John Hartigan’s Secret Admirer

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Genre Crime

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“Wait!” I yell, as I run inside a dark tunnel. By dark I mean absolute, pitch darkness ahead of me, which seems to consume me as I seem to run deeper and deeper into its heart. The only sound I can hear is the clacking of my boots on the ground as I run hard.

“Wait!” I yell again in vain, to the figure gliding a few feet in front of me. The figure is glowing in the dark, serving as a beacon to me. This shrouded figure, glowing fluorescent blue, is the reason I’m in this seemingly endless tunnel in the first place. While I’m already falling short of breathe from having to run probably faster than Usain Bolt to try and stop this figure, it glides effortlessly along the tunnel, not making any noise or even stopping in its tracks. Tonight, I will find out who this figure belongs to, and why it has been stalking me for the past many days.

I finally think I’m catching up with it. The florescent blue figure seems much more nearer now.

I increase my speed, and soon I’m right behind my quarry. I reach my hand out, and tug at the shroud with all the strength I can muster.

“Show yourself! Now!” I yell, trying to turn the figure around and see its face.

Suddenly, the glowing figure starts to turn around, and at the same time, the shroud starts coming off.

The glowing figure turns to me, and next moment the shroud is lifted from its face. Before I can take in all the details of the thing before me, it bursts into smithereens noiselessly. I vainly grab at minuscule, glowing particles floating around me like dust particles. The darkness is complete around me now, engulfing me in its black, infinite, sinister folds.

“Nooooooooooooooo!” I yell…and wake up, sweating and panting and puffing in my own bed, my hand grasping at thin air. I look around the room. Yes, it’s definitely my bedroom, and everything seems normal here. I look at the luminous clock on the bedside table. It’s only 2.30 a.m.

I try to go back to sleep, but my eyes refuse to shut and allow me some rest. All I can do is see images from the weird dream- a shrouded, fluorescent blue figure gliding in a dark tunnel, me running after it, trying to stop it. The rest of the details have completely disappeared from my memory.
I finally give up on sleeping and go to the kitchen, where I make myself a cup of coffee and sit down with a book. This has been happening to me quite frequently for the past few days- strange, vivid dreams, and then subsequent inability to sleep. It all started a few days back, when it started happening to me.

1. My Secret Admirer
“Your blue eyes are the tranquil seas,
Wavy, fair hair permanently ruffled by the breeze,
Your enticing, full, beautiful mouth,
Which have never uttered a word uncouth” — Your secret admirer

I stare hard at the note in my hand, willing the words to disappear into thin air. But I know they won’t. This is the tenth such note I have received in this past week. And notes are not the only thing I’ve received. Five of the notes were anonymously delivered to my office at the FBI Headquarters in Boston, with a huge bouquet of red, pink and white roses and a box of liqueur chocolates. The others, including this one, were randomly stuck in convenient places for me to find it.

I take a sip of coffee out of the mug in my hand, relishing the bitter tasting hot liquid which would soon fire up my central nervous system and prepare me for the day’s work.

On the windshield of my car, in the mail-slot, shoved beneath the front door of my apartment; this one had been shoved beneath the front door, and I found it when I went to pick up the morning newspaper. Little notes with poetry, and in the beginning indicating this person knows a lot about me- my name, my job as an FBI Special Agent and a criminologist, my home address, and my taste in flowers and chocolates. As if I haven’t already realized that as soon as it began. ‘It’ being my being courted by a clandestine admirer. They know everything about you, somehow. You’re unfortunate enough to have caught their fancy, unintentionally. Your looks, your smile, your quirks- anything can set them off on a ‘secret’ mission to turn your life upside down.

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8 Responses to “John Hartigan’s Secret Admirer”

  1. Neelesh Inamdar April 16, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    What I understood is a pretty young FBI agent gets anonymous letters & gifts. Too little to comment on. It’s written well, but you could have done with a little editing. Cut out the following (I’ve retained the order in which they appear) and your piece would read as effectively:

    By dark I mean absolute, pitch darkness ahead of me,

    hard.

    in vain

    to me.

    in the first place.

    While

    probably faster than Usain Bolt

    *’glides’ implies noiselessness*

    I finally think I’m catching up with it. *you think, or you are? just write ‘I finally catch up with it.’*

    and soon

    The glowing figure turns to me, *third time – I’m trying to turn, it turns blah blah blah*

    before me

    noiselessly.

    vainly

    like dust particles.

    The darkness is complete around me *wasn’t it always?*
    now

    and puffing

    Yes

    definitely

    here

    a shrouded, fluorescent blue figure gliding in a dark tunnel, me running after it, trying to stop it.*there’s nothing new
    in this – you’ve already described it – repetition.*

    I finally give up on sleeping ??? I finally give up on sleep. (grammar Nazi)

    It all started a few days back, when it started happening to me. ???

    1. My Secret Admirer

    “Your blue eyes are the tranquil seas,

    Wavy, fair hair permanently ruffled by the breeze,

    Your enticing, full, beautiful mouth,

    Which have never uttered a word uncouth” — Your secret admirer

    hard

    into thin air

    Five of the notes were anonymously delivered to my office at the FBI Headquarters in Boston, with a huge bouquet of red, pink and white roses and a box of liqueur chocolates. *seriously, five notes delivered to your office in FBI?
    So if Osama Bin Laden had walked into FBI offices, I wouldn’t have been surprised.*

    poetry, *much misunderstood word – ‘poetry’ is an art form, abstract – the noun is poem.*

    • Percy Kerry (@percykerry) April 16, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      Thank you Neelesh. Will keep all this in mind when editing the book. This is the first draft, so I guess it must suck :D. I’m glad you liked it, that’s what matters the most. And BTW, the FBI Agent is a guy 😀 😀

  2. SS Kuruganti April 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Overall, I liked it. The plot seems intriguing. There are some minor niggles like repetitive phrases and grammar missteps, but I guess that can be corrected in the editing stage.

    Two bits I found jarring:

    “Wait!” I yell, as I run inside a dark tunnel. By dark I mean absolute, pitch darkness ahead of me, which seems to consume me as I seem to run deeper and deeper into its heart.

    When you said ‘dark tunnel’, I’d already imagined a completely dark tunnel. The second sentence isn’t required. Broad strokes are better than excessive description.

    …the others, including this one, were randomly stuck in convenient places for me to find it.

    I take a sip of coffee (…)

    On the windshield of my car …

    The sentence with the narrator drinking coffee moved me from the stalking back to the narrator. Then you jump back to describing the notes, which is confusing. The coffee drinking bit needs to be deleted, or at least, moved to another part of the narrative to make things clearer.

    A promising beginning. Looking forward to seeing the rest in e-ink or print some time. =)

  3. Sabahat Muhammad April 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    It’s interesting that you wrote this in the present tense – one of the hardest styles to write in. The urge to slip into the past tense is pretty strong, but you’ve managed to maintain it throughout. The only thing that confused me was that you sit down in the kitchen with a book, and then you’re staring hard at the note in your hand – is this an issue with the tenses? Because your memories are neatly brought up in the past tense. Is the note incident also a memory or something that’s happening right then?

    • Percy Kerry (@percykerry) April 12, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      Actually he( my MC) sits down with a book in the last sentence of the prologue. The next part is the first chapter.

  4. Devika Fernando April 12, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Interesting… a great start because it’s full of suspense and foreboding.
    Something I really like: The poem! That is a wonderful choice to deepen the ‘secret admirer’ threat.
    Something I don’t like: You’re using “seem” too often. It’s a trap many writers fall into (sometimes me too, which is why I’m always looking for it). Either just leave it out or work your way around it. The “seemingly endless tunnel” could be a “tunnel that felt endless”, for example.

    • Percy Kerry (@percykerry) April 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

      Thanks a lot, Devika. Will keep this in mind while editing the first draft when it’s done. Thank you 🙂

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