Free-Range Fiction: Tackling the Unlikable Protagonist

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Once again I’m being lazy as far as idea creativity goes and leaning on the fabulous Chuck Wendig and his weekly challenge to the writers who follow his blog. It deals with the unlikable protagonist. This story below is the beginning of a work-in-progress, SLIDE. Likely will be a novella because I don’t think it will have enough steam to be a novel-length project. Believe it or not, most of the story deals with Miranda Dabrowski. Here is the introduction. Let me know how you like it, as always.


“I didn’t kill your sister,” the woman, who before she was tied up, had sported perfect hair. “I didn’t have anything to do with it,” she wiggled against her bindings.

Watching the captive in the chair, a tall, slender, dark haired woman with big Hollywood sunglasses and a scarf where the lower half of her face should be spoke, “You are an accomplice. For your crimes, you will be punished.”

The tied-up woman began to cry as the dark-haired one produced a knife. She took two steps towards her captive and stopped. Her cheeks – the only part truly visible on her face – slackened and she tilted her head and considered the being in front of her. Tears shuddered down the young woman’s face and she continued to struggle against the clothesline that held her. Black sunglasses hung above here a long moment, the knife lightly reflecting the weak light in the basement.

“You have to know that for which you are responsible,” the dark-haired one spoke from beneath the silken gray scarf. “Stop your crying and let me tell you a little bedtime story.” The woman turned, high heels clicking on cement, and returned to a work bench behind her and set the knife down and perched herself on a wooden stool.

The captive quieted but her eyes kept darting around. Was there a door left or right? It was too dark. All she could really see were shadows on either side. The two dangling lights only illuminated where she was tied up and the area where the work bench was. Everything else was dark.

The knife was set down on the work bench where a circular saw sat. The sunglasses were removed, gently placed down. The black hair was brushed back to reveal the gray scarf had a slight sheen to it and a couple of spot where perhaps the captor’s sweat had been soaked by the delicate fabric.  She crossed her legs and revealed deep burgundy leather shoes in the tight charcoal wool skirt.

She took a deep breath, “Once upon a time, my sister was alive. As were her three children — beautiful imps they were. Ate my heart alive every time I saw them. My sister, as I explained was killed by the man you are fucking. Her distress and screams I hear almost nonstop. I hear the voices of her children, who are also dead because of his whorish, addictive ways. Killing him, however, is too good for him. You, on the other hand, need to be punished.”

“I didn’t do anything,” the girl sobbed. “Really, I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”

“And you should be,” the rage rocketed from the dark-haired woman, launching her off the stool and putting her once again right in front of the captive, crying woman.

“But I didn’t mean to,” the prisoner sobbed, head forward.

“I don’t want to hear your excuses,” and the words were followed by a slap that burned red into the pale skin.

Syrupy strains of snot and tears coagulated into the captive’s lap. She waited for the knife. For her own blood to join the snot and tears. Instead, she heard the departing shot of high-heels on wooden steps. A door slammed. She looked up. It was darker still. There was the thump of music above. Besides the dark and the rumbling bass beat, she was utterly alone. And soon to be dead.



“Miranda,” the detective sighed, “I told you, there is nothing more we can do. There’s not enough evidence.”

“You’re not looking hard enough,” a growl came through the phone. “He is guilty. We both know it. Now do your job and find the fucking bloody glove or something.” The line went quiet.

Detective Peter Brandt scratched at his chin, his mind wandering around his paperwork covered desk. Miranda Dabrowski hadn’t called him in two weeks. A personal record for her since the woman’s sister and children had died. The coroner on the scene had said something in the initial investigation which left the door open for speculation and a flurry of questions. But he didn’t have time for this bullshit with Dabrowski. He had a missing woman. Not just any missing persons case either. This was the niece of the university chancellor.

“Detective?” one of the dispatchers was at his desk. Brandt looked up. “You might want to take a look at this. I couldn’t get the caller through to you because you were on the other line.”

Brandt took the message. It was from sister of the missing woman. The dispatcher had circled the name Leviticus Feeny in the note section of the pink slip. Brandt sat back in his chair and sighed.

“She said her sister was dating that man,” the dispatcher explained more. “She’d like a call back.”

“Will do,” Brandt said and picked up the phone. As the dispatcher walked away, he put the phone back down. Maybe he was going to have to deal with Dabrowski’s bullshit, since the name was the same name as her brother-in-law, who she swore murdered her sister and niece and nephew. He shook his head. This day just took a weird turn.

He decided to call Dabrowski first. She didn’t answer. He grabbed the trusty hat he bought on his trip to Australia — his one and only vacation in 20 years — and headed out to Dabrowski’s home.

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