recognized the number and knew who was calling.

         Tatiana, my wife had been missing for two weeks. Had she been kidnapped? Had she died in an accident? The former seemed more likely. I had contracted as an analyst with the CIA. I had decided to leave active field duty when Tatiana and I got married. The Agency had me involved in an investigation into ties between Russian oligarchs and our government.

         Initially,not wanting to alert my employers, I filed a missing persons report with the DC police. They hadn't been much help, so I hired a private detective. A friend I knew from my days in the navy. We were both retired Seals. His was the number on the phone. With shaking hands, I snatched the phone from its cradle.

        "Jared, what'd you find out?"

         "Andrei, your hunch was correct. Tatiana's been taken. She's been kidnapped either by an off shoot of the Russian mob or their government people, doesn't really matter, there's not much difference between the two. My people will keep digging until we know who the players are. Word on the street is you have information they want. Any idea what that might be?"

        "Huh, yeah, I do. It's classified. I'll have to reveal the abduction to my employers. It's now at a different level. It's no longer just a personal problem. Well, Jared, let's keep you on standby. Do you have any assets in the field?"

         "You know I do. Code name Marisa. She's good."

          "Excellent. We'll talk further. Let me report in."

          I hung up the phone and immediately dialed my supervisor, Frank Gorsham. I explained the new developments about Tatiana. Frank was pissed that I hadn't checked in sooner. I knew he would be, but didn't really care. This was my wife and I needed to be sure before I set off alarms. 

           "Get your butt here now. Now!" Frank demanded.

            Sighing, I hung up, threw on a jacket and went outside. Looking up at a beautiful clear sky, I pondered how  this nightmare could be real. 

            It is what it is, I thought, no sense in whining about it. 

            On my drive to the office I tried to formulate what I would say to Frank. My plan of attack would be based on that conversation. Maybe. Frank was an uptight stick in the mud. He did everything "by the book." I didn't. That's primarily why I had been such a successful field agent. 

           When I arrived at Frank's office there were two other superiors standing and waiting for me. One was from Domestic Crimes, the other International affairs.

           So, I thought, criminal and political. Great. What dance would they want me to do? 

           We spent the next hour devising a plan. I listened and agreed with some of their ideas. Problem was they had never been in the field. I had. They did take notice of what I explained to them and implemented some of my strategies. I'll give them that. I figured Jared and I would execute (no pun intended) the rest on our own. Then the department heads got down to brass tacks. 

            "Andrei,  we want to get your wife back safely. We need to know that you won't enlist any outside agents, friends or otherwise. We don't want your mission compromised in any way. Understood?"

              "Gentlemen, I'll say this. My mission is running parallel with my wife's abduction. I'll need more latitude on this one. Let's analyze the entirety of the situation. What you aren't aware of is that I'm close to turning one of my subjects, or at least I was. What you do know is that I was a confidant to Anatoly  Kramenchenko, their number one. You also know that my cover was just blown, but the cartel is not sure if I'm CIA, FBI or who I'm working for, nor in what capacity. They took my wife and, if she's not going to die soon, she'll be used as a bargaining chip in order to coax me out of hiding. Then they'll kill her. I'll need the Agency to immediately move me into a safe house, set up with a 24/7 surveillance team. They abducted Tatiana, therefore they know where I live."

             The men glanced at each other. They nodded in agreement.

             "How will you operate knowing your cover's been blown?"

              I reflected for a moment. "I have some operatives in the field. They'll get me as close as I need to be. I'll take it from there."

             "And they're fellow agents? You have a rep of being a lone wolf. We know you have your own rules. You're not a team player."

             I danced with them for a few more minutes, never answering the "fellow agents" question. They were more concerned about keeping everything hush-hush until they could take credit for busting up a terrorist organization. This mission was about money-laundering, not terrorism. I made a bet with myself it wouldn't be spun that way by the government's media.

              Leaving the Agency's offices I drove to a few remote stores and picked up three burner phones. Then I called Jared. "Meet me at our usual in twenty minutes. We'll have to move fast."

              Jared arrived at our location, an out of the way bar and grill near District Heights. 

               "What's up my man?" 

                I threw him two of the burner phones. "This is how we communicate from now on. The other one's for Marisa. Here's the numbers for the phones. Memorize and throw the paper away. Here's what my plan is......."

                 My Agency phone started buzzing. "Andrei, Frank here. We're setting up your safe house as we speak. You'll be able to move in, in about....uh, three hours. They'll still be there wiring up and taking care of your weapons and systems you'll need. Here's the address. Andrei, my ass is on the line with this one. I need you to report in every day. I mean it, damn you."

                  I was laughing as I said, "OK Frank, no problem." I hung up.

    Last modified: 05 Jan 2018 12:27 AM | Dana Silkiss
  • 04 Jan 2018 11:25 AM
    Reply # 5661659 on 5651353
    Louis Edwards

    Love the story. It is an idea of hope to the hopeless, inspiration to those who have hope, and a thought all should ponder. I know one-thousand words doesn't give you much to expound on, but it could be crafted into a great novel. Thanks for the work. If you would like to work together on it or want a critique let me know.

  • 01 Jan 2018 10:01 PM
    Reply # 5655036 on 5651353
    Sherri Hollister (Administrator)

    Ed, I enjoy your stories. It was a little woo-woo but very spiritual. It could definitely be a sermon. Great job. 

  • 31 Dec 2017 2:51 PM
    Reply # 5654128 on 5651353
    E.M. Satterley


                   “QUIET!” Then, whispering, the irritated man added, “Please.”

                    “Bill! What are you so testy about?”

                    “I can’t concentrate.”

                    “What do you want me to do? The kids are stuck inside and they have nothing else to do.”

                    “But I can’t write a word.”


                    “So my editor wants this article by tomorrow morning.”

                    There was a long pause before Angela said anything. “I can take the kids to the mall for the rest of the afternoon. Maybe we can get a pizza before coming home. Will that be enough time for you?”

                    “Maybe. I think so. Thank you for doing that. You know how I get when I’m under pressure.”

                    “That’s okay. We’ll be back in a few hours. In the meantime, relax with a hot cup of coffee and your laptop.”

                    Bill took his freshly brewed coffee from the Keurig, got the fireplace blazing again and sat in his favorite dark-leather recliner. The house was silent except for the crackle of the fire. Ahh, finally some quiet. Bill reached for his laptop on the side table and started to tap on the keyboard.

                    RIIIIIG went the phone next to his chair. RIIIIIG, it went again. Bill picked up the phone and read the display: ‘UNKNOWN CALLER’. Bill hit the ‘OFF’ button and the phone went silent.

                    Let’s see, where was I, Bill thought?

                    RIIIIIG.  Now Bill was irritated. Again he looked at the display: ‘UNKNOWN CALLER’. And again Bill hit the ‘OFF’ button. Maybe that will deter him from calling back, he told himself.

                    The first sentence of his article was interrupted. RIIIIG. This time Bill decided to answer.

                    Before he could say a word, a low-toned voice said, “Bill, I am worried about you.”

                     “What? Who is this?

                    Bill, “I am worried about your soul.”

                    “My What?” What are you talking about?”

                    “I am not a scammer nor is this a prank call. I am serious, Bill, I am worried about your soul.”

                    “Are you Frank from the press office?”

                    “No Bill. I am a friend, we haven’t met until now.”

                    “What’s your name?”

                    “Let’s just say that I’m a special friend who cares about you. Right now, timing is important. That’s why I’m calling you. Do you understand?”

                    “No.” Bill decided to play along with this caller. After all, the man with the deep voice sounded serious. As soon as he asks for a credit card or Social Security number, I hang up,” Bill told himself.

                    “Let me explain, Bill. Do you know what a soul is, Bill?”

                    “Yeah. Sure. It’s what’s inside. It’s who you really are despite outside appearances.”

                    “Great. You hit the nail on the head when you said ‘it’s who you really are’. You’re more than a writer, Bill. Your more than a husband and a father. You actually belong to someone else. Do you know who that is, Bill?”

                    “No. Why don’t you tell me, friend, or whoever you are.”

                    “You belong to the one who created you.”

                    “You mean, God.”

                    “Yes. God. God created you and wants you to be happy.”

                    “Well, I beg your pardon but, my parents created me.”

                    “You’re partially correct, Bill. God set up the mechanism and your parents carried it out. Understand?”

                    “I think so. What’s that got to do with my soul.”

                    “Well, not only did God  create you and everyone around you, he also created a soul in you so that you could live with him when you die.”

                    “What? How can that happen? And why would I want to?”

                    “Bill, stay with me now. The soul that God created in you lives forever. So does God. Lives forever, I mean.  Wouldn’t you want to live forever, Bill? That’s been man’s quest for thousands of years.”           

                    “Like Ponce De Leon, right?”

                    “Well, sort of. Ponce de Leon was looking for youth, not necessarily living with God forever. But you’re on the right track. Anyway, why would you want to live forever with God? Because there is an alternative that’s not a real cool thing you want to do.”

                    “What do you mean?”

                    “Well, Bill, the alternative is living forever without God. I don’t think you want to make that choice. God wants only the best for you. You know, like no more sadness, no more strife, and even no more death. In fact, those that have passed on before that made a conscious decision to live with God, you will be happy to see them. Like your dear, sweet niece who died of leukemia last year. And your grandfather who was killed in the war.”     

                    “That all seems pretty good, friend, but how do I know that what you’re telling me is the truth?”

                    “Bill. I cannot lie. I am from God and this is the message that I have been tasked to tell you. It’s good news, Bill. And, anyway, what choice do you have? You can ignore what I’m saying and live your life how you see fit and hope for the best, or you can be with God and be happy.”

                    “It’s a no-brainer.”

                    “Yeah, Bill, it’s a no-brainer. What say you, Bill? With or without God?

                    “What do I have to do save a slot in heaven with God?”

                    “It’s simple, Bill. Confess with your mouth that you love God and believe it in your heart.”

                    “But I don’t understand everything about God. Or church. Or anything godly.”

                    “In due time, Bill, you will. Believe me, you will.”

                    The fire crackled slightly as the rustling of keys opened the front door. A swoosh of cold air and a few snowflakes fell on the mat beside the door. “Honey, we’re home. I’ve got pizza!”

                    Angela and the kids piled their wet coats, mittens, and boots by the door. Angela saw that Bill hadn’t moved from the comfort of his favorite chair since she left for the mall. “Shhh, kids. Your father is asleep.” Angela snuck up to the chair. “Bill,” she whispered. “Bill, we’re home.” But Bill didn’t answer.

                    Angela felt his forehead. It was very cold. She felt for a pause on his neck. There was none. She looked at Bill’s laptop and there was only one sentence written at the top of the page, ‘Confess with your mouth that you love God and believe it in your heart.’

  • 28 Dec 2017 12:44 PM
    Message # 5651353

       You have a day all to yourself, the phone rings and you refuse to answer it, but whoever it is refuses to quit calling. Should you ignore it or answer? The number looks familiar. 

    How far will your mind take you? 

    Happy writing!

    Last modified: 28 Dec 2017 12:45 PM | Anonymous
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