Flash Fiction Challenge: Vengeance Delayed

celebrity cruise couple Flash Fiction writing prompt
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Carl had spent thirty years in law enforcement. Most of that time, he had been a part of a multi-jurisdictional joint crime task force, assigned to organized crime.

He retired two years ago. He and Margie were finally taking that cruise they had always talked about.

Margie was glad it was all behind them. Carl had made some powerful enemies in his years of service.

Yes, Carl had retired. There was one smoldering grudge that had not retired, however; and it had just caught up with him…

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. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

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 Saturday morning, 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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10 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Vengeance Delayed”

  1. 249 words
    When the first letter arrived Carl was able to conceal it from Margie. It was that second letter he was unable to halt.
    The brown envelope was addressed to Carl. On the back a huge lipstick kiss in bright fuchsia startled Margie. She managed to leave it sealed for an hour before she lost her resolve to wait for Carl to return from golfing with his pals.
    Words were pasted onto a page of foolscap. “You are mine,” “I am coming for you,” and the last: “How could you leave me?”
    The page shook in Margie’s hands though her knuckles went white from gripping it so hard. When Carl arrived home he didn’t seem surprised.
    “There is no woman,” Carl lied. “That human trafficking kingpin sends this stuff to aggravate all of us who worked on that case. I didn’t tell you because I don’t want you to be scared. He got life, no parole.”
    “Okay,” Margie said, “I see.”
    Carl was already lost in thought about how he would get rid of this little problem marring his retirement. It began the night they took in those Queen Street hookers. Though she was twenty, the littlest one reminded him of his petite Margie and he felt an urge to protect her right from the start. But he just couldn’t afford to give her any more money now that he was retired. He never even had sex with her but who would believe that now…
    Life, he thought, no parole.

  2. Margie breathed a sigh of relief; she and Carl were finally on their dream t vacation. She had always wanted to go on a cruise; but Carl was always too consumed with work . Little did she know that a nightmare from an old case would be onboard. Carl was lounging by the pool deciding whether to take another dip, or go to the noon buffet. Margie had gone to an aerobics class; so his time was his own. All of a sudden Carl sat straight up, staring at one of the stewards passing out drinks to the pool side vacationers. Could it be; or was his overactive imagination in full gear. Carl always had a certain case in the back of his mind. The case he never brought to justice. Back when he was on the force he came very close to putting away a vicious criminal. One who had broken and entered a home; but not content with just robbing the place, he also terrorized the family. They had caught the guy; but between an error with the DNA and a slick lawyer; he got away with it. Carl vowed some day, he would find a way to put him away; or take justice in his own hands. Carl made up his mind. He slowly got up, approached the steward acting like an ailing senior citizen and asked for assistance back to his stateroom. Of course the steward complied. Little did he know who he was helping, nor did he know that Carl had notice an out of the way corner on his stateroom floor away from prying eyes. Carl knew it though and finally found the justice he had looked for.

  3. ***FINALIST***

    The elderly cruise ship doctor leaned on the railing next to Margie, “I’m so sorry we couldn’t save Carl.”

    She looked into his eyes and asked, “He made so many enemies and was hated by so many people, was it poison?”

    “No!” said the Doctor “Carl had a massive heart attack. It was definitely natural causes.”

    After he left her by the railing, she let out a giant sigh of relief, thirty two years of living with Carl was finally over.

    They married right after he joined “The Force”. No big wedding for Carl, instead a justice of the peace. No honeymoon or vacations because he was an easy target. He missed their son’s birth and death because of those joint crime task force stakeouts. Then one day when she did the wash, she discovered an empty condom wrapper in his pants pocket. It made her think about the night their son died, Carl had been on a stakeout with his partner, Linda. Two years ago, Carl’s heart condition forced his retirement and ended his stakeouts, but he still slipped out on unexpected errands. Just before the trip, Carl’s doctor told her, “In a heart emergency, just pop a tiny Glycerin pill under his tongue and he’ll be fine.”

    Earlier today, she did just that to Carl. Now it was over and as she leaned on the railing, she opened his Glycerin pill bottle and one by one, enjoyably, popped each and every tiny mint candy into her mouth.

  4. The Mad Dog Biker Club had a large presence through Carl’s old stomping grounds. The club didn’t let bygones be bygones. Ever since Carl successfully prosecuted a club leader he’d been on their hit list.

    Carl and Margie stood at the railing of the cruise ship waving bon voyage. Carl noticed the motorcycles congregated in a parking lot near the docks. He didn’t want to alarm his wife but led her quickly from sight. “Listen Margie, the Mad Dogs are gathered nearby. That can only mean one thing. We have to get off this ship!”

    “Do you think they’re on board?” Margie followed Carl down the passageway.

    “I’d lay money on it. If we hurry we can still get off.”

    Once off the ship, they retreated into a seedy bar nearby to hold up until the gang of bikers discovered they were no longer on board and leave the vicinity.

    An hour later the rumble of motorcycles drove by the bar. From inside Carl looked through a dirty window. He recognized the colors the bikers wore and let out a sigh of relief.

    “They’re gone.”

    “Now what do we do?” Margie asked, discouraged about missing their dream cruise.

    Carl raised his eyebrows. “How about we try something a little different?”

    Margie put her trust in Carl and found herself on the back of a big motorcycle wearing leathers and sunglasses.

    Carl winked. “If you can’t beat’em, join’em!”

    Margie wrapped her arms around her husband and hung on for the ride.

  5. ***FINALIST***

    “Don’t turn around.”

    Carl hadn’t heard Benny’s voice in, what was it, 25 years now? His first case on the task force had put Benny the Beak away for tax evasion and smuggling. Hell, let’s be real, the man sold bodies like they were sides of beef. The cold steel pressed against his ribs, didn’t offer him much room to maneuver.

    “Bet you never thought it would come to this,” Benny said. “Your face burned into my mind, and I’m patient. You ain’t walking away from this.”

    Carl shifted his weight to keep the inevitable shot away from Margie. “Didn’t you get enough time to stew in the tank already? You do this now and you’re just going to die in there.”

    “You don’t get it do you. I’m dead either way.” Benny’s hand shook the gun in a small circle in Carl’s side. “I’m takin’ you wid me and we ain’t goin’ back to the joint.”

    He hadn’t been retired long enough to become civilian soft. He spun around and kept the gun tight to his chest. As he snatched at Benny’s wrist to break the pistol free he locked eyes with him.

    Benny crumpled to his knees as he lost control of his pistol. “Just do it,” he said. “Let me go out as a man. I don’t want to die back there.”

    “Go play some shuffleboard, Benny,” Carl said. He shoved the pistol in his pocket and led Margie away from the man at the rail.

  6. “You didn’t like the meal?” Carl asked his wife.

    “I’ve had better in Atlantic City.” Margie glanced up at Carl. “Of course, it’s not the Presidential Palace.”

    Carl gripped the handrail and studied the magenta sky. A Coast Guard cutter approached to starboard. Her pilot wore a Customs jacket covering his sidearm.

    “Look at those fools,” spat Margie, “buying plastic baubles, cheating the customs inspectors.”

    “Not our concern. We don’t buy phony material.”

    “Right. I still don’t. Your old friend Senator Weevil taught me that: trust no one.”

    Carl watched the sunset. “We haven’t seen much of Weevil since law school, have we? Except that dinner at the Presidential Palace.”

    “That dinner, honoring his appointment as Minister, was the biggest party we’ve attended. Ever. And he sat in the same law classes as you.”

    Carl peered at Margie. “Weevil is looking at twenty-five years inside, when his trial ends.”

    “Senator Weevil is walking through the revolving door of justice and going free.”

    “Not unless he cut a deal with the Attorney General, ratted out his accomplices. You think he would squeal?”

    Three officers boarded the cruise liner.

    Carl faced his wife. “Not to worry. We’re in international waters.”

    Margie looked at the sun sinking into the horizon. “Those gendarmes coming aboard are Interpol, the short arm of the law, you know? You’ll have to cut your own deal now.”

  7. “Carl, Margie! Over here!” Carl recognized the familiar voice from across the Lido deck. He wanted to ignore it but Margie heard their names being called.
    “Hello Barbie, hello Ken. What a surprise! I didn’t know you were booked on this cruise.” Margie was sincerely happy to see their neighbors. She pulled Carl by the hand to meet the other couple lounging next to the pool.
    Carl reluctantly followed and wished they had gotten off in Mazatlán this morning. He had no desire to spend time with the couple. Ken was a slime ball and Barbie hadn’t given up her habit of pinching his backside every chance she got.
    After a third rum punch, Carl could laugh at Ken’s crude jokes and ignore Barbie’s flirtatious looks. A quartet played lively fiesta music while the foursome danced amongst the other vacationers. Carl felt a bump he assumed was just another traveler who’d had too much rum. To his surprise, he recognized the individual as an adversary from his past. Looking down at his shirt; blood stained it a scarlet red from the fresh knife wound.
    Margie screamed, and the assailant tried to flee only to be tackled by Ken and beaten by Barbie as she leapt onto his back, pelting him with her mighty fists.
    Moments later the attacker was led away in handcuffs by ship security.
    Relieved and grateful, Carl was never so glad to have neighbors the likes of comb-over Ken and the bleached blond Barbie.

  8. “Finally.” Margie let out a contented sigh.

    “You deserve this, and much more, dear,” Carl said. “I plan on spending this time making everything up to you.”

    Margie smiled until the view of her husband was blocked by a large man wearing black. It was such a shocking contrast to their light, airy tones.

    “Did you think I’d forgotten?” the man asked. He smelled of hard liquor and long nights.

    Carl continued looking straight ahead and spoke out of the side of his mouth. “Not here, for goodness sakes. Not with all these innocent people around.”

    “That is precisely why here is perfect,” the man replied with his slow, simple tone. “You need to pay for sending my brother away. He died in prison because of you. So I’m going to take someone away from you – and you can see how it feels.”

    Carl couldn’t let anything happen to Margie. “My wife has done nothing to you. I’m the one you want. Just take me. I’ll go willingly and quietly.”

    “Carl!” Margie blurted.

    He leaned slightly forward to make eye contact with her. “It’s okay, my love.” With that one glance, it seemed as if their souls touched.

    Just as Carl stepped aside, ready to go to his death, he heard Joey grunt. As if in slow motion, the towering goon lurched forward, over the railing, and into the ocean.

    “But … how?” Carl asked.

    Margie smiled. “Krav Maga. What did you think I did while you were gone all the time?”

  9. ***FINALIST***

    Carl and Margie had been married for thirty-five years. She had stood by him through the toughest times of his life. Yet, as the years crawled by, Carl’s passion for his work superseded his love for her. Sleepless nights, unexpected heartbreak and endless disappointment cemented the hatred that now encased her heart.

    The cruise had been his idea. Her avoidance of the topic propelled him to plan each minute detail on his own. While boarding the cruise, Carl had wandered off on his own, leaving her alone and dejected, once again. That precise moment ushered in a new-found wisdom and a remedy that would take away all the pain. Margie walked towards the ship’s railing and took her rightful place next to Carl. He was oblivious of her presence and continued to stare at the open blue sea.

    A simple accident could change the course of destiny. A careless fall would douse a grudge that had been smoldering for years.

    The lovebirds sat staring into each other’s eyes. Soft laughter filled the air around them. Fingers entwined as the flickering candlelight danced upon their faces. Margie sat absolutely still, her gaze fixated upon the table directly in front of her. The love-struck couple seemed to be truly in love. A tap on her shoulder made her turn. The grey haired stranger from the previous evening stood grinning with a bouquet of red roses.

    Carl lay alone in their cabin. Two plastered legs would do for now.

  10. ***FINALIST***

    Carl’s wife went back into the bar, willing to give in to the illusion shrimp cocktails were fresher on a ship. He himself decided to give in to his instincts to just slump on the railing. Simple joys.
    To his right, a woman did the same. She looked oddly familiar to Carl, an impression soon confirmed by her words.
    “That must be Margie. Heard of her.”
    “Yes. And you are?”
    “Cassie.” That name in that voice had a familiar sound to it, though hardly more.
    “I remember that name. Sorry, it’s been a while.”
    “No problem, you meet and forget a lot of people in your line of work, don’t you? Part of the job I guess. But you’ve retired now, I hear.”
    “Yes, I have.”
    “Nice pension, too, by your choice of ship. Really good. Enjoy your trip, you earned this”, she finished, slipping him a note and leaving just as Margie came back with a plate of mixed fish and seafood snacks.
    “Who was that?” she asked glancing back.
    “Don’t know, somebody I must have met on duty. She seemed to know who I was.”
    “Aren’t we here to leave that behind for a few weeks?”
    “Yeah, I’ll keep my distance from anything reminding me.”
    “Good, you deserve peace and quiet. Try the carp rolls.”
    He decided not to mention carp were freshwater fish and took the opportunity to read Cassie’s note. “Glad to see you can afford college. Your daughter would really like to go.”

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