Survival Instinct

If you are new to Darlene’s Story, here’s the gist:  Darlene Whitman always heard that you can pick your friends but not your family.  She realizes the lie in this statement when nosy eighty-two-year-old neighbor, Myrtle Crawford, insists on helping unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of her husband and father.  Darlene discovers her father’s involvement in illegal cancer drug testing, which is also linked to her husband’s courier business.  Her ties to Myrtle are more complicated than she thought, and now, she must piece together the truth before it’s too late to save either of them.

The last segment left off with Darlene talking to Jeff, Darlene’s pseudo uncle, and her father’s former business partner.  (Scott is Darlene’s husband, killed in part 12.)

And now, for the next segment in the story:


“What do you mean, Scott didn’t know?”  Numbness crawled down Darlene’s extremities.

Jeff nodded toward the papers on the table.

Jaw hung slack, she scanned through the three pages.  “Where did you get this?”

“The cabin.  Right after the police cleared out.”

“You were there before?”

He smirked.  “I came back expecting to find more information.  Not to be restrained by my own shoelaces.”

Darlene suppressed a smile, remembering her handiwork.  “Why would he be Scott’s main contract?  Father hated him.”

“All part of his plan.  He can pinpoint and play weaknesses.  With extreme patience, I might add.”

“You’re suggesting my father orchestrated everything so I’d be alone?”

“Not suggesting, Dolly.  It’s in black and white.”


“You were Scott’s weakness.   Paris was a new life, not a second honeymoon.   The fire was a warning for him to stay put.”

Darlene’s throat tightened.  “Scott tried to kill me.  I removed the mask and saw for myself.”

“Your father is persuasive.  And survival instinct makes a person do shocking things.”

Recalling Jeff’s involvement in her mother’s death, her anger flared.  “So Scott was just a savage animal inside?”  The waitress glanced her way, so she lowered her voice.  “He was incapable of selflessness, driven only to protect his life?  No.  He wasn’t like you!”

Jeff snorted.  “It’s at everyone’s core.  Better believe, or your blood will be on daddy’s hands.”

Darlene flinched.

“You gotta do what it takes.  He won’t stop.  You know too much to live, Dolly.”

Tears trickled down her cheeks.  It came down to kill or be killed.  Darlene doubted she had what it took.  He might be wretched, but he was her father.

“You have to get past him being your father,” Jeff said, as if reading her thoughts.  “I want to help.”

She nodded, still unconvinced… still unsure if she could trust him.  She feared faked death didn’t diminish his survival instinct.  Kill or be killed. 

“What do you have in mind?” Darlene asked, summoning her inner animal.


This is my response to the Trifecta weekly challenge, which is to write a 33 to 333-word response (mine is 332) using the following word/definition:  ANIMAL: (noun) – 3  :  a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also :  this nature.

If you want to read other responses, or try the challenge yourself, click here to view Trifecta’s site.  Happy writing (and reading!)

Once again, this is a community-voted challenge, which means that readers have the opportunity to vote on their three favorites by visiting Trifecta’s site after the challenge closes on Thursday, at 8PM Eastern time.


This continuation of Darlene’s Story is still in Darlene’s point of view.  Click here for Darlene’s Story page if you want to read the entire piece.  Thanks for stopping by!

52 thoughts on “Survival Instinct

  1. nrhatch September 23, 2013 / 11:40 AM

    Yes!!! You have what it takes to tell a tale, Janna.

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:16 PM

      I’m glad you’re still intrigued, Nancy! I appreciate you continuing to follow it along 🙂

  2. Lance September 23, 2013 / 12:10 PM

    Yes!, more please….love what you did with dialogue. Go, write more

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:17 PM

      🙂 I appreciate you reading, Lance…glad you’re still into the story!

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:22 PM

      I’m slowly working on the longer version, Bjorn. Do hope to have a real novel from this in the end 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  3. Sandra September 23, 2013 / 1:15 PM

    I feel like I just “Netflix-binged” on Darlene’s story! 🙂 I like the prompt word at the end for a nice punch. Great dialogue, too!

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:23 PM

      Thanks, Sandra – I appreciate you stopping by to read this part 🙂

  4. deanabo September 23, 2013 / 4:00 PM

    I am loving this story. You are really good with dialogue. It’s hard to do, but you nailed it.

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:25 PM

      I’m glad you found it believable, Deana! I had a bear of a time trimming this piece down. I almost thought I’d have to give up on it. There are about a hundred more words I wanted to use which made the scene fuller, but oh well…that’s why they call these challenges, right? 😛

      • deanabo September 24, 2013 / 3:05 AM

        That happens quite often to me. I will just keep writing and realize I’m about 100 words over and I still won’t be done!

        • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:50 PM

          I’m glad I’m not the only one that runs into that problem, Deana!

  5. Glynis September 23, 2013 / 4:59 PM

    Seamless dialogue and a good addition to the story from the prompt !

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:25 PM

      Thanks for reading, Glynis. I always hope they flow from one to the next 🙂

  6. agjorgenson September 23, 2013 / 6:51 PM

    i like your balance between dialogue and description. It moves the narrative along quite nicely.

    • jannatwrites September 23, 2013 / 9:40 PM

      Thanks, Allen. It’s good to know what works (and doesn’t work) so I know if I’m going in the right direction 🙂

  7. KymmInBarcelona September 24, 2013 / 4:59 AM

    Eat or be eaten. Bringing the animal down to the bare bones!
    She’s definitely between a rock and a hard place, Janna!

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:51 PM

      It’s decision time for her. Thanks for reading, Kymm!

  8. yarnspinnerr September 24, 2013 / 7:04 AM

    The summary helped me get my bearings.

    Waiting for the next edition.

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:51 PM

      I’m glad the summary helped, Yarnspinnerr…thanks for reading!

  9. Ivy (Mommy Dourest) September 24, 2013 / 8:28 AM

    Another great cliffhanger. Is it wrong that I’m psyched for the showdown between Darlene and her father?

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:52 PM

      Not at all, Ivy – it should be an interesting match up 🙂

  10. Debbie September 24, 2013 / 8:36 AM

    The realization that her father is the villain must have been traumatic for Darlene. Now she’s got some decisions to make — and actions of her own to take. Good installment, Janna! Keep ’em coming!

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:53 PM

      Thanks for reading, Debbie! We’ll have to see what happens next week 🙂

  11. Quickstepp September 24, 2013 / 10:13 AM

    I vote Darlene gets a vacation after all of this is resolved. Poor girl!

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:54 PM

      Oh, she needs a vacation, Quickstepp. Let’s hope she gets one 🙂

  12. pattisj September 24, 2013 / 2:58 PM

    I still don’t trust this guy…

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:56 PM

      You may have good instincts, Patti…we’ll have to wait and see 🙂

    • jannatwrites September 24, 2013 / 9:57 PM

      Thanks, Phil – I appreciate you taking time to read it 🙂

  13. Momo September 24, 2013 / 10:36 PM

    I definitely like the use of animal in the last line. And I love the way Jeff reads her thoughts and responds to them directly.

    • jannatwrites September 26, 2013 / 9:34 PM

      Thanks Momo! I’m glad you liked the ending 🙂

  14. Tara R. September 25, 2013 / 6:01 AM

    Her “inner animal”… I like it.

  15. margitsage September 25, 2013 / 10:04 AM

    I like how you used “animal” twice, especially in the last line. Curious to see what happens next.

    • jannatwrites September 26, 2013 / 9:35 PM

      I appreciate you reading it, Margitsage!

  16. Michael September 25, 2013 / 10:55 AM

    Father’s Day is going to be really awkward for Darlene now…

  17. atrm61 September 25, 2013 / 12:28 PM

    ” Not to be restrained by my own shoelaces.”lol!Loved that Janna:-)Darlene is not stupid-not at all-brainy like her Dad and must have inherited a bit of his craftiness too-am excited to see how she will play her cards against her own blood,now that she has decided to let the animal within surface ;-)Great writing as always my friend!

    • jannatwrites September 26, 2013 / 9:38 PM

      I thought I’d throw a little humor in there – glad you noticed that, Atreyee 🙂 As for what happens next…I really don’t know what I’ll reveal. There are things that I’m saving for the novel version, and I really don’t know how much more I can put here without giving the secrets away.

      • atrm61 September 27, 2013 / 6:04 AM

        I love humour as much I love horror,murder and mystery-strange combo!

        • jannatwrites September 27, 2013 / 10:15 PM

          I don’t think it’s that strange, Atreyee! Variety is a good thing 🙂

        • atrm61 September 28, 2013 / 3:58 PM


      • atrm61 September 27, 2013 / 6:06 AM

        Oh,and I understand about not letting all of it out–i think you should leave it where you want-as a teaser-let those who are interested,buy the novel/ebook:-)

  18. Christine September 25, 2013 / 1:48 PM

    I found myself half-holding my breath as bits and pieces were being revealed. You keep ratcheting up the tension. Darlene is so believable – I can’t help but feel for her.

    • jannatwrites September 26, 2013 / 9:39 PM

      I’m glad you find her believable, Christine. Isn’t that always the goal when a character is developed? 😀 Thanks for reading (again)!

  19. steph September 25, 2013 / 2:03 PM

    Great scene – dialog is spot on. I love the small details like the waitress looking over so she lowered her voice. The animal in all of us wants to survive.. what will she do? It’s really good, janna!

    • jannatwrites September 26, 2013 / 9:40 PM

      Thanks so much, Steph! I’m finding that I have to remove much of the detail to stay within the word limit, so it is good to hear that there are still enough details to fill in the story a bit.

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