"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)


Break Out

"He's got Mikey."  Hank burst into the room, panting.  Simon stood up so fast his chair fell over.

"What?  You're kidding.  I thought Mikey couldn't be caught."

"Well, he can and he is, I tell you.  And the old man doesn't look like he's going to be letting him go anytime soon, either."  Hank looked around the room at the worried eyes that watched him.

"Should we call the police?" Angie asked.

"We can't.  After all Mikey's done, they'd lock him up forever," Simon said.

Angie pulled at her fingers.  "Well, we have to do something.  Who knows what that old guy is doing to him?"

Hank paced back and forth.  He came to a stop.

"She's right, of course.  It's going to have to be us.  We'll just have to go get him."

Simon's eyes grew wide.  "Us?  What if we get caught?  I don't want to be holed up in that basement with him."

"Do you got a better idea?" Hank looked desperate, defiant.  Simon dropped his gaze.  "No, I didn't think so."

Angie had been quiet during their exchange.  She nodded her head.

"All right.  We'll do it."  She was the brains behind the operation.  They looked to her for a plan.  "Meet back here tonight at ten thirty.  The old guy will be asleep, and he won't be expecting anything so soon.  Hank, you bring a flashlight, and Simon, find anything you can from the toolbox you think might help.  I'll bring the rope."

"What do we need the rope for?" Hank said.

"Just do what I said, OK?"


Angie and Simon crouched beside the small basement window.  Hank slid up along side them.

"All right, I've checked the perimeter.  There's no movement anywhere, no sign of anything out of the ordinary.  Lights are all out.  I think the man's asleep."

"Let's hope he snores," Simon said.  He looked around again nervously.

Angie gave the orders.  "Hank, try the window, see if it opens."

Hank pulled and pried, but the window didn't budge.  Angie shook her head.

"Yeah, I thought that'd be too easy.  All right, then.  I hope he snores really loudly, or we're screwed.  Hank, take off your jacket."

He took off his jacket and handed it to her.

"Simon, what did you bring?"  He showed her a screwdriver, a wrench, and a hammer.  "Try the hammer.  Put the jacket against the window to muffle the noise.  You're gonna have to smash it in."

Simon hesitated.

"Just do it.  The more time we waste, the more likely we'll get caught.  Just make sure you do it right the first time."

Another quick glance around him, and Simon swung the hammer.  There was a loud crack and a tinkling of glass.  They all tensed, expecting to see the lights go on and to hear footsteps heading into the basement.  Moments went by and nothing happened.  They breathed again.

"I guess he does snore," Hank said.  "Or maybe his hearing is worse than we thought."

He used the jacket to clear away the remaining shards.

"Gimme your flashlight," Angie said.  "I'll go in."

Simon tried to protest, but she cut him off.  "I'm the smallest.  It'll be easier for me to get in and out.  Please."

Hank handed her the light and helped her through the window.

She landed with a thud but managed to keep her balance.  She listened.  No sound but crickets and the water heater flaring up.  Oh, crap, she hoped he wasn't keeping Mikey in the house.  She turned on the flashlight and shined it along the floor and into corners.  There.  She found him.  How had he slept through all this?

Unless he wasn't sleeping.  She moved forward, and he stirred right as she reached down for him.  She grabbed him, put her hand over his mouth.

"For once in your life, keep quiet, OK?"  For once in his life, he did.

She carried him back to the window and shoved him through.  Hank leaned down and she took his outstretched hand.  He pulled her up and out of the window.  She scratched her stomach on a stray shard of glass, but she didn't care.  Mikey was safe.  Without pausing, they ran to the end of the street and around the corner.  Hidden in the shadows of a large oak tree, they came to a stop to catch their breath.

"Here, give him to me," Angie said.

Hank handed her the furry, wiggling bundle.  She set him down, but he kept trying to lick her face.  "Hold still," she said.  She took out her rope and fastened it around his collar, tying it with a firm square knot.  He scampered at their feet, trying to get a little attention and a scratch behind the ears.

"Don't ever do that to me again," she said, as they walked home in the moonlight.


Today's prompt:

Use a McGuffin in your story.
McGuffin: An object or person in a movie that has no use other than to drive the narrative forward. (originally coined by Alfred Hitchcock)
examples: The Maltese Falcon in the movie of the same name; the suitcase in Pulp Fiction
To play along, visit Write Anything's [Fiction] Friday.


Shelli said...

Whew! Did anyone else have trouble with this prompt today? I thought it was a toughie!

John Pender said...

So the little bundle of joy was a puppy! I really like this one.

I had a horrible time with it. This was the toughest prompt yet.

Renee said...

I thought you did an excellent job considering the prompt as you call it. Yikes! Sweet story....

Walt said...

You did a great job of layering the tension throughout this piece. I kept waiting for the old man to storm into the scene and spoil their plan.

Well done

Anonymous said...

A great twist with the prompt. Hadn't seen the puppy factoring into the story. Well done.
Adam B

Shelli said...

John -- Thanks, and yes, it was the hardest one yet for me. Except maybe my first. :)

Renee -- Thanks! I knew I had to throw in a nicer ending for you than what I've done in the past.

Walt -- Thanks, I was trying to build tension. I'm glad it worked. I thought the old man catching them would have required too much work!

Adam -- Thanks! I tried to come up with a good puppy name that wouldn't give it away.

Anonymous said...

Oh my heavens! I kept panicking all the way, thinking what's the kid done? What's he done? I was like no way, when the words "small bundle" popped up, and "furry." I couldn't even laugh because I was in so deep and felt the tension so keenly. THAT was an excellent narrative Shelli! Well done.

Jason Coggins said...

After last week's shocking end I was expecting another jaw dropper instead you gave us a cuddly, satisfying ending instead. Cunning indeed.

Scott said...

Great job of building the tension and sense of danger. Loved the ending.

I thought and thought all week about this prompt and finally hit on a direction. I thought it was harder than any of the others I've tried so far.

Shelli said...

Carrie -- Thanks! Although, I'll have to try harder to make you laugh next time.

Jason -- Thank you, I'm glad the ending was satisfying. Sometimes you just have to have a break from the dark side!

Scott -- Thank you so much. And yes, it was definitely the hardest one I've tried so far. I thought this one ended up a little less interesting.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree this was the hardest prompt - hence me not even trying *hangs head in shame*.

When the story started I did wonder if Mikey was a pet or something, but you did a great job of throwing me off.

Great job on such a hard prompt!

Laura Rachel Fox said...

Lovely. The pacing was perfect and you kept my attention right up until the reveal.

I agree this McGuffin business was a real challenge. You did well with it.

Shelli said...

newtowritinggirl -- Thanks - and, hey, you're not the only one who chose to pass this week. Next one coming up looks like a lot more fun. I just have to figure out which two characters to use.

Laura -- Thank you so much. I worried it was kind of boring.