‘Suburban Evil’. Part 2. #BlogBattle #ShortStory Contest. #Mystery #Crime

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Credit: Ellie Maloney

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CHAPTER 2

I arrived in DC late at night and stopped long before Capitol Hill where I eventually headed, picking the first Motel 6 I came across.  I was exhausted and afraid of getting into an accident, so I just exited the freeway as soon as I had a chance.  Not to mention that I absolutely could not afford staying in the Capitol Hill district,  or any place reputable for that matter.

I entered the tiny hotel room and crashed on the bed without taking my clothes or shoes off. The lighting in the room was dim, with no overhead lighting, and one of the two nightstand lamps not working. To my surprise, I found myself unable to fall asleep. I was exhausted, my eyes burned and I couldn’t keep them open, but I was not out.

Begrudgingly, I picked myself up and made an effort to remove my clothes. Shoes had to go first. There is no pain quite like wearing cheap ‘vegan leather’ shoes with the rubber soles for over 12 hours. When I dragged my socks off, I realized that I had liquid-filled blisters and imprints of stitches and patterns from both my shoes and socks, sketched on my feet with the transferred black paint that came off the cheap shoe material, mixed with a day’s worth of  sweat.

My  feet didn’t really smell. They were just swollen and in pain. No way I could possibly wear these ridiculous shoes tomorrow, as I had to spend a whole day walking miles and miles of DC pavement and hallways.

Somehow miles in DC feel longer. I thought about it when filling the tub and soaking my exhausted body in nearly boiling water. At least one blessing for the day – DC does not run out of hot water.

I was also thinking about why I decided to drive 11 hours straight from Nicole’s house in the Appalachian Mountains all the way to the Capitol City. I guess subconsciously I knew the answer, but articulating it to myself made it seem like a frivolous whim, an emotional throw, rather than a practical step.

The tile in the bathroom was covered in rich steam, so was the small mirror above the sink. It was a good thing that I couldn’t see my own face. Standing there, naked and exposed, in every sense of these words, I couldn’t face what I was about to do.

***

“I want him to pay for this”, Quietly whispered Nicole after a long awkward pause. “I want justice, but not the kind of justice that the court can provide. I want real retribution.”

I knew exactly what she meant. I always thought that the word ‘justice’ was tainted by the ignorance and narrow-sighted formal justice system, with all it’s prosecutors, judges, courthouses and taxpayer-funded meals for the bastards who eventually end up in the  prison. I knew based on my own experience, that in the court of law, justice is not  equal retribution.

Nicole wanted retribution. She wanted to balance the accounts with the person who once spoke wedding vows, promising to cherish and protect her. To Nicole, those vows were more sacred than any state or federal law that prohibits a man to abuse his wife. The vows are sacred because they are built on trust, and Gabriel Sorvino broke that trust.

***

Gabriel Sorvino was an ivy league graduate, holder of a prestigious MBA, a refined specimen of the upper middle class society. He did not drink and did not smoke. He had no drug or porn addictions. He probably did not even cheat on Nicole. He swam every day in their estate pool for thirty minutes after a round of exercises on a treadmill and lifting weights. He was handsome as the devil himself.

“Handsome devil, I gave him this nickname.” Reminisced Nicole with her eyes looking down at nothing in particular. “He was the heartthrob in college. We met when I was in my second year. My field was in public relations.” At that she paused as if something just occurred to her. Then she lifted her eyes and looked straight at me, probably for the first time. “Ironic, isn’t it? I studied public relations, when I should have studied something about the private ones…”

***

Finally I managed to get a few hours of sleep. I checked out early, being the first person to grab a toast and a banana in the small kitchen area; pocketed a few small cartons of peanut butter and jelly, meeting with a disapproving eye of the help who served in the breakfast area, and hit the road. No need to pass on free food, I thought. After all, bananas and bread are all the same, whether they are served in the Five Star Hilton, or in this run down Motel 6.  I drove the same Chevy that years ago I appropriated from my dad on a way out of his life. Sometimes driving this piece of junk bothered me, mostly because it reminded me of him, but most of the time I did not give it a second thought. It was just a car, a necessity for someone who is marginally employed and needs to get around. Beggars can’t be choosy.

I parked my car several blocks from the Capitol Hill, because finding a free parking spot in DC is no easier than ordering a can of cold coke in hell. Wearing the same damned shoes and twisting my toes to avoid the contact with the shoe surface that rubbed on the raw blisters, which already burst and spliced with my socks, I walked  into the Library of Congress.

The registrar asked for an ID, and together with the driver’s license, I passed her my public defender’s license, which allowed me to wave the fee, and headed to the floor designated for the law section.

The floor was empty of visitors. Normally lawyers don’t visit the Library of Congress to brief for their cases. They use Lexis Nexus online libraries and eBooks, because, first of all, it’s the 21st century, and second of all, they have caseloads that would make such a day trip to DC a frivolous waste of time.

I, on the other hand, had no caseload. I only had one single case, and my first case at that. Cutting corners on my education, something told me that I had to get this one right. I had to feel the spirit of the law hovering in the dusted volumes of the Supreme Court almanacs and various law journals. I had to feel the justice system in my veins for this one.

Because how else to defeat it?

I thought of the strange menagerie of the current U.S. Supreme Court justices, who are setting in stone landmark decisions that very moment while I was perusing the Library of Congress to take them on. I was thinking of their strange obsessions with the loopholes and man-made doctrines which so often colored white into black.

… while the victims of domestic violence proudly carried blue-black flags of  injustice on their faces and bodies …

… while ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ was only good for plastering across the government websites …

… while my feet hurt and my heart hurt even more, for Nicole and for my murdered mother …

… while the victims were put under scrutiny of a trial, taking upon themselves heat of the judicial zeal instead of their abusers, like human shields for our societal shame …

… while I was crying in the dark corner, between the two rows of bookshelves, on the faded carpeted floor, that absorbed the sound of the footsteps just as well as it absorbed the common  sense portraying it irrelevant …

I took the damn shoes off, extracted a legal pad with lined yellow pages, and a ball pen, and armed myself to defend  Gabriel Sorvino against the grip of the North Carolina death penalty.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

Copyright 2016 Ellie Maloney


This story is written  for the #Blogbattle short story contest hosted by wonderful Rachael Ritchey, an author of two romantic fantasy books – Captive Hope and The Beauty Thief. Please check her books on the Amazon Kindle, don’t forget to rate and review her hard work. Also please check the #Blogbattle rules and vote for my story during the week of August 16, 2016. It will be listed under the #Blogbattle 68, prompt word ‘Menagerie’. Please  comment below if you liked the story and want to hear more.  I always appreciate it.


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‘Suburban Evil’. Part 1. #BlogBattle Short Story Contest. #Mystery #Crime

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Credit: Ellie Maloney

Happy #BlogBattle anniversary! Here is my pick among the previously submitted pieces. The prompt word was forest, genre crime/mystery.

CHAPTER 1

I will never forget the day I stepped in her back yard. Tall, red haired, in her mid 30s, Nicole was destined to become my first ‘case’. Her handshake was soft. Slender hands and long fingers were rather elegant. Ah, yes, she offered me coffee. I remember settling in the woven lawn chair and placing the voice recorder on the table, the glass surface of which was pleasantly cold under my palms. I took my first sip of coffee and rested my palms on the glass surface leaving sweaty handprints.

I was hot, terribly hot. My only decent suit jacket was one of thick pleated wool. You know the kind, with patches on the elbows. And it was August in North Carolina; but I was under self-imposed pressure to look ‘professional’, so I put it on anyway. To make matters worse, I was a nerve wreck. Although, if you think about it, why wouldn’t I be nervous? I was about to talk to a woman, who was kept in a basement for five years and fed dog kibble.

“I still have dreams about it”, – she whispered. As she spoke, an image of wilted leaves lightly shuffling in the forest treetops crept in my imagination. Or maybe I thought of it because her yard was surrounded by the forest, and I could hear wind going though the branches. One way or another, in my mind Nicole’s speech and shallow wind became one.

“Tell me more about those dreams.”

“Not sure I want to…”

“Alright, where would you like to start?”

“From my wedding day. I was the happiest bride in the world. I was in love, and he was a perfect gentleman.”

***

Before I go on with the Nicole’s story, let me introduce myself. My name is Arthur Coppola. I am a … Well, who am I anyway? I think of myself as a guy who occasionally does bad things in the name of greater good. I bring vengeance to the domestic violence victims.

I almost hear the reader pause at my last sentence, frown her eyebrows and say, “What in the world?..” To those of you who just said that, here’s my retort: the world is a cruel place. All brides fantasize about their happy lives ahead, no matter what combination of elements makes up their version of happiness. For some of them, things go terribly wrong. Say, before the marriage, he would bring her flowers after each fight, but after the wedding he would bring only jealousy, complaints and accusations. That would change too. Soon, coming home from work, he would greet her with intimidating silence; the special kind that is like a room full of gas, and all it takes is to strike a match.

As a man, I wouldn’t fall for the shit these women fall for: that he only wants us to be a good family; or he is underappreciated at work, that’s why he drinks; or… here comes my favorite. He loves me and he can’t live without me. And he surely will kill himself if I leave. But the women believe these and countless other lies delivered by their husbands, or boyfriends, or fathers. After a thousand’s second chance, things eventually go beyond repair.

I am sure you are desperate to know what is my angle in all of this. Fair enough. It’s quite simple. My mother was killed when I was 13. My father was a classic case of an abusive husband, violent, and regularly drunk. One day, he came home, naturally drunk, and sat at the dining table. Mom hustled a meal. She was in a middle of ironing a pile of sheets, and a hot old-fashioned heavy iron was within his hand’s reach. I am not sure what exactly was ‘wrong’ this time, but shortly I heard his “You did it again, bitch!”, and her scream. Then… Pans and dishes crashed on the floor, together with a heavy ‘thump’ that turned to be my mom falling to the ground. Evidently he grabbed the iron and smashed her head. I ran in from my bedroom, and instantly felt sick to my stomach from the site of mom’s blood oozing from her head and spreading on the floor. I ran out of the kitchen to call 911, and by the time I was back, my mother was dead, and my father was gone from the house.

I think that was the day when I became a lawyer. The following investigation and trial made me eerily familiar with the American justice system in action. Father’s lawyer was a sleazeball. These two fabricated a case of self-defense. According to them, it was my mother who attacked my father. Also, she allegedly had a history of being a neurotic, unbalanced, prone to jealousy and exaggeration woman who was never satisfied with the income my father provided. Without a shred of evidence, they alleged that mother had affairs. They even molded her depression to their advantage.

Imagine my astonishment when I learned what a probation is. I could not believe that courts could come up with such a naive thing. In my brain, it was a total nonsense that a person could kill another person and end up walking free; and on top of that, the state would pay his rehab expanses. My witness testimony did not help the case much because as a teenager I had a little bit of a ‘history’ myself. I wasn’t exactly the top of the class, and I was at that age when being against the ‘system’ was as natural as a glass of milk. Plus I did not see how exactly events unfolded the night my mom was killed.

Because my father had a ‘child to raise’, he got to walk away.

By the time the trial was over, I was 15. I lived for a year with my father, or I should say, in the same house. To his credit, the rehab helped his drinking problem, and the child protective services could not be more pleased.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, I took my father’s old Chevy and drove off. After driving through two or three states, I gave him a call from the gas station. I wished him a good life and strictly advised against looking for either me or the car, otherwise, with the help of my ‘friends’, police would find him with drugs, and that would be to hell with his probation. I only heard him breathing heavily, he did not say a word, so I hung up. That was the last time I had to do anything with the person called my ‘father’.

My new life began when I forged a number of signatures and transferred myself to the Nebraska high school. I also found a bunch of jobs to get me through. I walked dogs, I washed cars, I bought groceries for old ladies, and all that while trying to make my grades to get to the law school. I found a homeless guy, Sam, great old fella, who would impersonate my father whenever it was necessary for school meetings. I have to tell you, he did far better job then my real father ever did.

Strangely enough, I made it through the high school. Strangely enough I made it to a law school as well. Although it was a law school none of you probably even heard about, but I got in, and graduated. And even more surprising is that I passed the bar. Although it was a Wisconsin one with the passage rate over 90 percent (nothing to brag about at the high school reunion), but I did it.

There I was, a young law school graduate, with the license, thinking what to do. I have to admit, I was such an unimpressive student that all my job applications were nearly doomed to fail. During the school years, my energy mostly went on getting by and making ends meet, so when it was time to write my resume, a law school graduate with my combination of ‘work experiences’ would not get me too far.

My preppy peers might be well off and born with a golden spoon in their mouths, but there was something in me that made up for that disadvantage. I was tenacious and obsessed with the domestic violence cases. That was all I cared about.

One morning, I was reading the newspaper and stumbled across the headline: “MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF NICOLE HUNTINGTON IS RESOLVED – VICTIM OF HER HUSBAND, NICOLE WAS KEPT IN A BASEMENT FOR FIVE YEARS”. I remembered the story from five years ago. It made the headlines, because Nicole belonged to a rather well standing family. The rumor was that she escaped with her lover leaving her husband behind. Police was presented with a note written with Nicole’s hand. They also found receipts from purchased bus tickets, her clothes were evidently gone and such. Although the family was heartbroken and could not believe Nicole would ever do such a thing, her trace was lost in the police bureaucracy.

Nicole was saved by a pure chance. An old man at the counter noticed Nicole’s husband purchasing female hygiene items. Usually he shopped outside the town, but as years passed, he lost caution thinking that everyone probably forgot all about it. In a month or two, the cashier noticed the well-known man making the same purchases, and he found it highly suspicious for a small conservative North Carolina city (God bless old farts who live for a fresh gossip!). The official story was that the heartbroken husband lived alone, did not date, and stewed in his sorrow over a runaway wife. The old cashier guy thought that these facts did not add up. He literally lost his sleep over the suspicions and began spying on the house. One day he noticed on the dusty basement window barely visible letters: “HELP”.

The concerned citizen as the guy was, he took a photo of the window and ran to the police.

When the police opened the basement, it smelled foul. Nicole was chained to the metal pipe with a chain around her neck so that she could only sit or stand along the vertical pipe and could not make even one step away from it. Five years in the basement made her face look ashen.

How could the police overlook it? How could they not find her right under their noses? How could this ‘husband’ fool everyone for so long?

I asked myself these questions over and over again, but the answers escaped my imagination. I wondered the most what Nicole was feeling all this time. And what was worse, for my mother to die in one moment from a drunken rage at the hand of her husband, or for Nicole to endure such treatment for years.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

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“Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula”. Ep.9 (SCi Fi, Mini-Series, Alien, Space Saga) #BlogBattle

 

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Credit: Ellie Maloney
Hey! Happy Tuesday, the Blogbattlers! Here’s my submission to this week, prompt word: hair, genre: sci fi
Click here for all Episodes

Episode 9

I couldn’t see. I was a hostage of the alien species. I was taken to receive my death sentence.

Two guards held me by the arms on both sides, and I could hear She (the name drove me nuts!) walking in front of me. I heard the doors sliding open and closed behind us with almost noiseless sound. Our footsteps were absorbed by something rubbery and cushiony, like a track field surface.

“How long have you been with the Unkari?” I asked her. She did not respond. “Come on, you are going to execute me, aren’t you? The least you can do for me is to satisfy my curiosity.”

“I could. But then, why would I?” She replied dispassionately.

“Why? What do you mean why? You say you are a human, right? Well, we have at least that much in common. How did you get here? What did they promise you to make you defect?”

“You think we have a lot in common? Let me tell you, you could not insult me more. You, humans, are arrogant and not that bright. You are like babies with the fire power to destroy half of the galaxy. Now, why would I want to have anything in common with you?”

“Maybe so, but not everyone is this way. Ensign River, for example. Her race is pacifist.”

“And yet, here she is, a soldier and a murderer of two Unkari soldiers.”

“Yeah, I see how it might look like… But let me tell you, for all I know, Unkari are not saint either. They wanted to take over our space, we politely refused. And what did they do? They left and harbored resentment for the humanity for 300 years, and plotted blitzkrieg.”

“You think you know something, don’t you.” There was no question mark at the end of that one, only dry, bone-dry bitterness.

“Then tell me! I know only what I was told, but maybe there is the other side to the story.”

“There is always another side of the story, don’t you think?”

“True. But whose story is closer to the truth? For all I know, you and me may be speaking the same language, but we are far from understanding each other.”

She was quiet. We stopped walking.

“Come on, you don’t want to kill me without full remorse, don’t you? Isn’t that the purpose of the Unkari trial?”

“You may have a point there.” She finally agreed. “Alright. Let me talk to the Leader.”

“Leader? The Unkari pilot said he was taking me to the Leader.”

“Be quiet, would you!”

I stayed, and She seemed to step aside.

“The Leader agrees that your understanding may contribute to your remorse.”

“See, you might get a promotion out of it!”

“Get what?”

“Never mind, bad joke. Ok, I am ready for the learning curve.”

***

She directed me to the transporter, that lightly took off in the unknown direction.

“What are you going to show me?”

“You will see it for yourself.”

“I’m not really blind, am I?”

“We’ll get to that as well. Meanwhile I need to fill in your gaps on human-Unkari relations.”

I was sitting in a chair of some sort, enveloped in darkness, and strapped with a safety belt, imagining She across from me (at least that’s where her voice come from). She sounded like a young woman with an unfamiliar English accent, probably influenced by the Unkari language. I suspected that She was with the Unkari for a long time, maybe her entire life. From the sound of her voice, She didn’t strike me as someone to get early ‘worry lines’.

“First, tell me how much you know.” She said.

“Well, I know maybe a fraction more compared to any other human who studied the history of the ‘first contact’. There is only one wrinkle in the official narrative that I know not to be true. That is the Voyager’s Golden Record.”

“How did you find out about it?”

“My family keeps the unpublished memoir of my ancestor, Dr. Coli. He was among the Monrovia eye witnesses.”

“Coli is your relative?” For the first time, I registered a strong emotion in her voice.

“Yes. Why?”

“Well, that explains your ability to oscillate… No, no. Forget about it. It doesn’t matter.”

“My ability to do what?”

“I told you, forget it!”

“Fine.”

 “Why do you think the Voyager record is important?”

“It may or may not be important. But it may imply that the initial intent of the Unkari was peaceful.”

“Your guess is right. Unkari came first of all to warn humans. Sending strategic information in space without any idea as to who may be coming across it… well, it is dangerous. Humans are not ready to match any extraterrestrial civilization at war.”

“Even Unkari?”

“Especially Unkari.”

“Ok, if they are so powerful, why did they ‘play’ diplomacy with us?”

“They did not ‘play’. Unkari are patient and just. They wanted to give humans a chance.”

Meanwhile the transporter stopped, and we exited to what seemed to be a city, filled with foreign noises and chatter.

“Tilt your head to the back and keep your eyes wide open.” She commanded. I complied. Sharp pain immediately kicked in, as if I was hit with a fist simultaneously in both eyes. I twitched in pain and grabbed my eyes with my palms. My face was covered with the headgear, which meant that the water supply was replenished, and I could breathe normally.

“It will get better in a minute,” I heard her reassurance. “I activated your optic nerve.”

“Oh my God!!!” I was yelping in pain. “This is intense! Why did you do it??”

“I needed to prevent you from using your equipment. Obstructing your vision seemed appropriate. It’s just nano-saline eyedrops, no big deal.”

I had to sit down on the floor because the experience made me lightheaded. That is when I removed my palms from my face and saw shapes. Shapes at first, then – more clearly. My vision was returning to me. In a few minutes, I could make sense of my surroundings. We were obviously in an advanced city that reminded Earth Prime architecture. Tall buildings framed the skyline, and the streets were crowded with … people! Humans!

“What is this place?” I was in awe and in shock simultaneously.

“They are humans, obviously.”

“You need to start explaining it all right now.” This is when I finally turned my head to the woman who called herself She.

Tall, with heap of fiery red hair, She wore some kind of a black uniform that presented her figure in a flattering manner. I couldn’t say if She was pretty or not, but the word that came to my mind was ‘blank’. Light red eyebrows, red eyelashes, extremely pale skin definitely untouched by the natural sunlight, thin shapely lips that framed her small mouth – all in all, a generic appearance.

“Wellcome to Istanbul.” She said. “I know, you have many questions, but there is nobody who can provide you with better answers, than Ottis Coli himself.”

My eyes nearly popped out of my orbits.

“Do you seriously expect me to believe this? The man is dead for 300 years now!”

“You may be not too far from truth, Mazula. By the way, you may  remove your headgear. This human reservation has perfect terrestrial climate control.”

[to be continued]

Copyright (2016) Ellie Maloney

Click here for more short stories. 

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“Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula”. Ep.7 (SCi Fi, Aliens, Mini-Series, #BlogBattle, Short Story Contest)

  Hey! It’s Tuesday again! Recently Tuesdays became a whole lot more fun, because it is the day to post a new submission to the #Blogbattle contest! I decided to enter with the Episode 7 of my ongoing space series. Here it is! #BlogBattle#49, Genre: Sci Fi. Prompt word: “Lollypops”  Click here for all Episodes […]

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“Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula”: Meet Unkari

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Credit: Ellie Maloney

Hi everyone! I wanted to give a quick shout out to everyone who has been following my Sci Fi mini-series. I am honored and grateful for all your likes and comments! You keep my imagination spinning! Thank you! Also, Episode 4 was out yesterday, so I wanted to talk a little about it.

First, check out my version of Unkari, the aliens who captured Earth Nations soldiers Lieutenant Mazula and Ensign River. I’m sure you had some kind of visualization of these bastards in your head while reading, so I’d like to know what was your version like.

Second, as to the science part of my fiction, Episode 4 contained a piece where the characters tried to identify if they were aging through examining their chromosomes. This piece is based on absolutely real science idea. Evidently, at the ends of each of 46 our chromosomes, there are thingies called telomeres. These thingies don’t carry actual genetic information, but they protect DNA strands from scrambling. Every time a cell divides, it copies all of the 46 chromosomes, except for a little bit of the telomeres at the ends.

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My impression of chromosome division

Eventually, when no telomeres are left to copy, the cells are said to ‘retire’ and stop dividing. Anyway, by analyzing her DNA cells, Ensign River was able to say just by how much she has aged, and because of this, she was convinced that she was not going back in time when she experienced her own version of Groundhog Day.

A tangentially relevant idea for Sci Fi writers would be reversing this process and achieving immortality! Some scientists speculate, if they could control telomeres, make them somehow to regenerate, the cells would continue division, and we would never age. How is that for a Sci Fi plot?

Finally, I decided to shorten the series a bit. That being said, I am planning to make Episode 6 a season finale. Episodes 5 and 6 will have major surprises and plot twists, and will resolve the current predicament of soldiers Mazula and River. How? In an good or bad way? Can’t say. Partly I don’t know yet, because today I was sketching the story out (both with words and with images), and I can’t wait to find out the rest of the story myself. I am also considering to start a new ‘season’ right after the finale, however, the story will have a change of pace, setting, and maybe even characters. I want some change! And coincidentally it is entirely in my power to deliver it. Lucky me!

If you haven’t read the series before, but are somewhat interested, click here to get all four episodes. And if you do, I’d really like to hear from you in the comments! Thanks!

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