Sunday, August 14, 2011

Alisha's story

*Finally had a minute to write again and thought I'd put together another page of my story. If you want to read from the beginning it's not hard. This is my on-going blog fiction story.

Alisha stretched from beneath the cheap hotel comforter. She kept her eyes closed, pretending she was in the penthouse of a luxury hotel but the scratchy sheets and a constant buzzing noise interrupted her. She felt around, eyes stilled closed, for her cell phone she always kept on the night table when she traveled. Nothing. She peeked one eye opened and remembered she wasn't allowed to use her cell phone. It was turned off, in her purse. She closed her eye again.

Her mind wandered. What day was it again? Friday. She told her boss she was going to the beach for a long weekend starting today.

The beach. She tried to imagine the cool salty spray coming off the water, the gritty sand beneath her toes and the warm sun on her face. Still the buzzing noise continued to interrupt her.

"Urgh," she groaned and flung back the covers, reaching for the alarm clock. But it wasn't set. She sat on the side of the bed listening. Something was in her room buzzing. It almost sounded like her cell phone. Sweat popped out on her forehead. She turned it off, right? She couldn't answer it. But she had to find it.

Alisha grabbed her purse from the floor and dumped the contents on the bed. Lipstick. Her wallet. Business cards. Three pens. And a completely still cellphone. She pushed a button on the front waiting for it to light up. Nothing. She sank back onto the bed until a moment later the buzzing started again. Then she remembered the pre-paid cell the agent had given her the night before. She dug through her suitcase to find the envelope she'd buried inside it when she found her hotel room the night before. It buzzed once more and fell silent.

10 missed calls.

She almost dropped the phone when it buzzed in her hand. Taking a deep breath she answered.

"What kind of game are you playing?" a male voice hissed on the other end of the line.

"Wh-what?" she stammered.

"Do you think we're stupid?" he hissed again.

"Who is this?"

"It's the agent you gave dummy information to last night," his voice lowered. "What happened to the information you promised me? You said you had proof of the fraud. What you gave me looks like a guest list to your boss's Christmas party."

Alisha fell back onto the bed. Her mouth went dry.

"Hello??" he almost yelled.

"I'm...I'm here," she whispered. "I don't know what you're talking about. I had copies of the transactions he said he made for clients, dummy accounting sheets and fake portfolio numbers. You should have all of it the box."

"I don't know what you think you gave me, but we have to fix this. Now. My boss is asking for the information this afternoon and if I don't have something to give him, your hotel room and prepaid visa are gone. I won't be able to help you."

She clenched the cheap floral comforter in her fist. Dear God, help me, she thought.

"And Alisha," he continued, "if they switched the papers, then they know. And if they know..."

"I get it okay," her voice cracked as she spoke.

"We have to make the raid now before they destroy all the evidence. If they know, it may already be too late. But without the paperwork, we don't have ground for a search warrant," he explained, his voice softening.

Alisha clenched her teeth. It's all about the case. It had nothing to do with her safety. With the loss of her career or family. She was just another informant. He may have looked like her little brother, but he didn't act or think like him at all. She blinked away all the other thoughts and focused on his words again.

"We can't meet back at the park from last night or too close to your hotel, it's too dangerous. But I have to talk to you face to face. We have to figure this out. There's an antique bookstore with a coffee shop about 30 miles away. Can you meet me there?"

"Yeah," she replied, her voice hoarse. "I'll be there."

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep Your Head Down

The setting sun turned the blue-grey sky a brilliant pinky orange.

Keep your head down.

She didn't like the sound of it. Did he mean it figuratively or was it a sleep-on-the-floor kind of suggestion?

She drove toward the interstate without bothering to open the package he'd given to her. She wanted to throw up. She wanted to get on the interstate and drive until she found a town where no one knew her. But she'd taken the first step. She went to them.

"Come on, Alisha," she muttered and gripped the steering wheel tighter with both hands. "You're not the one who did anything wrong. In fact, in this whole mess, you are the only one who did anything right."

Her pep talk did little good.

The lights of a truck stop 10 miles out of town glowed in the simmering darkness. She pulled off the highway and into a spot where she hoped to see arriving traffic without being too noticed. The envelope shook as she removed a map, the promised visa card and her hotel information. Another 90 miles until she could rest for the night. The place looked generic. Just a little hotel, right off the interstate. One of a dozen or more lining the highway promising a soft bed, cable television and internet connection. She smirks as she thought of the Fed's reaction if she fired up her internet and checked her email. He'd have a heart attack. She half-way wondered who was watching her more, the Feds or her boss.

A quick glance at her gas gauge and she knew she needed fuel for the car and for her body. She pulled a baseball cap tight low over her eyes, tucked the visa card in her pocket and tried not to think about what it meant.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Novel Unfolds: Alisha

*Here's a third installment of an online novel I started last year. Look at my first two posts for the beginning of the story. Promise I will try to keep updated better!

Alisha glanced around her, the sudden quiet of the neighborhood growing as children disappeared inside to eat dinner. Had they realized yet that she took the paperwork with her when she left? Were they looking for her car? Would they think to track her here, to her hometown?

She gulped air to keep the panic attack at bay when she spotted the man walking towards her. He looked like her little brother with sandy hair falling over his eyes, a toothpick hanging from his mouth and jeans covering his lanky frame. He took the swing next to her, stretching his legs in front of him and criss-crossing his tennis-shoe clad feet.

"Did you bring it?" he asked without looking at her.

"In my car."

He picked his teeth for a minute and studied the street in front of them. "Did anyone follow you?"

She shook her head.

"You're doing the right thing, you know," he said, his voice anything but reassuring.

Her chin quivered and she nodded.

"Just keep your head down for a few days. You took some vacation time, right? Your bags are in your car?"

Another nod.

"I have the location of a hotel for you. A room paid for with cash for 10 days and a visa gift card with money for food. And there's a disposable cell phone too. But don't use it. I'll call you in a few days to let you know how things are going." He stood and walked from the swing set, never looking back.

She walked to her car and thought about the irony of the contents of the gift box she would give him. A gift to him. A gift to the federal agency who paid his salary. They would catch another fraud. But what kind of gift was it to the man who'd given her a job, the man who showed her the ropes of the investment industry, the man she'd discovered was stealing from almost every client. Butterflies bumped against her rib cage as she handed the brightly colored package to the agent beside her. Hugged him as though he really was her little brother as he handed her the paperwork she needed to hide for a few days. It was all part of the pre-arranged plan.

She drove away. No looking back. No time for regrets.