Friday, November 27, 2009


Look! I'm alive! Thanksgiving is giving me plenty of time to relax and work on my latest novel project. I'm getting a lot of writing done, but not so much on short stories, though I do have some ideas I'm looking forward to putting down on paper (so to speak). In the meantime, please enjoy this story of mine!

Aaron M. Smith- written March 2009

I was running late for work that day, like most days. In law school, I’d gotten used to staying up all hours of the night cramming for tests, burying my nose in books until the sun cracked the blinds in my apartment. “Regular waking hours” were an unknown concept to me. Which is why I’d been dragging into work every day since I passed the bar. I’d been working at the public defender’s office since before I graduated, so I knew the quickest way into work and where I was likely to find a parking spot.

Today, though, I was going downtown.

As I squealed around a corner and narrowly missed turning the wrong way down a one way street, I glanced at the clock on my car’s dash. Eleven-oh-six. I was already late, and parking was going to be hell on a Monday morning.

It was fifteen after when I nearly blew the doors of public lockup from their hinges as I rushed in off the street.

“Lookin’ for Tony?” Said the woman behind the bulletproof glass-walled registration desk. I nodded- Tony Snow was the lead public defender in the city, and was in with all the right people, including the district attorney. I’d been shadowing him for weeks. I nodded at her as I straightened my tie.

“He said he’s running behind, said for you to go on in and interview the perp,” she gestured to a door adjacent to the secure goldfish bowl she worked in. There was a loud beep and click as she unlocked the door, and the armed officer next to it stepped aside to let me through.
I didn’t waste any time- my shoes slapped the vinyl tile as I strode down the halls.

I’d never interviewed a suspect on my own before.

An officer I recognized (Hibbard, I think) was on the other side of the door. He gestured for me to follow him, and I prayed that he couldn’t hear my heartbeat thudding in the empty vinyl-tiled hallway.

“First time on your own, huh?” Hibbard glanced over his shoulder and smiled. He was a young officer, only a few years older than me.

“Heh, yeah,” was all I could think of.

“Well, here’s his file,” he said, and passed me a manila folder. “You ought to go over it before—”

“No time, we were supposed to begin this interview twenty minutes ago,” I said. I could imagine Tony’s bald spot turning beet red if he found out how late I got started. That was the last thing I needed- to make a poor impression on my first solo assignment. Hibbard stopped in front of a plain door, and I stepped inside without preamble.

The room was plain, like all such interview rooms. Concrete floors, metal table, metal chairs, plain fluorescent lighting. A man, remarkable only in just how plain looking he was, sat on the far side of the table, dressed in standard faded orange prison attire. He looked sort of bored.

“Good morning, mister…” I opened the file and took a quick peek. “…Waters. My name is Robin Marshall, I’m going to be your defender in court this week.”

“Huhm.” Waters said. He ran a hand through his plain, thin brown hair.

It’s going to be fine, I coached myself. You’ve seen this done a dozen times before. How hard can it be to keep the ship afloat until Tony gets here?

I popped open my briefcase and took out a legal pad and an ink pen, then laid the folder next to them on the table. I wondered if Waters could see me sweating through my shirt.

“Well, I haven’t had time to go through your files, yet, so why don’t you—”

“Can I have your pad?” He asked.


“Your pad. I like to draw. Don’t get to in prison. Can I have it?”

“Uh,” I said. This had never happened before. “Yeah, uh, sure. Knock yourself out.” I slid the yellow legal pad and ink pen across the table to him as I leaned back in the chair and flipped through the folder.

I caught motion out of the corner of my eye, and turned as the door to the interview room burst open. Hibbard rushed in.

The next moment, something heavy and hard hit me in the side of the face.

The table was upended, and I was on the ground with an orange blur on top of me. Something sharp raked against my cheek, and I heard myself screaming as I flailed my arms, trying to get the man off of me. Something hard hit my face; hard enough to snap my neck back and cause me to hit my head on the concrete floor. White flashes of pain glittered before my eyes.

There was a grunting noise, and a cry out, and then the weight was off of me. As my vision began to return, I heard a man screaming.

The table was on top of me, and I was on the floor. I sat up and saw Hibbard and two other officers on top of Waters, one with an open can of mace, Hibbard with his nightstick against Waters throat. The third officer was busily cuffing Waters hands together.

I laid back against the cold floor and listened to my heart beat out a basso rhythm against my temples for a moment or two. I dully became aware of something wet on my face. When I touched it, my cheek was sore, and my fingers came back….


“Should have read the file,” Hibbard said, as the two other officers hauled Water out of the room, who had gone back to looking jut as plain and docile as he had when I’d entered. “Do you even know why Waters was arrested?”

The contents of the file I’d been reading was scattered across the floor. I rifled through a couple pages until I came up with his rap sheet. I felt my eyes widen.


“With a ball-point pen,” Hibbard filled in. “Right through the esophagus of some poor bastard. Good thing you turned your head when you did, and you use those cheap-ass pens.”

The ink from my shattered pen trickled down my neck and stained the collar of my shirt. I wearily looked down at it. “Have the receptionist call Tony,” I said to Hibbard from my place on the hard concrete floor. “Have him bring me a clean shirt, will ya?”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NaNoWriMo update!

As some of you may or may not know, November is National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to get all aspiring writers off their hineys and writing as much as possible!

The lofty goal? FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS by NOVEMBER 30th.

I'm hopelessly behind to meet my goal, but I'm going to keep on writing anyway. And, as motivation: YOU, dear reader! Here's a short teaser of my current project.

"Monster Season" (working title)- excerpt
November 2009- Aaron M. Smith

Danny nearly collided with the zombie he’d followed to class as the two of them bounded into the classroom.

“You two are extraordinarily lucky.” Said a massive basso voice. Danny looked up and nearly screamed aloud.

The classroom was a perfectly normal-looking one by human standards. Wooden floors, metal student desks with the wire baskets underneath them, bookshelves, chalk boards, and a larger desk at the front of the classroom for the teacher.

Only the desk at the front of the room was the size of a countertop at a fast food restaurant. And the teacher was similarly sized.

Behind the desk crouched a massive monster, nearly seven feet high (while on its haunches, Danny noticed). It looked remarkably like the statues at the door of the school. Its head was the size of a trash can, with huge curling horns raking forward from its scalp. Tiny, beady black eyes peered out from under a massive stone brow, wicked looking fangs protruding up from a long jaw. As it moved from behind the desk, its joints made a sound like gravel being trodden underfoot. Its jaw moved, and for a moment Danny worried the creature was going to dive on him and devour him whole. Instead, it held a piece of paper up to its tiny eyes and growled,

“Mister… McNair? Please take your seat, or I’ll count you as tardy.”

Stay tuned for more updates as the month progresses!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Okay, I know what you're thinking.
It's officially November- why another thriller? Shouldn't I be posting something warm and uplifting in the season of Thanksgiving?
Actually, I want to work on a romantic comedy short soon, but in the mean time, I hope you enjoy this thrilling number.

Aaron M. Smith- September 2009

The hood was yanked off of Richie’s head with a hard yank, twisting his neck painfully and tugging at his ears. His world flooded with blinding light, and he squinted into the harsh glare. As his vision began to return to him, he noticed several hulking figures positioned around him, silhouetted in the harsh yellow light of the streetlamp above. None of them said anything; the only noise he could hear was the sloshing of water somewhere close by. Off in the distance, lights twinkled, reflected off of the inky surface of the river. He must be at the docks.
He strained his mind to remember what was happening… one minute, he was in the deli enjoying a roast beef on rye. He’d walked out into the alley, and then… nothing.
Suddenly, someone stepped into the circle of light in which he stood, and he wish that whomever had taken the hood off of him would put it back on.
Heya Rich,” said a deep, gruff voice. The man who entered the spotlight was middle-aged, probably in his mid-fifties. He was in athlete shape, though, and dressed to the nines in the most expensive, immaculate suit Richie had ever seen. His tie was a silvery shade of green, the color of a faded dollar bill, his salt and pepper hair and close cropped beard perfectly styled and trimmed. The cold grey eyes staring back at him might as well have been carved from marble for all the emotion they showed.
Richie’s mouth went entirely dry. He tried to speak, but croaked silently for a moment before he was able to form any words. “Gino! H-How ya doing?”
“Me? I’m doing just fine, Rich. Yourself?” Gino hadn’t moved a muscle since walking into the glow of the streetlamp.
“Uh, yeah, me too. Fine, I mean.”
“That’s good. Good to see you fine. And living comfortably.”
Richie tried to speak, but felt like something was caught in his throat. He said nothing.
“I, ah, was hoping you had something else for me tonight.” Gino said conversationally. Gino Marcelli never said anything conversationally. There was always more than met the eye.
“Uh, well,” Richie gagged, his mouth a desert. “Well, I haven’t heard anything else from my contacts recently, but I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.” He shifted his weight as if to step out of the circle of light, and immediately felt a huge hand on his shoulder.
“You’ll leave when Mister Marcelli says you may,” said the man standing behind him. There was the unmistakable click that a gun makes as a bullet enters the chamber. Rich froze.
“Thank you Lawrence.” Gino said. “Like I said, I was hoping for a little more information. Specifically, more information about the whereabouts and accommodations of one Anthony Lorenzo. You remember, the man we spoke of last week.”
Richie began to relax, for just a moment. “We did talk about Lorenzo, last week. I gave you all the information I had on him.”
“Yes, and that’s what I’d like to talk about.”
Richie’s heart sped.
“You see, we deployed a welcoming committee for Mister Lorenzo at the location you provided, at the time you provided, just as you suggested. Room two-forty-two at the Crown, if I’m not mistaken.”
Richie didn’t say anything. Cold fear had frozen his tongue to the roof of his mouth.
“There was nobody in that room, Rich.”
“Well, there’s an e-easy explanation for—”
“Nobody registered for that room at all. Not in weeks, Rich.”
“Well, Lorenzo’s people obviously decided to move him…”
“The thing is, Rich,” Gino removed a gold cigarette case from the pocket of his jacket and extracted a cigarette from it. He offered one to Richie; Richie shook his head. One of the men standing next to Gino whipped out a silver lighter the instant the cigarette touched the man’s lips. After a puff, Gino continued. “I recently acquired a very useful acquaintance. One in the employ of Mister Lorenzo himself. And this acquaintance informs me that Mister Lorenzo has been at his vacation home in the Virgin Islands all month.”
A sweat broke out on Richie’s brow. He dared not move to wipe it away.
“Lorenzo was never going to be in Chicago, Rich. Which of course, caused me to think, as I am apt to do,” Gino took another long draw on his cigarette. “I thought, who was it that informed me of Mister Lorenzo’s trip to the windy city in the first place?” He pointed with his cigarette. “You, Rich.”
“No! It-it-it was my informants! They got it wrong!”
“You see Rich, that’s the thing. I have many acquaintances, you see. Some are even your acquaintances, unbeknownst to you. I know that you have no informants. I know that most of the information that you’ve supplied to me over the last month has been… what’s the word?”
“Falsified, mister Marcelli?” said the man with the lighter.
“Thank you, Dominic. Falsified.” Richie felt strong hands take both his arms and his legs. He began to squirm and cry out, but the man called Dominic pulled a gun from within his coat. Richie felt someone wrapping something about his ankles; two men were wrapping his legs with ropes with the sure fingers of men who’d done this a thousand times.
“You see, Rich, I am a businessman. I run a very tight ship. Productivity is very, very good for the bottom line. And, I’m afraid, waste is very bad for the bottom line.” Richie watched with horror as a series of concrete blocks were dragged into the light and fastened to the ropes which were wrapped securely around his legs. “You wouldn’t have me lose productivity, now would you? I can’t afford to pay workforce that’s slacking off on the job.” He looked around at the men gathered around him. “That just isn’t fair to the other workers, now is it?”
Two of the largest silhouettes gathered up the stacks of concrete blocks. Out of Richie’s view, there was a grunting sound. With a snap, the ropes around Richie’s ankles pulled tight and hauled him off of his feet, dragging his across the wooden planks beneath his feet. The harsh wood tore at his clothes and hands as he scrabbled furiously to stop himself. He screamed, watching the circle of light and Gino Marcelli shrink until the edge of the pier met his chin, and he was tumbling through the air for a split second before colliding with the frigid surface of the river below. He screamed as the twinkling stars of the Chicago night vanished above him, devoured by chilling blackness that clung to him tighter than the finest suit ever made.