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As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Monday, January 7, 2013

January 7 2013 Short Story Challenge

1029 wc

January 7, 2013 Writing Prompt:

"A man believes himself to be possessed when his hand starts writing a message of its own volition."

“The Message”
    Jack Mason sat quietly slumped at the granite-topped desk in his home office, subliminally aware of the silence surrounding him, now that his former wife Claire had moved out and taken her chattering, her constant television, her entertainment center—and as an afterthought, their two-year-old daughter, Sabrina. Claire had moved to British Columbia ostensibly to work on a television series production—so much of TV and film nowadays used Vancouver as a base—but Jack knew better, or thought he did: Claire would have found a man up there, a surgeon, a film star, a gynecologist, a movie mogul—who knew? The only criterion would have been: he’s not Jack.

     Jack was a good, decent man, a diligent business professional, quiet to a fault. He had been a wonderful, devoted father, and with Claire and Sabrina’s departure, was now paying what others might consider an exorbitant amount toward the support of his daughter. Oh, he knew of course that the majority of the payments did not go to help Sabrina; and he missed her terribly. But with mother and daughter not only across the continent, but in an entirely different country, he could just assume that visitation would be problematical—not because of lack of desire on his part, but because Claire would throw up constant obstacles.

     Sighing, he turned back to his paperwork. Even though he had the laptop open on his desk, Jack was old-fashioned (also perhaps to a fault). An accountant, he preferred to see the figures on paper first; then he transferred the work to the laptop and saved it to an external drive. Tonight he had just finished transcribing the payroll and quarterly tax payment records for his largest client, KFG Manufacturing, in the next town. As a newly single man (and truth be told, even as a husband and father), Jack liked working late into the night. Distracting himself with monetary figures meant less thought about those he had lost.

     Jack got up and went to the Mr. Coffee in the corner of his home office. He had an espresso machine in the kitchen for mornings, but it was already after 10 PM so he thought to stick to decaf. Carrying the coffee back to his desk, he had a sudden stab of longing for Sabrina: after 10 here, in Vancouver it would only be 7 PM, she’d still be awake, still playing, laughing, cuddling—well, not cuddling, Claire was a very aloof type, not motherly at all, really she ought to have left the child with him, even hiring a live-in nanny would have been preferable to Claire, even if she was the mother…

     This is why Jack worked such long hours: not to thrive his business, but to distract himself. Sometimes he thought he would have been better served never to have met Claire; but then he realized, not to have brought joyful angelic Sabrina into the world would have been too great an omission.

     Once back at the desk, Jack tried to return to the work flow. He even considered getting up and turning on some soft jazz, then realized he had no stereo system since Claire took it all. Really he didn’t want noise anyway. Then he thought, in turn, about heading for bed; about drinking an espresso; about watching a late-night classic movie on TCM—or watching a DVD of his favourite Barbara Stanwyck film, “Double Indemnity”; considered a shot glass of Glenfiddich—oh wait, he didn’t drink either.

Well, nothing in that list really appealed, so he guessed it would be back to business, balancing facts and figures, data entry and filling in columns by hand. Right-handed, Jack reached for the file containing his smallest but friendliest client, Mayree Williams, who ran MCW Craft Productions from her home, and sold online as well as at local arts and crafts exhibitions, which were plentiful due to the high tourism volume in Jack’s home state. Jack enjoyed Mayree’s company over a cup of coffee once a week; she was a genuinely positive and spirit-uplifting individual. If only he had found someone like that instead of Claire. That’s the way his daughter Sabrina was, too: always happy, always bubbly, just an encouragement to be near.

     Jack pulled Mayree’s file toward him, and began to open it, when he glanced down and discovered that while his right hand was preparing for accounting, his left hand had pulled open the narrow drawer at the front of the desk, and was diligently scribbling. Wait! Jack wasn’t left-handed! And he didn’t own a Montblanc fountain pen, which was what his left hand was marking with, heavily lettering, and what in the world was he/it writing?


and on and on and on it continued, on down to the bottom of a very long page Jack recognized as a blank 8 ½” by 13” which had come as the empty back page for a legal contract faxed to him earlier in the week. He vaguely remembered stuffing the paper in the bottom right-hand drawer, figuring to use it for scrap calculations. What he did not remember was taking the paper out of the drawer and setting it on the desk, nor acquiring that fountain pen, nor ever learning to write left-handed, not even back in kindergarten so many years ago.

     But all that became irrelevant as he reread what he had written—left-hand now still, pen returned to top drawer (returned? It had never been in the drawer in the first place)—“Sabrina is endangered.” That was all Jack needed to know? Automatic writing from beyond the grave? Demonic possession? Telepathic contact from his beloved two-year-old? The source didn’t matter! The message counted! Jack leapt from the desk and raced across the office to jerk up the receiver of his business land-line, and dialed the regional airport, requesting one round-trip ticket, plus a child’s one-way from Vancouver back here. He was off to Vancouver, and if ANYONE wrong in any way (including that useless Claire) was anywhere near Sabrina, he would answer to Jack-and right quick!!

Prompt and Challenge at:


  1. OOh what a fantastic story. Is there more to it I hope???

  2. Thank you kindly! Not yet, there isn't--but just as with the Jan. 4 and Jan. 6 stories, more may yet appear:)

  3. Ohhhh this was good. I also agree with Jean, i want more.

    Keep up the great writing.