Title: Pencil (Working Title)
Author: Martha (and cat)
Draft: First/Rough
Current Word Count: 1,204
Last Edit: 10/19 at 4:03pm
Author’s Note: Random idea, we’ll see how she runs…


by Martha (and cat)

There should be a warning on DayQuil bottles. The elderly woman glared at the pencil in her hand that kept trying to scribble its own arcane message. Most days being a medium was only a trivial problem, but add a little DayQuil to the mix and–

“Carol?” Dan’s tone was polite, but it had that oily edge that meant he wanted something. With a practiced twist, she trapped the rebellious pencil flat against the desk and acted as if dancing writing instruments were an everyday occurrence. There was a brief flicker of confusion across the younger man’s face before his brain simply wrote off the event as some sort of mild hand tremor. Being a senior citizen sometimes had its advantages.

“Look, you remember the Chavez case?” Dan ignored her wince and dropped the case file over the cubicle’s half-wall and onto her desk. “It’s up for appeal again and I need a quick summary for page six, nothing fancy. Steven gave it to Paula, who gave it to me and I just don’t have the time.” The reporter gave Carol what she assumed was his best coaxing smile. It needed work.

“Fine, just give it–oh darnit.” She had absent-mindedly picked up the pencil again when she reached for the case file. It was now dragging her hand happily over the assorted papers on her desk, scrawling something in, Arabic? She wasn’t quite sure. By the time she had gotten it back under control Dan had vanished. “What’s gotten into you today?” It wasn’t really the pencil’s fault, any organic writing instrument would have done the same. If only plastic didn’t feel so… wrong. Besides the sky blue pencil with its fluffy blue top was one of her favorites, it had been a gift from one of the grandkids. Which one, she couldn’t recall, but it must have been one of the girls.

The computer’s screensaver cut on, and the dancing blue kittens broke her revere. The pencil had apparently finished its missive and was once again inanimate. Thankfully her cubicle was tucked back into the corner and out of sight, she’d already been written up twice by HR for ‘acting odd.’ There was always the chance Dan would report her, but if he did, it would be her third (and last) strike. At which point she’d have no problem letting HR know just how much of Dan’s work was actually Dan’s. Mutual destruction.

The case file was really nothing of the sort, it was just a fancy name attached to a pressboard accordion folder holding the combined research of the previous reporters. Hand-scrawled notes from the various interviews, clipping from the other local and national newspapers, even copies of the crime scene photos the cops had released to the public. The only thing she needed for the page six blurb was right on top, the copy of the last article the Daily Star had published. It would take ten minutes, tops, for her to regurgitate they story with the information from the latest appeal.

Technically she wasn’t allowed to even open the case file, much less read through it. She was only clerk after all. She did the copying, the transcribing, a bit of simple editing, and the other odds and ends that needed doing around her department. She’d even written a column or two on gardening when the usual columnist had been on maternity leave, but nothing like this.

But there was that feeling again, almost a magnetic pulse urging her to take a deeper look.

She had worked in a law office once, when she was younger. It had given her terrible headaches and attacks the doctors had diagnosed as epileptic fits. She knew better now. They called it automatic writing, when someone from the other side grabbed her pencil and used her as a Dictaphone. She’d even been to a seminar once, lost among a sea of other college students eager to communicate with the great beyond. She’d been kicked out after jotting down a rather nasty message from the speaker’s great grandmother. Apparently ghosts had little tolerance for fakes.

(more to come)

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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