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Overhearing a private lunch conversation inverts the life of a female patron, leading to an action-packed chase with unexpected compro­mises in this novella drama miniseries.

⚠️ This story ebbs and flows with action, leading to mental manipu­la­tion to compromise propriety. Continue with discretion.

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Dark Shadows


Despite maintaining fitness and eating healthy, Luna Parker lives a relatively lonely life. Without a family, she is most often the fifth wheel on date nights. Luna has not yet figured out why. Though reasonably attractive with great physical form, perhaps she is too idealistic, independent, or demanding.

At the job, she is the go-to employee for late shifts. While working overtime one cold and windy evening as a branding expert, Luna believes she is the only one in the office. However, her desk flickers with mysterious dark shadows.

Whenever she calls out, there is no response. Eventually, she gets up to investigate, but discovers no one. “It must be the wind,” she mumbles to herself while munching on a healthy snack.

This foreboding sense of someone watching occurs several times on different evenings over the course of two months. The bags beneath her eyes convince her that it is stress from working too hard.

Dojo Contender

Luna has just received her brown belt in karate. Most in the class are happy for her. But Sarah, with a Kenpo purple belt, believes she is better than Luna. Knowing how competitive Luna is, she wants a duel.

“With gloves and headgear, I challenge you to a full-contact sparring match tomorrow evening in front of witnesses….” Sarah pauses for dramatic effect.

“No fears! You’re on.” Luna replies to the woman two belts her junior, not knowing she interrupted the sentence.

“Ordinarily, women wear breast protection. If we can agree not to strike each other in the chest, we can have the match you desire—with gi top on. But trust me, it doesn’t matter how much I’m wearing. My focus is on subduing the opponent.”

Word gets around and thirty spectators sit encircling the mat with their legs folded. The two women step onto the sparring mat dressed as expected. The audience remains silent, respecting the art form.

Though skilled, Sarah grossly underestimates Luna’s ability. Offensively and defensively, Luna outperforms her on points with moves like Unfurling Crane. Then Luna begins battering Sarah’s head with Alternating Maces before stepping back. As Sarah gains momentum for Charging Ram retaliation, Luna sweeps Sarah’s legs from beneath her.

Realizing that she is on the verge of a much more humiliating defeat, Sarah gets up, removes her head gear, bows to Luna, loosens the tie on her gi pants and bows facing away from Luna. She then says, “To the victor belongs the honor.”

Lunchtime Routine

On a weekly basis, Luna visits a beachfront restaurant for a lunchtime Caesar salad with croutons and a cool Arnold Palmer ice tea to drink. Before this, it was fresh spinach, crunchy walnuts, diced vegetables, and dried cranberries. Though alone, she prefers to sit at a table across from the booths for larger parties rather than at the bar counter.

Through the windows, she can see docked boats on the peer. Seagulls swoop down to scavenge food that patrons leave behind on outdoor dining tables. The sun is bright and the air is clean from the ocean breeze. It’s therapeutic since stress triggers asthma attacks.

On weekdays, most people dine within the noon hour. Luna has a late 2 o’clock lunch on Tuesdays to avoid the crowd and get a table. Whoever is serving during that shift brings her drink right away before smiling and asking, “The usual?” Even if she is curious about other entrees, she enjoys the staff’s familiarity with her routine.

This Tuesday, the waiter, Tony, allows her to sit in one of the large horseshoe shaped booths since the restaurant is nearly empty. While reading a mystery book during her lunch, a group of three men walk in from the other direction.

The high backs of the large booths obscure her from view. Once seated with two booths between them, the men order drinks with an appetizer. One diner tips Tony $100 for privacy.

Hearing Voices

Luna figures the men are having a business lunch. She has no interest in their trade secrets, so she continues eating as quietly as possible. In a full room, she would not be able to discern their conversation. But they are the only other diners in the restaurant.

At first it just sounds like mumbling. Then she begins to distinguish nicknames like Lefty and Tommy the Cleaner. Soon, a story that is more interesting than the one she is reading emerges.

It sounds like they are planning a murder! Luna begins thinking of words she may be misunderstanding. ‘Maybe they are talking about being cut by a mirror that sinks in the ocean. Perhaps they need to repair a sink. Could the sharks be investors?’ she tries to reason. But the contex makes no sense.

To prevent a ringtone from divulging her presence, she silences her cellphone. Listening more carefully, she definitely hears that the governor should sink into the ocean within an area known for sharks. “If they find the body, it can’t look like murder,” she clearly discerns.

As Tony begins approaching her booth to refill her drink, Luna makes hand gestures for him not to come and reveal her presence. The dinner crowd will soon be arriving. Already, Tony is holding some patrons in the waiting area to earn his big tip.

More than likely, her fictional story reading is enhancing her imagination. But she doesn’t want to take chances. Luna decides to use this opportunity to slip out without notice. But the folds of the table cloth catch her clothing.

The cloth slowly slides as she steps out of the booth, causing the fork on her plate to tap her tea glass. It rings out an audible high-pitch chime that reverberates like a tuning fork throughout the empty dining room.

Hot Pursuit

Luna continues walking towards the register to pay without turning around. Four eyes peering from the other booth follow her scurry. As she turns to exit, a man she doesn’t recognize opens the door for her.

He courteously says, “Have a safe afternoon.”

Luna just smiles while keeping her head down. She recognizes his raspy voice from the booth to the right of her.

The steps of the large figure echo ten yards behind while she makes her way to her car. Luna is certain that he will read her license plate or follow in another vehicle. So she takes a detour to attempt some evasive maneuvers on foot by walking in and out of nearby shops.

Looking for a crowd, she tries to hide in plain site. Within a department store changing room, Luna phones her boss to say a personal emergency prevents her from returning for a few days. She gets permission to catch up with her work during off hours or remotely. Though she has keycard access, she would be in the building alone.

Luna prolongs her shopping. At one point, she stands motionless among the mannequins while surveying the store for her pursuer. The sun begins to set, and darkness arrives by 5 o’clock.

She tries to walk between vehicles on the way to her own small car. But her vehicle is now isolated in the outdoor lot. Luna’s fast steps progress to a trot. She hurries over to it and shuts the automobile door behind her.

Inside, Luna is panting as her heart revs like muscle car. The excitement constricts her bronchi, causing her to wheeze. While backing out of her parking space, she sees through her rearview mirror, the man studying her license plate. Luna has read enough mysteries to know that mobsters and hitmen will soon find her address and identity from such information.

The pursuer heads back inside of the restaurant to speak to Tony, the server. “The woman sitting alone this afternoon in the booth near my party earlier,” he continues, “She apparently lost an earring. Is there any way to contact her?”

“Oh sure, if you leave it with me, I can return it to her next Tuesday.”

“It may be valuable. I’ll come back then so I can return it myself to…. What’s her name?”

“Luna. Her name is Luna,” Tony replies.

“Thanks, do you have a last name?”

“Just Luna. She is usually the only one here at three o’clock on Tuesday.”

“I’ll try to be back then.”

Vanishing Act

Luna rushes home to her modest under-furnished apartment. She earns good money but is frugal. In the lingo of the mystery books she reads, she’s now going “on the lam.”

A couple of suitcases are sufficient to pack some essentials, including clothes, toiletries, laptop computer, and chargers. She also discards perishable food in the dumpster. Then she begins driving to a hotel.

On the news, there is an announcement that the governor will address the state in three days. Luna feels an obligation to warn the authorities of a credible threat on the governor’s life.

Reporting hearsay to the police with the nicknames she overheard in the booth is pretty useless. Yet, to clear her conscience, she must warn the police. Not wanting to incriminate herself, Luna decides to phone in an anonymous tip.

The amount of pay phones has dropped to one quarter of what was available in the pre-iPhone era. Even less are still functioning. Most people rather use pre-paid (burner) cellphones. Luna buys a disposable phone from a convenience store.

Then she notices a public phone across the street. After two minutes of sanitizing, she calls a tip hotline. The call cannot be completed as dialed. “How can an emergency service be out of order?” Her second dialing attempt is successful. While disguising her voice, she makes the report. On her cellphone, Luna finds the local post office website to have her mail held.

The motels with vacancy signs have a place to park right outside their room door. Luna prefers something more comfortable and elevated above ground floor. So she checks into a four-star hotel for the week. Here, she changes clothes and fixes her hair differently.

Since the people she is hiding from recognize her vehicle and have her license plate number, she drives to an airport parking garage. Luna then uses a ride share service to drop her off at a car rental company.

The rental agent offers an economy 4-cylinder sedan. Luna prefers a muscle car, in case she needs to outmaneuver a pursuing vehicle.


Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides a more immersive experience. Audio may include sound effects or omit super­fluous details. More than 40 images bring this miniseries to life.

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