Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 19

Greetings! Thank you so much for coming back to spend a few minutes with the community here at Flash! Friday. We are thrilled to pieces to see you, wherever you are on your writing (or reading!) journey. Today marks Good Friday on the Christian calendar, and it’s with thoughts of treasure redeemed at great cost I’ve chosen today’s prompt & dragon’s bidding.  

 ♦♦♦♦♦

Today also marks the introduction of our third brand new panelist, a writer you already know well and (if you’re the clever dragons I think you are) adore: Jess West.  She is chomping at the bit to read your stories (thankfully the bit is made of fruit leather). As for what she’s looking for in a winning story, she says, 

#1 Know thy characters and thy setting well, that thou can show by virtue and with vigor that which is seen clearly by your own mind’s eye. (I’m a big fan of depth of character and a vivid setting.)

#2 Enthrall me with a tale of astounding odds and astonishing feats the likes of which I’ll never forget. (Conflict. Stories must have conflict.)

#3 Just when I’m certain of the direction of the tale, flip the world over on its protagonist and send my mind reeling. (That “flip the script” moment in the story that allows natural character development to occur. While not strictly necessary, stories that include such eventful moments tend to make a higher emotional impact, in my opinion.)

Read more about Jess at her judge’s page.

Awards Ceremony: Results will post Sunday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Wednesdays.  I (Rebekah) post my own stuff sometimes on Tuesdays or Thursdays “just for fun.”   

Now let’s get to it!

Word limit150 word story (10-word leeway) based on the photo prompt.

HowPost your story here in the comments. Include your word count (140 – 160 words, exclusive of title) and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Sunday

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Wednesday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity. 

***Today’s Dragon’s Bidding (required element to incorporate somewhere in your story; does not need to be the exact word unless instructed to do so, e.g. “include the words “thirty pieces of silver'”):

 

treasure

***Today’s Prompt:

 

Gare du Nord, Paris. Photo by Elliot Gilfix.

Gare du Nord, Paris. CC Photo by Elliot Gilfix.

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107 thoughts on “Flash! Friday–Vol 2 – 19

  1. Worldy Goods
    @CharlesWShort
    158 Words

    I expected this city would destroy itself, yet the fire was a surprise. Ahead of me is the train, the only train, out of hell. Those who get on it will survive; those who do not will burn.

    The King arranged the train, but you can’t bring anything with you. No luggage, no money, no record of your accomplishments.

    A lot of people just stayed home. Better to burn with their stuff, than to leave it behind. Some tried bringing a bag, but were turned away.

    I see a man getting on with nothing but the clothes on his back. How will he survive?

    I intend to cheat. I have a money belt, and several layers of clothing. So many it’s hard to move.

    ————————

    I didn’t make it. The train pulled out, while I struggled under the load of my worldy treasures. I can see the approaching flames reflected in the train’s windows as it leaves me behind.

  2. @StephenWilds

    “Seekers” – 160 words

    “Wait. Tell me why we are going by train again?”
    “Because, Amber, someone told Simeon about the map, and as well as being annoying, the good professor happens to have an eidetic memory. So now, we have to take a much slower, but also least expected path into the small town.”
    Amber frowned up at Viktor, knowing that he meant her. Her eyes searched Claudia’s face for some sort of help, but there was none found. It was then that she realized, standing there on the platform, holding all of her luggage, that she had become the weak link of the group.
    “God, I’m so sorry. Now if he gets the amulet, the lost library of Suda-Mahn will be his.”
    The puppy-dog eyes were back, which was making it hard for Viktor to remain mad at her. The train sounded the final boarding call, so he ushered her on past him. Claudia was smirking devilishly at him.
    “You’re getting soft.”

    • You’ve done a very good job of making me want more here. Well, not here, here because we’re only allowed 160 words here… but here as in this world… only elsewhere.

  3. The Collector
    (159 words)

    As a teenager, he’d walk to the station. En route, he’d pass groups of kids from his school who were as awkward as him in their ill-fitting, metamorphosing bodies, but they sought their identity in hyperbole and shared cigarettes. Sometimes they’d see him.
    They’d jeer at his notepad and camera.
    He’d journey on with purpose. He had a place to be. He had treasures to seek.
    Arriving at the station, he’d shed his gangly skin and become expert.
    Collecting sightings-memorising, jotting, clicking- seemed to soothe his overactive brain.

    ‘Social Anxiety’ the one, cheap medical mind that his mother had set upon him dubbed it.
    ‘He’ll grow out of it.’
    They were still waiting.

    This morning, he’s far up the track, anticipation has taken him there with just one final number required to conclude the collection.
    She arrives. She’s beautiful.
    In a frenzy, he notes his last. Satisfied. Complete. He leaps from the platform into her iron embrace.

  4. The Return

    The city devoured the train, banishing the green fields and grey skies that had lain across the world like a sodden blanket. The middle-aged businessman, returning from ‘a business trip to Bruges’ (#perv, #careerstall) was still snoring loudly, the knees of his suit shining with eternal failure.

    He had tried flirting, yet what 22 year old is impressed by anyone boasting of trips to Europe? Astrid took her revenge, uploading a picture of his drooling edifice to tumblr:

    #afuturetoavoid

    Getting close now. Astrid checked her mental checklist:

    Fags for Paul, Mexican.

    Booze for Dad, Vietnam.

    Art shit for Mum, Peru.

    The train ambled up to the platform, grey faces gathered alongside greyer pigeons. She could see the banner already awaiting her, the final signifier that her gap year was over.

    WELCOME HOME ASTRID!! XXX

    Astrid stepped onto the platform, bag heavy, body tired,

    Yet her pace quickened, hurried by the realization of what she had been searching for all along.

    160 words

    @imageronin

  5. Commuters

    The 6:17 New Haven Metro North is comprised of familiar strangers. Corporate cogs seeking Manhattan fortunes. I see these morning commuters more than my parents.

    In the front two seats sit and elderly man and woman. They get on somewhere up the line before me, and sit there every morning. They often sit in silence, his knobby hand resting on top of her wrinkled one, gold band winking through. They seem like bluejays in a train of dark crows.
    I once watched her light up and say something to him. He didn’t hear and inclined his head toward her. She repeated much louder, “It was Geraldine and pickles!” He laughed and nodded and they sank back into their silence, both smiling.
    I lingered, instead of rushing when we arrived at Grand Central and watched him take her by the arm and guide her off the train.

    Miserable and alone, I began to think I was seeking the wrong fortune.

    160 words
    @CaseyCaseRose

  6. Ice Cool
    by A J Walker

    Carefully fingering the glass of Glenlivet, Lord Blackburne sat back into the plush green leather of his First Class cabin. A wide smile defined his face.

    One of his fine shirts went flying past his head as the Gendarme continued rifling through his luggage looking for the booty.

    ‘You will be putting that back, folded, when you’ve finished,’ Lord Blackburne said.

    ‘If we don’t find the great diamond before the train leaves then you will have plenty of time before Budapest to tidy up,’ said Inspector Bertrand.

    ‘Just not cricket, Inspector,’ Blackburne said.

    As the whistle signaled the imminent departure of the Express Bertrand poured himself a whisky, ‘Too good to miss,’ he said. He drank up before turning to Blackburne, ‘Apologies. Our information must have been wrong. Again’

    After the train left the platform Blackburne took the ice from his whisky along with his diamond treasure.

    ‘Bertrand should have known I only drink my spirits neat,’ he said cooly.

    160 words
    @zevonesque

  7. The Tracks of Time
    Margaret Locke (@Margaret_Locke or margaretlocke.com)
    160 words

    It always comes back to this. This place, that time, those memories.

    No matter how far I go, no matter how fast I flee, I’m drawn back here, time and again. A moth to the flame, a half to its whole. Two sides of the same coin.

    Age has changed me, changed the landscape, changed reality. Gone are the lush green pastures, the stone, the sword. Gone are the robes, the flowing hair. Gone is the magic.

    All lies covered now by a different kind of steel, a different kind of power. A path to nowhere, never changing, forever the same. When the bells ring out, they call people to board, not to prayer.

    But I come back, always. For where your treasure is, so will your heart be, also.

    Perhaps today you will rise from the belly of the beast. Perhaps today your promise will be fulfilled.

    I remain your faithful servant. I am waiting for you, Arthur.

    Always.

  8. Desire’s Dream
    @mishmhem
    158 words

    Jin quickly took her seat on the train and closed the window. The way the man on the platform scanned the cars chilled her soul.

    She reached out with her mind, as her guardian Tau-Mau had taught her, all the while knowing she would not like what she saw. She was right.

    Images of slit eyes and a sense of cold desire slithered through her mind. He was dragon-kind like Tau-Mau– but so unlike her. Without meaning to, she reached out to her mentor, seeking the comfort of Tau-Mau’s thoughts.

    All dragons covet something– it is our nature,‘ Tau-Mau explained soothingly. ‘The dragons of the east covet knowledge; This one seeks treasure.

    What does he do with it?

    Some hoard it, some wallow in it… he devours it.

    And you?‘ Jin asked almost fearfully.

    She could sense the chuckle in her mentor’s thoughts and smiled as she felt the truth in the answer, ‘I taught mine to dream…

  9. The Plan

    My white knuckles squeezed my bag’s handle until my nub nails dug into my flesh. “Last call,” the words rang overheard like a ticket to my new life. But they were. Money, fame, prestige…Everything I ever wanted coming. No, it would be flowing in.

    I swallowed and my stomach burned from the inside out. Then where was the peace? The only peace I ever experienced came briefly last Sunday, when I finally gave in to Momma’s pleadings.

    “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be,” the old preacher man had said with teary eyes, like he believed it.

    The train’s opened doors begged me to enter and enjoy the ride. There I stood glued to the floor. All my body would do was blink. Four hard years at Cambridge to land my dream job—perfection.

    My feet turned on their own, whisking me up a flight of stairs and into the sunshine. Perfection perhaps, but not peace.

    158 words
    @MeganBesing
    http://www.meganbesing.com

  10. Golden Treasure

    Cecily avidly watches the man boarding the train. He is tall, dark, handsome, cosmopolitan, and obviously wealthy, wearing an expensive three-piece suit with a gold Rolex at his wrist. She straightens in her seat, plumping up her breasts, tossing back her golden locks, flashing her best come-hither smile and wetting her lips as he nears her. He returns her look with interest, continuing on to take his seat on the left side behind her. She turns her head slightly, her peripheral vision confirms that he’s still gazing at her. He’s alone. Perfect! Maybe this European trip won’t be a bust boyfriend-wise after all.

    As the train pulls away from the station he gently strokes the golden treasurehidden in his shirt pocket. He wonders what would the beautiful girl think of him if she knew about the long, shining blond tresses of hair tucked safely there? He licks his lips in a predatory way, perhaps he can find out later.

    160 words
    karnemily@yahoo.com

  11. Train Spotting

    I wasn’t to train spot today I’d been told to watch out for someone. She’d be getting off the 3.40pm from Glasgow. Now that’s a long journey over three hundred miles, the train would be passing through, Lockerbie, Carlisle, Penrith, Lancaster, Preston, Wigan, I had to stop myself there, didn’t want to miss her. I’d been told she’d be wearing a red coat, high heels with a small child in a buggy and I had to give her a message. I repeated the message in my mind I mustn’t get it wrong else they’d come after me, take back the money and break an arm or worse.

    Lucy slept in my arms. It was a long journey; thank goodness that kind man gave up his reserved seat. He kept looking at us. No one knew my plans but I felt relieved when he moved off down the train.

    “I have a message for you”

    “Yes”

    “They know where you are”

    @stellaKateT
    160 words

  12. Waiting
    137 words

    I took the same train home from the city every day, so I wasn’t exactly sure when I became aware of him—the man who stood next to the tracks at my stop, clothed in a soldier’s uniform and waiting.

    Every day he held a fresh bouquet of flowers in his arms like he was cradling treasure. I tried once, to look into his eyes, but the sadness that was held there was too much.

    One afternoon, without looking into his eyes, I asked what he was waiting for.

    “I’m waiting for my girl,” he said. “I thought she was coming in on this train.”

    “Who is she?” I asked.

    “I’m not sure I remember.” He had bad scars on his strong hands.

    “I don’t think she’s coming,” I said.

    “I know,” he whispered. “But I promised.”

    Shane Wilson
    @NomadShane

  13. Drowning

    They slept like statues next to each other, a rigidity reflected in their lifeless marriage. He had kids, two, but barely saw them as he left for work with birdsong in his ears and returned when the street lamps were glowing orange.

    He was clinging to something that was dead and it’s buoyancy was failing. All that he had treasured was lost at sea.

    He looked at the ticket in his hand; a lifeline.

    Clara sat in carriage 4, seat 3a. Biting her lip, she leaned her throbbing forehead to the cool window and looked down the steel tracks conjoining over the horizon. Would he come? She wondered which seat he would choose, adjacent or opposite? Would he join her, facing their future shoulder to shoulder or would he turn his back to possibilty and stare at what he leaves behind?

    ‘Is this seat taken?’

    She looked up at him and gently shook her head.

    155 words
    @_sarahmiles_

  14. Loraine tugged at her green hoodie. The station was crowded; people bumped and jostled her as she picked through the crowd. She had taken the norm tincture, effectively hiding her webbed fingers and scaly skin, but the hair—it could not hide her sentient hair.

    She cursed silently as her hood was knocked back. She yanked it up, drawing it tighter about her face as she scanned the crowd. She had seen the amulet earlier—the one worn by the Morlings. She could not be captured.

    She knew there was a Morling in the station with her. She had seen the amulet; she could smell the electrical charge of his breath.

    Leaving the crowded station for the empty platform, she hurried to board. “Soon,” she thought, “only a few hours and I’ll be safely home.”

    “I know who you are.” The electrical hiss in her ear rendered Loraine unconscious. She had let him get too close; now she was helpless.

    160 Words.
    @CharityPaschal2

  15. The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt

    Cara had promised herself she would do it someday. Not just for the travel, though the premise appealed to her, as always; for the challenge, too. Their little team had amassed an impressive number of “treasure” items in the days after their departure from London, including pictures posed pouting in the conductor’s hat they’d begged, borrowed and, finally, stolen from its owner by virtue of their persuasive powers to satisfy their photo challenge. Plus, numerous cryptic clues they’d solved along the way; the possibility of first prize as much of a driving force as the engine taking them through Paris, to Budapest and beyond.

    Still, the collection of items and images scattered across the table tops told but one half of the story. Whatever the competition result, Cara was satisfied she’d secured her own. An amiable and somewhat amused guard in Paris had made her promise him a non-competition related kiss when the train passed back on its return journey.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (160 words)

  16. The Goodbye

    She opened his letter immediately. He looked devastated when he slipped it into her hand, just as she was boarding.

    “Dear Emma,

    I knew today was going to be the last time we’d see each other. It was clear from the beginning, but I only really understood it now: you have no feelings for me. It doesn’t matter if I smile at you in class. It doesn’t matter if I go out of my way to help you with homework. It doesn’t matter if I send you flowers for your birthday. Or that ring. What 14 year old boy does that anyway? Maybe the only thing I did was scare you away. I just wanted to make an impression on you. Well, that’s going to stop now. Except for one last time. When your train starts braking hard: that’s me.

    Goodbye.”

    142 words
    @bartvangoethem

  17. Farewell Evermore

    The platform was bustling. Men, women, and children pressed in to say their goodbyes, all hoping it wasn’t for good. The whistle blew piercing the air and the people’s hearts. Tears flowed freely as final kisses were given, cherished more than any riches.

    A train once used for leisure now had only one purpose: to transport soldiers. They may have been called soldiers but most were just men; and boys being forced to become men. But their patriotism was strong and they were all prepared for the front line. So they thought.

    When the train was a dot on the horizon and the smoke cleared so did the platform. Before all had gone, something new came into view. Death on wings soaring amongst the clouds. While some might have thought they were after the train, after the soldiers of war, others knew better. Because pain pierced deepest when you took away the reason worth fighting for.

    156 words
    @CaitlinStatus

  18. The Afghan Crown

    The short arm of the law stretched out, grabbed me in the halls of the Gare du Nord – you can never call the French polite, but they were, at least, not rude about it. Gallic apologies flowed – Je suis désolé, monsieur, pour tout inconvénient … mais on fait quoi? – as they fingered through dirty novels and the clean underwear I had carried in my jaunt across the continent. A shrug, a muttered curse – they could not hold me, I knew. I had nothing.

    All of France was ablaze, speculating. I was light-fingered, it is true, and the lustre of ancient treasure is always a temptation.

    Always have an accomplice .

    And make her a pretty one.

    #

    She walked quickly across the deserted platform, the click of her heels against the concourse mimicked her racing heart, her panicked breathing seemed to fill the space around her. Calm, she thought to herself. Stay calm. She had seen them swoop on the thief. It almost felt wrong, she was too obvious – red cocktail dress, stiletto heels, silver clutch. The Gendarmes certainly watched her. The Afghan crown was collapsible, and they had carried it away, and snatched him away at the last moment.

    She threw her mobile away, and caught the wrong train.

    Always have someone else to take the blame.

  19. MEMOIR

    My flight to the USA leaves Paris in the morning.

    In Florence, the train waits at the platform. Conductors stand at even intervals, each backed by the rectangle of a door.

    The first conductor speaks only Italian. I try but fail to explain my circumstances. I move on to the second, a Spaniard. This is becoming a bad joke. The metal fittings where the wheels on my luggage once turned scrape along the concrete.

    The third thankfully speaks French. We negotiate, finally he allows me aboard.

    In the sleeper cabin at the very front of the train I count out my treasure – dollars, franks, lire. Little stacks side by side on the seat between us. Is it enough?

    The conductor smiles, takes my cash. The train comes loose and rolls out of Florence. My suitcase lies slumped on the floor.

    I wash my hands while stone walls give way to moonlit fields.

    @betsystreeter
    153 words with title

  20. Wicked Little Things
    160 words

    Mark cradled his satchel as he found his seat.

    Opening the bag he reached in and withdrew a single brightly painted egg. It probably didn’t seem like much to passers-by but an egg from his grandmother was a veritable treasure…especially one received before Easter Sunday.

    He’d had to remind his grandmother that there was no way he’d be back before Monday but even then she’d been reluctant to give it to him.

    “Don’t you dare open it before Sunday!” she’d warned and Mark promised her he wouldn’t.

    Turning it over in his hands he stared at the thing before tapping a finger against its hard shell.

    The train started just as something inside the shell tapped twice in response and Mark pursed his lips as he felt for cracks. He didn’t want anything leaking out, at least not yet. The eggs tasted better when they’d been allowed to settle…he just hoped that he’d gotten more than a finger this year.

  21. And Within My Breast Beats the Savage Beast
    (157)
    Steam hissed as the train pulled away, outpacing me regardless of how quickly I moved.

    A snarl of rage escaped my lips as I caught a glimpse of a familiar pale face, her expression one of smug victory, as the window receded from view; and with it, that which I most treasured.

    Laura, the conniving wench, had spitefully spirited them away, never mind not wanting them herself.

    She’d scatter my precious jewels to any who’d have them, simply to keep them from me.

    My heart clenched fearfully. However would I find them?

    Tripping, I fell to the cement, cursing Laura, the gods, and my own foolishness for ever trusting her.

    The obstacle, a suitcase, popped open, spilling its contents of clothing and papers. A familiar scrawl caught my attention. Scanning the missive, a cold smirk crossed my features. I knew where she headed. Heaven have mercy on her for stealing my children, for I would have none.

  22. FLIGHT FROM LONDON.

    In the squashed darkness of the trunk Amy ached to stretch out. She was aware only of sounds and the protest of her cramped body cocooned by the packed clothing. Her ears strained for the sound of trouble, and officials. She listened, as the express-train sped along silver rails, to the changing rush as it hurtled between station platforms, rode along embankments and raced through cuttings and terribly loud tunnels.
    As much as the train allowed she’d dozed but, hidden in the trunk, it was the sound of boots she feared.
    They wouldn’t be running, but for what happened. Hot tears of pain tracked down her nose, salt upon her lips. She had cowered in the shop doorway while Mum was kicked repeatedly by the Stormers; left on the pavement, in the wrong place.
    Father, with only one ticket, was smuggling her to Paris.
    He heard Amy’s moan. “Hush,” he whispered to his child, to all that he has left.

    @CliveNewnham – 160 words

  23. Murder on the Marrakesh Express
    @mishmhem
    160 words

    I watched the conductor load the last piece of luggage and signal the engineer. Like everything else with this caper, it was all a matter of timing: arrive too late, and never make the meeting; get on too early and risk discovery.

    Thankfully, fate was with me and I slipped onto the train without anyone noticing.

    I was on board, but now I had to manage to stay that way until the meeting. It wasn’t going to be easy, I had to remain remarkably unnoticeable on a train filled with noticeable people. It was ironic that the only way to remain unnoticed was to try and be noticed, but as I said… it’s about timing…

    Jewel in hand, I watched the conductor open the door between cars and took my chance, moving as quickly as the dark could carry me.

    As he opened the inner door, the others took wing. Four and Twenty… indeed, sometimes it’s murder being a crow.

  24. Return Journey (156 Words)

    The train gains momentum as it moves down the tracks. I am not so fond of trains as when I was a boy. Then they seemed like an adventure; now only a necessity.

    I hear voices behind me. American voices. A girl says, “Mommy! Mommy! It’s just magical.”

    A chatterbox.

    “Hello, Monsieur.” A little girl with blonde ringlets and wide blue eyes appears before me. She gives me a wide smile. “What’s that?”

    I smile. I have not smiled in a long time, and my muscles ache with the effort. “It is my treasure.”

    Her mouth opens in an “O” before her mother leads her away with a quick apology.

    I think of another child with dark hair and eyes. My joy. Gone for over seventy years now, she lives only in my heart. Taken from me by another train. Now I carry her mother, my last treasure, to meet her in the air at Treblinka.

  25. Flirting With The Iron Horse
    Chris Milam @Blukris (160)

    Jennifer relaxed on the tracks. Legs intertwined yoga-style, her jaw cupped in her palm. The rails vibrated imperceptibly, the train a mile off. Her face, bronzed like sun-brewed tea, was emotionless, unconcerned that death was assured if she didn’t relocate in approximately three minutes. She waited.

    “Honey, I’m sorry, come back inside.” yelped her husband from the porch of their shack that abutted the railroad. “You can watch Game of Thrones, I’ll just listen to the game on the radio. It’s fine.”

    She grinned, unfurled her lanky frame and sauntered home.

    Two weeks later, Tommy was perched on the tracks. Head resting on his sinewy forearms, his mouth chirping like a wounded goldfinch. He demanded his treasured chocolate pudding for dessert. He waited.

    Jennifer observed from the window, stifling a yawn. The growling locomotive and its cargo of malice surged forward, a steaming dissolution of marriage.

    She plunged deep into the butterscotch pudding. Her aroused tongue savoring every luscious mouthful.

  26. The envelope

    After the train ride, Alain left at its final destination, the Gare du Nord. He strolled along the platform, waiting for the conductor to pass by. The conductor wasn’t in a hurry. Finally he left the station and was met outside by two policemen. Alain went pale. What if the conductor had noticed the package in his bag?
    He carefully approached them. The three guys talked, laughed heartily, then the conductor went home.
    Alain phoned Martin. “He is home.”
    Briefly after midnight, Alain and Martin entered the conductor’s flat. The slight snoring from the bedroom was comforting. They searched the hallway and were lucky: The conductor’s bag was right beneath his uniform. The envelope Alain had put inside was still there. Alain took it, and they tiptoed back to the door and were blinded by harsh lights. “Hands up, police!”
    They were arrested for stealing government bonds.
    The next day, the conductor proposed with an impressive diamond ring.

    158 words
    @okiewashere

  27. Rapid Transit

    Cee sat in the Long Distance lounge, cooling his heels. An old girl stood nearby, glaring daggers at his bag, parked in the only unoccupied seat.

    Cee gave her the grin.

    “I see you eyeballin’ me Granma, but don’t you try nothin’. This here’s a treasure you can’t afford to break.”

    He peeled back the lid and gave her a taste, then closed it quickly before it overpowered them all. The old lady found herself thinking of the boy who had painted her father’s barn one summer. He was long gone, but for just a little while the girl who kissed him and got paint in her hair was still there, and she didn’t mind standing.

    Then the tannoy boomed and the train was ready.

    Cee grabbed his overnight bag and thought, not for the first time, how easy it had been back in the day, when all he had to do was hit some poor fool with an arrow.

    160 words
    @Karl_A_Russell

  28. Midas’ engine
    @dieterrogiers – 146 words

    “All aboard!” the conductor yelled. Needlessly, since the platform had emptied long ago.

    Gone were the days when adventurers and prospectors were fighting over the best places, elbowing their way to the carriage door, then to the window seats. From there they’d be able to spot the rich veins that sprouted from the newly-formed mountains at their destination first. They’d gain an insurmountable advantage over the poor souls condemned to the inner aisles, already plotting to get hold of the treasures the hungry dumb wolves near the window would excavate for them.

    Soon the train would stop running altogether. The conductor would be reassigned and the engine sold for scrap metal.

    And as it would leave the station, towed to its last berth to be broken up, the glow of the day’s dying sun would give this loyal servant of man’s greed one final, golden hurrah.

  29. A Small Errand
    I was eleven minutes early if the clock above the ticket office is correct. I rummage in my pocket for the instructions. Obviously he’d be mad if he knew I’d written it down but I’m leaving nothing to chance. This means the debt is paid off, so it’s a small errand to run.
    The concourse begins filling, the train must have arrived. Blonde hair, glasses, long coat, should be fairly easy. I see him coming but he almost misses me so I step towards him, checking his stride and put the briefcase into his hand with a smile. Job done so lean back against the pillar. A tap on my shoulder makes me jump.
    “I presume you have my thirty pieces of silver?”
    I blink my eyes to focus. Wiping his blonde fringe from his forehead, he slips his sunglasses off and stoops.
    “My briefcase?” he demands.
    Over his shoulder I see it handed to security, fingers pointing our way.

    160 words
    @JamesBrinsford

  30. As the train pulled into the station, Dakota Smith wished that her hand was wrapped around the holster of her gun rather than the handle of a valise, but she was doing that incognito thing her mother had tried to instill in her. She shook her head – what good would being discreet be if Jacques the Snake got away with the map to Atlantis?

    The brakes squealed, and Dakota scanned the exits of the passenger cars. The limp she’d given him in Brussels should be a giveaway, but he was a master at evading pursuit.

    There he was, stepping off the third car from the end. Dakota started forward, watching closely to make sure he didn’t disappear in the crush of other passengers. But he wasn’t trying to get away from the train – he was reaching in for someone. Who could be traveling with him?

    A slender hand gripped his, and Dakota got a good look at his companion.

    “Mom?”

    160 words
    @drmagoo

  31. Train To Nowhere
    The deep black funeral-like train moved from the deserted station. I didn’t have to run, yet when I boarded I felt a dull ache in my chest. As if it had waited for me, it speeded up.
    Clutching my satchel closer lest someone discover my hidden treasure, I moved through empty cars to a row of drawing rooms. From within one a familiar voice oozed out.
    “Come in Robert, we’ve been waiting.”
    I gaped at the trio. “But— I killed you!”
    “So you did,” fat Gottheim said, his forehead bullet hole visible. Lenchin the dwarf had half his face shattered and bloody where I shot him. Lovely Madeline’s jagged throat wound still seeped. “All three, in fact. All for naught. The statuette you stole will not leave this train, nor will you.”
    “Where is it going?”
    “Nowhere. Open your jacket. You see, before Madeline died—”
    There was a hole in my chest. The train whistle moaned a dirge.

    @rfmaraz
    159 Words

  32. The Ticket Inspector
    @WillWallyWonder
    160 Words

    ‘Where does the 915A leave from?’

    She looked like his First. Her face framed by her long hair and a blunt fringe, her mottled eyes glazed behind narrow spectacles.

    He didn’t have a 915A.

    ‘Platform 5. Hurry though, you’ve got two minutes.’

    ‘Oh God, where’s that?’ She wobbled, rummaging through her bag on a raised knee, ‘Where’s my ticket!’

    He looked over to the underground access and down to his watch.

    He smiled, its sincerity warmed by the buzz in his chest. ‘I’ll take you,’ he said, ‘Keep looking while we walk.’

    She grinned her gratitude, hooking her bag under one arm while she poked around its contents. ‘Oh, Look!’

    He swiftly took her ticket and pretended to read it. ‘Quick, we can cut through here.’

    Her step faltered.

    He turned to throw her a reassuring smile but her face had hardened. Metal glinted beneath her blazer as she raised a hand to reveal her mike.

    ‘It’s him.’ she said.

  33. It’s been a while, but I’m back. Sometimes a break is a good thing. So, here’s my first story in a couple of months:

    The Very Soul of Discretion

    Stroll, don’t run.

    “All you have to do is wear this discreet belt beneath your clothing. As you can see, no one can tell you’re carrying millions of dollars in diamonds. So, what do you say? Easy money, right?”

    Breathe, don’t hyperventilate.

    The train isn’t very crowded, which I prefer, and I thought that, on the train, burying my nose in that book would discourage anyone from talking to me. He was good, though, really good. Engaging. Charming. An elegant dining companion.

    Eyes ahead, don’t be furtive.

    I don’t think he noticed I drank far less than he. It was only companionable of me to help him back to his sleeper room, friendly of me to accept his invitation to join him, easy for me afterwards to slip the needle between two of his toes and give him an overdose.

    Relax, you’re home free.

    Yes, that belt was absolutely discreet beneath any clothing, even women’s. Nobody can tell. Nobody will.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    Words: 160

  34. Late Night
    @brett_milam (160)

    Sheets felt like slabs of concrete that night, as they usually did. Quincy rose from his bed, slipped into his ripped loafers and out the door.

    New York City was alive. Her breath was hot on his neck; her energy swirled around him in cascading waves. He felt the urge to immerse himself, to be taken in by the waves, but instead he descended down to the subway.

    Quiet, empty, except for a man playing a banjo with green makeup on his face. Only NYC. Money cup was empty except for a cheeseburger wrapper. Dropped a dollar.

    She roared in with a gust of wind that spiced his eyeballs. He always made sure to stand as close to the tracks as possible. To see. To sense her. To feel her.

    He stepped in, found a seat in the back. Waited for her to take off and closed his eyes.

    Felt the rhythm of her movements, his found treasure. And slept.

  35. TIES

    We conducted ourselves comfortably with two arms’ distance between us on the railroad track. Alli walked the rail like a tight rope while I chose to step gingerly on every other tie. We knew that two parallel lines never touched. Being a newbie to the area, I treasured this budding friendship.

    Alli halted her steel walking with a jump to the crusher run.

    “Hey, Arch, you got a penny?”

    “Lemme see. Yeah, here ya go.” I pulled a Lincoln from my pocket, curious about her cuprous plan. Our fingers touched as we transferred Lincoln’s now important portrait.

    Leaning forward, Alli placed her ear on the rail. “I hear the 5:00 O’clock…………watch this!”

    Alli placed Mr. Lincoln on the rail, and we waited as the 5:00 O’clock arrived on time.

    “Wooooo!” Alli hooted, engine and boxcars’ cacophony drowning her exuberance.

    Now, I saw………. A perfectly shaped copper heart draped on the steel rail.

    The ties bound us that day.

  36. Terminal
    [159 words]

    The Senator stepped out of the train and marveled at Mile Deep Station. “The electric bill must be astronomical!”

    “The light is Cherenkov radiation,” explained the General. “Our nuclear reactors produce enough electricity to light up Pittsburgh.”

    “It’s safe?”

    “Harmless. It’s to keep humankind alive, after all.” The General pointed to a storage area. Pallets stacked four stories high. “Food to feed ten thousand for a lifetime. Seed banks. Hydroponics. Textbooks. Spare parts.”

    “I hope it’s enough.”

    “Earth’s surface should be habitable again within two centuries.”

    The last of Mile Deep’s new inhabitants disembarked the train. The Senator patted the General’s shoulder. “Time to go.”

    “Senator, are you sure you won’t stay?”

    He shook his head. “Our way of thinking is what made this place necessary.”

    They boarded the train. As the doors closed, and the train began its slow return journey to the surface wastelands, the Senator took a final look at the future he would never know.

  37. Night Delivery
    @SVBookman

    His soft footsteps echoed down the nearly empty train station. It was the time of night in which only those not wishing to be noticed were around. The security guard carried the valise closely to his person, perhaps a little too close. Those looking would surely see in his gait and mannerisms the tendency to show a treasure without being able to see it. Those same dark, silhouettes of the ne’er-do-wells leaned as if smelling the contents with their eyes.

    The protector of the bag allowed his eyes to dart back and forth through the murky near-fog spilling down into the bowels of the station, tainting the air with the stench of the previous day. Those eyes looked for the final destination and, finding it, urged through mental effort, for the feet to cover the distance quickly.

    “Did you bring it?” The classy broad asks of the nervous man.

    “Yeah. Next time don’t leave the laundry in the dryer.”

  38. The Greatest Treasure

    The rumbling in my feet transforms into the gentle tug of inertia. I smile, the greatest treasure known to mankind is mine.

    I am wrenched from my daydream with a bang. The carriage door slides open to reveal a police officer. He tips his cap, “Afternoon Miss, I don’t mean to disturb, we are searching for a murderer. Have you seen any suspicious men around?”
    “I’m afraid not. Should I be concerned?”
    “Well Miss he targets pretty young ladies like yourself, carves them up. You should lock your door.”
    “Of course. How do you know he’s on this train?”
    “Found his car at the last station.”
    I shiver, “He sounds monstrous, I do hope you find him.”
    “Don’t worry, we will.”
    He leaves and I lock the door. The Police disembark at the next station empty handed.

    The car, what a stupid mistake. I will know better next time. I sit back and collect my prize, the gift of freedom.

    160 words
    @todayschapter

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