TerribleMinds Flash Fiction – Proposed title: “Forgotten Fued”

I am very happy to have had the opportunity to add the final 200 to this piece. Thanks to:

Part 1 – Fatma Alici

Part 2 – Athena

Part 3 – Ely

Part 4 – Paul Baughman

I’m proposing the title: Forgotten Fued

*********

Another shot glass slammed down as Toops flashed her big, black eyes at me. “Are you going to black out.” Her tone as dry as the desert planet we had left.

“I never black out. “ I grinned motioning for another shot. “I’m only resting my eyes.”

Toops rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Yeah, I believe you, Lancer. I really do.” Her scarred fingers pushed her still full glass back and forth across the metal bar top. “Didn’t you say we have a man coming in to offer us a job?

“You handle all the contracts. I’m your simple minded muscle.” I winked at her. “Me big man. Me hit things hard.” The burning fire scalded my throat as I took another shot.

Her hand snapped out faster than my eye could follow. Those strong fingers crushed mine into my palm. “Do not call for another shot. I swear I will break your fingers right now.”

A hearty chuckle rumbled up my throat. “Alright, alright boss lady.”

My fingers were released. “We are partners.”

“You say that now, but once the client gets here you’ll change your tune.” She couldn’t deny it. It was true.

The mark joined us not too long after that. I know they’re supposed to be clients, but I can’t help thinking of them as marks. Lancer likes to think of us as noble ruffians, taking on jobs to help the weak and disenfranchised. Truth is, we take on the jobs that pay the most. Sometimes that means we take the client for a bit of a ride.

Lancer was right about one thing: when the client arrives, I play boss. Pretty much have to; no one would buy me as the hired muscle – at least no one with all their bits in tact. Marks are always weary of a girl without a purpose. They’ll buy me as the brains, but not the brawn.

Lancer brought this one in. I let him do that once in a while because it makes him feel like we’re equal partners. More importantly, it makes the marks think that I’m hot stuff. They’re so lucky to get me, I send one of my peons first to see if they’re worthwhile instead of going myself. Doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a much bigger payday.

The man they called Helix walked into the bar, the sunlight rushing past his entourage, harshly drowning out the dank ambiance so welcoming to the regular patrons. I had met him through an old corps buddy whom I usually only call upon in the most dire of business droughts.

As predicted Toops straightened out immediately, her strength radiating from her core, demanding an elevated level of respect. She had a knack for nonverbal communication, in more ways than one.

“Not exactly discreet is he,” She said in a disapproving whisper.

“It’s a paying job. Rodge made it sound like it would be of particular interest to us.” I finished under my breath as the group neared, my lips spreading into an awkward greeting. I am just the muscle…or I’ve had one too many…or both.

“Ms. Toops I presume,” Helix smiled, suave and somewhat greasily as he took her hand. He was dressed in a slick suit, all grey, matching tie, extravagantly out of place in this corner of the ‘verse. His three companions were obviously hired security.

“All presumptions aside, where they belong, I’ve heard you have work suitable for our expertise.”

Helix’s slimy smile grew, looking to me with positive regards to my choice of partners.

As soon as I saw Helix’s smile I mentally doubled the price we’d ask. I’ve seen smiles like that before. They never bode well. I also made a mental note to have a chat with Lancer. This buddy of his needs a talking to.

“Let’s move to a table where we can talk in private,” I said. I didn’t wait for an answer, I just turned away and headed for a corner table I had reserved earlier.

When I slid into one of the back chairs, I could tell Helix didn’t appreciate me turning my back on him. Lancer eased himself into the other back chair leaving the mark to have his back to the door.

“Well,” the slimeball said heartily, “what are we drinking?”

“We’re here for business,” I said, “what’s the job?”

“Nothing wrong with a little social interaction, is there?”

The way he said it, I knew exactly what kind of interaction he thought he was getting here. I tripled the price.

I tapped my ring on the table until it drew his eyes. It was just to derail his thoughts. Not many knew what it represented, so I was surprised when his eyes widened.

Suddenly, Helix drew a blade from his coat. He brought the blade back and swung it down hard toward the spot that Toops had been tapping.

As quickly as he’d drawn the blade, Toops had sprung to her feet and snatched his wrist as it made a wide arc. Before the blade reached the table, Toops had changed its course by twisting his wrist inward. The blade plunged into his upper abdomen.  His eyes widened again, for the last time.

She pulled his sleeve up to the elbow. He had tribal ink around his forearm that I’d never seen before, but Toops had.

“Figures,” she said, “a trillion greasers in the ‘verse and I have to run into a Hatfield.”

“What’s a Hatfield?” I asked.

“Lancer, haven’t you ever heard of the Hatfields and the McCoys?” She sounded annoyed.

“It’s been centuries and no one even knows what we’re fighting over anymore, but whenever we bump into each other, shit like this goes down.”

“But, how did he know?” I was intrigued.

“They have ink, we have rings.” She said matter-of-factly.

She showed me the ring. It was a thick platinum band with a dull red gem encrusted in it. On each side of the stone, faded engraving could just barely be seen. It read ‘Toops McCoy’.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction – Making Merry

Amanda Webster started Making Merry

Michael Woods added his 200, and I’ve added my 200 here…

Making Merry

Merry took a last, long drag on her cigarette before flicking it out the window. The butt skittered across the pavement, throwing a shower of sparks across the street. Nash always nagged her to quit, but Merry had always been more afraid of living than she was of dying. Her breath hung in the chill night air over the steering wheel. She pulled a wad of Starbucks napkins from the center console and wiped the fog from inside the windshield so she could get a better look at the neat suburban ranch.

It was a duplicate of every other house on the block. If she was drunk, she might have gone to the wrong house. But she wasn’t and besides, she knew this house. She knew the dormant lilac bush that shouldn’t have been planted so close to the front door. She knew each straw covered rose bush by name.

Merry had left the envelope with the bail money under her sister’s pillow early that morning before leaving for work. She hoped Melody wouldn’t find it and spend it, not realizing what it was for.

The porch light flicked on. It switched off, then on again. Once. Twice. Thrice. It was time.

* * *

Merry switched the headlights off and drove slowly past the house. The streetlamps along this stretch of road were busted and anyone standing near a window would have to look hard to catch a glimpse of the vehicle as it cruised by. Forty dollars well spent, contributing to the delinquency of rock-throwing teens be damned.

After parallel parking between a Saab and a BMW, Merry slouched deeper into the seat, reached to adjust the rear-view mirror and watched the house. Within minutes of the flickering porch light, three men climbed from nearby cars and walked up the sidewalk toward the front door. Merry edged forward, staring hard into the mirror. Was the fourth man already inside? It didn’t matter. If everything went as planned, come morning she would either be in jail or dead.

She slipped back down into the seat, pulled a pack of Winstons and a lighter from her purse. Merry lipped a cigarette from the pack and lit up. She took a deep pull, certain it would be her last, and held it briefly before exhaling a thick plume of smoke out the window. Only minutes to go.

“So good to see you,” said Nash, aiming a pistol at Merry’s head.

***

“Wish I could say the same about you,” she replied, slowly scooting herself higher in her seat, the pistol following her head as it rose.

“When are you going to quit that kid’s habit?” he asked.

Merry took a drag and said “No time like the present.” She blew the smoke out hard in Nash’s face, while simultaneously flicking the half-smoked butt into his face. Sparks erupted as the orange-hot coal exploded between his eyes. Nash’s face twisted in grimace. His eyes clamped shut and he took a step backward. Merry pushed the car door open as hard as she could, smashing it into his knees. Nash fell to the ground, dropping his pistol. She got out of the driver’s seat and pulled her .38 snub nose revolver from her shoulder holster under her coat.

“You stupid bitch,” Nash said through gritted teeth, rubbing the ashes from his face. “What are you going to do now? Storm the house?” Nash chuckled, “Good luck with that.” He glanced around, found the pistol about an arm’s length away. He glanced up at her and began a sudden reach.

“Yea, that’s it big boy, go for it,” she said, pulling the hammer back on the pistol.

Terribleminds Flash Fiction-Part II

So Chuck Wendig has this cool blog and writing challenge

I’ve chosen Jason Heitkamper’s work, “The Tunnel“, named it ‘Part 1’ and added my 200 ish words, ‘Part 2’…  Thanks Jason.

—————

The Tunnel

Part 1

The tunnel shook again, small cracks creeping through old masonry, and Nora grabbed onto Billy to keep her feet.  Jack was trying to urge Marie forward but he couldn’t get her to stop crying.  Nora didn’t blame her, the whole thing was terrifying and nobody had a clue what was going on.  They’d pushed forward through the old river tunnels after their normal entrance collapsed and now they were down to two flashlights.

“Are those bombs?” Jack asked, his voice cracking from the dust in his throat.

“Who would bomb fucking Trenton?  We have like two thousand people in the whole town.” Billy snapped back.  Nora swept her light ahead, a large metal door at the end of the hallway coming into view.

“What then?  An earthquake?” Marie managed between sobs.  Nora stepped back and grabbed Marie’s other hand, finding it slick with blood from the fall.

“No, honey.  We’re nowhere near a fault line.” she replied, doing her best to sound comforting.

“Shit, man.  This is fucked,” Jack moaned, his bravado fading. “I just wanted to smoke some pot and get laid…” He fell silent as the door ahead of them suddenly creaked and began to swing open.

——-

The Tunnel

Part 2

With a loud BANG! the door swung open violently. A body tumbled through the metal door, now about 100 feet ahead of them.

The body lay motionless in the dust and rubble for several seconds before it started to rise on hands and knees.

Billy and Jack flashed their lights ahead at the being, and behind where they’d come from. There was no retreat.

The being continued to rise from hands and knees, but was now coughing from the dust it had created and groaning from the unexpected crash-tumble through the metal door. It stood, and began to brush the dust and rubble from itself. It was a man.

Jack and Billy watched through the dusty flashlight beams. The girls came forward to them. They formed a small group and whispered among themselves.

The man coughed and cleared his throat. Shielding his eyes from the flashlights he used his best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice and said, “Come witz me iff you vant to live…”.

Billy and Jack slowly turned to each other and simultaneously said, “What the fuck!?!?!”
The man chuckled, “Hehe, I always wanted to say that. But seriously, I know the way out of here so come with me.” He turned and headed back through the metal door.

TerribleMinds – Flash Fiction Challenge – 200 words at a time – Part 3

For part 3 of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge at his blog I chose to build upon Heather Milne Johnson’s 200-word addition to jadettman’s original untitled 200 words…

—–

He was still in the box.

How long had he been in here? No way to know. Whoever the hell had put him in the thing clearly didn’t mean to kill him. At least, not yet. He’d slept twice since first waking up in the box and, except for the occasional bout of panic and claustrophobia, he wasn’t having any trouble breathing.

At first, he had banged on the wood of the box, hoping someone would hear and get him out of the damn thing. Now his hands hurt and it didn’t seem worth the trouble. He hadn’t heard a damn thing but the rattle of his own breathing the whole damn time.

It had been inevitable that something like this would happen. He’d pissed enough people off in his time. Hadn’t really expected the box, though. A gun in the face, yes. The shit kicked out of him in a bar, sure. A box, no.

The box was what he thought of as coffin sized but it clearly wasn’t a coffin. There was no padding for one. Nothing inside but him and bare wood. It was big enough to hold him comfortably but not what you would call spacious.

The last thing he could remember before waking up in the box was getting into his car and heading off to meet his latest client. He felt like he had been hit by a truck. That would explain the aches and tender spots that were throbbing painfully as he lay there, unable to move more than a few inches in any direction. But that wouldn’t explain the box. He had put up a fight. Of course he had, he was nobody’s pushover. I bet it took at least three of them to get me in here, he thought.

What about the client who he had been scheduled to meet? Had she set him up? Or was it a coincidence that he had been on his way to meet her when he had made an unscheduled and unwelcomed detour to this pine purgatory? He didn’t believe in coincidences.

He never advertised his services, his clients were all referrals from satisfied customers. He didn’t know much about this latest prospect, Lisa Racine was the name she had given him. He had been on his way to meet her for the first time when instead he had woken up in this damned box.

He lay motionless, barely breathing, ears pinned back listening for any sound that might give a clue to his location.

Hours passed. He’d tried kicking and punching against the top and bottom, but nothing was working.

Out of anger and frustration, he began to flail about in a temper tantrum. Arms, legs, shoulders, knees, all slamming into the sides, top, ends, and bottom of the box.

The box moved.

It moved, and he felt it move. Did it slide? Did it rock back and forth?

He started slamming his shoulders into either side of the box. He was sliding back and forth like a windshield wiper, and he could hear the box rubbing against the surface it was on.

He could only estimate it as more hours passing. His shoulders were bruised and aching. Was he getting anywhere? What the hell was this getting him besides busted shoulders? He gave another shove, and the next thing he knew, his faced was pressed against the top of the box.

A split second later, he crash landed. The box cracked on all sides, but didn’t shatter. How far had he fallen? He kicked through the weakened side of the box and started to climb out when he heard the loud screech of tires on asphalt.