Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuesday Tales #1 - Travel Agent

This is my first Tuesday Tales, where writers are invited to create a story based on a prompt. This week's prompt is "travel agent". Below are this week's participants with a short taste and links to their Tuesday Tales. And below that is my entry, a serial I'm going to write each week. Enjoy!

Click on the author's name to go to the blog where the rest of the story begun here resides:

J.F. Jenkins 
I don't have to work Saturday or Sunday, which is a Godsend if there ever was one. I could use a little break, and a nap. Sunday though I got up earlier than I normally would on a day off so I could primp myself for church.

Kathleen Tighe Ball 
Running around her apartment, trying to pack at the last minute, Randi Summers mentally went over her to do list. Filling in for her coworker Tammi didn’t bother her, it was the short notice that did.

Sara York  
Deck sat in the coffee shop across from the travel agency. The girl working the phones wasn't the main travel agent, only the agent's assistant. She knew too much to be a normal assistant though.

Michael Charton 
Esmerelda Rodriguez boarded the number 6 train at 110th Street.  It was only four stops to 77th Street and her job at East of Manhattan Travel.

Clint moved the last of his boxes into Nina’s house. She helped him organize his clothes in the closet and drawers. When they were done, they sat down to coffee, neither spoke.

The Artifact
By Elizabeth Black

Chapter One - Travel Agent

Victoria Crenshaw couldn't believe her ears. She stood so quickly she knocked her chair over. "What do you mean, the artifact is missing?"

Rod Jenkins, the assistant museum curator, stammered as he talked. "When the crate arrived it was gone. I have no idea why. The manifest listed it. The box was full of packing material as if it has been packed but nothing else was in the box. We need you to get down here pronto."

Although Victoria welcomed a trip to the Bahamas, she didn't want to go under these circumstances. This artifact was the keystone display for the opening of the museum and its disappearance did not bode well for her, her team, the museum, or the exhibition. Such a mishap could cost careers. Including and especially her own.

She rang off and poked at her phone with a pencil. While she listened to the dial tone, she gnawed on her pencil, leaving more tooth impressions on the wood. "Hey, Rachel. I need a flight to Nassau as quickly as you can get me there." She had relied on Rachel Wood as her company's travel agent for over ten years. If anyone could get her to the Caribbean safely and as quickly as possible, Rachel could. "And put me up in our usual suite."

"How long are you going to be gone?"

"I don't know. As long as it takes. I hope not long but I can't guarantee anything." 

Rachel tapped for a few moments while Victoria chewed on her pencil, heart thumping hard with tension. "I can get you on a 3 a. m. flight. That gives you some time to pack."

"There aren't any flights in the morning?"

"That is morning."

"I mean late morning, like 6 or 7 am."

"I'm afraid not. The next flight isn't for another two days. We're at peak season. Everyone's traveling to the beach."

She sighed with exasperation. "Oh, well. It'll have to do. I'll sleep on the plane. Yes, book it please." Her phone beeped. "Hold on a second. Another call's coming in."

She switched to the new call. A cheery voice broke into her collapsing world. "Hey, Darling. How about we eat out tonight?"

She groaned inside. He's going to be pissed. "Oh, God, Don, I'm so sorry. I have to fly to Nassau tonight."

"Again? You just flew there a few weeks ago."

"It was two months ago for a week, and you went with me. You know my job is demanding. I warned you about that when we started dating." They had been dating for six months and Donovan Fleming never could get a grip on how important her career was to her.

"I wasn't expecting it to be this bad. Why can't you slow down like we talked about?"

"Like you talked about. You know I can't slow down, especially now with the museum opening and the exhibit going live soon."

"You can't put it off a few days?"

"Sorry, I can't. I have to leave tonight. It's an emergency." Her fingers tingled. She held the receiver so tightly her hand went numb. I'm too tense. Breathe! Calm down. This is just another one of your petty arguments. After moving the phone to her other hand, she shook out her fingers until the circulation started in them again. "Don, I have to go. I have the travel agent on the other line."

"Fine. Go to Nassau but don't expect to find me waiting for you when you get back."

Before she could reply he hung up on her. Dealing with his tantrums was the last thing she needed. She switched to the other line and spoke to Rachel.

"Sorry 'bout that. I didn't mean to keep you on hold for so long."

"No problem. I booked your flight and you're set in the suite. Check your fax. Your itinerary is coming through now. Enjoy your trip."

"I wish I could. It isn't going to be fun. Last minute problems, as always." She sighed as a headache stabbed her in the left eye. She always got headaches when under stress. "Thanks so much for your help, Rachel. You're a life-saver. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Just remember me for the Christmas bonus," Rachel's pleasant laugh calmed Victoria's frayed nerves. "You have a safe trip. If you need anything, you know where to find me."

She rushed home to pack and nearly forgot her bathing suit. Why fly to Nassau without taking the time to swim? Although the trip would likely prove to be a royal pain in the ass, and she panicked over what had happened to that artifact, she looked forward to the break. This museum was the Caribbean branch of the New England Museum of Natural History. If the opening and the show went well, she knew she'd find herself living amid the palm trees and clear blue water. Her current position promised one hell of a promotion, relocation, and raise. If it weren't for that damned artifact disappearing!

Victoria rushed out the door and headed for the airport, wondering what adventures awaited her in paradise.


  1. What a fabulous story!! You bet I'm coming back next week. Lizzie, you hooked me from the get-go. This is terrific. I HAVE to find out what happened to that artifact. Great Tuesday Tale.

  2. Thanks, Jean! Wait until you see what's waiting for Victoria when she gets to Nassau. I have a general idea where the story is going but the characters will likely surprise me. LOL! I'm looking forward to playing with them.