Friday, August 19, 2011

Who's Got the Money?

When Chuck Wendig issued his weekly flash fiction challenge, I looked at it thinking, I don't know much about guns and crime is not really my modus operandi, so I filed it in the back of my head and figured I would skip this one. The prize, however, was very tempting. He would pick his one favorite story and the writer would receive a copy of CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA by Frank Bill. Well, hello howdy, that was some incentive. The thought of getting that precious gem in my hot hands was eating at me all week. 

What happens but twenty minutes before the shut off for getting my story in, I have a glimpse of a tale involving crime and guns. I decided to write it and even though I won't be considered for the book, I would have challenged myself to write something I normally wouldn't. We'll call it an exercise in crime, or futility. Whatever. 

The story follows, and I hope you enjoy. It's short and to the point, and it just may be a little too predictable, but please take it for what it is: a fun little foray into crime and guns on a Friday afternoon. 

Who's Got the Money?

“For fuck’s sake, you could have gotten us killed!”

Bob used the butt of his gun to whack Toby up the side of his head. A dull thud resulted.

“B-buh ma gun jambed,” said Toby, holding his head.

Ma gun jambed,” Bob mocked. “You’re a fucking idiot. You’re lucky I don’t use the other end on you.” Bob panted his words out in choppy syllables as they sat in the darkened room.

“Th-thorry, d-don fweak out.”

“Freak out? FREAK OUT???” Again with the gun and thud. This time Toby cried out and started to whimper. “Where’s Angel? She should have been here by now.”

Their backs were pressed up against a metal shelving unit, which dug into their flesh with each movement. This didn’t really matter. What did matter was that the duffel bag was beside them, cash in hand, so to speak.

“You th-th, th-think we’re thafe?” asked Toby softly.

“What are they going to do? Run after us on their bloody stubs?” Bob snorted.

“Angel was going to take care of anybody that was left. You do remember the plan, right shithead? And I don’t doubt that she had a bit of fun while doing it.” Bob sniffed.

“Wh-what now?”

“What now, you stupid twit. Now we wait. Angel will be back soon. When she gets here, the plan sticks. We leave. That’s it,” he continued. “We’re done. No one left to come after us, and we celebrate. “

Bob hopped up and walked to the end of the shelves, ducking down and looking around the corner.

After a moment’s pause, he shuffled back, low to the ground.

Toby rubbed his aching head.

Bob sat down next to Toby, closer this time, and started fidgeting. “Listen, there’s something you and me need to talk about. It’s Angel. I don’t think we can trust her.”

Toby stopped rubbing and looked straight ahead.

“Sal said she was dirty. I’m talking real bad. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend the rest of my days wondering if she’s going to come and get me, do you?”

Toby sat still.

Bob was fidgeting more, shifting, and making a small sniffing sound, messing with his nose.

“The way I see it, we need to take care of this problem. Tonight.”

Bob pulled another gun from his pocket and handed it to Toby.

“Here, use this. Just make sure you get a clear shot, and don’t let her suffer. She may be a bad egg, but she was good to us once.”

The gun sat in Toby’s limp hand. He could feel the sweat from Bob’s hand on it. It felt greasy.

“Don’t say a word, and I will try to get her so you can have a clear shot. Just don’t hit me, ok?”


“OK?” Bob nearly yelled, his voice echoing in the empty room.

A moment passed with nothing, and Toby still sat with the gun in his hand.

Bob lifted his hand to strike Toby in the head again, when there was the small sound of a bullet passing through a silencer.

Bob made a stifled grunt and fell sideways onto Toby, his blood and brains oozing from the hole in his forehead. Some of the mess was on Toby’s legs.

Angel slid around the corner, putting her gun away as she walked.

Toby shoved him away, and stood shaking his legs to rid himself of the gore.

“You did good, Toby,” she purred as she walked up to him and ran her hands through his hair. “Now it’s just me and you. I will take care of you.”

Angel bent down to grab the duffel bag.

“We need to get out of here before the cops come. I took care of the leftovers. The DeLoache’s are all gone.”

Angel stepped forward to Toby, running her fingertips over his cheek. She pulled his face to hers and started to kiss him.

The shot was loud, ringing off the walls.

Angel fell.

Toby pulled the duffel bag from her hand.

“No, bitch, the DeLoache’s are still here.”

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Jar

Here's another offering to the Wendig machine that is the flash fiction challenge of the week. His instructions were simple. Compose a story about the flea market. That's it. For me, I had memories of strange adults and adorable puppies in a box. However, my story is not one filled with cute puppies, but if you've read my work, you will already know that.

What follows is my take on the wild, the speculative, the macabre things that can be found at the flea market. Let's just hope you don't make the same decision...

The Jar

He couldn’t look away from it, no matter how hard he tried. James had been at the flea market for an hour looking for the perfect gift, and he was just about to give up. Here it sat on the rudimentary table made from plywood board sagging over two old sawhorses. It was an old Mason jar with a rusted lid, but inside it was filled with a multi-colored iridescence that drew him in.

“You want this?” A harsh voice croaked and he broke his gaze.

James looked up and was staring into the face of an old woman who looked like a gypsy in her shawl-covered dress, with fabric spun around her head and bracelets clinking on her wrists. Her bony finger pointed to the jar.

“Yes, ma’am,” he stammered out, aware that he sounded nervous.

She mumbled incoherently as she rubbed her hands together.

“How – how much do you want for it?” This was James first attempt at haggling, and it didn’t seem that it was going to go in his favor. He would pay whatever she wanted.

The woman stopped moving and looked up at him, her eyes widened abnormally behind the thick glasses.

“Five dollars,” she said with a greedy smile. Her eyes gleamed hungrily.

Surprised, James found a five-dollar bill and handed it to her. She snatched it from him quickly and shoved the jar into his arms.

He turned to leave when the woman began to laugh.

There was something different about her voice. It became deeper, and rose and fell in waves. The hairs on the back of his neck stood in a salute to the fear that washed over him.

James quickly left, putting the jar in the front seat of his car.

Once home, James placed the jar on the kitchen table and retrieved a cold beer from the refrigerator. Going to sit in his favorite chair, he turned on the tv and found a baseball game. A quick glance at his watch showed him that Anna would be here in a little while. He kicked off his shoes where he sat. As soon as he was starting to feel relaxed, a prickly sensation shot through his body. It felt as if something was watching him. Taking another drink, he tried to ignore it and get into the game.

Again the odd sensation came over him, making his body tingle with electricity.

Finally, he turned his head and noticed that he could see the jar sitting not ten feet away. The colors inside it were brilliant, but subdued, and boy, did they shine. As he watched it, it began to move.

What was the stuff inside that jar anyway, he wondered. It hung in the jar, almost suspended. The jar itself didn’t weigh much at all. It didn’t look like a liquid, but it didn’t really look like a solid, either.  

He watched as it began to turn. Slowly.

Something happened in the game, and the crowd began to yell. This caused him to look at the tv to see what had happened. His head felt funny, like he had been asleep. Noticing that his beer was almost empty, he got up to grab another one.

On his walk back to the chair, the beer bottle accidentally clanged into the jar. The sound of glass hitting glass was loud, but it wasn’t this noise that James heard. There had been a small scream. It had come from the jar. He stood very still to see if he could hear it anymore.

There was nothing but the sound of the air conditioner humming in the window.

He knew what he had heard. It was very much like a woman’s scream. A short, muffled one, but a scream, nonetheless.

Going back to the chair, he tried once more to get into the game.


It was the same voice, and now it was saying his name. This was impossible. There was no one else here. He was alone.

“James. Please help us.”

This time it was louder, and there were many different voices together.

He looked at the jar. The colors inside were moving a little faster now, swirling and spiraling around the glass. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The colors mixed, forming new one’s. It folded in on itself and burst outward at the same time. It was amazing. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it.

Before he knew what he was doing, he had got up and crossed to the table. As the colors moved, the voices wailed softly, reminding him of an echo in a tunnel.

“Help. Help us. Please.”

James reached his hand out to the jar. Gripping it carefully, he began to open the lid. It turned easily. The noise grew and became a sweet, familiar melody.

James sat the lid on the table and kept his hand lightly on the jar.

The colors rose and lifted up over the lip of the jar, bending and lurching toward him. His body swayed slightly with the song.


When it touched his hand he felt a small vibration. Fluidly, and with speed, it began to spread up his arm.

He could feel it sliding up his neck. There was a small sucking noise coming from the mass as it slithered around his body. James became numb.

Moving up, it ran across his cheeks and over his nose to his eyes. When it spread across them, everything turned black.

It covered him, swirling and expanding. Within a few moments, his body was dissolved, bone and tissue joining the gelatinous mass. Slowly it made its way back into the jar.  

The baseball game was over, and the sun was down, leaving the room dark.

“James?” Anna said as she walked in.

Closing the curtains, she noticed James’ shoes sitting in front of his chair.

She looked at the table and saw the jar with the beautiful colors.

“Oh! What’s this?” she asked as she walked to it. Anna swore she heard a voice call her name softly.