Short story: How’s the serenity?

Apologies for the late post this week, I’ve been sick. I’ve had a course of antibiotics now, and I’m almost better, so I thought I’d post a short story that I actually like as a treat. Like a lot of my short fiction, I initially wrote it for the furious fiction contest that the Australian Writer’s Centre runs every month (for free). I believe the prompts that sparked this story were from March of this year. Anyway, I need to go cough and sleep. Enjoy the story.

The image shows a red phone box in a picturesque setting, there are clouds in the background, this is the initial setting of the short story

The sunset over the dam painted the clouds in shades of marshmallow pink and white. I’d had to drive nearly forty minutes to find this phone box; you don’t see them much anymore, and the kidnappers had been no help. It was a lovely view, but I doubted I’d been sent here for the serenity.

The phone rang and I nearly jumped into the water.


“No need to yell, Mr Davis, we can hear you just fine.”

“Oh, okay, I’ve never used one of these before.”

“You’ve never used…a phone?”

“Not a big red one. The box, I mean. The phone is more of a faded black—”

“Your wife is fine.”

“She is? Oh, marvellous. Um, and my son?”

There was a moment of baffled silence. “We don’t have your son, Mr Davis.”

“Oh? He’s not answering my calls. He works a lot, but I thought maybe… Do you think a colleague of yours might have—”

“If you want to see your wife again, you’ll leave $250,000 in unmarked cash in a duffel bag at this location by tomorrow, 11am.”

“When you say duffel bag—”

“Come alone.” The call ended.

Rude. I was just wondering what differentiated a duffel bag from say, an overnight bag.

No matter. I’d let it be known that I was in the market for a duffel bag, and no doubt a luggage merchant of some kind would help me.

The following day I headed for the dam, along with what I had been assured was a premium quality duffle bag. No colour had been specified, so I’d gone with an attractive marbled pattern.

Halfway to the dam I was cut off by a red car. Two more cars came from behind, and I was soon boxed in and driven to the edge of the road.

I stepped out onto the road. “I hate to rush off, but I have an appointment—”

“Really, Harold?” My wife stepped from the red car, glaring daggers and pointing a gun.

I felt somewhat unarmed, carrying only my handsome new duffel bag and the tracking device I’d had placed inside.

It was at this point I realised divorce proceedings had gotten out of hand.

“I’m confused, Alana, wasn’t the ransom occurring at the dam?”

“The dam that by now is swarming with your private security? Don’t be ridiculous.”

She did know me. “I assume congratulations on your miraculous escape are unnecessary, then.”

“I’m taking the cash and leaving the country, Harold, don’t try to stop me.”

“I suppose Tom has already left?”

She blinked, “Your son? Why—”

A siren sounded in a single burst, and my son’s voice sounded over the loudspeaker of his patrol car. I broke into a grin. Tom did check his messages!

“Put down the weapons, you’re surrounded.”

“I’m sorry, Alana, but I can’t have my wife just disappear, how would that look?”

 “You—” she sputtered.

I watched as Tom and his colleagues arrested my soon to be ex-wife.

“You should drive past the dam on your way to prison, Tom, it really is a lovely view.”

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