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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Garden (09/07/06)

TITLE: Voices In My Ear
By Amy Michelle Wiley


I’d never known a garden could be as desolate and spooky as a graveyard, but that night this one sure scared me. I pulled the letter that had brought me here out of my pocket, just to reassure myself.


The letter had caused quite a stir in the Hyacinth Society. It had been pretty obvious to me that it spoke of the secret underground tunnels that the resistance had been searching for, but Marilyn and Wanda were suspicious.

I’d finally convinced them that this was an answer to prayer. The fact that the letter smelled strongly of hyacinth perfume hadn’t hurt, either. “We don’t have time to sit around worrying,” I’d admonished. “Pastor Turner is going to be arrested any day, and we’ve got to sneak him out before that.”

It was smack in the middle of WWIII and any practice of religion, especially Christianity, was outlawed. The Hyacinth Spies had infiltrated all the main businesses and government offices. Our secret signal was hyacinth perfume, and our trademark was acting ditzy. It didn’t take too much acting for some of us.

So here I was, in the middle of Town Square Garden, at 11:00 P.M. I tried to ignore the dark shadows, and the way the wind rustled and made the moonlight dance like ghosts.

I touched my ear like I’d seen the spies on TV do. “What am I looking for, exactly?”

Marilyn huffed in my ear and I winced. “You’re the one who insisted on going out there. How are we supposed to know?”

I heard something behind me. Swirling around, I found myself face-to-face with a police officer.

“Who were you talking to?” The officer scowled.

“Uh, I was talking to…the roses!” I smiled sweetly. “They grow better if you talk to them, you know.”

He stared at me. “In the middle of the night?”

I thought fast. “Oh yes! We’re having a party tomorrow morning, and I want the roses to look lovely. Happy roses make for a happy party!”

I couldn’t tell if he believed me, but he let me go.

The three ladies in my ear made an explosion of noise.

“You’re crazy, Dorothy!” Alexandra laughed out loud.

“Copy that.” I swaggered to the van.

“So now what?”

We poured over the note, pulling out every possible meaning. That is, all possible meanings except any that actually made sense.

Alexandra was typing away on the internet on her laptop, and Wanda was humming a hymn under her breath when Alex looked up.

“Sing that hymn, Wanda.”

We all stared, but Wanda obliged. “I come to the garden, alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice--”

“Got it!” Alex crowed. “There’s an art gallery on 11th Street that has a painting called ‘Dew On The Roses’.”

Marilyn looked doubtful. “Isn’t that kind of a stretch?”

I grinned. “It’s worth a try!”

The next morning found me once again on a steak-out. This time Alexandra was with me, which was very comforting, since the rather dark and empty art gallery had just as many shadows as the garden.

It took a bit to find the right painting. It was a lovely oil painting of a garden, with sun rays streaming through pink-tinged clouds in the background, and in the foreground a close-up of a beautifully detailed pink rose, kissed with sparkling dew drops.

Alexandra yanked the picture off the wall. I glanced at the price tag and gasped, “Careful!”

Engrossed in studying the back of the frame, Alex mumbled, “How much can we afford to spend on acquiring this info?”

“Not that much!”

She was poking gingerly (at least, I hope it was gingerly) at the backing. With a triumphant cry, she pulled a sheaf of papers from between the canvas and the backing.

I rescued the painting as Alex gave a happy bounce. “I’ve got them! The papers were hidden here.” She lowered her voice to a stage whisper. “The map of the secret tunnel is here, and--” she choked on a squeal, “A bunch of prison floor plans! A lot of lives can be saved with these, girls! Thank you, Lord.”

“Excuse me, can I help you?” An employee stood right in front of us, staring with narrowed eyes.

I jumped. “Uh, we were just--”

A hiss in my ear interrupted me. “Don’t you dare tell her you were talking to a painted rose!”

Hymn: In the Garden by Charles Austin Miles

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This article has been read 3205 times
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Becky Depp 09/14/06
This is a nice story! I love it. The hymn "In The Garden" is my favorite.
Lynda Schultz 09/14/06
Enjoyed this pseudo-thriller immensely - a touch of chilling truth embedded in the humour. Good job.
Val Clark09/16/06
Had me smiling in the midst of your character's danger! Loved: 'our trademark was acting ditzy. It didn’t take too much acting for some of us.' followed by your character actually acting ditzy. Hangs together well. :-)yeggy
Betty Castleberry09/16/06
What a fun read! Love the originality you've shown here, and I, too, liked the "ditzy" comment. Good job!
Debbie Sickler09/18/06
Heheh. I think this one was even better then the first in the series. :)I had fun reading it and thought your clue was pretty clever.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/18/06
A spy thriller with a "garden" thrown in for topic purposes. Neat.
Joanne Sher 09/19/06
Great job of holding interest! I was definitely riveted from beginning to end :) Wonderful description, and I love how you endd it. I'm definitely going to read your other installment of this!
Teri Wilson09/19/06
Very clever and so nice to read a different type of genre. FYI - I think the proper spelling is "stake-out". Excellent job!
Cheryl Harrison09/19/06
Cute! Made me snicker. I tripped a little on the word steak-out. But, I decided she must be hungry and kept going! hehe. Blessings!
Donna Powers 09/19/06
I really enjoyed this, and it is very well written. Thanks for sharing it!
Ann Grover09/19/06
I remember the Hyacinth Society... exciting read and good writing, as always!
Venice Kichura09/19/06
Very creativive! The dialogue & setting was excellent!
Beth Muehlhausen09/19/06
Mystery laced w/ humor - bravo!
Shari Armstrong 09/19/06
Picture perfect, right on key - WONDERFUL! :)
Brenda Craig09/20/06
Riviting with touches of humor. Great dialog and I love the title. Excellent writing!
Sue Dent09/20/06
I tripped a little on WWIII, I kept thining it read WWII and wondered what in the world you were writing about! LOL Good Grief am I dense! After I realized how "ditzy" I am, I rather enjoyed this piece. Okay, I enjoyed it before that too!
Rita Garcia09/20/06
Fantastic opening! You grabbed my attention and I was not disappointed. Masterpiece all the way!
Melanie Kerr 09/20/06
The dialogue was well constructed. I think that you needed to get a better balance between the humour and the actual danger that the women had put themselves in.
william price09/21/06
Enjoyable and entertaining. The dialogue was top notch. God bless.
Allison Egley 09/21/06
I really enjoyed the combination of the two genres, but agree that the balance was a bit off. I feel that the suspense should have outweighed the humor. But I still loved it.
Suzanne R09/21/06
I also loved this - it was really entertaining. Your 'voice' (not the one in the ear but the storyteller's voice) is just delightful.

As far as the challenge is concerned, perhaps 'garden' doesn't take centre stage as strongly as it could, but that is totally irrelevant in terms of how this stands in its own right. I really enjoyed it.

How about a book of their wartime adventures? Please. Pretty please.
Karie Spiller09/24/06
That was really cool. I like spy stories, but I want more. You really ought to write a novel about that. It gives us beginners inspiration to keep aspiring til the day we too become Masters.