Finding Answers

****Previous installment of Vivid Black Coming Down

The uniform with the bull horn did his best to keep the “zombies” and the rest of the crowd away from the crime scene at Wyoming State University. Several officers and a street crew worked to set up barricades and rolled out tape to keep them back. Henry stood over the body while McEwin crouched down to help the Medical Examiner look for ID on the male victim dressed as a zombie. It was hard to determine which slashes were “zombie” and which were real. The only certainty was what the coagulating, syrupy pool of blood meant.

Finding leads in this case was slow. The killer easily moved among Zombie Gauntlet events filled with fake zombies, victims, and a mock apocalypse completed with people who ran and screamed bloody murder. Over confident, the Zombie Reaper had become sloppy. Adrenalin surged through Henry as he saw the victims hand tightly clenched around something. A bloody knife next to a park bench along the Quad was like a late Christmas gift.

Anxious to get the scene tied up he tried to hurry Medical Examiner Dr. Janice Jones, but she had her own pace and procedures. She chose words and delivered them inca clipped tone as she informed him, “I could hurry or I could do it right. I’ll wait while you decide detective.”

Arms crossed over her 5 foot frame, she glared at him and waited for his response. His attitude was quickly dampened by the petite red head with the firecracker attitude.

“Uh, OK. Well, you do your job. CSU is still working anyway.”

He turned and shuffled away in a hangdog posture and muttered, “I’ll leave you alone. Maybe you’ll work faster that way.”

Walking to the yellow crime scene tape, he paced along the perimeter stealing glances into the crowd looking for expressions and behaviors that might give away someone who knew something. Hanging on the edge of the crowd, was Max, and Sarah Jane’s friend McKinley. Max was teetering back and forth from foot to foot chewing on a nail. McKinley was closed off, arms crossed, ashen with shock and fear.

Henry lifted the tape and walked under, winding his way to the pair.

“Max. You seem a little nervous.”

“Shut up man! You come up to me and ask questions in front of all these people and I’m gonna be the one they blame for all this crap!”

Henry shifted so he was at an angle facing slightly away from McKinley.

“McKinley, does your mom know you’re here?”

He signaled with his head “Why don’t you wander over to my car. The officer standing there will let you in.”

He caught the officers eye, indicated with a glance toward McKinley and slowly nodded. She looked up with vacant eyes and moved toward the car.


“What do you want?”

Henry stepped in front of Max and made sure he had his eyes.“You’re not telling me something.”

Max’s gaze shifted, and he sprinted away.


Gary Go–Open Arms – Official Video

Gary Go is out there quietly putting out some amazing music, lyrically and musically. This song just fit Henry and his situation as he deals with yet another murder from the now named “Zombie Reaper”.


Inspiration came from Write On Edge’s weekly writing prompt Red Writing Hood. They presented an “I Spy” image with 14 items and instructions to “choose one of the 14 items in this “I Spy” game and use it in a fiction or creative non-fiction piece….Word limit is 500.” I chose the police officer with the bullhorn as my inspiration for another installment in my Vivid Black fiction piece. This piece actually precedes the last one when Ray and Henry lock horns. It will be put into the lineup before “Experienced”

Deep Grief

*****Previous installment of Vivid Black – Revolution:


Jerrod McEwin grabbed Jacoby, and pulled him off of Henry. Henry, ruffled and flustered from the reaction ran a hand over his hair, then scrubbed emotion from his face, trying to formulate a response.

“Chief, Chief I’m sorry. We’ve got this! I’ve got this! Let the team do their job.”

Jacoby stopped struggling against McEwin, turned and walked away. Breath wrung out of his chest and pinpoints of light flashed in his vision. Emotions wild, uncontainable, mouth pressed hard into his arm he released a muffled, shuddering sob. His beautiful baby girl,  lay ruined, cold, under an ashen waning moon. CSU scoured for clues and evidence, seemingly ignoring the precious missing life.

The beauty and serenity of Solitude Lane was harshly violated by Sarah Jane’s murder. It jangled the senses as the views away from the violation imparted a peaceful autumn glow. The tranquil, winding paths led to park benches and mediation gardens where thoughts could be lost in a wave of whispering breezes. A sense of seclusion followed as each path led deeper into the heart of the park.

Henry approached Jacoby, knowing he had to give him something consoling, to release this boss, this dad from his need to stay. The team was uneasy as they tried to focus on their jobs. Jacoby, usually the one in charge, now the victims father hovered in and out. Henry put an arm over his shoulders and gently urged him toward the Tahoe.

“Chief, Ray. You gotta leave. The guys are chasin’ every shadow, every speck. You’re makin’ them skittish. Go home. Be with your family. I’ll stay with Sarah Jane. I promise.”

Henry ushered him to the open passenger door, and gently pushed him in. A uniform slid in the driver side and patiently waited for Henry to get the boss under control.

As the Tahoe pulled away, Henry turned and slowly drifted back into the chaos.


Linking up with:

Trifecta: Week Twenty Eight. This weeks word is WILD. Third definition:

3: a (1): not subject to restraint or regulation : uncontrolled; also : unruly

(2) : emotionally overcome <wild with grief>; also : passionately eager or enthusiastic

As always no less than 33 and no more than 333 words.

The Trouble in No Answers

Vivid Black begins here:

Henry Waters paced as he thumped his fist on his forehead. What happened? Everything was jumbled in his head. Sarah Jane wasn’t suppose to be there. Her dad warned his daughter to stay away from the Zombie Gauntlet and she promised. Waters spied Max behind the yellow tape, hands in pockets chewing on his lip, fighting shock.

Through clenched teeth he hissed, “Max, why was Sarah Jane here? Ray was under the impression she would stay away until these murders are resolved.”

Max’s face etched with fear and sadness answered, “Man, you know how that girl is, er, was. Thinks she’s knows, knew, everything she needed to know.”

Henry scrubbed his face trying to find questions to ask to get him out of the trouble he’d found. The Chief was on the way. He knew the trouble Sarah Jane found was now his trouble. His investigation had no leads; just bodies and every fifth Friday another innocent, surrounded in crimson.

A bright winter morning eight months ago, a body was found. Henry took the call with his partner Jerrod McEwin and CSU. Demarion Jones was viciously stabbed to death the night before. Deep bites covered his body. The investigation began and Henry was confident he would hang on to his record as best closer on the squad. Confidence waned into ambiguity as a pattern emerged with the third body. All the murders happened on a fifth Friday during one of those Zombie Challenges.

“Max! Sit on the curb and wait for me. We’ll finish this at the station.” He growled the order and pointed a finger to emphasize his words.

Blue and red wigwagged, capturing eyes while the siren’s shriek pierced hearing. Henry swiveled around as the white Tahoe rocked to a halt and Chief of Detectives, Ray Jacoby bound out of the truck.

He scanned the faces behind the tape, found Waters and stalked through. His happiness eaten away by grief and anger he grabbed Henry and snarled,

“Where’s my daughter!?”

After Henry shook his boss off, Max saw him shocked,  off balance as he searched for focus. Knowing the distractions, he chose to slide slowly into the crowd, absconded custody and went home.


After a number of comments expressed the thought the Zombie Gauntlet murder of Sarah Jane in my fiction piece “The Agony of Defeat” could be turned into a serialized piece, I decided to heed the advice. Thus, a yet to be named story continues.

I’m continuing the story using two prompts as inspiration.

First, Trifecta: Week Twenty-Seven

Use the word trouble with the following rules:

  • Your response must be between 33 and 333 words.
  • You must use the 3rd definition of the given word in your post.
  • The word itself needs to be included in your response.
  • You may not use a variation of the word; it needs to be exactly as stated above.
  • . trou·ble noun \ˈtrə-bəl\
    . the quality or state of being troubled especially mentally
    . public unrest or disturbance <there’s trouble brewing downtown>
    . an instance of trouble <used to disguise her frustrations and despair by making light of her troubles

Second, Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood:

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

In 400 words or less, write a story or memoir which relates to choices and/or consequences. Because of the word limits, you may choose to focus just on the choice, or just on the consequence. Remember to capture a moment using dialogue, action, and reaction.

The First Feast

Emma walked into the kitchen. Fresh and pure like the new life she built from the stones cast at her. The stones meant to harm, instead lessons learned to create her new home.

She opened the clean, organized and nearly empty fridge, and grabbed the package of bacon ends, bruised tomatoes, the head of lettuce and mayo jar. She knew what she wanted for her first meal in her little cottage when the produce manager at the McIntosh Grocery, where she worked, let her pick from the discarded fruits and vegetables.

Her only skillet was pulled from the oven, and a burner lit to heat the pan. She tore the bacon open and plopped a handful into the skillet. The hiss, harsh like opening bus doors, protested at the inclusion. Popping grease scattered it’s slick deposit onto the stove and the front of Emma’s shirt. The smoky salt cured smell rose and filled the kitchen with the comforting fragrance. She moved the bacon, crisp and hot, to the 10 cent plate she bought at Goodwill. The skillet was wiped and a slick of flavorful grease left behind, two slices of white bread were toasted in the skillet because she had no toaster.

The dollar store knife pulled from a drawer was used to slice the tomato and she managed to mangle three slices. Two leaves of lettuces torn from the head like pages ripped from a book. The lid spun off the mayo, knife dipped in, a glob drawn from the jar and generously spread over the toasted bread. Next she arranged the bacon on one toast slice to cover edge to edge, then she cloaked the bacon with a lettuce blanket. Finally the mangled tomato slices with their sweet yet savory tang were added and the creation crowned with the final slice of bacon toasted bread.

The bacon plate reused held Emma’s newly created, first meal in Garden Cottage. She moved the plate to the kitchen table and sat down. The cheap knife drawn across the sandwich created two delicious triangles. Lips pursed together and her tongue run across her bottom lip, she anticipated the crisp crunch of the toast as teeth bit into the BLT.

Eyes closed as she slowly chewed the bite. The first of many snacks and feasts brought bittersweet happiness to her. Emma felt the tightness in her limbs dissolve as the awareness of her freedom settled in and she chewed and smiled.


If you like Emma’s story, you can find more of her story on the page “The Emma Files“. She is a continuing fiction character. Not sure where she is going. She just keeps going.


Red Writing Hood at Write on edge gave us a great new prompt and it goes like this:

“Plump tomatoes, salty bacon, crisp lettuce, soft bread, this week we want you to be inspired by the BLT. Write a piece of either fiction or creative non-fiction based on this photo.

The word limit is 400.

Use your imagination and appetite and come link up here Friday!

I decided to add a new chapter in Emma’s life and what better way for a fresh start than with a first meal.

Racing Aggravation

Exasperated and wide awake, Emma hurled the book. Now past midnight, she was amped, couldn’t quiet her thinking.  She swung her feet down, sat on edge of her chair, and briskly rubbed her hands together.  Her brain had a pins and needles sensation and was making her body edgy like she could run a marathon. Jumping up she bounced around in a strange dance; half shadow boxing and half mosh pit.

“Go outside. Night air.” she thought. Struggling into her shoes she slipped out the front door and continued her erratic dance under the moonlight. She found herself on the sidewalk that disappeared into the velvety blackness of the night  and her feet began to move, taking over the shadow boxing.

Her feet broke the silent sleeping neighborhood as they pat patted in an easy stride. She could hear the air whispering, and felt her hair fluttering away as her legs and feet carried her away faster and faster. Her breathing came sharper and a dampness grew and bloomed from her brow. A stream of sweat, stringy coolness, slid down her chest into her bra. Slick dampened hands clenched as she concentrated on her impulsive decision, bent on making it back without surrendering to the sprouting pain. Emma ran. And ran. And finally the frenzy coursing through her, unchained and released her.

Stumbling into the yard,  bent over as her lungs gasped and burned. She coughed, then sneezed and laughed. She fled the electric tension and discovered  liberation. Limping through the door, collapsing into her chair she pulled her shoes off  discovering puffy blisters on toes and heels. Shuffling to her bedroom, she fell into bed unconcerned with salt crusted skin and sweat damp hair. Emma floated on the edge of sleep and thought, “Shoes. I need a new pair of shoes.”


If you like Emma’s story, you can find more of  her story on the page “The Emma Files“. She is a continuing fiction character. Not sure where she is going. She just keeps going.

Kir gave us a prompt for Red Writing Hood at Write on Edge. Here’s what she came up with:

“The cure for anything is salt water….sweat, tears or the sea.”~Isak Dinesen, pseudonym of Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke

For your Creative Non-Fiction tell us about the last time that one of these three things “cured” you. If you are going with Fiction, have your character resolve a problem using one of the three (or all three!!!). There are so many ways you can use this prompt so be creative with it, don’t take us where we think you’ll go.

Word Limit is 300.

Personally, I never thought of bookish, introverted Emma as a runner and neither did she. Until now.
Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

A Confident Walk

She sits affixed to the smooth oak pew, hard, yet warm from the time spent sitting, listening to and learning the sacred words. Then the last heel of the final preschooler  gleefully slips through the side door as the choir sings “This Little Light of Mine”.  Rising on smooth grey patent and suede, her favorite heels, she side steps into the carpeted aisle, that stretches to the altar like flowing red wine. She ventures forward in muffled silence with care and reverence to the bottom step. She grasps hands prayerfully together and bows with respect believing in the sacrifice that will soon be made. Turning left, a few more steps take her to two marble covered steps leading to the ambo. Each heel and toe tap rap in a sharp report, echoing the tangible difference between carpet and marble breaking the silent journey. The steps rise to the deep green, veined marble of the podium holding the lectionary. Her open hand brushes the cold hard stone and is shocked by the piercing but exhilarating coolness. Fingers brush lightly across the page as if she could feel the beginning. Eyes rise, leaf through the faces and with confidence she begins “A reading from … ”


I wrote this prompt about being a lay lector (reader) at Sunday Mass.

Red Writing Hood – Setting

This week we asked you to take us somewhere. Where was up to you -fiction or creative nonfiction- but we asked you to use your words to paint the setting as vividly as possible. In 200 words.

Better than Bad

She rolls over to escape the piercing brightness of the early morning sun that has found a breach in the blinds.

“Damnit! It’s my day off! Get OFF me!”

Frustrated at the intrusion into her sleep, she thrashes, attempting to prevent full awake and the sheet winds around her arm and over her head. Laying she grasps at the filmy feathers of dreamy sleep with eyes firmly shut, Emma realizes it’s useless; she’s awake and pissed.

Relenting, she throws the covers off and swings her legs over the side of the bed. Standing up, she arches her back, reaching her arms above her head, with hands bent back; she squeezes up high on her tip toes and flexes her legs taught and yawns so deep it hurts. Light headed from the intense wake up stretch, she works her way to the kitchen to brew coffee knowing once the brew begins and the deep, comforting smell floats into her senses she might shake off her foul mood.

With a cup of coffee comfortingly sweetened with her favorite creamer she creeps her way to her reading corner but realizes last night she’d polished off her last library book. This means she has to endure the suffering of leaving home to get more books. The outside world is tense and uncomfortable so being ready was critical to the success.

Thankful she didn’t have to wear the grocery store’s green apron with the creepy apple emblazoned on it, Emma chooses her “outside in the world” armor. She slides into her favorite black skinny jeans, falling apart but comfortable in all the right places, and an oversized black hoodie with a large paisley fleur-de-lis, shadowy and grey batiked on the back. Old black Chuck Taylors finish the dark cloaked desire to be unapproachable and invisible. At the front door she closes her eyes, mouth tight, she inhales deeply, then twists the knob, exhales and mutters “Here we go” and steps outside to make the walk to the library.

With hood up and hands in the pocket, she glances up and down to avoid people who find it necessary to greet her even when she wears her Sir Lancelot suit of armor. Intent on watching the perils ahead, she crosses the alley and unexpectedly something crashes into her. She struggles to pull her clenched fists out of her jacket to catch her balance. Her feet criss-cross and trip over each other as she grabs at the kid who’s not watching his own path.

Stunned by the collision the boy peers up at Emma wide-eyed looking as if he’s wondering ‘should I fight or run?’ Then recognition washes relief over the fearful “O” of his face when he sees her.

“Oh hey Emma! Whatcha doin’?”

The initial bristles of annoyance are clipped off when she realizes it’s the boy whose family lives in the apartment upstairs from her.

Yanking her hood off, “God Jakey! Watch where you’re going!”

Over time, Jakey has become one of the few granted access to Emma’s comfort zone. With the careless ease allowed by being six, he persistently winnowed his way in, ignorant of her crippling shy fear of people and places.

Neglect, fear and harm keep the boy outside. For him, pain and peril exist at home. When he explodes out of the apartment, he is free and happy, gliding through the world grateful there is an outside to escape to. It’s liberation from the barbwire words and blunt pain his unemployed, red raging dad inflicts.

In spite of the jolt her face fans into a wide grin “The library, wanna come?”

Punching his fist up he shouts “YEAH!”

Putting her hand out he latches on eagerly, leaping in the air, heels bumping his butt with happy and anticipation of the treat Emma was sharing with him. Jakey loves reading (an escape within his walls) and he loves Emma’s wondrous reading. She builds a world around them with enthusiastic words. Her voice takes them on a journey of unabashed happiness and trudges through menacing valleys.

Together they head off. The day began bad. Then it turned a corner and now it’s better than good; it’s great!


Red Writing Hood – Happy Endings

This week’s prompt asked you to spread a little joy.

You were to write a piece where you or your character overcame a challenge and, even if it’s just for a moment, has a happy ending. We also asked you to surprise us – don’t go with the obvious.