Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Daddy's Gone Rule of Two"

Start: Daddy's Gone A Hunting (Page 34, Copyright 2013), by Mary Higgins Clark
End: Darth Bane: Rule of Two (19% Kindle Version, Copyright 2007), by Drew Karpyshyn
The story between them: by Michael Rigg

When Justin Kramer came upstairs to Kate's apartment, Hannah had immediately liked what she was seeing. He looked to be in his early thirties. Trim, about five feet ten, with hazel eyes, a firm jaw, and a head of curly dark brown hair, he reminded her of a boy she'd had a crush on when she was sixteen.

His concern for Kate was genuine. He explained, "I got in over my head when I bought this condo. Then I when lost my job in the Wall Street fallout two years ago, I knew it would be wise to sell it."

Hannah shrugged. "I guess you did the right thing, no?" She watched as Justin made his way to the tall windows overlooking the city, studied how the moonlight and neon reflected off his face.

Justin's gaze locked on something in the distance. "Yeah, but... I miss it." He barely registered her approach as she slid off the sofa and sidled up to him. She let her fingers twine around his and joined him in his vacant stare out the window. Only then did he turn and look down at her. "Where is your sister, anyway?"

Hannah's eyes traced a Corellian transport as it coasted down out of the violet sky and angled toward the spaceport a few blocks from the condo. "She went to see that Jedi again."

Justin rolled his eyes and released an impatient huff of breath. "Again?"

"You can't blame her for falling in love. You've been in love a few times yourself, you know," Hannah said, her voice rising slightly as she stared up at him, almost daring him to push the buttons to set her off again.

Justin collapsed as he usually did. His shoulders relaxed a bit and he pulled his hand from hers and folded his arms. He looked up at the darkening sky, narrowing his eyes toward the base station and the tiny stars of Republic fleet ships hovering around it.

He opened his mouth to say something, then thought better of it.


Kate ran her pass card through the slot next to the door, her eyes flitting toward the armed Republic guard nearby only once. The door buzzed, then slid open with a hushed whisper. She resumed breathing once she stepped into the outer holding cell area.

"Ah, Kathryn Vendrus, I presume?" the officer behind the desk said. He tried to smile, pressing his jowls into an oblong grin. Kate nodded and presented him with her datapad. As he skimmed over the document, she glanced toward the inner door that led toward the holding cells where the Sith prisoners were kept. "Is Johun busy?"

The officer looked up from the datapad, but held it firm against his barrel-shaped chest. "Mmm, yeah?" Kate looked at him, then made a face and shook her head, scowling to emphasize the lie that Jedi Master Johun was her only reason for traveling to the Fairwind.

Still looking skeptical, the officer pushed the pad back at her. "You can go on in. He should be finsihed soon."

"Thanks," Kate smirked as she took the datapad and headed down the corridor. She hadn't gone more than a few meters when she heard voices rising a few doors down. She recognized Johun's voice at first, then what she assumed to be a pair of prisoners he was questioning. Oh, how she loved to hear him work.

"This is all just a misunderstanding," the man insisted from inside his cell.

"You're making a mistake," the woman with him agreed.

Johun took a deep breath, then let it out in a long, weary sigh. He'd arrived back on the Fairwind with his two prisoners over an hour earlier. His request for an immediate audience with Farfalla had been denied, as the acting general had been otherwise preoccupied with the cleanup efforts on Ruusan. So Johun had taken his prisoners down to the flagship's lower deck and placed them in a holding cell to wait. With nothing better to do, he'd decided to take a seat in a nearby chair and wait with them.

The young Jedi was now strongly regretting that decision.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"The Lucky Event"

Start: The Lucky One (Page 36, Copyright 2008), by Nicholas Sparks
End: Event (Page 164, Copyright 2006), by David Lynn Golemon
The story between them: by Michael Rigg

Lost in thought, she hadn't seen Ben approaching. His freckled face was shiny with sweat. Water dripped from his clothes, and there were grass stains on his shirt she was certain would never come out.

"Yeah, baby?"

"Can I spend the night at Zach's tonight?"

"I thought you had soccer practice."

"After practice. There's going to be a bunch of poeple staying over, and his mom got him Guitar Hero for his birthday."

She knew the real reason he was asking.

"Not tonight. You can't. Your dad's coming over to pick you up at five."

"Can you call him and ask?"

"I can try. But you know..."

Ben nodded, and as it usually did when this happened, her heart broke just a little. "Yeah, I know."

Alice watched as Ben shuffled out of the kitchen, his chin dragging the floor. She wanted to call out to him, to say she was sorry, but knew the words would fall empty so she returned to the dishes.

That's when the phone rang and she moved so fast to pick it up before Ben came running back that she almost dropped it in the soapy water.

"Hello?" Alice clamped the phone with her shoulder as she dried her hands with the dish towel.


Alice's blood chilled. Gripping the phone over the mouthpiece, she stretched the cord to the kitchen doorway to make sure Ben had gone to his room. She heard him noisily slamming things into his overnight bag.

"This is Major Cross."

"Major, it's Lieutenant Collins from Shadowbase."

Alice's already chilled blood froze through to her skin as goosebumps raised on her arms. She cleared her throat away from the mouthpiece before speaking again. "Lieutenant, you shouldn't be calling me on this line."

"It's all right, major. We're completely scrambled."

"How can--?"

When Lieutenant Collins spoke again, his voice was clipped and rigid. "Everything is under control, major. We have a car on its way for you."

Alice's eyes traveled around the kitchen; the pots and pans, the sudsy water, Ben's half-eaten peanut butter sandwich. The phone call she was on now might mean it would all be gone in a matter of moments. A call from Shadowbase usually meant the Koreans were up to no good. And, for the past few months, Alice's team had been watching the nuclear supply lines move like surrupticious ants from one hill to another.

They were definitely preparing for something, and relations between Korea and China with the U.S. and Russia weren't going as well as the president had hoped the past few weeks.
Alice swallowed. "I'm guessing we're well past sanctions."
She heard the hiss of Collins' sigh through the line. He relaxed a bit. "No ma'am. The president is wanting us to pull some hard numbers, asap."

"Got it."

Alice hung up just as Ben trudged back into the kitchen dragging his overnight bag behind him.

"You should clean up before your dad gets here."

Ignoring the suggestion, Ben cringed and kicked at the tile floor. "Aww, mom, do I have to go?"

Thinking about the phone call, the car on its way, the underground base teaming with "satellite spies," and a pending nuclear meltdown, all Alice wanted to do was grab her son and squeeze him tight, to tell him he didn't have to go with his deadbeat father, that he didn't have to do anything he didn't want to do. But all she could do was stare, her eyes locked in a daydream of melting plastic and white-hot skies.

"Earth to mom."

Alice blinked. "Sorry, honey." She reached out and wiped a smudge from his nose. "Just try to make the most of it, okay?"

Ben nodded, glum.

"Do you have your DS?"

"Yeah, but it's not the same as Guitar Hero."

Alice nodded slowly. "Well, you just be good for your dad and when you get back maybe you and I can talk about your upcoming birthday."

Ben brightened a little. "Really?"

Alice continued to nod. A car honked outside. "Oop. That's him."

Alice stood as Ben hefted his overnight bag. She followed her son out the front door and down to Roger's Camaro. She normally walked all the way to the car, reminded Roger about having Ben brush ALL his teeth, to remember the time for soccer practice, or to make sure he didn't try to bring home another lizard. But today she stood half-way down the walk, hiding her expression with distance.

"I love you, Benji!"

"Love you too, mom."

Ben didn't look back. Alice's last memory of him that day was of the back of his head, tilted to look into the smiling eyes of his father, the deadbeat, probably promising him some kind of whirlwind Disney adventure. Roger was always buying Ben's love. Alice hoped it was enough. She hoped her job--keeping society intact--would help him do just that. She didn't know if she trusted Roger enough to get Ben to safety should the missles start flying. But she knew he'd keep her son distracted as the news reports got more and more serioius.

A blue sedan with the stenciled letters, KYLE AFB pulled up to the space previously occupied by
Roger's Camaro.

Alice held up one finger to let the sergeant know she'd be just a minute, and ran back inside. She didn't have time to put on her uniform, so she just made a quick pass of the house to make sure everything was off, grabbed her keys, and left.

Less than fifteen minutes later, she was fifty feet below the Nevada desert, looking as important as she could amongst the uniforms, dressed in kahki shorts and a red T-shirt proclaiming PROUD SOCCER MOM.

Alice was met by Lieutenant Collins, who smiled at her appearance. They shook hands.

"I know, I know. I didn't have time."

The lieutenant said, "You've got a spare here." His eyes glinted as his voice lowered so the sergeant wouldn't hear. "In my quarters."

Why was he all business over the phone, then horny high schooler when she showed up on base? And was this really the time to be flirting with her? Alice wished she could erase the past month, get back to a business relationship with Jack Collins, but what was done was done. She had slept with a lower officer. And now she was paying the price with his distracting smile and flashing eyes.

Hardening her voice, Alice gave him a glare before turning to the sergeant. "Let's just concentrate on what we have. Sergeant?"

Collins just nodded, and then looked from Alice to the sergeant.

"This is what we have so far, ma'am," the sergeant said, holding a file out to Alice.

"Just tell me," Alice said as she handed the file to Jack.

"We have a mole," the sergeant said.

She wasn't expecting the twist. She glared at Collins, "What's this about?"

"Sorry, major. Even though I had the line scrambled, I couldn't be sure the mole wasn't on the tap."

Alice nodded. "Go on, sergeant."

The sergeant nodded and looked at Jack. "What we did was run the two numbers through NSA. They were both dead ends as no calls were actually made to those phones from Nevada. This was confirmed by AT&T, Sprint, and the actual residents of those homes. Thus we were left with a dead end. Our friend had managed somehow to scramble the hard lines leading out to the club and the transmission to the phone company's Comsat. We were stuck until we examined the security monitors from The Ark." The sergeant handed the major a cased computer disk. "We came up with this thanks to Dr. Cummings in Photo-Recon. . . ."

[Oooh, I'll bet it's Roger! -- M. Rigg]

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Rainy Night of Fear"

Start: One Rainy Night (Page 146, Copyright 1991), by Richard Laymon
End: Carnival of Fear (Page 164, Copyright 1993), by J. Robert King
The story between them: by Michael Rigg

She heard him sigh into the phone. "Well, look, I don't know what's going on but people are going nuts outside. It apparently has something to do with the rain. The rain's black out there. We just had three people go crazy and come into the restaurant and kill some people."

"My god," Denise muttered.

"What is it?" Dominick asked. He leaned close to her so he could hear Ed's voice through the phone pressed to Denise's ear.

"I don't know what's going on, but you have to get to higher ground," was the next thing Dominick heard, then Denise turned away, told Ed they would, and hung up.

Though he knew, Dominick asked, "What'd he say?"

Denise winced as if the thought of repeating it would hurt. "Weird. Odd. Something about black rain and people freaking out."

"Did he say what we should do?"

Denise went to the armchair and pulled on her windbreaker. "He said we should get to higher ground."

Dominick glanced out the window. The sky toward the city was black with angry storm clouds and the deepening gray around them was threatening a cloudburst at any moment. "We can't."

"Why not? Let's go." Denise grabbed her purse and turned toward the door, but she was stopped by Dominick's hand on her shoulder.


There was something in his eyes that always captivated Denise. But her one-sided love for Dominick was always something underlying and murky. He never knew how much she longed for him, how much she would do for him. They had been friends for so long that she thought he would never know the truth. Now he was looking at her with those green eyes in a way she had always dreamed he would. There was a glint, something--

"Dominick," she said. It was a whisper. It was a soft, pained whisper that said please let that look be more. After everything that's happened today, please let that look mean you-- you--

"I love you," Dominick said. "We can't leave here."

If not for that look, those three words, she would have told him he was crazy, that they had plenty of time to sprint down to the car and get away before the clouds opened up. But she could only drop her purse on the floor and step into him. Her tears were hot as thunder struck outside.

"It's starting," Dominick said, his lips brushing her scalp as she hugged him, her ear pressed to his chest to absorb his heartbeat. She didn't care about the rain, the crazy people, or Ed. She only cared that he said it.

"You," she sniffed. Without moving, without loosening her grasp, afraid she would lose this moment forever, she dared, "You said you love me."

Dominick held her shoulders with strong hands and pulled her gently away from him. Their eyes met. He said, "Denise, I have loved you since we were kids. I just never could say the words."

That was all she wanted to hear. That's all she ever wanted to hear. Even after she left town to attend college and he took over his father's butcher shop, Denise had always longed to return to his green eyes, his smile, his sense of humor. She dreamed of hearing those words. And now....

The clouds burst and a strange artificial night enclosed the cabin as the sky thickened like the underside of a barnacle-choked battleship cruising overhead to drop its depth charges. The black rain came in sheets covering the ground with oily rivers and pools midnight.

As the darkness enfolded them, Denise and Dominick fell into each other's arms and kissed with a passion that had been building for decades. The thunder crashing outside matched the exploding beats of Denise's heart as she peeled away Dominick's shirt and felt him reach for the snap of her bra. His need and hers were in perfect sync. Their blood roared in their ears as lips and hands found places they'd dreamed to touch but never had.

Their lovemaking matched the fury of the storm outside. Each thrust, each pulse seemed to be generating more and more thunder outside. Lightning snapped with every groan and tingling river of energy through their spines.

Eventually, and without words, they fell into a heavy sleep in each other's arms, coiled on the floor of the cabin amongst loose clothes and jackets. The storm also surrendered into the arms of the night, but the black rain continued in torrents.

* * *

She opened her eyes and rolled onto her back. She couldn't tell what time it was because the windows had been painted black by the evil rain.

Pulling her windbreaker over her breasts like a blanket, she rolled to her other side and reached for her cell phone to check the time. What she saw lit her brain on fire and froze her skin like stone.

Her phone was smashed into a tiny electronic pile of gadget guts. Glistening droplets of black water like tiny domes of obsidian covered its screen and the hardwood floor around it.

"Dom--" but her voice choked off as she turned to see him standing over her.

Dominick had changed. Gleaming metal blades jutted from his body everywhere. From the crown of his shoulders down to his bruised and inward-turning feet, the butcher's naked body prickled with blades-long razors, jag-toothed saws, blocky cleavers, curved knives, glistening shears, stilettos.... Hundreds of them emerged from his skin, as though an army inside him were cutting its way out.