Flash Fiction Friday: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Hello Readers, Writers, and Friends,

My apologies for missing last week. Several people who were not me made plans for that day that all demanded varying levels of my attention. And though I did pull a couple of prompts thinking I could sneak the writing in, it just didn’t work out. Life, whaddaya gonna do?

But today I’m back to do what I’ve been doing for nearly a year now, sit down with a couple of writing prompts and knock out a quick piece of flash fiction without edits and without too much thinking involved. It can often be the most freeing to give yourself permission to write without too much thought, no worries about whether or not the thing is good or whether it is “working.” Just let things come off the cuff and see what’s there. These can often be the most surprising. And sometime it’s just good to get the garbage out of the way.

Shall we get to it?

Today’s prompts are: investigative reporter, an invitation from a stranger

This one feels like it fits. Photo by David Selbert on Pexels.com

When you work for the kinds of magazines that look into the bizarre and unexplained letters from anonymous sources claiming something fantansitcal are a daily occurrence. Etsy level personalized invites are not.

So when scott Walker of Mind-blown Magazine found the lovely marron envelope in his company inbox, with silver calligraphy addressing it directly to him, he thought he was being pranked. Perhaps in a sense he was.

He opened the envelope with good humor and expected to see some absurd scavenger hunt style instructions or perhaps someone on the birthday party committee had just gone overboard.

Instead he found the silver lettering continued as follows: Mister Walker, we very much enjoyed your piece on the werewolves stalking the Chicago nightlife scene printed in September’s issue. We cordially invite you to a special themed dinner in your honor this Friday evening at ten o’clock.

Scott was intrigued despite the vaguely threatening language. Who had dinner at ten p.m.? And why on earth did it have to be dinner? Most folks looking to talk to him about his pieces were supernatural enthusiasts looking for corroboration of their own beliefs and experiences or they were just a bit looney. He did have one clearly disturbed young woman try to kidnap him at knife point in the name of avenging the witch community he had defamed in a recent issue. He’d disarmed her (thank you marine corps), tossed her knife in a dumpster, and she’d run off crying.

But this whole formal invite thing was so new, such a different tactic than anything he’d ever seen. He showed it around the office and to his boss who just told him to get back to work. If it was a high production value prank the office was keeping it way under their hats.

So he went. Like an idiot he went.

He would remonstrate himself for this later.

Since he’d shown his coworkers the invitation he figured he at least had a certain level of protection. If he disappeared they’d know where to look. He’d put the address in his phone and left the paper invite on his desk at work.

Friday at ten found him standing on the stoop of an old brownstone that didn’t seem like it was gearing up for a dinner party at all. The windows were closed and shuttered. The front light had intermittent commitment to its duties. He knocked on the door anyway.

His phone was in his pocket, recording.

The door flew open at his knock and standing in the brightly lit hall was someone he recognized. It took a minute, too long for him put the face with its proper context. In that minute he was warmly welcomed in with an arm around his shoulder. The arm was insistent more than friendly, and shut as the door shut behind him, Scott realized his mistake.

The man now guiding him up the artwork adorned hallway and into a dining room with a gorgeous mahogany table was the gentleman he had glimpsed leading a young man out of a club and into an alley where only a pair of wolves had emerged from some ten minutes later.

“You say you liked the article?” he asked as he took in the other guests, something oddly feral in each one’s appearance though nothing he could have named.

“Oh, yes,” his host enthused. “The more press we get in something like your magazine the more ridiculous others believe us to be. Notions of werewolves running through the city become just another reason for average individuals to roll their eyes.”

Scott didn’t dare have a facial expression of any kind as his host plucked him down into a chair at the head of the table.

“What impressed the most, however, were the pictures you managed to get without our detecting you.” From his position behind Scott’s chair the man darted his hand into Scott’s pocket and grabbed his phone, still recording. “This is disappointing, though. Bad form when we went to such lengths to invite you so nicely.”

Scott started rethinking his life choices. But rather than a pointless reflection in the face of an immediate end, he was presented with another choice.

“We would like you to help us learn how to evade such detection in the future.” It was a woman who spoke up now. Perhaps she’d seen his barely checked feelings on his face. “In exchange for this help you can choose between our protection as you go about your own investigations or you may join us. But you needn’t choose now.”

This is all to say, this is beginning of how Scott Walker became known in the industry of sensational rag reporting as “The Mutt.”

I hope you enjoyed our fun little story. Please feel free to use the above prompts to come up with something of your own. Comment below with where we can find your work!

~Anika

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