Week 16 Flash Fiction Challenge: The Bandit

Photo by K. S. Brooks

First barbecue of the season. Man this is great. You got the brats and hotdogs done and set on the picnic table. Er… you thought you did. Where are they?

As you walk back to the table with the burgers, the answer to the mystery of the missing meat becomes all too clear.

Tell me what happens now.

In 250 words or less, tell me a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012.

On Wednesday morning, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

Entries only in the comment section. Other comments will be deleted.

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Photograph by K.S. Brooks, used here with the photographer’s permission. Copying or reproduction of any kind without express consent is prohibited. All rights reserved.

For a more detailed explanation of the contest & its workings, please see the post called “Writing Exercises Return with a Twist” from 12/24/11.

By participating in this exercise the contestants agree to the rules of the contest and waive any and all further considerations or permissions otherwise required for any winning entries to be published by Indies Unlimited as an e-book, showcasing all the photos and with the winning expositions credited appropriately and accordingly.

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9 thoughts on “Week 16 Flash Fiction Challenge: The Bandit”

  1. Dear Mom,

    We thought of you this weekend—all those wonderful BBQs you and Dad used to have all summer long. Suzy and I were going to BBQ at the State Park. I set out the grill, you know how I hate those rusty park grills. Anyway, I got the fire going while Suzy was getting the table stuff out of the car.

    I put the brats and hotdogs (those big fat ones you love so) on the table and turned to check the grill. I always remember Dad saying, “Let the coals turn white before putting on the meat, son.” When I turned back around, the meat was gone!

    I looked everywhere! No brats! No hotdogs!

    I heard a sound behind me and there was the cutest little scruffy dog. He reminded me of your little dog Whiskers. He was watching me intently. I asked him if he had robbed us. He just looked at me intently.

    Well, there was nothing that could be done, so we set the table, put out the rest of our food—under Suzy’s strictest scrutiny. Fool me once, you know? Finally, we sat down to a wonderful lunch of potato salad, deviled eggs, sweet tea and cherry pie.

    Yes, Mom, we did share with our little friend. Although he didn’t show as much enthusiasm as I’m certain he’d had earlier.

    Come for 4th of July. We’ll BBQ and you can meet “Scruffy”, the newest member of our family.



  2. The burgers were stacked high on the plate, still sizzling. The plate nearly toppled as I turned and saw the empty table. Not even the plate that held the hot dogs remained. The cheerful pup peeking over the bench was straight out of one of those cutesy calendars that one would buy for grandma as a last-minute, thoughtless mother’s day gift. No way could this dog eat two dozen hot dogs.

    “Isn’t that cannibalism?” I grumbled as I approached the table and set the burgers down.

    The dog yipped in response, leaping up on its hind legs. His shining eyes seemed the wrong color in the bright afternoon sun. How can they turn orange?

    As he jumped up to help himself to a burger, I chased him, shouting. He panicked and ran, gripping just the plate between his sharp little teeth and he ran off, sending the burgers tumbling across the faded wooden table. The kids rushed to save the burgers before they fell on the ground.

    The dog scurried behind an oak tree, and I tripped over a root, landing squarely in front of him. How odd, I thought, where did that gaping hole in the ground come from?

    With a blood-chilling screech, the cutesy calendar dog transformed—hair long, tangled, and filthy, its body growing into a tall, bony demon with fiery orange eyes. Its tongue licked its fangs and it grinned. “I hope you have more barbeque sauce,” it said. “You’re the main course of the feast.”

  3. The little dog watched me intently.

    His head moved, following every movement of my hand to my mouth. He sat so expectantly alert at the end of the picnic bench.

    I smiled at him, and pulled off a small piece of barbequed meat from the larger mass within the tin foil. I brought it slowly up to my mouth and watched those little eyes follow it like a targeting computer would a thermal exhaust port.

    I held it before my mouth for a few seconds while I stared back at the dog. He raised his body ever so slightly and I could see his tail start to wag. The morsel disappeared into my mouth with a quick slurp and the little dog practically frowned.

    I smiled slightly at the dog's discomfiture. I looked down at the remains of the meat in the metal wrapping and looked back at the dog. I picked up the whole package and swung my legs around and over the bench.

    I started to put the parcel on the ground, and the dog moved toward it. Suddenly, I noticed a strange glint, a ray of light reflected off the interior of the package. I stopped quickly and looked inside the package.

    "Oopsie." I said, as I pulled the golden ring off a sauce-covered finger in the tin foil. "You could've choked on that li'l fella."

    I heard the dog crunch and chew the contents, as I considered where to have a nice, quiet lunch tomorrow.

  4. Her beady little eyes smiled at me as I walked back toward the table with the hamburgers. I had a hungry hoard to feed and could see the saliva glistening from their teeth – even from this distance. I was irritated about the brats missing, but I still had a sense of compassion.

    The smell of the charcoal grill lingered in the air and reminded me of long summers past. The way it used to be. No use to dwell. Doesn’t get you anywhere anyway.

    Poor dog. I knew she was hungry, but I wasn’t sure if I could afford to feed her and those I kept watch over.

    They were growing restless. The clinking of their chains grew more intense as I walked past the table toward the dog run. This meal would have to last. At least until I could think of a way to procure more… meat.

    I don’t know how she made it into the yard. I was going to have to do a sweep later and look for the hole she must have dug to get through the fence. Turn it into a rabbit trap, possibly.

    “Here girl,” I whistled to her dangling a piece of the charred burger. She inched closer. The smell of meat and her growling belly propelled her forward and lended to trust – not seeing the knife I had in my back pocket.

    Poor dog. Just enough meat to replace the brats – and feed the guests I kept in the backyard.

  5. The father was preparing for the first BBQ of the season and his three mischief children knew this would be the perfect time to surprise dad with their new friend, Scrappy the white fox terrier their friend can no longer

    keep since he is moving away.

    They thought about the perfect plan and pitch to get their dad to agree to their new friend becoming a family pet. They thought if they could distract him and then gang up on him he would have no choice but to agree to their terms of accepting Scruffy as a new family member.

    As he had his back turned and was cooking finishing the brats and hotdogs, the children prepared themselves for the plan. He pulled off the cooked dogs and placed them on the picnic table, they waited eagerly for the perfect timing. He turned away to start barbequing the chicken for the adults.

    The mischief children sneak up on the table and quietly taking the hot dogs and brats off was sneaking away when Scruffy grabbed the top hot dog and was relishing his treat, licking his lips when dad turned around to see the food was gone and the strange dog licking his chops with a full look of satisfaction on his face.

    The dad was about to scold the pup when his children came out of hiding and displayed the cooked hot dogs and brats and dad was relieved accepted their terms and now all shared in the BBQ.

  6. Well, it wasn't clear at all, or blaming the poor dog, even though he was licking his chops…I was walking by the table and saw the whole thing. The brats and hot dogs were something the kids seemingly didn't want. I heard one of them say, "I know how we can get chicken, just like the grown ups!"

    Some kind of plan was being hatched. I was totally absorbed by this time as one of the chicken-eating-guests, but decided not to "tell."

    Just as the kid food was being put on the table–and the other adults were drinking some beer and laughing, one of the older kids in a striped T-shirt and Cargo pants yanked it all off, crammed dogs and brats into a big green garbage bag and went running with it into a wooded area adjacent to the picnic tables. But before doing that, he gave a hungry-looking dog a tiny piece of hot dog to trick the grown ups.

    Later, no one seemed to care about the missing food. The beer and warm day had settled on us. We all sat down to a great barbequed chicken dinner and gave a few small pieces to that hungry dog.

    And somewhere in the woods, other small animals were clawing at the garbage bag to reap a tasty reward and end our day.

  7. Just because I’m small doesn’t mean I’m less clever than those so-called working dogs. I’ve been around a while, seen a few things. I remember stuff – like the clues to my favourite event of the year.

    The talk about making sure they have enough propane, cook potatoes but don't eat them. They cut them up and mix them with eggs and sour stuff. Yech! And they pull all those small glass things out of the box they call a fridge. They act all excited and I hear the word ‘spring’ a lot. The best clue comes to my nose. Sniff. Meat – beef to be precise. And instead of making that stove thing hot and putting it on there they take it outside to the picnic table and make that BBQ hot. There’s lots of door openings and goings in and out with food.

    I’m supposed to stay inside. But like I said, I’m no slouch. Sarah forgot to look for me when she took out that potato stuff. I snuck out without anyone noticing. Heh, heh. I hid under that table and waited. It was hard to be patient but I knew from last year that I had to stay slick. Last year they spotted me. David moved the meat from the table to bench, closer to the fire. The cloth hid me. I wriggled close and grabbed the paper it sat on and pulled.

    “Hey, what the …?” Who let you out?” Mamaaaaaa!

    Heh, heh.

  8. *grumps this did not take yesterday*

    The aroma of the barbeque filled the air, whilst birds sang in the trees. The kids ran around and played games of tag, their laughter floating up in un-seen bubbles, kissing the angles ears. Placing the Brats and Hotdogs on the rough wooden surface of the picnic table. An errant kick landed the football at my feet. It was too much temptation. A few minute kick around with kids would not hurt.

    Red faced with sweat dripping down my face, I sat on the edge of the picnic table. I was not as fit as I once had been. It was then I noticed the food was missing, where was it? I looked around for Indie, my little terrier, she was there sitting looking innocent beside me. She’d been playing with us? Hadn’t she? I checked under the table, but could not see them. The burgers began to smell well done so quickly rescued them.

    Turning to put these on the table I saw Indie dragging a hot dog towards the near-by bushes. Where was she taking it? I followed her silently. There in the bushes was a puppy, perhaps a few months old. It’s fur was matted and ribcage showed through. The remains of the rolls could be seen. Indie had been taking the food to this poor creature. Lifting it up and carrying back. It was a good job I had brought more than enough food. We had one more mouth to feed this summer barbeque.

  9. The smell of roasted meat drifts toward me from the picnic table. Hunger gnaws at my stomach. How long has it been since I last ate? Days? Weeks? My tongue hangs from my muzzle, but I only slink further under the bush and tremble. I stole food from a table once. Master was so angry that my hip still hurts when I run. People are mean. They bring pain, even when you try to please. Master left me tied to a tree far from home. Today is the first I have seen people since then.

    The meat smells so wonderful I can’t resist. Heart pounding with fear I dash to the table when no one looks. Hot juices sear my mouth as I snatch a brat and scurry back. I practically swallow it whole, and then shake in remembered punishment.

    My appetite is only piqued, but the man returns to the table with more meat, calling his family. One of the younglings points my way. I flatten myself to the ground and lay my ears back. Did he see me? The man walks in my direction. I am too afraid to move. Halfway from my hiding place he stops and places something on the ground.

    The family has finished eating and put away leftovers before I dare investigate. On a plate, neatly cut, is a mound of meat. I lick the plate clean and wonder; maybe some people are nice after all.

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