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It's in the bag

This week's prompt from Flash Fiction Friday was to take a prompt from a book that's not ours, and use the first sentence on page 84 to start our story. And include a robbery. Here's the details.

F3 - Cycle 89 - Steal This Prompt

In the past, we’ve done flash fiction prompts that start with a sentence from a certain page of book. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the results I’ve gotten writing this way. But I want to take it a bit further. Instead of reaching for the book that is nearest to you, I want you to steal a sentence from page 84 of a book that does not belong to you (84 being the usual number of months of a sentence for robbery…and since you’re robbing a sentence, I thought it fitting). Oh, and let’s make it a story that has a robbery in it. 

Let’s see what you delinquents can come up with.

 Prompt: Start your story with the first sentence from page 84 of a book you do not own and include a robbery in your story.
Word Limit: 1,400 Deadline: Wednesday, July 25th at 9:00 p.m. ET
Submission Instructions: Please include the title of your story and a link to it in the comments.

 My first idea was to find a copy of Steal This Book, by Abbie Hoffman. That was a challenge in itself, but the prompt was uninspiring. "When you go ask them to put you on their list and you'll get notices of all their future screenings." Advice on sneaking into movies for free. 

Instead, I used a phrase from Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. "One of them has a revolver in his hand, pointed straight down at the sidewalk."

Excellent start, which led to a good short story. Only just over 500 words, not near the 1400 maximum. Oh well, here it is -- 

It's in the Bag

One of them has a revolver in his hand, pointed straight down at the sidewalk. 

She'd been hurrying home from a seance, and had taken a short cut behind a garage. Bad idea. She'd been halfway down the alley when the kids had stepped in front of her. 

"What do you want?" she says.

There's four of them, standing in a row, all trying to look tough, but the oldest can't be more than fourteen. One of them looks familiar, like one of the kids her son plays basketball with. Danny, she thinks. 

The tallest kid, the one with the revolver, waves it at her. 

"I want a lot of things in life," he says, "but right now it's about what I'm going to take. Lets start with that purse."

She clutches the large bag tightly, feeling it squirm under her arm. She glances behind her - too far to run for cover. She looks back at the kids and sighs. She has a bad feeling about this.

"I've got nothing valuable," she says. "Just let me go ahead and I promise I won't tell the police. Or your momma's."

Danny flushes and tries to look away, but she catches his eye. "You can do better than this," she says.

The leader raised the gun and scowls. "Shut up, bitch. I know you, you're the one always talking about spirits and ghosts and that voodoo stuff. Scaring my momma and taking her money."

"Your momma had a bad thing in her," she says, "And I chased it away. Tell me, isn't she happier now?"

"Wasn't you," he said. "She's just happier because I made enough money to get her a new coffee maker."

"I'm betting you didn't make any money like in a job," she said. "You probably stole it from some other poor neighbour. Someone like me."

He points the revolver at her. "That's it, I said shut up."

Put that away,” she says, “before you hurt somebody.”

I'll hurt you,” he says, and pulls the trigger.

She watches as the bullet spirals toward her, and waves it aside with a flick of her hand.

"Missed," she says. 

He fires again, and misses again.

"Please, just let me go," she says. 

He grabs Danny by the collar and shoves the gun up to the poor kid's head. "Not going to miss this target, voodoo lady," he says. “The purse, now.”

She has no choice. She just hopes it will be quick this time. She's in no danger herself, but she feels sorry for Danny. He deserves a second chance. She slowly slides the bag from her shoulder, loosens the top slightly, and sets it down in front of her. She can see the eyes glowing in the depths of the bag.

She backs up. “There, take it.”

He lets go of Danny and steps forward eagerly. When he bends over to open the bag she yells, “Run Danny! Run!”

She covers her ears against the screams. 








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Joyce Juzwik

Oh my, how deliciously creepy! This is wonderful. Great build-up of the suspense at kind of an inch-by-inch pace and then WHAM! Double Brava!


Definitely an awesome piece! What were the other two kids doing though? And the hell is she? She saw the bullets and knocked them away? Wow


Jeneen - glad you liked it. She's a tough lady, into seances and maybe a bit of voodoo type magic, with a reputation as a helper and healer in the neighbourhood. But not someone to mess with - that's a sort of Matrix-like skill she has.
Good point about the other two kids, thanks. I don't really need them for the story, and don't want them to just stand there then get caught by the thing in the purse. I can just have the two kids shoulder to shoulder.


I am inspired. About to start working on my piece for the next F3... Thx!

Robert Burns

"Wasn't you," he said. "She's just happier because I made enough money to get her a new coffee maker." is such a great line and tells us a lot about him. Short, sweet, and a wonderful tease for more to come?

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