We’re less than two weeks into October, but November is already looming on the horizon. If you, like me, are considering participating in Nanowrimo, you understand why this is a cause for loud dismayed squawking. I’m attempting to “plan” and “plot” and “at least find place-holder names for my characters” and all kinds of outrageous things like that.
Today I am, once again, linking up with the wonderful Jem Jones for her One Quirk Later Flashfiction series!
In case you’re new here and aren’t familiar with Jem Jones’ blog (*gasp* A tragedy! Remedy this immediately), this is a post series Jem started in which she provides a prompt and we (Me! You! Anyone!) write flashfiction based on it. It’s a terrible lot of fun, and you should all join.
Here’s the prompt:
A few things you don’t need to know before you read what I wrote:
- This is the fourth Quirk I’ve done and, for the first time…there are no siblings. *GASPS* *falls over*
- After last Quirk’s unbridled angst…This one has more banter. I promise.
- Forgot to include the last picture. Oops.
- Ok, but I used the word “time”, so that counts, yes?
* * *
This was the third time Augustus Ragsdale the Second had been kidnapped this week, and it was getting old. His scalp was tender from inelegant conks on the head, and, while he’d read a good many books in which the characters fainted dramatically after breathing in chloroform, none of these books every mentioned how ill chloroform made you feel when you woke up.
And then there was the matter of school. Augustus had never been one of those children who staked their lives on their grades, but he didn’t want to fail any of his subjects, and the number of classes he had missed this week was alarming. He had fallen dangerously behind in his studies, and there were exams next week. Assuming he could make it to exams without getting kidnapped again.
Today, Augustus had been snatched off the street on his way to post a letter. His mother had told him to take Markby with him. Markby was a sort of bodyguard who had recently been hired for Augustus’s protection. He followed Augustus around everywhere, scowling at anyone who so much as looked at his charge and demanding they return home immediately if he ever perceived the slightest possible threat. On several occasions, he even went so far as to grab Augustus by the back of his collar, stopping him in his tracks. Augustus was convinced that, if it had been allowed, Markby would have liked to put him on a leash. Augustus much preferred to take the risk and walk the streets alone, and today he snuck out the door as soon as his mother’s back was turned. After all, he’d already been kidnapped twice this week, he reasoned. What were the odds of getting snatched up a third time?
The odds, it seemed now, were perfect.
A blindfold, a few threats, and a short car ride later, the blindfold was removed and Augustus found himself sitting in small windowless room with no furniture but the chair he was tied to. At least they hadn’t seen a need to render him unconscious.
They left him there for close to half an hour, which was probably supposed to allow him time to think up all sorts of terrible things that could happen to him. They would want him sounding properly terrified for the phone call.
Because, of course, there would be a phone call. Augustus knew perfectly well—had known perfectly well even the first time he had been kidnapped this week—that all of this had very little to do with Augustus himself and everything to do with his father. The fact was, his father, Augustus Ragsdale the First, had a good deal of money, a good deal of power, and a habit of making extremely controversial decisions.
When the door to the tiny windowless room opened, the man who entered was generically sinister-looking. There were a few more dramatic threats. Augustus had a headache by now and was thoroughly sick of the whole business, but he did his best to look dutifully frightened so that the man would hurry up and finish the threats and place the call.
Augustus’s father didn’t pick up the first call. The sinister-looking man hung up, looking annoyed, and called again. Augustus saw the man straighten and grin triumphantly when his father answered.
“Mr. Ragsdale. It seems I’ve got something that belongs to you.”
There was a tinny murmur of a voice through the phone.
“You misunderstand me,” the man said, his grin growing even wider. “There’s someone here who would very much like to speak to you.”
The man shoved the receiver at Augustus. The way his arms were tied, Augustus could hardly lift his hands, which meant he had to bow his head at an awkward angle to get the phone against his ear. He silently cursed the universe, then said, “Hello” into the phone.
“Hello? Who is this?” his father demanded.
“You know, Augustus Ragsdale. The second? Your son?”
“Impossible,” he snapped. “Augustus is downstairs.”
Augustus sighed. “No, I’m not. I went out to post a letter. Someone picked me up at the end of the block.”
“One moment.” Then, a slightly muffled yell as he covered the receiver: “Markby, is Augustus down there? What? Ah, thank you.” Now his voice came through clear again. “So it is you.”
“I don’t suppose you could’ve recognized me by my voice,” Augustus said wearily.
“Of course I recognized it,” his father said airily. “Just wanted to be sure. Now what is it this time? What do they want?”
“I have no idea. But I’m sure this man here will tell you.” Augustus twisted his head around to stare pointedly at the sinister-looking man. “What do you want?” he asked. The man appeared so confused at the conversation taking place that he couldn’t seem to speak.
“Give him another moment,” Augustus said into the phone. “He’ll tell you soon.”
His father sighed. “I wish he would hurry up so we can settle all this. I’ve got a meeting in twenty minutes, and I really can’t be late.”
“What a shame,” Augustus said with a bleak but ironic smile. “And here I was thinking we could have a nice chat. This is one of the only times I ever get to talk to you, after all. It’s the one benefit of getting kidnapped.”
“Yes, of course,” his father said distractedly. “Why don’t you put that man back on the phone so he can tell me how much he wants for your ransom?”
This whole kidnapping business was very conducive to his father’s favorite method of problem solving: throw money at the issue.
Augustus sighed. “I’ll try to give him the phone. I suppose you’ll send Markby to pick me up when they give you the rendezvous point?”
“Yes, of course. Wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it.”
Augustus highly doubted that, but Markby was the most convenient choice. Augustus was his responsibility, after all. Certainly more convenient than Augustus’s father having to come get him himself.
Augustus considered letting out a terrible cry of pain, just to see if his father would get worried. Then he sighed and held the phone out to the sinister-looking man—who, truth be told, was looking much less sinister and much more dumbstruck by now.
Augustus gave him a half-hearted smile. “Is this not usually how your kidnappings go? Well, go on and tell my father how much money you want. No need to waste any more of his time than we have to.”
* * *
There you have it!
Thanks to the incredible Jem Jones for the prompt! Be sure to check out her blog for her response to the prompt (as of the moment that I’m writing this, she hasn’t put her response up yet, but I’m sure she will soon, and I’m sure it will be excellent).
What sorts of ideas does this prompt inspire? Are you tempted to join in this Quirk business (because I will gladly scream my encouragement)? Isn’t it so annoying when you’re trying to study and people keep kidnapping you? Do tell!