I’m not doing Story A Day May this year, but I promised Dan four Steffie the spy stories this month. This first one is my response to his Thursday Doors writing challenge.
The door I chose for my inspiration is the one designated by Jean Reinhardt, a beautiful writer and photographer. If you haven’t read her Irish Family Saga books, I highly recommend them.
I took the windows out of the cottage and rearranged how the two parts of the doors open, but I’m allowed. Because I said so, that’s why.
If you want to read more Steffie stories, they’re under the Story A Day May category.
Steffie’s Half Measures
Steffie found the cottage charming: single story, whitewashed, and windowless, with a Dutch door delightfully off-center.
Once a benighted traveler’s refuge, it was now a retreat for the programming genius who lived in the mansion a thousand feet away. No electricity and a chemical toilet — it was the perfect getaway for a man who spent most of his time in front of a computer.
Steffie found it relaxing, as well. Oil lamps and candles shed enough light for her to concentrate on the hobby work she’d brought with her. At another time, she would have opened the top half of the Dutch door to let in fresh air and sunlight, but she must be careful not to be seen.
The cottage was supposed to be occupied by Daniel Alazar, the genius, who was in safe custody elsewhere, finishing the coding for a top secret government project.
Steffie paused in her hobby work, listening. She sensed more than heard movement outside. Not person-height, though. Low. Barely above the ground.
A scratching at the wooden door. Whining. A soft ruff.
A puppy? Seriously? A puppy?
A terrified yip and desperate scratching.
She was here to deal with the agents she had learned were coming to kidnap Alazar before his program was finished, but she hadn’t expected a puppy.
Happily, the agents hadn’t expected a Dutch door. When she opened the bottom half to drag the pup into the cottage, the agents stood a fatal moment, baffled.
In the second it took them to seize the opening and for the first one to crawl through, Steffie had picked up her hobby work–A hand-forged machete she had been sharpening–and met him as he entered. She flung open the top half of the door and stepped out to meet his partner.
Steffie gathered her things as she called for her agency’s own particular cleaners to come and take care of the scene. She picked up her new dog, making a mental list of the supplies she’d need for him. Him? Yes, him.
She had been supposed to take them alive, if possible, so they could be questioned. It was regrettable that she hadn’t been able to do that, but it was their own fault.
The bastards shouldn’t have used a puppy.
Thursday doors is under the direction of Dan Antion, photographer extraordinaire and critter daddy. Visit his site, enjoy his wonderful photographs, follow his directions, and enter a world of doors.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write a story with a puppy and a sharp object.
p.s. She named the puppy Dog Marcaida
RAAckerman@Cerebrations.bizMay 6, 2021 at 9:36am
Opportunities abound when a door opens?
Marian AllenMay 6, 2021 at 10:14am
Ha! Love it!
Dan AntionMay 6, 2021 at 4:45pm
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Nothing warms my heart like a Steffie story. To have one for this writing challenge means a lot to me. Although, I’m a little concerned, my wife has always like Dutch doors…
Marian AllenMay 7, 2021 at 10:31am
I’ve always liked Dutch doors, too. Maybe this story was just waiting for a Dutch door picture to happen. 😀
Dan AntionMay 7, 2021 at 11:01am
Maybe the Dutch door was just waiting for Sheffield.
Dan AntionMay 7, 2021 at 11:02am
Steffie – Apple doesn’t like the spelling. Maybe she should “visit” the guy in charge of their dictionary 😉
Marian AllenMay 7, 2021 at 11:21am
Yeah. I can hear her now: “This is a nice little dictionary you got here. Be a shame if anything … bad … happened to a nice little dictionary like this.”
Dan AntionMay 7, 2021 at 11:28am
Haha – “How fast can you type with only one hand?”
Marian AllenMay 7, 2021 at 1:36pm
Ha! Love it! 😀
sustainabiliteaMay 6, 2021 at 10:24pm
I like that sort of door.
Marian AllenMay 7, 2021 at 10:32am
Me, too. I had never thought of opening the BOTTOM alone, just the TOP. Until the bastards brought in a puppy.
sustainabiliteaMay 7, 2021 at 3:43pm
Jean ReinhardtMay 7, 2021 at 5:55am
Wow, Marian. What a great imagination you have. I don’t know how you came up with a puppy but it was a perfect “soft” touch to add to your story. I’m delighted the bothy door inspired you to write it and thank you so much for your lovely comments about my books.
Marian AllenMay 7, 2021 at 10:36am
Your writing makes me feel like I’m walking and talking with the characters. That’s such a gift! I needed the puppy to motivate Steffie to overstep her mandate. Readers of Steffie stories expect murder and mayhem, but Steffie is a cold-blooded assassin with a heart of gold and a very personal moral compass.
Jean ReinhardtMay 7, 2021 at 2:52pm
Steffie is certainly an interesting character. One that would be a good friend but a deadly enemy, lol. I see most of the scenes in my head before I write them, like a movie and I love writing dialogue.
Marian AllenMay 8, 2021 at 9:10am
Yeah, you don’t want to get on Steffie’s bad side. Your writing process produces super results. 🙂
Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.comMay 8, 2021 at 8:50pm
What a great use of the Dutch door image! I like strong female characters… and cute little puppies 🙂
Marian AllenMay 9, 2021 at 7:40am
I do, too. I guess that’s what makes Steffie so much fun to write: She’s DEFINITELY a strong female character, and she has a soft spot for the … er … underdog.
itsmejbt505May 9, 2021 at 12:58am
I love the easy imagery in this story. I aspire to be “delightfully off-center.”
Marian AllenMay 9, 2021 at 7:41am
Thanks! And, in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a little off-center, myself. 😀
Holly JahangiriMay 9, 2021 at 9:24am
I’m sad about this, of course. (I have no reason to crawl out of bed on Sundays, now.) But I understand. I will care for the books; you take care of you. We’ll all be here. ((hugs))
Marian AllenMay 9, 2021 at 2:44pm
Oh, now I feel mean! Tell you what: I’ll have a new Holly story this Tuesday, then Sunday, then some other day, then Sundays until the end of the month. Five Holly stories for five Sundays. Okay? I do miss my Holly!
Holly JahangiriMay 9, 2021 at 2:54pm
I ❤️ you, Marian! I didn’t mean to make you feel mean at all. I just really look forward to my Holly stories in May!
Marian AllenMay 9, 2021 at 3:24pm
brettalansandersMay 19, 2021 at 4:53pm
I enjoyed this story. Brutal! Thanks for your comment on my essay; glad you’re enjoying Aurora.
Marian AllenMay 20, 2021 at 8:32am
Her voice is amazing, but watching her is absolutely mesmerizing. Steffie is brutal when necessary. Sometimes she’s subtle, but somebody always dies.