Three Items to Escape and Save the President

You’re a secret service agent and you’ve been kidnapped and are trapped in a basement. You have only three items and must use those three items to escape and save the President of the United States. Go!

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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171 thoughts on “Three Items to Escape and Save the President

  1. Jake

    I slow my breathing. This is the moment, the culmination of a lifetime’s experience training to do just this. Escape and save our President.
    My eyes take the longest to adjust, the lighting is dim and the bulb flickers like clockwork every third second. Before I can take in the scene around me my hands are moving, running along my body, up my arms and over the binds which suppress my shoulders, attached to a smooth, cold, stone wall. Down my chest to my waist where a rugged leather strap covers me like a belt, holding my body prisoner.
    Here come my eyes, pupils the size of pennies, glaring down first at my ankles, chains, and then up at my surroundings. The walls close in around me as I gather my bearings, no windows and a single stone door. A faint blue flicker illuminates the empty cell for two seconds, and then darkness. Two seconds I stand there motionless, and then darkness.

    My hand is in my pocket before the lights fade, and then I find myself in light again, my shoulders free. I look down at my pocket knife and promptly saw away at my seatbelt. The lights fade again and then with one last pulse I am free of the wall.

    I stride silently across my closet sized holding cell and give one attempt at the metal bar protruding from my one and only escape route. The barrier gives way.

    One foot in front of the other I find my way to natural light, and out into the sand crusted dunes of Iraq. A flood of light overloads my senses and I retreat back slightly, hunched over in the midday heat. My memory begins to return now, but more confidently than I can remember what has happened to me, I remember the fighting, the insurgency, and the plans on the wall.

    I hurry back into the dim cave from which I have liberated myself, my rough palm following the smooth wall deeper and deeper until I find them. Their assault rifles lie dormant at their hips, like attack dogs awaiting command. I stand no chance.
    I survey the rooms behind me, as I have been taught time and again. First down low, wall to wall, and then scaling the wall with my readjusted eyes until I find what I am looking for.

    A shiny outer shell reflects the light from the overhead tungsten filaments into my eyes, almost blinding me. I reach forward and in one single motion I remove the pin, and swing my arms in unison, releasing my grasp so as to send the projectile flying into the cluster of rebels.

    I duck and cover my ears. One blast later I move with extraordinary speed. The phone lies dangling from the wall. Before I can read the maps the number is dialed, a voice answers from another time, another place. He is in danger.

    “They’re coming.”

  2. girlinbluerainboots

    The stale smell of sewer water hung heavy in the air. A slow, steady rhythm ricocheted off the mold stained walls as water droplets joined the already sizable puddle in the center of the concrete basement, just to the left of where Jessie lay, unconsciously chained to the wall. The events of the past few hours began to creep back into her thoughts. The stack of files on the Gallespae case that plagues her already filled desk. The heated shouting match with her boss. Leaving work beyond pissed, and assured beyond measure that there was no way she was going to get that promotion. Pulling into, “The Captain’s Poison.” The five vodka tonics that she would regret in the morning. And tall, pale, man with ice blue eyes that could freeze your soul if you let them, sitting down and offering her a drink . After that, everything went black and the world faded into the background. Her tired muscles creaked and groaned as she awoke and the dingy room she was in came into focus. A single light bulb hung from the cracked ceiling, shedding light into the small room, outlining the frail steps leading up to a door that was probably locked from the outside. An empty, grey pal lay to her right, it hit the floor with a clang that sounded louder than a gun shot in Jessie’s mind. Outside of her prison a pair of keys began to jingle and finagle with the door. It creaked open and shiver ran down her spine.
    “And sleeping beauty awakens. You know, that flunitrazepam worked far better than I thought it would, considering your job, I doubted that you would even take it, and yet, here we are. Mr. Courten will be so pleased.” The voice belonged to a man. It thick and raspy, like it belonged to a smoker in his mid 40’s that had never done anything else. Whoever had slipped her that drug at the bar was just a pawn, in some sick game Jessie had somehow landed herself in, that much was clear. When he’d ordered her the drink his voice had quivered, it had been higher than most and quite. This one was different, it was big and thick, he spoke like he was the one holding all the cards. The man from the bar hadn’t been apart of the big picture, they’d probably offered him some quick and easy money to slip the drug in her drink and make sure that she drank it whole. (this is all i have so far.)

  3. ReathaThomasOakley

    Trapped!
    An Annie story
    Spring, 1955

    I still can’t believe I did this, getting myself trapped on just about the most important day for the whole St. Johns County PTA. Mama’d told me over and over that one day my detecting would get me in trouble. I must have heard “Curiosity killed the cat” at least one thousand times, I even had to memorize I Timothy 5:13, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.”

    And, this isn’t even my fault. I was just minding my own business, kinda waiting around to see all the PTA presidents from all the other schools, when Mrs. Daniels, the principal, stuck her head outta her office.

    “Oh, Annie, I’m so glad you’re still here.” I was surprised she knew who I even was. “I need somebody to go find Dessie, and tell her one of the Hanson twins got sick again right inside the auditorium. I’d go but Mrs. Shuler’ll be here soon and I need to…” I figgered she needed to do up her hair and put on lipstick, that’s Mrs. Daniels.

    “Yes, mam, I’ll find her,” I said and hurried off. Dessie, the school maid, was usually upstairs soon as she rang the bell at three o’clock, mopping up the floors. And, there she was.

    “Hey Dessie,” I said when I saw her. Dessie’s nice, always smiling, and if you get sick during school she’ll sit by you in the library until somebody comes and gets you.

    “Hey there, Annie, you lost somethin’?”

    “No, Mrs. Daniels needs you to go clean up the auditorium floor. A Hanson twin.” While Dessie rung out her mop, I went over to the window and saw a big car drive up and park right in front, where children wait if they’re getting picked up after school, no body just parks there. A sorta portly lady wearing a suit and a hat got out. She opened up the back door and picked up a big pile of papers and shoved them in a big suitcase looking thing. She didn’t notice, but some of the papers fell out and blew under the car.

    “They’s sick all the time, seems. Somebody oughta get ‘em to a doctor.” Dessie said, and started down the stairs with the bucket.

    “Yes, mam,” I said, and followed her to the auditorium, my favorite place in the whole school. She got busy, and I kinda walked right on in, casual like.

    The stage had a table right in the middle with lots of chairs around it and a bunch of gladiolas in a fancy vase. I figured the President was gonna sit up there with the school presidents. I was counting the chairs when I heard Mrs. Daniels talking to Dessie, so I hurried straight up the stairs to the stage and into the little room next to the curtains.

    I’d been there before, for things like song books for when Mrs. Erklins came for music, and Christmas pageant costumes, and such. Almost ever time I was there I wondered about the little door at the back of the room, where it might go. I figured this was a good time, so I opened the door.

    I could not believe my very own eyes when I found some stairs, and lo and behold, they went down to a big space that had to be under the stage. When I closed the door behind me I could still see because there was a little window up high in one wall. It was dirty, and azalea bushes were growing right outside, but some light came in.

    The space was almost filled up with stacks of old school books, stuff that must be used for the Halloween Carnival, and more Christmas things like wise men hats and shepherd crooks. I was just looking and looking when I heard some talking right over my head.

    “Did you look everyplace?” That sounded like Mrs. Daniels.

    “I did, even went back to the car, but no luck.” That musta been Mrs. Shuler, the president of all the PTAs. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I wanted today to be perfect.” She sounded like she was gonna cry. “My idea for this group meeting and it’s going to be a disaster.”

    “Can’t you remember what you wrote?”

    “No.”

    “Or, the agenda items?”

    “No.”

    “Oh, dear.”

    That’s when I stopped being all worried about being trapped and remembered Mrs. Shuler getting out of the car, and knew what they were talking about: The papers that blew under the car! She needed them, and I was the only person in the whole wide world who knew where they were, but I’d get in trouble if I just walked up the stairs and out on to the stage.

    Then I thought about how Mr. Sherlock Holmes figured everything out in The Red Headed League, I wasn’t really in a basement, but I was kinda underground. The window was my only escape, but it was stuck shut because of paint all around it, plus a latch way up at the top with a lever with an opening to put your finger through and pull. There had to be something here that I could use to open the window and get out.

    First, I saw some old fashioned desks over to one side. Then I found some rusty clippers like Mama used on the hibiscus when she prunes them, and up on a high shelf I saw a big ball of twine. So, I first used the desk to reach the twine, then pulled it over to the window, climbed up on top again, and used the clippers to scrape away the paint. Then I threaded the twine though the round hole and pulled just as hard as I could until the window creaked open and when it was down against the wall, I wiggled and wiggled until I was out in the middle of the azaleas. I pulled the window closed with the twine, used the clippers to cut some of the stems so I could get through them, then tied the cut stems to other the ones I didn’t cut, and finally put the clippers behind the bushes.

    When I got outside, I brushed the dirt off my clothes, and walked to the parking lot like I was just leaving school.

    “Hey, Annie,” it was Dessie getting on her bicycle. “Where you been all this time?”

    “Oh, just here and there,” I said, ‘cause I didn’t want to tell a story. “Kinda lost track of time. Happens lots to me.”

    “Well, you get on home now, lots a folks comin’ soon. Big doin’s.”

    “Yes, mam,” I walked on. “Oh, Dessie, look.” I used my surprised voice. “I think I see some papers under this car.” I got down on the ground and reached underneath. “Look at this, I think it’s the PTA President’s speech and some other things. I’d better get this to her, looks important. Bye, Dessie.”

    “Oh, my dear, you saved my life,” Mrs. Shuler said when I gave her her papers, then she wiped her nose. She had been crying. I never thought I’d see the PTA President of all the schools in St. Johns County crying. I guess I really did save her life.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Oh, joy joy, another Annie story. And I really liked this one
        Just climbing inside Annie’s style of thinking brightens my day
        You have this series mastered, always a pleasure.

  4. Creatrev

    Capone. It had to be.

    Why did Hoover insist upon being in Chicago when he announced his war on organized crime? Stupid. He’s been chasing votes like Dempsey chases belts since Black Tuesday with nothing to show for it. How did he and his medicine ball knights think he could go into enemy territory announce a war and leave without consequences? Well, nobody bothered to ask me, and why should they, I’m only the head of the president’s security detail.

    So, after an incompetent plan, a corporatist president, an uninvited chopper squad, and 15 minutes of chaos, I find myself tied to a chair in a basement rethinking my life, my career and my inability to speak up and say that we should avoid plans that may leave me tied to a chair in a basement. The good news is that my head is beginning to clear after the goon with the tommy gun hit it like a Dazzy Vance fastball right down Main Street, and I can concentrate enough to take inventory. Let’s see, Mr. Colt is gone, figures. It was the only good thing that came out of the marriage to Mrs. Head of the President’s Security Detail. Happy 40th birthday to me. On my 41st? Divorce papers. She always had a flair for the dramatic. If she could only see me now.

    Back to the inventory. A pack of Luckys (oh the irony), and the matches I always keep inside the pack, a little trick I learned in the army. I was able to reach them with a little effort. Whoever tied me up didn’t seem to plan on keeping me, just keeping me out of the way for a while. Two matches later I can stand and smoke one of the ill-named cigarettes. Back to my original thought.

    This had to be Capone.

  5. Rene Paul

    A sweet dream fills my consciousness, a spiritual nirvana, amplified by an exterior warmth, now interrupted by an awareness, a constant drip that’s causing the euphoria to end.

    ‘What is that?’ I try moving my arms, they’re aching from an awkward position behind my back. Water is falling on my face from somewhere and from something a few feet above my head.

    The veil lifts as I open my eyes and locate the culprit. A leaking pipe. I’m mortified as my
    situation reveals itself; I’m hogtied lying on a damp floor. The room is hot, humid, and, for the most part, dark. A reedy stream of light is filtering in from a small window near the ceiling revealing the chamber; a boiler room.

    I’m in the basement of an older edifice, could be a multiple story apartment or office building. Multiple boilers are active, heating water, turning liquid to steam and moving the fume along a highway of pipes into the units above, It’s noisy. 

     I’m lying on my right shoulder, facing the intersect of two walls. I bend my knees inward as much as the ligatures allow then push outward, resembling a sidewinder snake. The
    movement acts as a pivot and spins me enough to show the entirety of my confinement.

    How did I get here? More important, how do I get out? My head is throbbing; the answer isn’t materializing. My reasoning ebbs and flows, thoughts move in and out of my mind.

    Then in a moment of lucidity, it comes back… the President. That’s it, I work for the secret service, assigned to protect the president of the United States. I was on my way back to the agency with a roll of film when someone asked me for the time, I glanced at my wristwatch…, that’s the last thing I remember. They must have taken the recon photos I took of the exterior and interior of the Peabody Hotel, and of the room the president will stay in when he arrives tomorrow. Or is it today! How long have I been here?

    There were two guys that approached me. Both expendable. Muscle, not brains. I must have shot something their boss they didn’t want me to see.

    Ok, Jake, take inventory, what do I have at my disposal? I carry a small switchblade knife in the front pocket of my pants, along with a set of keys with a small universal toolkit attached, and I can feel my wallet tucked in the back pocket. Time to get busy extricating me from these bindings.

    I snake over to a boiler and scrape my front pocket from beneath the knife, pushing it upward. It works, the blade slips out of the pocket. I spin around and grab the knife and work my way to a space between the first and second boiler, there’s a gap there with a small cavity. I open the switchblade and place it in the hole, sharp side up, then spin again until my hands are over the knife. I start a slicing action.  

    The bindings give way, I’m free.

    Next up, the door, it’s locked. I try the keys in my pocket, could get lucky. Not today. I open my wallet and use a charge card slipped between the frame and lock, again not a good day to bet the ponies.

    My luck just changed, there’s a hammer on top of a boiler. Maybe I can use it to break the handle off the door. Again, no luck. 

    Ok, think. 

    My other pocket has the universal toolkit which includes a slot-headed screwdriver. I place it under the top door hinge and hit it with the hammer, the bolt pops up and out. I repeat the action on the bottom pin with the same result. The door slides off its hinges.

    I’m out. Out in the early hours of… morning!

    Find a payphone, call the agency, and hope I’m not too late.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What’s behind the green door? A hungry Mastiff, 300 pounds of dog muscle, who hasn’t eaten in two days. Alley Oop! Okay Rene, how in.the world is he going to get past 300 pounds of angry dog?

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Maybe it’s just me. I think I missed the fight between the agent and the two expendable muscled guys.
      This seemed too easy for him though.
      I wonder if he was just dreaming or not? Was there really nothing on the other side of the door?
      Hmmmm…

    2. Rene Paul

      I struggled with this one. Not my favorite prompt, almost didn’t post. You guys are right… too easy. Needed more tension, perceived danger, and uncertainty.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        But, at least you got it done! I’ve had difficulty with several recent prompts and didn’t post. I’m trying not to do that again.

      1. Kristina Knowhere

        COMPROMISED
        Damn! The lump on my head hurts. I can’t open my eyes. Where am I? I feel my face, my eyes are open. I am in the dark. The good news is my hands and feet are not bound. I can feel my jacket, my running shorts and tennis shoes are still on. I feel the zipper is still intact. My white laces are too. So as special agent detail assigned to the President of the United States I get kidnapped on my day off. What the hell!

        As a women 5 feet 7 inches about 135 pounds I made the cut. I have brown hair and brown eyes, olive skin and a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I am 32 years old, single and worked my way though secret service from senators to vice president and now The President.r So my training is kicking in.

        I sit up, feel my hands at the back of wall and I am sitting on the floor. I slowly use my hands to push myself from the wall and stand and hope not to get dizzy. Whoa! Walk along the wall, feel for a wall, a door or window. Four corners, no door and no light switch. I must getting air from somewhere. No stairs either. A sliding door? Maybe?

        I sit back down. I need to ask myself why today? Who did I talk to in the last twenty four hours because they know my routine? Where is the President? If I am not with him who is? I lean back and remember I felt someone behind as I turned a corner on Lincoln ave. I spun my left foot around for a round house kick. I hit someone. Then got hit from behind.

        Ouch, my chest hurts. Oh I have my sports bra on with two compartments. My house key, my Swiss army knife. I can use these. I still have my diamond stud earrings. I can be tracked with these. If memory serves Training supervisor Ellen Reynolds told me, ” Women have different trackers Special Agent Yvette Gonzales. Not all agents know this. This can save your life.”

  6. pven

    Special Agent R. D. Anderson rubbed the melon-sized knot on the back of his head and surveyed the basement.  Lit by a sliver of a grated window in the wall opposite the door, the poorly whitewashed  room was mostly empty save for a scattering of discarded metal pieces and a steel shelving unit bolted to the floor. A poster depicting different types of screws hung in faded tatters. One oil-stained box lay in the shadows cast between the shelving unit and the corner of the room.

    ‘Must have been the super’s maintenance room,’ Anderson thought. ‘If it’s abandoned, stands to reason the whole building is.’

    R.D. jiggled the door handle. ‘Locked.  Hinges on the inside — can’t kick it down.’

    He crossed the room in three brisk steps, the balls of his bare feet barely touching the floor, sidestepping anything that looked sharp.  He pulled his t-shirt over his head, wrapped it around his fist, then punched the window.  The glass shattered easily, shards chinking around his feet.  

    “Help!” he called out, shoving his face up close to the grating to survey the alleyway outside.  “I’m trapped down here!”

    ‘Alley’s empty. Looks to be secured on both ends.’

    “There are curse words for this,” he muttered aloud.  Whoever had knocked him out had taken everything off him but his skivvies.  There had been chatter about an attack on the Presidential detail; now R.D. was getting a clearer picture of what that attack entailed.

    R.D. picked up the box. Inside: three rolls of duct tape.

    “Guess I oughta channel my inner MacGyver,” he snorted, tossing the box back on the floor.

    He took a closer look at the scattered metal pieces.  Scraps, mostly, but there were a few dowels in the mix.  Perhaps he could…

    Special Agent Anderson selected a thin dowel and leapt to the door.  He pushed the dowel against the bottom of a hinge pin and saw the head of the pin lift up.  He cast about, found a flat metal piece, slapped that onto the palm of his hand and shoved the flat metal repeatedly against the bottom of the dowel rod, forcing the hinge pin up and out in excruciating increments until R.D. could grasp it with his fingers and yank it out.

    He repeated the steps with the bottom hinge. Wrenching the door out of the frame, he locked eyes with one of his captors, then at the SIG Sauer in his hand.

    R.D. dove to the left, throwing the door to the right.  The guard fired at the door, giving R.D. enough time to pivot and launch himself at the man.  R.D.’s right fist connected with his attacker’s head.  He went down.

    “What’s the plan?” the agent shouted at his captor. He ripped the duct tape out of its box and wrapped the man’s hands and legs.

    “Where’s it going down?” he shouted.  He didn’t expect an answer to this interrogation, but figured he should say something while frisking the guy’s flight jacket and pants. No cell phone, no wallet, no clues.

    R.D. grabbed the gun and ran out the door.  Whatever the plan, it was going down now.

    1. Rene Paul

      I didn’t read your story until after I posted mine. The scene at the door was well written, much better than the one I wrote. Good job with the entire escape and story.

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      Very keen, distinct and concise with the descriptions here pven. I enjoyed this 101%.
      I would very much like to know what the plan was as well. I don’t like being kept in the dark like this.
      Some words were quite foreign to me like dowel, SIG Sauer and MacGyver, I had to look them up just to be sure I got the right idea.

    3. Jessk2000

      An agent named R.D.Anderson channeling his inner Macgyver with what he has in the room and duct tape…I see what you did there! Great work on your response to the prompt!

  7. Pete

    The president stands tall at the podium, his smile fading as the soft chuckling evaporates. His scripted, light-hearted jokes were well placed and well executed. Now his tone deepens, his head bows, he clears his throat and the room darkens. He’s somber now, poignant. His fabricated emotion as he begins about valor, honor, sacrifice, and courage under fire.

    I wait in the wings, gritting my teeth as Craftsman, as we called him, describes the harrowing ordeal that lead to his escape.

    Escape. Not rescue. To hear him tell it, he slung me over his shoulder and carried me to safety.

    The black ties and white smiles devour his words, it’s a symphony of head-shaking and mouth-covering. From where I stand I can see the president’s right foot tap, as he clutches the Jim Brady medal of valor.

    It’s been three months since we’d sat together in that basement, a slow dripping countdown in the corner.

    I woke up to muffled sobs. I was on a damp floor, across from the president of the United States. Through one eye I saw him hunched and shrunken on an overturned bucket. His whimpers made it hard to make out the voices upstairs.

    I lowered my head to get his attention. His hair was matted, his pout without that campaign trail grin. My neck screamed with the movement, but the bind on my wrists was uninspired and loose—perhaps because my right eye socket crackled with every blink.

    Henson upstairs. I heard him barking orders and my first instinct was that we’d been saved. I got to my feet, hobbled to a fall, disoriented and throbbing with pain.

    “Make sure it’s a headshot, it had to look like enemy fire, self defense.”

    I’d had my suspicions about Henson’s loyalty but I’d never acted. As the only female secret service agent it was hard enough to be accepted without blowing whistles. Now it was too late.

    I blinked off the cobwebs, unsure if I was hearing them right. While I didn’t care for our president’s views, my job was to protect the man, not execute him. This was treason.

    Driskell spoke up and asked about me, his voice like a squeak between floor planks.

    “We can’t just take her out.”

    “No choice. She’ll never go along with it.’

    “She might, if she knew what was at stake.”

    “No. She goes with him.”

    This went on for half an hour, enough time for our commander in chief to resume his tremble and sob routine. Amazing, all that tough talk about on the campaign trail. Now I saw where he pissed himself, looked at me, wide eyed and panicked, a million miles away from his donor rallies and black tie dinners. Not the same guy who once winked at me. Called me Tutz.

    I shook my head at him, my eyes sending him the message to stay quiet. He was a wreck, and again I wondered about the primaries, when it surfaced Many people pointed out the way he dodged Vietnam, looking at him now I only see a liability.

    I had three things going for me. I was alive and unbound, so I had the opportunity. My I was alone with crybaby, so I had surprise. Lastly, I had my gun. The boys took my standard issue but never bothered to check for the .380 my father gave to me when I graduated VMI, top of my class.

    Being that I was under oath to die in order to protect the puddle of a man hunched in the corner, it was enough. I took out my piece and set a finger to my lips. The puddle rippled with fear.

    I had no plan on killing my own team, even if that is what they had planned for me. At the door I took out Driskell with a chop to the neck. Something I’d been wanting to do that since he solicited a hooker in Panama.

    Lining the wall were three Middle Eastern men, bound and bowing. I supposed they would set to blame for this coup, I wondered who else might be involved. The president had as many detractors as supporters. Their heads came up and I saw a figure. I neutralized Brooks with a knee shot. HIs groans were accompanied by tremulous chants from the three guys set up for the fall.

    A cough from the kitchen. I swung around with my gun and found Henson at the counter, the late morning sun glimmering off the sweat on his forehead. A bottle of Tequila by his Sig.

    He grinned. “Sara. Why am I not surprised?”

    My ears rang from the gunshot. I managed top keep the gun trained on above his ear. His smile dared me, taunted me. Like it had from day one. He shook his head. “Your eye looks bad, chick. It’s a shame, too.”

    He reached for the gun or the bottle. Either way it was end of story. I shot and killed a colleague. A fellow officer. I tended to Brooks as he spat in my face.

    Later, after everything came out, the whole plan, when books were being written and movies in the works, I was deemed a hero.

    I changed my number. I tossed my phone into the Potomac. I am completely unemployable.

    Now, Craftsman turns to me, smiling, his chest out. He waves me over. The suits applaud. They’re grins dare me. Taunt me. Just like they have since day one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I liked Sara a lot, one thing a long.life has taught me, never, never underestimate a woman. I liked the story, the resolve and the brutal truth of lack of glory , that Sara so well deserved. Get over it guys, not only can they out think us they are also better shooters than we are. So what else is new?

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a powerful story. At first I thought Manchurian Candidate, but you made it something else. Absolutely absorbing, plus, the details could have been taken from today’s news.

  8. Critique

    Greg regained consciousness slowly. He was lying on a cement floor trussed up like a turkey – hands tight between his feet. He struggled to sit up and gasped as pain boomeranged inside his skull and something warm ran down the back of his neck. The room was inky black, cold, and silent.

    He and his partner Brad – who was driving the SUV – were headed to join a secret service team that would guard the platform where the President of the United States was scheduled to give a speech. On a quiet stretch of road – which in itself was suspect – they spotted a slender blond woman in a little sundress with a toddler on her hip standing beside a blue hatchback. She waved them down. A flat tire.

    “We’re early.” Brad said. “We’ll have her on her way in 10 minutes. Piece of cake.”

    Brad had jacked up the car and Greg was on his knees undoing the bolts on the tire. He looked up when the baby started crying suddenly. It was the look on the woman’s face and the careless way she jounced the baby hard on her hip that made him turn sharply to see a man wearing a balaclava raise a steel pipe and bring it down on Brad’s head. Brad crumpled like a deflated balloon to the ground, out cold. Before Greg could move something heavy hit the back of his head and everything went black.

    Two – maybe three – guys from out of nowhere. They’d been ambushed – sucked in by a pretty set of legs.

    “Brad?” Greg whispered and tugged at his bonds. If Brad was there he wasn’t answering.

    The rope cut painfully into his wrists his body cramping from the uncomfortable position. The knife he kept taped to his leg was impossible to reach. Inch- worming around the rough floor in the dark he found a jagged piece of concrete. Sawing weakly with numb fingers he soon gave up realizing there was only one option. Ignoring the pain he dislocated his left thumb and worked feverishly to free his hands. His feet were soon unbound and he staggered upright when the circulation began to flow.

    Grateful his watch hadn’t been taken, he rolled up the sleeve of his jacket and shone the light from the hi-tech gadget around the dank basement and found Brad lying motionless in a corner.

    Cursing under his breath fear seared Greg’s heart until he located a faint pulse. Blood had pooled under Brad’s head and he remained deeply unconscious, unresponsive to pain stimuli.

    Confronted with the reality of their situation and what he must do, Greg tore strips off of Brad’s shirt and made a make-shift bandage around Brad’s head. Using several of the strips he wound them around his own head.

    “I’ll be back for you buddy.” Greg said. Rage and adrenaline fueled him with the energy he needed. He headed up the stairs on wobbly legs.

    At the top of the stairs the door wouldn’t budge. Several kicks near the lock and it splintered open with a crash. He was in a deserted warehouse.

    The GPS on the watch showed he was northwest – ten miles – from the stadium where the President would be giving his speech in exactly 43 minutes.

    Holding his wrist up Greg made a phone call.

    A medic on the helicopter wrapped gauze tightly around Greg’s head and said, “You need stitches and you’ve probably sustained a concussion. This guy,” he motioned to Brad lying in the back. “He needs to get to a hospital asap.”

    “Our President’s life is at risk.” Greg ordered. “Just get me there.”

    The helicopter soared through the air and as they approached the stadium packed with people Greg prayed he wouldn’t be too late and that Brad would be okay.

    “Whatever it takes.” He thought. “I’ll get those goons.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Hi Critique, we were both thinking on the same wave length this week
      This story.is extremely well written, lots of descriptive detail without bothering the pace. I could feel the pain you described. And shuttered about the dislocated thumb working it’s way through the ropes. Fast paced, lots of tension.here.

      1. Critique

        Thank you Kerry. Always an inspiration when you comment. I can’t imagine trying to dislocate a thumb but I’ve read in dire situations it can motivate one to do that.

    2. Rene Paul

      A pretty girl, with a baby no less, at the side of the road, having car trouble… a perfect setup. Men fall for it every time. Good story. Picky Point: ‘Goons’ I would expect a much harsher word, like bastards.

      1. Critique

        Thanks for commenting Rene. I struggle with the ‘harsher words’ because if my mother were here she’d wash my mouth out with soap – that’s the way I was raised. But you are absolutely right, the word should have been, bastards 🙂

  9. RafTriesToWrite

    I woke up in a very untidy and dusty looking basement with dim lighting coming from one corner of the room, it smelled like dead rats here. These kidnappers don’t even know how to properly execute an assassination against the president of the United States.

    First, instead of killing a secret service agent they just put’em to sleep with those stupid spray things.
    Second, they don’t even bother tying up their captor in the basement. They just left me on the ground like a sack of potatoes.

    Lastly, you don’t announce that you’re going to assassinate the president in front of the media. It ruins the whole “element of surprise” thing.

    I swayed my head in disapproval and chuckled. “Newbies” I whispered under my breath.

    I stood up and dusted myself off. Then I looked up the stairs where the door was. “Looks like a 4-inch steel door” I said.

    I searched myself for any kind of weapons I could use to bust my way out of here. “Huh, at least they did something right” I said to the air. They took everything from me except what I’m wearing.

    They literally took everything! My wallet, my white house brochures, my key pass, my knife deflector wrist watch, my government issue hand gun, my stun gun, all three of my knives – one on each sock and one on my left jacket pocket – and my favorite sunglasses.

    Then I remembered, making me groan in contest. “Those sunglasses were super expensive!” Now they’ve just made me mad.

    I was murmuring incoherent profanities as I searched the area to find something that can help me get out of here.

    I found a loose nail barely pinned to the wood, a pen and a rubber band wrapped around the pen.

    I used the nail to pick the lock of the steel door, which I may say was not easy at all. The door wasn’t guarded but I can hear three different voices coming from the living room.

    Sounds like they’re playing cards, I keep hearing “go fish”. I hid myself in a corner and took out the rubber band and aimed it at the glasses at the top counter, making them fall.

    “What was that?” Said the deep voiced guy.

    “Mike probably left one of the glasses sitting over the edge again” Said the other guy.

    “I did not!” This must be Mike.

    “Go check it out.” This was the deep voiced man again.

    As soon as I saw the guy I knocked him out with one punch which normally doesn’t work, but in this case it did. He made a loud noise as he crashed to the ground.

    “Mike?!” I heard them call out, and instantly I hear two chairs move from their place telling me they’re coming. I went up the counter, hid in plain sight and kicked the next guy who went in, I threw the pen to the other guy in the eye – it wasn’t a pretty sight. He was screaming non-stop like a little girl.

    Now it’s just the brawl to the end with the guy I kicked in the face. He got up quickly and gave me a 1-2 punch but I dodged them and countered with a swift clean uppercut and one majestic kick to his balls sending him down to the ground with hands in his nuts, then I made my way to the living room where they were playing cards and grabbed all three guns and my sunglasses that was sitting pretty at the edge of the table and bolted out of the house.

    “But dad, how did you save the president?” My son said, sounding too enthusiastic.

    “That Michael, is a story for another night.” I smiled at my little boy, four years of age and ever so slightly growing taller each day. “Off to bed now” I told him. He nodded like the good little boy he is and went upstairs to his bedroom.

    “You gotta stop tellin’ him these kinds of stories you know” I saw her lookin’ at me with her ocean blue orbs and giving me a little smirk as she stood at the kitchen entrance.

    “Come on Karen, boys gotta be boys” I stood up and went to her, hands wrapped around her back as I smiled and looked at her eyes.

    “Boys gotta be boys” She chuckled, I knew she understood. I then gave her a quick goodnight kiss.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I.liled the whole story especially the last part with his son and wife woven in
      Since I had all girls, I had to change my stories.to other things like blowing down houses and eating pigs and stories of Uncle Remus and little black Sambo. I know now they weren’t politically correct to relate, but they didn’t appear to cause any harm.

  10. JRSimmang

    JUSTICE FOR THE WEAK

    There it is again, that light. That orb of light tugging at my the corner of my eye. God, I feel like crap. My hands, tied off. Strapped behind me to the chair I’m in.

    Okay, Connor. Open your eyes. Open. Open. Try harder. God it stings.

    Good. The right one’s open. Left one’s stuck. Blood. Or sweat. Or it’s swollen. The light must have been coming from that swinging lamp. Why is there always a swinging lamp?

    “Ah,” a voice from behind me. Nasal. High-pitched. “You’re awake.”

    He sounds familiar. Someone I know. Someone I’m trying to find.

    “If you don’t mind, I’m going to stay back here while we ask you some questions.” He put something metal down on a metal desk.

    Ruskin. Theodore Ruskin. That’s the guy! I have to keep him talking.

    “Okay. Good.” Why does he always clear his throat? “Let’s get started. First, what’s your name?”

    “You know my name, Ruskin.”

    That laugh. He certainly has embraced the whole international terrorist label. “What is it that gave me away? Was it my reputation?”

    “No. It was your voice. You and I have met before, and it hasn’t been so long that I’d believe you didn’t recognize me.”

    “Oh, yes. I remember.”

    My clothes have been changed, and the cyanide tablet in my false tooth has been removed. These guys are thorough.

    “Well, now that we know each other, care to come around so we can have a nice chat? Face to face?”

    He skits around into the light and leans in close. “I do genuinely apologize for the wounds. Our doctor helped to make you as comfortable as possible. We had to remove the cyanide tablet before it accidentally ruptured in your mouth. The crash was quite… dramatic.”

    The crash. Perfect. I was worried he wasn’t going to fall for the false information I passed on to Lyonel, his inside man. “I bet. I don’t remember much from it.”

    “And you probably won’t,” he laughs and sits back into the chair opposite me. “Just so you know, we’re not going to let you go.”

    “So, you’ll kill me.”

    “Yes,” he folds his hands together and sets them in his lap. “It’s really a formality. You see, we need to kill your president, and we know that you’ll do anything you can to stop us.”

    I study his face for a moment with my good eye. “Forgive me for sounding daft, but… why? Why does she have to die?”

    “Oh, she doesn’t!” he laughed. “But it would certainly make things a lot more difficult for Anderson to take her place.”

    “You’ve set up a puppet.”

    “No, absolutely not! Anderson’s a great man, greater than the president could have ever hoped,” he scoots to the edge of the chair. “Plus, I would never set up a puppet regime.”

    “Like you did in Darfur?”

    “Did you want the genocide to continue!” he shouts as he stands, and I feel his spit hit my face.

    “Calm down, Ruskin.”

    He takes a deep breath. Good. Keep him on his toes. Maybe my beacon is still active. Just a few more minutes and it would go off.

    “You’re right,” he tells me and smooths out his shirt before sitting back down. “No. No, there I had to. Here, we just need Wend-Wright to end up dead.”

    “You mind telling me why?”

    He waves me off. “Not at all.” He looks me straight in the eye. “She’s responsible for Darfur in the first place. And, she’s the one who put the hit on Moamar Al-Shadiq in Israel. I’d know,” he gestures to himself. “I was the one who was asked to take the job.”

    That’s all I needed to know. “Well, Ruskin, then you won’t have to kill me.”

    He laughs. He always laughs. “And, why is that Connor?”

    “Because,” I inhale through the side of my nose that’s open, “I’m here to help you.”

    -JR Simmang

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Another great take here JR! And I wasn’t expecting the twist in the end.
      A back story of Darfur would be nice though. I wonder what happened there other than the hit on Al-Shadiq. Who was he? What happened there? Will we ever know?

      1. JRSimmang

        Thanks, Raf! Glad to have caught you off guard.
        Darfur, a region in Sudan, has been experiencing genocide since 2003, two factions waging war against the government for its blatant persecution of non-Arabs. Since then, there has been a steady and constant unease and moments of intense violence. I am in no way doing the story of Darfur any justice, which is to say it’s much more complicated. But, that’s the gist.

        I may post up a Pt. 2 on my blog at jrsimmang.blogspot.com. Keep an eye out.

    2. Critique

      An entertaining read. I’ll need to look up Darfur as I’m not familiar with what’s happening there. This was a cliffhanger… good to know there’s a sequel 🙂

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Really intense scene you’ve created, I’ll look for part II. I think the details at the beginning are just great, pulled me into your MCs mind quickly.

  11. ShamelessHack

    I look around desperately for anything that could get me out of here. The President is in trouble, and needs me. Failure isn’t an option.

    Nothing in this empty basement, just nothing. But that won’t stop me from my duty. I back up to the far wall and charge.

    Boom! The basement door flies off its hinges. I have a way out! Without a moment to waste, I run out of the basement door and up the stairs into the White House.

    I don’t have to figure out where they’re holding the President, I can feel it, almost smell it. He’s in the Oval Office with the First Lady and…and someone else.

    No time for strategizing, I crash my body into the Office door and it swings wide. On the Presidential Desk, tied back to back with heavy ropes are the President and Mrs. Trump. Their kidnapper stands over them, gleaming machete in hand, about to strike.

    Without another thought, I leap.

    The terrorist is fast , but not fast enough. He falls over and his machete clatters across the Oval Office floor. As he rises he works a gun out of his jacket pocket and fires a round at me. It grazes my shoulder, and blood seeps, but by now I’m rocketing toward him.

    The momentum of my hurtling body blows him through the Office window and out onto the White House lawn where my fellow Secret Service agents swarm all over him. I turn back quickly, jump up on the Presidential Desk, and chew through the heavy ropes. The President and the First Lady are free!

    I jump down to the floor, and realize my injury is making me a little woozy. I sit and scratch at my shoulder with my back leg.

    “Thanks for saving us…” he reads my ID tag,”…Sammy.” Thanks for saving the country,” the President says. “Just in time, too. Another minute and Blitzer would have finished us.” I knew that. I know what a Wolf is capable of.

    I lick the President’s hand, and Mrs. Trump gets down on one knee, rubbing my fur.

    “Oh, Donald, look,” she says, a frown of dismay on her face. “He is injured.” She gently rubs my shoulder and I lick her face. With my eyes I tell her, “Don’t stop. A little to the left.”

    I can sit here all day.

    God Bless America!

    1. J.Fujimaru

      Very clever, very funny. Same as Turkey Girl, I kept thinking “that’s unusual” as I was reading the later half but then the reveal made it all clear! I’m glad you’re giving these diligent fellows a voice.

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      That’s a good boy. Yes he is.
      I was quite surprised when the MC scratched his shoulder with his back leg, then I thought, humans don’t have legs on their backs. I then knew that this wasn’t going to be just an “ordinary” story from hack.
      The reveal at the end was superb.
      As always, you never cease to surprise me. I really enjoyed this hack.

  12. Turkey Girl

    The moldy wooden door squeaked on its rusty hinges as it opened again. Lying on the floor of the basement, Steve Roberts looked up to see one of his captors entering the musty cold room. The man walked over to one of the filthy block windows, looking out. Finally, he turned around and spoke.

    “What time does Air Force One take off?”

    Mr. Roberts didn’t answer. He was looking at the three things which hi captor had thought were useless in his pockets: his wallet, a toy truck his five year old son had given him, and a card with “the helicopter pilot’s ten rules of thumb” written on it. Somehow he had to use these to get out.

    His tall, foreign captor was watching him. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled his cell phone out and hit the speed dial. Someone picked up almost instantly.

    “Hello, Mr. Azar. Do you know when Air Force One takes off? Good. Then detonate the bomb at 3:15.” He pushed the phone into his pocket and turned back to Mr. Roberts. “Your co-worker, Mr. Azar, works for us now. He is with the president now, and will set a bomb off on Air Force One once it reaches cruising altitude.” The man turned and headed for the door.

    Mr. Roberts watched him carefully. But his eyes were focused on the man’s feet. Slowly, he pushed the small toy truck right below where the man would place his foot. The man stepped on it, and slid backwards, crashing to the floor in the room. Obviously, he had never learned to roller skate. Mr. Roberts reached into the man’s pocket, feeling for the keys to the building. His hand closed on the keys, and the man’s cell phone. He was tempted to take it and try to place a call, but he knew he’d never get through to the president in time to warn him. He glanced at his watch. Air Force One was flying at 2:30. I was already 2:00. Grabbing the keys and collecting his things from the floor, he ran out of the building.

    Luckily, he wasn’t too far from the airport. He looked around and, sure enough, the president and a group of men in black suits were walking towards the plane. He ran across the runway towards them.

    “Mr. President, I must ask you not to board Air Force One!” he yelled as he ran, breathless, towards him.

    The president looked slightly confused, but, assuming that Mr. Roberts knew best, he halted and turned towards him. “Well, then, how am I supposed to get to Colorado, Mr. Roberts?”

    Mr. Roberts looked around the runway. There was a helicopter pad a small distance away with a bright red helicopter sitting on it. An idea came to him. He did have a private pilot’s license, but he definitely wasn’t certified to fly the president. Right now, it didn’t matter.

    “Sir, I could fly you in the helicopter,” he told the president.

    Surprisingly, the president bought it. He headed for the helicopter and boarded along with other secret service agents. Mr. Roberts looked around for Mr. Azar, but he wasn’t in the group.

    Later that night, a red helicopter landed at the Denver airport. A crew came out to do the regular post-flight checks, and were puzzled to find a card with “the helicopter pilot’s ten rules of thumb” taped to the window above the pilot’s seat. The president had landed safely in Colorado.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’ve got this story nailed. You’re writing about a yoSg boy, maybe 8 or 9 at the most and he’s playing “Save The President.” I used to play war games by myself as a kid and this is exactly how I would think. Really liked this and the tone you’ve written it in.

  13. JRSimmang

    A little experimental
    PROGRAM TAU ALPHA 313

    SERVER PROCESSOR… FUNCTIONING…

    NAVSYS… VISUAL CORTEX… FUNCTIONING…

    GLOBAL POSITIONING…

    FUNCTIONING…

    LOCOMOTION SERVOS…

    UNABLE TO CONNECT.

    ACCESSING AUDIO MEMORY…

    “There we are. Sit nice and tight, Beta622.”

    “He’s a real looker, this one.”

    “Yeah. Betas are light years ahead of the older Alphas.”

    “Hand me the destabilizer.”

    “Sure thing.”

    “And the retractor.”

    “Yep. I’ll take his arm.”

    VISUAL MEMORY ONLINE

    SUBROUTING PERSONALITY MODULATOR… SUCCESSFUL

    Location: basement. Internal clock: approximately five hours and thirty-six minutes have elapsed since cortical servers were offline. Access audiovisual memory matrix, file 2241A.

    “He’s completely shut down?”
    …Access facial recognition program. Run.
    Bentley, Horace
    Carlisle, Wesley
    Franklin, George
    Killmead, Ryan… IDENTIFIED
    Morson, William
    Thurbur, Tully… IDENTIFIED

    EXTRACT DOSSIER
    Killmead, Ryan- Wanted for embezzlement, falsifying official documents, war crimes: South Africa, North Korea, and Belarus, 2024 bombing of Sri Lanka World Trade Headquarters, 2027 crash of global currency
    Thurbur, Tully- Wanted in association with Killmead, Ryan, embezzlement, falsifying official documents, impersonating officers and military, 2026 false imprisonment of Gentry, Olan, 2027 breach of contract with South Korean officials, 2028 bombing and strike against peaceful allies in Eurozone Delta

    INITIATE MAGENTOSPHERIC REALIGNMENT of LOCOMOTOR UNITS

    Torso, left arm, right leg reattached. Right arm and left leg whereabouts 10 meters north, northwest. Assumption: remaining body parts located in opposing room

    TEST: INITIATE LOCOMOTION… READJUST BALANCE SERVOS AND GYROS… SYSTEMS OPTIMAL

    “You’re sure he’s down?”
    Locating.

    “Positive. There’s no way he can reattach his bodies. He’s amazing, but not that amazing.”
    Located.
    Priming Neutralization Command Gamma3. Priming Immobilization Command Theta4.

    “What the-”
    Execute Gamma3/Theta4.

    Target 1 neutralized. Target 2 immobilized.

    INITIATE REATTACHMENT PROCEDURE.

    “Mr Thurbur. You are immobilized. Please explain your intention.”

    “How?”

    “I do not understand. You may tell me your intention.”

    “How did you get out?”

    INITIATE EXTRACTION PROCEDURE SIGMA2. “Your question is irrelevant. Answer mine, or things could get very uncomfortable for you.”

    “AAAH! ARRR!”

    “I will discontinue if you share with me your plans.”

    “Fine! Fine.”

    “Now. Wipe your blood from your lips.”

    “The president. Motorcade. Washington Avenue.”

    “How? What is the delivery method?”

    “Car bomb.”

    GPS LOCATION. ESTIMATE TIME: 42 MINUTES TO RENDEZVOUS

    “Mr President! I will need you to exit the vehicle.”

    INITIATE SUBPROGRAM SELF DESTRUCT
    VIRUS DETECTED
    SELF DESTRUCT EMINENT
    UNABLE TO EJECT OR ABSOLVE
    3
    2
    1

    -JR Simmang

        1. pven

          You seem quite comfortable outside your comfort zone. Both the internal and external dialogue are well crafted, ensuring clarity by the end of the story. Well done.

    1. writer_sk

      JR- very cool. Interesting use having MC be a machine.

      I liked the names you chose – they sound like real futuristic secret agent robot soldier names lol

      1. JRSimmang

        Beebles, I’ve been thumbing through your work for a while now, and I did enjoy some “Coincidence.” I think I like it better than “Coincidence #2.” Glad you loved this one!

    2. J.Fujimaru

      Very cool perspective. It’s the fiction of the future if AI ever decides that fiction is worth writing. I especially enjoyed the dialogue between the machine and target 2.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved it. In the middle 60’s, Bob Newharti did a gig, A computer was in charge of personnel in s large company, only the workers were machines
        One machine was lagging behind in it’s quota and the computer brought the machine into his office
        In mechanical voice, the computer told the machine he was fired because he didn’t meet the needs of the company. At the very end of the dressing down, the computer stated, ” This is a recording. Bob did all the voices
        It’s on an album.called The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart. Me

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      JR, I read this several times, and got something new every time. I also did the voices, in my head, so as not to frighten the cat, and understood everything, I think. This was clever, and extremely engaging. One of the best.

  14. Kerry Charlton

    SITTING DUCK

    .

    James Bullwhip Madison regained consciousness but couldn’t move for the ropes bound him to a metal chair whose legs were bolted to a damp concrete floor. ‘How could I have been so taken with a woman to let my guard down and end up like this,’ he scolded himself. Only a high window with metal bars managed to light the barren room and as his eyes adjusted to the dimness, they focused on that same woman who lay sprawled across the room in a growing pool of rich blood.

    ‘Pros,’ he figured, ‘leave no clues behind.’ His ropes were easy to manipulate as his body contorted and they fell aside like overcooked string beans. He knew immediately why he was still alive. Only three in the secret service were privy to the complicated emergency entrance and exit to the white house itself and he was one of the privileged.

    He had one thing in his favor and that was the chip embedded behind his lower jaw bone that served as a high emission beacon directly to his headquarters. He had merely to touch the overlaying skin at the back of the jaw bone with his tongue in order to transmit a secret location code.

    Inside his left front pocket he still carried the two wooden clothes pins with two rubber bands wrapped around them. He turned the heel of his left shoe counter clockwise and three kitchen matches revealed themselves. The right heel contained a miniature squeeze can of fabric cleaner. It took him less than two minutes to build two miniature flame throwers.

    He sat quietly in the chair and wrapped the ropes around his body as before and waited. In an hour or so, two men with pistols drawn opened the door to his presence and checked to be sure he was still tied to the chair. One carried a mean knife, the other, a pair of vice grips. One struck him across the face to get his attention,

    “Make it easy on yourself scum, we’re going to get the information one way or another.”

    “Would you come a little closer?” James said, “I’m hard of hearing.”

    He took another blow to his face but as he did so, he fired the first match gun in the goon’s face as well as a squeeze of the cleaning fluid. The hood’s face exploded in flame, tortured screams filled the room as the second goofus’ face received the same treatment. James emptied the cleaning fluid on both bodies which immediately burst in flames and he made a rush for the cell door after managing to pull a gun from one of the flaming bodies.

    Three more men rushed through the hallway leading to the cell and were killed

    instantly by the stolen Glock with silencer. James activated the chip with his tongue, dove through a glass window and landed 12 feet below and rolled into a wooded area. His chip placed him in South Fairlington a few miles from downtown Washington and the white house.

    Shortly he heard the blades of a Blackhawk landing in a clearing close by the trees he hid in. He recognized the number and raced toward it as the door opened. Once inside, he didn’t recognize either pilot and asked,

    “Have you talked to Ben Franklin today?”

    “Isn’t he dead,” one said back?

    “Yes and so are you.”

    He shot the first pilot through the head and as he turned to the second, a bullet crashed high through his left shoulder. His second shot honed between the pilot’s eyes.
    Using his one good arm, he dragged both bodies to the rear of the copter, took a seat at the controls and lifted the Blackhawk off the forest floor.

    Using the copter’s radio, he spoke clearly,

    “Commander Madison here.”

    A reply, “Have you talked to Ben Franklin today?”

    “No he‘s at the Liberty Bowl.”

    “Thank you commander, how can we help.”

    “Are you missing a Blackhawk?“

    “Yes sir, stolen last night.”

    “Well I‘m flying it. Call ‘Sitting Duck’ , Code seven. Clear me for landing, I need medical help.”

    “Are you able to fly sir?”

    “Yes, what about clearance?”

    “Hold a minute please, Commander.”

    “Okay

    “Commander, you’re cleared for the lawn sir.”

    As James flew toward the Whitehouse, the sun bathed the Needle in it’s early light.

    ‘It’s going to be one busy week,’ James mused.

    1. JRSimmang

      This guy is no Johnny English, that’s for sure. Pacing is ever your strength, Kerry. I’m wondering if the title gives us some insight as to what’s going to happen next, or if it’s just a clever play on words aimed for sometime after the first Tuesday of November.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Sitting Duck is a code reference to a particular escape plan from the White House.” Green Apples” is another escape plan as is “Smiling Turnips” and “Flying Monkeys”. “Back Stage” is a stand and fight plan. .

    2. writer_sk

      Kerry – I enjoyed this. Your use of the 3 items and the other gadgets was creative. I thought the part about the sensor in his jaw was cool. Description of coptor: setting, action and take-off very engaging. The whole thing was a pleasurable read.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I did live in Fairlington Va but that was during the Civil War, I think. Thanks for the read Beebles. How’s the Manor House doing?

          1. Kerry Charlton

            How much down and how much a month
            Texas is miserable in the summer. It has to cooler across the pond
            Besides, my family was in the tea business in England a couple of hundred years or so ago.

    3. RafTriesToWrite

      I loved this piece Kerry and might I say, clever gadgets you have going on here especially the chip embedded in his Jaw, made me chuckle when I read it. The secret codes you gave were really a very nice touch, adds more sizzle to the story. It was a fun read all in all.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Raf Tries, this one came easy, most don’t. In fact I couldn’t figure how to do last week’s prompt about Harry Potter, so I didn’t write it.I really appreciate your summary so I know what parts could have given more lift to my story. And what sections drove the reader along

    4. Critique

      Kerry, I would not want to be on the wrong side of James. An innovative MacGyver kind of guy.The commander is fortunate James has his back. A fun read!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Critique these action stories, I have kind of used a formula and I find it a lot easier to concentrate on the story line and not the structure of my writing. They are getting easier to write and are similarities in.thr heroes I create, sort of a super ego character.If Ian Fleming can.do it then I’m going to try to follow him and his style of writing, Now on to the jummy pants lady spies he can switch to his side, coming.up.

    5. ReathaThomasOakley

      Kerry, another wild ride! There is so very much here, with clues to the rest of the story. This could be another MC to continue writing about.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Reatha, I wanted to write more but didn’t. I’ve been writing 600 words each week i I am going to get thrown off here if don’t behave myself.

  15. J.Fujimaru

    You have a particular way of breathing, don’t you? I could tell the minute they dragged me in. It’s that hissing noise. Yeah, you broke your nose fighting an enemy agent back in 1992. Everyone knows the story.

    Well, I’ve got something that’s going to help both of us get out. It’s tucked in my boot – in the sole. Could you get it? I can’t reach, the way they tied me up….

    Wonderful.

    Now that that’s done, it’s time for honesty; you deserve it.

    You know what my diagnosis is on your breathing? Well, Mr. Johnson, I think it’s lack of exercise. You were banking on that promotion to get a safe job up at headquarters so you could comfortably watch all the young boys do the work. But as you know by now there’s no such thing as “safe” in our line of work.

    Well, partner, I’m glad they gave us this chance to sit together in this basement to talk it out. What’s that? Are you having trouble breathing? Because you haven’t said anything coherent. Did they muzzle you? Good. I’m dead-tired of sweetly replying to every ridiculous idea of yours with, “Yes, Mr. Johnson.” It’s nauseating. No more of that. Our line of work: it’s merit based. So guess who got that promotion instead of you? It goes against all your antediluvian ideas.

    You’ve never been good at guessing though, have you? No, I don’t think so, the way you ignorantly endangered our President, the way you handed over information to a mole. You’re surprised? You’ve only now just figured it out? Wow, you’ve outdone yourself, Mr. Johnson.

    Listen: here’s what we’re gonna do to undo all your slip-ups. We’ve got three hours before they reach the President. And I’ve got three things to get us out of here, contact headquarters about the leak, and get Mr. President to safety. Unfortunately for you I’m through with the first thing, that’s you – your hand, actually. All I needed you to do was get my pocketknife out of my boot. There isn’t enough time for a rescue, plus you’d get in the way of the mission. So I’m going to leave you to solve your own great escape. The second thing, well, that’s the knife. I’m almost finished freeing up my hands and then I’ll work on the lock. Fortunately for you, I’m not leaving you weaponless. When you hear the lock click I’m going to slide over the knife. You can work through your own ties at your own pace. So finally, the third thing, that’s me. Oh, I don’t mean that I’m going to use my body and batting eyelashes to get my way – that’s a euphemism for how you’d usually put it. I mean I’m going to use my brains because I’ve got ‘em even though I’m a “girl.”

    So, see you tomorrow at headquarters. 9:10. The briefing room. You’re briefing with me. Wish your new boss luck.

    And Mr. Johnson… good luck to you too.

    1. JRSimmang

      J, this is an interesting perspective; I felt swept along in the river of consciousness. There’s a whole backstory here, though you only gave us one person’s take on it. Rich with details.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        A very unusual form of writing. How about a second chapter and load it with back story and then finish it with chapter three. –

        1. J.Fujimaru

          Thanks for the suggestions, Kerry. I’ll definitely add to this story. Three chapters sounds about right. Lately, I have been reading some unusual novels and I’m feeling pretty experimental about the first person. Dangerous territory.

  16. J.Fujimaru

    You have a particular way of breathing, don’t you? I could tell the minute they dragged me in. It’s that hissing noise, cuz you broke your nose fighting an enemy agent back in 1992. Everyone knows the story.

    Well, I’ve got something that’s going to help both of us get out. It’s tucked in my boot – in the sole. Could you get it? I can’t reach, the way they tied me up….

    Wonderful.

    Now that that’s done, it’s time for honesty; you deserve it.

    You know what my diagnosis is on your breathing? Well, Mr. Johnson, I think it’s lack of exercise. You were banking on that promotion to get a safe job up at headquarters so you could comfortably watch all the young boys do the work. But as you know by now there’s no such thing as “safe” in our line of work.

    Well, partner, I’m glad they gave us this chance to sit together in this basement to talk it out. What’s that? Are you having trouble breathing? Cuz you haven’t said anything coherent. Did they muzzle you? Good. I’m dead-tired of sweetly replying to every ridiculous idea of yours. “Yes, Mr. Johnson.” It’s nauseating. No more of that. Our line of work: it’s merit based. So guess who got that promotion instead of you? It goes against all your antediluvian ideas.

    You’ve never been good at guessing though, have you? No, I don’t think so, the way you ignorantly endangered our President, the way you handed over information to a mole. You’re surprised? You’ve only now just figured it out? Wow, you’ve outdone yourself, Mr. Johnson.

    Listen: here’s what we’re gonna do to undo all your slip-ups. We’ve got three hours before they reach the President. And I’ve got three things to get us out of here, contact headquarters about the leak, and get Mr. President to safety. Unfortunately for you I’m through with the first thing, that’s you – your hand, actually. All I needed you to do was get my pocketknife out of my boot. There isn’t enough time for a rescue, plus you’d get in the way of the mission. So I’m going to leave you to solve your own great escape. The second thing, well, that’s the knife. I’m almost finished freeing up my hands and then I’ll work on the lock. Fortunately for you, I’m not leaving you weaponless. When you hear the lock click I’m going to slide over the knife. You can work through your own ties at your own pace. So finally, the third thing, that’s me. Oh, I don’t mean that I’m going to use my body and batting eyelashes to get my way – that’s a euphemism for how you’d usually put it. I mean I’m going to use my brains because I’ve got ‘em even though I’m a “girl.”

    So, see you tomorrow at headquarters. 9:10. The briefing room. You’re briefing with me. Wish your new boss luck.

    And Mr. Johnson… good luck to you too.

  17. writer_sk

    PART 2

    When they got to the unmarked location, Agnes proclaimed “Sir, we’re here, step away from the door,” and while motioning for her cohort also to step back, she got a quick running start, shot through the door closure and kicked the door down and, using the surprise of that moment, she shot the man holding the president, who was standing next to him, armed.

    Tommy took his dad by the arm as he and Agnes took the gag off and they rushed him to the jeep and to the safehouse, which was an american built fishing cabin out in the hills of Turkey.
    As night fell, Agnes sunk into a hot bath and she thought of her own heroism. She bathed, got dressed and stood silent on the small enclosed porch. Exhaustion and hunger had taken ahold of her hours or days ago, she didn’t know. Tommy’s strong hands on her shoulders helped her relax but she couldn’t let her guard down.

    “Tommy,” she started, but didn’t know what else to say.

    “Hey,” a man of few words, he made his move to kiss her.


    “We’ve been through a lot,” Agnes backed away, although she would have liked the shoulder rub to continue, “we can’t hook up, I cannot stop working until President Jakobs is back in Washington, DC.”

    “I know,” Tommy moved closer and all the times she had thought of pulling him close when they were captive came flooding back. They shared a passionate kiss.
    That night sleep overcame Agnes and as she fell into a heavy slumber she quickly set her alarm for 20 minutes. It felt safest to not take any chances and to remain alert.

    Nightmares swallowed her, though, and the heavy chain from the first part of their imprisonment was back digging into her ankle. Had Tommy not been able to take his Swiss Army knife from the secret compartment in his boot and loosen the brace, they would still be there. The sweat covering her body chilled Agnes to the bone. Stepping lightly to the kitchen she could hear the president’s snoring as she turned the tap on for a glass of cool water. She didn’t know how or when she fell asleep from there but she awoke on the floor and was comforted by the familar sound of a US helicopter landing in the yard.

    Tommy touched her arm. She wanted to say to him the time they had in prison was the closest she’d ever felt to another human and that he was one of the bravest people she’d met. She wanted to thank him for holding her hair back as she vomited after the guard spit on her. She wanted to thank him for not asking her why that turkish war lord had questioned her. Instead she kissed him on the cheek and said sweetly: “Call me.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Really good story, writer_sk. Smooth, well written, full of action, emotion and danger. Now think about launching into a longer story. There are so many ways you could lead the reader.

  18. writer_sk

    PART 1

    Freedom from her cell wasn’t what she had pictured, black desert night stretching out for miles, swelter of the day not lingering and replaced by a heavy, heady sweet smoke from the guards’ pipes. The gunshot wound to the head was still fresh and Guard #1 lay in his own blood, pooled and sticky, threatening to move towards the white decorative stones of the walkway. The moments following their escape were crucial, but Agnes was frozen and in shock that she and the other prisoner had escaped. Tommy, the president’s son said he knew how to fight but Agnes hadn’t believed it until the sole of his shoe struck one of the two guard’s wrists with such force and accuracy it knocked the loaded gun from his hand. Time had sped up at that moment, Agnes lunged for the pistol and took two shots, one for the kill. The other guard fled on foot.

    Their next step was to save the president of the United States but they needed food. Turkish townfolk had vacated the hall adjacent to the dungeon prison and Tommy and Agnes held hands as they entered hurried through a propped open side door while she held the gun, bent elbow pointing up. Baked bread was set out and barely touched. They shoveled the food into their mouths and ate some other cold leftover chicpeas and rice. They ate with their hands, the bites large and urgent.

    They only had a little time to get on the same page. Agnes couldn’t blow her cover as FBI assigned to a terrorist cell in Turkey but she needed to contact her handler. They ducked into an unlikely private residence. Agnes held the gun to the temple of the young mother who answered the door, child on hip and another youngster holding her mom’s leg. The kids began to scream and wail.
    “Your phone,” Agnes spoke turkish to the woman, “it’s urgent.”
    The woman handed Agnes the phone and slammed the door while shushing and soothing her babies.

    Tommy wiped the sweat from his dirty and drenched brow.

    “What’d you do that for, who are you calling?” his handsome dimples showing, even as he frowned. His eyes betrayed his line of questioning as he sensed after being captured with her for so long that she knew what she was doing.

    Agnes’s shirt was soaked through and she grabbed a long dress off the same poor woman’s clothes line. Tommy turned away as she ripped her old jeans and shirt off leaving them there. Every action she took had a purpose and the long headress attached to the dress became a disguise.

    They got into an old unlocked jeep parked on a sidestreet and Agnes could feel Tommy watching her as she spoke in breif statements to her handler after having hot-wired the jeep in one try. They sped this way and that, dust kicking up around them as the sound of foreign sirens grew closer

  19. rlk67

    The grogginess wore off slowly, like being in a bowl of thick pea soup. I found myself in a gray, cinder-block room, lying on a stone floor.
    “Your president will die a slow death.” It was a creaky, magnified voice from the ceiling. I tried to follow…ahh, there was a closed circuit camera and mike at the corner. My memory quickly swept in. The antidote! I felt casually under my collar and took a breath…yes, the pill was still there.
    “The poison works slowly, and he will not have a chance. In forty five minutes, revenge will be ours, Mr. Brett.”
    I was ambushed. I must reach the President soon…but how? I moved my heavy limbs to make sure everything was in tact.
    “Don’t waste your time, Mr. Brett. You are not going anywhere for a long time.” Oh, shut up, already.
    I closed my eyes and felt in my right pants pocket. My keys and locator were gone, papers also gone. I pulled out an unfinished piece of gum, a nickel, and a piece of thick string. I wanted to laugh. What would MacGyver do in this situation? If he could make a bomb out of a wire and a can of tuna, then I could make…what?
    “We took it all away. You have nothing left,” said his creakiness. I spit toward the ceiling.
    I just stared. I wonder. Doesn’t this guy have anything better to do than watch me? Okay, I’ll give him his money’s worth.
    I took the gum in one hand and gave a broad smile. I studied the nickel, and opened my eyes widely as if I just discovered gold. “Hmmm…” I murmured a little too loudly. “Chewing gum has interesting properties, said my old science teacher.”
    “What are you doing, Mr. Brett? Don’t fool yourself, there’s no hope!”
    I put the nickel closer to the gum, and started to wrap it with the string. “Gum attracts radio frequencies if put near a pure metal. Lets see if…YES!!” I pumped my arms.
    “What is this idiot doing down there? He’s nuts!”
    I placed my head down toward the gum. “This is Brett! Please send reinforcements! I’m held in the basement at the Stonewall Fortress..”
    “WHAT?! He made a radio! He couldn’t have!”
    I grinned to the camera. “You might have guests soon, boys! Just one more minute…”
    “IMPOSSIB..B…B! We must stop him…NOW!” Noise from the speaker.
    I grabbed the string and ran to the door, tying one end to the pipe coming up from the floor to the right. I ran to the other side. The door flew open…
    I pulled the string, and two large bodies came flying in, tripping over the taut line.
    A few kicks and punches, and I ran out and slammed the door.
    “Sorry I can’t stay, boys,” I yelled back. “By the way…did you know that you can’t really make a radio with a stupid wad of gum and a coin? My teacher was smarter than that!” I sprinted up the stairs, and headed toward the White House.

    1. Jennifer Park

      I did it! I hope it actually makes sense…

      ==========

      Nolan took another sip of his Martini. “So, how did you get out of the dungeon?”

      I smirked. “They let me keep my bra.”

      He frowned. “What?”

      “My bra. You know, the one that keeps setting off the metal detector? You wanted me to switch to wireless bra?”

      He raised an eyebrow. “O… K?”

      “And you thought I shouldn’t wear push-ups? Remember?”

      He was now blushing. “Well…”

      “And I told you it was none of your business.”

      “You did.” Nolan took another sip. “Don’t tell me you fought your way out with your…”

      “No, sir. The dungeon wall was made of chert, and they had given me a nice polyurethane pad to sleep on. Once I got my hands free, I pushed the pad out into the spiral stairway, took the wires out, and scrubbed it on the wall until I got a good spark to light my bra’s foam on fire, then the pad.”

      His frown deepened.

      I didn’t bother explaining that the stairway made a nice chimney, pushing the flames right upstairs, sucking the air in through my cell window, so I was largely safe. “The heat of the fire buckled the door off by the time the fire died out and everything cooled down.”

      Nolan cleared his throat. “And you just waltzed out of there.”

      “Yes, sir.” Topless and smokey, and with bare feet, I trekked two miles through the forest to the nearest gas station, which is where I had called him from, to alert him about the assassin traipsing around in my clothes, with my side arms, and my credentials.

      “Barbara, I’m impressed. Good work. Saved the President’s life.” He tried to take another sip.

      “Sir, I would like my bra expensed.”

      He spewed his drink all over himself.

      “I’m just kidding, sir.”

      1. J.Fujimaru

        I liked the way you revealed bits of information, giving it a lot of intrigue for such a short story. I can also imagine this as a scene in an action-packed film with a very strong female lead. Very entertaining!

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