Friday 22 July 2011

Friday Flash - Your Money or Your Life

I crouch in the bushes at the side of the road with only a dead body at my feet for company. I nudge the corpse with the toe of my stolen boots. It rolls into the ditch behind me, hitting the frost-frozen earth with a hollow thump. Good riddance, if you ask me.

The full moon gazes down at me, her open face full of reproach. I scowl at the judgemental satellite, and turn my attention back to the road. Horses hooves head this way. I count four horses - it must be a large coach. A large coach means wealthy occupants - perhaps even my foolish former master.

I straighten my frock coat and tricorn hat. The fool from whom I liberated the coat, a fool who incidentally now lies dead in a ditch, certainly knew how to dress well. Judging by the tooling on the pair of flintlock pistols I found stuffed in his belt, he did fairly well at this highwayman caper. Well, until he met me. What can I tell you? Even in my more humble situations, I have always been prey to the attractions of the finer things in life.

I leap out of the bushes. The driver shouts an oath and hauls on the reins of his team of four. I yank free one of the pistols and fire. The force of the shot knocks him from his seat. The horses rear, pawing the cold night hair with their lethal hooves. The coach grinds to a halt mere inches away from me. I saunter along the side of the coach and open the door.

A young lady cowers on the back seat. An older gentleman in a powdered wig and pristine breeches sits opposite. He splutters with indignation, and stinks of money. This night gets better and better. I draw the other  flintlock and draw patterns in the air with the muzzle. The lady watches it, hypnotised by the movements. Her chaperone ignores the pistol and glares at me.

"How dare you!"

"I believe the phrase for an occasion such as this would be 'Stand and deliver, your money or your life’," I reply.

"You utter fiend. You scoundrel!" replies the gentleman.

"Indeed I am both of these things. Yet I repeat, your money or your life?" I ask.

"Then you shall have to take my money, for you shall never take my life," says the gentleman.

I swing the pistol in his direction and fire. A terrific explosion fills the coach, shattering the peace of the night. When the smoke clears, I see the gentleman slumped back in his seat. His head lolls on his chest, a red flower blooming on the breast of his grey frock coat. What a waste of a good coat. The young lady sits and stares, her mouth hanging open as she tries to scream.

"And you, my lady?"

"Then I say you must take my life," she says. She sits up straight and looks me dead in the eye. I can see her logic, and I toss aside the pistol. It clatters on the stony road. She expects me to take her money now.

"Your life, you say?"

"Indeed, you vile rogue. My life!"

"If you insist."

I reach into the coach and pull her out into my arms before she can blink. I tip back my head, letting the moonlight glint on my extended fangs, before I sink them into her pretty neck. Having gorged myself on the highwayman out to stop this very coach, I don't drink much. I stumbled upon him by accident, but this delicate morsel was definitely on my agenda. She faints, and I sling her over my shoulder. I lope into the night, heading for my den.

I find highway robbery suits me very well, and I do believe I shall enjoy my midnight snack tonight.

* * *

The highwayman in the image that accompanies this flash is the dashing David Marshall, tour guide with Alone in the Dark Entertainment. They're about to start running a new ghost walk around Washington in the north east of England. The photo comes courtesy of them - the editing comes courtesy of me. David is also my other half!


Carrie Clevenger said...

LOVELY! Your writing is sharp, descriptive, yet as poetic as the poem that shares a subject. Splendid work.

Jen said...

What a terrific villain! I appreciate his absolute cruelty in going by own logic (or no logic, even) and embracing being a total scoundrel. I'd be happy to see more of him.

Or her, as may be?

The only thing I didn't like: "sickening thud" sounds like too much of a cliche and it brings down an otherwise killer start.

Anonymous said...

I love this!

Helen A. Howell said...

Whoa that was a surprise ending! Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Ooh a vampire highwayman! Awesome stuff!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Carrie - Thank you!

Jen - He won't stop talking to me so chances are, he will make another appearance.

Apple - Thank you!

Helen - *bows*

Stacey - That's about as close to writing vampire fiction as I think I'm likely to get!

Anonymous said...

Ha - this was too much fun. You've got the start of a great character here. :-)

Unknown said...

A nice beat to this story. And what a fun villain! Good tale, Icy.

Larry Kollar said...

Wow, I wasn't expecting a vampire highwayman! Great pic of the other half up there too… I guess he likes his job, eh?

Laurita said...

I. Loved. This. I always enjoy a good highwayman story, but this was a delicious twist. And such a dashing figure in the photo.

Anonymous said...

That was a good twist! Nice one!

Anneke said...

Bon appetit! Tasteful story, from the first to the last sentence. Great job.

Sam said...

You were right, I love your new character! This is a dashing highwayman I want read more of. Beautifully written from start to finish. That's a great pic too.

Unknown said...

I can't wait until he meets Fowlis. :)

I like the new character.

nerinedorman said...

I am so happeh reading this. Really, really happeh. I need lots of happeh today.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Sweet deal. Her life is a worthy prize.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I'm happy to see those glittering fangs digging into that white neck! Well done, you:)

Icy Sedgwick said...

DJ - He's already told me his backstory!

David - Thank you! Do you think Kandy would approve?

FAR - Oh he loves his job - and he's very good at it! I don't normally write vampires but in this case I just couldn't help myself.

Laurita - I love highwaymen too. I'm a little bit obsessed at the moment. And I told David you called him dashing and he blushed!

Gemz - Ta!

Anneke - Thanks!

Sam - Well he's got lots of stories to tell me so there'll no doubt be more of him. Never thought I'd say the day when I'd write about a vampire highwayman in Regency England!

Michael - Haha, Fowlis will sort him out!

Nerine - I am glad to oblige with the happeh!

Raven - I bet she tasted nicer than the fellow did!

Anne - Glad you liked it!

Steve Green said...

Methinks she did bluffeth when she said

"Indeed, you vile rogue. My life!"

Little did she realise just how vile and roguish was the vile rogue to whom she spoke. :)

Donald Conrad said...

That is quite a picture and this is quite a story. A vampire highwayman doubles the fun. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Great twist at the end. I thought you were doing your marvellous historical fiction only to have it subverted by a pair of crooked fangs. Very clever, Miss Icy.
Adam B @revhappiness

John Wiswell said...

The starts almost the fastest of anything I can remember from you, Icy, and it's got a great impact. Also feels briefer, though I haven't kept a tab on word counts. Especially for how briskly it reads, great work.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Beautifully crafted. I like this.

"Your money or your life" always seems a little silly to me. If you don't offer up the former, the rogue will take both.

Anonymous said...

" I find highway robbery suits me very well." I love this line Icy, it is perfectly understated. Great character. I'd love to see his delightful victim join him on a highway rampage. Please?

Anonymous said...

wonderful, absolutely brilliant! I would have never guessed it was a vampire story :)

Chuck Allen said...

Count me among those who didn't see that coming. :) Wonderfully told, as always, Icy.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Steve - Yeah, he is rather unpleasant, isn't he?

Donald - Glad you liked it!

Adam - Oh I do love my historical fiction...

John - It is a bit shorter, you're right! I think it wouldn't work if it was longer.

Tim - Yeah, it's a stupid decision. Doesn't leave much wiggle room.

Justin - You never know, there may be more from him.

Techtigger - I do love a spot of misdirection.

Chuck - Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I didn't see that end coming either! LOL Like the description of the story.

Anonymous said...

Great work, Icy. I love the line about the hooves clawing at the night air. Beautiful. And I especially love that you're sweetie is in the photo. :)

Stephen said...

What a surprise! I love the descriptions in this one, Icy, and the brutality wasn't over-the-top. Well done. Cheers to your man for giving you the photo. I guess you told him to take your life, huh?

Dorothy F. Shaw said...

Oh how I love vampires. Even the bad ones. Awesome!

Unknown said...

Beautiful pic. I enjoyed the playful dialogue in this one, especially the man who smelled of money who seemed belligerent in his response telling the vampire he'll have to take his money.

I also liked the way we discover the vampires fashion-conscience.

Anonymous said...

Bang bang!
Icy your writying is like a wild mustang. Beautiful and if your reader is not careful, it'll run their ass over!

John Xero said...

Really nicely written, Icy. I like the vampire 'playing' at highwayman, I kinda think with their long lives one might wander into the role and stick with it for a while, as a violent diversion, if nothing else.

The dialogue (internal and external) works really well, and I have to say I didn't see the twist in this one coming. Great piece. =)

Anonymous said...

Another sharp yet concise piece Icy - especially liked the "The full moon gazes down at me, her open face full of reproach. I scowl at the judgemental satellite" - stereotypes challenged here with the woman in the moon, but i like - a lot!!!

Stephen said...

Hi there Icy -- it's a dull, misty sort of day today, so just the day for a highwayman tale. And even better, when it has an unexpected twist. Liked the play on 'or your life'.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed that! Very sharply written. And the accompanying photo is most excellent.

synde said...

fantastic... Love it... Such a vivid picture. And who can resist Stand and Deliver?

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