Flash Fiction Challenge

I rarely have the time to do these when Chuck issues the challenge. I ended up doing the “Last lines first” challenge:
Truth be told, I’m not sure any of them were actually dead. Looking back, I realized I had done everything completely wrong. I hoped the next time I died it would be for something beautiful, like love or justice. Instead the bundle of money in my hand mocked me. I let the crisp bills flutter to the floor as they burst into flame, as did stacks upon stacks of currency piled up around me. I couldn’t ever know what the police would discover when they poked through the charred remains of the bank vault. Hopefully, the blast was contained to the vault and no one else was hurt. It was no longer my concern – I only wondered how many times I had to die before I could live again. My only solace was that they would not be able to spend the stolen money and they would never hurt anyone again.
***
It started without fanfare. I was visiting the eighty-sixth floor of the Empire State building for no reason other than I was bored. No space alien or fairy god mother bestowed powers upon me. There was no sorcery or witchcraft that made it all happen. Simply a piece of technology and a mysterious woman – so many stories began with just a woman, but mine seemed to end the way those stories began. I remembered the words she spoke to me before thrusting into my hands a peculiar device that became the bane of my short-lived existence.
“Take it,” she gasped, “it can’t use me any more.”
She climbed onto the ledge of the observation deck and leapt to her death. I rushed to the barrier she climbed over and peered down. I couldn’t see what happened to her, but the gathering crowd of onlookers let me know she had successfully traversed the eighty-six floors to the pavement below.
I was shocked at what I had just witnessed. I secreted the device into the pocket of my cargo pants – I wondered of its value, but I came to know it was worthless to anyone who would seek it out. The device that poor woman forced upon me allowed me to escape death by forcing me into a parallel world.
At first, I welcomed the adventure. Immortality was the stuff man had sought through out the ages. Little did they know, I would attempt to deny myself this immortality by any means necessary. Destroying the device was foolhardy – like me, when it died, it was forced into another dimension. This yielded no escape from it. I was chained to it and it to me – lost not in time or location, but in death.
***
I found myself (after yet another death) standing in the vestibule of a bank. I held a shotgun in one hand and with the other I adjusted a plastic mask covering my face. The man I had just struck with the heel of my boot scurried behind a trash can. I was aware of shouting and commotion around me.
“Get on the floor! This is a robbery!”
Three other masked men were spread out in the lobby pointing their weapons at their hapless victims. One of them stared at me and shouted,
“Joe! Which one is the branch manager?”
I quickly responded, “Uhh, I don’t know.”
It wasn’t the best response to the situation, but I was doing my best. After all, I was new to this world and this situation. When the device functioned, I simply ceased to be who I was and became whomever I stepped into. It didn’t require college-level thinking to discern I was robbing a bank. The type of people I became seemed to share a certain commonality: they were all criminals about to harm someone.
“Well? Can we just use the explosives to open the vault?”
I felt my jacket pocket and in it was what I could only assume was a detonator. Before I could answer something along the lines of huh?, a man in a suit that was cheap in any dimension stood and addressed me and the crew.
“Explosives are unnecessary,  I can take you to the vault.”
“Well get to it, little man!”
The villain kicked the man on the backside. When his jacket swung open, I noticed he had a harness loaded with dull grey cylinders. Dynamite? Nitro? I didn’t know what it was, but I was sure it was the explosives he talked about earlier.
I was amazed at the suit’s calmness. Perhaps he had training in the past? He led us to the vault and swung the vault door open and accompanied us inside. As my comrades gleefully climbed onto the pallets of cash, I knew I had to act. I turned to the man, and said a single word:
“Run.”
I pushed him out the vault frame, dropped my shotgun, grasped the handle with both hands and swung the door closed. An audible click was followed by the sound of a mechanism pushing bolts into place sealing us into the vault. I picked up a bundle of bills and simply stared for moment. The three masked men were all accounted for, so I produced the wireless detonator from my jacket pocket and depressed the plunger, hoping for a quick end to this robbery.
My actions were met by shouts of disbelief, but those shouts were short lived as the explosives detonated, killing the three of them instantly. I simply waited for what I knew would happen next…
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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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