Delete – Submit Your Ninth Short Story For 2018 Today

Nine stories done! I am very proud. So far, we have almost 80 writers in line to get 12/12. Keep going, writers. If you haven’t entered our competition yet, read 12 Short Stories – Competition Time Again!

Submission process:

I will accept and approve posts for Delete (Word count: 1250 words) from 5 September 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 6 September 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00) on  Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world. 

Please use the correct format:

In the post title bar:              Story Title by Author Name.

Just above the story:             Prompt: XXXXXX | Word count: XXXXXX | Genre: XXXXXX

Warning: Please add a warning if your story is not appropriate for sensitive or younger readers.

Can I still join?

You can join the 12 Short Story Challenge in any month. So, if you start in June, that will be month one for you and then May 2019 will be month 12.

Here is the procedure:

  1. Read today’s post.
  2. Post your story on 12 Short Stories.
  3. Read and comment on at least four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.
  4. This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
  5. Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
  6. Our next prompt is at the end of this post.

A few more points:

  1. I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
  2. NO hate speech. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
  3. Be careful of profanity.
  4. I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up.

Here is my short story:

Just Miss García by Mia Botha

Prompt: Delete | Word count: 1250 | Genre: Action

Warning: Profanity and violence

The corridors of the police station are narrow. Their shoulders brush as they walk to the briefing room at the end of the passage. Doors open and close offering glimpses of interrogation rooms, sweaty, scared suspects, over full notice boards, a messy kitchen.

She reaches for the door handle.

“Señorita García?” An officer calls from four doors sway.

“Si?” She asks as both she and Drew turn.

“Ven por aquí, por favor. This way, please.” He says, waving her towards the room.

Their eyes meet, and they retrace their steps down the passage. Joy enters first.

“Just Miss García.” The officer says behind her and stops Drew at the door with a hand on his chest.

Drew looks at the hand and then up at Joy.

“It’s fine.” She says.

Drew keeps his gaze on the officer for a moment longer before leaving. 

Joy leans against the far wall. “An interrogation room, officer? I thought I was here for a briefing.”

A second agent enters the room. “We have some questions, Miss.” The American accent hits her. She frowns as she recognizes Drew’s colleague from the previous meeting. He was an asshole. She never got his name.

“What questions? A little late to start the investigation. We’re about to raid the compound.”

“Please have a seat, Miss García. We’ve received new information, which has made us question some of the intel.” He glances at the two-way mirror. “Your intel specifically.”

Joy sits and looks at the mirror. She wonders if Drew is back there. Bloody cowards, the lot of them. “My intel is solid.”

The agent slides a thick manila folder across the desk. The corners worn. Her name scribbled in fat black letters across the front.

“Well, we question your motives then.” He opens the folder. Grainy black and white photos. Old. Her and Miguel and Lupe. They were kids with big stupid grins. She remembered the day it was taken. They were so happy they’d been adopted. The next photo standing in front of spindly plastic Christmas tree, they’re older. Not so happy anymore, but they’re resigned to their fate. The last, a picture of her and José. He sits on a chair and she stands to his left wearing army fatigues, AK slung across her back. She points to the big map spread out before them. She was sixteen when it was taken. Playing at being the dutiful daughter. Where did they get these?

“Are you taking up scrapbooking?” She dismisses the photos.

“We have reason to believe that you haven’t been entirely honest with us.”

“Cut the crap and just tell me what you want to know.”

“The identity of your father.”

Joy laughs. “I’m not sure how it works state side, but here, in this country, the word orphan should tell you everything you need to know.”

“We don’t believe that to be true.” He shuffles through the pile of papers.

Joy’s heart hammers in her chest. She knew he was lying, but she was still an orphan. That never changes. The yearning of knowing your parents never went away. She crosses her arms and leans back. “My mother died in childbirth. She was a prostitute. My father could be any man in South America.” She takes a deep breath. “Besides anything that could be considered an official record is gone. The office at the orphanage burnt down. Almost all our files were lost. The last trace of our existence destroyed. Deleted.”

“How convenient, but we know better. We received a tip.”

“From who?”

“They preferred to remain anonymous.”

“How convenient.”

“They gave us enough information to be considered a credible source. After their tip we used the DNA we have on file for you and compared it to that of your alleged father. We got a match.”

Joy gripped the sides of the table. Her knuckles white. “I don’t believe you.”

“You don’t have to believe me, but the science doesn’t lie.” He pushes a paper towards her. She stares at the graphs and the numbers and the percentages. Uncomprehending.

His fat finger lands on a word. “See right here. It’s a match.”  

The letters swim but form a familiar word. Disbelief wars with reason.

“No, I don’t believe you.”

“You better believe it, missy.”

His smug smile invades her thoughts. 

“It always comes back to you.” He taunts.

The table is light. She flips it as she stands up, it cracks when it hits the wall. She steps into his space, relishing his wide eyes. She backs him into the wall. Her fingers close around his throat. “I don’t believe you.” She hisses.

Behind her the door crashes open.

“Joy, I just saw the report. They just told me everything.” Drew says.

“Go away.” She snarls.

“Joy, it’s true.”

Her vision darkens, and the agent struggles in her grip. Drew’s hand is cold on her shoulder. She loosens her fingers and sinks to the floor along with the gasping agent.

“That means he lied to me. He let José take me. Why would he do that?” Joys says, Bewildered. Overwhelmed.

Drew sits down next to her. The agent scampers from the room.

“I don’t know. He’s the only one who could tell you that.”

Joy recoils. “Did you know?” She twists to see his face. “Did you know about the test? About the tip?”

“No. Jeez, no.” Drew runs a tried hand over his face. “I got told at the same time you did. They’re currently questioning my emotional involvement in the case. Apparently, my judgement has been compromised.”

Joy scoffs. “Idiots.”


“Now what?”

“The raid is going ahead. This was apparently a test to see if we were still trust worthy and to see if you knew that he was your father. Someone has been telling stories, but it seems we have passed the test. We’ve been assigned to the team raiding the compound. The other teams are hitting the factory and the storage facilities and also the house. The one where the woman are.”

Joy shakes her head. A lifetime of lies flashes through her mind. She needs to get her head straight.

“Turns out Padre was a bit of a player.” Drew says.

“Well, there was a time when Padre wasn’t a Padre. He used to be José’s second in command. That was before he found God.”

“I’m also assuming it was before he had a daughter.”   

The implications of what Drew was saying manifested slowly and then all at once.

“I suppose he knew. All along he knew. He must have.” Joy puts her head on her knees. “I called him a coward so many times for not defying José, when all the time he was protecting me.”

“Let’s get the raid over with then you can track him down.”

Joy doesn’t answer him.

“Are you okay? This is a lot to handle.”

“I don’t think I believe it. At least, not yet. I’ll sort through it later.” She picks up the photo and slips it into her pocket, kids with big stupid grins. “How is this going down?”

“We’re on the south side of the compound. We wait for the bang, then we storm. They want José alive.”

 Joy nods and gets up. “I need to get hold of Carlos. He needs to know.”

“I still don’t know why a competing drug lord is involved in this.”

“You’ll know soon enough.” She looks at Drew. “And then, I want to find out who that anonymous source is.”

Here is the 1oth prompt for the 2018 challenge:

 by Mia Botha

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

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