The May Contest is still underway. You still have until May 15 to write an ending to my story “Mayday” and enter.
In the meantime, all this week I’m sharing the finalist stories from the April Contest. Today’s featured finalist is Sarah Parker.
Sarah’s ending puts a whole new spin on the story with family ties and a master manipulator.
If you have already read the story beginning or the winning version of the story with a beginning and ending, then you’re ready to read this different ending by Sarah. Remember, in our story, the bold cat burglar has broken into the Lasones’ penthouse suite, nabbed the lavalier from the safe, and hidden it inside her catsuit, hanging from a hook on her necklace.
In my pack, I have a party dress that slides easily over my catsuit. I also have a cat mask. A little inside joke. But the costume serves a practical purpose. It hides my real features from cameras, whether they be security cameras or cameras carried by partiers. After all, I’m still on parole and I can’t be seen at this party.
I also have five mailer pouches in my pack. When I reach the party outside, all I have to do is find five of my plants wearing orange vests. There should be ten people wearing orange vests, so five should be easy to find. Then all I have to do is hand off my envelopes and make my exit.
The slider tube is in M. Lasone’s smaller closet behind a parquet door. I type in the code, step in, and glide down the brightly lit tube for 16 floors.
by Sarah Parker
Going down 16 floors, I trip-activate memory lane. Backstory’s so important. I highly recommend knowing what forces shaped you.
I discovered the back door of the guest room closet with Henri when he was invited to stay. The ‘rents kept him near them, of course. Hadn’t yet decided which daughter he was worthy of, and neither of us wanted them to catch us fooling around with boy toy. Didn’t figure they’d allow for choice. Life had always been so planned, and I’ve always craved that element of . . . surprise. Guess I’ve let my roots show.
That sophomore-year shindig that got me busted and brought before a judge? Nothing compared to the mess tomorrow will reveal. I’ll advise everyone to avoid broken glass when they enter, but I’m sure some drunkards will dabble blood about the place. Let’s just call that abstract art, eh, Lasones? Masterful stuff is extracted at a cost. And most know talk is cheap. Except therapists.
Should take Daddy Dearest and Mama Meanest at least 2 years to recoup. The family, that nuclear cluster, will know well enough it was me, though I never did count among their members. Mama knew I wasn’t her own, refused to claim me, allowed father to forge his stories of charity. Yea, those contributors.
Society only saw the runaway, the taken-in rogue. I like to consider myself the diamond in the rough. Always been tempted to possess and pocket gems.
There’s a man waiting at the bottom for me. Shoot!
“Seems you’ve finally found your niche. Welcome home, daughter. Now, I’ve some other safes I want to teach you. Their materials will be more of a challenge.”
He turns, walks into the night’s darkness, knowing I will follow. Intrigue kept me around the family, hovering, a shadow in their world.
“Where’s mother? Won’t she care I’ve got my paws on her precious?”
He stops, turns again. Stares at my chest. I can feel his eyes, even though I only dimly see him.
His stare pierces my mind, too. As if he knows I linked the stolen chain to my own. How could he have orchestrated this, too? I mean, I’ve known he’s a master manipulator, but . . .
“She’s not part of this. And I can buy her a new trinket. Consider it your copy.”
“I’m no copy. I’m an original,” I remind him.
He smiles. The same wicked grin stretches across my face.
The maid who’d been supplying my information slips out of shadows to join us.
“Danika, meet your mother.”
It makes more sense why she’d been so willing to help me. Why she hadn’t blinked at the sum I’d managed to siphon off the trust account father set up on the sly. She knew full well the source and how much more there must be, if he could replace the crown jewel without blinking an eye.
I look them both over, then ask, “What now?”
She takes her earpiece out, drops it to the ground, crunches it underfoot. I follow suit.
Sarah Parker is a writer of short stories, poetry, and academic writing. She has contributed stories to the first two volumes of Tales of the Year Between, an anthology of collaborative, speculative fiction published by Skullgate Media, and also to The New Normal: A Zombie Anthology, edited by Nikki Mitchell. You can follow her on Twitter at @isparkit. Please send her some congratulations and let her know what you liked about her story.