This 8 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

An officer asks Detective London to use a piece of cloth to track Kelli Rocha, who ran from arrest for assault, she agrees to help, strips off all her clothes and puts them in a backpack (and the pack in her squad car).

I skipped nothing.


For a moment, she stood there, breeze ruffling her short ash-brown hair, wearing nothing but a detective’s badge on a chain around her neck. And then the air warped around her, wavering impossibly and brightly, and when the air cleared, an enormous black-and-tan German Shepherd stood where the police detective had moments before.

London whuffed softly.

Fowler glanced up at her, “Oh, I thought you’d be bigger.”

Statics often expected some sort of pony-sized wolf, from what they saw on movies, but London thought being twice the size of an average German Shepherd was pretty big. She stared up at him, until he flushed again, and held open the evidence bag containing the piece  of Kelli’s shirt.

A few quick sniffs and she had Kelli’s scent. She yipped once, then again, trying to draw Dale’s attention so she could start tracking, and when that didn’t work, she tipped back her head and howled.

*      *       *        *

NOTE: I’ll be editing “Lily Wasn’t There,” and posting it on my blog for any of the curious.

Here is my epilogue of sorts, for anyone who wants to know what happened afterwards. If curiosity is a driving force in your life, as it is in mine, I figured this would be important to more people. Also, it’s much shorter. 🙂

(What happened after)

When it was safe to go back inside, Lily got off the phone with her husband, and followed the crowd back.

For all her rage, Becca made much of a mess–the box of her spilled belongings, some charred and damp folders on the floor, a dead computer, and a faint smell of burning plastic and chemicals.

I.T. determined that Becca’s dramatic gesture had destroyed Irving’s monitor and not the CPU, so Irving moved to his new desk, the mess was cleaned up, and the rest of the day went as usual. It took Irving three days to reprint or replace his work. After that weekend, the only reminder was a nearly invisible seam in the carpet.

Though the near-fire was a stand-out moment in her work history, Lily’s life kept her too busy to dwell on it much. When she thought of Becca at all, she hoped the obviously unhappy woman had turned her life around.

*   *   *   *

Becca did not enjoy her time in jail.

She couldn’t get a hold of her mother or her father, but she eventually reached her father’s third wife, Candi, who had spent more time with Becca during the five-year marriage than Becca’s father ever had.

“Aw, honey, you messed up big this time.”

“I know,” Becca slumped against the wall, and then glanced back nervously to make sure no one else was waiting to use the phone.

“I’m going to help you, but you have to help yourself, too.”

“Anything,” Becca promised.

Anything turned out to be selling her name-brand items, signing a debt-repayment plan, and agreeing to attend therapy. In return, the lawyer Candi hired got Becca off with 90 days in jail, 1,000 hours of community service, and mandatory anger management classes.

The community service made her miserable, and Becca missed surrounding herself with beautiful things. She wasn’t even allowed a credit card. But the therapy helped her accept life’s hard truths—that her father sent her an e-mail saying he was disappointed in her, and cut off all contact; that her mother called to lecture Becca, but didn’t cut her vacation in Tahiti short by even a day; and that it would take decades for Becca to repay all her debt.

She stayed in Candi’s guesthouse until she found a job, saved up her money, and rented a tiny apartment. A couple of years later, she tracked down Lily to apologize.

When she found her, Lily was at another small park, holding a baby and making funny faces at her. Lily adjusted the pink and green flowered headband on her daughter, and applauded when her son caught a wild throw from her husband. The dog bounced after the ball as it was tossed back and forth, tail wagging vigorously.

After watching for a moment, Becca left without interrupting them.

*      *       *        *

Four Feet and a Badge is my NaNoWriMo story.

In 1952, an event moved two and a half million people from one version of the Earth to another, a quarter of them Shifters (able to change their shape). It’s now 2015, and those people have married and had children. The Static (non-Shifters) fit in fine, but the Shifters often have to prove their worth.

Detective Amy London works in Seattle’s Narcotics Section, Shifting to four feet to sniff out drugs and chase down suspects. But she can be a little impulsive–like when she bit her previous partner, earning her a new one, strict, by-the-book Detective Janice Dale.

Dale tries to reign in her partner’s wilder behavior, not always with much success. And a new group of cocaine suppliers is muscling in on the city, and they’re leaving bodies behind. London and Dale will have to work through their differences to bring these dealers down, before the body count rises.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

26 responses »

  1. millie Burns says:

    Ah, I thought maybe she’d nip him…maybe just a little ; )

    • caitlinstern says:

      Does Fowler come across as rude to you?

      Because I really meant this as an officer asking a co-worker for a favor. If he’s not seeming polite, hassled, and embarrassed, I need to tweak something.

  2. I wonder what Dale is thinking.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Right this moment, she has no idea what’s happening.

      I think those sentences fell between snippets, but Dale has been ignoring her partner since they got to the scene.

  3. Matthew says:

    Great excerpt. I’m glad to see shapeshifting moving back in the right direction after Twilight. 🙂

    • caitlinstern says:

      I wrote a tangential but similar kind of post yesterday–a story snippet “Werewolf in a Muumuu” that might amuse you. 😉

      I have a great deal of fun reading (and writing sometimes) stories that play with the rules of shape-shifting–there’s something for everyone out there. Even Twilight fans. o.O

  4. Gemma Parkes says:

    Exciting snippet, if she was any bigger people would probably shoot her!

  5. Great descriptive writing, Caitlin. I haven’t been following this story, but was immediately drawn in. Good premise, too. 🙂

  6. Love the dog, the size and suddenly, the howl. Fine eight.

  7. Carrie-Anne says:

    I totally wasn’t expecting her to transmogrify into a dog!

  8. Frank Fisher says:

    Guess that dog doesn’t like the whiff of Kelli’s shirt. Neat descriptions!

  9. Conservation of mass would make a pretty large dog. And there’s no sign of distaste in the snippet, just eagerness to get going. Is she saying “follow me,” or does she have to wear a tracking harness? (On the looking–one should be looking up, one down if they’re looking at each other.)

  10. Sarah W says:

    That’ll get Dale’s attention. Can’t wait to meet her!

    I also like knowing how things worked out for Becca . . . I suppose she really was a poor little rich girl after all. 🙂

  11. Enjoyed the snippet, loved all the details about her as a shepherd. This seems to be a really enjoyable story….I also have to say I did appreciate the epilog to Becca. I couldn’t stand her but it’s interesting to know what came next. Are you going to build all that character arc into what you’re writing? And I guess I’ll never get the title’s relation to the story but that’s just me. Glad Becca turns her life around!

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’m going to add a little to the rewrites, yep. But just a dash. I don’t want people to feel too sorry for her. 😉

      The title, Lily Wasn’t There, is meant to reflect the fact that Becca, all the way to the end, has this view of a Lily that’s all wrong–a version so extreme that Becca’s Lily is a different person.

  12. Love that description, especially the air warping around her! Great 8.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I’ve read two basic types of shape-shifting process. The quick, magic one, and the long, bone crunching, skin rearranging one. The latter is a little gross for me to write, so I picked the first. 🙂

  13. […] posted (What happened after) right after the NOTE on the previous […]

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