Rights: The writing and ideas from all non-winning submissions will continue to belong to those who enter. [You can finish the story, then go back and write a new first half and then it's all yours.]
Fees: There is no fee to enter.
Judging the Winner: I will be the judge. I will look for the piece that best dramatically completes the story with the highest quality of writing. Several further considerations are presented at the end of the piece.
I reserve the right to edit the final story to maintain consistency in tone. Although Detective Shelley Krieg is a character from my novel, Never Kill A Friend, it is not necessary to use other characters or info from the book.
How to Enter: To enter, include your conclusion to the story in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 p.m., June 15th, 2017, EST along with word count, your name, address, phone, and email. Include the words "contest entry" in the email subject line. Do not send your submission as an attachment. The winner will be announced July 15th.
Martin Hill Ortiz
The Final Confession
Only one thing could be worse than having a boyfriend whose idea of a romantic Valentine's date consisted of a dinner at Arby's: being stood up.
Shelley Krieg sawed at the papery meat between her teeth with the pinched end of a soda straw. She had ordered a Junior sandwich to tamp down the hour-long anger in her belly, an agitation which intensified with the waiting. And waiting. No phone calls, no messages, his phone off-line.
The sandwich merely stoked the fire in her stomach. Horse radish: a taste that gave a bad name to both horse and radish.
Even after sipping a bit more of the melted ice puddle from the bottom of her cup, her mouth felt dry. Why does anyone eat here?
She looked around. Families happily munching away. A priest and some nuns seemingly enjoying their meals.
She thought back to her Catholic days. The Sisters of Charity, Mother Teresa's group, ran her school. She once asked them whether they worried about living in a rough ghetto. They laughed and told her that D.C. was tame. They'd worked in the back alleys of Calcutta.
She wiped off her lipstick, buttoned up her collar, and tugged down the fringe of her red skirt to just below her knees. Feeling less sexy, she felt less rejected.
Her eyes wandered. Across the street, a car pulled up, double-parking in front of a liquor store. The driver, a skinny punk, wore a black ski mask topping his crown. With a jolt, her police instincts kicked in and her every muscle tensed.
The driver twisted the plastic orange cap off of a play pistol. Even at this distance Shelley recognized it as a toy, but what she saw didn't matter: this was still armed robbery.
Bolting from her seat, she knocked over her soda cup and hurried for the door, an action that elicited a crowd of stares.
She had dressed for a night out—albeit, a cheap night out—and not for after-hours duty: her service belt and pistol lay stowed in her car. As she shouldered out the door, she took out her phone and speed-dialed dispatch.
"This is Detective Krieg, MPD. We've an armed robbery in progress at B & B Liquors, Good Hope and Sixteenth. Make certain you tell them, 'Officer on scene.'"
She emphasized the last part because she was out of her district and when the responding officers arrived they would encounter her: an unknown tall black woman with a gun in hand.
She tweeted her car, flung open the door and reached inside, unbuckling her service automatic from its holster. She dumped the contents of her purse on the car seat and grabbed her shield, pinning it to her vest. And then she stood still, spending a quiet moment before heading into battle, ginning up her courage. It's a toy gun, she reminded herself. I saw the perp take the top off. But what if he put a plastic cap on a real gun to carry it around, making it seem fake? No, she told herself: I saw a toy, I know the difference. It had to be a toy—but what will I do if he points it at me? She knew what she would do.
Then she recognized a new horror: what if I have to explain in court why I was eating dinner alone on Valentine's Day? At Arby's.
She held her gun low as she crossed the street.
Blam. A shot, a roar, from inside the liquor store. What the hell? A second blast. Shelley drew back from the door and to the side, out of the line of fire. "Police!" she called out. "Toss your weapon and come out with your hands raised."
The door banged open and the punk staggered out. He clutched the toy gun against a gaping wound in his belly. He made it only a few steps before nosediving against the sidewalk. A moment later, a man appeared, brandishing a shotgun.
Shelley aimed her gun at him. "Put your weapon down."
"This is my store," the man said. His eyes were wild with adrenaline.
"The crime is over. You do not need that weapon," Shelley said. And she didn't need a frenzied hero with a twitchy trigger finger. "Set it down." She demonstrated by lowering her own weapon.
The man looked around as if to find someone who would support his rights. The few gawkers maintained their distance. He set the shotgun down beside him.
"Call 911. Ask for an ambulance," Shelley said.
"No," The owner said, folding his arms.
Shelley dropped on one knee beside the man on the sidewalk. She freed the toy gun from his hand and tossed it aside to make sure the responding officers wouldn't think he was armed. When they arrived. If they arrived. Where are they?
It seemed as though half the man's blood had already spilled out: a rivulet from the broad puddle stretched to the gutter. Shelley rolled him over and pressed her hands against the bleeding. The man huffed against his ski mask. She pulled it back to allow him to breathe. From a distance, she'd judged him to be a punk kid. Up close, she could see he had a baby-face but with those creases that came in one's late thirties. The victim stared at her with desperation, mouth open, lips popping like those of a guppy.
"You were likely within your rights to shoot this man," Shelley told the owner. "But if you do nothing and you allow him to bleed to death, you are committing murder and I can arrest you." Technically, this was true, but she made the threat only to ensure his cooperation. "Call 911 and bring me something to help stop the bleeding. A roll of paper towels if you have them."
The owner reached for his shotgun.
"Leave. It. There," Shelley said, each word snapping.
"I want to put it somewhere safe."
"Leave your weapon there."
The man backed into his store.
A shotgun, at close range, could tear a man in two. Both of Shelley's hands easily fit into the wide gash of his belly wound. She felt about for the source of the flood.
"Bless me father, for I have sinned."
Shelley had been concentrating so much on the wound, that these words startled her. She looked up. The priest from Arby's knelt next to the victim.
"Tell me, my son," the priest said.
Additional notes regarding context and the contest.
Aspects of Shelley Krieg are presented in the above story. In summary, she is African-American, tall (over six feet), single and in her mid-thirties and works for the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department. She is a conscientious detective who does not act in an unethical way, although she has been known to cut corners for the greater good.
The first chapter of Never Kill A Friend is available here, online or from internet book outlets.
The winning entry should be realistic in plotting, not the magic of a poorly created cops-and-robbers world. Gratuitousness, whether it be sex, violence, gore or swearing is a negative. I will accept a moderate amount depend on context and internal justification.
The sacrament of confession is not absolute in requiring silence from the priest. Inasmuch as Shelley overhears something actionable, the priest could corroborate it: although this does not need be a plot point.
International contestants can apply. Alternative forms of awards can be: A check or money order for U.S. dollars, or as a gift card from iTunes, Amazon, or Google.
What publication rights are being asked? None, other than those requested by the magazine in which the final product will be published. The winning entry will not be published on-line beyond that of a teaser, unless by joint agreement. This could interfere with submission to journals.
You may query me with further questions or insert them in comments if you believe the answers would be of general interest.
Martin Hill Ortiz is the author of Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press.
|Never Kill A Friend, Ransom Note Press|
Never Kill A Friend is available for purchase in hard cover format and as an ebook.
The story follows Shelley Krieg, an African-American detective for the Washington DC Metro PD as she tries to undo a wrong which sent an innocent teenager to prison.
Hard cover: Amazon US
Kindle: Amazon US
Hard cover: Amazon UK
Kindle: Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble