That bitch stole my Twinkie! It had to be Serena. His stepsister was the only one who knew it existed. Of course she waited until he went on the road to sell his tools. He’d thought his protections were foolproof.
From the moment Tim walked into his vault he knew something was wrong. It had only taken a moment for his eyes to find the empty pedestal in the center of the room. How had she gotten through all his security measures?
Before confronting the woman, he decided to carefully examine the entire crime scene. His metal men were completely wound and in their proper place. The crank-gun in the corner hadn’t fired. He took two steps to his right and turned to face the security panel. He turned the first gear handle three times clockwise, the second — once counter-clockwise. He toggled the correct switches and gave the first gear one more twist. There was no way Serena could know the correct combination, was there? He stepped off the disguised pressure plate and crossed to the glass covered pedestal. All this he did slowly to avoid setting off his traps.
There were fingerprints on the glass, but he had no way to know if they were his or someone else’s. Not for the first time, Tim wished more old world technology had survived the big war. He’d read battered, aged books that spoke of what life was like in that time. If he could ‘dust’ the prints, he would have proof.
He shook his head, making his dull brown hair fall into his eyes. Proof didn’t matter. His stepsister had magic, he would never be able to take the Twinkie back if she did have it. But why did she take it? Was it to hurt him? Or was it for her own gain? Probably that. Serena knew the snack cake was his most prized possession. It was more important to him than any of the other odds and ends he’d collected over the years.
Maybe he shouldn’t have made it the centerpiece of his vault. He’d foolishly believed that she didn’t know how valuable it was. Would she sell it? Perhaps. Everything she did these days was to gain a profit.
A horrifying thought introduced itself as brushed his hair off his forehead. What if she destroyed it? Suppressing the urge to run he turned away from the crime scene and slowly exited the vault. He closed the door and turned the handle all the way to the left. His patience was tested as he waited for the clicks that would signal the locking mechanism had engaged.
When he judged it safe to move from the door, he ran to the stairwell and rushed down to the level below. Serena’s door was open, a clear sign of danger so he stopped at the entry and knocked politely.
“Who is it?” Her smooth voice sounded, irritating him further.
“Since you and I are the only ones that come up to the top levels, you already know who it is.” He relaxed his jaw when he realized he said it through gritted teeth.
A sultry laugh answered him before she spoke. “Come in dear stepbrother.”
Trusting her obvious good mood meant she didn’t plan to kill him, Tim entered her rooms. She sat on her throne, toying with her long blonde hair. As always when he saw it, he sneered at the seat. Pretentious bitch. He had almost formed the accusation when she reached to the little table next to her and picked up his Twinkie. He almost rushed her for it, but hesitated when he saw the satisfaction in her eyes. Instead he kicked out with his steel toed boots and was almost knocked out of the room when his foot connected with an invisible wall of magic. His stepsister may be an evil sorceress, but she was good at it.
So it was a challenge. He exited the chamber and went back up to his floor. In his workshop he gathered the tools he thought he would need and went back to confront Serena again.
He started with his ax. He knew steel had an effect on the magic wall because it had shimmered when he kicked it. When that tool didn’t work, he switched to his sledgehammer, to no avail. Next came a hammer and chisel. He had a little more success with that, but only enough to make a tiny hole. At that point he shot at the hole with his black-powder revolver, only to cover his goggles and pepper his hair with the thin black dust.
Pondering the progress, or lack thereof, he’d made by that point, he decided to stick with the hammer and chisel. If he could make a big enough hole in the sorceress’ wall, he’d be able to shoot her. Hopefully that would make her magic disperse.
He was so determined, and lost in his work that when he could finally fit his gun through the opening, he never saw Serena leave the throne. Damn. She couldn’t have left her suite, as he was standing at the only entrance and exit. He glanced at the wall next to the doorway. Maybe he could get in that way. Using the sledge-hammer he broke up a large stone. He put the hammer through it and again met the resistance of his stepsister’s magic.
Clearly his efforts were useless. Tim went back upstairs and entered his workshop. He gazed around in frustration. I’m a tool salesman for crying out loud. If anyone could find a way into her rooms it was him. This challenge would not defeat him. He stood for several moments before it came to him. The zeppelin. He was looking in the wrong place. The tool he needed was on the ship.
Excitedly he went to the ladder in the corner and climbed up to the roof. Boarding the floating ship he went straight to the armory. He found what he wanted quickly, packaged carefully in a crate. One should do it. He picked up the bomb and went to load it into his new sling gun.
There was a small jab of concern as he lifted off. Neither the weapon nor its delivery system had been tested. Well today would change that. When he had flown into position he went back to the gun. As he aimed he felt a momentary regret for the impending destruction of his vault. His collection dated back to when he was a small child. Twenty years of memories and adventures were in that room.
None of it mattered when compared to his goal. There was little disquiet about destroying his prize. He brushed the thought aside, the Twinkie had survived the apocalypse, after all. He fired. The bomb was more powerful than he intended it. The explosion blew the top three floors off the tower.
He landed his air ship and made his way quickly through the rubble looking for his stepsister. He found her quickly. She was as messy as he could have hoped. He felt no guilt. She had gone too far this time. She still held his property in her hand, it was only a little smushed.
He pried it out of her cold dead hands. He turned the cake over in his hands, inspecting it, as he walked back to his new home, the zeppelin. Her magic hadn’t saved her, but it had protected his treasure. The plastic wasn’t even torn. Relief washed over him. Thank goodness she hadn’t sold it before he could reclaim it.
He reached the ship, closed the door and went to the navigation seat. Looking out at the ruins of his tower, he mentally made plans to rebuild.
Tim ate the Twinkie. Funny, it wasn’t as good as he thought it would be. It was a good thing Serena never discovered the Ho-Hos in the vault hidden in the cellar.
This is the result of an exercise we did in my writing group a few weeks ago. We each came up with a protagonist, an antagonist, conflict, setting and genre. These were written on index cards, shuffled and passed around. I got:
- Protagonist: Tim – the traveling tool salesman
- Antagonist: An evil stepsister sorceress who is evil for her own gain
- Setting: Post apocalyptic earth
- Genre: Contemporary steampunk new adult epic thriller (what you’re thinking right now, I thought it too)
- Conflict: The last Twinkie on earth has been stolen
We decided to write either flash fiction or a short story. This is over 1300 words. I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t do it. Also I wrote some weird stuff on my cards that others in my group got stuck with. Like: Julian who works in the monkey house at the zoo. As soon as I read the genre I got, I stopped feeling bad about what I handed out. I’ve never written steampunk, haven’t even read it. New adult is um…not for me, and I had no idea how to make anything epic dealing with a Twinkie. I did it anyway.
Feel free to critique if you like but I doubt it’s going to change at this point. I’m just happy to have finished. This was never going to see the light of day but that would defeat what I’ve been trying to accomplish by posting rough drafts. Hope you enjoyed it. If you’re in a writing group, I strongly suggest you do an exercise like this, possibly omitting genre.
I know there isn’t much in the way of steampunk but hey, at least Tim has goggles!