Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Fiction for March 13, 2009

Friday Fiction is being hosted this week by Rhonda, on her blog, Beach Reads. Head down to the beach and let Mr. Linky bring you some wonderful stories.

I’ve joked before that my characters don’t leave me alone for long, and the characters from Precocious by Design are no exception. My co-worker Jan has been asking when I was going to write a sequel to that story ever since he finished reading it, and when he learned this week that I’d started on one, he hoped I would ignore work and spend extra time writing on it.

Tempting; very tempting. I’d much rather write than do pretty much any of the tasks on my queue at work. Then again, there are a lot of things I’d rather do than work, not the least of which is sleeping-in later than the crack of dawn.

Precocious by Consent will be book # 10 for me. So far, I have the prologue and about half of chapter 1 written. For Friday Fiction this week, I’m posting the Prologue, and it gives a pretty good hint at the general direction the story is going to take. As a reminder, Lloyd Timmons has a quirk of carrying on imaginary conversations with the victims whose murders he investigates. Ilsa was the victim from the first story, and she has become something of a persistence voice in these internal dialogues.

Precocious by Consent
Tuesday afternoon

“Who called it in?” Lt. Lloyd Timmons asked, approaching the group of law enforcement personnel.

“The lady over there,” the patrol officer answered. “She came out to get in her car, and found the body here next to it.”

“What do we know already?” his partner, Lt. Paula Hanson, asked.

“Whoever did this wanted her found,” the officer replied, and pointed down at the body. “Take a look, detectives.”

The victim was stretched out in the space between the car and the parking structure wall, face down. Her hands and feet were tied with clothing, and the head turned to the side revealed the makeshift gag stuffed in her mouth. Words were written across her back, and Lloyd kneeled down to look.

“Is that what I think it is?” Paula asked.

He nodded, feeling a wave of disgust run through him, followed by a touch of nausea. “The writing is carved into her back.”

She swore, with a barely audible comment about what she would like to do to the perpetrator of the atrocity. “Can you read what it says?”

“It says, ‘Tough luck, Powell. Your mistake cost two deaths.’”

“Who’s Powell?”

“I don’t know, and I’m wondering if there’s another body close by.” He looked around. “Is the ME here yet?”

“They’re on the way,” the officer said.

Lloyd looked around at the ceiling. “Does this structure have security cameras?”

“We’ve got a guy tracking down the security office already. If they’ve got video, we should have it whenever you’re ready to look at, lieutenant.”

“Good; what about an area search?”

“It’s already started. We have officers checking out the rest of the structure and the surrounding area for anything that might be of interest.”

An unmarked car pulled up with the flashing strobes in the grill. Two men in dark suits got out, and approached them. “Where’s the body?” one of them asked.

“Over here, but before I let you near it, can I ask who you are?” Lloyd said.

They pulled out their ID’s. “Agent Powell and Agent Weiderman, FBI. We’re on the Facenet Killer task force.”

Lloyd checked the ID’s and nodded. “If you’re Powell, then this is definitely your case. Check the writing on the victim’s back.”

The two agents knelt by the body and read the message. Powell swore and made a frustrated gesture, while Weiderman started examining the scene from different angles.

“Is there another body we should be looking for, Agent Powell?” Lloyd asked.

“Somewhere, but it’s not going to be easy to find. We received a note this morning hinting this was coming; when the call went out to your department, we headed up here as well.” He stood up and pulled a photo from his pocket. Two girls stared at the camera with terrified expressions. “The girl on the right is this victim, Celia Moore. The girl on the left is Lara Schumacher.” There was a mixture of anger and regret in his voice. "Celia was thirteen; Lara was twelve."

Lloyd looked from the photo to the body. “He tied up this victim with the other girl’s clothing.” He drew a deep breath. “What mistake is he referring to, Agent?”

“This guy gets his victims from the internet, particularly from social sites like Facenet. We had an agent posing as a girl on Facenet, hoping to catch him or any other predator that might be prowling the site. Somehow or another, he caught on to her.”

“What makes you think he figured her out?” Paula asked.

“Her alias on Facenet was Lara Moore. He chose these two girls to show us that he knew who she was.” He shook his head. “We don’t know how he does it, but he manages to figure out who’s really a kid and who isn’t.”

“I’m betting he’s thorough,” Lloyd said. “He’s checking for other sources to confirm the identity of who he’s stalking.”

“That pretty much sums it up. We thought we had a rock solid cover for our agent, but obviously, he found the hole in it. It’s been suggested we use an actual child to lure him out, but I wouldn’t dangle my daughter as bait in front of this guy, and I can’t imagine any decent parent that would.”

Can I help you, detective?

This isn’t a good time, Ilsa.

Oh, I think it’s the perfect time. I’m here with Celia, and we have an idea for you.

This isn’t my case anymore. The Feds have it.

In that case, it won’t hurt to hear us out, then.

Okay, I’ll bite; what’s your idea?

You need a child to catch this monster, but you cannot use a child. Can you use someone, though, who is very good at pretending to be a child?

No; I couldn’t ask her to do that.

Could you, if that were your daughter lying there?

That’s not fair, Ilsa.

Celia says to ask her mother if it’s fair. Go ahead, lieutenant; tell Celia and Lara’s parents that you cannot ask for the help you need, and see what they say.

Fine; I’ll bring up the idea, and if the Feds like it, I’ll ask her. I don’t expect her to agree, though.

She’ll agree. I know she will.

How do you know that?

Because she is just as much a performer as I was, and I would have taken the role – even without meeting Celia here.


Julie Arduini said...

I'm with your co worker! Wish you could get paid at work and write. I love the premise and it's like I'm right on the scene. Great prologue!

Laury said...

Great prologue. I'm ready to read the rest now. Thank you for sharing.

Sara Harricharan said...

Oooh man! Now I know what I keep forgetting to ask you, lolz. Checky your email. ^_^

This was an awesome set here, I loved it! I especially liked the converstaion between the two and I was MAD to read about what they'd done to that girl. Great stuff again, Hoomi!

Dee Yoder said...

Oh wow--so intriguing. I read your post from last week, too, which I didn't get to read before today and, boy! What a story-teller you are! Love this series, too. You're just gonna HAVE to get yourself an agent and get published 'cause all these books are too good! They need to be on my shelf--right beside Cardon's Pod.

Joanne Sher said...

So intrigued by these characters. I was so ready to read the rest!

Patty Wysong said...

I've got some ideas of what to do with the creep (I'm being nice) once he's caught (That's when I WON'T be nice!!!!) Oh man. He WILL be caught, won't he?

How long until you retire from your job?

Catrina Bradley said...

Good stuff, Hoomi. I'm hooked by the prolog and I'm ready for more!