It’s been awhile but here is a flash piece for today’s terribleminds challenge. I’m getting it in about ten minutes or so late, but it’ll have to do.
Captain Daniel Jones cursed the bedlam that was keeping him from cracking Lord Foghill’s safe. Even with the ear coverings and soundscope he’d been provided he could not make out the tiny clicks of the tumblers with racket being raised by the city. He couldn’t blame the people, the bombardment of the cannons and the assault on the walls was ratcheting up to an intensity that could only mean the Prince’s forces were pushing to break the siege and smash the city once and for all.
“Damn ambitious nobility and every land-locked soul who can’t accept their fate quietly enough to let a man be about a little honest thievery,” Daniel said to the unresponsive clerk who’d been set to guard the office and no sprawled in an office chair. “You should thank me for knocking you out and sparring you the fear and panic.”
The irate rebel-turned-pirate was likely to go on in this manner but the crashing open of the office doors cut him off. Daniel whirled to face the room’s newest intruder while drawing his Webley in a flash. He held off from shooting when he saw that it was his own man, Jack, who’d burst in. Another crash, this one from somewhere out in the city caused the room to shake slightly and the lights to flicker. Most homes had gas laid in that was currently turned off for fear of explosions and so stood relatively dark right now. This office was important enough to have electric lights to help the thieves in their work, so long as the generator’s held out.
“What’s the word, Jack?” Daniel asked.
“Doom, Captain. That’s the word. Doom. We are doomed,” Jack said and Daniel could see that he was white as man who’d had his first sail and lost his last supper over the side.
“Jack, we’ve been in tighter spots. A little battle won’t get us now.”
“It’s not little. The backend’s the size of a house and it’ll just step over the walls if they don’t fall down before it gets to them.”
“A walking machine. A giant metal spider and it’s carrying more cannons than the Bell’s Revenge!”
“Well I guess that explains the hysteria out there.” Turning to look at his seemingly impenetrable foe Daniel stowed his gun back in it’s holster. “We’ve got to get this thing open. Now.”
“That? That? Captain leave off! We’re dead men. The whole city is dead,” Jack said from behind.
“We’ve got a job to do sailor. We need the schematics. Damn but this was easier when it was a simple rebellion. How do you win a civil war with so many sides?” Daniel asked, looking over his shoulder at his first mate. He was less than pleased with the surprise that waited for him.
Jack had his own sidearm out and aimed at his captain. His eyes were wild and his arm shook so much Daniel was more afraid of Jack shooting by accident and hitting him than successfully aiming and doing so. “Jack?” he said.
“No. We can’t win. You can’t win. The others can’t win. Not if the Prince’s got that. It’s over sir.”
“We’ll hide. I’ll give you to them and they’ll let me go. We gotta hide though. We’re too close. That walking doom will flatten everything.” Daniel saw Jack take a big breath to steady himself, and the outstretched arm and gun stopped dancing quite so erratically, but veins still throbbed in his forehead and his left eye twitched something fierce.
“What time is it Jack?” Daniel asked.
“Too late,” Jack said.
“Time Jack? What time?”
“I’m expecting someone,” Daniel said. And right as he said it they could hear a new sound. There was more cannon fire than ever, but the newest sounds of it were more distant.
“What’s that?” Jack asked.
“That’s the calvary arriving right on time. You didn’t think Charity Vance would fail to make a heroic effort to save this city, did you? Now is right about the time she should be showing up, given where we knew she was before.”
“Charity?” Jack’s eyes widen further than Daniel would have thought possible, and his arm dipped low. Daniel took his opening. In one motion he grabbed and threw sidearm a paperweight made of a large brass cog at his former first mate. It clipped Jack in the side of the head and he crumpled to the ground, squeezing off one shot into the floorboards as he fell.
Daniel rushed to a window, pausing long enough to relieve Jack of his guns, and peeked out. Out high in the sky above the city he could see one of Charity’s skyships unleash another broadside toward the front gate. He couldn’t quite see this doomwalker from this window, too many other buildings in the way, but that was fine by him.
“Ok Jack,” he said to the unconscious man. “Time to crack that safe, get the schematics and get out of town before either side wins that battle out there. I’m afraid you won’t be coming with me old friend. Too bad about that; this is going to be a fantastic escape.”
Notes: The challenge this time was to use some randomly chosen elements. I got steampunk, Enemy at the gates!, someone going or gone mad. I don’t think I hit those elements as well as I would have liked and in general this is rougher than I usually like to put up, but on the other hand it’s perhaps a truer example of the flash fiction ideal having been done quickly and put up as is. As always feedback good or bad is appreciated.
If you liked this a list of all my available fiction can be found here.