Author Archives: Kimberly Emerson

Domestic Threats

Kimberly here, of http://www.kimberlyemerson.com. I can’t get enough of short stories lately, so when Erika asked me to participate in This One Time…at Writers Group’s new challenge, of course I said yes. I got the following five pieces of music for inspiration:

1.) Heavy Metal/Hard Rock- Breaking the Law by Judas Priest

2.) Pop/Hip-Hop- The Heart Wants What it Wants by Selena Gomez

3.) Country/Singer Songwriter- Oh Very Young by Cat Stevens

4.) Instrumental/Soundtrack- Pirates of the Caribbean (1)- The Curse of the Black Pearl

5.) Wild Card- The Happy Birthday Song (traditional)

I listened to all of them (sans videos, just as requested). First, I discovered that Happy Birthday sounds a little creepy heard out of context. Don’t know why. Beyond that, I toyed with a story based on the Selena Gomez song, but finally ended up drawn to the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. A pirate story! I decided the swashbuckler in my head was too literal, and thought to myself, who are the modern day pirates? Hmm…instead of the high seas, most of them sit behind a computer somewhere…

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DOMESTIC THREATS

Phillip Rainier banged his cup down on the desk, splashing drops of black coffee on the keyboard.

His administrative assistant poked her head around the partially open door. “Mr. Rainier? Is there a problem?”

“Get me the head of IT. Now.”

Less than a minute later, Tomas Garcia walked into his office. Rainier didn’t look up. “Shut the door.” As soon as he heard the door close, he wheeled his chair back from the desk so Garcia could see his computer screen. “Read this.”

The IT guru stood over his shoulder, keeping a very respectful distance away, which was wise. Rainier  would have loved an excuse to smash something. They both read the 48-point font.

THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING. A PUBLIC STATEMENT THAT YOU WON’T LAY OFF ANYONE ELSE THIS YEAR, OR YOUR NEW CHEMOTHERAPY FORMULA GOES ON WIKIPEDIA.

P.S. YOUR LATEST BONUS GOES UP TOO.

Rainier rounded on his employee. “Who the hell is sending these? Why haven’t you found them?”

Garcia twitched beneath his white collared shirt. “I don’t know, Mr. Rainier. I’ve had my whole team on it, and we’ve got nothing. They come in on your email, from your email. There’s no trail from other servers.”

“Do you think it’s Anonymous?”

Rainier’s employee shook his head. “Anonymous wouldn’t have made the threat this private. Their ultimatum would have made the rounds on Twitter by now. Are you sure no one else has access to your email account?”

“I’ve changed the password three times in the last week. The last one was fifteen characters including numbers, capitals, an asterisk and two dollar signs.”

Garcia raised his eyebrows. “You have that written down somewhere?”

Rainier tapped his shirt pocket. “I keep it with me all day. It goes in my desk drawer at night. My wife is sick of finding ink marks on my shirt pockets, but I can’t remember them all anymore.”

“And you’re sure your house is secure?”

“I run a multi-billion dollar company, Garcia! I have better security than the President!” It wasn’t an exaggeration. Rainier paid the security bill every month before he paid his health insurance. When he considered threats to his health, heart attacks were a distant second to long range rifles.

Garcia sighed. “Perhaps we’re overstating the threat here, Mr. Rainier. We have patents on our formulas. Even if the formula went public, no reputable company would be able to use it.”

“Not this one.” Rainier tapped his fingers on the oak desk. “I talked to Legal yesterday morning. It won’t be final till next week, at the earliest.” The conversation had ruined his breakfast. Screaming at the phone and pounding on the table had produced no result save spilling orange juice on his daughter Miranda, who’d had to run upstairs and change into something less citrusy.

“Perhaps we need security on the formula.”

Rainier rose to his feet and smacked both hands on the desk. “Where do you think I’ve been keeping it? In a fake rock on my porch?” He walked away to resist the urge to punch Garcia. “It’s under the tightest possible security right now. I have a backup of the formula at home, just in case there’s a huge computer disaster, but that’s the only place it exists outside the lab. The entire lab staff knows it’s worth more than their lives to leak it.”

Garcia looked about a half second from making a run for it. “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about the bonus thing. That’s stated in the company financial reports, isn’t it?”

The stare Phillip Rainier gave his employee caused the man to take two steps back. “Not everything is listed in the financials, Garcia. Not that anything illegal is going on, of course.” That I’ll admit to you, anyway. “There are just things the public doesn’t need to know.”

Garcia coughed. “Of course, sir.” He scooted closer to the door. “I don’t know what else we can do.”

“We were planning a round of layoffs next week. We can’t afford not to.”

“But if we release this new chemo drug, we should make money off it, right?”

“If the research holds up like we think it will, and it causes significantly less nausea than the usual stuff, yes. But I can’t guarantee that right now.”

Garcia’s wrung his hands so fast they looked like a blur in front of his stomach. “Um, Mr. Rainier? Maybe you should call their bluff. You said the formula is secure. Just don’t react to the email.”

It was Rainier’s turn to cough.

Garcia’s eyes bugged out. “They sent proof they have it?”

“An early version of the formula. Not perfect, but close enough.”

Silence reigned for the next two minutes. At last, Garcia swallowed audibly. “I think you might have to give them what they want, sir.”

“What? How do I explain that to the shareholders, Garcia? Sorry, decreased dividends for you folks. They’ll sell before they hit the door.”

“Maybe senior management could give up bonuses this year.”

“Garcia, you’re – “ Rainier almost said he was fired, and then stopped himself. For all he knew, Garcia could be the one sending the emails. He had access to everything. Fire Garcia, and the formula would probably be on Wikipedia by lunchtime. He cleared his throat. “You’re probably right. I’ll find a way. Get back to work.”

Garcia didn’t need to be told twice.

Feeling like an idiot, Rainier called the head of Public Relations. “I want a statement out to the media this morning, out to all major media outlets. No new layoffs for Rainier Industries this year. Yes, I know what that means! Just do it!

A buzz on her phone told Miranda Rainier that CNN had a headline with her father’s company in it. “No New Layoffs for Rainier,” it announced.

She texted the link to her best friend’s phone and added the message, Relax. Your mom’s job is safe.

A text came back immediately. OMG! I have to call mom. All good till next year.

She’ll be fine next year too. Don’t worry.

If her father started keeping all his important stuff in a bank vault instead of his top drawer, she might have a problem, but Miranda didn’t think that would ever happen. Dad didn’t trust strangers.

Me-at-Court-of-Two-SistersKimberly Emerson is currently working on one novel, seeking representation for another, and considering a twelve step group for her short story habit. Okay, that’s not true, she’s entering short story contests, but when you think about it, that’s kind of the same thing. Her cat Zoe wishes Kimberly great literary success, because humans make much better cat servants when they work at home. Make her cat happy and subscribe to her blog, http://www.kimberlyemerson.com.

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A Spoonful of Inspiration

Hi all! Kimberly Emerson here, writer at www.kimberlyemerson.com and proud friend of the BBB. This is my second feature on the BBB blog, and I am tickled to be asked back! My five prompts were:

Amy- A thin wisp of gray smoke rising from a cave in a black lagoon.

Cameron- Making words out of numbers on an upside down calculator.

Erika-  There is no spoon.

Jen- Hot air balloon breaks the tether and flies away, your little dog inside.

Wendy- Fruit loops and chocolate milk

I chose to go with Erika’s offering. (She seems to be on a roll lately!) It got me to thinking that even when we are absolutely certain something is so, we’re not always right…

 

A Spoonful of Inspiration

by Kimberly Emerson

Four hours of gardening and I hit the wall. A small retaining wall, to be exact, after I tripped over a tree root, but still a solid indication that I should quit for the day.

I walked through the back door into the house, stripping off my clothing along the way. My daughter, Karys, had left to visit her father a few days ago, so the house stood empty – no one around to mind if I threw my sweat-stained garb into the washing machine and traipsed through the house naked to a much needed shower.

Crash.

My hand froze over the washing machine’s start button. Someone was in the house, in my daughter’s bedroom. Not Karys. The world’s most responsible nineteen-year-old, she would have let me know if she decided to come home early. From the clatter in the next room, someone looking for something, who didn’t realize that I was home.

I grabbed a towel out of the dryer. Thank goodness I’d procrastinated in folding the laundry. I could run, but my compact house sat on a little-traveled two-lane highway, and the nearest neighbors were half a mile down the road. My cell phone sat on my bedroom nightstand, on the other side of the house. Better running down the highway in a towel, or in here with a burglar?

I headed toward the kitchen to grab a butcher knife. That had to be a good accessory in either case.

“Grab the spoon, Bronwyn. We have to go.”

A diminutive woman, no more than five feet and probably less, stood in front of me, a finger to her cupid’s bow lips. She wore a short filmy dress that floated around her, a white that barely seemed to exist outside of the imagination.

I clung to my towel. “Who are you?” I spoke in the barest whisper. “How do you know my name? Where did you come from?”

“Aderyn. Your mother sent me.”

Wrong answer. “My mother died when I was four. How did – “

“Well, yes and no.” She shook her head. “Grab the spoon. We have to go. Crusher in there – “ she nodded toward my daughter’s room – “will kill you. Karys’ father doesn’t think he will, but he will.”

Her voice barely carried to my ears. She couldn’t top four feet, actually, standing there in her – well, now that I looked closely, it was a white linen shift dress, suitable for an garden party or a charity luncheon. She hadn’t been wearing that before, I was sure of it.

In her own way, she might be as scary as the guy throwing things in Karys’ room. “I’ll get a spoon from the kitchen.”

“No. The spoon in this room. The important one.”

“In the laundry room? There is no spoon. Important or otherwise.”

“Close your eyes. Where is the warmth?”

“I don’t know!”

Her voice didn’t carry, but mine did. The noises in the other room abruptly changed. I closed my eyes and realized with a tug in my stomach that I could feel warmth. To my right…not far…

I opened my eyes and looked at the utility table where I’d put the mail for the last couple of days, without bothering to open most of it. A package, addressed to me. I grabbed it. “This?”

“Yes. Let’s go!” My new friend/foe grabbed both my hands and yanked hard, whereupon the room disappeared.

***

Before I could blink, the strange woman and I stood in what looked like a hotel lobby, completely deserted. I clutched for my towel, only to discover I now wore a dress – like Aderyn’s, but in a forest green that flattered my pale, freckled skin. I could no longer feel a drop of sweat on my body, and my fingernails bore no traces of dirt. Even my hair felt clean.

Perhaps I hit my head on that retaining wall in the garden this morning, and just hadn’t realized it.

Aderyn – still in the white linen dress, thank goodness – stood in front of me, her hands on either side of my face. “Don’t shake your head. You’ll mess up your hair, and your mother likes things tidy.”

I remembered that.

I could barely recall anything about her. Just one genuine memory still remained – my mother, in a lemon-colored dress with a full skirt. I asked her to spin in it, so I could see it swirl around her. Usually when I asked that, she said no, it would mess up her hair. That day, though, she did it, and that was the one image of her I could still remember – Mama twirling in her pretty yellow dress.

How could you be dead and not dead, and why did my sort-of-dead mother know I needed rescuing from someone sent by my daughter’s father?

Karys’ father, by contrast, I could picture instantly, in spite of the fact I hadn’t seen him since that fateful night in college. Frat party – he was drunk and I was lonely. Not long after, his garage band got signed to a label and he skyrocketed to fame. He’d never talked to me again, not even after he found out Karys was on the way.

A month ago, however, he contacted Karys and said he wanted to make amends.

“Bronwyn.”

My head snapped up. The woman in front of me wore a yellow linen shift dress. We looked like a rainbow bridesmaid coalition. “Mama.”

“Bronwyn bach.” Little Bronwyn. A Welsh nickname that Dad told me she used for me. She put a hand on my face. “You’re so beautiful. I’ve missed you so much.”

I shrank back from her. “No. You don’t get to show up after thirty-four years and tell me that you missed me.” I jerked a thumb at Aderyn. “This one told me that Karys’ father sent that man to my house. Has he done something Karys? Where is she?”

“Karys.” My mother smiled. “She’s beautiful, too.”

“I know she’s beautiful, damn it. I’ve been there for every one of her nineteen years. Now where is she? This touching reunion will have to wait.”

“My love.” Mama touched my arm. A rush of childish joy ran through me even as I flinched. “Karys is safe. I understand that you’re angry, and you have a right to be, but please believe me – I’ve always watched over you, and I will always watch over Karys.”

“I thought you were dead!” I shook off her hand. “You watching over me from this demented hotel didn’t stop me from getting pregnant at eighteen. I doubt you’ll be any help to Karys, either.”

She sniffed. “You can blame biology for that, not me. You wanted to sleep with Jack. I couldn’t stop something you wanted to happen.”

Great. Now I had the image in my head of my mother watching me have really bad sex with a drunken frat boy. This day just did not get better. “How do you know what I want, then or now?”

“Bronwyn, you know my name.”

“Druantia.” The name came out of my mouth like a reluctant baby tooth, pulled by someone else’s string. “I believe it’s Welsh for ‘woman who abandons her family.’”

“What else does it mean? Your father told you.”

“It’s the name of a Druidic goddess. Protector of trees, or something.”

“And knowledge, passion, sex, fertility, and more to the point in your case, creativity. Bronwyn bach, look at me.”

I didn’t want to, but I did – and noticed she glowed. I didn’t see it till I stared at her for a minute. A faint, glistening outline.

My jaw dropped. “You?”

“Me.” She stepped closer to me, but didn’t touch  me. “I didn’t want to leave you.”

“But you did.”

“The other gods were afraid if I spent too much time on Earth with you, I’d stop being a god. Or even worse, you might become one. I had to leave.”

“You’re a goddess! You didn’t have to do anything!”

“It wasn’t that simple, Bronwyn. Nothing is. You have a child. You know that.” Her mouth quirked up on one side. “Sorry about the extraordinary fertility, by the way.”

I shook my head. “Don’t you dare take credit for that. I decided to have Karys.” I blushed at the memory of my eighteen-year-old self, thinking that having the baby would keep Jack in my life. “That had nothing to do with you.”

Mama nodded. “You’re a wonderful mother. Better than I ever was.”

“Not always.” I wanted to lie, but it would be an insult to Karys. She had it rough as a kid. I blinked the tears out of my eyes and cleared my throat. “So – this is heaven?”

“We dialed down a few things to stay in your comprehension. You’ll see for yourself, someday, but not today.”

I rubbed my temples. “If I’m not dying and Karys isn’t in danger, why did you bring me here? I mean, why now?”

“I had to explain who you are, and why Jack wants that spoon.”

She pointed toward the package Aderyn made me bring along. I ripped open the padded envelope. It contained a carved piece of wood – a Welsh love spoon. My  mother had given it to my father, and when he died in my teens, Dad left it to me. When I found out I was pregnant, I mailed it to Jack.

spoon1I stared at it, not sure which surprised me more: that he’d sent it back, or that he’d kept it all these years in the first place.

“After you slept with Jack, he became a household name.”

My mouth twisted to one side involuntarily. “I’m aware, thanks.”

“Think about it, Brownyn.” Mama gazed at the intricate patterns on the spoon. “Hasn’t been doing so well lately, has he?”

“Not a hit in years.” I watched Mama run a finger over the spoon’s detail and felt something flicker in the back of my brain. No, it couldn’t be. “The spoon didn’t make him famous. I refuse to believe that.”

“Not the spoon. Although that’s what he thought.” She brushed a non-existent piece of lint off her dress. “Not the brightest firefly in the swarm, that one.”

“Oh, hell.” I stared at her. “It was me. I somehow channelled you and made that loser famous. My head hurts. Do goddesses keep aspirin in the house?”

“Don’t blame me. That power’s all yours. Even Jack figured that out, eventually.”

“Is that why he got in touch with Karys, after all these years? He thought maybe she inherited the magic touch?”

Mama sighed. “When he figured out she couldn’t help him, he sent the spoon back to you, to be – reenergized, so to speak.”

“And then he sent that thief to my house, to steal it back?”

Slowly, Mama nodded.

“Damn it! Just when I thought he was finally seeing sense, he turns out to be an even bigger jackass than before!”

“It won’t work. You’re the daughter of the goddess, my love. You’re the muse. Only you.”

My mother had supernatural powers, and now I had some too? “I have to get home,” I said in a hoarse whisper. “I don’t even know how long I’ve been here. I have to pick up Karys at the airport first thing tomorrow.”

“I know. Don’t worry, you’ll be back in plenty of time. I just had to see you – to explain – to protect Karys.”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier? I would’ve told her what he really wanted. I wouldn’t have let her go.”

Mama gazed at me, sadness in her green eyes. “Exactly. You can withhold inspiration from him, that’s your choice. But if there was even a chance he might want to get know her, I had to let her have it. And she really wanted to go.”

I bit my lip. She was right. Karys wanted to see her father. I hated the thought of her getting hurt, but she was grown now, and deserved to make her own choices. Even ones that hurt.

“I have to go.” My voice barely reached my own ears.

“I know. You just have one decision to make, and then you can go home.”

I batted a tear from my face. “What decision?”

“The spoon. You can take it with you, and inspire someone else. You can leave it here, and not inspire anyone. Or,” she cleared her throat, “Aderyn can take it back to Jack with your blessing, and his career will take off again. It’s up to you.”

The spoon lay heavy in my hand. My broken heart. Months of tears. Years of bitterness. In the end, though, Jack was the one who’d lost. He’d missed out on knowing Karys.

I ran my hand over the soon. I clasped it, breathed on it, did everything but lick it. (Who knew where it had been in the last twenty years?) Then, I held it out to Aderyn. “He can have it…on one condition.”

Mama held a hand out, stopping Aderyn from taking it. “What’s that?”

“He never comes near Karys again – I meant it, never – unless he really wants to get to know her. You stop him from even saying he wants to see her if he doesn’t mean it. I don’t care if you have to make a tree fall on him.”

Mama nodded. “You have my word.”

“Good.” I looked around the luxurious lobby. “How do I get home?”

“Click your heels three times.”

“Seriously?”

“No. Aderyn will see you home.” She touched my face again, and this time I let her. “Take care, my dear.”

“You, too.” I turned to go. Could goddesses take care? I’d have to think about it later when my brain didn’t hurt so much.

“I love you, Bronwyn bach.”

I turned around and hugged her, tears dripping down my cheeks on to her crisp yellow dress. She didn’t seem to mind. “I love you, too, Mama.”

At last I let go and walked to Aderyn.

“It’s all a beginning, Bronwyn.” Mama’s voice floated after me. “You’ve looked at everything as an ending, your whole life, but all of it – me, your father, Karys, even Jack – it’s all just the beginning.”

I blinked at her, and then nodded.

***

The magic transport didn’t get any easier then second time. In what felt like half a second, I stood in my kitchen, feeling like my eyeballs were floating in a bubbling stew. I focused on the digital clock – five-twenty – until my head stopped spinning.

I still had the green dress on, though. Thanks for the new outfit, Mama.

After changing into sweats, I lay on my bed just to get my equilibrium back, but ended up sleeping until my phone woke me up, early the next morning. Karys’ ring. “Hi, sweetheart. Did you catch an earlier flight?”

“No. That’s why I’m calling. Jack wants me to stay another week.  When I first got here, he acted like a real jackass, and I almost left. Yesterday, though, I felt like we had a breakthrough, so now I want to stay.…Mom, are you there?”

Five-twenty. I’d gotten back at five-twenty. “What time did he ask, Karys? Exactly?”

“About ten o’clock last night.” She paused. “That was a weird question, Mom. Are you sure you’re okay? Do you need me to come home?”

“I’m fine. It’s fine.” After Mama’s promise. She wouldn’t have let him say it if he didn’t mean it.

“Do you think I’m making the right decision?” All of a sudden, Karys sounded much younger than her nineteen years. “Or am I setting myself up for a fall?”

“You’re being loving, honey.” I smiled for the first time in days. “And that’s a good beginning.”

Me-at-Court-of-Two-Sisters

For more of Kimberly Emerson’s work, visit her at her blog, on her Facebook page, or on Twitter. She’s not the photographer of the Welsh love spoon (that came from http://www.lsirish.com) but she is the author of two books – almost three – and more short stories than she currently remembers. Zoe, her cat, could probably tell you the exact number, since she got dislodged from the computer keyboard for each one. Not that she’s bitter or anything. 

An Author’s Guide to Survival

Please welcome our first guest writer, Kimberly Emerson!  In accepting her challenge, Kim had the option of choosing between the following writing prompts, one from each of the BBB’s:

Erika- mullets, yes, the hairstyle

Wendy- You are stranded on a deserted island. You have a book signing in NYC in 24 hours for your NYT Best Seller An Author’s Survival Guide. Aside from the same flora and fauna you could find on any tropical island, you have with you the following: A single playing card (ace of spades), a pack of red vine licorice, a copy of the 2013 Guide to Literary Agents, a swag bag from the last conference you went to, and bacon. How do you get off the island and to your book signing on time?

Jen- Elmer’s School glue stick – fireflies and Olympus SP-620UZ (yep, she wants them all covered)

Cameron- “commencement time”  (note from Cam: The “C” can also be capitalized; I’ll leave the interpretation up to writer’s discretion!

Amy- The perfect summer afternoon

And here’s what she chose…

by Kimberly Emerson

The minute Shaun stuffed me in that duffel bag, I knew the date wasn’t going to end well.

It had such a promising start.  He seemed instantly familiar, like we’d met in a previous life.  He had a private plane, and we were going to fly from Honolulu to his favorite restaurant on Kauai.  In retrospect, I should have known that it was too good to be true, but things had been going so well for me lately.  My latest book had just hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.  Well, you know, one of the lists.  The non-fiction one.  But still, I’d seen it myself – #1: The Author’s Guide to Survival, by Allie Oliver.  It just seemed to be the time for exciting things to happen in my life.

As it turns out, being inside a duffel bag is not exciting.  It’s cramped – your definition of a “roomy” duffel changes substantially once you’ve spent time on the other side of the zipper – and your entertainment options are limited.  This one smelled like rotting meat.  Sheesh. Shaun had locked me inside this canvas prison, and he hadn’t even had the decency to empty it first.  I kept getting smacked by the objects floating around in it with me.  The only good thing about this duffel was its flimsy construction.  After what seemed like hours, when Shaun tossed me into the ocean, the seam around the zipper gave way, and I was able to swim to safety on a small island.

Well, you know – relative safety.  I was on an island I didn’t know, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  But I had reached a beach, and the warm sand felt better than a Sealy Posturepedic pillowtop.  I told myself to get up and survey the island, to find out what new dangers I faced.  My body, which after all had done the heavy lifting in the cramping, falling, and swimming departments, disobeyed me and fell asleep instantly.

Full sunlight streamed across my face when I finally awoke, some hours later.  Surveying my surroundings, I could barely stomach the irony.  How many times had I dreamed of lying on the beach of my own private island, with nothing to do but relax?  And now, here I was, with the beach all to myself and all the time in the world, and I was miserable.  I got up and wandered around.  A complete turn around the island took all of twenty minutes.  I found nothing and no one, aside of miles of maile vines, the occasional vicious-looking sea bird and the duffel bag that had washed up on the beach beside me.  I prayed that somehow the bag would contain an emergency phone in a waterproof case, but no luck.  Shaun must have come up with this idea on short notice, based on the junk he hadn’t removed from the bag before stuffing me into it.  An unopened pack of red licorice, a playing card, a half empty pack of bacon – hence the smell: bacon?  really? – and a plastic bag wrapped around what appeared to be a book.

I was going to die here.

Despondent, I sank down to the sand.  Tears stung my eyes, but I couldn’t even have a proper cry because the metallic-colored plastic bag kept winking the sun into my face.  I picked up the bag to toss it somewhere less annoying, but the sand coating it made me lose my grip.  It fell, dumping the book out at my feet.

Great.  I couldn’t even throw a plastic bag correctly.  I was useless, and I was stuck here in this sandy, deserted, irritatingly beautiful hell.

Even in my wallowing, the title of the book caught my eye – The 2013 Guide to Literary Agents.  Shaun must be a writer, too.

My book!  It struck me with the force of a thunderclap that I had a book-signing in New York in two days.  No – it couldn’t be more than twenty-fours now.  A big, important book signing for my #1-on-the-NYT-Best-Seller-List (well, one of them) book.  I was not going to miss that.  There had to be a way off this island, and I was going to find it.

Think, Allie, I told myself.  Cracking open the licorice for breakfast, I surveyed the remaining items.

A playing card.  The Ace of Spades.  The back had the emblem of the hotel in Honolulu where Shaun and I had met.  Useful if I were playing Spades with my mom, but it didn’t seem helpful now.   I slipped it into my jacket pocket to get it out of the way.

Bacon that had gone rancid.  Gross and stinky, but even with the wind picking up as it was, the smell probably wouldn’t carry over the water to a passing cruise ship.

The book had stayed mostly dry in the plastic bag, and I thought about writing on the pages, “EARN $10,000 FROM YOUR HOME!” and posting it on a tree, because that always attracted someone’s attention.  Alas, no pen.

The metallic bag bore the emblem of the Great Western Literary Conference – by coincidence the last one I’d attended.  It was still in the sun, and I couldn’t’ look directly at it.  The thing was almost insanely shiny.

Shiny…

An idea began to form.  I pounced on it before rational thought could interfere.

I ran to the heart of the island and grabbed as many vines as I could carry.  Fortunately, there seemed to be an endless supply, and the roots were shallow.

Dumping them on the sand, I ripped some of the dryer pages out of the agent guide and crumpled them up, stuffing them into the plastic bag to puff it out.  I tied it with a vine at the bottom, and then tied that vine to another, and another, and another, making as long a rope as I could, hoping that the wind would last.

Finally, I ran out of vines. Praying that the knots would hold, I ran along the beach, tossing my plastic approximation of a balloon into the wind.

After fifteen minutes of running around like a dim-witted chicken, I got the bag into the air.  The wind whipped it around, and I fed more vine length.

I continued this until my whole body ached with the effort and I had lost all track of time.  At last, I heard a motor.  Looking around, I saw a helicopter closing in on my island.  Yes!  It came nearer with unbearable caution until at last I could read some numbers and the word NAVY on the side.  The pilot was making hand motions down, and a rope ladder appeared from the side.

At the last second, a flock of sea birds with five-foot wingspans and nasty long beaks flew in to investigate me and the helicopter.  Praying that they weren’t kosher, I threw the bacon at them and ran for it.

It worked.  As one, they dove on the smelly meat.  I grabbed for the rope ladder and climbed into the helicopter to safety.

The pilot yelled to me, “Welcome aboard, ma’am.”

I choked back a sob.  “Please, call me Allie.”

He smiled.  “Allie.  I’m John.  An Air Toyko pilot saw a weird shiny thing and called it in, so they sent me to check it out.  What the hell were you doing out here?”

I shouted back, “Going on a date.”

He turned back to stare at me for a second, his clear blue eyes so wide I thought they might fall out.  “Seriously?”

I shoved my hands in my pockets to stop shaking, and pulled out the playing card from the hotel where I’d first laid eyes on Shaun.  The bastard.  “If he calls, tell him I’m not dying to see him again.”

Fortunately, the island turned out to be only an hour’s flight from Honolulu.  After a long chat with the Honolulu authorities, they allowed me to get on a plane for New York.  The Navy pilot insisted on accompanying me, to make sure I made it to the signing event safely.

Several hours later, in a change of clothes provided by my agent and my former garments in a bag awaiting the dry cleaner or the garbage, I slid into my seat alongside the authors of books #2, #3, and #4 on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller List, for the Grand Slam Book Signing.  Three and Four were busy setting up their stations, but Two got up and headed for the exit.

“Shaun!”

It was my kidnapper, trying to slink away.  No wonder he’d seemed familiar.  He was the author of the #2 Non-Fiction Best Seller, Write the Perfect Crime, and he’d attended the same literary conference that I had!  “Thought you’d never see me again, didn’t you?” I screamed.

He coughed.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I grabbed the bag of sandy, salted clothing and pulled the Ace of Spades out of my jacket pocket and gave it to the Navy pilot.  “You found me with this on that island.  I think you’ll find it has his finger prints on it.”

After everything that card had been through, he’d probably find no such thing, but Shaun stared at it like it was a death warrant.  “No!” he yelled.  “My plan was perfect!  You were going to die out there, and my book would be the #1 New York Times Best Seller!”

Non-fiction List Best Seller, I wanted to tell him, but he lunged for the card before I got the chance.  Fortunately, the Navy pilot deftly slipped the card in his back pocket and wrenched Shaun’s arm behind him, forcing him to the ground.  With his free hand, he gave the card to my agent, who slipped it into a plastic bag (just in case) while I called the police.

Talk about a trump card.

My book remained #1 on the New York Times Non-Fiction Best Seller List for thirty weeks. Shaun got sentenced to twenty years in prison.  John, the Navy pilot, gave me the ten digits to his phone number.

I was happy about the first two, but a little scared about the third.  He was cute, and I wanted to go out with him, but only if he promised we’d stay on the ground.

***

Me at Court of Two SistersKimberly Emerson lives in Los Angeles in space allotted to her by her cat, Zoë.  She began writing in elementary school and kept it up throughout the years to amuse her friends.  Attempting to evade suffering for her art, she majored in Political Science and worked for several years as an administrative assistant.   Finally realizing that suffering came in many forms, she returned to writing.  Kimberly is currently seeking publication for her novel, Perfectly Acceptable Woman.  Another novel, No Accounting for Destiny, is in the works.  You can find more of her writings and ponderings at http://www.kimberlyemerson.com.  Stop by, there’s always room for one more opinion.