Copyright is held by the author.
THE MISSION was simple. My partner and I just had to lie in a couple of caskets a few feet apart and wait.
Grave robbers were plentiful in high water plains with above ground coffins. Remote areas attracted the vandals — those looking for rings or valuables the deceased may have been buried with. This area had been hit hard over the last few weeks, and local police recruited a couple of down and out private investigators to play dead. My partner was James. He and I were happy for the extra cash. It was only minimum wage, but I reckoned I was getting paid for lying flat on my back and doing nothing.
Four hours into the shift, I was second guessing my decision, never reckoned myself to be claustrophobic. The casket had me sealed in and the manufactured breathing tube to the outside left a lot to be desired. Stale air was not on my favourite list of things to inhale. Plus the cross thing on the lid had me spooked, made me wonder if I should be going to church soon.
I struggled to lay still. Practiced every yoga technique I’d learned, albeit most of them from the internet. The whole deep breathing and relaxation stuff wasn’t cutting it. Restless leg syndrome and an itch in my back that could not be reached were driving me nuts.
My pocket vibrated. Damn, I struggled to slide my left hand down the silk lining of the casket, retrieved the cell phone and inched it within the confines, to my ear. It was James, from next door.
“You okay?” he whispered.
“Geez, James. Do you really want to blow our cover?”
“Just checking,” he said.
“Promise me, the next job we get won’t require being entombed in a wooden box. Wait, do you hear that?”
“Nothing on my end, leave the phone line open.”
Scuffling noises and scratching along the lock area. More furtive now, my heart was beating double time.
I dropped the phone, reached for the gun that rested on my chest.
A whoosh of air as the casket seal released. I pushed up, hands shaking as I pointed my weapon at the masked eyes staring at me. I quickly slammed the lid closed.
Heard James concerned voice through static on the phone. “You okay?”
“Yup, those fucking raccoons can break into anything!”
I tried to ignore his chuckle. There was four more hours to go in the shift. It was a two legged bandit I was after.
Connie you lead me on with great interest then disappointed me with fluff. I was expecting something more than a silly twist.
I felt claustrophobic and scared. This is what I like about Flash Fiction, they can be silly with quick unexpected endings. Good story but I would have ended it with: There was four more hours to go in the shift.
Really fun story. I loved it!
Nicosia: I agree. The first 2/3s of the story felt claustrophobic, leading the reader down a dark and terrifying path. I got a sense of the growing terror within the narrator as her situation unearthed primal fears within herself. Extremely well done.
The racoon ending betrayed the first part of the story. A surprise reveal, as this forum has discussed many times, has to be consistent with the narration, factual and pychological.
Such serious comments. As Donna said – it’s a ‘fun’ story…..
Just go with that……..!
Loved it, Connie. You sucked me right in, I am claustrophobic and wouldn’t have done that for anything. When she heard snuffling I wondered if it might be a racoon. Engaging and funny. Congratulations! Looking forward to the cat story next month. Susan
Loved it, Connie! Really well written. You had me going, but I began to wonder if you’d throw us a curve after the bit about the yoga and your itchy back. I love your stories about Dianna Darling and James. Keep ’em coming!
I laughed out loud.
Nicely set up Connie, and an unusual intriguing scenario. I do agree with Nicosia, Sheila and Frank so that we have a more satisfying ending. Thank you for the story.
Jazz: my life would not be better without the banter that sometimes occurs in the comment section with you so no fear I will give you a good slap on the back to get whatever you were chewing on dislodged. Take care. Nic
My bad right comment wrong post
Loved the story, Connie. Good laugh. Just what I needed. Thanks – Bev