Three’s a Crowd

After months of planning, you and two of your friends pull off a major scam and steal $10 million dollars from a Vegas Casino. Your tracks are completely covered, there’s no way they can track it to you guys and you’ve escaped to a far away country. While you lay in your bed, dreaming of spending your share, you overhear your friends in the next room—plotting to kill you! Write this scene and what happens next.

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

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107 thoughts on “Three’s a Crowd

  1. zsero

    As I lay in bed reveling in the wonderful feeling that comes after completing a mission successfully, a feeling made better by the fact that the successful mission netted me a third of $10 million dollars, I can faintly hear some murmuring from Mel and Ash in the next room over:
    “… 5 mil each is easier than 3.3 each”
    “… fees for… maybe 10 to 20 thousand”
    “Take it from my cut”
    “…no going back…”
    “When do you…”
    “…dinner…”
    While I couldn’t hear the full conversation, it seemed to me they were trying to get rid of me just to make their cuts a nicer number , at least they were going to wait until dinnertime, a delivery service’s definition of “ASAP” away, maybe I could kill them before they got me.

    We still had the weapons used for the heist, but that only leveled the playing field since we each had a weapon,, although the fact that I’d heard them plotting took away their element of surprise. Perhaps that would be enough to tilt the field in my favour.

    I taped my Beretta halfway down my left thigh and cut a hole in my pants pocket so that I’d be able to fire straight forward while sitting down and eating. I had to assume both of them were willing to shoot me, Presumably the one who wasn’t shot first would assume I was aimed at them under the table and wouldn’t instantly shoot back allowing me to reposition the gun. Now came the hard part, waiting until the food got here and we sat down for what was shaping up to be our last supper.

    An hour later I heard the front door opening, then closing and Ash yelling out “Cam, food’s here”. I got up and walked to the next room, took a seat at the circular table, with Ash on my right and Mel on my left, looks like Mel was going to be the first to die.

    As we started eating, me with my left hand in my pocket, the other 2 with both hands on the table, I decided I wasn’t going to do anything until one of them made a move. The food was relatively decent so I was thankful that we were able to finish before anyone did anything. As we all leaned back, satisfied, Ash reached down to the bottom of the chair and started pulling something out. I instantly pointed my leg at Mel and pulled the trigger, the hollowpoint leaving a large hole in Mel’s centre.

    Ash, shocked, dropped the gun which was on its way up and just stared at Mel, disbelief in their eyes
    “W-why’d you do that?”

    “You were going to kill me, I’ll do the same to you, don’t worry”

    “I was going to take the Kevorkian exit, I have terminal cancer” Ash said, as they slowly raised the gun to their mouth.

    “You were going to split it with Mel, minus funeral cost”
    BANG

  2. Juniper56

    “We’ll do it around five. Surely, he’ll be asleep by then.”
    “But, Jackie, we can’t – I mean, ripping off that casino is one thing, but this…we can’t just kill somebody, especially not Tom,” said Jon in panicked whisper. “After all the stuff we’ve done, how can we turn on each other?”
    “You know Tom got scared and didn’t do his part. That jerk nearly blew the entire scam! He doesn’t deserve a single cent if we did all the work.”
    “Well, he covered up for us real good, and helped us smuggle the money down here to Argentina. Besides, he’s our friend.”
    “Look, we decided early on that I’d in be charge, and I say we deserve the money more than he does. And we can’t let him live, or he’ll go straight to the police.”
    “Alright, Jackie, I get it but still…”
    I didn’t hear Jon’s rebuttal because I was too busy throwing clothes and half empty snack bags in a duffel bag. My mind was still clouded by the shock as climbed out the window. I barely registered the chilly night air, or the jarring thud as my feet struck the ground, or much of anything. It was only after I wandered so far that I couldn’t spot the hotel in the distance that I fully understood the conversation I had overheard.
    My friends were plotting to murder me in my sleep.
    I also realized in that moment I had no clue where I was going, what my next move would be, or even why I had bothered to pack provisions and extra apparel. The feeling of betrayal, deep and detrimental as a fatal wound, surprised me almost as much as the whispered words of my impending demise.
    To describe our trio as “friends” would be a butchery of the word. We meant seventeen years ago in juvie. I’d stolen cars and sold drugs. Jon had set fire to a barn. Beautiful, callous, calculating Jackie had conned a jewelry shop owner out of an expensive necklace. Something in our twisted minds clicked and we became best buddies.
    After committing several successful thefts and scams, we decided kick it up a notch. Jackie was the mastermind and the plan was flawless. By the time they realized had happened it was too late, and I made sure there was no evidence that could implicate us. We were supposed on our way to Buenos Aires, where we’d retire with $350,000,000 each. Except now…
    Finally, I sat down on a curb, fuming. After, wasting half my life following Jackie’s orders she was going to dispose of me. Figures. I don’t know why I was so surprised.
    I spent a few more minutes seething. Then a very interesting idea came to me. A question. A possibility. What would Jackie do in my situation?
    The next morning I stormed into the hotel room. Jon and Jackie jumped up from their seats.
    “Tom, where have…”
    I shot them both before she could finish her sentence.

  3. keldonalleyne

    I’ll have a go: 499 words

    They were planning to kill me. The assholes.

    Each of us had taken part in a flawless con and on our way to setting off into the sunset on a boat made from unmarked dollar bills, sarcasm and deadly wit.

    Making sure I didn’t do anything to alert them that there was a chance I could have overheard them I traced my actions before to make sure every movement and sound I made was consistent.

    I was sleeping lightly, probably snoring on occasion and fantasizing in fleeting moments of consciousness – as anyone who had just scooped a couple million dollars would do.

    If I had learned anything from my years as a conspiracy nut, paranoid safety freak and wannabe Jason Bourne it’s that time is your greatest enemy and friend. I had 30 seconds to get out of that room while making sure they stayed inside.

    My room was located on the first floor of a shabby apartment and the corridor that lead outside would alert them just as much as me jumping out of the window.

    I had only one choice.

    The sheets were fire resistant, but I didn’t need anything grand.

    5 seconds.

    I set the cover to my pillow alight, hanging out of a bottle of vodka, then carefully threw the lighter towards the bag in the room across the hall. Next would follow the bottle, and after that would follow a moment of despair from the traitors.

    15 seconds.

    All of my possessions had been collected. I didn’t have much to begin with anyway, and the only thing I needed at that moment was my firearm.

    20 seconds.

    A loud bang from the lighter ignited by my makeshift firebomb set the start of a symphony of chaos. Economy grade sprinklers spat mightily at the flames and at that point I could hear footsteps frantically pacing towards that room and some towards mine.

    25 seconds.

    I descended to the ground and rolled on impact to protect my ankles. Ahead of me was at least 10 seconds of sprinting until the next corner. I was shirtless running for my life through an enclosed residential area.

    30 seconds.

    After a few seconds of running a shot fired towards me missing me by miles, but were followed by a short parade of bullets edging closer and closer to my little feet.

    My mind was racing through countless thoughts and calculations while I was darting down the road. Those shots would have triggered a call to the police. Am I running towards them? Will they make my life easier? How much time do I have to disappear?

    Three years had passed, most of which was spent in a mental ward. I had lost everything. I had wasted months of planning, betrayed by my compadres and humiliated.

    To make matters worse I couldn’t even remember whether I had been cheated. Did I do the con alone? Was the betrayal a paranoid delusion? And did any of this even happen?

  4. Teatimeprose

    Humidity clung to Erik’s skin like a wet blanket. He had never felt heat like this before. Bankok, despite all its beauty, was also a breeding ground for crime and corruption. A perfect paradise for three people who just stole $10 million from a Vegas Casino. They had planned for nearly twelve years and things had gone over more smoothly than they had prepared for. It was the perfect crime.
    Now, in the sticky heat of a Thai summer, Erik pressed his sweaty body against the cool wall and stood by his friends’ door. He could hear the faint sounds of feet pacing before a long pause. Erik, not expecting them to be awake, checked his phone. Three o’clock. A worried look passed over his face and he pressed his ear against the wall.

    “Look, I know we’ve been planning this since high school but do we even know him now? After graduation Erik left us to become some big time programmer. That’s the reason he was even allowed to come along!” Jason had seen more prison time than he had adult life.

    “What about if we just leave him? We’ll go somewhere and hide out again. He’ll have no money but we don’t need to KILL him, do we?” Drake had seen only a few years more of his adult life than Jason.
    Erik’s heart pounded in his chest. He could feel sweat dripping down his back. Those ungrateful bastards… I did almost all of the work! He was smart enough not to say this aloud. A sick feeling began to crescendo in the pit of his stomach.

    “I’m just saying. Yeah, he did most of the work but that jerk didn’t even say hi until we wanted to rob that place. He was just using us for our… Skills. Plus, you know how good he is on computers, he’ll just trace us. I bet he’s already plotted to turn us in so that he can take all the money for himself. He can go buy that stupid house he’s been talking about. ”

    “I-.”

    Jason stopped abruptly. He must’ve agreed silently. An intense silence settled in the house for what seemed like centuries. Then, the sound of footsteps began once again.
    “We’ll go into his room around seven and suffocate him. You hold him down and I’ll do all the work since I’m stronger.”

    Erik could barely breathe. He’d heard enough. Silently, he hurried back to him room and threw what few clothes and toiletries he had into his suitcase. He wasn’t thinking straight. Carefully he locked his door and set to work. He would transfer all of the money into his account, report the two for some crime to Thai authorities and flee the country.

    In the morning, Jason and Drake were greeted by local police. They would confess their crimes and explain Erik’s part in it. They were both imprisoned. Instead of his home in Italy, Erik left for Central America to start a life.

  5. Lex Noël

    Word Count: 498

    Webster defines a sucker as, “A person who is easily tricked or deceived.” Lucky for me, I’m no sucker. But as for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in the next room? Suckers.

    While my “accomplices” praise themselves over our victorious thievery I have packed away every piece of paperwork, their passports, credit cards, debit cards, identification cards and all ten million into my backpack. It wasn’t difficult, as I’ve insisted from the start that I’d keep track of all the logistics. In fact the whole thing was my idea. I got them safely out of the country with a little over three million each. They were simply the muscle. Without me they’d still be scraping off buffet plates by day and mopping bathrooms by night at the Mandalay. I have to admit I find amusement in imagining them trying to work their way through the Latvian countryside. They barely speak English, let alone Latvian. Thanks to craigslist, I’ve been taking lessons from an old Latvian lady the last nine months. Atvainojiet zēni! (Sorry boys!)

    As they bicker over the details of my imminent and, apparently, brutal murder I am finishing up the last knots of my bed-sheet rope. A little medieval I know, but when you’re in a creaky old hotel and there is only one door in and out, you improvise.

    “Do it now before she wakes up,” I hear one of them growl. Thank God the old man at the desk downstairs gave us the suite with the extra room. There’s no lock on the door, but I didn’t sleep anyway.

    I pry open the window and fling out my makeshift rope. There’s not a soul in sight on the dimly lit cobblestone street. I double check that it’s secure on the wrought iron bedframe and begin shimmying down as quickly as I can. Three stories seems a lot higher when your only lifeline is a rope made of ancient sheets.

    “She’s climbing!” one of the idiots shouts. I still can’t really tell them apart. Better to not get too personal with people you’re committing criminal offenses with. Thank God they don’t have guns. I stashed them when they went downstairs to eat in the lobby, thinking I was asleep.

    Just as my toes touch the pavement I’m knocked off my feet with impressive force. My head feels like it’s splitting in half. I push myself up and rub the back of my head. Blood. I turn back up to the window and see the two buffoons staring at me, hoping their little stunt worked. It didn’t.

    “You’ll need more than a bedside bible to do me in, boys,” I sneer at them. I couldn’t feel more elated to see their idiotic dumbstruck faces.

    “Your money’s on the table,” I cheer before turning to run down the street. I laugh to myself as they’ve undoubtedly read my note; next to the $6.60 in US dollars I left, by now.
    “T & H—spend it wisely, suckers.”

  6. kkerber

    I suppose I shouldn’t have told them about the charity stuff. Here I was, an expert in computing and encryption who just didn’t want to see the man getting away with it all, and who do I turn to? The only criminals I know, Lawrence and my cousin Cindy. After all, I didn’t know anything about getting away with a crime.

    “She’s just going to donate all that money to those poor little brats, anyhow. Doesn’t she know we’re poor? She can’t even think beyond her nose. Think about what we could do with all that money.”

    I grimaced in annoyance. It had gone entirely too perfectly. It was all based on a little line of code. The code off of the slot machines. The code that rigged the machines to only go off too rarely and rob a bunch of pensioners of everything they had. Then there was my tiny little edit. All it did was send a portion of that to a little bank account that I set up electronically off of the Keys. The only thing old Lawrence and Cindy had to do was get the newly coded chips into the casino. It was supposed to be easy.

    “Besides, she such a stiff-nosed prig. She hasn’t spent a single day of her life on the streets. She doesn’t know what it’s like. Might as well, just take her out now while we’ve got the chance.”

    I listened to the squeak of the barrel. That’s just how my cousin was, she was always looking for an angle, a way to take it all. That’s what had gotten her thrown into jail in the first place. The fact that I was always a good eves-dropper and never believed in spending enough on a hotel with thick was beside the point.

    “Hurry, before she gets any ideas.”

    I listened to them open their hotel door, listened to them as they walked across the hall. They knocked.

    “It’s open,” I tell them. I finish twisting the silencer onto the barrel.

    “We’re going to give you one chance,” Cindy called out. I didn’t give them any. Three strangled squeaks and Cindy and Lawrence were lying in little puddles of flesh and bone on the ground. So much for not getting my hands dirty.

  7. Findingmyshoes

    I wake up facing my thumb. I still have blood caked on the nail. In movies the shooter sees some blood on his hands and has a flashback on his victim’s face screaming, or whimpering, or stone cold. In real life, that never happens. Honestly, I don’t even remember which guy I shot. Or when really. It could’ve been a few people. What haunts me in the early hours of the morning isn’t the ghosts of faceless nobodies in the casino. It’s the f’n imprecision.
    I can hear Greg and Ren in talking in the other room, probably congratulating themselves on their s–t show of a job. After two years of planning, studying, waiting for all the pieces to fall into place, the two go in and act like cowboy bandits staging a holdup. Messy. Immature. F—n’ bank transfer ends with a body count. Turns my stomach just thinking about it. It’s what I get for partnering with a–holes who think you steal 3 million dollars by putting it into bags.
    The springs on the bed squeak as I rise out of bed. My body is stiff, but otherwise I feel fine. The morning air and cold hardwood floor of the cabin is a refreshing change from the overly plush carpet in my high rise. It’s 5:38 AM. Plenty of time to wrap things up in the cabin and make the plane back to LA; maybe even get breakfast.
    I’m still pulling a sweater over my head as I walk down the hall into the main room. Greg and Ren are waiting for me, like the amateurs they are. You’d think after nine years of working together they would have learned something.
    Greg is sitting on the couch directly across from the door, his weapon aimed casually at my stomach. Ren is standing in the corner. His gun is drawn too, but his face looks like he’s dog that peed on the rug. I can’t help but roll my eyes as I pull my gun from my back pocket and immediately fire a bullet into each other their brains. What in holy Hell was he waiting for? To do a Goddamn monologue like we’re in a Bond film?
    This isn’t the movies, Moron.

  8. ReathaThomasOakley

    So stupid, Barbara scolded herself for the thousandth time. So gullible, so naive, but mostly stupid.

    Barbara struggled to pull herself up from the comfort of the rumpled bedding.

    You can do it, shower’s just a few feet away, Barbara told herself. Since childhood she’d been able to talk herself through almost any situation, even the death of her beloved husband.

    “I’m sorry, Robert, so sorry,” she said aloud, then caught herself, worried she’d been heard, but the door connecting the adjoining stateroom was closed.

    After the shower, she was more awake, but yawned when she realized Teresa was back in the room. Barbara couldn’t let her know she’d been pouring out the coffee that she was now certain was drugged.

    “How you feeling?” Teresa asked, all concern and sympathy.

    What an actress, Barbara thought as she held on to the vanity to steady herself, even though the cruise ship was hardly moving.

    “A little woozy,” she was careful to slur her words. “Gonna be fine soon as I get dressed. Can’t let you and the girls down.” She returned Teresa’s smile.

    “Great,” Teresa gathered her going ashore essentials. “Tendering starts soon. You get dressed, be back in 10 or so.”

    As she dressed, Barbara reviewed the past few months. When Robert died she was so lonely, so unprepared for life without him, even though they’d all known for nearly a year. He’d worried about her, told her over and over he’d make certain she was taken care of. How could she have been so stupid to have allowed Teresa and Liz and Toni into her life, but she did and now she was on a cruise ship pulling into George Town, Grand Cayman.

    The women had no idea that Barbara had overheard one conversation that turned her world upside down. Since then she’d figured out most of the plan that would culminate in the women stealing $10 million from a Vegas casino consortium with Barbara left holding the empty bag.

    I might be stupid, Barbara thought again, but Robert was not. Robert, the technology genius, Robert, who promised to take care of her, Robert, who got promises from her Jersey cousins to always be there.

    The thought of Louie and Sid made her smile. She didn’t know exactly when they’d show up on the island, but she knew they’d be there, waiting. Waiting for the women who planned to steer a drugged and docile Barbara to the bank where the iris recognition biometric system that Robert had further developed would allow access to the money that would be the culmination of this sophisticated scheme.

    Teresa, Liz, and Toni were pretty smart, but they had no idea that Robert was still protecting Barbara, didn’t know that her every move was monitored and that if she didn’t contact her cousins every day, they’d know she was in trouble and would get to her wherever she was.

    When Teresa came into the stateroom Barbara fumbled with her lanyard and sea pass.

    “Let me help with that,” Teresa quickly got everything fastened and handed Barbara her bag.

    “Thanks,” Barbara smiled and leaned on Teresa’s arm. “Still a little dizzy.”

    Louie and Sid, she smiled again. Good guys, what folks used to call wise guys, but great boys all the same.

    “I’m ready, let’s go.”

      1. jhowe

        It’s kind of disappointing we don’t know what we can or cannot write. A little clarification would go a long way. It’s funny we can write of a severed head, gushing blood and gore, but you may or may not be able to write of a young man’s feelings when he sees a woman he really would like to get busy with, unless, of course, you write in code to fool the filters.

          1. ReathaThomasOakley

            I’ll try again. First time didn’t use, what folks used to call wise guys. Used a three word phrase for murderers, first word: opposite of dry. Let’s see if this goes.

    1. jhowe

      Pretty cool Reatha. It looks like the victim is going to get her comeuppance. I loved the first paragraph. It was a good idea for the robbery to take place at a casino consortium… not as much security to deal with there.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved the setting, the characters, the motives, the idea of a loving husband continuing care for his wife. The only thing missing is part two. Do you have time?

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Kerry, every time we’ve been in George Town I wondered if any of the other cruise passengers were there to check on their off shore accounts. Thanks.

  9. Alquarien

    It went off without a hitch. It seemed almost yesterday I was scraping corn out of the bottom of a week-old can, and now I was laying in an actual bed with a belly full of steak. Admittedly, I didn’t do much work in the whole scheme of things, but if it wasn’t for my good pal, Jerry, I’d still be trying to fork that last piece of corn. I don’t know how he did it, but he took Annie and I with him… and that’s more generosity than I’d ever show. Heck, if I knew how to do that computer-mojo of his, I’d be flying solo all the way… other than the eye-candy I bring along, of course.

    My stomach didn’t feel right though, was it the steak? Or was it the anxiety of being a fugitive? Either way, it was time to plod along to the johns and sort my business out. I had to creep past the room Jerry and Annie stayed in, their door was open, so I had to be extra quiet. Down the hall was the bathroom, which I eagerly entered and went straight to unbuttoning my snug jammies. As my pants hit the floor, I could hear hushed, yet fierce arguing from the kitchen nearby. I’d have to clench and hold in my ‘business’ if I wanted to hear what was going on. Pressing my ear to the bathroom door, I’d have to forget about my backdoors for now.

    “Why did we have to bring him along in the first place?” I could hear Annie hissing. The shuffling of clothing and quiet smacking of bare-feet on the tiled floor soon followed, suggesting the two were very close together. Already, my eyes were wide as could be. It felt as if they were going to involuntarily pop out at any moment.

    “Annie, Annie…” Murmurs smooth-talking Jerry. “Do you honestly think I was going to bring him all the way?”

    “Well what?” Replies Annie, sounding upset and confused.

    “Kyle’s too dumb to realize he’s the scapegoat. How else were we going to get away scott-free?” Before much else could be said, an embrace of bodies is heard, signaled by a soft shuffle of fabrics. “I’m paying a guy to make it look like he took Kyle out and made off with the cash. No-one’ll suspect a thing.” He sounded so sure of himself.

    At this point, I’d completely forgotten about my need to go to the bathroom. Steadily, I lowered down to the ground, setting my bare arse on the freezing-cold surface below. I felt my wrists trembling, and my lips quivering up a storm. I had to wait for them to move back to their bedroom, before I could do anything at all. Business at the johns would have to wait- I had to move now. Buttoning up my pants, I plodded back to my room and commenced packing what little items I had brought. The money was in Jerry’s room, but at least I’d bought a few quality items in our short escape.

    The last noise I wanted to hear then came. The squeak of a poorly oiled door. And then- “Kyle?”

    1. jhowe

      I really like this. Poor Kyle got taken for a ride, and then, when he finally ate some good food, he didn’t even have time to do his business. I really like the simplicity of the phrasing and how you manage to show us quite a bit about the robbery without saying anything about the robbery. You’re a good writer and I look forward to seeing more of your stuff.

  10. jhowe

    “There I was, surrounded by cops.” I try to project an air of confidence. I’m speaking at my old alma mater: Young Hoodlums of America, Brooklyn Division 14. I have their undivided attention. “Me and Tommy, we hadn’t planned on this,” I say. “We thought there’d just be the in-house security team; maybe six guys in suits with hand guns. The security in the Vegas joints is pretty good, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Then the cops showed up, in force. I mean, we’d only pulled off the heist a few minutes before they came. So something was definitely going on there.”

    The audience is silent. I see many of the boys staring with open mouths. “So I grab this broad and put my gun to her head and Tommy grabs one too. His was ok, but mine was dynamite. Blue eyes, slim waist, big bazoongas – the whole package.” A few snickers are heard from somewhere in the back.

    “So we got these broads, see. And they play their part perfectly; crying and screaming. So the cops back off a bit, which gives us just enough time to make a run for it. It’s slow going, cause the broads, they got on like 5” tall high heels and skin tight dresses. But we made it down the aisle and out the door, with the cops right behind us, but not shooting or rushing us or anything. It turns out that Tommy’s broad was the mayor’s daughter, so that might have had something to do with it.”

    “Then Frank, he’s our driver; he pulls up in a car he lifted over at Caesar’s. A red BMW, sweet as cherry pie. So we pile in and I roll down the window. You want to know what I said?” Cheers erupt. “I said, follow us and the broads get it. Call it corny if you want but it worked. They did follow us after a while but Frank used to drive a formula car over in Italy and he made short work of the getaway.”

    One boy with a pimply face raises his hand. He says, “What happened to the money?”

    “Well, you see, we kind of forgot it.” A few whispers. “There was a lot going on and we left it there, in four duffle bags.”

    “Maybe that’s why the cops didn’t chase you,” the kid says.

    “Oh no, they wanted us. We’d just made off with the mayor’s daughter. She was the plain one, but it turns out, she was the most important. My broad though, va va voom, if you know what I mean.”

    “What happened to the women,” the same kid says.”

    “Well, we kind of took it easy on them. They said they wanted us to go back and get the money. But there were cops all over the place. They said what good is it to rob a casino if you don’t get any money. We thought about it and let them off at a Seven Eleven.” Boys were frowning. “But get this; after we get to our hotel, I hear Bobby and Frank saying how it was my fault that we didn’t get the money. They even talked about shooting me in the head. So I pretended to go out for cigarettes and I ain’t seen them since.”

    I end my speech and walk off the stage. The applause does not come.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I would have applauded your story, slinging tight broads and all. That’s see if Chi Chi’s gets past the righteous ones. If I had to choose between the girls and the money, I might had chosen girls. Your story telling is nice and relaxed here, no pushing for attention, the story line creates all the power. Good one John!.

  11. Hiba Gardezi

    I pause behind the door.
    And become completely quiet.
    Then I hear it again.
    It’s Freddy this time “so how we going to get him?”
    “Howard’s a big guy, Bud. We have to be really careful—”
    “How’d you two sleep?” I ask as I come out, standing before them.
    I’ve heard enough.
    “Uhh, good, good.” Tyler says nodding his head.
    “Where’d you come from?” Freddy sits down on a sofa.
    I laugh.
    “Where’d I come from? Upstairs. Where I live. With you both.”
    Freddy and Tyler both look at each other, unsure at first. Then they break into nervous laughter.
    “Oh, oh Howard. You’re so funny.” Tyler says in between of breathy coughs.
    “I know that.” I open the fridge and pick out last night’s celebration cake. “But I’m serious too sometimes.”
    “Yeah”
    “Like when I steal” I snatch a knife from Tyler’s hand.
    “Stealing is fun.”
    “It is really. And I’m serious” I say “when I kill.” I cut a piece of cake.
    I look at my partners in crime. They look… scared.
    Good. Very good.
    I pick up two knives. I walk to them.
    Then quickly I through one knife just above Freddy’s head. The other misses Tyler’s by an inch.
    Purposefully.
    Tyler ducks and takes a gun out.
    Freddy does the same. He’s always been a copy cat.
    They both shoot at once.
    They shoot cotton balls.
    “I suspected this last night.”

  12. danbill

    Brian wasn’t sure if it was the munching or the coughing that woke him. He turned and tried to keep his mind empty. When he realised that wasn’t going to work, he tried to think of the long sandy beach, the boats gently rocking in the harbour, the cute receptionist – anything, anything, but the sight of the life rushing out of the cop’s eyes at the gas station.

    “Can’t be taking any chances now!” Joe had said while Tommy grabbed at his cuff and pushed him into the back of the car, and Brian stood there shell shocked.

    “Man, these fries are okay, but no ketchup? We’re worth six point six six six six six million between us and we still can’t get any damn ketchup when we need it,” said Joe’s same voice, slurred and confident now instead of frantic and afraid at the gas station.

    “Six point six six six six seven,” said Tommy, and Brian heard a slurping through the thin wall, followed by a belch.

    “You what?”

    “You’ve gotta round up somewhere.”

    “Oh. So we gonna exterminate Brian then?”

    “I dunno bro. Bit risky if you ask me.”

    “You sure we can trust him though? I mean when he started talking about that creative writing s—, what the actual f—?”

    “I know pretty f—-d up. Hope he don’t wanna write a book and shop us out.”

    “Yeah that’s what I was sain’ when we were on our way to those whores. He’s served his purpose man, professor Brian, squeaky clean record, now he’s only a liability. Liability with a lot of cash you know what I’m sain’?”

    “Yeah, did you see his reaction when I said we’d head to Amsterdam? And he’s friends with my ma on Facebook, don’t want any stuff getting back. What happens here, stays here, right?”

    “Totally.”

    “Do we have to kill him though? That s— could come back to us.”

    “Dude, have you seen the cops here? They just sit around on that promenade, eating ice cream. Fella disappears who no one else knows is even in the country. Piece of cake, man.”

    “I ain’t just talkin’ ‘bout with the law, what about like coming back to our conscience. I mean, that cop at the gas station, he was asking for it alright, but Brian’s someone we know. Don’t all the soldiers who kill folk in Iran end up getting pretty messed up? We really want that when it’s so beautiful here?”

    The munching continued. Followed by a scrunching of a paper bag.

    “Hey. Maybe we should just buy him a call girl. You know, lighten him up a little.”

    “Oh yeah, that’d probably work.”

    Then the snoring started.

    Tommy opened his eyes first the next day and they were instantly assaulted by the bright afternoon sunlight.

    “Oh s—“ he said, rocking Joe by the shoulders “you did lock the door didn’t you?”

    Joe proved difficult to rouse, opening one eye and closing it straight away.

    “Joe, the suitcase is gone. The one with the safety deposit box key.”

    “Brr, brr, bri…” said Joe.

    “This better be some kind of joke,” said Tommy. He ran to the corridor and charged into the room next door, only to see the maid cleaning it as Brian had just checked out, $6.6m richer.

  13. thejim

    I could hear them talking faintly, if I closed my eyes and listen hard enough I could make out them plotting to kill me.

    “Well I don’t care about that I think we should just do it quickly,” the voices said.

    I walked into the room and both of them shut up. One just looked down at the table and the other one just stared off into the distance. I sat down in an empty chair and propped my feet up on the table. With my arms folded across my chest, I let the silence fill the room. It hung like fog.

    I finally got up, “I’m going to bed, I am tired,” without a peep from either of them, I left and headed to my bedroom. I hopped into bed without even changing my clothes.

    At about 2 am, I slipped out of bed and made my way to my door. I tried the handle and it was locked.
    This is not the first time I needed to get out of a locked room I thought. I opened the hidden panel from the bottom of my drawer, took out a thin piece of metal, and shimmied the door open.

    My soft white shoes moved me along ever so quietly. I looked at the other rooms and everyone was fast asleep. In the main area, there was the large duffel bag.

    I quickly made my way in, checked the contents and began to make my escape.

    Within seconds, I was spotted. I ran fast to the main exit the door was locked too and before I could turn around, they were on me. I struggled but I could not ward off my assailants. One pulled me up with my arms behind my back.

    “What’s in here, Rodney?” He lifted the bag up.

    “Man, that’s my crap; I was just going out to get some coffee.”

    “What’s this?” He reached into the bag

    I could see him pull out stacks of cash, and he dropped it on the counter stack after stack.

    “Well, some checkers, some paper towels, oh look, toilet paper, Ahhhh an empty water bottle”

    I wasn’t stealing, that it’s just my share I was leaving you guys with what you deserve, really nothing personal.”

    “Listen Rodney, we are getting tired of stopping you every week or two, this is a bag of junk, there’s no money in here. Your back in your fantasy world again, you did not rob anyone, you have been in here for 10 years now and it’s the same thing.”

    “Oh Yeah.” As if the lights were turned on, I realized where I was again the white uniforms and the smell of antiseptic hit me like a wall, “I will go back to my room, I’m sorry guys.”

    They escorted me back to my room and locked me in again.

    I laid down and stared at the dark ceiling.

    The corner of Main and Louche Drive, The old gas station out back behind the south corner that’s where it is, that’s where it is. I‘ll come get you soon I’ll be there soon.

    The two orderlies placed the bag back on the table in the common hall. “You know, I looked
    It up and there was a robbery at a casino a few months before Ol’ Rodney was put in here. They never found the cash. Two of the robbers were killed, and the cash was never accounted for, ten million or something like that.”

    The lights in the common area clicked off, all that was heard was Rodney, “Main and Louche, Main and Louche, Main and Louche.”

  14. UnclePizza

    Of Sins and Ash – Part 14: Pistol
    (Another “chapter” that has nothing to do with the prompt. Sorry! “Only two or three more to go and I’ll stop!” Part 13 is posted somewhere below.)

    The blood drained from the priest’s face as he held the captain’s bloody bible in his hands. He managed to keep his voice calm as he thanked the soldier for bringing it to him, and asked him to come back in the morning to report anything new. As soon as the soldier left, though, the priest started shaking and had to sit. After several more moments, he got to his knees and bowed his head, clasping his hands in front of his chest as the boy had watched him do many times before. It was a long time before the priest stopped shaking enough to get to his feet.

    Once he rose, the priest walked quickly to his bedroom with a determined look in his dark eyes. The boy followed, but since he had never been allowed in the priest’s room he stopped and watched from several steps outside the doorway. The priest went straight to the great wooden chest at the foot of his bed and opened the heavy lid. He reached inside and removed a smaller wooden box that he then carried to the small table next to his bed. The boy watched in silence as the priest opened the box and removed an odd looking object, laying it carefully on his bed. The object was almost as long as the boy’s arm, and made of a long smooth piece of heavy black metal with a heavy wooden handle on one end.

    The priest removed a pouch from the box and poured a measured amount of what looked like black powder into the end of the strange object. He reminded the boy of how the old woman would carefully measure and mix the contents of the bowls that she kept on her shelf when she was about to do something important. However, unlike the old woman, who usually worked with graceful ease, the priest moved with quick, nervous motions that bordered on the frantic.

    After using a thin, straight rod to tamp the powder into the long metal object, the priest then used the rod to push a small piece of cloth in behind the powder. Next, he poured in a number of very small round pieces of black metal followed by yet another piece of cloth, and used the rod once more to tap everything firmly in place. Finally, he placed the strange object into the belt of his robe, and he walked out of the room, through the rectory, and into the church.

    The boy began to follow but stopped when he felt the old woman call to him. He went to the window and saw the raven waiting on the post in the yard, surrounded by a large pack of coyotes. He let her know that he was scared and she reminded him that things were as they should be. She explained that fear was only the confusion caused by not knowing, and that she would help him to understand as best as she could, but that there would always be something left unknown. Learn to make fear your ally, she let him know, for it helps you to learn.

    As more coyotes joined those clustering around the raven, the boy felt the old woman’s presence grow stronger. The thoughts she sent to him were more powerful now, and he began to understand that unlike the other two leggers who were born of flesh and blood, he had been born of sins and ash. He was of the earth and its spirit, yet bound with the dark will of those who had once walked it. But, the old woman helped him know, he could be made whole by taking in the spirit of the sky and the light that it carried. To do this, she explained, he would need the help of the priest.

    The boy was confused. Was the priest not dark of will? Was he not the enemy of the old woman’s spirit and those of this land? Yes, the old woman replied, but you need both darkness and light to become whole. And while the priest and his god consider me their enemy, remember that joining the opposite ends of a cord makes a whole circle. So then, remember that joining the dark and light will make you whole. Listen past your fear.

    The boy stood listening to the old woman/raven/coyotes for a long time before turning from the window and walking into the church. The priest was at the altar preparing for a solitary mass when the boy walked in.

    “Father,” said the boy, startling the priest for he had never spoken other than to name simple objects. “Death is coming. We should prepare.”

    —————————————

    The full story to-date (parts 1-14) can be found in one posting at https://unclepizza.wordpress.com/of-sins-and-ash/

  15. Orose Khan

    My dreams of living it up in the UK were interrupted by the noise of the two buffoons in the next room. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘the hell am I supposed to get any rest with those idiots making such a ruckus?’ I slowly got out of bed, still a bit sleepy before I was woken fully by a three words. “Kill the boss.”

    I narrowed my eyes. So those goons of mine wanted to off me? Not if I capped their asses first. I opened my closet and put on my flak jacket. Moving on to my personal gun rack, I selected a pair of .44 Magnums and a combat knife. Smiling grimly, I walked out to confront the two traitors.

    “And that’s when we strike,” Sam said while hitting his fist into his palm, “the boss’ll be six feet under and we’ll have the money fifty-fifty.”

    “Or I’ll have it hundred-zero.”

    Sam and Tony looked up in shock as I made my presence known.

    “So you two cheats were planning on killing me, eh?”

    “N-no boss!” Tony spoke up, “we were just discussing…”

    “How to kill me? After I bailed you scrubs time and again?” I drew my guns, “what ever happened to honour among thieves?”

    I emptied the cartridges into the both of them. I was no amateur to killing. I used to be a Commandant in the U.S Marines before I put my combat skills to monetary gain. Noticing that Tony was trying to pull himself back up, I grinned wickedly. Grabbing his hand, I sliced off his fingers one-by-one and left him screaming. Lighting a cigarette, I left the night’s work to be cleaned tomorrow.

  16. cosi van tutte

    Just for the fun of it:

    “Look. Jim. I’m just sayin’ we have this whole big bundle of loot and we’re just sitting here in this dinky cabin like we’re waiting to get caught.”

    “Well. Don’t blame me, Pete.”

    “Huh? Who else am I gonna blame? Huh? Who? It was your idea to come here.”

    “Oh, and your idea of hiding out in Nebraska was all that hot?”

    “Hey! Don’t hate Nebraska. I’ve had a lot of good times there.”

    “I have no idea what you mean.”

    “What I mean is Nebraska is da bomb. Anyway, it would be a whole lot better than being stuck in this 2 x 2 cabin with you.”

    “You think I wanna share this cabin with you?” Pete stuck his face into Jim’s face. “HA!”

    “Eeeugh! You packed a toothbrush. Why don’t you ever use it?”

    “Oh. So now you’re gonna nitpick on my hygiene. Is that it?”

    “Yeah. I’m ‘gonna nitpick’ on your hygiene. You’re not hygienic.”

    “Oh, and you’re just made out of soap petals, aren’t you?”

    “At least, I don’t stink like a two year old dirty diaper.”

    “That was low, Jim. Too low.”

    “If you want, I could aim a little lower.”

    “You do and I’ll kill ya. Heck. I might just kill you anyway. Then, I’d have all of the money to myself.”

    “And you still stay in this cabin. Boring. Stupid. Plain. Ugly. Dull. COMPLETE MORON!”

    “Complete moron? COMPLETE moron? That does it. That is the insult that has broken my back.” Pete pulled out his gun.

    “Threaten me, will ya?” Jim pulled out his gun. “There’s only one way for this to end.”

    “Yeah, with you dead and me with all of the money.”

    “Stupid. No. With you and me whoopin’ it up in good old Nebraska.”

    “But I don’t want to go to Nebraska!”

    “Fine. Then, give me my share and I’LL go to Nebraska.”

    “Fine! The money bag is in the abandoned fridge in the old coal mine. Take your share and split.”

    “Sounds fair to me. Just so you know: If you shoot me when I turn my back, I’ll turn into the ugliest ghost you ever did see and I will haunt you. I will haunt you so much—”

    “Beat it or I will shoot.”

    “Fine.”

    Jerry the Super Ranger ducked below the window and considered his options. He could fly to the old coal mine, grab the stolen money, and return it to the authorities. That would be the honorable and expected thing to do.

    Or he could fly to the old coal mine, grab the stolen money, and go whoop it up in the Aleutian Islands.

    Well. he figured. Either way, I need to get over to the mine. He smiled. Then, we’ll see what happens.

    1. Observer Tim

      And I assume one of Jerry’s powers is super-ventriloquism. It would only take a little bit to get this argument started. Great use of dialogue, Cosi, and an entertaining story. I was sure one or both of the bad guys was going to end up with velocity poisoning (it’s like lead poisoning, only faster). 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Cosi, you’ve got two thirds of the three stooges here in conversation, Moe and Curly. Throw the Super Ranger in, and you add Larry. Loved the conversation. I thought for a moment, they were going to trade bullets but no, it isn’t that simple. And fun in Nebraska, who are they kidding. Where is Nebraska? Is it in the panhandle of Texas.? I wish I couls see all three but then maybe I have. Loved this comedy.

  17. Beebles

    Thursday

    Jude turned over four times in the bed and closed his eyes. He screwed them tight shut. As tight as he could. He waited for sleep. He’d asked Musty to leave the door open so the light got in, but Musty said he couldn’t do that because it was against the law here. Like hugging. Jude didn’t understand the law. He didn’t understand why they couldn’t go back to the home yet. ‘When are we going back, Musty?’ he’d asked. ‘Thursday,’ Musty had said. Jude guessed that Thursday was soon because they had already gone a long time.

    Jude had enjoyed the trip in the car. They normally went for a walk in the afternoon, but Musty said they needed to look after Musty’s friend who was sick.

    He’d counted all the cars on the way. He liked to arrange the numbers on the cars in his head. Jude liked numbers. And hugs, though he wasn’t allowed to give hugs anymore. He’d hugged Mops and Mops had gone to sleep. And now it was against the law. At the home he asked when Mops was coming to see him. They said, Thursday. He missed Mops.

    Musty’s friend Paul had looked sick. He was thin and pale and he never smiled. He didn’t talk to Jude much and Jude guessed Paul had a sore throat. They had taken him to a place with lots of lights where there had been lots of numbers to count. Jude enjoyed that. Then they had been in the car so long he’d been able to count all the money in the bags. Now they were in a house in the woods.

    Jude turned over four times. He still couldn’t get to sleep. He could hear Musty and Paul arguing across the hall. Paul said they had to get rid of someone called Rainman but Musty wasn’t sure. Paul said Rainman couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Jude though Rainman must have had his mouth open when the wind changed. That’s what Mop said.

    Paul opened the door to Jude’s room. He had a glass and fist full of pills. He sat on Jude’s bed and told Jude to take the pills. Jude wasn’t sure so he looked at Musty standing in the doorway. Musty nodded. The landing light made the tears on Musty’s cheeks sparkle like the lights in the city. Jude thought Musty must be crying because he was going to be arrested for leaving the door open.

    When Jude had taken the pills, Paul told him he was a very good boy. Musty said he had been so good he should give Paul a hug. So Jude hugged Paul until Paul went to sleep. Jude felt tired so he turned over four times.

    ‘When are we going back to the home?’ Jude yawned.

    ‘Thursday,’ said Musty and gently shut the door.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is touching, Beebles. I get the impression Jude is either a severe autistic savant or a quite young one. Either way you did a great job building sympathy for him and I was fighting back a tear at the end. Very powerful.

      My only question is the line about Jude hugging Paul – until “Paul went to sleep” doesn’t seem to make sense unless Paul is trying to keep him stable and unstressed by pretending to sleep. That said, the autistic seldom fall for that because they notice different changes in activity from “normal” people.

      Either that, or Musty gave something to Paul which Paul is going to regret when he wakes up… on Thursday.

      1. Ananfal

        It could be that Jude doesn’t know his own strength and… Put them to sleep? And that could answer what happened to poor Mops. At least, that’s the impression I received from the prompt.

      2. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Beebles. Paul isn’t going to wake up at.alll. Have I got that right? Jude is an assassin who in his child like state is a programmed killer. Musty Jude. And Paul are the three villains here but Jude is either programmed to hug when he needs to. Austistic. probably. That’s where the numbers come in. Thursday will never come for Jude but he won’t have a clue. A beautiful story here

    2. Beebles

      Thank you all for reading and leaving your thoughts. I don’t think I’ve been this ambiguous in a while. My missus works with the severely autistic and many are very strong or, like Norman architecture, overcompensate. Both carers and residents have interestings stories, often tragic but some uplifting.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      This was such a totally different, and extremely well done, take on the prompt. That last part was so powerful. Jude will always have Thursday to anticipate, won’t he.

  18. tward09

    (Slightly graphic)

    It always happens this way. One way or another, greed eventually sets in and the prospect of keeping a couple more million dollars to oneself erases any past remarks of “splitting the winnings” or “fairness.” Sometimes it’s planned, sometimes it’s spur-of-the-moment, but it always ends the same way: the fewer people in on it, the bigger the cut. I’d like to say that I’m free of greed and that I’d be happy sharing the fortune with my accomplices. I would be. I just seem to attract the type of people who need someone expendable, someone gullible that follows the leader, someone just stupid enough to expect the best and receive the worst. I’m beginning to think that’s my intention all along.

    The job was a run-of-the-mill casino heist, and, as with any profession, certain aspects of the job become easier over the years: stealing a truck full of money is far easier than holding up a casino filled with armed guards; practicing each role for months to ensure perfection is a no-brainer; setting up a false trail will give you plenty of time to escape the country. Peppering these little suggestions in during conversations took away their fear of me being a liability, while keeping them in just enough control to accept the façade that they were, in fact, in control.

    The job went over without a hitch. Richie and I held the guards up as Vic made his way to the driver’s seat and started the big engine. Leaving the guards on the ground with their faces in the trashy asphalt of the Bellagio’s back alley, Richie, Vic, and I swerved into the crowded streets of Vegas. We made our way into the junk yard that housed our getaway car, and with careful fluidity we transferred the money into our bags and into the Chevy in five minutes. We were out of Vegas within thirty, by the time we crossed in to California, it was apparent that we were free.

    Walking through LAX, Vic and Richie were sweating bullets, but when we made it through security receiving little more than nods and a “have a good flight,” they loosened up a bit. I was starting to have faith that this time was different. Unfortunately, as we boarded our plane for Norway, the telltale signs of collusion started showing through my dear accomplices’ demeanors – a stolen glance back at me here and there, small conversations between the two of them when they thought I wasn’t looking – and it’d be a lie to say I wasn’t disappointed, but it would also be a lie to say I hadn’t expected it. I knew what was coming. It always happens this way.

    Their distance increased over the days we were settled in Norway, and though I knew what they were planning, I had to hear it for myself for my own conscience’s sake. The cheapest hotel in Stavanger had equally cheap walls, and whispers made their way through them as if they weren’t there at all.

    “…we have all of it right here, why don’t we just run? We don’t have to kill him,” Richie said in a pleading voice. I had a fleeting sympathy for him, but fleeting nonetheless.

    “And what makes you think he wouldn’t give us up the second he finds us missing? He knows our names, Richie, and he knows what we look like. This is the only option we have,” replied Vic.

    “Fine, but make it quick,” Richie said in a reluctant voice.

    It was a conversation I had prepared for; one that I had overheard time and time again, each one more devastating than the one before. I wanted to see the best in people, but I suppose this line of work doesn’t attract much honesty. The clicking sound of steel on steel signaled the chambering of a round, and with it, footsteps made their way to the door.

    The string that ran from the doorknob, around the back of the chair, and to the trigger of the shotgun was just tight enough to let the slack out, but not so tight that the buckshot would graze door number one on its way into our lucky contestant’s chest. When the door opened, a bloom of red mist exploded from Richie and he slumped heavily to the floor, ribbons of flesh hanging over the hole ripped in his shirt. He made a few gurgling attempts at breathing and finally settled, almost peacefully, eyes closed as if asleep.

    Vic began shooting towards the shotgun, unaware that it was unmanned, which gave me time to steady my aim on the door. When he peeked inside, I took one careful shot at his head, and he fell quickly on top of Richie.

    I took my cut plus two million more, careful to leave enough to satisfy the authorities and simultaneously cover my tracks, and left the hotel. I caught a plane back to the states and waited for the news report of the two criminals that robbed a casino and whose bodies were found in Norway to make its way on the air. I then began my search for a small crew of people planning on robbing a bank or a casino in need of a third.

    1. Observer Tim

      You needn’t worry about the graphic level of this, tward, it fit the story perfectly. So if I’m reading this straight, the MC has resigned himself to preying on big-time thieves. I assume he either (a) does it for the thrill or (b) he goes through money like a toilet goes through water. Otherwise a cagey crook and skilled planner like this guy could make a few million last several years. Great story, and very well thought out!

  19. Ananfal

    People always make fun of my name.

    “The Butterfly? Aren’t you supposed to kill people or something?”

    “I assure you, my skills are up to the task. Would you like a… demonstration?”

    They tend to shut up pretty quickly after that.

    The thing is, you tend to burn through a lot of your earned money getting to the place of your next job – plane tickets aren’t cheap you know. So I ended up taking other jobs on the side in order to build my retirement fund.

    “We have a plan to rob a casino, but we a need a third. Are you in?”

    “How much is my split?”

    “12 mil is the prize, split three-way. Your cut is 4 mil even.”

    “Deal.”

    That was a joke. Sorry, assassin humor. There’s no such thing as retirement in my world. People will always want your skills, and they’ll hunt you down if you don’t keep moving. Death is the only real way out.

    I knew what I was getting into when I started this career, however. In this kind of life, you can’t have any regrets. You have to keep going, or else you’ll die.

    “- can’t trust her. She’s an assassin, for god’s sake!”

    “We paid her though. They respect money.”

    “But we could split her share between us. An extra two mil, my friend…”

    “… Alright. Let’s do it.”

    I honestly debated ‘retiring’ here. They would make it quick, I was sure. But my no regrets policy reared up, and with a small sigh I got up from my bed, just as my two ‘partners’ entered.

    “What do you know about Monarch butterflies?” I asked them, and they paused, confused. I nodded and gave a small smile.

    “They have bright orange wings to intimidate predators. Some don’t listen though, and try to eat them. Do you know what happens to those predators?”

    They shook their heads, captured by my voice. I walked towards them, slow and stalking. My voice lowered, my hands reached out to caress their necks.

    “They die.”

    And with two quick snaps, it was over.

    12 million added to my retirement fund. And another day left in this hotel.

    1. Observer Tim

      Floats like a butterfly, stings like a scorpion. You created an interesting MC, one that would be interesting to read about some more. She comes across like the title character in a spy comic (graphic novel) or movie. The PoV really works for this piece. 🙂

      1. Ananfal

        Thanks! This is a character I created a long time ago for a story of mine that never got finished, so I’m glad she got to see the light in this short prompt. I can totally see this story as a graphic novel! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂

  20. dustymayjane

    The palm fronds overhead swayed in the coconut scented breeze. Sand had found the insides of my shorts and settled in the crevices there. I’d get used to it.

    I’d been sleeping with one eye open since landing on this island paradise. I’d get used to the that too.

    ~

    Bull and Duck didn’t know I’d heard them plotting to divvy the money in half, once I’d been taken care of. The walls of the seedy motel we hid in after the heist were paper thin. They needed me to get them off the mainland and south of the border to Mexico. Then they’d see to it my body was never found.

    I chuckle, remembering how first Bull and than Duck confided in me that the other was never going to see their split of the loot. Their individual plans to kill the other and their own plans to kill me, made it clear what I had to do.

    The plane was fueled up and I pointed the nose south. I flew over the border, while Bull and Duck counted out cash. Each believing that the other would be dead and I would be other benefactor. Little did they know that I had veered off the original course. They were too preoccupied with their plans, the plans I was going to foil.

    Once the plane was over the target, I put my plan into action.

    The engine sputtered and the plane jerked and jumped. “Hold on guys, we’re running into some turbulence.”

    Duck bounced around in his seat, looking nervous. “What are you doing flying so low Carl?”

    “I’m trying to fly out of the air pockets. ” The plane dropped a few feet before I gained control again.

    Bull was white as a ghost and stuttered. “What going on Carl?”

    “I’m having engine trouble, we might have to use those chutes I packed.” I flipped the engine switch off and on, knowing I was perfectly safe. “You know what to do right? After counting to ten, pull the cord.”

    I was shouting now and allowing the plane to tumble through the air.

    “Carl, I thought you knew how to fly this rattle trap!”

    “Calm down Bull. Just follow my instructions. Duck, you’re going to pull hard on that lever. Bull you hang on to Duck.” I had to bite my cheek. “Leave the duffle. I’ll grab it and be right behind you.”

    The door was open and Bull and Duck were standing in wait for my order to jump.

    “One, two, three, jump!”

    Just as their feet left the floor, diving into thin air, I took hold of the steering stick and leveled off. The duffle holding ten mill safely tucked under my seat. I turned right and watched as the traders hurdled through the air with no chance of surviving the fall with defective parachutes

    ~

    “Mr.Carl? Your daiquiri.”

    “Aw, thank you.” Such lovely island girls waiting on me hand and foot. I will get used to it.

    1. Observer Tim

      Carl is a cool and brutal cucumber, DustyMayJane. This is a dark and serious take, suitable for the last segment of a dark crime thriller. Good thing for Carl that the other two weren’t hardened criminals, because there’s no way they would have bailed without the loot. Great take!

  21. Observer Tim

    My turn to have site troubles. I strategically edited my story to remove anything an overzealous filter might react to, so here goes…

    ADVANCE WARNING

    The primary gravity generator cuts out when the ship goes into fold; I hope Chelsy and Phara remembered to strap themselves down. A squeal from the back tells me at least one of them didn’t. It doesn’t matter, though; five seconds later the secondary generator kicks in and 0.6 standard gees pull everything back to the floor.

    “Sorry!” you call back.

    Chelsy’s voice, “Bit late, Tab!”

    I laugh and check the readouts; in four hours we’ll be safe outside the Empire with literally a ton of money; thirteen hundred kilos of coins and negotiables. It’s chump change to Galaxy Heaven Casinos, but it will set us up for life.

    This damned bottle-girl outfit is giving me a wedgie; it was designed for walking the floor, not flying a spaceship. I’m wearing the most inappropriate pilot’s outfit ever: wearing nothing would be preferable. But since Phara virused the robots to move the money to our ship and Chelsy “distracted” the Cash Manager, this was my lot. On the plus side, I have four thirty-cred coins in my top and a two-hundred beneath the undies.

    I recline the chair, which gives my nethers a bit of a break, and close my eyes. I can hear the girls talking quietly in the back but don’t really pay attention until I hear,

    “…cut her out. Permanently.”

    “Have you got the balls for that, Phara? I don’t.”

    “We have to do it; she’s a total blab and she knows too much.”

    “She’s our friend! Anyway, have you ever actually killed someone?”

    “Not directly. But the mechanics of it…”

    “It’s not about the mechanics; it’s about actually killing someone you’ve known that long.”

    A chill runs up my spine. There’s only the three of us on this heist, and I’m pretty sure they’re not talking about each other. Suddenly the uncomfortable outfit isn’t so important. But they need me; neither of them can fly the ship.

    A thought suddenly makes me nervous; I whisper to the computer.

    “mAIa, can you fly the ship without me?”

    “Yes, Tabytha, but only in normal space. A human brain is needed to monitor the space fold.”

    So I’m safe until we come out of fold, which gives me about four hours to find a weapon. Unfortunately there are no unsecured objects in the control cabin. I am totally screwed.

    Wait a minute, what’s the idea of calling me a total blab? I kept the plan secret just as well as they did! Otherwise we’d all be in chains right now, or in body bags. They have no right to call me a blab!

    Phara walks in carrying a multi-tool with the spot-welder activated. Damn! I thought she knew better than that! She raises it over her head…

    “Phara, don’t! You need me!”

    …and stabs mAIa’s neural processor.

    It was the computer, not me! I’m gasping in relief when Phara gives me a wicked smile.

    “Next time warn us before cutting the gravity.”

    1. Observer Tim

      In case you care, the changes were
      – a single word in place of “wearing nothing”
      – “top” replaces the last three letters of “candelabra”
      – and “undies” replaces the what comes after “f-string”

      1. Beebles

        If you were Tim the talking clock – not sure if you have that over there, and its a girl now anyway – I would be on the phone all day. Your writing is always a treat OT and a nice twist to this one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Tim, I can’t believe you had to edit what you did. My troubles in posting weeks ago had nothing to do with language. This is a great story with a perfect tone to it
        Even I understand it, being a space novice. Looks like a lot of dirty dealings in the responses this week. Definitely not Sunday School.

  22. UnclePizza

    OK, no way to tie this to the prompt, but hopefully my initial post below buys me permission to ignore it on a second post!

    Of Sins and Ash – Part 13: Message

    The boy couldn’t sleep. He lay awake listening to the coyotes calling in the distance and imagined himself running with them. But it was more than just old memories keeping him awake tonight; he was afraid of the tall soldier and what the priest might have told him to do. Was there really a new bruja on the mesa? Had the soldier killed her too?

    He heard hoofbeats approaching on the road, and grew even more anxious. They were of the large horses that the soldiers rode, and they were coming quickly. Soldiers galloping in the middle of the night could only mean trouble.

    The horses stopped in front of the church and the boy heard someone dismount and walk quickly toward the front of the church, then whoever it was walked slowly to the rectory door. Oddly, there was no knock for several long moments, but when the knock came it came loudly and the visitor called urgently for the priest. Curiosity overtook fear, and the boy got out of bed and followed the priest to the door.

    The boy could tell that the priest was annoyed at being awakened, and he sensed an uneasiness to his step. “What took you so long,” the priest asked curtly as he opened the door. Surprise registered on his face when he saw that the man was not the captain, whom he had apparently been expecting, but was instead the soldier who had carried the boy on his lap after La Bruja had been run through with a sword and left for dead.

    “My apologies, Father,” said the soldier. “But we have not seen the captain since he left to speak with you this afternoon. Still, we didn’t worry until his horse returned without him at dusk. A party went to search for him on the mesa. We thought…maybe you had heard the rumors of a new bruja and had sent him to…to pay her a visit.”

    A dark look crossed the priest’s face, a look of anger and contempt, though the boy knew that it held fear as well. He knew the priest well enough now to know that he relied on the captain to do things that he wanted done but could not do on his own. Over the months, the priest had gained enough influence over the captain that the conquistador was taking direction from him, and although the boy did not understand the subtlety of human politics, he knew that an important balance was being shifted. This priest was hungry for, and gaining, power. If the captain was dead then the priest would have lost his most powerful earthly weapon. And if the new bruja on the mesa, or worse yet, La Bruja in whatever form she may have taken had killed the captain, then the priest indeed had something to fear.

    The soldier stood quietly as the priest contemplated what he had been told, until finally the priest calmed himself and asked, “Tell me, what did you find on the mesa?

    “Nothing, Father, answered the soldier. “But then, as we approached the church just now we saw a coyote carrying something in its mouth. Something that it dropped at the church doorstep before running off into the night.”

    “And, pray tell, what did it drop?”

    “This, Father,” the soldier replied, holding out a small book, the soft leather cover of which was punctured with teeth marks and smeared with blood.

    The priest took it and turned it over in his hands, fear becoming clear on his face as the soldier continued: “It’s his bible. He carried it with him at all times. He swore he would never part with it as long as he lived.”

    —————————————

    The full story to-date (parts 1-13) can be found in one posting at https://unclepizza.wordpress.com/of-sins-and-ash/

    1. Observer Tim

      I’m not sure how you’re keeping this tight and together week after week, Uncle; did you write the whole story beforehand? It is consistently engaging and of high quality. I have a feeling that the good Father won’t be with us much longer…

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks OT! I’m actually writing this as I go – one or two parts each week. It’s gone on a lot longer than I though it would – I’ve lost count now of how many times I’ve said “only two or three more parts to go”! The only downside of writing it like this is I end up painting myself into a corner every now and then by having something happen earlier that limits options later. If I’d written it all at once then I could go back and make a change to support the later scene, but too late – it’s already been posted!

  23. Kerry Charlton

    .HOLLY GOES LIGHTLY

    Holly lay in her bed, .feigning sleep, her breathing measured, eyes closed and body in a fetal position. Her mind listened to her two partners in crime, talking quietly in an adjoining room,

    “Bora Bora is a good place to get rid of a body, don’t you think?”

    A smile crossed Charles Broken Twiddlehips’ sickening face as he waited for Jack Ripper’s reply,

    “Can I slice her and dice her while she’s still alive?”

    “Control yourself Jack, remember that life is over, you’re a man of the cloth now.”

    “Oh yeah, I almost forgot, sorry. Bring on the nuns.“

    “Damn it Jack, no nuns, no nothing.”

    “Geez, Twiddle, you take all the fun away. Where’s my share of the ten million?”

    “Now Jack, listen, the Italian Mafia, the Irish Liberators and 175 million US democrats are after our butts for the reward money.

    “No republicans?”

    “None?

    “Why not?”

    “They’re busy trying to restrain Mr. Trump.”

    “Oh, I kind of liked his hair do.”

    “You would, you idiot.”

    “Don’t call me no idiot Twiddle.”

    ‘Sorry Jack, I am sorry I said that.”

    Holly created some noise in the other room and then walked in on her two partners,

    “How about a swim guys?”

    Two men and a woman on a walk down the beach in Bora Bora caused little
    interest despite Holly’s saunter in a bikini. There was plenty of skin on display by girls half her age. Her advantage being, ten million smackers, ‘all mine,’ she mused to the chorus of West Side Story…….

    “Tonight tonight
    It all begins tonight
    I’ll kill you and your worries go away

    Tonight, tonight
    There’s only you tonight
    Tonight you will die

    Tonight, tonight
    Sleep well my fools
    Tonight, you will die.”

    The odd couple and the girl stayed on the beach until dark.

    “How about a swim to the sand bar?”, Holly asked.

    “What makes you sure there’s one out there?”

    “I just do Jack, what difference does it make?”

    “I don’t swim well and I’ll run out of steam if I can’t rest on the way back.”

    “How about you Twiddle? Are you game? You might earn what you’ve been gawking out the last year.”

    “I’m game on that. How about you Jack?”

    “Am I included Holly?”

    “Of course Jack, share and share alike.”

    The three split the moonlight and arrived at the sand bar as Holly said.

    “It’s playtime,” Jack said as he reached for her.

    She pulled a small waterproof envelope from her bikini, aimed the two barrel derringer and blew Jack’s right eye out.

    “You’re next Twiddle.”

    “I don’t think so.”

    He threw his knife swiftly, splitting her breast bone. With a dying gasp she squeezed the second trigger. The bullet entered Twiddle’s right ear and stopped. He slipped beneath the water’s surface as did Holly. The tide came in, the sandbar disappeared as the three bodies floated to sea……….

    “Tonight tonight, you die.
    Tonight, tonight, sleep tight.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderful update of a classic story, Kerry. These three deserved each other; it sounds like the final scene of a dark comedy, though it could be a crime drama too. Either way it’s fiendishly entertaining. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tim, not my kind of story but what the hay, I can write it anyway. I wasn’t very happy with the results. Not much inspiration in the prompt except murder.

    2. Beebles

      That is one messed up trio, Kerry. I liked the image of the three of them slipping below the surf as if mother nature was washing herself clean of them. Some bellboy’s gonna get one hell of a pay day.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Beebles, never entered my mind about the bellboy, Well somebody has to find it, right? Wrong! Should have had the money disappear also, would have made for a stronger story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reatha, I always have music running through my mind, It’s been doing it for a long time now, maybe twenty years or so. When I can, I weave it into stories. So far no success on using “Marsey Dotes”. Do you know the song?

  24. UnclePizza

    I’m an honest person. Really. Not that I never do dishonest things, I’m not gonna say that, but when I do something that I know is wrong, well, I feel guilty. So I’ll admit that I’ve had this niggling guilty feeling eating at me for the last few months.

    It started when Mike and Paul, my two best friends since third grade, started talking to me about their plan for ripping off a casino in Las Vegas. “Really, guys,” I said. “Don’t you watch enough movies? Don’t you know that anyone who tries something like that ends up with at least one badly, as in oh-crap-that-had-to-hurt, dead body by the end of the movie? Those Vegas guys just don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to anyone taking their money, not even winning it let alone stealing it!”

    No, really, they said back. We’ve got it all figured out – we just need a third guy, and you’re the only one we trust!

    Well, once I started listening to the plan I had to admit that it sounded good. And so began months of detailed planning, dry runs, fine tuning, and yes, the guilt. Finally, the big day came, and what do you know – the plan worked!

    So here we are, hanging out in a bungalow in paradise, enjoying the life of casual luxury while we live off our $10 Million bankroll. Only I can’t quite entirely relax because tonight I’m feeling especially guilty. I excuse myself after dinner saying that I need to sleep, but all I’ve done for the last hour is toss and turn.

    I try to meditate since that always puts me to sleep but Mike and Paul are talking in the other room and it’s distracting. And then – whoa! – are they talking about offing me and taking my share? Um, yeah, they are! Those jerks! When? Ahh…during the fishing trip tomorrow! Toss me off the boat with lead weights tied to my ankles? How unoriginal!

    Well, at least now I can sleep – I don’t feel the least bit guilty any more about putting that poison in their lobster bisque this evening!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Well, he had class poisoning the lobster biscue rather then chicken sandwiches. Loved the twist at the end. You know the golden rule …………………..”Do unto others before they do unto you.”

  25. cjmurphy1982

    The heat is unbearable. I watch the sweat form into droplets on my arm and torso. I need to hydrate, Suzi’s lessons weren’t all useless.

    I head to the bathroom for water and hear muffled voices in the next room. Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum must be arguing over the tv remote again, what an embarrassment flying with those guys. At least it kept their minds of the danger at hand. We’re safe now though, no jurisdiction hear mr law man.

    I run the cold water awhile, I would go out if not naked, tired and in no mood for trying out my pigeon Spanish. The shop girl over the road is cute though, I’ll try her out soon. The water is luke warm but I need something, ‘we’re 80% water remember Michael’, its Mike, but she had to use Michael, always.

    Voices are being raised, the controller argument is getting out of hand. A shared vent allows me to catch some of the conversation.

    ‘You do it, muummm YOU CAN HONEY!
    ‘No, ummmm mmummm better him dead’

    What, honey? They’re together? I suspected but after the incident with Suzi, I’d been convinced. ‘Better him dead’. I knew this was coming. Good luck.

    Water downed, I flush the toilet, maybe they’ll understand, maybe not.

    It’s in the wardrobe, all of it. Taking out two thirds, I pile the rest on the bed. Heading onto the balcony, I call to the shop girl, my nakedness surprises and excites her. ‘Uno lighters, por favor’. I throw down ten bucks, she grabs one and crosses the road. Checking the cash first she throws up the lighters, winking once I head inside.

    The tweedle’s dash out, just in time to see my ass heading inside. I turn the volume on the tv loud. Pants and t-shirt on, I’m back on the balcony. The girl looks up, disappointed to see clothes. I hold up my bag, raise my eyebrows and she understands. I toss it onto the sidewalk. She comes to pick it up as I turn inside.

    Tweedle-dee comes in first. Looking at me with a hard stare, his hand inside his pocket, a bulging pistol tip showing. My eyes turn to the bed, his follow. Dum is behind Dee, his face obscured but he looks scared. Pulling out the lighter, I strike a flame. Dee registers it and stares in pure panic.

    The pyramid of bills has a toilet tissue at its heart, one touch from this lighter and it’s up in smoke. Taunting, I rest the naked flame as close as possible. Dee is confused, angry, scared, the poor fool never understood what I was capable of.

    ‘I’ll kill you’
    ‘Go right ahead.’ A smile, a wicked, heartfelt smile which brings all my senses to life. My confidence floods and shatters him. I light the tissue. They dive for the money, frantically trying to put it out. Cursing me, each other and the whole world. I slip out, locking the door.

    From the lobby I see my lighter angle, giving me a coy wave.

    Heading directly to the jeep I signal for her to do the same. She pauses, wondering whether this is real, whether its forever. Its for real, but it ain’t forever honey. Throwing the shop keys to a younger girl, she jumps into the jeep and gives me a smile so bright, even the vegas lights couldn’t match

    1. Observer Tim

      This has the feel of a 1970’s “carefree crook” story – the recklessness is there, the bold threats, the callous disregard for others. You nailed it, CJ! I’m thinking Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with an extra thrown in for good measure. Very nice.

      Only quibble: ‘pidgin’ is the language, the other one’s just a bird (and a couple of good gangster movie metaphors).

      1. cjmurphy1982

        Really appreciate your feedback Tim, receiving any comments is quite satisfying but a well worded and thought through response is even better!

        Thanks for the heads up regarding use of pigeon – hopefully will save me any embarrassment in future.
        Many thanks

  26. Pete

    I feel safe. Ninety impenetrable miles away. Cuba is beautiful, and I have 3.3 million newfound reasons why I love Havana.

    For a while we sleep. After three months of nonstop planning, walkthroughs and going over and over and over my plan, it’s nearly as rewarding as the haul.

    Ten million. Untraceable. Sitting in the other room. Last night Holton fanned me to sleep with one hundred dollar bills.

    I overhear them in the other room, discussing our options. I’m actually surprised Holt is saying much of anything with Brock, I thought by now we’d have parted ways with him and kicked off our honeymoon.

    Married. With the mission at hand, I’d almost forgotten our wedding. I hold my ring up to catch the morning sun. The cars grumble about just outside my window, reminding me this is not a dream. Mrs. Holton Hollohan. Millionaire expatriate. At your service.

    I’m still smiling when I catch a bit of what is being discussed. I make out the words “just go in there and do it.”

    Brock doesn’t sound like he’s urging Holt to kiss my neck. My toes instinctively curl at the thought but I snap out of it, edging to the door to get a better angle on the conversation.

    “If you don’t do it, I will. Of all things, getting married, are you dense? It’s only a matter of time before she’s ready to run back to Mommy and Daddy. And then what happens? I’m not going back to jail, Holt. Not for you and certainly not for her.”

    “Lower your voice, Brock. I told you I’d take care of it.”

    Not exactly a gentleman, my husband. A chill wiggles up my spine, setting the room to a spin. An empty flower vase, thin curtains on the window, a wooden chest of drawers, Holt’s fedora. Vase, window, chest, fedora.

    I can only cry. The ring winks at my tears, reminds me of how we met. At the casino. He was so handsome to be alone. I was so desperate to be fooled.

    The spinning stops at the vase. The voices are silent. It seems we all have secrets. Brock is not a dumb brute. Holton is not the man of my dreams. But me, I’m not a fragile little girl. And I won’t let either of them make me a victim of their jailhouse games.

    It turns out the chest of drawers is not so empty. I scramble to come up with a plan. Shaking. Enraged. Heartbroken. That he could make love to me and kill me in the same bed. I take a breath as the door squeaks open.

    “Hey baby.”

    “Hi Holt.” A slab of slate, his eyes, they roam to my ankles, running up my calf and rolling down my thighs. He backs the door shut. As soon as it clicks his face tightens. “Listen to me,” he says, his voice low and urgent. My hand tightens. He sees my tears.

    “Baby, what is it?”

    The gun explodes in my hands. Twice. Then Brock barrels in the room, swallowing up the doorway where he gets two shots for his trouble. Drops like sack. I wipe my face. Burning. Slobbering. Forcing myself off the bed, I keep the gun on Brock’s lifeless body. Holt gasps, and I kneel down and take his face. Pained. Confused. Fading away.

    My tears smack his face. He grimaces. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”

    I whisper. “Why?” But he just stares off, into our honeymoon. I ask him again. “Why did you want to kill me? Was I just part of the plan?”

    His mouth opens. His eyes say no but he nods, to free me of the guilt. Then he’s gone.

    I’m out of the house in minutes. In a dusty cab with no seatbelts. I cruise through the country with a change of clothes and ten million dollars. I end up in Veradero. I order rum on the beach. It’s a great start a grieving widow.

    1. Observer Tim

      I think you summed it up very nicely with the soon-to-be-widow Hollohan’s comment that “It seems we all have secrets.” It’s a wicked little play about trust. Good one, Pete!

      I get the impression their casino job wasn’t the kind of mastermind affair you’d see in a typical heist movie.

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