Reedsy Prompt Shortlists “What Is Your Emergency”

Welcome reader! I am pleased to announce “What Is Your Emergency” was shortlisted out of 893 entries in Reedsy Prompt, Contest 67: The Great Escape. The story is based on the writing prompt: write a thriller about someone who witnesses a murder…except there’s no evidence a murder has taken place. This is my seventh entry with Reedsy Prompt and my first appearance on the shortlist.

Reedsy Prompt is a weekly short story contest with five writing prompts around a common theme. Authors are welcome to submit to any of the prompts (one entry per prompt). The site also promotes community engagement through likes and comments.

What Is Your Emergency

 “911, what is your emergency?”

              “Yes, I’m calling to report a murder,” she said in a cold, distant voice.

              “I’m sorry, ma’am. Did you say you’re calling to report a murder?” asked the dispatcher.

              “Yes,” answered Victoria. She stared vacantly.

              “I’m going to need some more details so I can send help. Let’s start with your location. Can you tell me where you are?”

              “No,” said Victoria.

              “You don’t know where you are, ma’am?” asked the dispatcher.

              “No,” answered Victoria.

              “Can you tell me what is around you? Is there anyone else you can ask?”

              “No, I’m alone and it’s dark,” said Victoria.

              “What’s your name, ma’am?” asked the dispatcher.

              “Victoria Dawson.”

              “Victoria,” repeated the dispatcher. “Okay, Victoria. Can you tell me what happened?”

              “I don’t know,” answered Victoria.

              “You said you were calling to report a murder. How do you know there has been a murder?”

              “Because I killed him.”

              “Okay,” answered the dispatcher. “Victoria, I need you to stay on the phone with me.” Clack, clack, clack. The dispatcher rapidly worked to track the location of the call. Only a general region in a heavily wooded area. The nearest county route was fifteen miles from where the dot was on the map.  The dispatcher started her notes to the police. “I need you to tell me more about what happened. You said there was a murder and you killed someone one. Do you know the victim?”

              “Yes, he’s my husband.”

              “What is your husband’s name?”

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              “John Dawson.”

              “Okay, and do you remember what happened to John?” asked the dispatcher.


              “Are you near John right now?”

              “No. I’m alone,” Victoria repeated.

              “Do you know where John is now?”

              “No, I don’t know where he is.”

              “Victoria, I’m sorry to ask so many questions but I need more information to know how best to help you. Now you said you’re alone in a dark area and there has been a murder. You said you killed John, who is your husband. Can you tell me anything else about where you are or what happened?”

              “We argued this morning before he left for work and I killed him,” Victoria answered.

              The dispatcher added this information in her instructions to the police unit on its way to the general area the call was coming from.

              “What did you and John argue about?” asked the dispatcher. Maybe if he could keep her talking, he would get something more useful.

              “He said I was spending too much money. But it was just a misunderstanding. He thought I was wearing a new dress, but it wasn’t a new dress.” Her voice trailed off.

              “Okay, I have an officer on their way to your location. I’m going to stay on the phone with you until they arrive. Can you tell me anything else about what happened to your husband?”

              “He was angry,” she answered.

              The dispatcher entered more information to the unit on the way to the location.

              Somewhere in the night, two sheriff deputies were driving down a deserted county road. A thin mist hung in the air, in the beams of the headlights. The road seemed to absorb the light.

              “This sounds strange to me,” said the deputy from the passenger seat.

              “What does?” answered her partner.

              “Dispatch says it’s a woman, alone, who reports she killed her husband after a domestic incident. But the woman can’t tell them what happened or where her husband is now.”


              “Is dispatch sure about the location? I don’t know who would be out here. There’s nothing around here.”

              “Maybe she dumped the body and then decided to call herself in,” suggested the deputy.

              The dispatcher was getting nowhere with Victoria. She was clearly in shock. She spoke in a flat tone. Her voice was completely devoid of any emotion.

              “Victoria, do you see any cars where you are?” he asked her, hoping the squad car was close.

              “No, I don’t see anyone,” she answered.

              The dispatcher tapped out instructions to the dispatched car. “I’m going to ask the officers en route to you to use their lights and sirens to help you see or hear them, okay Victoria?”

              Out on the road, the deputy spotted the incoming instructions.

              “Dispatch wants us to turn on the lights and sirens,” said the deputy. Her partner pressed a couple of buttons on the dash. Flickers of red and blue reflected across the bare trees lining the roadway. The sirens echoed into the dark night.

              “I think I hear something,” Victoria told the dispatcher. “It sounds like sirens.”

              “Good,” answered the dispatcher. “Do you see lights?”

              “Yes, I think I see them.”

              “Are you near the road?” asked the dispatcher.

              “No,” responded Victoria.

              “Can you get to the side of the road? The officers will have an easier time finding you.”


              The dispatcher heard crunching leaves and snapping twigs. The wailing sirens were faint in the background. He sent another message to the car to slow down. They were getting close.

              “We’re getting close. Sounds like she’s somewhere in these woods. The dispatcher can hear the sirens on the call,” said the deputy. Her partner let off the gas and the car slowed. The deputy scanned the sides of the road. “We may need to stop. I can’t see a thing.” Her partner eased the car to the shoulder of the road and came to a stop.

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              “Tell dispatch to tell the woman to head for the car.” They got out of the car, pulling torch lights from their belts, shining them through the trees on either side of the road.

              “Are you still with me, Victoria?” asked the dispatcher.

              “Yes, I’m still here,” she answered, slightly breathless.

              “Good. Can you still hear the sirens?”

              “Yes, they’re louder now.”

              “Okay, good. The deputies are out near the road looking for you. Do you see the red and blue lights from the car or flashlights anywhere around you?” asked the dispatcher.

              “Yes, I see red and blue flashes.”

              “Okay, good. You keep walking and head for the red and blue lights. I’m going to stay with you.” SPLASH. “Victoria, are you okay?”

              “Yes, I’m okay,” she answered. “I stepped in a stream or a puddle or something.”

              “But you’re okay?” asked the dispatcher again.

              “Yes,” she responded over the splashing of her steps in the water.

              Up on the roadway, the two deputies worked slowly down both sides of the roadway, shining their flashlight beams into the trees.

              “Do you see anything?” asked the deputy.

              “Nothing on this side,” said her partner.

              “She can’t be far,” answered the deputy. “Wait, I think I see something.” Her partner moved to the other side of the road, shining his beam to meet hers.

              “How did she get way out here,” responded her partner.

              “Victoria?” called the deputy. The woman stumbled in the glare of the flashlight beams.

              “I can’t see,” the woman called back.

              The deputy lowered her beam to the ground in front of the woman as she made her way over a fallen branch. Her partner kept his beam up near the woman’s face. He seemed frozen.

              “Lower your beam,” commanded the deputy. Her partner jerked his arm down. His wide eyes never left the woman’s face.

              When she finally broke through the tree line to the shoulder of the road, she stopped a moment. The deputy’s free hand went to her holster. An instinct. The woman was wearing a long, ice blue, satin nightgown with a matching floral print robe. Her long brown hair was tangled around her head. Her hands hung at her side, still holding her cell phone in her right hand. The deputy glanced to her left, noticing her partner seemed frozen.

              “Victoria, can you put your hands up in the air for me?” asked the deputy.

              “She didn’t kill her husband,” said her partner suddenly.

              “What? How do you know?” asked the deputy.

              “She’s my wife.”

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