Finally jumping in on one of Chuck Wendig’s flash challenges at Terrible Minds with this: write 500 words of a story that someone else will finish. Perfect for a Friday afternoon!

Fee didn’t recognize the voice at the door, but she knew the face when she looked through the peephole. Danny Vinzo was a pinch-faced boy with piggy eyes and a perpetual sneer. A bully from birth.

“You in there, Alou?” Danny demanded, banging again. “I texted an hour ago. We need more.”

“He went out. Back soon, I’m sure,” Fee told him.

She couldn’t turn him away. Danny was a regular. So she pasted on a welcoming smile and opened the door. It wasn’t hard to pretend. She had plenty of practice. Pleasant was a good distraction, one way or another.

Danny shoved past her and stomped down the hall like a man who weighed three times as much. Behind him came another boy. Solid where Danny was reedy, this one had skin like stucco and a suspicious look he seemed to aim everywhere at once.

“Sure, come in,” she said to their backs.

At least her kitchen always cheered her up, no matter what or who was in it. Danny heaved himself into a rickety chair, which creaked nervously under him. The other boy hovered near the fridge with his hands clasped behind him. His eyes never stopped moving, measuring everything.

Fee saw him look at her, away, back again. What did he see? Height of the new winter, hot and bright, and here she skulked in long sleeves and skirt. Boys their age always thought she was ancient—harmless—so she played it up. Sugared her voice even more. Asked if they wanted a glass of something. Her hands were starting to shake a bit. Not enough so they would notice, surely. She curled one hand until the knuckles cracked.

With a smile to Danny, she said, “Let me call Alou so you don’t have to wait. He should be back any minute!”

Fee picked up the phone and hurried out of the kitchen. Past the door to the basement and into the living room, she pretended to dial. There was no need. Alou was exactly where she’d put him.

“He’s on his way!” she shouted toward the kitchen. “Five minutes out, tops.”

Everything Fee needed was behind a false stone in the fireplace. She checked to make sure neither boy had followed. Danny wasn’t what anyone would consider the curious type, but his friend…. She jimmied the stone free. Inside the tin box behind it was what she needed, everything arranged just so. Of course it was. How could Alou have found it from the bottom of the stairs where he fell?

It was too bad Danny brought his friend. If not, she might have given him what he wanted, pills from Alou’s personal stash—for a ridiculous price but still low enough to send him away happy.

Fee shivered. She could feel that boy’s eyes staring at her here, rooms away. They were heavy on her covered arms, cool like the gun in her hand.

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