The Package (Finish The Story #49 Entry)

in finishthestory •  6 months ago 

Opening by @gaby-crb

Condensation clung to the window, occasionally releasing a surge that cleared a path making the outside world visible. The cold white light refracted in the tiny water droplets. It was pretty, Shannon thought, as her breath spread across the cold window.

She checked her phone, the bright screen dazzling her. Her eyes darted to the mirror. The baby didn’t stir, still sound asleep in his comfortable car seat. She checked the time, the numbers read 23:46. There was no message.

She slipped it back into her coat pocket, wrapping her fingers around each other in an attempt to bring them back to life.

The CD stopped playing, the story finished. She pressed replay. The kid would no doubt wake up if it went silent. The story started up from the beginning. It was one she had listened to herself as a child. The narrator had a soothing voice, Shannon felt calm despite her predicament.

She checked her phone again. Still no message. Her eyes darted back to the boy, his blond hair showing underneath his fluffy hat. His cheeks pink. His blue eyes hidden beneath heavy eyelids.

A gloved hand rapped against the window. Shannon jumped, she quickly rolled down the window.

A clean shaven man ducked his head down to look at her.

“You have the package?”

His eyes glanced around the car, resting a few moments on the sleeping boy before returning to her face.

She nodded, her heart hammering in her chest. This was the first time she had done something like this.

She removed the key from the ignition and opened her door, the man stepped out of the way. She was not surprised to measure up as shorter than him. She fumbled with the key in her hand. She found it hard to swallow.

“How many times do I have to do this?”

Her voice shook. She wrapped her arms around herself, giving her hands something to grip onto.

“Until you’ve paid what you owe.”

His voice clawed at her insides. He stepped closer, a hungry look in his eye.

Shannon shivered. She was mentally kicking herself for getting into debt. But there was only one thing she could do now.

My Ending

That had been half a year ago. Shannon stood outside her car, a soft ghost of smoke fleeing her parted lips. The story, the words she knew by heart, played in the Volvo behind her. Eric slept through it every time now, she suspected he was starting to like the long drive in the dead of night.

She could hear the distant rumble of a van, the low growl of the engine like a beast stalking between the warehouses. It seemed surreal now, thinking back to the first time she met Harry, the first package she’d delivered.

Shannon shouldn’t be so nervous, she’d done this every month since then, but a curdling grip still held her insides. She waited for the familiar glance of headlights over the barrels stacked down by the docks. That was always where it hit first.

Part of her wondered if she’d feel better using a sitter, but then the thought of leaving Eric with a hapless teenager was more disconcerting. It was reassuring, having him with her - despite the danger, something about it made her brave enough to do this.

The barrels lit up, the detailing spotlighted by an inbound vehicle. She flicked the cigarette, the glowing ember landing outside the protective bounds of the dock lamps, lost to the darkness beyond.

Tyres crunched to a stop, a black door flashed open as a heavy boot dropped to the ground.

Harry.

“You got it?”

She didn’t say a word, making her way to the trunk of the car, his greedy eyes drinking in every detail of the movement.

With a casual flick of his wrist, Harry summoned his lackeys, stepping out of the four by four to flank Shannon.

She could feel their cold, impatient glares raising the hairs down her back, with slow, forced breathes she opened the trunk.

The boot creaked as it lifted, her precious cargo revealed.

“How is it? She deliver?”

The question wasn’t directed at her, but she answered it anyway.

“Wana come take a look?”

Harry sauntered towards her, it took all her willpower not to glance over her shoulders. She knew the two men behind her would be fingering their pistols, ready to react to her slightest move.

His face shifting the instant Harry saw it. Hard, furrowed hate fell from his brow, cold steel eyes melted to molten blue.

“... it’s… beautiful…”

He stared at the sculpture, the carved wood, the wrought iron; the classic huntress, her slain deer slung over her shoulder.

It was a different man that turned back to Shannon.

“The deal stands - stay in the house, come back next month.”

The heady mixture of pride, fear and relief coursed through her as Shannon stood back, watching the suited men cautiously lifting her hard work from her trunk.

She smiled to herself, thinking of that first night, the weight of the pressure she’d felt delivering her first commission. It was a debt she’d cursed herself for - falling behind on her rent and getting mixed up with these criminals, yet as she watched the two men straining to carry her latest masterpiece to the van, she couldn’t help but wonder if this arrangement was such a bad thing.

This opening is so fantastic, I was tempted down so many supernatural, dark, twisted and even inter-dimensional plots, but when it came to it, we got a story that is not as unrealistic as it might sound... This opening poses so many questions to be answered in the second half, and I really enjoyed examining and trying to address them. To be honest, I am not sure how i feel about this ending, but I wrote it so figured may as well share it and see what people think.

This is entry to this weeks round of #finishthestory held over on the @bananafish page, there are still a few days left to enter, so if you could think of another way to wrap this one up in roughly 500 words check out the latest round this week we have this brilliant opening by @gaby-crb and the wonderful @ntowl is at the helm.

Photo Credit by the exceptional pixabay user tsukiko-kiyomidzu who only has ten images in the public domain there, but they are so very impressive, I find myself wanting to use them again and again

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That time jump! You pulled it off so smoothly, maintaining the atmosphere of nervousness from Shannon’s perspective and introduced a consistency with Eric being a part it all. You really expanded on the late night creepy vibes but threw in such a twist...

He stared at the sculpture, the carved wood, the wrought iron; the classic huntress, her slain deer slung over her shoulder.

I’m in love, you really appealed to my inner artist. And the hardened criminal getting teary eyed over it, I’m sold.

Mystery and intrigue, was the sculpture a gift for someone, a special commission or was it a replica ready to replace the real one in a larger criminal act?

I am not sure how i settled on a time jump, but the implied long standing nature of the debt felt like it would allow for it and I was sat half talking to someone and found my fingers hitting keys like oh okay, here is an opening line lol. I was trying to amp up the creepy vibe ready to play off assumptions a little, not sure it hit in the end but it was a very fun opening to work with <3

I really wanted to name the baby, give it more and there was no shadow of doubt in the names for this one.

I didn't actually think of art for a heist, that's a very good idea, and of course would get her art displayed in a gallery! But I think the Shannon I have here doesn't know what Harry uses them for, just that he loves them, and wants more, and doesn't know what he will get until he gets it. A hardened criminal, the one person who believes in her and her creations.

Novum kalium pirata.png

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Great story. Like the struggling Artist point of view.

Thank you, wanted to give it a bit of real life, although i was never a struggling artist quite like this nor involved in quite this level of gun scary ;)

He stared at the sculpture, the carved wood, the wrought iron; the classic huntress, her slain deer slung over her shoulder.

Dianna, huh? cool. i get the metaphor of it all, I think.

Also that last line in the ending, so she's making the art and they think its some precious stuff?

I really enjoyed the instant time jump. you alert this to the reader immediately, so the story moved naturally from there. and the central question of "what is the THING that they want?" kept me reading.

nice read!

Ahhh very well spotted, I was sat with my uncle who is an artist, and was stopping me to show me his huntress goddess sketches, I didn't think anyone would get that little easter egg so to speak lol

Yep, that's it exactly, or at least the boss does, not sure if his men share his view, but doubt anyone would question him ;)

Aww thank you, that means a lot coming from you, I know this plot didn't carry for a lot of people, but at least the hook and reel worked, and you wouldn't say it if it didn't <3

Ah! I feel at home with the Mafia (really art thief) æsthetics crawling around and filling in the empty hole that is the iris of my eye. To feel not only a contemporary setting carried forth to the prompt’s closer, l’fin, but to see the child unscathed as the tensions still grip our main character and we the hapless ghosts, us readers is est, watch by. Your jester work has done the prompt proud, I could sense the area around the car, the heaving of the art piece (package), the worries steaming from her head, l’creep Harry watching before retreating back into the night and the pistols cocked-n-ready. Tonight she gets to go home, still with a debt on her back but never to worry if she’d get a bullet to her head and her child taken away.

La filosofía: so one might wonder why am I doing this? I merely reacted above but I wish to highlight the fact of thieving. Thieving, thus illegalism, is a serious endeavor that can make and break people alike. For now it makes her but her emotions are always on the fringes of exploding which is reflected quietly with the economic-reductive rationale of the criminal possy. As such, each detail cannot be overlooked or lead thunder starts coursing the air; such stories on thieves always had made their lives the hardest and I can feel the weight present.

La forma: Good story-crafting and wordsmithing as always. Nothing gets pass the Gal Cal 9000 now does it? :p Well I love the dialogue, the usage of words to make the scenes, the pauses betwixt talking to break the flow into a slower, general speed of conversating and the metonymies crawling about - especially when it’s Shannon-related.

So keep on writing and happy steeming!

Ooo yeah, I hadn't thought of the artist working for an art thief interpretation, but I tried to leave as much room for projection in there as i could, and very glad that worked for you <3

Hmm interesting, so you read this at her being an art thief selling her wares to the mafia, not as her making replacement art for a thief to leave when they did steal the real thing? I just didn't see either of these as i was writing it so its lovely to hear ideas I didn't think of, and it does very much fit.
I am so sorry, I am going to have to ask you to explain what you mean by "economic-reductive rationale of the criminal possy"? This is actually based on a real life experience, but i do get that I missed the mark again. I have had a bit of good feedback, and can see some ways myself I could have done better, so go on, hit me with it all and I will do my bestest to be brave about it <3

Awww thank you, i am glad you found some things to appreciate here. I think the spacing around dialogue is just something I was taught in terms of how to use dialogue in a story. I am really curious as to what you'd consider metonymies here? Lackeys is for sure, but this is a problem with speaking a language all the time, its hard to tell what trips other readers, so I always like to know when i have used words/terms people didn't know so I can think about how I use those same words in future. <3

Thank you so very much for taking the time to leave this

(Well it did seem convenient as being an art thief, considering the weirdness of the packages. But's that's just me ~^^~)

I will have to read it, but these might be the same thing at the end of the day.

That they only care for economic things and thus don't care of social consequences or "moral-ethics" at all. It's in the name itself!~ <<<<3333

Well I probably should stop spewing things a bit, but things like lackeys and that made me say that. (And just using semi-incompatible definitions like the continuity/displacement of things makes me wish I rephrased it.) <<<<3333

Very much welcome, ~mwah!~ c:

(yeah, everyone seemed to think she was an art thief and that it doesn't quite make sense because i have told it badly as opposed to being something else... but thats good feedback still, i can see how i could have used more words on the ending and less on the build up to tell a complete story that felt more fitting for the first half, so thank you <3)

wait... you left these comments without reading!!! hahaha :p i would say that breaking and entry with actual theft is a slightly different league to illegal reproductions, but then i guess that is a matter of opinion, and i can see how you might see them an interchangeable <3

ahhh now thats good to know, and that's why i wanted to check, cos I was genuinely going for the opposite, the criminal preferring to have her settle the debt with her art; choosing to either let her live in the house for free, or actually pay her rent for her, in return for her sculptures.

Yeah, that was the one i got :p i thought about it when i used it, and googled it to make sure the definition i was using was the top one, as i though some people may not know it. I did oo and ahhh cos it isn't a widely known word, but i figured it has enough precedent with gangster movies for most people to get it, just really curious at to what the others are. I always like to know when i am using one so i can evaluate if it is the best choice given the audience. Well expand away my dear! Love to hear what you think!!

<3<3

(<<<<3333)

I did yah Wingus! I read it! Otherwise, yeah it is easy to slip inbetween the two and it is interchangeable. <3

Yeah, I like stories like that as well as yah described yer story; an interesting parallel can be drawn to the real-world were actual artists starve to get by as artists. Of which the criminality of the landlord/bank can be comparable to the actual art thieves there, using every inch of their artwork as a means to generate revenue to get fat off them. After all, landlords are leeches.

I think we expanded as much as we could, mój Ukochany!~ But good rumination here!~

<<<<3333

Hahaha I know, I was joking cos you said you'd have to read it to say which way you read it :p I would still argue that practically, in terms of how it feels to do them, and the steps involved in committing the two crimes are very different, but on the legality, I can see how an artist would feel as though something copied was 'stolen' even if the original wasn't but kinda irrelevant, as there is no thieving in this story anyway :p

I wanted to play with the debt, and what had started as a sculpture handed over to a scary man to settle a debt had become more 'indebted' - if i had more words I could have used some on showing the difference in her fear, no longer scared for her life despite the obvious dangers, but for him being disappointed in her art. Society let both these people down but in harry, shannon finds her own strength, and in her, he finds his own weakness. It didn't come across so well either but at this point probably safe revealing the meaning I had tried to put in there.

Hmmm okay, I have read it back so many times trying to find the others, and the shannon related ones, but I shall have to leave it as one of the many mysteries of you. <3

I know, but I like busting jokes up more than playing into them. Otherwise, piracy of a copy never really stole the original; just like making a copy of something like a ROM or a .EXE file or a MP3 or something like that. So I agree with yah there, but art thieves Gal Cal and their magical ways!~ :p

Oh I know that, but yes these were less pronounced in the actual ending entry itself that I thought we were accepting that as an undercurrent of the story. Otherwise, yeah more words would've fleshed this out massively and given this a wide expanse of things to actually cover. (One of the many reasons I did expansion posts to begin with!~ :D)

~Good, let's leave it as a mystery~ <3

I was so happy to see it wasn't a body in the trunk. But it still had the feeling their could be bodies everywhere if the slightest thing went wrong.

Shannon's enjoying her work too, that was a twist from the opener where she was so nervous. Well done!

-@ntowl

  ·  6 months ago (edited)

I really wanted it to avoid the dark / high fantasy roads, and go for something more realistic that still gave her good reason to be nervous so very glad one thing in here worked at least a little bit.

Ooo thank you for that feedback. I know myself that telling people things didn't work is hard at the best of times. I had actually tried to carry the nervousness and weight of emotion through into the second half and only really have it as an afterthought that as scary as the experience was, it drove her to keep creating as opposed to it seeming like she enjoyed doing this. It is good to know where doesn't quite fit with the first half, so that is something I can think about for the future. Thank you <3

Very interesting your end, a leap in time and explain the reason why to take the child every time she made the delivery. Maybe she could end up being a fundamental part of the gang. On the other hand, you could include some indication about making her nervous not only by the situation of the exchange but also by doing something illegal.

Good one!

  ·  6 months ago (edited)

Ooo good note, thanks for the feedback but this has turned into another one of those stories where I have somewhat messed it up conveying the plot I intended. She isn't doing anything illegal ;)

Hello, @calluna.
I liked your ending very much. It's disturbing and the protagonist's gaze doesn't lack ironic sense.
Good luck!
A hug!

Aww thank you very much!! <3<3

I would like to know what she was crafting for these criminals.

A sculpture of a huntress, made of carved wood and wrought iron, but I know this part didn't carry at all

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