A blog where Stephanie M. Belser test-drives her fictional stories.
Expect the occasional
"stall, spin, crash & burn".

Friday, March 18, 2011


(Flash-fiction challenge)

Our ship winked out into normal space.  I didn’t barf this time around.  Sometimes I do.  My partner wasn’t so lucky.

I raised Port Control at Garmain Central.  They had no record of a flight plan for us and would have scrambled what passes for their defensive systems if I hadn’t sent them the verification codes.  The alarms were probably going out everywhere, not that it would do any good.  The techs on the Intel Deck had tapped into their comm grids well before they knew we were there.  Port Control said that it would be two hours before they were ready to receive us and they added some choice words about showing up in the middle of the night, local time.

I didn’t acknowledge any of that.  What I did do was tell the duty pilot to start down right the fuck now and to put the defensive systems on quick-react.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blood on the Snow, Chapter 3

    Lena told the boys that it was all right to go there, but they had to be back in a couple of hours.  Jason and Kyle went to put their snowmobile suits on and get the machines ready. 

    She then went into the kitchen and asked if she could take the reports with her for copying.  Mrs. Johnson smiled.  “I thought you might want a set.,” she said as she opened up a cupboard and pulled out a large manila envelope and handed it to Lena.  “You can just leave the other copies on the table.”

    Lena thanked her.  She gathered up her stuff, went to the mudroom and put on her outer clothes. The boys were pushing the snowmobiles out of a barn as she walked to her airplane.  She put her stuff back into the airplane, but she kept her camera.  After a few seconds thought, she took the GPS from the docking station in the panel.  Both the camera and the GPS went into inner pockets to keep them warm, As she closed the door, she heard one, then the second snowmobile start.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Project

(Another flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig)

The Project

    The hotel was an old brick building, nine stories tall.  It looked like something that could have been built in Stalingrad in the 1930s. It took up a quarter of a block of prime real estate on Lakeside Avenue.  The last guest had checked out during the Kucinich Administration.   To my knowledge, nobody went near the hotel building.  The building was untouched by graffiti artists and taggers. Not even a window had been broken.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Irregular Creatures

(Answering this challenge)

    I caught the call at 7PM, three hours before I was to go off shift.  “Dead body, possible murder” was all that Dispatch told me. 

    Great.  I pulled my SigSauer from my desk, got up, holstered the piece, grabbed my “go kit,” put on my coat and headed out.  No partner, budget cutbacks took care of that.  The only time you roll nowadays with another badge is when it is a heavy takedown or ESU is coming along.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blood on the Snow, Chapter 2

    Five days later, Lena called the Johnson’s ranch to let them know that she was going to come out to visit.  Mrs. Johnson said that was fine, that Jason was at home, but that they had had a foot of snow the day before, that the roads were not plowed and that the only two ways to the ranch were by snowmobile or by an airplane with skis.  Lena said that was fine and Mrs. Johnson told her the state designation for the airstrip, adding that it was only 200 feet from the airstrip to the house.  Lena said that if the weather cleared, she’d be out tomorrow.  The forecast was good, so she put together her research kit.  It contained a laptop, a digital camera, a hand-held scanner (you draw it down a page), a steno pad, a little leather case that held a small selection of office supplies, a sketchbook, a tape measure and some pens and pencils.

    The next day was bright clear and cold.  Lena was at the local airport just after sunrise with her research kit, an overnight bag in case the weather soured, and her emergency kit.  The electrical engine and cabin heaters had been switched on hours earlier to heat the airplane. Lena did her preflight and then pulled the airplane, a well-kept Cessna 170, from its hangar.  She was soon on her way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blood on the Snow, Chapter 1

Note: This is very much a work in progress. None of the locations exist in real life, not even the state where the story is set.


Lena stopped at the diner down the street from her office. She sat down at the counter and ignored the menus. The waitress behind the counter poured a cup of coffee without asking if that was what Lena wanted. “The usual, hon,” she asked.

Lena nodded. She pulled a paperback book from her laptop case and opened it to the bookmarker page. In a few minutes, the waitress slid a plate with one egg and two slices of whole-wheat toast next to the book. In keeping with Lena’s preferences, she slid a check, face down, next to the plate.

She ate her breakfast as though the meal was an obligation to be endured, rather than a break in the day to be enjoyed. Many of the other diners were also reading, but they seemed to be using some variant of an electronic device to do so. Maybe they were more efficient, but how does one make notes in the margin, she wondered. How does one give someone an autographed copy of an e-book? She had a few books in her home library that were purchased by her great-grandfather when he was a student before the First World War; will anyone ever pass down an e-book from one generation to the next? She doubted that very much.

Face it, Lena mused, you’re part Luddite. Not that there is anything wrong with technology, but there are times that the old ways and methods were better. She still used film cameras for much of her work, because negatives were a lot more difficult to forge. She had gone into mourning when Kodachrome was discontinued. Digital was too easy; she knew of at least one cop who had done prison time for perjury when the defense attorney was able to prove that both the digital image had been manipulated and that it had been shot a month before the cop had testified it had been taken.

Lena finished her breakfast and put down the payment without waiting for the check. If they had raised the price, she’d make good on that tomorrow or the next time she was in. She put on her coat and gloves. It was rather cold outside, the temperature had climbed just over the zero (F) mark Snow was piled along the curb in berms that were about five feet high. It made pulling out of parking lots a bit of a gamble. There was a street behind the diner’s parking lot that Lena used to get back to the main road. She drove an older Subaru Legacy, all-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive, was almost a requirement this time of year. Subarus were almost the official car of local residents who didn’t want to drive SUVs or pickup trucks.

She made it back to the main road, although she was almost clipped by a big-ass SUV in the parking lot. That bozo’s Escalade’s windows were almost completely obscured by snow and ice. She wondered if he had a scraper in his $50,000 egomobile, probably not as the SUV bore Alabama plates. What the hell was some cracker from Alabama doing this far north, she briefly wondered. It’s not as though there was any good skiing around here and the SUV did not have a ski rack. It was really none of her business.

Hidden Witness

This is a completed work, you can find a link to buy it on the right side of this blog. I'm posting the first chapter as a teaser.


Chapter 1

The house was in a ritzy area of McLean, Virginia. It was a townhouse, but that word doesn't begin to describe a place that costs ten times or more than mine. Toss in the wall around the place, the gate with an armed guard, and the private police patrols; you have a place that might be called "Money!" instead of the pseudo-French name that it carried. The guard didn't jump to attention when I drove up, but he didn't open fire, either. Being invited has its advantages.

The invitation was delivered by a uniformed messenger, but he didn't refuse the tip I offered. The invitation itself rode in a buff-colored envelope. It read: Mrs. Frederick Soweby respectfully requests your presence at eleven AM tomorrow. Keeping the invitation company was a set of directions and ten one hundred dollar bills that looked as if they had come directly from the presses. I wasn't overly thrilled to see the messenger, he came damn early and I had a hangover. The sight of all that green cheered me right up.


I am starting this blog as a place where I can post stories as I complete segments of them. I tend to gravitate towards mysteries of the hard-boiled genre. So expect that there will be moments of blood.

Pretty much everything that I post will suffer from a lack of proofreading and editing. So this is very much a work in progress. It may also be that I lose interest in a story and drop it for awhile, if not forever.