Tuesday, October 20, 2009

newnoise1 writes short story

Do internet users have time to read short fiction online? I wonder. Here's my latest attempt, Email blackmail - 1300 words.

Email blackmail

Julia pressed the send button and felt all the blood rush from her face. She had somehow managed to send the email describing what she thought of the company to the Managing Director and owner, Mr. Croft, and not her best friend, Sybil, as she intended.
Her heart beat like a cornered rabbit's. Her hands clammy, she picked up the phone and called Mr. Croft's personal assistant Mrs. Jules.
'Don't worry about it dear, I'll delete it from his inbox as soon as I see it,' Mrs. Jules laughed, 'You do realize that you owe me a big favor?' she added, conspiringly.
'Of course,' Julia tried too laugh but even to herself it sounded more like a dry bone being cracked in half. She collapsed into her chair, there was still four office hours left in which she would have too hide her mini-nervous breakdown from her co-workers.
A very long hour later, Julia noticed a mail from Mrs. Jules in her inbox. She frowned as she read it.

'Hi dear, I have DELETED your message from MR CROFT'S inbox. We must talk about the favor YOU OWE ME. Meet me after work at the Cozy Cups!!!'

Julia's skin crawled at the commanding tone. She was about to find out why her
co-workers were weary of Mr. Croft's personal assistant. Could it be a practical joke? Surely blackmailers at least attempted too hide their identities? Or was she overreacting? Perhaps Mrs. Jules only wanted her to baby sit on Saturday or something harmless like that. Nevertheless, the message seemed sinister with the capital letters and exclamation marks worked into it.
Suddenly the company looked like the perfect place to work at if only Mrs. Jules didn't also work there. She glanced at the computer's digital clock. There were two hours left before she had to face Mrs. Jules.
Jake, her manager, walked into her office clutching a sheaf of papers, 'Julia, can you help with these, they're a mess, we've been trying to figure it out the entire week.' Jake's hair was a confusing ball of curls as always when confronted with a dilemma. He reminded Julia of a young Einstein.
'What is it?' she asked, knowing that she could solve the problem if it needed less than four seconds of her concentration.
'You look pale, something the matter?' he placed the documents on her desk.
'Headache,' she said, her mind working overtime as she glanced again at the clock showing she had 45 minutes to get herself to the Cozy Cups.
'Have a look at these and let me know what you think.' he said, and waited.
'Can I have a look at them tonight? I feel terrible, I have to go.' She hoped he didn't notice how her hand was shaking as she applied her lipstick.
'Can you call me when you're done tonight?' he said, surprised at her uncharacteristic lack of enthusiasm.
'Sure, I'll give you call the moment I'm done,' she placed the documents in her handbag.
'Have you got something for the head?' he called as an afterthought down the passage.
'Yes, I'll be fine.' she said over her shoulder as she tried to walk with her usual confidence on legs that wobbled.
The Cozy Cups was more or less empty. She found a table where Mrs. Jules could blackmail her in relative privacy, sat down and ordered a coffee. She removed Jakes' documents from her handbag. She wanted too seem in control of something when Mrs. Jules appeared.
The words on the front page swam in front of her eyes. Then a word or two that Jake had scribbled caught her attention. She looked closer, her heart starting to hammer in her chest.
'Hi there,' Mrs. Jules was her efficient self, her suit fit perfectly, not a hair was out of place.
Julia judged her to be around 50. She noticed that Mrs. Jules' smile did not reach her eyes which were ice blue.
'Well, let's get down to business,' Mrs. Jules wasted no time in making her demands quite clear. She needed money, urgently and regularly. She expressed her need in a husky voice in a few smooth sentences that made Julia suspect the woman was quite use to this kind of scene.
Julia started as her cell phone rang. It was Jake, still upset about the claims, 'I wanted to ask you, look specifically at the company named Cato's Catering. I don't even think Cato exists, I've been trying to call him the whole week, the company's not listed on the intranet. . .'
'Okay Jake, I'll have a look. I'll call you.' she thought quickly as she slowly returned the phone to her handbag.
'Mrs Jules,' she said, and tapped with a pencil on the documents in front of her, 'these documents are the claims you sent through to our office for payment.' she picked her words carefully as she announced, 'My Manager went through them and he's very unhappy . . . in fact his considering an audit of your entire office.' she held her breath as she waited for a reply.
Mrs. Jules turned nearly as white as the coffee cup that stood in front of her. 'I need the money you see . . . I'm desperate for money . . .' she stammered.
Julia shook her head, 'I can see from the clothes and haircut what you need the money for . . . let's make a deal," she said, trying to keep from hissing, 'you will resign on Monday and . . . these claims will disappear,' she forced her shaking hands to lie steady on her lap as she waited, not breathing.
Mrs. Jules held on to her composure, 'I still have the email,' she said, her voice firm.
'We both have documents.' Julia sipped her coffee.
'Let's forget the entire thing.' Mrs Jules, clutched at her handbag.
'No,' Julia shook her head, 'I will not be able to live with myself knowing you are still working for the company.' she said determinedly.
Mrs. Jules sat motionless, 'Very well, I will hand in my resignation,' she said and got up too leave.
'How many?' Julia blurted, not able to let go of the horror she had uncovered.
Mrs. Jules turned around, 'How many what?'
'How many staff members are you . . .collecting money from?'
'Enough.' Mrs Jules walked away her shoulders square, her head lifted proudly.
Julia ordered another coffee and called Jake. 'Are you still in the office? Could you meet me in the Cozy Cups?'
He sat down opposite her 15 minutes later.
'This morning I accidentally sent an email to Mr. Croft that I actually wanted to send to Sybil . . . ' she said.
'I've warned you so many times Julia!' he frowned.
'Yes,' she agreed and continued to tell him the rest.
When she finished he shook his head, running his hands through his hair.
'You are one lucky woman, you know that?' he said.
She nodded, her smile shaky.
'So what about the others, how do we let them know it's over?' he asked 'You promised the woman she won't be arrested for fraud.'
'We'll use the most effective form of communication, we'll spread the rumor that Mrs. Jules had to leave owing to some underhand activities.' she improvised.
'And Croft?'
'You know Croft, if it's not written down in black and white he doesn't listen to it,' she said trying too sound convincing.
'Have you learned something from all this?' he asked.
She nodded, 'Apply for a new position somewhere, but first, make sure Mrs. Jules doesn't work there already.'

Copyright © Newnoise1, 2009

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