Flash Fiction Challenge: Take the Money and Fall

2014 May Day 5 Crater Lake steep Flash Fiction Prompt
Crater Lake photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

When the chute opened, the harness tightened and yanked against the wound in Paul’s shoulder. The pain caused him to lose his grip on the satchel, and the money went plummeting to the earth ahead of him.

He tried to watch for where it landed, but he couldn’t pull on the cords with his left arm at all to guide his descent in that direction. Worse yet, the plane he’d just been kicked out of was circling back…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. 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 Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

On Tuesday night, judges will select the strongest entries, and on Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Take the Money and Fall”

  1. Paul was in quite the dilemma. This wasn’t how the operation was supposed to go. When things escalated, he secured the money only to end up shot at and forced out of the plane. No doubt the others were on the same page as it continued his way.

    Paul had worked many undercover cases. This one was to be his last, but the current situation wasn’t what he had in mind. His options were limited. He knew he’d have to make some decision soon. As he heard the engines getting louder, there came another sound.

    A bullet flew by him. Paul looked up to see it had created a hole in his chute. Another bullet came through followed by more. The others weren’t letting him get away. They shot aimlessly at Paul as he looked down. The ground wasn’t close enough for Paul to feel comfortable landing without a chute, but he knew he had to act before a bullet hit him.

    Paul pulled the cutaway handle with all his might. He started descending quicker. Hoping he was outside their range, he pulled the reserve parachute’s handle knowing his life depended on it. As the chute deployed, he heard an explosion from above.

    In the confusion, they’d all forgotten about the bomb on board. Its discovery was what escalated the situation in the first place. He felt relieved as the ground came closer to his feet. Paul landed easily while holding his left arm. “Now, about that money,” he thought.

  2. ***FINALIST***

    “To heck with this!” He muttered as he yanked the knife from the ankle holster to slice through the ropes of the parachute.

    Now in a free fall he slapped his arms against his sides and pushed his knees together. The descent into the Mediterranean grew quicker, but it caused the bullets being fired at him miss. With a sharp motion, he pulled his arms out and spread his legs, revealing the flaps that turned his jumpsuit into a glider.

    Bullets still flying at him, he used a current in the air to swoop back up, heading right for the plane. Scrunching his knees up to his chest he tumbled while at the same time he grabbed the second long knife from his other boot. He used the forward roll to help launch the weapon at his pursuers.

    The knife spun through the air and pierced the forward windshield of the plane. It finally lodged into the forehead of the pilot. The pilot rocked forward and then died, slumped against the controls.

    The secret agent caught his currents again and flew in wide circles all the way down to the resort below. The quaint little Greek island was bustling with folks dancing around to catch the drifting money falling from the heavens.

    The agent unzipped his outfit to reveal a sharp black suit. He sat down at the outdoor bar, plucked a counterfeit twenty from the air and handed it to the bartender. “Martini, shaken not stirred.”

  3. Standing on the abyss, Jordan stared at white topped waves. From the pinnacle of the bridge, water looked like textured black paper. Wind ruffled his shirt and sucked at his body. He closed his eyes against the looming fall.
    He knew how every moment would feel. From the time his feet left the rail, his hand would slide from the cable, and his weight would spin him down toward the abyss. He would tumble, roll, and flail on currents of air, swooping and diving because of wind blowing through his jacket, until…
    Ultimately, his body would slice water, sinking with the force of a thousand needles shredding his skin until the buoyancy of his body prevented him from sinking further. There in darkness he’d spin, the motion of the water carrying him beyond the bridge, out to sea where he would rise to the top, bobbing like a cork.
    He held tight to the cable. Fear kept him frozen in place. Blue skies grayed. Gray skies darkened to black. The sliver of sunlight at the ocean colored the skies, fingers of light dancing across the clouds, until darkness swallowed the light.
    The ocean below sucked at his life.
    “How could you?” a voice screamed from below.
    Light towers appeared, brightening the bridge. Cars sped past. He held tight.
    “Get down from there. You’ll kill yourself.” The voice screamed again.
    “Okay,” he leaned forward to step off the rail.
    A truck passed knocking him off balance. He spun, falling backward, down.

  4. ***FINALIST***

    Last Drop (250 words)

    The blurry tips of fir trees spun closer and closer as Paul spiraled out of control toward the ground. The drone of the amphibious Cessna grew louder and he knew they were not going to leave without the cash. They thought they had gotten rid of him. They thought he was dispensable. They thought a nice ride into the wilderness and a bullet would be the last of him.

    It had been a text book drug run. The cigarette boats had rocketed, side by side, over the still water arriving at the drop exactly at noon. The vacuumed packed bales of marijuana were transferred without a word to waiting jeeps by camouflaged hulks. The jeeps were at the Cessna within minutes.

    Paul now hung from the trees like a tangled marionette. He freed himself of the harness and fell to the ground with a thud. It was dark on the thickly packed alpine ridge. Paul knew he needed to get away from his chute which remained in the trees as an all too obvious marker. He headed deeper into the woods. The bag of money he had dropped meant nothing to him now. A dead man needs no money.

    Paul heard the splash of the plane as it skidded across the water. They were back. They wanted the money. But they also wanted him eliminated. The Cessna turned and headed toward the beach as the propeller sputtered to a stop. Paul’s parents jumped out in the ankle deep water.

  5. ***FINALIST***

    He heard the roar of the propellers. Suddenly he fell.

    Paul jerked awake. He felt the dampness, and smelt the stench of the sweat soaked couch.

    —What a nightmare!

    The ache in his left shoulder was excruciating. His arm felt heavy, fingers numb. His chest muscles were tight, not from the straps of a parachute harness, but on their own accord. He couldn’t breathe. The muscles held firm.

    Panicking, he looked around.

    —Where are the others? I need help.

    He was alone in the five star casino suite. He groaned at the memory of last night.

    —The money. It’s all gone.

    Paul’s neck and jaw erupted in pain. His chest pounded.

    —No. It’s someone beating on the door. They’re shouting.

    Paul knew that these were cruel and merciless men. They had come to collect. They wanted their money returned, with the exorbitant interest.

    The pain became unbearable. He gave a strangled cry. The realization thumped through his head.

    —I’ve been left behind. I’m the fall guy!

    So many wild days and nights, but now his high flying crowd, had flown the coup, leaving Paul, on his own, to face the consequences. The money was gone and he was the scapegoat.

    The door crashed open and Paul took his second heart attack. This one was fatal.

    He soared above a beautiful lake. It was spring. The snow was melting, the sky blue. He was a bird, gliding. His nest was amongst the green trees. He sang.

  6. No Free Lunch (250 words)

    Paul was excited for this day of sky diving. The crystal clear morning was ideal. Perfect visibility meant there were no shoreline clouds to contend with so the plane could take them up to the maximum 12,000 feet. Zero cross winds meant for the best control of the chutes.

    It was Sara’s birthday. Paul had met Sara five years ago at an air show where they jumped competitively for different teams. As captains, they designed the elaborate formations and maneuvers to be performed. While in free fall they shouted calls to teammates, their open mouths causing their cheeks to flap like ill-anchored tents on a windy day. Now they were on the same team. Co-captains, in more ways than one.

    Paul had told Sara that the bug bite on his arm had healed. Actually it had become infected. The wound was drained of pus and Paul was on a low dose of antibiotics. Medications that make one dizzy or sluggish are serious in this sport. He was fine, however. His arm was sore, that’s all.

    Paul had drawn the short straw. They all laughed as they handed him the pooled money for lunch and shoved him out into the roar of nothingness. When Paul pulled the ripcord with his aching arm he lost his grip on the unzipped satchel. Embarrassed, he thought, “Damn, I hope no one saw that. There goes fifty bucks.” He patted his back pocket. “I hope I have my debit card.”

  7. What a fiasco! Paul watched the plane circling above him, the camera man`s chute billowing open as he leapt from the aircraft. Some reality show this was turning out to be. All he`d got to do was land on the marked cross on the field below him and the money in the satchel would be all his. But it had all gone wrong. The excited producer had pushed him far too hard out of the plane resulting in Paul smacking his arm hard against the open aircraft door.
    He watched through clenched teeth as the money spiralled lazily towards the ground. Some lucky bastard would probably scoop it up and have it away before anyone could do anything about it. Twenty thousand dollars. That`s the only thing that had made him put his name forward for the popular daytime show. He hated heights, hated flying even more, but what had been the alternative? Some brainless hulk of a guy knocking on his door one dark night and rearranging his kneecaps. The money would have cleared his gambling debts and left him enough over to pay for therapy to hopefully cure him of his stupid habit! Now he would lose the money and end up with much more than a couple of busted keeecaps! He watched the camera man as he glided towards him, his lens focused on his hapless, tumbling figure. He managed one last, ironic smile. Wasn`t TV wonderful…..

  8. ***FINALIST***

    Paul grabbed his left shoulder and pressed firmly on the wound; his face grimaced. Blood was beginning to stain his coat. Veronica must have shot him as he was jumping. He saw the area where the bag landed, but there were jagged rocks everywhere. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed the plane circling back. It was the least of his worries right now; he needed to get to the ground safely first.

    Paul finally landed among the branches of a spruce tree about fifteen feet above the ground. Pulling the release cord he fell like a rock. Once again, pain raced throughout his body.

    “At least, for the moment, I’m still alive.” he thought. “What are the chances of stumbling onto a drop zone for the mob, and then later find out your fiancé is the one running the money for them? This has not been a good day.”

    It took about thirty minutes, but he found the bag and examined its contents. “There must be two-hundred thousand dollars here. I’ve got to get out of this place.”

    Startled, Paul spun around. A shadow? Something moved? About fifty yards away he heard a series of loud thumps and they were coming closer.

    “In these woods it could be almost anything. Veronica couldn’t have landed already and found me. What was it then?”

    Paul felt breath on his neck. Quickly turning, he was now standing face to face with the ‘king of this jungle’; a huge grizzly bear.

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