The three travelers trudged their way up the muddy hill. Leading the group was Big Tony, who, by all accounts, suited his namesake. Not only was he taller and wider than his travel companions, but he was also taller and wider than the other Tonys. The next on the journey would have formally answered to small Pete, but now, he was just the hooded, gagged and shackled thief. He was the one stupid enough to steal from the boss and the reason they were climbing up this stupid hill. Last, and arguably the least, was medium Felix. Medium Felix was indeed medium in every way except one. Medium Felix was exceedingly big in how much he talked, and had, in fact had been speaking since the bottom of the hill. Big Tony did his best to tune him out, until, of course he was addressed, and was forced to listen so he could respond.
“Don’t you think sir?” Felix asked.
“Don’t I think what, now?” Tony responded.
Felix barely let Tony finish before continuing.
“These wormholes are becoming quite an epidemic. Just the other day, we was chasing down that rat, Tiny Sam, and he ran straight into one, popping out a hundred feet down the street. He just waved at us, like he knew. But he couldn’t have, I don’t see how anyways. Can barely see them shimmering things even when you’re lookin’. By the time we found it, he was gone. He’s lucky it didn’t pop him up in the air or down underground. Just lucks all it was. Everywhere they are, but they don’t take you far, a hundred feet in one way or the other. Up or down too, just random. Surprised the whole - “
“They ain’t random,” Tony cut in, “and you would do yourself a favour to learn how they work and where they go. A smart person could know just how to disappear when they need to. Or, make someone disappear.”
“Whatever you say boss, so far they been nothing but trouble.”
“Mmmm,” said the hood as the foot it was attached to tripped over a root.
There was a brief silence as Felix nudged the thief in the back to catch up to Tony, who was still trudging up the hill. Too brief, thought Tony. He sighed as Felix began once again.
I don’t even know why we come up this hill, used to just drop these rats in the ocean, with some concrete shoes, didn’t even need the shackles, they just sank and that was that. I know they watch the docks and stuff now, but there has to be something easier than this, my calves are burning off. I can’t believe they sent a big, either, I could’ve got it done.” He ain’t -
Tony cut in again “When someone is dumb enough to steal from a boss, we gotta make sure we send a message, and make sure everything goes right.”
Tony knew that wasn’t the only reason, but he couldn't tell Felix that.
Felix continued. “I don’t even know why it’s called a river Valley, it’s a stream, at best. “
“Shhhh.” Tony snapped and stopped.
The party had finally reached the top. About time too, Tony wasn’t sure how much more he could take. Tony walked over and pulled up the hood.
“This is your last chance. Just tell us where the necklace is, and you can go. “
“What?” Tony pulled down the gag
“I told you. I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“We know you took it, just tell us who has it so we can get it back and then you can go.”
“I’m going over that edge either way, so let’s just get it over with,” The thief said back.
“Alright.” Tony said, shrugging.
Tony stepped to the edge and looked over. The rock face below dropped straight down, even backwards in some places. Nothing to bump off, nothing to stop you. Just free fall of a thousand feet to the bottom.
Tony returned the gag to its previous position and pushed the small body of the mouth it covered, closer to the edge.
“Any last words?”
“We’ll be sure to pass that on.”
Tony pushed the shackled body over the edge, leaning over to make sure it was falling as intended. A muffled scream slowly faded away below the edge.
“That’s it? You werent gonna ask no more questions?” Asked Felix
“Don’t you worry, I'll be asking him some questions,” Tony said
“I'm not sure how that's gonna -. “ Felix started to say, but got cut off by a muffled scream appearing in the air behind them. Behind and above, but getting closer.
Tony turned in time to see the chained, hooded body falling from the sky above them. Felix just stared as it continued past them, a couple feet out from the edge, and kept following down the previous path it took when Tony first pushed it.
“I told ya it’s an epidemic!” Felix burst out.
Tony leaned his head one way, then the other. Letting each side crack loudly.
“It’s one of them wormholes. Stuff goes in down there.” He said, pointed at the ground towards the edge.
“And comes out up there.” He said pointing to the sky in front of them.
He pointed at the sky, where the muffled scream was starting again.
“Did you bring a stick or a cane?” Asked Felix
Tony looked at him, and widened his eyes
“So we can just push him past the hole entrance, they usually ain’t big.” he pantomimed poking the air with a stick.
“Maybe we will go get him a stick, we will see how things go,” Said Tony.
“He’s gonna be falling for days,” Said Felix.
Tony turned back toward the edge, and interlocked his fingers in front of him. Again, producing a loud crack as he pushed them against each other. He could hear Felix talking, but was tuning him out again. As the falling body started coming back down toward him, he yelled out.
“Are you ready to talk?”
Tony saw a head nod as it came down past him again, falling back toward the entrance of the wormhole.
“-Don’t you think sir?”
“What?” Tony said, forgetting about Felix
“Why don’t I just go get a stick or something? We can push him, then we can go home. Ill just run back down. Be like thirty minutes.”
“Just wait a minute, we’re getting somewhere,” Said Tony.
“Mmmmmmmm, mmmmmm” The body said, as it shot back past Tony.
Tony watched as it moved its head up and down, trying to free the gag.
“Should only be one or two more passes,” Tony said.
Felix walked toward the edge, then back toward Tony, pacing as he spoke, “He could say anything now, don’t mean it’s the truth, he just wants you to pull him back. It's not gonna be worth anything.”
“We’ll see,” Said Tony, turning back to watch the body fall again.
“FELIX!!!!” It screamed as it flew past again.
Tony nodded, then turned his head slowly toward Felix.
“I don’t know why he thinks I'm gonna save him. He’s a thief. I wouldn’t save a thief, sir.”
Tony took a step toward Felix.
“ I don’t think that’s what he means. Do you have the necklace Felix?”
“I don’t know nothing sir, nothin.” Felix said, stepping back.
“We will see, I guess.”
Tony put his big hands on Felix’s medium shoulders and turned him towards the edge of cliff.
“FELIX!” The body said from above them.
Tony gave Felix a hard push.
“I don’t-” Felix started to speak, but stopped as his left foot, the last piece of his body touching the ground, went over the edge. Unlike the gagged, shackled body that went before him, Felix tried to save himself as he went over the edge. All that he was able to accomplish, was to go over the edge at an angle. So, as his flailing body went into freefall, it collided with the hooded, shackled body already falling.
“Ahhhhhhhh! ‘’ screamed the now fully ungagged head of the thief, as the body of Felix pushed it clear of the wormhole and into the open air.
“Ahhhhhhh!” Screamed Felix, as he spun toward the entrance to the wormhole.
“Noooooo-” Continued Felix as he, also, fell clear of the wormhole entrance.
Tony heard both screams continue to fall away from him. Away and down. Tony meant for Felix to fall into the wormhole, like the thief had before him, so that he could be properly questioned, but perhaps his push had been a little hard. Tony leaned over the edge, watching as the small dots continued to fall down toward the river valley. Tony closed his eyes and let out a long breath. He quickly pulled his head back as he felt something wet splash the back of his head, then turned his head upward just in time to get a face full of warm liquid. He wiped his hand across his face, and opened his eyes. Blood, his hand was covered in wet, hot, blood. Tony took a couple of steps back and cleared the rest of his face. As he looked up, a black blur appeared in the sky high above the edge of the cliff. After a few seconds, the object came closer and Tony realized what had happened.
As Felix fell over the edge, he knocked the thief out of the path of the wormhole, then, as he was spinning, Felix went sideways towards the wormhole. So when he hit the entrance of the wormhole, his bottom half went through the wormhole, and his top half, being outside the edge of the wormhole, continued falling down into the valley. Tony was very much hoping to get the boss’s necklace back, but nothing could be done now. As the lower half of Felix continued down toward the wormhole entrance, Tony pulled out his cell phone and dialed Big Mary; she would not be Happy. There were a few rings before a low voice answered.
“Hello,” Said the low voice, who was clearly not Big Mary.
“This is big Tony. Who is this?”
“This is medium Doug.” Said Medium Doug from the other end of the phone.
“Medium Doug, Where is the boss?”
“Mary is in a meeting.”
Tony knew he couldn’t delay giving the boss the bad news.
“Alright, I need you to deliver a message, write this down,” Said Tony.
“Let me get a pencil,” said Doug.
“You don’t have a pen?” Said Tony.
“I have a pen, but what if I need to erase something, you can’t erase pen, sir”
“A pen is fine, Doug.”
“I'll just be second, sir,” Replied Doug.
Tony waited, listening to rustling and breathing on the other end of the phone.
“Ok, sir, go ahead,” Doug said finally.
“First of all, tell the boss that small Felix is now medium Felix. Also, tell the boss our recovery plan was not successful, and- wait, hold on”
Tony dropped the phone from his ear as the pair of legs in black trousers and half a torso fell from the sky. Amid the blood and intestine trailing out of the top, Tony saw something glinting in the light. As it passed down in front of him, he leaned over to get a closer look.
“What was that?” Tony said to the air.
“Tell the boss to wait and hold on?”
“No, you hold on,” Tony quipped.
Tony waited for the legs to start falling toward him again, angling his body close to the edge to get a better view of what he saw. As it fell past his view, he found the spot he was looking at before. Dangling out from the half torso, directly above the left leg, was the end of a silver chain covered in diamonds.
“The rat bastard swallowed it,” Tony said to the air again.
He took a couple steps back from the edge and spoke into the phone again.
“Doug, scrap that second part”
“You mean erase it? See why I got the pencil, sir,” said Doug.
“Yes, fine, erase it. Then I need you to send one of the boys to the top of the rat hill with some rope and a grappling hook.” Said Tony
“A grappling hook?”
“Yes, there is one in the shed.”
“Ok, anything else, sir?”
“Yeah, tell the boss I’ll be back shortly with her necklace.”
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Hi Jaden, What a fun story you have for us here! You hit the elements of a crime caper story: a bit of humor, adventure, and an unusual ragtag bunch set amidst the backdrop of sci-fi. Such an interesting combination! I noticed an improvement in show vs tell compared to the last story I read from you. Kudos! I made reference to this in another piece I read for you, but you could benefit from a final editing pass to clean up some minor punctuation and grammar typos. Also some instances of double space. Just do a CTRL+F " " if you want to f...
Thanks so much for reading. I ran this though prowritingaid (supposed to be the same as grammerly) and it said everything was good, but Ill have to use your trick as well. I once read that writing a story is like cooking a meal, and finishing your first draft is just like picking the recipe. You still have to prep and cook, and that's really where your story becomes the product you want to be. Thanks again!
Ha :) Great title. I'm reminded of the game Portal. What I like about this is the wormholes aren't really explained, they're just a matter of fact for these people. Sure, there are probably scientists somewhere studying them, but normal everyday criminals just learn to live with them, and exploit them where possible. The interactions between the characters are amusing, as is the fact that things don't really go to plan, but then it's that exact mess up, with Felix getting bisected, that helps Tony out in the end. Looks like there's a f...
Thanks for reading! And that's funny you mention that game, it definitely contributed to this story. I loved that game. There is also an app called ragdoll blaster, that has similar mechanics. I really wanted to use the wormhole idea and really love how this turned out! Thanks so much for the comment!
Jaden, I really enjoyed your story's clever humor. In a short space, you developed a world similar to ours but with clear differences and established it by showing, not telling. I particularly liked how you structured the moments when Felix and Pete were falling through the wormhole. Nicely done.
Thanks for the read, and the wonderful comment!
I loved the humor in this, I could picture Medium Felix who talks too much so well.. "Medium Felix was indeed medium in every way except one". And I really liked the bit about the Pencil right at the high stakes moment, almost like standup comedy. The way you write dialogue is really good, just the right tempo. Look forward to see your future stories!
Thanks so much for reading, and the positive comments! There will definitely be more stories.
I know you've asked for critique but your story was written so well I was a bit stumped. I was thinking of what could take your story to the next level, and finally had an idea.. next story perhaps include a subplot, some goal or problem not connected to the main plot to bounce back and forth to once and a while. Big Tony has a toothache, or issue with his wife, or is thinking of his next promotion in the big/medium/small mafia,etc.. like the pencil/pen bit sometimes that can add some comic relief.
Thats amazing feedback, I actually almost took the pencil bit out. Im glad I didnt. I definitely have lots of ideas for more subplots!
Oops. What worked? Big Tony has friends: little and medium Tony. The first para with Pete had to be reread a few times because I thought it was Felix that was talking to get out of stealing. But looking back works. wormhole mafia works getting a stick works pencils and lady mafia boss work. Next level? Nah, Godfather was not about "family' it was about violence. Anyone who reads Puzo can know that. So we don't need to pretend that this story is meant for a Booker Prize. It is good, smart, fun. It is maxed out.
This was so entertaining! Wormholes as an interrogation (I guess that’s the right word?) technique was so clever and I chuckled quite a bit while reading this. Looking forward to reading more from you!