Desperate Times – Submit Your Second Short Story For 2018

And there goes February. Well done to everyone who made it.

I have mailed posting instructions to everyone. Please use them. The less I have to fix the faster I can approve the posts. 

Submission process:

I will accept and approve posts for Desperate Times (Word count: 1000 words) from 21 February 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 22 February 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 com.
  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:

Title: Whiskey, por favor by Mia Botha

Prompt: Desperate Times | Word count: 1000 | Genre: Action

Warning: Stupidity and a hangover.

[This is the third story featuring Joy. Story one and two can be found on the December and January lists.]

An unenthusiastic ceiling fan churns the stagnant air. An equally unenthusiastic fly settles on the bar. Somewhere a drunk guitar player strums few depressing notes.   

The door opens and closes ushering in another wave of heat. The patrons glare at the newcomer, before they all return to their thoughts and beers.

Joy glances at him and sneers. He’s all America: the shades, the gun, the red palm print shirt. He looks like he escaped from an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue, only more wilted.

She turns to the barman and signals for another shot, eager for the promise of oblivion. She takes comfort in the familiar press of the gun against her hip.

“This seat taken?” the twang hits her. South. One of the two Carolinas. She’d bet money on it.

“All yours.” She downs her beer, chases it with the shot and gets up to leave.

“Why the hurry?” he asks.

He waves to the barman and holds up two fingers, “Whiskey, por favor.” 

“Thirsty?” she watches the barman line up the shots.

He turns to face her. “Join me?” He slides the small glass across the bar.

She slaps money on the counter. “No, thank you.”

“Can’t handle your liquor?” He cocks an eyebrow.

Joy turns to him, “Really? Does this shit actually work?”

“On most girls.”

“And now I’m supposed to say, ‘I’m not most girls’, and swoon?”

“Something like that.” His smirk is infectious.

Joy reaches for the glass and slides back onto the stool. Ignoring the little voice telling her that something wasn’t right.


His breathing is slow. She watches him as she climbs off the bed and freezes as he mumbles and turns on his side. She waits. He doesn’t move again.

She tiptoes around the bed, collecting clothes as she goes and pulls on her vest. The night had not turned out as she had planned.

She steps over the horrid palm print shirt and scans the hotel room as she climbs into her shorts. She loses her balance and hops on one foot, knocking the beer bottle over and sending it spinning across the floor. She dashes to catch it before he wakes up, but it comes to a quiet rest against his shoe.  

His pants have ended up near the chair. She rifles through the pockets finding keys, gum and, at last, his wallet. Inside the fold is a few dollars, a crumpled receipt for gas, a few coins. And nothing. No clue to his identity.

“I think you’re supposed to leave the money on the dresser.” He says in a voice thick with sleep. 

She drops the wallet, at a loss for words, all her whiskey bravado gone. She grabs her gun from the dresser and aims it at him. 

“Morning.” He sits up, the sheet sliding down. She looks away. She’s not falling for that again.

“You are DEA.”

His smile slips and he moves to the edge of the bed. She tosses his pants to him and waits as he puts them on. He walks towards her.

“Admit it.” She says, maintaining her stance.

“I am DEA.” He faces her, arms crossed.

His size overwhelms her, intimidates her. She steps back, knocking the dresser. A far cry from the reckless woman she was last night. 

“What do you want with me?”

“Your help.”

“With what?”

“We’re going after Josè García.”

She laughs, lowering the gun. “Good luck with that.” She walks away.

“We need someone who can get us in.”

“All I’ll get you is killed. People die when they get near me.”

“I’m sorry about your friend. Lupe?”

She stops and turns back to him. “How do you know about him?”

“Word gets around.” He stuffs his hands into his pockets.

“No, it doesn’t. Who told you?” She steps closer.

“We’ve been tracking you for a while.”

“I can’t be tracked. I make sure of that. Who told you?” She takes another step towards him. Her mind racing.

He sighs. “Father Mateo.”

“Padre?” She fights hard to keep her voice steady.

“He said you needed help and that you were staying here.”

“You’re THAT American?” She shoves him, and he ducks to avoid the waving gun.

“I am and I can help you.”

She walks to the door, “I don’t need you.”

“You almost got blown up last week. You’re running out of options.”

“I work alone.”

“You can’t take the compound alone. Let us help. We have the numbers.”

“People die around me.”

“Let us help you. We want the same thing.”

“And what is that?”

“A world without Josè Gracía. Without his drugs. Without his violence.”

Joy moves to the window and turns to look out at the bustle of the grimy city.  “Sounds like a fairy tale.” The squalor, the smell, the poverty a stark reminder of the cost of Josè’s empire. “And last night, was that helping me too?” She looks at the bed before looking at him.

He has the decency to blush and he runs a hand through his hair. “That was little off script.”  There it was again, that smirk.

She looks away. “What is your plan?”

The blush disappears and it’s back to business. “That’s where you come in.”

“Way to make a girl feel special.” She flops on to the bed.

“It’s not like that.”

“Tell me then, what is it like?”

“We need to get into the compound.”

“I don’t know what your sources told you, but I’m not exactly on speaking terms with José.” She leans back against the headboard. “Besides, what is in it for me?”

“If we get José, you get your brother out and we let you disappear.”

She supresses the panic his lie induces. It’s never that simple. “What do you want to know?”


“Ok then, first things first. What is your name, again?”

“Way to make a guy feel special.”

She shrugs and pulls a face.

“Drew. My name is Drew.”

“Ok Drew, you better sit down for this.”

Here is the third prompt for the 2018 challenge:

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.

 by Mia Botha

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