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  • Writer's pictureJabe Stafford

One Page Wonders VI - A Shit Escape

Flash fiction is a love of mine, and so are geeky tropes and pulp-style stories of every variety. Sometimes it's the characters that spur the writing. Other times it's atmosphere, concept, magic system, or a twist. One Page Wonders blogs started as a writing exercise. Now they're digestible, one-shot stories you can read on the bus or while sneaking 5 minutes at work!

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The “owl pellet” dropped into the prison yard almost without anyone noticing.

Vadim watched the trained falcon flap away from the yard and into the surrounding woods. Vadim’s eyes cemented on the spot where the pellet landed and didn’t move. He scratched his blond mop of hair and put both hands on the pavement behind him. Gravel bit into his palms as he shifted where he sat on the cement next to the only bench press in the yard too rusted and rickety to use.

No one came to bother him now that he’d established this habit of clamming up and being useless every couple weeks during workout time.

Dusting both palms off and standing, Vadim stood and walked around the yard. He passed the pellet once, stooping to snag a maple leaf that had blown through the fence. While he worried its living green veins with his thumb and fingers, he passed the pellet again. On the third trip round the yard, he bent low and snatched the small, mostly-digested skeleton.

A single .38 slug was nestled in the fur and dried blood. He plucked the round out, wrapped it in the maple leaf, and stuffed it where they wouldn’t search. Then he ducked once more and washed his hand the best he could in a puddle from last night's storm.

Faint mechanical buzzing whirred over his head and a second later, a rifle shot cracked the air. A drone burst into scrap mid-air and plunged to crash onto the concrete near the rusted old bench press where Vadim had lay minutes ago.

Spinning on one foot, Vadim found the prison guard—Dakota James—aiming a hunting rifle at him and miming the kick of a second shot. Something he always did when some curious schmuck's drone entered the state penitentiary’s airspace. He never did it with his standard issue rifle, no. Only with the personal hunting rifle he’d brought from God-knows-where.

Vadim licked dry lips and returned to the doors where the other prisoners had already crowded around. Minutes crept by during the search. Guards did their jobs. Prisoners bitched about it. Vadim didn’t.

He was just one of hundreds now. Worn orange and numbered uniforms with ruined men attached entered the building following the search. They shoved their way down corridors, spat on the floor, and sweated enough to choke a horse with the odor. Staying silent, he returned to his cell and found his cellmate pointing a revolver at him.

“You didn’t have any bullets for this thing in your stash,” ‘Brickjaw’ Brett said.

Vadim eyed the loose brick beneath his bunk, then stared down the barrel and produced the leaf-wrapped round. “We do now. Only need one round to bleed Dakota and get out of here.”

“Who you got on the outside supplyin’ this?” Brett asked.

Wiping his hand—still damp and smelling of shit—on Brett’s orange uniform, Vadim said, “Maybe you find out after our last laundry duty in the pen.” He pointed to the wet spot as they left and added, “When Dakota asks why you smell like a sphincter, tell him you ran out of ass wipe so you need to use him. Then when he’s disgusted, I plug him and we break for it.”

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