writing

A Short Story: Etched

I mentioned at some point this year about a writing contest/challenge that I entered called symphony of words. Rosalie Valentine of the blog Penprints made the announcement of a new challenge/contest.

While I didn’t win or anything and had no prospects to, I did enjoy the lovely writing time I got in and the creativeness that flowed from it.

I wanted to share my story after I finished and as I got the thumbs up from cousin Bree, here it is.

Here’s a little about Etched:

(See this post to read the underlying idea on Etched.

  • It was inspired by the song, “Tomorrow will Be Kinder” by the secret sisters.
  • It has a hint of romance
  • It’s 2000 words or less
  • It’s based in the 21st century
  • It is surprisingly not my normal fantasy genre (I tried my best to keep it under control. I was stretching myself this time writing.)
  • It’s a bit maniacal…or at least…the villain is.
  • It’s mysterious

And without further ado….

ETCHED

Written by Farmgirl

Here’s a little pintrest collage I made during my brainstorming

A million scenarios flitted through Addie’s mind. Why she had accepted Chace’s offer of help to break into a building and take money for him was quite against her conscience.

 “I’ll take it Chace, but what do I need to do?” Addie whispered with an exasperated sigh. A smile smeared across Chace’s face at Addie’s words.

“Your gonna make it into the CIA someday Adds, I just know it.” His voice revealed sincere thanks as he continued, “Monty said he’d persuade my parents to send me to a military school in Maine if I didn’t pass this employment test. He is having me break into his own building to take money he’s staged there. My parents think I’m going to be an accountant for his business but I’m going to be an undercover courier. If I fail…well…let’s just say I won’t get to be the spy I’ve always dreamed of being. Monty’s a nice guy but if you’re on his bad side, well, he can be intense.”

Addie swallowed at his words. Military school? Chace would leave Virginia? The thought of him leaving clawed at her insides.

She would have to make it look like only Chace broke in and took the money, or he would be sent away.

“I really need you for the codes Addie.”

 “You can’t crack codes?” Addie asked, surprised.

 “Not as well as you. And as for the money, it’s in the building somewhere. Monty didn’t tell me where. He just told me to go into the building, grab the money, and escape.”

“Golly.” Addie murmured.

 Chace shrugged, a sheepish grin behind his green eyes. Only a tinge of it reached his lips. Addie narrowed her eyes and frowned.

“You owe me like all that money if I can pull this off.” Addie snatched Chace’s Virginia Cavaliers baseball cap off his head and jammed it on. Chace nodded once, brushing his medium-length brown hair to the side. He watched as Addie slunk into a silent walk towards Monty’s business building, soon disappearing around the corner. Her black wool coat and black flats looked interesting, paired with his baseball cap.

Chace gave Addie ten minutes then slunk after her, mimicking the shadows. The front door was unlocked. Chace grinned. Addie. Her break-in skills were impeccable.

“Addie?” Chace whispered into a microphone at his coat collar. He adjusted his ear piece.

“Chace, be careful.”

“Affirmative.” Chace tiptoed further in, feeling around in the dark. The money could be hidden anywhere.                                                                                          

                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beep. Beep. Addie bit her lip. A small device attached to the leg of a wooden table let off a tiny pulse every ten seconds. Addie was unsure of its purpose but began to consider its placement. It flashed a tiny red light in between its beeps. She circled the room, looking for a safe, a lockbox, anything. Monty wouldn’t just leave the money in the open, would he?

Addie’s attention was drawn again to the device on the table leg. She crouched, from about ten feet away, and observed it. Her eyes watched the pattern of the flash. It was then when she saw the edge of something navy blue peeking out from under a chair’s seat. She inched around the table. Lying on her stomach, she peered up under the chair.

An envelope was taped to the bottom. She reached up and snatched the paper, instantly gasping. The envelope had been placed on some sort of electronic sensor. The device on the chair leg immediately flashed green and let loose a tiny projectile. Addie tried to roll away and succeeded in escaping a full impact, but the edge of the projectile skimmed across her head and broke through some of her skin. She got up, heart racing. Something was terribly wrong here and she had to warn Chace.

She flipped open the envelope to be sure it was the money, then slunk out of the room, keeping as close to the shadows as possible. The back of her head stung. She felt woozy. Addie panicked. That projectile must have been coated in some sort of knockout chemical. She searched for a place to hide the money. A floor vent was her only option as her vision began to blur. She slipped the money into the vent then scrambled away. Before she collapsed, she whispered into her microphone, “Chace, get out. Monty’s not to be trusted,” then stepped on her ear piece and microphone and pushed them under a sofa. Her mind went blank and she sunk into the cushions of the sofa, unconscious.

Chace whispered back, “Addie? Addie?” No answer. He left the building, leaving it as if he had never been there. Streams of panic and confusion rippled through him, but he knew Addie wasn’t playing around. She was onto something and her voice had been urgent. He hoped she was ok.

                              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tall, foreboding, cold, and blunt. These were all words Addie would use to describe him. Actually, she wouldn’t call him tall. She wouldn’t give him the pleasure of hearing a fine word like tall. Overgrown. Deformed. Ugly. Addie crushed his image in her mind. But in reality, he was not ugly. He was quite handsome; and she hated that he was handsome.

Addie couldn’t quite explain where her hatred stemmed from. Hate. Such a strong word. But it was true. What had he done to her to make her hate?

Hands over her head, fingernails digging into her scalp, Addie pressed her face into the false leather of a couch. Something had clogged her mind. Why did she hate him? She couldn’t remember. Everything was moving around and foggy. All this anger was welled up inside of her. Something had happened and now she was here. What was she doing here? Where was she?

“Ahhh…. Miss Veriget…” a dulcet male voice glowered. Addie lifted her face from the couch and let her gaze drift over the man. She felt her hate rise. Where was it coming from, this hate?

“How was your night? I assume you slept well.” Monty moved across the setting room towards the window and looked out. He swallowed, waiting for Addie to speak.

“Where am I?”

“You did not answer my question.”

“I did not sleep…I…I don’t remember going to sleep.”

“I’m sorry.” Monty feigned pity and turned to face her, his handsome face showing care. He was about 28, carried a medium build, and sported thick black hair. Addie didn’t believe a moment of his pity. Something he had done had placed this hate in her. She hated him and didn’t know why. Her brain reeled with memories. Chace. She had been helping Chace. Monty. She glanced at his face. This building. Money. Codes. Spies. It all came back to her now, only she couldn’t get rid of this hate.

Monty circled the sofa. “Miss Veriget, how did you come to be here? And may I ask, why?”

Addie didn’t want to lie. But if she did, then Chace would be found out and sent to military school. He would be sent away.

“I…I like cracking codes and I thought I could get to the top of the building and down without getting caught.” She did her best to make the lie believable, but something told her that Monty already knew why she had been there.

“Don’t lie to me Miss Veriget. I know you were sent in here.” Addie was cornered now. He knew the whole plan. She couldn’t lie now.

“Chace needed my help.” Monty’s eyebrows raised.

“Chace was supposed to do it alone Miss Veriget. An initiation test it supposed to be done with one’s own intelligence. Not with the help of a professional.”

Addie’s eyes darted into Monty’s. “A professional?” she asked quizzically.

“Why yes. You are in fact quite good. How would you like to be employed in my business?” Addie shook her head no, hoping to avoid further questioning. Monty frowned. “You are foolish to not take the position.” Monty scanned Addie’s posture, working his way from her head to her feet. She was in turmoil, mentally. He watched as her feet pushed under the sofa in nervousness. The edge of a wire became visible. Monty came towards Addie, smiled, and reached under the sofa for the wire. He pulled out the earpiece and microphone. “Miss Veriget, I do believe I have motives in getting you to accept my offer of employment.” Monty set the gadget on a nearby windowsill. Addie remained silent. An expression of dark confusion occupied her face. When she did not answer, Monty spilled out a string of icy sentences. “I hope you will sit tight and allow me to explain your predicament. You are under surveillance through a test program called Etched. We target emotions and their role in the undercover world. I have chosen hate for you. If you don’t accept my employment offer, then program Etched will take another toll on your brain. You don’t even have to full effects dear heart. Imagine getting a full dose of the program.” Addie’s eyes widened. A program that targeted emotions?

Pintrest Photo

“Emotions play an important role in an agent. If he’s happy, he’ll act happy. If he’s sad, he’ll act sad. If he’s full of hate…” Monty shot Addie an evil smile “He’ll hate. And he’ll do anything to the one he hates.”

Addie’s knuckles were stiff and cold. This hate in her was artificial? Monty had done something to the chemicals in her brain?

“If we infused our agents with certain emotions, and then etched their brains with the image of a person we want targeted, then the job is half done. If I wanted an agent to play a part, I would give them an emotion to act upon. Good idea, no?”

“You’re twisted.” Addie divulged. Monty shrugged off the comment.

“One must be to survive in the undercover world. If I clear your brain of Etched, will you work for me?”

The job was tempting. She had imagined a life as an agent although her imaginings had not influenced her to the extent of Chace’s dreams. But Addie didn’t trust Monty.

“I’ll think about it.” She whispered.

“You will give me an answer tomorrow morning or Chace will be sent away. Understood?” Monty’s expression was dark and unrelenting.

“Yes.” Addie swallowed. How long would this chemical and Monty’s image be etched in her brain?

                                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Addie pressed her head in her hands. Chace grimaced, guilt stabbing his insides repeatedly.

“I’m sorry Adds, I didn’t know Monty was going to be there. I didn’t think it through. I shouldn’t have let you do it.”

“No Chace, I’m glad I did it. If I hadn’t, then you might have been etched and never known what happened. I didn’t know what was wrong with me until Monty told me. He must be stopped. But I’m going to…accept the job offer.”

“Adds, just trust me. I’m going to help you. Tomorrow, you will be back to normal.”

“Normal? What’s normal?”

“Kinder.” Chace said. He could see Addie’s eyes well up.

“Am I mean now Chace?” Addie growled.

“This hate in you is messing with your character. It’s not you. But I’m going to help you. You’ll be yourself again.” Addie’s eyes welled up at Chace’s words. She loved him and he didn’t know it. And she would never tell him, unless he confessed the same. She nodded, trying to douse the raging flames of anger against Monty. Would she ever be able to control her emotions again? Chace said she would. He promised.

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