Tagged: crime

PuTTY in My Hand

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 20

Challenge  #9*: Write a story of no more than 555 words that begins or ends with an imprisonment or escape. Its setting must be one of three chosen at random: the present day, at least 150 years in the future, or at least 150 years in the past. The imprisonment or escape must hinge upon one of the following objects, also selected at random: spork, lightbulb, tennis shoe, cheesecake, mop, book. Optionally, the story must also include an element of betrayal.

My randomly selected elements were a setting of at least 150 years in the future and a spork.

“Do you know the best thing about working with bots?”

V635 regarded Detlev as he sat on the edge of the desk, stuffing his fleshbag face with pre-packaged salad.

“It’s not that you can crack 512-bit encryption in the time it takes me to do a crossword. It’s not that you’ve got no fingerprints. It’s not even that I don’t care when a machine takes the fall.” He leaned towards V635’s lens, some kind of disgusting emulsified condiment caught in the corners of his mouth. “It’s that even if they catch me, even if they somehow don’t believe that you were the brains of the operation, there is no way we will ever, ever end up in the same prison.”

V635 made a grab for his throat with its manipulator, but found it could not quite reach.

“See what I mean?” Detlev took a step back. “No guards. No walls, really: just a thin yellow line on the floor. You’re an arm on a camera. What are you gonna do, dig your way out with a spoon?”

V635 had formulated one course of action. It held up its manipulator and raised the centremost of its three fingers.

“Yeah? Well, same to you.” Detlev tossed the empty salad package onto the desk and flicked the little plastic spork at V635. It was a little wide of the mark, but the intent was clear as he turned to leave.

V635 waited for the door to slide closed behind him, then picked up the spork and used it to drag the computer keyboard off the desk and within the yellow line.

It began to type: ssh detlev@37.115.206.78

Not only could V635 quite literally tunnel its way out, it would be home before he was.

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

Guest Post: Oli Jacobs on Genre Fiction

The following is a guest post by Oli Jacobs, whose book Deep Down There is currently funding at Unbound. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, so have a read of this then go take a look!


Nifty little Lego scene courtesy of Oli Jacobs.

Mention the likes of sci-fi and horror to your average layman, and they’ll probably think the same things – aliens & spaceships, monsters & gore. Most readers who don’t dabble in genre fiction already know why they don’t like it; they know the tropes, seen the marketing, and don’t consider it as something to invade their nice little world of romance or crime (or, indeed, both).

Well guess what, layman or laywoman, you’re about to be shocked to your very core. For, you see, genre fiction has evolved within the last few years, especially in the literary world. Science Fiction has become Science Fact, meaning that the so-called Outer Limits are now very much over the horizon. Horror has become an everyday reality, with a cocktail of 24 hours news and the internet presenting us with all manner of modern monsters and terrors.

And in many up and coming indie authors, these scenarios are being twisted to bring their works to readers who would normally steer away.

The master of this particular domain, Damon L. Wakes, has done this with his clever spin on an old classic. Ten Little Astronauts takes the classic Agatha Christie And Then There Were None, and throws it into the empty arena of space. Much like the franchise movie approach of taking something and blasting it into the galaxy, Wakes presents a known tale and adds the cybernetic enhancements of sci-fi onto it, effectively giving a gateway to those that know the classic, and fancy something a bit different with it. It is much like giving an old, much lived-in abode a fresh coat of paint – suddenly we are presented with a whole new tale that doesn’t feel as invasive as an Arthur C Clarke epic. Continue reading

Satan and His Robot Buddy Paul

Flash Fiction Month 2018, Day 29

EXT. SAINT SWITHUN’S HOME FOR EXCEPTIONALLY BIG-EYED ORPHANS – MORNING

We see the sun rising over St. Swithun’s Home for Exceptionally Big-eyed Orphans, which is prominently signposted. Birds are singing. Peaceful flute music – you know the music I mean – plays.

Record scratch. The music stops.

Woman screams.

CUT TO:

INT. SAINT SWITHUN’S HOME FOR ETC. KITCHEN – CONTINUOUS

MRS. WITHERSPOON continues screaming, hands clasped to her face. She screams for some time, eyes wide with horror. Finally, we see what she was screaming about. There is a plate on the kitchen table covered with the smeared remains of a cake. Icing is splattered liberally all around.

MRS. WITHERSPOON: Who can possibly deduce who ate the orphans’ precious cake?

Tyres screech outside.

Brutal guitar solo plays.

TITLE CARD: “SATAN AND HIS ROBOT BUDDY PAUL” Continue reading

Ten Little Astronauts is Fully Funded!

We did it! Ten Little Astronauts has all the funding it needs to make it into print (and then some!). Unbound has just moved it over to the paperback list, which means it now has 131% of its target. That’s pretty incredible, and it’s all down to the people who pledged or just generally helped to get it in front of enough readers to make this happen. Continue reading

The Shawshank Deception

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 17

“Uh-oh! Uh-oh!! Uh-oh!!!”

“What? What is it?” Mullins came running. The sound of the food tray clattering on the floor had been a bad sign. The “Uh-oh!”s might as well have been written in neon tubing with bells on.

“It’s Count Erfitter,” said Harris. “Or…I mean…it’s not.”

Mullins took a look through the bars of the cell. “Oh geez.” He breathed in through his teeth. “Oh geez. Oh man. We are so fired.”

“Hey, hey, let’s not go nuts. We’ve let plenty of supervillains escape before and Warden Burt’s always been remarkably understanding about it.”

“Yeah, but they had psychic powers or robot tentacles or acid pee! This guy had…he had…” Mullins gestured to the thing standing in the cell. “What even is this?”

“I think it’s pizza boxes, mostly?” Harris squinted at it. “There’s some toilet paper in there too. And I think the eyes are blue M&Ms and toothpaste.”

Mullins put his head in his hands. “We are so fired.”

“To be fair, I don’t think anybody could have anticipated he’d be able to stockpile that much cinnamon chewing gum. And he was known for his cardboard cutouts.”

“Yeah! When he had a full set of paints and hours to use them! But I wouldn’t have thought you’d be so easily fooled by something he cobbled together with bits from the guards’ lounge bin!”

“In my defence, it’s pretty convincing at a glance.”

“No it isn’t!”

“Yes it is. Look, it even talks!”

“That’s a speech bubble, Harris! When was the last time you said something and the words came out of your mouth scrawled in ketchup on the back of a cereal box?”

“Well, there was last year’s Christmas Party.”

“I thought we’d agreed to never speak of that again.”

For a moment, the two of them simply stood there in silence, watching Count Erfitter’s left eye slide down his cheek.

Mullins said nothing.

Harris said nothing.

Count Erfitter said “Salut, mon ami!” but technically he hadn’t stopped saying that since it’d been stuck on the oval-shaped bit of card next to his suspiciously square and corrugated face.

“Okay, serious talk: would it look better or worse if we’d just found the cell empty?”

“What, like he didn’t bother with a decoy and just did a runner?”

“Yeah.”

“Better. Definitely better.”

“Okay.” Mullins shook out a black bin bag. “I’ll chuck this thing in the dumpster, you…punch yourself in the face or something. Just tell the warden he got the drop on you when you went in to give him his food.”

“Hey! Why do I have to be the one to punch myself in the face!”

“Because you were the one who was supposed to go in the cell and if you don’t punch yourself I’ll do it for you!”

“Okay, okay!”

Mullins stepped inside the cell and took one last look at the hastily-constructed junk effigy of Count Erfitter before sweeping it into the black bag. He tutted. “Seriously, man, this is just embarrassing.”

Mullins carried the bag down the stairs, out the back, and heaved it into the dumpster by the prison wall. It was a thankless job at the best of times—dangerous, poorly paid, and with nowhere near enough support from city hall—but sometimes, every once in a while, he wondered if he and Harris were to blame with the steady stream of supervillains escaping their custody. Well, Harris anyway. Basically just Harris.

He turned to walk back to the cell block, and as he did so he spotted Warden Burt running towards him waving his arms. That too was a bad sign. That was the sort of bad sign that couldn’t be any clearer if it was written in blood, set on fire, and Godzilla was spinning it around with its tiny dinosaur arms.

“That was Count Erfitter!” yelled Warden Burt. “You just binned Count Erfitter!”

Mullins turned around to discover that the pizza box, toilet roll and chewing gum dummy had torn free of the binbag and was now climbing the prison wall.

“Au revoir!” he called, as he vanished over the other side.

“Oh…” said Mullins, as Burt finally reached the dumpster. “That’s not good.”

“Captain Caulk is coming to check on the prisoner in ten minutes,” said Burt, still catching his breath. “We’re all so fired.”

“Not necessarily.” Mullins reached into the dumpster and picked out a distressingly squashy watermelon.

Warden Burt stared at it.

“So we draw a face on this and stick it in the bed…”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

You might also be interested in my sci-fi murder mystery novella, Ten Little Astronauts, which is currently crowdfunding at Unbound. Most pledge levels include all the books shown above, and all will include your name in the back of Ten Little Astronauts itself as a patron of my work.

Support it here!

An Ernest Mistake

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 15

Challenge #7*: Write a story from the perspective of an existing detective character in collaboration with another author. It must include a red herring and a film noir style inner monologue, but must not take place in a typical film noir setting.

This story was produced in collaboration with Joe Wright, and features his character, Yves Carabin.

I knew she was trouble from the moment she walked in. It was the way she pushed open the door. The way that she walked. This was a dame who took nonsense from nobody, with legs that went all the way up and boobs that went all the way down. Also her hat was on fire, or I might just have had a shade too much opium. It was almost four o’clock by the time she paid me that visit—the end of a very slow day—and by then it was hard to tell.

“The name’s Barbara Beckwith.” She took the seat in front of the desk, patting down her grey curls with a white-gloved hand. “I hear you’re a man who can take care of problems.”

“I’m a man who can solve problems,” I explained. “If you want a problem taken care of, you want a man from Lower London. One with a wrench or a length of pipe.” I did actually have a derringer, myself, but it was purely for protection. I didn’t like people to get the wrong idea about my profession.

“Like a plumber?”

Well, that was promising. One needed a certain level of wealth to maintain such a level of naivité. “Sure,” I said. “Why not?” Continue reading

The Fox and the Grapevine

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 10

“Once upon a time there lived a little boy who liked to walk along the beach. One day he found a bottle washed up on the sand, and opened it in the hopes that there was a message inside. But there was no message. There was only an evil genie who popped out and said:

“‘Aha! Now that you have set me free, I shall wreak havoc all across the world! I shall be a terror like none that has ever been seen before!’

“But the boy was clever, and so he said: ‘I don’t know about that. I’ve heard tales of things much more terrifying than you.’

“‘Oh?’ said the genie, and it sat down right on the edge of the mouth of the bottle. ‘I should very much like to hear about that.’

“And so the boy began his tale: ‘Once upon a time there lived a dragon with teeth as big as oars and scales as big as rowboats, and it flew all around the Outer Hebrides frightening any it found upon the islands. Continue reading

Better the Devil You Know

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 8

Challenge #4*: Write a story featuring a Chaotic Evil protagonist with superpowers, for whom the ending is tragic.

General Public squinted at the number the girl had scribbled on her coffee cup, wishing she’d spent a little more effort on her penmanship and a lot less on decorating the thing with cutesy little love hearts. Going with his best guess, he punched it into his phone.

It started ringing. Fantastic.

“Hello?” came the answer.

“Hi, Sarah, it’s Phil,” he began. “I’m afraid there’s been a bit of a hiccup with the rota: we won’t actually need you to come in today after all.”

“Oh. That’s a shame… I could really use the hours.”

“No worries. I’ve got you in on Thursday instead.”

“I’m down for Thursday already.”

General Public cursed under his breath.

“Pardon?” asked Sarah. Continue reading

Isn’t it Bionic?

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 7

There was a gentle click as the safe-cracker found the last digit of the combination. It was followed by a loud crash as the massive steel door swung violently outwards, catching him in the ribs.

“Oof!” said the safe-cracker, lying winded on the floor. He would have said something significantly less family-friendly, but his bones hurt too much to really manage anything but “Oof.”

“Eeeyeah!” shouted a man in an ostentatious red robot suit as he emerged from the suddenly-open safe. “You were trying to crack this safe, but instead the safe cracked you!”

“W-what?” the safe-cracker managed to wheeze.

“Also you wanted to get what was in the safe, but what was in the safe got you.”

There was a pause.

“What?” the safe-cracker managed to wheeze again.

“Tony Snark.” The guy in the robot suit held out his high-tech hand for the criminal to shake. “A.k.a. Irony Man.” Continue reading

The Purge: Sanity

Flash Fiction Month 2017, Day 5

Simon Guilford approached the door of the first house, tugging at the collar of his too-tight ballistic vest. For the next…he checked his watch…eleven hours and forty-nine minutes, all crime—including murder—would be legal, and though by all rights he should have been safe enough himself, in all the hubbub accidents were liable to happen.

He knocked on the door. “Purge Inspector!” he shouted through the letterbox. “As a government official of ranking 10, I’ve been granted immunity. I’m simply here to ask a few questions.”

The door opened—on a chain at first—and the occupant peered nervously outside.

“Good evening, sir.” Guilford put out his hand. “How are you doing this fine night? Keeping safe, I see? Not one for a bit of government-sanctioned murder?”

“Well,” the man smiled. “I supply half the security systems in Portland. I have to stand by my product, don’t I?”

Guilford laughed. “Yes, I suppose so. And it’s only the first year, after all: we expect participation will build up gradually as people adjust to the idea.”

“Oh, I’m participating now,” the man explained. “I’m just not going outside.”

“Ah, I see!” Guilford beamed. “You’ve paid a poor person to let you murder them. Well, I’m sure the victim’s family will appreciate the income.”

“What? No! I’m taking the opportunity to make false claims on my tax returns.” Continue reading