UPDATE: The winner is…Tamara Kasyan!
I am so excited to be included in Stranded: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. For the most part, I don’t consider myself a fiction writer. I’m a lawyer. I started working with fiction as a way to improve my legal writing. But the more I do it, the more I love it. I saw the call for submissions just three days before they were due, and my mind started racing with different ideas. That night, I couldn’t fall asleep because I was mulling over scenarios and concepts, most of them involving heroines being professionally stranded.
Then, the nugget of an undercover officer popped into my head.
I wish I could say I had a classy, magical inspiration for the idea. I didn’t. It was a movie. A bad one. Like, one that’s so bad I’m a little embarrassed. It was 2 Fast 2 Furious. At least it wasn’t Tokyo Drift.
Fortunately, that meant that when the idea of an undercover officer came to me, an image of a heroine came with it—Eva Mendes’s character. I jotted down the idea (I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep if I didn’t) and laid back down.
As I waited for the bus the next morning, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to submit the story. I’d never done anything like this before, and I was nervous about trying to get a story together in just two days. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I figured I had to give it a shot. I hopped on the bus, pulled out a notepad, and mapped out the beats on the way to work.
My writing process wasn’t anything special either. After work, I sat down at my computer and started following my outline. It was a late night, but productive—I got the first draft done a little after midnight. The next day, my significant other read the draft and loved it. We chatted about ideas and edits, and I spent the second night fixing the draft up. The next morning, I did some fine-tuning and sent it in.
The one thing I would say was different about this, was how much fun I had. In a sense, I write for a living day-in and day-out. It can be difficult to come back home and keep writing. I’ve been in the middle of writing a few different novels for ages, and it’s tough to find the energy to return. But with an idea I knew I liked, a tight word limit, and a quick turnaround, I was excited the entire time. When I finished, I felt like I had a fun, enjoyable romp, which is everything I wanted from it.
Excerpt from “Too Deep”
When an undercover officer loses her handlers in the outside world, she must trust the top lieutenant of a gun-running gang to survive
“Pick up, pick up, pick up.” I paced the park walkway with a burner to my ear, trying to will Frank to answer. Five rings. Ten. After the twentieth, the phone system cancelled the call. This had already happened twice in the last ten minutes.
Frank hadn’t shown up to a meet for three weeks. For the last two, his voicemail had picked up after four rings. This week, no voicemail.
I glanced around the park as I sat down. Normally, I opted for the cheaper flip-phone burners. But with Frank’s disappearance, I bought the more expensive smartphone and a data card.
After opening an Internet browser, I typed FRANK HASNA and hit search. Random results, nothing helpful.
I drew a deep breath and added…OBITUARY.
The first link delivered a nightmare. The article was from three days ago. Frank was dead.
I dialed the number for the local Bureau office. “Agent Drew Bowers,” I said before the operator finished answering.
After some clicks and annoying hold music, another voice answered, “Vice Unit.”
“Agent Bowers isn’t with the Bureau anymore.”
Frank hadn’t told me that. Why the hell hadn’t Frank said anything? “Where did he go?”
“Can I help you?”
“You can tell me where the fuck Agent Bowers went.”
“I’m not at liberty to—”
I hung up.
Shit. I was stranded.
Stranded. That’s what we call it when an undercover cop is left without contacts. When I went undercover, I gave up everything. What I got in return was a new identity. New social security card. New driver’s license. New rap sheet. The point was to make the old me disappear.
Two people knew who I really was: Frank Hasna and Drew Bowers. Frank was my primary contact—my old Captain. Drew, my Bureau contact. If anything happened to one, I could reach the other. They were the only two people who could get me back to my real life.
But once in a while, agents’ contacts died, leaving the agents to fend for themselves. Sometimes, they made it back alive. Other times, the script stops being an act—the undercover embraces the life and is lost. And sometimes, the jig is up. That’s when we get killed.
My other phone buzzed and brought me back to reality. I looked at the burner, hoping. No such luck.
Meet at the warehouse in an hour.
I put my phone back in my pocket, took the battery out of the burner, and threw it in the last trash can on the way out of the park. I carried the burner another block and tossed it in a dumpster.
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