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Author
CharlesArdai
Posts: 264
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

In the other "PASSING THE TORCH" discussions we're talking about writers who pick up unfinished work by other authors and complete or continue it. And we thought it might be fun to try an experiment of this sort ourselves. So we're going to try writing a round robin story online -- and you're invited to be part of it.

Here are the rules:

I'm going to start a crime story in the next post. Anyone who'd like to continue the story is free to do so -- just keep your contribution down to a few paragraphs at most (say, 20 lines maximum). Try to keep the plot moving forward, and let's see if we can produce a story that actually makes logical sense (though even if it doesn't, we'll have fun along the way).

If you want to participate more than once, that's fine -- but please allow at least 4 other people to contribute before you post again.

And of course please observe the "standards and practices" you'd expect in any public forum (I'm sure BN.com's systems automatically filter out the most common obscenities, but finding creative ways around the filters is not the way in which we want to be pioneers...)

If you have any questions, insert the word "QUESTION" in all-caps at the start of your post, so that people who just want to read the story by itself can do so (by skipping over any post that starts with "QUESTION").

That's it -- now we begin our grand experiment.

The story's title? Well, how can we do better than...


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Author
CharlesArdai
Posts: 264
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

PASSING THE TORCH
-----------------

The old man fell into my office like a sandbag. His blood was all over the doorknob.

He said "Michael--" Then he died.

Attached to the back of his suit jacket with a straight-pin was a note on a blood-spattered sheet of white bond paper. I tore the note off and shoved the door closed with my heel.

The note said:

Michael,

I know where you are now.

But first I will kill the others.

Bela


The man on my carpet looked about eighty years old, but he may have been as young as seventy. Death has a way of blurring the lines. But seventy or eighty, this was a man I'd never seen before in my life.

I turned him over and pulled his jacket open. There was a hole in his chest, a hole it would take a bullet the size of a golf ball to make. It went all the way through him, pouring gore out onto my wooden floor.

I searched through his pockets. It took a while since he was wearing a three-piece suit and had a lot of them. But they were all empty. There was nothing to identify him by except his face, and that didn't help me at all.

The note was all I had to go on, but the only Bela I could think of was Bela Lugosi, and I didn't know him personally. Besides, he only killed people in the movies and this sure as hell wasn't prop blood staining my carpet.

One more thing.

My name is not Michael.


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Author
Duane_Swierczynski
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

I shook a cigarette out of the pack on my desk and lit it. I walked over to the window and took a few drags, but then started coughing again and gave up. I mashed it on the window frame, then flicked it into my mesh waste paper basket.

The rest of the world was trying to quit smoking. I was desperately trying to start. Smoking sharpened your mind, Buckley used to tell me. You want to think straight, light up.

Besides, I think there's some kind of rule about lighting up a cigarette after a dead body comes tumbling into your office.

I looked at the corpse. The note. The name at the top.

I flipped open my cell phone and pressed 2.

My ex-wife answered.

"Somebody dropped by to see you," I told her.


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Author
JasonStarr
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

"What're you talking about?" Edna asked.
She was on her her cell. I heard street noise--people talking, a siren.
"An old guy just walked into my apartment and dropped dead," I explained.
"Is this a joke?"
"Why the hell would I joke about this?"
I told her about the bullet wound, all the blood.
Now appropriately alarmed, she said, "My God, did you call the police?"
"I'm not sure getting the police involved is such a great idea."
"Why not?"
I waited, needing that cigarette badly, then said, "The dead guy. He knew out about Michael."
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

"How could he possibly know about Michael?" She asked.

"How in the hell should I know. Besides, we don't even know if he was talking about your Michael or not."

"Why do you have to call him 'my Michael'?"

"Wasn't he like husband number three before me?" I sneered.

"He was only one ahead you," Edna snapped back. "And I may have married him, but you buried him!"
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bentley
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Registered: ‎01-31-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn



PaulH wrote:
"How could he possibly know about Michael?" She asked.

"How in the hell should I know. Besides, we don't even know if he was talking about your Michael or not."

"Why do you have to call him 'my Michael'?"

"Wasn't he like husband number three before me?" I sneered.

"He was only one ahead you," Edna snapped back. "And I may have married him, but you buried him!"




Edna, you were always the one to focus on the molehills when there was something "big" to talk about. Maybe I can get you to focus when the dead body arrives at your place?

"You wouldn't," Edna stammered.

"Maybe you should be looking over your shoulder and checking your estate," I whispered. I can assure you I am not going to be set-up by your friends." And I am sure your parcel is already in the mail."

Edna could hardly get up her courage to speak...yet a faint veiled voice stuttered, "Ver...very funny...you kn..know that I have no friends, and after now what you and Michael have put me through, I have no life; but let's face it...you were never a friend of mine after I discovered you with Michael and to save face and because of my pride..I was the one who had to bury him. You were always good of getting the monkey of your back and onto someone else's. You are the real chimp."
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Mark_OC
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎10-26-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

That hurt.

I mean, a "chimp?"

Jeez, I'd been called a lot of things. Many of them by Edna. But never a "chimp."

I couldn't get the image out of my frontals: a hairy-faced, chittering little beast that would happily toss its fecal nuggets at you.

"Look," I said. "The Michael thing is done. For me at least."

I took a deep breath.

"I . . . I'm worried about you."

"Bullsh--!" she hissed.

Looking at the dead man, it came to me why this was about 'her' Michael. I gave myself a kick--how could I have missed it?

"Edna--"

She'd hung up.
Author
CharlesArdai
Posts: 264
Registered: ‎09-05-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

I'd buried him, she'd buried him...she'd never been able to make up her mind. The fact was that her ex-husband Michael was lying in a shallow grave two miles off I-95, and we were both responsible for putting him there.

But this Bela, the man who'd sent over this gruesome warning, obviously didn't know that Michael was dead. He assumed that Michael still worked out of this office, still ran the agency, the way he had when I'd first come to work for him two years earlier. The way he had the day I'd met Edna and fallen for her. The way he had the day I'd accepted his job offer with every intention of taking his wife away from him.

I crouched down beside the dead body. His blood had already stopped flowing. His skin was waxy and cooling rapidly.

Bela thought Michael was still alive. And he obviously wanted to make Michael suffer, by taking out people Michael cared about, one by one. Unfortunately, that probably included Edna -- and me.

And it included this old man -- which meant this old man had to be someone from Michael's life. And how many men this age would Michael have been close to?

I didn't see the family resemblance, but hell, maybe Michael took after his mother.

Because the only answer that made sense was this dead man was Michael Carmichael's father.


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Author
JasonStarr
Posts: 45
Registered: ‎09-06-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

(EDNA)

When I got the call from Roy about the dead guy in his office I knew right away Michael was responsible. He'd told me, before we got married, that if I did anything to him--ie if I ever had him killed--he'd get back at me, even from his grave. Call it a psychotic prenup.

But Michael had been three husbands ago, ancient history, or so I'd thought. Roy and I had gotten away with Michael's murder, made it look like he'd gotten drunken and fallen off a cliff near Big Sur. Then I'd divorced Roy and moved on to my new husband Mike (who, by the way, was starting to annoy the hell out of me).

But now Michael was back, just like in that movie. Or at least the person Michael had hired before his death was out there, doing the dirty work for Michael, having my ex husbands killed one by one.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

[ Edited ]
I waited until well after dark. Alternating between my Marlboro Reds and and what chewed like a two year old pack of Juicy Fruit. The gum ran out just before the smokes.

With the aid of a rolling cart, I wheeled the old guy out of the office and into the trunk of my 1984 Camaro. The six cylinders fired on one crank of the key and I made my way out of the lot and headed north to Oliver's farm.

Oliver was long gone, but the Bear Cat Chipper he and I had bought a few years back was still there. I changed out the spark plug, primed the carb, and had it running in 10 minutes time.

I figured the arms, legs, and head would be a relative breeze. It was the old guy's torso that would probably foul the blades.

Message Edited by PaulH on 10-29-2007 10:38 AM
Author
KarenOlson
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎10-29-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

The body was splayed on the ground, and the axe hovered over one leg. But before I could drop it, a twig snapped behind me. My arms froze, and I turned my head slightly. I couldn't see anything between the trees behind me. I let the axe down a little and glanced toward the house.

Another twig snapped, and a shot rang out, the bullet ricocheting off the bark of a tall pine tree just to my left.

I let the axe down now, ducking as another bullet crashed into the body at my feet.

The voice carried across the still air that hung over the icy snow:

"Did you think it was going to be that easy?"


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sdr633
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Registered: ‎10-30-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

My back pressed against the vibrating chipper, I shouted, "Bela?"

Crazed laughter preceeded his response. "Guess again. You really should make sure someone's dead before you shovel on the dirt."

The next shot must have hit something important, because the chipper went silent.
Author
KenBruen
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎09-28-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

I had the shovel poised and before I could reply, a siren sounded, the damn cops. What's the tired expression, none ever around when you need 'em?

Bollix to that, alas.

And then the familiar warning, "Don't anyone move!"

You're standing over a grave, where are you going to go?

Worse, you're thinking, "It could get worse."

I knew the voice...Thompson, David freaking Thompson. F**king arsewipe wannabe chief outa Houston. Don't even get me started on our bad history. He'd stitched me up way back, over a woman, yada, yada, what else, and the prick, like, he couldn't get past it. Jesus, I hadn't been all that interested in her anyway. The hell was her name...Laura...yeah... Oh, she was hot, I s**t thee not, and he was then, like, a state trooper, the f**k was I to know a bottom feeder was gonna, like...rise to the surface.

Gimme a f**king break.

And he said...no, ordered..."Put that shovel down."

I nearly smiled, waiting to see what the other voice would make of this, shall we say...development. It had all the makings of a bad noir movie. Maybe I could call the Coen Brothers...if I ever got the f**k out of here.


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Author
JD_Rhoades
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Registered: ‎10-01-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

[ Edited ]
I took stock. Old guy on the ground, the voice that couldn't possibly be Michael, and now Thompson. Yep, it was getting decidedly crowded here. Too crowded for a guy like me. It was time, as Huck Finn said, to light out for the territories. I threw down the shovel and whipped around behind the chipper, just in time. I heard the clang of a bullet ricocheting off sheet metal. A foolish thought popped into my head: I was glad Oliver wasn't around to see that. He could be kind of anal about people taking care of his tools, whether the tool was a wood chipper or a Glock 9.

Enough reminiscing over the honored dead. I bolted for the trees, trying to keep the chipper between me and not-Michael. I was gambling that Thompson, for all his faults, wouldn't shoot an unarmed man in the back. Too much paperwork, for one thing. I heard another shot, this one from a different weapon than the one that had fired at me first. I didn't hear a bullet go by, and I didn't feel one hit me. I did hear a curse from not-Michael and a shot from the original weapon. Good. Let them keep each other busy for a while. Then I was in the trees, low hanging branches whipping me across the face and arms. I ran till I was out of breath. I leaned back against a tree, gasping, trying to get my wind back for another run. I was remembering why I hated being out in the country.

That's when I saw the bear.

Message Edited by JD_Rhoades on 11-01-2007 02:38 PM

Message Edited by JD_Rhoades on 11-01-2007 02:39 PM


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Author
JasonStarr
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

Or at least I thought it was a bear. Funny what divorce will do to a guy, but you start to forget what your ex-wife looks like. Edna hadn't been exactly, well, well--groomed to begin with but, man, she'd really let herself go.
"Scared you?" she asked.
She got that right.
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Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

"What the hell are you doing here?" I gasped. Instinctively reaching for my smokes, which were long gone.

"Saving your ass per usual," Edna replied with a smirk.

"But.."

"But what?" She cut me off per usual. "Like you weren't going to come to the farm?"

She had me there. Unpredictability not being one of my strong suits. A shot fired. Then another. A muffled moan creeped through the tree line. I wasn't sure who was hit and I wasn't going to stick around to find out.

"Which way, Edna?"
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KenBruen
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

"Which way, Edna?" she mimicked.

I decided not to mention I'd already mistaken her for a bear. Mind you, during our marriage, she'd been more deadly than any grizzly outa Northern Montana, no insult to the Crumley guy.

She had a mouth on her and used it now to say, "Go for bust?" I let that slide. One of my buddies had called her a hard case, and he had that right...

Bullets were still sounding in the distance and she stopped. I had to admit, seeing her there, in the twilight, if not of our years certainly the twilight of some demented Gods, dammit, I thought, hell of a woman. She took out a pack of smokes, Marlboro Red, my old reliable, cranked up a Zippo which if I remember correctly had the logo of The Devil's Right Hand and I asked, "Got a smoke?" sounding like the guy in "Assault on Precinct 33."

She tossed her head, the blond in all her glory, and said, "No good deeds."

And before I could say "Two-way split," a round hit her in the shoulder.

I said what you'd, if you were a follower...

I said,

"Bummer."


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Author
WallaceStroby
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Registered: ‎11-03-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

I caught her gun as it fell. Another shot whined through the trees, blew pine splinters into the air just over my head. I ducked.

“Roy,” she said. “Help me.”

She lay on her back, bleeding hard from the shoulder, one hand pressed against the wound. It didn’t look good.

“Roy,” she pleaded.

I looked at the gun. It was a Ruger P95. Small, lightweight. A chick gun. But 15 rounds in the magazine when fully loaded. I knew. I’d bought it for her. And she'd tried to kill me with it once.

I pulled the slide back slightly, saw the glinting brass of the chambered shell.

“Roy, what are you doing?” she said. How many times had I heard that before? “We’ve got to get out of here. I need help.”

I looked down at her. I could hear voices behind me, people coming through the woods. Thompson hadn’t been alone.

I couldn’t carry her and I couldn’t leave her here alive. She knew too much. My finger slid over the trigger.

“Sorry, babe,” I said. And meant it.
Author
KarenOlson
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Registered: ‎10-29-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

No one could've heard the shot over the whine of the chipper that slammed through the trees. Jesus, whoever it was must have finished what he started.

Roy picked up Edna's smokes, shook one out, and lit it, taking a long drag before dropping it back into the snow, turning toward the only destination he could think of. The road was just between those pine trees, and he figured he'd finally mastered the five-minute mile as he stood at the edge of the water.

The dock was just off to his right, and a slow spiral of smoke sifted out of the stove pipe on the houseboat that promised more than just shelter from the cold.

He wondered if the damn thing was still seaworthy, and if Michael would be surprised to see him.


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Author
michaelwiley
Posts: 3
Registered: ‎10-22-2007
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Re: PASSING THE TORCH: Now It's Your Turn

I knew what lived in the water between the dock and the houseboat. Oliver and I had dumped the bin from the woodcutter into it more than once before he’d gotten scared and run. More than once we’d watched the water roil red, then clear.

Another shot fired, and a golf ball-sized hole sank into a pine tree next to me. A small bird could make a nice home in a hole like that.

I ran down the bank, out to the end of the dock, and looked across the water at the houseboat. I didn’t want to dip my hand in that water, didn’t want to throw the rest of my body into the water after my hand.

Another gun shot. A dock piling splintered. Another.

I dove.
Michael


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