"Small" writing challenges for my small writing talent. Hotel note pads are the only space allowed. Let's see if I can strip it down and tighten it up to learn something. Improving my skill of weird fiction.
Mack’s backpack swelled with tools of the night – the plan for which made him smile. Terri walked next to him squeezing his hand, herself wearing an empty pack. Mack’s fiancé, as good a criminal as he, did her homework. Their research would payoff within the house in question ahead. Their synchronized watches read two in the morning as they snuck down the cobble stone road. Both excited and well practiced in their work.
Their simple plan is a basic treasure dig in the basement of the long deserted house. The books containing the stories were under mountains of other dusty and decaying books in unused stacks of books deep within the main library in Salamanca Spain. Who knew the article in question would be thousands of miles away from the monastery everyone thought.
They quietly approached the house, turning the corner towards the storm cellar doors. A flicker of light caught Mack’s eye. He instinctively pulled on Terri’s hand, up against the house walls. Cold with a light moss coating.
Mack whispered to his side with his eyes fixed on the ground outside the basement window – the grass flickered yellow orange. “Basement window”
“How? It’s abandoned thirty years.” Terri whispered back, “I checked”
“Well, someone’s there.”
Terri rolled her knit hat down over her face. She always had a use for an old-fashioned ski-mask even in today’s world. It hid her young porcelain skin in most any light.
Mack visually searched the area for others possibly hidden in the trees behind the house while Terri knelt down and silently slithered to the window’s edge, just peering inside the corner to see a small travel lantern illuminating the dirt floor basement. Three small framed men, none of which very large, worked in dirty t-shirts. One was climbing out of a shallow hole in the floor, the same hole they were about to dig. Another was packing up tools and the third was lifting up a rotted wood and rusty metal braced small box. The same box they were about to take. It matched the descriptions. She felt her stomach tighten as she recognized the one hefting up the box. Those weren’t men. Boys.
Mack tapped her foot with the tip of his toe. She slid back and he helped her up while she rolled up the mask into a hat again.
“Salamanca,” she whispered, “Remember the library?”
“Yeah, hon. Why?”
“That kid assistant with the limp. And two more skinny boys.”
Mack’s head moved around trying to calculate. Figuring out how a boy could have found their treasure first. They left a trail. A messy trail any graduate student would leave. Nobody else knew what books to put together to match up details. Easy to put the pieces together when given away. That kid picked up the books they blew the dust from and read a little. Easy to get there first if he knew the area better than the american tourists who were strangely interested in old monastic tomes.
“He got curious and told his friends. What are . . .”
“They found it and they’re packing up, about to leave; doesn’t look too bulky.”
“No. Shovels mostly.”
“Okay. They’ll hear us if we go in, we need to find a way out fast when we take it.” said Mack, quietly sliding off his tool-laden backpack to the ground, useless since the digging was done.
“Maybe, they should hear us,” Terri said as she quietly slipped a wooden handle out of the bag of tools. “And maybe we won’t need to get out fast if they can’t chase us.” She winked with a smile as his mid section.
Mack saw where this was going and took the coiled rope from his hip. He watched his fiancé sneaking over to the basement storm doors and quietly slid the tool through the handles, locking it closed. Her mind was always with his or even slightly ahead like tonight. That crazily attracted him.
He heard the clunks of shovels and street-style-youth spanish in the basement. Loud boys for sure. They would have to climb the basement stairs and leave through the front door, now the only way out. The assistant kid in question was wiry and timid. His friends were probably not much older. Probably not much stronger. Either way, they would not see anything in the dark at three in the morning – such as a rope tied low and tight across the front doorway in the night.
Mack enjoyed the ski-mask hat like Terri, just not as often. She was always the sneaky observer and he was more of the muscle. He loosened up by rotating his neck and shoulders. Terri saw his wave, rolled down her mask, then started in with her foot on the storm doors, shouting like a shrill old woman, screaming in Spanish and really giving it a pounding. What are you doing in my house! Get out of my house! I called for the Policia! Mack grinned a little but remained quiet. He loved her character and planned to tease her about it over a hotel brunch of french toast.
Terri kept at it. Spanish voices filled the basement with alarm. Footsteps rapidly thumped up creaky stairs. Shovels clanged. Terri took a moment in her yelling to watch the fun she served up for Mack.
The first boy tripped on the rope across the doorway and fell flat on his chest and face across the stone landing outside. The second kid, holding the encumbering old box, stumbled over his friend, tumbling forward down the landing’s stone steps. The third kid, the library assistant, attempted to jump his friends now blocking the doorway but Mack’s shoulder put him down in a hard impact courtesy of Penn State football’s defense coaching. He gasped for air. Mack swiftly put a good foot into their stomachs to keep them down while Terri untied the rope at the door and coiled it up. In short order, all three sat on the floor inside the house, tied up and mouths taped shut.
Terri wore the tool-laden backpack while Mack hoisted the ancient wooden box within the spare pack over his shoulders. The boys sat in their dirty clothes, squirming to get loose. Not one of them made progress in freedom. The library assistant sat between his two smelly and dirty school friends and he never saw the faces of who tied and taped them together. When he saw them walk away, holding hands, there was no doubt who they were.
(Authors notes) May 2, 2016: Indianapolis, IN.
Although lightly edited/revised, like most of the entries here, this is the culmination story from my first roll of nine dice – Rory’s story cubes: Action. You see, I just saw them in the store begging for my purchase and since I have the first two: Original orange, and the green Voyages, I needed the full set. So on the previous post; I reviewed the process I used for this story. The couple in love appeared in the night on a cobblestone street, and then it became a road to suit the location. First, there was Mack and then Terri suddenly popped into my head just as an accomplice. They became involved almost as soon as she appeared because it just seemed like the right thing to have. It also made things a little bit more fun for the short length of the story – a bit of depth. Anyway, I pieced it all together and worked out a progress of events that covered most if not all the cubes. I rather enjoy the little story, and tried hard to get the events to flow together but also wanted them realistic in how people would react together and with each other. I think I accomplished that. I hope you enjoy it, even though it measures out just over 1,000 words and is no longer “flash.” Please comment on your experiences with the cubes and how they helped you have fun in your writing.