The Missing Girl

I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago with another prompt in mind but decided to adapt it a bit and post it in response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. (Thanks again, Joshua for the prompt image.) This is one of those “leaves you hanging” stories.

I trust my Fellow Fiction writers and our long-suffering moderator, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, will bear with a second response. Mille mercis to Rochelle for taking much time and effort in her kind replies to all our stories. Check out her blog, Addicted to Purple, for more info about the group.

I’m going to be “away” for awhile. Last night I went through my DropBox trying to line up the chapters of my next book — and feeling overwhelmed. I need to established some kind of proper filing system for all my writings; with my memory, saving by title alone gives chaos! So I’m going to spend some time sorting out files, merging blogs, and working on my next book.

THE MISSING GIRL

Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
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RCMP Detective Wahl studied the photo. “How old?”

“Twelve. Hanging out with friends; headed home alone. She never made it.”

“No suspicious friends, family blowup, school bullying, boyfriend breakup?”

“No evidence of. House-to-house check in the area turned up no clues. Third day already, so we’re asking for your involvement. We’re thinking abduction now.”

Wahl frowned. “A twelve year old would fight back. In broad daylight someone should have seen or heard something.”

“What’s this?” Sgt Merriott turned to his flashing monitor. “Some teens messing around the old Millworths factory found a girl’s body.”

“No winners now. Let’s go.”

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The Right Route

“Where exactly did you send your information?” asked the voice at the other end of the line. “You have to follow the instructions exactly and route the upload through the URL given you on your sheet.”

“But I followed the instructions,” I whimpered. “I downloaded pages of instructions and followed them carefully. I sent the data right to my site. I didn’t see any other URL or how to route the data through it.”

“But you have to send the data through a certain channel or it won’t upload to your website,” the woman at MyHosting Customer support explained. She paused, likely to consult her computer screen. “And it isn’t here.”

“But I did upload it. My computer spent almost TWO HOURS uploading it to my site; it has to be there somewhere!”

I sighed. Most of my morning gone, pages from three different sources explaining in detail “How to Install WordPress” lying here and there. When the upload was complete I’d patted myself on the back. I did it! I figured it out and installed this program on my new website – by myself. Now I couldn’t access it.

“How be I get one of our technicians to install WordPress on your website tomorrow? He’ll e-mail you more instructions when it’s in place.”

Easy-peasy. So why didn’t I do that right off? Why did I get so frustrated trying so hard to do what I simply don’t have the ability to do? ☹ Well, I guess it took this for me to learn that there’s a certain way and no other will work.

I can sympathize with the scribes & pharisees of Jesus’ day. They’d uploaded pages – whole books – of instructions on how to satisfy a Divine Being. In fact they’d not only uploaded the initial instructions, but added to them various explicit interpretations, memorized them and followed them to the letter.

Along comes Jesus, talking of another Way – the Only Way.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

He claimed there was route they must follow, a door they must enter.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:1-2:

Whether they tried scrambling over the wall, used a fancy ladder, or squeezed through some crack, the fact remained: if they hadn’t been installed via the right route, they had to be reinstalled.

The Jewish leaders didn’t like that. After all, they were THE LEADERS here. Furthermore, they had already uploaded tons of good deeds to their celestial sites. It must all be there somewhere! And it was the right data, too, the Law of Moses, written by the hand of God. Who was this person to come along and claim they hadn’t used the right routing code? That their valuable data wasn’t sitting up there in heavenly files winning them A+ scores in Heaven?

But Jesus told them the truth: there’s nothing there. You haven’t sent it through the channels of grace and mercy. And He is the channel of grace and mercy.

He is the Way. However much good a person may do in this world, if it isn’t routed through Him we’ll get to the other side someday and find our data’s not been installed: our name is not written in the Book of Life. All the credits we have “legally earned” will have evaporated and we will face the awful truth: we’ve not entered the right Door.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

Overheard

Friday Fiction chimes again in Promptland and dings in my InBox, aided by the sweet purple Tinklebell, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Many thanks to her for presiding over this notorious party-line and to J Hardy Carroll for contributing the picture that nudges our creativity this week.

It took some doing to squeeze my contribution into 100 words but I made it. The seed for this tale was planted when I worked with a fellow who peddled drugs on the side. Being on the opposite side of the spectrum from me, he was hostile and would have been delighted to see me quit, but thankfully no plotting like the type in my story.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Yeah, he hates me, but I never thought he’d go this far. And he’ll have planted enough so I’m nailed for trafficking, not just possession. You saved my life, pal!”

“I’m blown away! Sure, I recognized your coworker, but hearing your name, then ‘One call to the RCMP and she’ll be in for years.’ What’s chances I’d be right there to catch that?”

“I’ll head for the nearest police station, tell them what you overheard and ask them to search my car — before they come looking for me.”

“I’d call this one amazing happenstance!”

“I’d call it a miracle.”

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I’ve been away from writing for awhile, wandering through the DropBox Thousand file-lands to gather material for my upcoming book of poems and short stories. I need a better filing system! I’ve made ten sections in my book and putting each item in the right section has involved a lot of shuffling since some stories would work in several sections.

Once the manuscript was ready to be formatted, I converted it from Word Perfect to MS Word — and the fun began! My first plan (four years ago) was for a print book so I (misguidedly) purchased a number of graphics. Now I added them to my e-book file and the switch from WP to Word has thrown things out of sync big time. I don’t have Word myself, so I must take my file to our son-in-law’s computer when I want to open and read it. Which I did and was rather dismayed…

I’ve decided to do an e-book format only — but you rarely see e-books with graphics. So I’ve a question for you seasoned writers: Would you add small box graphics to illustrate an e-book of poems and (mostly) short tales?

I’ve also been beta-reading a book for Florida Pastor JS Park, who’s writing about depression with an aim to helping both those who suffer and those who want to empathize. He hopes to help readers find a better understanding and ability to cope. The book is live on Amazon.com now; you can find it here: How Bad It Really Is: A Short, Honest Book About Depression.

Not in the Job Description

It seems this week the plan for the Friday Fictioneers is to take a road trip somewhere, courtesy of Ted’s photo prompt. This picture has been chosen for us by our encouraging host, Rochelle Wiseoff-Fields. Please note: all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only.

Sad to say, last Thursday my cell phone fried its inner workings instead of properly charging. Since my cell phone has been my only connection to Friday Fictioneers — my computer refuses to visit Inlinkz — I was in offline mode and missed reading a lot of the responses. To make matters worse, in the process it cracked its Blue tooth so no data could be transferred, which means my icon was lost along with everything else. 😦

The good news is: on Tuesday I got this neat little Samsung phone with all the bells and whistles. 🙂
The bad news is: I still have to figure out how to use it.
The even better news is: along with my new phone I got a tablet! I’ve been wanting one for awhile now.
The bad news is: I still have to figure out how to use it. 😦

But I trust with one or the other I’ll be able to post my FF response, so here’s my tale. (I’m going to assume this photo setting as the on-ramp to a bridge.)

Photo prompt © Ted Strutz

The young husband frantically waves to the guard and indicates his wife, who’s obviously in serious distress.

The guard signals him to follow and dashes to his emergency vehicle. “Another one,” he calls to his partner as he jumps in and flips on the flasher.

His partner hops in beside him. “What’s with this bridge anyway that so many babies want to be born on it?”

“An easy landing for storks?” The guard glances in his mirror to be sure the couple is keeping up.

His partner’s looking pale. “Sure wish they’d pick a hospital roof. I don’t deliver well.”

Creature Comforts Indeed!

“Heat the church? Spend money on a stove? Whatever For?”

The little Scottish congregation was divided; some muttered that this was going too far while others nodded in approval when the subject was brought up at the parish meeting. Other churches were installing stoves, so why not. They definitely added to the comfort of the flock — which might well mean more of the flock would come to services on chilly winter days.

Of course this touch of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” in the very kirk itself met with resistance from some of the older folks who’d worshiped all their lives without extra heat. You just dress warmer in winter. Any fool knows that.

No one frowned on this indulgence more than one dear old grannie I’ll call Mrs Ross. She was adamant that there was no need to heat the kirk. Her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her—and should be good enough for the young ones. But she was outnumbered by the more self-indulgent ones in the congregation. A stove was purchased and installed.

Of course the news spread rapidly through the close-knit Scottish community. And the next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever — if not more so.

After the first hymns Grannie Ross removed her heavy coat with a flourish and mutters. After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she discarded her thick sweater. When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint.

This little act caused the sensation she’d hoped. Several members rushed to assist her. Now everyone could see the dire consequences of having the kirk heated!

As an usher helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs Ross, how much more will you suffer next Sunday when we actually light the stove?”

The New Laptop

“Look! This laptop is loaded with the latest and the best software programme available,” he proclaimed, holding up his newest acquisition.

“Right. For the next two months.” His wife looked at the clerk, rolled her eyes and sighed. She’d been checking out jigsaw puzzles at the stationery store next door, now she berated herself for not being here in time to officially protest this purchase.

The clerk who’d rung up the sale sensed an approaching atmospheric disturbance and strolled toward the accessories aisle. She’d be within shouting distance if the customer asked for a refund in a minute or so.

“Dearest,” said the wife in a longsuffering tone. “Remember the last time you changed computer programmes and it took me three weeks to figure it out enough to do our women’s club monthly newsletter? Two months ago you got me this new cell phone with all the bells and whistles, and I still haven’t figured out how to reply to incoming messages.”

“It’s not so hard to figure out. Besides, your old phone was a dinosaur.”

“So is my brain. I’m technologically challenged, remember? You can’t keep throwing new devices and new programmes at me.”

“You have to keep up with the times, dear. You’d still be working with WordPerfect 3.0 if I wouldn’t have upgraded.”

“And Word Perfect 3.0 worked just fine.”

He sighed. She sighed. The marriage counselor standing behind them at the cash register grinned — and pulled his business card out of his shirt pocket.

What Next, Grandpa?

Photo  credit : Jellico’s Stationhouse

With thanks to the cheerful and patient Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, for hosting our supposed-to-be-Friday Fictioneers group and inspiring us with a prompt every week. And to Jelli for the © photo.

Archie huffed. “Nursing is no profession for women, especially a youngster like yerself. It’s hard, dirty work, and too…revealing!”

Mary ignored the “Never contradict your elders” protocol. “Well, Grandpa, I’ve talked this over with my parents and they approve. In fact, Dad’s bought me a bicycle so I can attend classes to get the credits I need.”

“A bicycle! What next?”

The pop-up memory tickled Mary as she watched a jet land. Oh, yes, Grandpa. What next? Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t live to see this, she thought as a young female pilot strolled past wheeling a suitcase.

Written in memory of my dear friend, Mary Strathdee, who braved her grandfather’s displeasure and became a nurse back in the 1930s. (I doubt she got the bike, though. 😉 )