Flash Fiction Challenge, May 24

Another Friday, another Flash Fiction Challenge courtesy of Chuck Wendig. This week our topic was psychic powers. With a random number between 1 and 20, I found myself with an 11- Astral Projection. Astral Projection is the ability to transcend the physical form, it is the idea of the ‘out-of-body-experience.’ Out of the 1000 words for the short I used 993. I had fun writing this one, I hope you have as much fun reading it. Thanks.

The “Ghost” of Lewis Schmidt

Sam Rodgers stretched as he climbed from his car, pausing to admire his reflection in the tinted glass. He adjusted the polished brass tag on the lapel of his coat, giving it a quick rub with the cuff of his shirt.

Sam S. Rodgers
Branch Manager
First National Bank

He made his way to the glass doors, again smiling at his reflection. He had an odd feeling that he was being watched and checked over his shoulder as he dug into his pocket for the keys. The street was empty in the early hours of the morning, a homeless man tucked into an alley sleeping beneath newspaper was the only person he saw. Sam scoffed, wishing the bum would find some other place to enact his vagrancy. He unlocked the door and entered, locking it behind him.

The bank was quiet, the dim lighting of the night floods casting their white glow over the waxed floor and shinning wood chairs. He passed through the gate and gave a nod through the one-way-glass at the overnight security guard inside. The feeling of being watched was still there. It had to be the guard inside watching him, good old Mickey and nothing more.

Sam unlocked his office and set his attache on the desk, flipping on the lights before hanging his coat on the wall hook. He walked out of the office flashing a grin at his name emblazoned on the door in gold paint. He stopped in front of what he staff affectionately called the cage, a heavy steel barred door that opened into the vault room. The antechamber just through the heavy gate was lined with safe-deposit-boxes on either side. The back wall was filled by the foot-thick steel vault door itself. Dual secured with an electronic pin and a combination dial, nigh impregnable.

He tapped in the pass-code, the LCD screen flashed green. As he spun the dial he again was overcome with the feeling of being watched. Sam knew he was the only one in the vault antechamber and shrugged off the thought as he finished the five number combination. With a click he spun the large handle and gave the door a heavy pull, opening it on well machined hinges. Sam turned and closed the steel gate behind him, locking it. He waved towards the front doors as the General Manager entered.

“Is it just you and Mickey here?” Jennie was looking around. “I could have sworn I saw someone standing near the cage with you.”

“No. It’s just us.”

“But it looked like Lewis. Remember Lewis Schmidt? He worked here about a year ago,” said Jennie.

“Sure I remember him. Day security, always day dreaming. Never paid attention to anything.”

“I swear it looked like him.”

“Feeling guilty? You shouldn’t. I’m the one that fired him.” Sam cast a sly smile, “Could be he died and now his ghost haunts our building.” He chuckled, “You scared yet?”

“I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts,” Jennie laughed shortly as she unlocked her office door.

They shared a last quick laugh. Mickey rapped loudly on the mirrored security glass and ran out into the bank. His face had grown slack and quite pale.

“It is Lewis! I saw him on the monitor, right before they all shut down.,” he said.

“The moment passed Mick, not funny anymore-”

The lights winked out through the bank, throwing the whole lobby into the dim light of dawn filtering through the glass doors. Jennie stood frozen, starring blankly towards the vault. Sam turned, following her gaze as Mickey backed away. There by the cage was a soft glow. A pale light shrouding the floating figure of Lewis Schmidt. He rose higher into the room, moving towards Sam. Behind him Jennie collapsed, feinting at the transparent apparition moving through the clerk counter.

“Sam, why did you do it?” The voice was distant, hollow.

“Wh- what? How is this p-possible?”

“You are at fault Sam. This job was all I had.” The specter moved closer, the voice crackling like live electricity. “You did this to me,” screamed Lewis.

“I didn’t, I mean it wasn’t-”

“Enough!” The ghost drifted back towards the cage. “Open the cage Sam, or so help me you’ll join me here.” Lewis Schmidt whirled and flashed before Sam, knocking him to the ground. “Open it!”

Sam scrambled to his feet and fumbled for the keys in his pocket. The lock clicked and he threw the cage door wide.

“Take a trash can in and fill it with packs of twenties from the left side Sam.” Lewis drifted across the row of desks, his legs passing through the wood as if it weren’t there. “Do it now Sam!”

Sam did, the color drained from his face, the smug smile gone.

“Take the bag outside and put it in the bushes. Call the police. Tell them everything. Everything Sam, everything!”

Sam did and when he stumbled back into the bank lobby the ghost of Lewis Schmidt was gone.

Outside, the vagrant across the street stood laughing quietly. He grabbed a backpack and jogged across the street. He knew the power was off in the building, he had blown every fuse. A little trick he had learned over the years. He had all but thought the projection was mastered, until he found he could focus on objects and move them in his transferred state.

As he stepped into the trimmed bushes in front of the bank he could only imagine how the 911 call sounded- “Help a ghost robbed the bank!”

Lewis stuffed the bag of money into his knapsack and slung it over his shoulder, quickly walking around the corner and climbing into his car. As he drove off he could hear the distant sirens screaming towards the bank. The laughable story of its impossible robbery would be headline news for weeks.



14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge, May 24

  1. Really good story, (dare I say?) could do with a bit more proof-checking, I found it difficult hitting the word count and keeping the sense in something I had to hack down from 2000, I suspect you did the same! But I am being nit-picky. Well done, and keep having those intriguing ideas:)

    • Thank you! It does feel a little rushed in places. The 1000 word mark does make it a challenge, I’m not used to writing with so few words. Thanks again! 🙂

  2. I loved the twist, of Lewis using his ability to get revenge on his former bosses. I’d never considered astral projection that way, as I wasn’t sure that projected images could be seen by those awake, but it makes perfect sense in the context of your story.

    Two little niggles I would like to make note of, however. When Jennie says she ‘aint ‘fraid no ghosts’ it sounds very, well… colloquial. I wouldn’t expect a General Manager of a First National Bank to sound like that.

    Secondly, when Jennie ‘feinted.’ To feint is to deceive through misdirection, ie, to pretend to run one way, then turn and run the other to throw off an opponent. The word you’re looking for is faint, which covers the act of losing consciousness and something being unclear or dim… pretty much everything except that which feinting covers!

    Other than this small incongruity and the minor spelling error, it was a really interesting story that kept my attention throughout.

  3. “shinning”
    It’s pretty breezy and simple, which works well in a story like this. What you probably don’t really need is most of the story after the line “Sam did and when he stumbled back into the bank lobby the ghost of Lewis Schmidt was gone.”
    You obviously need some kind of exposition so that the reader isn’t left just scratching his head wondering about everything, but you can also probably cut a bit that’s about him imagining the 911 call, the actions of crossing the street, and the overstated line at the end about the story making headlines for weeks. Most of that is simply understood after the fact of reading the story, so it becomes overstated in order to actually put it as your ending lines.

    Otherwise it was pretty swell.

    • Thanks for the advice Rick! The Flash Challenges always get less spit and polish than my other stuff, but I appreciate the nudge for a more clean story. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Revenge is always interesting in short stories, especially when the one getting revenge has special powers! Interesting take on the challenge, I enjoyed it.

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