Against The Clock, and Other Stories
Published by Tony Ransom at Shakespir
Copyright 2010 Tony Ransom
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Against The Clock
A young boy, Max Turner, pedals his bike feverishly through a path in the woods. His clothes are soaked in sweat. The sound of leaves crackling under his wheels is only accompanied by the sound of his fast and shallow breathing.
“I gotta stop agreeing to meet at his house. Who takes a ten-mile bike ride in the dark through the woods, this guy… apparently,” says Max.
The default tone of a phone rings through the night. Max sighs deeply then slides his hand into his pocket and pulls out his phone. His cracked Android screen is just bright enough to reveal the caller. Max answers his phone hesitantly.
“What do you want, Charles?” asked Max.
“Okay, one, it’s Charlie and two, are you ever gonna make it over here?” asked Charles.
“Dude, I’m pedaling as fast as I can.”
Max darts out of the forest and into the streets of the suburbs. The smell of gasoline lingering in the night air reinvigorates him.
“If you don’t make it here soon my mom’s not gonna let me open the door and then you won’t be able to stay the night,” says Charles.
“That’s not true. You can sneak me in like you did last time.”
“No, I can’t. Last time was an emergency, AND we almost got caught.”
“Sure, if you consider an all-night The Flash marathon an emergency.”
“If it involves Barry Allen, it’s an emergency.”
“Whatever, man. I’m like 20 minutes out. I’m gonna take the shortcut through the alleyway next to the pizzeria and arcade.”
Max makes a hard left down a gloomy road and into the business part of town. Pieces of paper fly through the night just above the ground like tumbleweeds on a dusty trail. Street lights flicker overhead as Max passes under them. Cats peek from behind old trash cans and hiss as he locks eyes with them.
“Is it weird that this alley is ten times creepier than the woods?”
The phone is eerily silent. An ominous wind rolls in from behind Max. The hairs on his neck and arms stand like quills on a porcupine. He stops pedaling in front of a fancy restaurant. The restaurant door swings open and a couple walks out laughing loudly.
Max watches as the couple talk amongst themselves. He turns his head to look away in disgust as they kiss. There’s a sudden rush of cold night air on his neck. The sound of passing street cat knocking over trash cans scares the couple back inside.
“Dude, come on. This ain’t fun—”
The cellular silence is finally broken by a high-pitched electrical sound. Max’s ears ring with pain. He shrieks in terror scaring the couple in front of the restaurant. The woman runs back inside with the man not far behind. A familiar voice speaks loudly through the phone.
“Calm down. Ain’t nothing like that gonna happen. It’s a quick and easy gig. First, we
take the paintings, and then we sell them to the buyer. Ain’t no runnin’ required. Now quit your
bitchin’ and let’s do this already.”
Max puts the phone up to his other ear and massages the damaged ear. He scowls with displeasure and his friend’s prank.
“What the heck, man!? What is that!?”
Charles turns down the sound as he laughs wildly in Max’s ear.
“Haha. Come on, dude, you know that movie. Art Theft? It’s hilarious. Haha.”
“Screw you, dude. When I get to your house, I swear I’m gonna—”
A voice wails in the background from Charles’ end of the call.
“Charles Dean Wetherton, why are you still down these steps?” asked Mrs. Wetherton.
“I’m waiting for Max, ma.”
“Still? Well, I’ll tell you this, If he isn’t here in five minutes, I’m locking up shop and you’re going to bed.”
Charles grabbed the phone and spoke as quietly as possible.
“How far away are you?”
“I’m like nine minutes out.”
“Dude… move it.”
The Secret Within
The sound of a ringing doorbell wakes a couple from their slumber. “Who is it?” asked George in a low groan.
“I don’t know. Go and check,” I replied. It’s the middle of the night I’m not getting out of bed for some random person who’s probably stopping at the wrong house.
“No, I went last time.”
“Fine, George, I’ll go,” I said with a scowl on my face. “I swear we have this discussion all the time.” I rotated my body so that my legs were off the side of our king-size mattress. After a quick yawn, I slipped my feet into my pink, fluffy bedroom slippers and shuffled across the dirty floor to the door. “I’ll make sure to not scream if it’s a murderer. I’d hate for you to lose a wink of sleep.”
“Every time I don’t do exactly what you want me to do you always turn it into a murder case. So how ‘bout we both go together? It’s not like I worked a double shift today.” Without a second thought, he threw the covers onto the bedroom floor. Wearing nothing but pajama pants, he hurried over to his wife.
“My bad for not wanting to get murdered,” I said. George swung the door open and hurried down the thirteen wooden steps to the first floor of their house. I watched on from our bedroom doorway. I know I shouldn’t egg him on the way I do and he works hard to keep us both financially stable. Honestly, it’s just too fun watching him stomp around like a child. George got to the front door and swung it open. The door knob slammed into the wall with a thunderous boom. “Who is it?” I asked from the top of the steps just loud enough for him to hear.
“It’s no one. Probably just one of the neighborhood kids screwin’ around,” he shouted as his eyes naturally panned down. “There’s a box here, though. Maybe UPS left it.”
“UPS? At 3 am? What does it look like?”
“Like… a… box.”
“Dick move, George,” I said. The wooden steps creak under the weight of my feet. I leaned and looked at the box. It was large and purple with a white envelope attached to the right side. The envelope read: “To George and Lisa.” “It says it’s for us, George. Pick it up and bring it into the kitchen.”
“Wow, no please or thank you. I’m shocked.”
“If you’re gonna keep being a dick, I will do it.” I ripped the box up off the welcome mat that was sitting on the front stoop. I rushed into the kitchen and tore the envelope off the side of the box. “To the ‘happy’ couple. A marriage shouldn’t be built on lies. Open up the box to learn the truth about each other. From someone who cares.”
I could hear George’s light steps across the kitchen tile. I put my hand on the fringe of the lid of the box. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
“No, do you have anything to tell me?”
“Of course not. I just find it odd how you’ve been working double shifts a lot more lately. Then, suddenly a box appears on our doorstep at 3 am.”
“You know my job has had layoffs because of budget cuts. It would only make sense that the remaining workers would have to work more. Interestingly enough you’ve been spending a lot more time out of the house too.”
“Since you’ve come back from the trip you were on with Cheryl. Maybe the box is from a ‘friend’ you made while you were there.”
“Are you trying to accuse me of something?”
“I’m not accusing you of anything. Maybe you just have a guilty conscience.”
“Well then we’ll just have to see what’s in the box, won’t we?”
George scratched the back of his head. I could feel my body shaking. It’s as if everything in me is fighting to keep the box closed. George crossed the kitchen and joined my side as I lifted the lid off the box. There’s a face down Polaroid picture at the bottom of the box.
My heart began to race at a million miles per minute. I could hear George’s breathing quicken.
His hand extends past me and descends into the box. He flips the picture over like a person would rip off a band-aid. On the other side of the Polaroid is a blank photo and a note written in red sharpie. “Have fun knowing that you’re both keeping something from the other. From the person who just ruined your ‘happy’ marriage.”
I could feel how unwilling we were to discuss the situation. We both opened our mouths as if we were about to confess and then shut them as if we lost the right words.
“We need to talk,” we both whispered.
Seconds of War
Astrony staggers into the main corridor of the hideout. His legs quiver as he shuffles across the rocky cave floor. Troyor follows close behind coated in black and blue splotches of skin.
“Who does Voltio think he is?” asked Troyor. “His training is more like torture.”
“Hey man at least, the bruises won’t show while we’re in armor,” said Astrony.
“Speaking of appearances, I’ve never noticed it until now but you and Voltio look a lot alike, Astro,” said Troyor.
“You think so? I hadn’t really cared enough to look,” replied Astrony.
“Yeah, you guys could be siblings or something, but that couldn’t be possible because someone with your blood in their veins would never hurt me this bad! Why the hell did he give us bruises in the first place? How are we supposed to fight effectively on a battlefield in armor if we can barely walk in cloth?” asked Troyor wincing from touching one of his bruises. “What if that door blows open right now and soldier burst into the room? We wouldn’t even be able to help.”
“That would never happen because no one except us rebels even know where this base is located.”
“You think so?”
“Yeah, look how peaceful everything is around here. No one’s even close to worried about that happening here.”
The wooden door that separates the hideout from the ladder that leads to the outside explodes with a monstrous crack. Thousands of splitters soar throughout the room.
“Advance!” yells a thunderous voice from the darkness.
A battalion of soldiers rushes into the hideout. The shuffling of their feet against the cave floor shakes the room. The clanking of their armor resonates through the air causing all the Rebel soldiers to congregate steadfastly. Knights with shields and spears form a front line. Their giant shields slam into the ground causing a shockwave of dirt to ripple across the ground. A couple of archers dash into the room with their bows drawn. Voltex, clad in black armor, steps through the darkness. A chilling intensity devours the room. Voltio steps into the room from his chamber fully clad in dull beaten armor.
“Speak or be slain!” yelled Voltio. His soldiers take up arms and rally to his side. Astrony and Troyor step out of their fellow rebels and take shelter behind a weapon rack.
“I swear I was joking,” said Troyor under his breath to Astrony.
Voltex scans the room thoroughly. “You know, for three years I searched for you and your sorry excuse for an army. I spent countless sleepless nights checking around every corner, under every rock, and through every crevice. I would report in every single day to King Reginald with the same news, and every single day he would administer the same punishment. Ten lashes with a whip of his choosing every day for THREE YEARS, but today will be different. Today I will return with glorious news. Today I will return with proof.” Voltex draws his sword with unrivaled swiftness. A deep bloodlust fills the air. Voltex’s eyes lock squarely with Voltio’s. “Today I return with your head! CHARGE!”
Thank you very much for reading my story collection. If you enjoyed these stories and wish to see more please leave this collection good reviews.
About the author
Tony Ransom is a game writer earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree for Creative Writing for Entertainment at Full Sail University. His short story titled, “The Secret Within”, published in Down in the Dirt Magazine’s June 2017 issue. He writes stories in multiple genres such as realistic fiction, drama, and fantasy. He attributes himself to being a normal guy with a next level mind, as he sees himself as a person in the modern age thinking about the future. You can visit him .
AGAINST THE CLOCK, AND OTHERS STORIES is a three story collection composed of the works “Against The Clock,” “The Secret Within,” and “Seconds of War.” “Against The Clock” is a realistic fiction that follows a preteen named Max Turner, during a late night struggle to make it to his best friend Charlie’s house ten-miles away by bike. With his pulse racing and his favorite TV show being watched without him can Max endure, overcome, and make it to Charlie’s house before Charlie’s mother locks him out in the cold? “The Secret Within” is a realistic fiction that showcases the strained relationship of George and Lisa when a strange present is left on their doorstep in the middle of the night. A shocking revelation leads them both to rethink the person they married. “Seconds of War” is a fantasy action/adventure excerpt based around Astrony, a boy with the ability to control time, in a world that is similar to the Middle Ages of our world. Suddenly, Astrony’s base is raided by the opposing army. He and his best friend, Troyor, stand idly as the opposing general and estranged father to Astrony, Voltex declares his malicious intent their leader, Voltio.