Teasers – Short Stories by Christene

Short Short { Meeting in Venice }

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 0 comments

Here is a short I published here on the blog a while back. In case you missed it the first time, enjoy! I’ll have more fresh material next week. Meeting in Venice Graham hurried inside the diner, tossing a hasty glance over his shoulder and fingering the microchip in his pocket. He had a matter of seconds before he would need to disappear. Scanning the room, a young waitress with her hands full of drinks caught his eye. Moving toward the kitchen he bumped into her, sloshing cola onto the floor. “I’m so sorry,” he apologized quickly. But the chip already rested in her apron pocket. She caught a fleeting glimpse as Graham slipped through the kitchen and disappeared into the alley. The busy diner kept Ali running the entire night, never noticing the chip smaller than a thumbnail, not even when a tiny red light flipped on and began to blink. Ali locked up after midnight, eager to get off tired feet and unwind with a good book. The wad of tips in her apron pocket made her steps light. Maybe her trip to Europe this summer wouldn’t be so bare bones after all. She was daydreaming of Venice while she cranked the engine. “Don’t move and don’t scream,” a deep voice said behind her. Ali’s scream would have been long and loud if not for the hand that cut it short. “I said not to scream!” the voice growled in her ear. Ali’s hand slammed down on the horn and when the man lunged for her to stop she pushed the door open and flung herself out of the car, running back toward the diner. Heavy footsteps were soon in pursuit and Ali felt herself beginning to panic when a car skidded to a stop inches from her. “Get in!” Graham yelled. In spite of her better reasoning Ali jumped into the car and slammed the door. Tires peeled as he raced away, leaving the man yelling after them. “That man was in my car!” Ali gasped, “I think he tried to rob me!” The car slid around a corner and raced through a dark alley, “I’m afraid that’s my fault,” Graham said, “You possess something of international importance.” Ali’s ears were rushing from the shock of her attack and the surge of adrenaline. She couldn’t be sure she heard him correctly. “What?!” “Nothing that can’t be remedied,” he said firmly, skidding through another hi speed turn while shooting glances at his rear view mirror. “First we’ve got to find out how they found you so quickly.” “Wait, who are you?” Ali shook her head trying to make sense of his words. “My identity is of no importance to you. You only need to know I work with the FBI in International Security,” he tossed a badge into her lap and Ali looked at it with trembling fingers. They pulled in beside an abandoned warehouse and Graham stopped the car. He crossed to her side and opened the door, offering his hand. Ali took it, “What does the FBI want from a struggling college student?” “Your financial status is of no importance to me,” Graham looked into her eyes, “Your apron if you please.” Still shocked, Ali untied it, kissing Tuscany goodbye. To her surprise the man...

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Short Short {A Typical Day}

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 1 comment

This Short idea came from my big brother Michael. “A mother who turns into a superhero while her kids are at school.” I wrote this after the Women’s Beach Volleyball game where China and the US battled to the end and during the balance beam finals. Got it out in forty-five minutes with another fifteen of revising, cutting down 38 words (500 is not much, I tell ya!) and perfecting. One down, another three to go in preparation for the Short Short Competition in September. Let me know what you think! Here you go…Just a Typical Day…. A Typical Day by Christene Houston Jes could feel the cold sweat of her captor dipping onto the ultra thin material of her suit. His breath came in quick gasps as she tightened the headlock around his neck. “Done?” she asked, her feet planted, thighs flexing against his struggling mass. “You’re dead, you stupid—“ his voice cut off as she flexed her bicep against his throat. “I’ve got all day,” she used a bored voice. An alarm trilled in the background, terrified bank patrons had scattered, sirens screamed. “However you’ve only got about 65 seconds before the Popo come with your new bracelets and limo… 25 before you pass out from lack of oxygen. How’s that gonna look to the boys back home?” The man’s eyes bulged and the veins in his head pulsed. She loosened her hold and immediately regretted it. He twisted, kicking to swipe at her legs and pull the trigger on a pistol yanked from his sock. But Jes was one step ahead. She credited her super speed but her mother’s intuition was even more astute. She’d been aware of her special powers since her teens when she blew her teammates off the track. But it was only after becoming a mother to three children that a second sight appeared, making her crime fighting easier than ever before. Not that she went looking for it. No, today she was depositing at the bank, cheerios in her pocket and a smudge of peanut butter on her jeans. But that intuition made her look up when the thickly set man with a shuffling step moved through the bank line ahead of her. No one noticed her lightning fast change into the suit made especially for these moments, ultra thin, compact and most importantly – indestructible. 2.5 seconds later the room erupted in shrieks, a gun swung around and Jes had his stocky neck in her grasp. Now Jes spun and jumped, kicking her attacker in the gut right at the diaphragm, expelling oxygen, spittle and a stream of grunting swear words she’d never let her children listen to. Jes’ slender figure completed the kick with a flat hand to the face. It looked like a tap but contained carefully controlled power that blackened both eyes and clicked off the lights so that he fell in a crumpled heap at her feet, his finger still on the trigger. Carefully kicking the gun across the floor, Jes took one last glance around the room before joining the group huddled outside the bank, back in peanut butter stained jeans, watching the police barrel through the front doors. Four hours later she swiped a strand of black hair from deep blue eyes and clicked...

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Short Short Practice

Posted by on Aug 1, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 3 comments

This September…the day after my amazing Book Release Party (Sept. 7!!) there is going to be a fun Short Short Story Competition. It involves 20 writers, 500 words, a subject you don’t know until you get there, and 90 minutes. Let’s be honest, I tend to be long winded. It’s in my bones. Or lungs…or maybe fingertips since they do most of the talking around here. So I’m practicing. Ninety minutes. A random subject chosen by YOU and my imagination to make it take flight. You guys have been AWESOME! I have a list of subjects to work on that I’ve blended together in a hat. I pull one out, set the timer and let the words fly. All my practice shorts will be published here for your enjoyment every Wednesday in August (starting NEXT week). I can’t wait to share what comes...

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The Last Day of Gabriel Michael Donovan {Short Story}

Posted by on Feb 6, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 5 comments

This is the last of my short story submissions. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I loved writing them. This one is perhaps my favorite….. The Last Day of Gabriel Michael Donovan The life of Gabriel Michael Donovan came to a peaceful end a short eighteen years from its commencement. Grace saw it coming during vigorous treatments for leukemia that took his curly brown hair and wasted his muscles. Yet she was still unprepared when his final days arrived.  Gabe’s last wishes were unorthodox, but so was Gabe. Forgoing the usual suit, pallbearers were asked to wear their soccer jerseys from the team he led to nationals. Instrumental music was supplanted by tunes from his favorite band. No one was allowed to wear black and only one bunch of flowers decorated his coffin. The rest were candy bar bouquets. The biggest difference was the home video that began after an opening hymn. [MORE] Grace dug her fingernails into her palm to keep from sobbing when her son’s face appeared larger than life before the crowd. “Greetings,” Gabe began and then laughed, “Just kidding. We all know this is weird. But hey it’s my funeral. I knew it was coming. In fact this morning while I was praying I got the news…..This is my last day.” He paused, looking off into the distance. Wiping tears from his eyes and clearing his throat he continued, “This isn’t how I wanted it to go down….We all know that. But I’m not in charge. That’s one lesson I learned during this fight. The other is that no matter when it comes we’ll all have one last day. It’s up to us how we spend it. Let me tell you what I did with mine.” A profound silence fell over the group, many of whom were youth from his ward, stake and school. A line of cheerleaders made up the second row, all in uniform. Brothers from his quorum sat behind them. His large family and extended family filled up the front rows and more. All leaned forward in unified curiosity. “They say this life is about experiences. A lot of those experiences can bring regrets. There’s not much we can do to change that, but sometimes we get the chance to right a wrong. Mason Johnson was the best forward there was on our junior high team. In ninth grade, the coach decided to move him to my advantage. I got the spot and he got the shaft. Neither of us knew why that happened at the time, but our friendship ended that year…ended because I let it go without speaking up….” Gabe’s voice cracked and he took a deep breath, “I let myself be selfish and ruined an important friendship.” “Today, I saw Mason for the first time in four years outside of playing on opposing teams. Like I said then, Mase, I’m sorry for not being a better friend. I’m sorry I let you down, man.” Mason wiped tears from his eyes during the pause that followed and said loud enough for everyone to hear, “It’s alright, man. We’re cool.” Gabe’s video continued. “Meagan Shelly, I think I better apologize to you too.” A blush crept over his sunken cheeks as he spoke. “But I had to get...

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Mothers Are Born in Love

Posted by on Jan 30, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 2 comments

This is the second story from the 1000 word short story competition. It’s one that deals with an issue that has hit so close to home for many of my loved ones and friends. Mothers Are Born In Love Amy staggered to the rocking chair, her strength spent. The worst of the cramps were past, the bleeding slowed, but nothing could staunch the flow of despair at the loss of her fourth pregnancy. None made it past 20 weeks despite fervent prayers, fasts, and priesthood blessings. Now she sat rocking and wondering why God refused to grant her deepest desire – to be a mother. After sobbing herself hoarse in the shower, Amy crawled into bed. The intensity of her despair kept her from kneeling. She needed to pray now more than ever, but her heart was shattered and the loss hung over her heavily.  It was only after her eyes finally closed that she felt a tap on her shoulder.  She turned quickly and saw Camille, a sister in her ward and mother of five wiggly, wonderful children. Camille was the absolute poster child of what Amy longed to be. Beautiful, trim and with arms full of babies that seemed to appear there effortlessly. Tonight she was dressed in a simple white robe. Secretly Amy could hardly talk to her for jealousy, but Camille was always friendly, which only made Amy feel worse than ever. But here in her dreams tonight with the pain of loss so raw in her chest, there were no holds barred. “What do you want,” she snapped at Camille. If Camille was shocked by Amy’s rudeness she didn’t show it.  “I’m here to show you your children,” Camille said, motioning for Amy to follow. “What?!” Amy scrambled after her, her heart racing. Looking down below them, Camille pointed. Amy hurried to her side. A group of little children sat in a church classroom. Amy’s heart deflated. She recognized them as her CTR 5 class. “Those aren’t my children,” she said bitterly, turning away. She loved her little class, but it wasn’t the same. Camille stepped toward her, tapping her forehead gently. “See,” she said. Suddenly Amy was no longer in the darkness with Camille, but standing in the foyer of little Alice’s house.  “Goodbye, honey. I have to go to work now.” Alice’s mother waved aside the drawing in Alice’s tiny hands and gave quick instructions to the teenaged babysitter before rushing out the door. The moment it closed the teen plugged her earbuds in and plopped on the couch, phone in hand. Alice sighed, taking her picture to her room where a photo of her and Amy sat on the dresser. It was a simple Christmas gift that Amy had passed out months before. “Look Sis. Marshall. You always love my drawings.” She told her beloved Primary teacher all about her artwork. Amy watched, her heart squeezing painfully. She’d never considered the impact she had on her little students or what her attention meant to them when they felt lonely. Yet her heart ached. “But they’re not mine!” she said, “They’re not mine, not really!” “Who becomes the family of Christ but those who love Him,” Camille said. Amy closed her eyes against bitter tears. When she opened them again she was...

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A Spy for Helaman

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 0 comments

Here is the first of the stories submitted for the contest. I enjoyed writing these stories and look forward to sharing them with you! Let me know what you think: A Spy for Helaman   “Aw, Grandma, do I have to read my scriptures?” Adam moaned. “What’s the trouble?” Grandma sank down on the bed. “They’re so boring!” he leaned forward to share his secret, “At home I put a book inside and read that instead.” “Ah, crafty,” Grandma tussled her 9 year old grandson’s hair affectionately. “How about a chapter in exchange for chocolate milk?” “Okay,” Adam sighed. He chose the shortest chapter he could and raced through it. “Done already?” Grandma appeared at the door with a cup in her hand. “I’m a fast reader.” “Well, here you go. Chocolate milk with just a pinch of magic.” Adam took the cup, tipping his head to one side, “I’m too old for magic, Grandma.” Grandma only smiled, “Good thing I’m not.”  Tonight his milk was extra sweet. When it was done, Adam drifted off to sleep only to be woken by the clanging of a bell. Someone shook his shoulder. “The Lamanites are upon us!” Before he could collect his thoughts he was hauled out of bed and hurried into the predawn morning. The young man beside him took him by the shoulders. “Brother do not fear. Remember mother’s words. God is our protector.” The boy rushed Adam to a tent nearby. The camp was bustling to life. Young men all around him strapped on breast plates and swords. He felt sure this must be a strange dream. And yet he could hear the whinies of horses nearby, feel the pounding of feet running around him, and see the swell of sunlight on the horizon. He had never seen such grave and determined faces as those on the boys around him. In the tent Adam stopped with the boy who had called him brother. “Father,” the boy said. A tall strongly built man turned. His face was solemn and yet Adam felt comfort in his presence. “Thank you, my son.” The man turned to Adam, “Your mission is to bring us a count of the Lamanite Army. We need to know what we’re up against.” “O-okay,” Adam stammered. The man placed a large hand on his shoulder, “I invoke the blessings of God upon you, my son. Go under His protection.” The boy beside Adam nodded, “We’ll send the message as soon as possible, Father.” Outside the tent Adam hurried after the boy, his mind whirling. The camp was emptying of soldiers as they hurried into the forest, the sound of horns calling the armies to battle filling the air.  “Who was that?” Adam asked. The boy shot him a curious glance. “Our father Helaman of course…leader of our army.” The name sounded familiar but it took a while of running through the dark forest for Adam to remember. “Oh yeah, the story of the Stripling Warriors,” he said. The boy didn’t reply until they came to an extremely tall tree. He began to climb. “Over two thousand of our brothers and thousands more Nephite soldiers depend on our news. Come on.” Adam was a good tree climber. He followed the boy to the top of the forest...

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Meeting in Venice

Posted by on Jan 23, 2012 in My Blog Posts, Short Stories | 6 comments

As promised, here is the story I wrote for the Mormon Lit Blitz Contest that I didn’t submit (sent in three others). All these had to be 1000 words or less. I wrote this thinking of all my friends who enjoy a good adventure with a little spice of romance. Let me know what you think! Enjoy! Meeting in Venice Graham hurried inside the diner, tossing a hasty glance over his shoulder and fingering the microchip in his pocket. He had a matter of seconds before he would need to disappear. Scanning the room, a young waitress with her hands full of drinks caught his eye. Moving toward the kitchen he bumped into her, sloshing cola onto the floor. “I’m so sorry,” he apologized quickly. But the chip already rested in her apron pocket. She caught a fleeting glimpse as Graham slipped through the kitchen and disappeared into the alley. The busy diner kept Ali running the entire night, never noticing the chip smaller than a thumbnail, not even when a tiny red light flipped on and began to blink.  Ali locked up after midnight, eager to get off tired feet and unwind with a good book. The wad of tips in her apron pocket made her steps light. Maybe her trip to Europe this summer wouldn’t be so bare bones after all. She was daydreaming of Venice while she cranked the engine. “Don’t move and don’t scream,” a deep voice said behind her. Ali’s scream would have been long and loud if not for the hand that cut it short. “I said not to scream!” the voice growled in her ear. Ali’s hand slammed down on the horn and when the man lunged for her to stop she pushed the door open and flung herself out of the car, running back toward the diner. Heavy footsteps were soon in pursuit and Ali felt herself beginning to panic when a car skidded to a stop inches from her. “Get in!” Graham yelled. In spite of her better reasoning Ali jumped into the car and slammed the door. Tires peeled as he raced away, leaving the man yelling after them. “That man was in my car!” Ali gasped, “I think he tried to rob me!” The car slid around a corner and raced through a dark alley, “I’m afraid that’s my fault,” Graham said, “You possess something of international importance.” Ali’s ears were rushing from the shock of her attack and the surge of adrenaline. She couldn’t be sure she heard him correctly. “What?!” “Nothing that can’t be remedied,” he said firmly, skidding through another hi speed turn while shooting glances at his rear view mirror. “First we’ve got to find out how they found you so quickly.” “Wait, who are you?” Ali shook her head trying to make sense of his words. “My identity is of no importance to you. You only need to know I work with the FBI in International Security,” he tossed a badge into her lap and Ali looked at it with trembling fingers. They pulled in beside an abandoned warehouse and Graham stopped the car. He crossed to her side and opened the door, offering his hand. Ali took it, “What does the FBI want from a struggling college student?” “Your financial status is...

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