Exit Stage Left (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: February 18, 2016 in chuck wendig challenge, Fiction, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Okay, so I had to take a second stab at this. I got about 500 words into my first attempt and realized it was crap. Here is take two. I wasn’t taking myself or the story seriously, and I’m sure that shows. Besides, how are you supposed to take a challenge like DIE HARD meets THE MUPPETS seriously?

I eyed the delivery truck with some suspicion. There was only an hour to go before the show opened. Everything was supposed to have already been delivered, and if it hadn’t? Well, we’d manage without it. When eight people poured out the back of it, I knew it was trouble, even more so when I realized they weren’t carrying the penguins for Flying Alonzo’s stage show but automatic weapons.

“Get inside and lock that door!” I shouted, flailing my arms. The crew looked at me, puzzlement twisting their features. Yeah, I sounded hysterical even to myself. I knew I couldn’t wait to see if they listened, but bounced inside. “Everyone hide!”

“What’s wrong, honey?” Twiggy, star of the show and preeminent diva, looked up at me, brow furrowed.

“Gunmen. At. The. Door. Everyone needs to get out,” I gasped out.

“Huh?” the collected mass of actors and stage hands asked. By then it was too late as the gunmen ushered the workers on the dock in. One of them fired his gun into the ceiling, raining cheap plaster (and probably asbestos) down on top of us.

I dove deeper into storage, amidst the cheap props and scenery, hoping they hadn’t seen me duck back there. Yeah, it might have looked like cowardice to everyone else, but I wasn’t going to do anyone any good rounded up with everyone else. I heard more shouting, but thankfully no more gunshots.

I scrambled behind some scenery flats as one of the gunmen followed after me. He shone a flashlight around, keeping his hand on his gun. I thought about making a move, but his friends were still too close. I decided biding my time was the smarter move. Besides, this was my theater, and I’d be damned if some terrorists or thieves or whatever they called themselves were going to ruin my show. That was my job dammit!

“No sign of him, boss,” the gunman called back.

“Get back here then. Keep an eye on this lot, while we get what we came for.”

I scratched the top of my head. What would gunmen want with a variety act in a rundown theatre? I couldn’t think of anything they might want. Then I realized it might not have anything to do with the theater itself, but who might be coming to the theatre.

As quietly as a I could, I made my way toward the stage entrance. The attackers were focused on the rest of the cast and crew. Still, as I crept toward the stage entrance, I made out a shadowy figure lurking near the door. He wasn’t paying any attention to behind him, though he did make a startled squawk when I twisted the strap attached to his gun around his neck and pulled hard. His eyes bulged almost as much as mine did before he dropped to the floor.

I made it out into the seats. Nobody was around, of course, and it was pitch black. Years working in the dark paid off now as I made my way sure and steady toward the front of the house and the box office. I needed to check the audience list to see who was coming tonight, to warn them, and to get help for my friends.

The ticket booth was empty as well. Anyone who might have been working tonight was down stairs with the terrorists. I turned the computer on, silently wishing it to boot faster, and kicking myself for not upgrading the ticketing software already like I wanted to.

None of the names jumped out at me as I checked the registry. Sighing, I turned to go, only to find myself staring at a form blocking the door.

The gunman flipped on the light in the ticket booth. “Huh?”

I didn’t let him finish that thought, but pulled the trigger, stitching a neat line of holes across his chest. I stopped to grab the radio clipped to his belt then leapt out of there. I worked my way back to the seats, only in time to see two more gunmen emerge from back behind stage.

“There he is!” they shouted. I dived down behind the chairs, bullets ricocheting around me, punching through the cheap metal and fabric.

I crawled my way down the aisle, my ears ringing, trying to formulate something resembling a plan. Something wet ran down my face. I touched my hand to it, noticed it was red. Some shrapnel must have caught me, but it wasn’t like I could do anything about that now. I slipped under a chair, making my way closer to the stage.

“I see him.”

I bit back a curse as I leapt over the chairs, bullets slicing through the air toward me. By some miracle, they all missed me. I didn’t even try to return fire, instead gaining the stage. I opened one of the trap doors and ducked inside, slamming and locking it behind me. I slid down the ladder, further into the bowels of the theater. Bullets punched through the wood behind me, but lucky for me they all missed.

By my count, they were down two, leaving six. I didn’t like those odds, and I still didn’t know why they had attacked the theatre.

Before I could decide my next move, a voice came over the PA system. “Mr. Frogg. We have your friends. Surrender to us, and there doesn’t need to be any further bloodshed. Refuse… and I start executing. Starting with Miss Twiggy, I believe.”

“Don’t do it, Frogg,” Twiggy shouted into the system. “He’s going to kill you any-”

“That will be quite enough of that,” the voice said. “Any further interruptions will be met with dire consequences. Is that understood?”

“Yeah, I hear you.” I looked around some more, taking stock of my options. A smile spread itself slow across my face.

“Good. Meet us in the house. Alone. Unarmed. You can manage that, can’t you?” The speaker, whoever he was, spoke with a very proper accent. Not British, but probably went to school there, or learned English from the English. Twat.


I entered the house as agreed. The remaining six gunmen were there, the leader standing in the middle. The cast and crew was there too, all sitting on the seats, guns trained on them.

“Ah, Mr. Frogg. So nice for you to join us. Unarmed I take it?”

“Yeah. For what it’s worth?”

“Put the bag down please.”

“This bag?” I asked, all innocent.

“Yes, that bag.”

“I’m not sure you want me to put it down, actually.”

“I’m afraid I must insist.” Like that, I found myself staring down the barrel of his gun.

“All right. I want you all to know he insisted.”

I tossed the bag in the air. All eyes tracked it and missed me pushing the detonator. The bag exploded. There was nothing dangerous in it, just enough flash powder to blind anyone looking at it. So of course I had my eyes closed.

God love them, my crew was on their game. As soon as the bag left my hands, they closed their eyes and covered their ears. Twiggy jumped on the leader , grabbed his gun away from him, and proceeded to beat him bloody with it.

“Never! Point! A! Gun! At! A! Lady!”

The rest of the gunmen went down almost as quick as the crew clambered over them, biting, kicking, and clawing. By the time the police arrived, they were all but begging to be taken away.

I looked around at the mess. My assistant chose that moment to come up to me. “So are we going to cancel the show, boss?”

“Cancel? Cancel! We can’t cancel. Places everyone. The show must go on!”

  1. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I like it! I think you did just the right amount of taking the story seriously–enough to put it together well, not so much you delude yourself into thinking it’s something it’s not (I’m a big fan of writing with tongue embedded in cheek).

    Rebecca at The Ninja Librarian

  2. moteridgerider says:

    My continued admiration for you taking on these Wendig challenges. Nice premise.

  3. What an odd combo =) Such fun!

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