Hello everyone and a warm welcome to Parts 1) and 2) of the entries for my weekly: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021. Week #44.
Today I’m featuring contributions from entry 1)By John Howell and Entry 2) My own contribution.
Last week I set the following Challenge:
Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words.
Here is the image prompt.
This one-line contribution by John Howell.
“What’s the fare to San Francisco where I left my heart?”
John Howell can be reached here …
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Here is my own contribution.
Kathie Wagner flagged down a yellow cab, grateful to slide into the back and rest her tired eyes for a while. The driver gave her a grin, “Where to?”
Kathie gave him the address.
“That’s a forty-five-minute trip, and the traffic’s heavy. You sure?”
He glanced at her in the mirror, “So, what line are you in?”
“Life insurance. I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m tired, can we just get where we’re going, okay.”
“Sure thing. Just making conversation, is all.”
“Thanks, appreciate it.”
Kathie settled back and closed her eyes. She badly needed sleep and a long hot bath.
The driver hummed to himself and slowed down to adjust to the driving conditions.
Kathie began to drift into sleep.
She felt the taxi stop, a red light she figured, keeping her eyes closed.
She heard the door open, and slam again…
The cab driver raised his voice, “What the hell! I’m taken, buddy. You see my light?”
“Shut the fuck up and drive!” A male voice exploded from the front seat.
“Easy, man. Whatever you say!”
“What are you doing? This is my taxi.” Kathie was in no mood for crap.
The new arrival turned, surprised to see a passenger. He had a gun clenched firmly in his right hand… “A woman, that’s all I need! Shut up and sit back!”
“Do what he says, lady…okay? The man’s got a gun.”
Kathie took a deep slow breath and tried to think.
“Don’t be doin’ nothin’ stupid, bitch. You’re expendable.”
He was agitated, “You got a cell? He asked the driver.
“Yeah. Here.” The driver fumbled as he took it from his pocket and handed it quickly to the other man.
“All women have cell phones, so hand it across.”
“It’s in my bag.”
“You better be telling the truth.”
Kathie handed over her bag. The gunman rifled through it and located her personal iPhone. He opened her purse and took out the notes, “Where’s your license? “
“I don’t drive anymore. I had an accident….” She left the sentence unfinished
The armed man turned and addressed the driver, “Take the next left.”
The driver was slowly picking up speed.
That earned him a sharp poke in the ribs with the gun, “You think I’m fuckin stupid, man? Slow it back down…now!”
“Take it easy, you make me edgy, I wasn’t watchin’ the dial.”
Kathie felt her work phone nestled against her ribs inside her jacket. She pressed a button.
The gunman was watching the driver, intently.
Kathie’s pistol felt reassuring in the shoulder holster, she said a thankful prayer that she had set the cell to silent around an hour ago, and had been too weary to turn it back on.
Her team had a panic button. The tracking device would give them her location. They could now listen in to what was being said.
“You’re heading for the river? You’re going to shoot us both aren’t you?’ Kathie pretended hysteria.
“I’ll shoot you if I have to. Now shut the fuck up.”
She watched the gunman stiffen as he stared out the windows. He was clearly on the lookout for something or someone.
“I’m almost outta gas.” Said the driver.
“Gas! I’m nearly out!”
“Let me see the gage!” The armed man grunted, “That figures! There’s a gas stop about another 15 miles on. You get us there. Understood?”
“The tanks almost dry. I was coming off shift when the woman climbed in.”
“You better pray that you make it that far!”
Kathie knew what she’d do if it were only herself at risk, but it wasn’t just her who stood to die out here.
She heard the faint sounds of a chopper in the distance,
The gas station appeared on the left and the driver slowed and pulled up to the pump.
“Get out, fill the tank, remember, I have the woman. Get out slowly, lady. Come round and stand in front of me, and we are gonna watch your friend here real close.” He nodded toward the driver, “You take too long, she ain’t gonna stay healthy.”
The driver gave Kathie a long look and then unhooked the hose and started pumping. He clicked off and headed inside.
Kathie watched him go in. She recognized the guy behind the register.
She saw the driver nod at whatever he was told to do. He exited the station and walked towards them.
“Down!” the single word came from behind. Kathie and the driver dropped to the ground and shots exploded from both left and right.
The gunman wouldn’t be car-jacking anyone ever again.
Kathie hurried the few steps to the driver.
“Are you hit?
“I’m fine. Life insurance, hey?” He managed a weak smile. “Good name for it.”
“You weren’t really out of gas were you?”
“No, that gage has been faulty for months. I hadn’t got round to fixing it.”
He laughed now in reaction. ‘So, you’re with, um … FBI life insurance…?’
She smiled at him. “That gunman had to be the unluckiest guy on the planet.” She extended her hand, “I’m Kathie Wagner. Senior agent FBI Hostage Rescue Team.” She laughed out loud at the look on his face.
‘My name’s James Brewer, and I’m about to buy myself a lottery ticket!”
“After we do all the paperwork, I’d be pleased to buy you a beer.” Kathie smiled.
“I think we should each get the other drunk. That’s what I think.”
Kathie shook his hand, “Sounds like a plan.”
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