Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.
A strange phone call has Vinnie and Ethan wondering what in the world is going on. The list of suspects is growing, but none of them make sense. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!Bad Karma and the Family Plan #38 (8.1)
“Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once…”
Momentarily at a loss for words, I made no response but listened as instructed by the mysterious voice.
“You should have died in Florida. You should have become gator chow, but you got lucky somehow. Your luck won’t hold forever, though, Delarosa. You can’t outrun Fate. Someday you’ll get what’s coming to you.” Almost as an afterthought, the caller added, “Beware the Ides of March,” before hanging up.
What the hell was that supposed to mean? My brain was trying to make sense of the insane message but not doing a great job of it.
“Vinnie, who was that?” Ethan nudged me out of my temporary stupor.
“What? Oh, wrong number,” I mumbled automatically. If the caller had intended to scare me, their cryptic words had had the opposite effect—I was angry. But I was afraid if I said anything, I might frighten Sarah and Benny, and I saw no sense in doing that.
I rose from the rocking chair and stretched, pretending a nonchalance I was far from feeling. “I think I’m going to hit the men’s room before we go.” I shot Ethan a significant look. Of course he picked up on it an immediately and sprang to his feet as well.
“Good idea, me too. Be right back.”
That was intended for his sister and uncle, of course. As we turned our steps away from the others, I could hear Sarah call out something that sounded like “have fun” but I wasn’t really listening.
Once inside the men’s room, I told Ethan what the mysterious caller had said. I think he was more frightened than I was. And angry. He requested to look at my phone so I surrendered it, even as I told him, “I didn’t recognize either the number or the voice. I just thought it was a telemarketer or something.” Although why I would answer such a call I don’t know. Perhaps because it was so unexpected, and I was feeling good about things at that moment, whereas normally I would have been more skeptical.
“I’m sure it was just a prank,” I tried to reassure Ethan, but he didn’t seem to be buying what I was selling. I couldn’t blame him. The wording had been too oddly specific for it not to have been aimed at me. How many other people had almost died in Florida recently, raise your hands? That would be me.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Ethan said. “I’m going to call that number back and see who answers.” But no one did. Not even when Ethan switched to his own phone, in case the caller recognized my number. Still no response.
“We have to tell Anderson,” Ethan said.
I couldn’t help but frown at the idea of involving our boss. At least not until we had something more concrete to tell him. One that involved something more than a mere phone call. Maybe I was afraid he would split us up for some reason. Just me being my usual paranoid self.
“Vinnie, I don’t think it was a joke. At least, we can’t treat it that way until we know more about what is going on. Anderson can trace the number. Plus he can check on you know who and see who he’s been in contact with. Visitors or correspondents, you know?”
I knew what he meant. I also knew that, according to people at the prison where he was currently being held without bail prior to his trial, good ol’ Chip was receiving a decent amount of fan mail from the outside world. No accounting for taste.
I reluctantly nodded my agreement, and Ethan made the phone call. He quickly apprised Anderson on what had happened, and our boss told him he’d get back to us as soon as possible. In the meantime, he said, carry one and just be careful. Ethan agreed and hung up.
“Vin, don’t worry,” Ethan said. “We’ll get to the bottom of this. Between the two of us, we can handle the situation, I have no doubt.”
When he said it like that, how could I doubt him? Even so…
“We can’t tell your sister,” I said. “Or your uncle.” I didn’t want to worry them. Benny had enough on his mind with the upcoming trial. And Sarah’s plate was full as well, what with baby daddy drama and possibly making a fresh start. I saw no reason to agitate either one.
“Agreed,” Ethan said. He pulled me in for a hug, and for just a moment I let myself relax in his warmth.
“At first I thought it was that looney tunes actress, but now…” Nothing was making sense. The clues were all over the map. And then there was the attempt on Benny’s life at the hotel. What did any of it mean?
“I suspect everyone,” Ethan said. He kissed me softly and we hurried back to rejoin the others.
to be continued
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