Criminal is powered by Vocal creators. You support Eliza Vargas by reading, sharing and tipping stories... more

Criminal is powered by Vocal.
Vocal is a platform that provides storytelling tools and engaged communities for writers, musicians, filmmakers, podcasters, and other creators to get discovered and fund their creativity.

How does Vocal work?
Creators share their stories on Vocal’s communities. In return, creators earn money when they are tipped and when their stories are read.

How do I join Vocal?
Vocal welcomes creators of all shapes and sizes. Join for free and start creating.

To learn more about Vocal, visit our resources.

Show less

The Eclipse: Truth or Treason

#NYCMidnightShortStoryChallenge2019 (Round 1)

BRAYNK! BRAYNK! BRAYNK! BRAYNK! The alarm system is blaring in the west wing of a government research building. A man is sitting at a computer with a file loading on the screen. He frantically looks at the nearby door.

“Come on…” Suddenly men with military grade rifles are slamming on the door.

“Jason don’t do this! You’re surrounded and we have orders to shoot! Open the door!” The file finishes loading and Jason takes out the drive, putting it in his pocket.

“Okay, I’m coming to the door. Please, don’t shoot.” He moves slowly towards the door and opens it just a crack. One of the men try and squeeze through, he strikes him with the door, his full weight pressed against it. The soldier cries out in pain. He falls to the floor as the others push in behind him. Jason proceeds to shove one to the ground, and gives the other an elbow to the nose, breaking it leaving him bloodied. The first man charges at Jason, tackling him to the ground, the second grabs a gun, ready to shoot. Before he can find a clean shot Jason gets hold of the one on top of him, and hurls him in the armed man's direction. As they scramble to collect themselves Jason dashes out of the room and down the hall looking for the closest exit. More soldiers are coming. He turns around, finding yet another dead end, until he notices a stairwell. Making his way down the stairs he can hear more soldiers gaining on him.

“Roof it is.” Racing to the rooftop, Jason runs to the edge of the building, in search of an escape route. Spotting a tree he moves back and gets a running start to catapult himself onto it. He’s successful, and with haste tries to make his way down.

“Where is he?”

“There sir, in the tree!” The men begin firing their guns, as Jason finishes making his way to the ground. As fast as he can he runs to the nearest car, breaks the glass of the driver’s door and gets in. Luckily for him, there is a spare key in the compartment on the passenger's side. As he gets the car running men are leaving the building spotting him in the lot. He drives straight through them, ducking to avoid any bullets. Two of the men go flying outwardly after being hit by the car. They continue shooting after he races off, to no avail. Jason speeds through the lot past the gate, as it closes shut behind him. He continues speeding away until he gets on the highway, to camouflage himself among the other civilians. Pulling out his phone from his pocket he scrolls through his contacts while keeping his eyes on the traffic in front of him.

“Hey M it’s me I need your help. I kind of got myself in some trouble.”

“Again. What did you do this time, piss off one of your commanding officers for being a—”

“Not now M, this is serious, I really need your help!”

“What are you talking about, is this some kind of joke,” there is a long pause, “J what did you do?”

“I can’t say on the phone, can you just meet me somewhere in about twenty minutes, the diner.”

“Fine, but you better tell me everything.”

“When don’t I, sis?” The line clicks off. He puts the phone back in his pocket, and something in the rearview mirror catches his eye. Blue and red flashing lights can be seen in the distance.

“Shit.” Hitting the gas he weaves his way through the cars in front of him in attempts to get away. He can count three maybe five cop cars behind him. Traffic starts piling up. His heart begins to race, feeling the adrenaline pumping through his veins. Traffic isn’t moving. He gets out of the car, jumps over the vehicle next to it and gets off the exit. There he sees nearby trees to hide, in as he gets away.

“Try and catch me now,” saying this almost made him pleased with himself. Even still he kept running.

...

About a block away Jason can see a diner with a young woman sitting by the window. Her hair the same color as his, chestnut brown, pulled up exposing a small star tattoo behind her ear, flushed cheeks, and freckles. He pulls out his phone again going to recent calls.

“Hey M I’m here, get the car.”

“Bossy much, nice to see you too. I’m coming.” She hangs up, standing from her table, leaving some cash for her coffee. Once she leaves the building she looks around to see if she can spot her brother at all. When they lock eyes Jason runs up to hug her. “Start talking. And you need to tell me everything.” 

He grimaces. “Let’s get in the car, I’m driving.”

“Where are we going?”

“Just trust me.” Reluctantly she gives him the keys and goes around to get in the car. They drive off through the back roads for a while, the headlights dimmed down.

“Okay, what’s going on? Why are you acting so weird?”

“Do you know how there is an eclipse happening soon?”

“No…?”

“Well there is and they are calling it a Super Blood Moon.”

“Super Blood Moon...really?” She chuckles to herself thinking this is all a big joke.

“Look it’s not funny. There have been some rumors going around that the government is causing it, and it's going to cause some major damage.”

“What the hell are you—”

“Meghan, they are going to use it to cause some sort of natural disaster, and a lot of people are going to die!” There is a long air of silence. Jason keeps driving as Meghan musters through the absurdity she was just told.

“How are you involved in all of this?” It’s almost a whisper. At first, Jason doesn’t answer. “Jason, how are you involved?” He can tell the irritation in her voice.

“Turns out all the rumors were true and I stole a file to expose them.”

“YOU WHAT?”

“Calm down Meghan! We are going to go somewhere that we can go off the grid while I try to expose them.”

“Are you insane? Are you trying to get yourself killed? Both of us actually, now that you just made me an accessory—”

“MEGHAN SHUT UP! I need you to calm down. We will be fine. I’m trying to save us. I just need you to trust me... can you do that?” Meghan's eyes begin to swell. Her mind is racing. For a moment she is unable to speak.

“Yes.” Nothing else is said.

...

They arrive at an old cabin in the middle of the woods. By the looks of it, there maybe hasn’t been someone here for a couple of years.

“Is this yours?”

“No, well sort of. It was one of my buddies back in Afghanistan, but he died. Told me about this place before he died, and said it was a great place for him to go when he needed to get away. So here we are.” They go inside. Meghan stands in the doorway as Jason searches for a lighter to light some candles. “Okay you stay here, I have to get rid of the car. In the meantime, I need you to break our phones and keep the lights low.” Before she can say anything he is already out the door. Meghan walks to a chair in the corner of what looks like a living room under all the mess and plops herself down on it. She takes her phone out of her purse and tosses her purse on the floor beside her. For a moment she just stares at the phone, confused. It buzzes. Texts are coming in from her boyfriend.

Babe <3
Today 6:37 PM
Meghan have you seen the news!
Your brother is all over it
Where are you
Has he called you?


MEGHAN
“What the hell is going on?”

She decides not to respond to him, but turns on her news app on her phone. The first story that pops up shows a picture of her brother. The headline reads: "Ex-Military Spy Steals Information on Super Blood Moon eclipse."

“Spy?” She clicks on the video.

“So we are getting news that ex-military man, Jason Mills was seen escaping a government research building about two hours ago, where he was stealing research about the upcoming eclipse. Apparently, it is believed that he is, in fact, a spy trying to sell the research to known terrorists. Now we can only share so much information, but as you can see it is imperative that this man is caught.” Meghan’s face goes white.

“No, my brother’s not a spy, he can’t be.” Crackling of branches can be heard in the front of the cabin. Quickly she turns off the phone and puts it back in her purse. Grabbing her brother’s phone she throws it as hard as she can to the ground. The glass shatters but it still turns on. She throws it again and this time stomps on it. Jason walks in past her with some branches for the fireplace. He lights them, Meghan follows behind with what’s left of the phone.

“That’s all of it?”

“Yeah. So what now?”

“Well even though we should be fine here, I think someone should keep watch. Why don’t you get some rest? We might not be able to stay here long?”

“But I thought you said we were good here, nevermind. Why don’t you get some rest? I can only imagine what you’ve been through today running from the feds and all. Being a fugitive must be tiring.” He’s hurt by the comment, but brushes it off. To her shock he doesn’t argue and gets up making his way to the cramped bedroom. Meghan waits a while in silence.

...

To be sure Jason is asleep Meghan pokes her head in the room and calls out his name, nothing, perfect. She closes the door behind her, and turns back to the mess in the living room. Papers have been thrown about in almost every part of the room. Sifting through one pile she hopes to find something that will prove all the news reports wrong, nothing. She moves to the next pile. There are some notes on the eclipse. All just talk about a rumor going around that it would be dangerous. Then she notices a picture under some other papers. It’s a picture of her, Jason, and her parents. They died when Meghan and Jason were very young. They were told by police that they died in an accidental house fire. But Meghan’s grandparents never believed that. For a moment she just holds the picture there in her hands thinking back to what little she could remember of them and how happy they were.

Her phone rings. Startled she jumps to grab it before her brother can hear it. Her hands begin to shake, fumbling through the bag. She turns it off and stares at the bedroom door, waiting for Jason to come barreling out. She can hear her heart pounding in her ears. It feels like an eternity passes. Nothing. Good thing he is a heavy sleeper. 

“Thank God,” whispering to herself, she takes a deep breath to try and be calm. She looks to the side and notices something by her purse. Money. Part of her thought it’s just some money so what? The other part made her think, who just leaves money around in a mess like this? As she clears away the mess she realizes it’s not just one bill but several. They are all hundreds. There must be hundreds of thousands of dollars on the floor in front of her, maybe more. The news report did say he was SELLING the information. “No this can’t be.” She finds another note.

Meet contact @ midnight

Baker’s Square

Zip drive with weaponization instructions

Pays 1.2 billion

She’s stunned. Feeling numb she just sits back for a moment.

“I have to call the police.” Saying the words made her own self feel betrayed. She brings her knees up to her chest and begins to sob. “This can’t be happening. It just can’t.” Before she can talk herself out of it any further she dials 9-1-1. The line is ringing.

“9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

“What evidence is there that Jason Mills is a spy?”

“Ma’am I can’t release that information, who is this?”

“This is his sister, and I know where he is. But I’m not telling you anything until you tell me what evidence you have to prove he is a spy.” She keeps eyes on the bedroom door as she speaks to the man on the phone.

“One moment please.” Meghan begins to get anxious at the music from being put on hold.

“Meghan Mills this is Sergeant Bernard. One of Jason’s commanding officers—”

“What proof is there that my brother is a spy?”

“One of my men came to me a couple days ago saying Mills was convinced the government had something to do with your parents’ death. I also caught him snooping around in the research facilities and let him off on a warning. Just this morning we also tapped his phone and linked some of the lines to known terrorists in the east.”

“Track my phone he’s with me.”

“Already done, police will be at your location soon. I want you to know Meghan you are a doing the right thing here. You’re a hero.”

“If it took turning my only family member in to become a hero, I don’t want that title.” She hangs up. This time her face is wet with tears from both hurt and anger. Jason walks out of the bedroom. Glaring him down she simply sits there. “Tell me the truth.” She gets up.

“What are you talking—”

“TELL ME THE TRUTH JASON!”

“I already told you—”

“Stop lying! I just got off the phone with one of your sergeants and they have proof you are a spy! And working for terrorists, what the hell were you thinking?” Jason is furious, his face is a bright red.

“Meghan they murdered our parents! They were working for the government and they just killed them in cold blood! The fire was a cover-up! I did this for them. For us.”

“You think mom and dad wanted you to be working for terrorists? To kill who knows how many innocent people with this whole eclipse thing? You think I wanted that?” 

Police cars can be heard outside.

“How could you?” Meghan stays silent. Policeman break through the door and cuff Jason. He doesn’t even fight back. The brother and sister stay with their eyes locked, filled with heartache, until Jason is put in the back of one of the cop cars and driven away. That was the last time Meghan would ever see her brother.

Now Reading
The Eclipse: Truth or Treason
Read Next
The 10 Best Crime Novels of 2018