A Day of Reckoning

 

Eric Lahti, a fellow author, blogger and member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group on Facebook produced a challenge.

He suggested a short story of around 1,000 words inspired by the graphic used below.

My response was ‘A Day of Reckoning‘, a story of honour and vengeance.

***

Red Light District pic

Monday, 15th February 2010
Glasgow, Scotland

Lei Mei arrived into Glasgow Airport at 7am and made her way to the city using the shuttle bus service. It was impersonal transport, so she wouldn’t be noticed. She wore no makeup, and maintained an impassive expression.

The 30-year-old walked to Buchanan Street, where she found a busy early morning cafe. She ordered a traditional meal, with tea, and avoided making small talk. At her table, Lei used the map on her phone to locate her destination. It would take ten minutes to reach on public transport, or thirty minutes on foot. She walked.

Lei strolled along Sauchiehall Street, and chose a department store where there would be a washroom. Unlike most international travellers, the bag she carried over her shoulder contained all her needs. It held makeup, underwear, three changes of outfit, and travel documents.

On her departure through the store, both men and women gave her approving looks. Her long hair was centre-parted and brushed so it cascaded over her shoulders like a sheet of black silk. False lashes and makeup enhanced her natural oriental beauty. She wore a bright yellow blouse and black mini-skirt, complemented with black high heels.

It took her a further twenty minutes to reach her destination. She arrived in Cowcaddens and assessed the modern six-storey block as she approached. At a bus shelter less than 50 metres from the building, an old Chinaman in vibrant traditional dress waited alone. He had a straggly grey beard, and his long hair hung in a pigtail down his back.

Lei stepped into the bus shelter, glanced at the advertising posters, and then stared at the bus route timetable without reading. She half-turned to the old man to speak.

“Do you use this route often, wise one?”

He stood in regal pose, arms folded across his body, and hands inside the wide cuffs of the opposite arm.

“I walk,” the man said. “I prefer the light, and do not act in the darkness.”

“On occasion, we are compelled to act in the darkness,” Lei said. “I have no choice.”

The old man closed his eyes, and nodded imperceptibly. He handed Lei a wrapped item, and in exchange accepted her shoulder bag.

Lei’s ruby lips twitched. She gave a slight bow, turned and walked away.

Half an hour later, Lei revisited the old man at the bus shelter. His wrinkled face broke into a brief smile on her return.

“Use the subway,” he suggested, returning her shoulder bag. “Stay strong and true, child of Mei Bhei.”

*

Manchester, England

It was early evening, raining and chilly when Lei arrived into Manchester city centre. While on the train, she’d removed her makeup, and tied her hair back in a ponytail. The smart costume was replaced by the drab outfit, lightweight coat and stout shoes.

She left Manchester Piccadilly Station, and made her way towards Chinatown.

In a small newsagent’s close to Faulkner Street, Lei met a Chinaman. He was similar to the man she’d met in Glasgow, but was older, wearier and used a cane. He exchanged a small package for Lei’s shoulder bag.

He said, “Remain strong.”

Following her second meeting of the day, Lei was again greeted with a smile when she retrieved her bag.

“May honour guide you, child of Mei Bhei.”

She smiled briefly, nodded, and was gone.

*

London, England

Lei caught a late evening train from Manchester and ate on the journey. When she reached Soho she was tired. She was wearing makeup again, and had changed into an attractive outfit, just like Glasgow and Manchester.

She left the meeting in Soho as a downpour began. Lei stopped at a late-night store to buy an umbrella. She used one hand to button her coat, as she hurried to Tottenham Court Road tube station to retrieve her floral bag.

A glance over her shoulder confirmed two figures following her, but she had difficulty walking faster in heels.

*

Tuesday, 16th February 2010
New Scotland Yard,
London, England

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Flynn pulled on latex gloves to inspect the mysterious parcel which had been delivered overnight. He placed the contents on his desk, and lifted the envelope. Harry removed the two sheets of paper and read aloud.

“DCI Flynn,
My father was Chief Inspector Mei Bhei. He was your mentor during your attachment to the Hong Kong Police Department in 2008. One month ago Mei Bhei was kidnapped, tortured and left to die in an alleyway.

Three key Triad figures orchestrated the kidnapping and subsequent events. The perpetrators had been invited to Hong Kong from their operational bases in the UK.

You will find these men in Glasgow, Manchester and London. I have executed them, and in each case, I cut out the tongue and replaced it with the testicles. Each man bled to death.

I have provided you with appropriate details to avoid lengthy investigations and enquiries. Before you, there will be a floral shoulder bag, two sealed bags, each containing a blade with traces of victim’s DNA.

Attached to this letter is a list of the dead men and their addresses. You will also have my three counterfeit passports, and list of airports used on my extended route from Hong Kong to the UK.

If I didn’t retrieve my bag following the third execution, it means I was unable to avoid detection. These people contacted each other regularly for their own protection, so I had to deal with all three within 24 hours.

On the attached sheet is a band-aid which carries my DNA. My body will be left in a public place.

Anybody touching my bag used the strap, which will now be missing from the bag, so my assistants are untraceable.

Please, do not waste resources looking for my murderers.

Lei Mei Bhei, Detective Inspector
Hong Kong Police Department”

*

The intercom buzzed.

“Sir,” the assistant said. “A young woman’s body has been discovered in Soho.”

DCI Flynn closed his eyes. “Bastards!”

***

Are you a Writer, or a Blogger?

News and Projects - 120715
Are you a blogger who writes, or a writer who blogs?
If I had to make a choice, I would know instantly where I stood.

*

What’s the difference?  

To my way of thinking, if somebody told you that you could only do one or the other, then you’d fall into one of two categories:

* The writer will take about three milliseconds to glance at the title page of their blog. They’ll have several images of the links to their favourite online friends and recollect a few wonderful articles and images as they say a fond farewell to all of it.

* The blogger will look at the title page of their blog. They will have a lot of images of the links to their favourite online friends and recollect an abundance of wonderful articles and images.
The blogger will have fleeting memories of stories, articles and posts they’ve written, then have a tea or coffee as they ponder what is most important to them – writing, or blogging?

*

Is it really that simple – that brutal?

Yes, dear reader, I believe that it is.

You don’t think so? Check the title of this post.

What was your immediate response?

liebster_award[1]

What’s my point?

I’m dealing with a journey where the only baggage is emotional.

I’ve been on a long trip, and there have been two stages of revelation recently where this subject came clearly to mind.

The first revelation was when I elected to take part in a blog-related promotion. Having said I would take part, I then felt I had to step back from it. That was regrettable – mainly because I’d broken my word, but also because I had originally wanted to be involved.

Why did I abandon the blog promotion?

I re-evaluated the time I’d spend away from two major writing projects – and I had to be true to myself.

The second revelation was this morning as I re-worked a passage whilst updating my author website. I arrived at my destination, checked over my baggage and found the following items:

* One large case of wishing I had more time to respond to the lovely people who follow this blog.

* A small bag of regret that there are still those folk out there who will follow a blog, simply to be followed.

* A portfolio of online conversations with like-minded souls who write for many reasons, and who on occasion get in touch to apologise for not reading and commenting on my blog often enough.

* A trunk full of guilt for the number of times when I start scrolling through the list of fifty blogs that I follow, only to find myself abandoning the cause to get back to that chapter I wanted to rewrite.

* A satchel full of notes, ideas and headings for blogs that I might never write, because I’m too busy completing a story.

On my trolley of baggage there are many more containers, but the detail of their contents would only become boring, so you’ll have to trust me on that score. It’s a heavy load.

*

Are those who blog not also writers?

Yes, but they are writers who have chosen a different path. They are writers by the very fact that they maintain a blog.
They are not primarily storytellers. For the blogger, those activities are a secondary activity.
The blogger looks at their blog as social media.
The writer looks at their blog as a marketing tool.

An Amazon Author Page

An Amazon Author Page

Will I continue to blog?

Yes, of course I will, and hope that at least some of those I do work hard to follow will understand my motivation – the need to produce stories, much more of the time than I spend checking out the thoughts, opinions and dreams of others.

Yes, that is a selfish attitude, but what more would you expect of a person who spends the majority of their time in their own company – through choice.

Don’t worry, that was a rhetorical question.

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Later today, I will once again set my timer and attempt to read about ten of the fifty blogs I follow.
Thank you as always for the patience it takes to negotiate one of my literary rallies.

Any comments are welcome.

***

Z … is for Zoom in.

Z[1] is for zoom in. This is my first attempt at the A to Z Challenge, and although at times it was hard work, I feel that I’ve been rewarded in several ways. The best way I can demonstrate my appreciation to the organisers, moderators and my fellow participants is to give them a big thank you.

It feels appropriate that I should do it by way of highlighting them here. Among my list are a couple of good sites I found during my blog patrols, so although not participants, they were worth finding.

The list below is in no particular order apart from the first person, who I believe played a huge part in the success of the overall project.

A handful of the blogs I followed through April, which includes participants and non-participants:

http://amloki.blogspot.co.uk/ Damyanti was added to my Blogroll recently, and it was from her that I found out about the A to Z Challenge 2014.

Damyanti has been one of the hosts that kept this monster running smoothly, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the others: Lee, Alex, Tina, Jeremy, Nicole, Stephen, Heather, AJ, MJ and Pam. I am listing their blogs at the end of my post, and I will be visiting each one after the challenge.

* http://janiceheck.wordpress.com/ Janice for advice on punctuation, grammar and written English.

* http://gypsyshutterbug.com/ Tara is worth following if you haven’t got time to go around the world yourself.

* http://loebick.com/ April is a wife, writer, woman, reviewer and blogger worth checking out.

* http://charitywrites.blogspot.co.uk/ Charity and her children have taken followers on a journey back in time with Dr Who. I have loved this blog through April.

* http://lynnelives.wordpress.com/about/ Lynne is a writer and painter and has lived all over the UK.

* http://princessofdragons.wordpress.com/ Princess of Dragons will provide any and all information on these mythical beasts. This has been another favourite site of mine throughout April.

* http://sydneyaaliyah.com/ Sydney is a Contemporary Romance writer and her debut novel it due for release in June 2014.

* http://www.stephaniefaris.com/#!stephie5741blogspotcom/cgvp Stephanie is an author of fiction, and non-fiction (technical).

* http://www.murderousimaginings.blogspot.co.uk/ Yolanda has a site worth checking if you have murder in mind. Another personal favourite.

* http://b-due.com/ Becky has a site and history to look at if you need to take stock of life, or want to feel inspired.

* http://juliejordanscott.typepad.com/ Julie wears many hats in life, and her blog contains quotes, questions and prompts.

* http://julialundauthor.wordpress.com/ Julia is a writer with her debut novel only recently available. It’s a great read.

* http://echoesofthepen.com/ Paul is a novice writer, a book reviewer, and shortly to be an online interviewer. If you want to get the word out, impress him with your book and get him onside! He’s also a nice guy and writes a decent short story.

* http://stephenthom.wordpress.com/​ Stephen is a young musician and novice writer. He needs some support and encouragement.

* http://wktucker.com/ Kathy is a natural storyteller. Her site will be staying on my Blogroll.

The A to Z Challenge 2014 – team:

* http://tossingitout.blogspot.co.uk/ Lee

* http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.co.uk/ Alex

* http://kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.co.uk/ Tina

* http://www.beingretro.com/ Jeremy

* http://www.madlabpost.com/ Nicole

* http://authorstephentremp.blogspot.co.uk/ Stephen

* http://hmgardner.blogspot.co.uk/ Heather

* http://frodofrog.blogspot.co.uk/ AJ

* http://mjjoachim.blogspot.co.uk/ MJ

* http://unconventionallibrarian.com/ Pam

Given that there were over 2000 participants, I think these guys, and Damyanti, mentioned in my intro, are all owed a debt of gratitude. I will get in touch to thank each of our support team in the coming days.

After today, I’ll trim the blogs I follow, but however many are on there, I will do my utmost to make regular visits. I hope you’ve enjoyed this experience as much as I have. From today, I’ll be working on my latest novel again, having left it to simmer since the beginning of the challenge.

I’ll now add this post to my main menu ‘My A to Z Posts 2014’, so it will be there for open reference for one and all. Now, out of recent habit, I suppose I’ll have to write a post for tomorrow. Take care everybody out there and I’ve got a thought for you to take with you with your writing in mind.

‘If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got’

From a tired, but satisfied participant who started the challenge with 30 followers. Bye!

M … is for Mutual (Support)

M[1]  is for mutual, as in mutual support.

Now, how am I going to spin this into a writing connection?

We all enjoy what we’re doing; writing. We all recognise that if not a lonely life, it can be safely construed as a solitary life. Outside of your shed, study, or wherever you write, you may have family or even friends. They may or may not make all the right noises when they see your work, but let’s look at our blog-life.

Instead of using this post to talk about writing, I thought I’d touch on what we’re all doing right now – blogging and communicating. We’re strengthening ties and creating a better, larger, writer’s community.

Is it good to see a ‘like’ about your blog?

For me, the answer to that is yes, and no. I can’t see the point in telling somebody new that you ‘like’ an aspect of their blog, unless you qualify it with the reason. If you give a ‘like’, give a comment the first time, even if it’s brief. There is an exception to this theory. Once you’ve established a rapport with the blogger, and actually written a comment or two, an unsupported ‘like’ is still nice to see – it shows you’ve made the time to get over for a look.

Why is it so important?

It leaves a bitter taste to find that somebody has ‘liked’ about four aspects of your blog, and clicked on ‘follow’, simply so that you will go and check out theirs, possibly even deciding to ‘follow’ it. In the last month I’ve had five such attempts at using me to increase ‘followers’. I’ve grown wise to it, and the transgressors have been unceremoniously removed. This blog is still very much a learning process for me.

Is this a rant?

Most definitely not. I did feel though that, now that we’ve reached the halfway point on this rather excellent challenge, it was time to show my colours so to speak.

I refreshed my blog at the beginning of the year, and started from scratch. My previous blogging efforts were going largely unnoticed. I now have 59 followers according to my statistics, but I know it’s not accurate so I’ve got a couple of ‘red herrings’ to find. I’m actually following about 40 blogs, and though it’s hard work at times, I want to see how things look at the end of April.

Don’t worry, we’re nearly there; the point is coming.

My aim is to have a manageable list of blogs, where there is mutual support between myself, those who follow me, and those I follow. If I have 30 ‘followers’ who are actually ‘following’, I will respond in kind. If I have 50 followers, I will work hard to support them.

I’m not expecting that there is a closed group of blogs, like a Facebook group. Good manners and integrity suggests to me that it doesn’t have to be a reciprocal exercise, as long as we are faithful when we hit that ‘follow’ button. If the target blog gets boring, then ‘unfollow’. It can be that we are following 25 blogs, but we have 50 followers. Even an occasional response to comments is good manners.

I know there are some out there with followers in three figures, and I salute you. You are what blogging is all about. My actual writing time is too precious to follow too many blogs. I will however work to support any writer who feels they need an opinion, a tip, or even a listening ear. I am not beyond asking for those things myself. No, sadly I’m not perfect or infallible, but I’m working on both.

What I’m saying in a nutshell is, that those of us that are serious about writing and blogging don’t really need ‘hangers-on’. We do need genuine, like-minded individuals, who can see beyond their own screen, and want to help, and be helped.

Okay. I think I’d better stop writing, or the decent folk among you will stop reading. By the way, there was no intent to injure any blogger, mentally or physically with the contents of this post.

Thank you once again for reading, and where appropriate, following. I’ll see you tomorrow with ‘N