Kasey lives a triple life in Southern California: writer, mother, and lawyer. She is also a full-time puppy wrangler these days. In between legal research, building train sets, and nighttime feedings, she writes short stories and novels, and the occasional flash fiction piece. She blogs not so regularly here and can be found on Twitter. A little shy at first, she warms up quickly. Please come by and say hello.
Round 16 Winner
“Loosen the bolts, Giuseppe.”
Giuseppe froze. Despite the heat, a chill traced its way up his spine. Minerva.
“Hey,” he heard Paolo call from behind him. “What’re you doing? You’re going to get us fired.”
“Don’t listen to him.” Minerva’s voice floated from the other side of the door. For a second, Giuseppe turned his head toward the massive plate of steel and placed his palm on it.
“Just turn the wrench back the other way, Giuseppe,” she said. “No one will know. You don’t even have to do it very much. Just enough.”
The lunch bell rang and Paolo’s wrench clanged to the ground. When Giuseppe turned around, Paolo started to jog over, hands bent like crab claws as though he was still holding on.
“You can let go now, Joe.” The nickname angered Giuseppe. No American-sounding name would ever make him pass as American. He knew Paolo meant well, but delusions were dangerous.
“What happened to you?” Paolo picked up Giuseppe’s lunch and steered him outside.
“I got something in my eye.” After a moment, Giuseppe added, “What’re we closing off anyway?”
Paolo’s boss had given them the job. He needed three strong men to start immediately and work overnight. The chambers had to be sealed. It was urgent, he said.
“Don’t know. Didn’t ask. Don’t you, either.”
The two ate in silence for a while.
“Giuseppe?” Paolo only called him by his given name when he was working an angle. “Why did you stop?”
“I heard something.”
“I thought you said you had something in your eye.”
“It’s her, isn’t it? You heard her?”
Giuseppe caught the note of concern. He mistakenly told people he heard her crying that first week.
“No.” He knew the script now.
“She’s gone, Giuseppe. She isn’t following you around New York. She’s gone to God.”
“I know.” He didn’t, though. She was still only missing. She’d been gone for two weeks. Paolo was the last to have seen her. He said she was dragged away by armed men. None of it made sense, but the grieving mind doesn’t question stories at first.
The work bell rang.
Back at the chamber, she called again.
“Giuseppe, loosen the bolts.”
He did. As the crew was leaving, a gush of water filled the chamber, opening the door. Minerva’s body rode out on the tide. Clearly dead, she also clearly pointed at Paolo.