• Jabe Stafford

One Page Wonders XIV - Coney Dog Dynamite

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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“We can destroy Vick’s dockside operations if we deliver these coney dogs on time,” I say, raising the DoorRush bag and keeping the other hand on the wheel.


The ghost I’d spoken to looks down at his feet, or where his feet used to be when he had feet and not phantasmal flippers. “So you’re delivering them and you’re setting off the remote detonator?”


“It’s a remote rune, Alan,” I hiss. “No one will guess I’m a mage. Look at my polo. You see the name Jessi?”


“Yeah, it’s right next to the pizza logo. You sure they won’t pick up on—”


“Shit.” I pull the rust bucket I’m driving to the curb a block from the docks and put it in park. It backfires and groans. Pulling my dark hair out of its tail, I let it fall in waves over my chest and the pizza slice sticking out on the left side. It half-covers the clearly-not-a-DoorRush logo, and fails hard at covering the name Jessi. I breathe the smoggy air inside the car and swear again.

Alan picks the second I shut the rust bucket off to say, “Oh, and the fact that it’s not even the right company’s colors might give you away too.”


I wave a hand through the smog and pull out my smartphone. “Blue and gold, red and silver, same difference. Now I have to message Vick’s goons that their order’s here. Once I do, you go invisible and follow me a block that way. I might need you to distract them, so I’ll signal you if I can. Watch for the best moment if I can’t. I’ll drop off the coney dogs and walk back to the car. The rune’s on the end of a stick of dynamite at the bottom of the bag.”


“Did you put it in a bun just to mess with them?”


I grin my crooked grin at the ghost. “What do you think? Now, there’ll be crates full of illegal guns on the docks tonight. I won’t blow up the rune until the bag’s close to them, and I’ll wait until I’m a safe distance away so no debris hits—”


“Hey, grub’s here!” a man blurts maybe a hundred feet away.


I spin in the driver’s seat and see a shadowy form approaching from through Alan’s body. A beefcake with a man bun and a huge gun jogs closer to the passenger side.


“Hide,” I say way too loudly.


At the same moment Alan vanishes from sight, I reach a hand up to the dome light as though flicking it off. My pulse cranks up as I start the recording app on my phone. Hopefully I’ll at least have audio to work with on stream later tonight. I pocket the phone, open the door and get out. The dome’s actual light is a sour yellow, nowhere near Alan’s etherial pale blue. Shitshit.


“You Roddy?” I ask, pretending to read the name off the huge bag’s receipt in the street light.

The brute nods once. “An’ you don’t seem scared I got a gun out here.”


I blurt the first high-school-level joke I can think of. “I’ve done my share of skeet shooting.”


“Heh,” Roddy grunts, his shoulders visibly relaxing. He reaches out the thick hand that’s not holding the gun slung around him. “Enjoy the big tip you got.”


Goddammit.


I can’t give him the bag. It’s got to be me who plants it in the right spot. No way to update Alan on the plan either. I’m stuck walking the bag down to where I need it to be at the docks, and I bet more juvenile swagger jaggers are waiting among Vick’s men down there. Sweat coats both palms and the back of my neck.


Bringing two fingers to my lips, I say, “You got a light and a ladies room around here?”


He takes his hand back and looks me up and down. Then he cranks his statue of a body around to face back down the street, where the docks lie a block away. “Boys, got a hard-workin’ chick here. Jessi needs a light.” Taking up his—rifle? shotgun?—again, Roddy waves one hand for me to follow.


I fall into step and breathe out softly. That body language of his tells me he’s ready to shoot if I screw around, and it’s coated in a layer of, ’look-at-my-gun-know-how.’ Could he be the poser of Vick’s crew?


Alan’s voice whispers into my ear. “You don’t even smo—oh, I get it. Shutting up now.”


One hundred retorts flicker through my mind and I save them all for Alan once we’re through. At least he’s following the ‘plan’ we mostly finished making.


We plod the one block to the docks where sea salt and cigarette smoke smack my nose. The street lights change to that bitter orange color once we’re close to the water. Roddy jerks his gun’s non-shooty end toward three other men bigger than he is. Putting my fake-casual, confident joker mask on again, I say, “No wonder you guys needed a huge bag.”


Roddy doesn’t acknowledge the joke. He indicates the crate at the edge of the nearest dock beneath a light. “Put it there.”


“Ugh, I need my fix, Rod. Your buddy there’s got that lighter ready.” I power walk along the next dock. The one with dozens of definitely-gun-filled-crates at the end waiting for a boat to come and take them to whatever killers Vick’s planning on selling them to.


The gun-toting guy not busy with covering the crates in a tarp passes me a lighter. I step closer to the stacks of crates.


Before I can take the lighter, Roddy grabs my arm and rips the bag from my hand. “I said stay back there.” He whips me around and shoves me back down the dock toward the street.


Alan flares to bright blue luminance between me and Roddy.


Blinded, Roddy stumbles back into his buddy and drops the bag between two stacks of crates. “Hey, you ain’t Jessi. You’re the magician from that Don’t Enrage The Mage stream. Reina.”


I grab the lighter and chuck the lighted thing at his feet, then step slowly backward. “I never use my real name on stream, dumb nuts. And what did you just do?”


His eyes shoot wide and he searches around him frantically.


I leap backward and wave a hand at the bag of coney dogs Vick’s goons were supposed to be eating.


The dock and all the weapon crates on it go up in a blast of flame, force and frankfurters. Boxes tumble into the water along with wood and men and destructed coney dogs.


Getting back to the car is something I remember doing, but not how long it took. Once I make it to the driver seat, my ears stop ringing enough for me to hear Alan talking. “Should I feel bad about that?”


“They were people too, so I guess I should feel bad,” I reply. “But Vick and his crew deserve it for trying to profit off terrorists who want to—”


“No, I mean should I feel bad for blinding them at the wrong time? I didn’t wait for your signal. Den? Can you even hear me, Den?”


“Goddammit,” I grumble, pulling out the phone again. “Now I’m going to have to edit that part out before we stream.”

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