12 comments

Dec 04, 2020

Crime African American Fiction

What was Joel thinking? What he did will cost us our lives and cost this company more than ten million dollars. He’s lost it. Our retirement, our pension, gone; it's madness, is what it is. To sell company formulas and not give a damn; give no second thought to put us in danger. What the hell was he thinking? We’ve lost everything.

I can’t grasp it. I could kill him, literally kill him. We’re ultimately going to prison. Guilt by association. Selling secrets to foreign powers. Espionage carries the death penalty. The cost of what he did is rising as we speak. The cost is immeasurable. His salary? More than enough to take care of him and his family.

He could’ve put time into helping those who were struggling, those whose salary was nowhere close to his—those who had no income. When I hear the details...I can’t comprehend this. Joel is not some heartless enemy agent.

Everyone thinks we’re in on it because we work in the same department. The company’s stock value crashed in moments. Joel was greedy to the point that the foreign agents sold him out. Anonymously they gave details to local media. International media caught wind of their deals through underground channels.  We can’t go anywhere and live an everyday life. 

We drift deeper into depression. If we are capable of clearing our names, we will live in a prison without walls. Everywhere I turn, I’m worried that everyone’s thinking ⎯he’s one of them. A traitor that has cost us our lives. We will be drowning in debt and lose our homes. Our relationships destroyed. The six-month severance package will be pointless and void.

What Joel did caused panic to all and contamination to some through six states. The spies didn’t mishandle the formula’s canisters like some have reported. They used it against us. We were their guinea pigs. I notice, no foreign agents have been reported with any of the symptoms we have.   

Four to six canisters and the formula to create it. It’s suicide. What if they’re caught in this tropical storm, and those canisters are damaged. These strong winds will contaminate half this nation. We’re going to burn for this. Our tears will be blood. Our nation’s answer to Russia’s chemical weapon, Novichoks, will be the death of us. One way or another.

My career, my reputation is shot. My heart is racing. I haven’t been able to calm down since I got the news. This is a disaster. I need to get away. If I leave town, everyone will lose any doubt that I’m guilty. They will purge any doubt I’ve known all along. Purge any doubt that I am attempting to benefit from this little stage of espionage. I need to consult a lawyer. Why do you need a lawyer? They’ll ask. Are you guilty?

I’ve committed no crime. But if I don’t retain a lawyer, I’d be a fool. The powers that be will charge me guilty until innocent. The law states otherwise, innocent until proven guilty. Yet they’re blinded by rage as we speak. I’ll spend life in prison or likely get the death penalty without a sharp attorney.

I claim my innocence while making accusations without ironclad proof of Joel’s guilt. Espionage is a hefty charge. Many factors have to come into play to find one guilty. And then to make it stick. Would he even have the connections to execute all he’s being accused? Is he the psychopath he’s being portrayed to be? The Joel I grew up with wouldn’t execute a plan to turn so many lives upside down. 

And the more that comes to light, it would cost millions to execute the mission and keep veiled clandestine meetings throughout the states, Western Africa and Western Europe, to name a few of the locations we’ve become privy. Where would he have obtained the finances to fund a mission of this sort over two to three years? It would have taken that long to filter the formula and move funds through various accounts without causing suspicion.

What’s been reported may be fair investigative reporting but is it one hundred percent true. Joel’s life is at stake. There are those proclaiming to carry out capital punishment this moment, today, as soon as they can get their hands on him, on us. They’ve decided no trial is necessary. GUILTY! Their signs state.

There is no leeway. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can’t be one percent wrong here. That one percent could have us all resting our eyes on our families through the glass from the chair lethal injections are given.

All this time, I’ve been so overwhelmed I’ve been focusing on myself, Joel, my other friends, and co-workers. I’ve forgotten to discuss what’s next with my family. I simply have to inform them to leave town for a while. The best thing to do is to get our finances, our legal house in order. Obtain some peace of mind. 

I’d instead look guilty. I’m following Joel to the law firm representing him. The journalists from around the country are en masse up and down the street. I haven’t left the car; they recognize me. They block the entrance to the parking deck; the flashes from the cameras blind me and create their sun in the interior deck. The machine squeals waiting for me to take my ticket, reporters pepper me with questions. “How could you turn your back on your country?”... When did you find out?... Why didn’t you inform the FBI?... How much money did you split to sell your soul?”

If my mind, my nerves, my life is in shambles, I can imagine what Joel’s family must be going through. I feel the need to run to my old friend’s rescue, but he’s, I’ve heard, been placed in an FBI or CIA safe house. 

True or not, things will never be the same. We will have to become different people in different places and claim other lives.

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12 comments

Karen Davies
17:34 Dec 12, 2020

Very good story, full of tension and impact. I look forward to reading more of your work.

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Elliott Laurence
04:04 Dec 13, 2020

Thank you

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Emma Mohammad
06:14 Dec 08, 2020

Hi Elliott, I've been meaning to ask more judges as this the only way I can contact you, I believe my latest Reedsy story got accepted after the judges having spoken to the admin team, but is there any way that the other two stories could be accepted too?

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Elliott Laurence
07:33 Dec 08, 2020

Emma, If it fits the criteria of 1,000 words or more and is in the submission pool and is your original work...I don't see why not. The admin team takes a second and third look at everything that is accepted by judges.

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Emma Mohammad
09:41 Dec 08, 2020

Thank you for clarifying

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Elliott Laurence
07:34 Dec 10, 2020

You're welcome. Keep up the good work.

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Izzie P.
17:21 Apr 23, 2021

Book lovers, would you like The False Prince, by Jennifer Nielson to become a movie or television series? Well, say no more! Please sign our petition and help us reach our goal. You can do that here: http://chng.it/RXXqmhFqF8 Please spread the message if you can!

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9 P
09:09 Feb 18, 2021

Wow.........Short and a super story, I liked the way it got started and ended in a complete different scenario..............Great work Elliott👍 Well I know that you have read my latest story, but would you like to read my other pieces as well..........whenever you are free, and please don't forget to leave a feedback.😊

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Elliott Laurence
22:01 Feb 18, 2021

Will do. Thanks.

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Aiyana Henderson
15:56 Feb 12, 2021

Elliott, this is such a scandalous story! I felt the trepidation of your character going through this arduous task of being scared for not only his reputation, but also his best friend. Your story actually reminded me of the Apple series, Defending Jacob, where an ADA discovers his son is accused of murdering a classmate. Wonderful job!

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20:39 Dec 22, 2020

Great story Elliott Laurence! I am a history buff. This story could echo the stories of many through the 1930's through to the present. I could literally see your characters in my mind's eye. Trying to remain calm while his heart is racing. The "prison without walls" is a perfect descriptor.

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Elliott Laurence
03:17 Dec 23, 2020

Thank you, Lyn.

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