A Chronicle of Jails


By Roman Köhler [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

This flash-fiction story was written in response to this prompt from Fiction Can Be Fun.

First thing is that it wasn’t my fault. None of it was my fault. Not one bit of it.

Yeah, that’s what people always say, isn’t it, that it wasn’t their fault but in this particular case it’s 100% true. One-thousand percent.

Don’t give me that look, I’ve faced much tougher than you. Much, much tougher.

Anyway, I was minding my own business, as I do, walking along the street, when I happened across a plain brown paper bag. You know the kind, right, the ones they use for lunches or for people who can’t breathe. Whichever.

Me being the curious type, I take a peek.

That’s it. That’s all I did. Peek into the brown paper bag. Now I ask you, how many times out of ten do you think peeking in a brown paper bag you find in the street is going to get you into the kind of trouble I got into? How many times of ten do you think? One? Three?

Well it was my unlucky day. Or maybe my unluckiest day. Because whammo, I won the lottery, but the opposite.

All I saw was a bunch of shiny crystals. Some green, some red, some clear. Just crystals as far as I knew right there in that moment out on the street with a paper bag in my hand. They were pretty, sure, we’re all magpies at heart, take something shiny and who doesn’t want it? How does something that glittery not catch your eye?

I told you, it’s not my fault.

Okay, okay, it’s all over your face. You wouldn’t think they were crystals. You, of the ultimate wisdom, you’d think they were some kind of jewels or something, right?

Am I right?

That’s exactly where you’d be wrong. Maybe or maybe not the same thought crossed my mind. Maybe or maybe not when I took my peek of fate—nice ring, right? Peek of fate?—I thought my ship had come in right on the sidewalk in a paper bag.

It hadn’t.

Now see, you’re here too, so you know what happened next. You’re here too, so you know that the moment that first crystal, that red one, hit the freshly polluted Thursday morning city air, it changed and grew and surrounded me until, well, poof, here I am.

Eighteen months I made it out there, hopping through that great beyond, eighteen glorious careful months from Andromeda to Taurus and back again.

Because of a case of mistaken identity, you understand, like I said, it wasn’t my fault.

And even if I was there when that crateload of rare minerals disappeared from the landing bay of Settlement 8403, it doesn’t mean I took them. And it doesn’t mean I sold them to the Usurpians, who, in all fairness to me, I didn’t know had started a whole war thing with us like a standard month earlier. And bad timing on my part doesn’t mean I deserved to be sent to the harshest prison in this quadrant of the universe with its anti-matter locks that obviously can be defeated, no matter what the manufacturer says.

But I’ll tell you this. They can keep me here in the Leo Lockup, because I’m not going to back to the Black Eye Galaxy Prison. Not again.

Stupid, shiny warrant traps.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.


15 thoughts on “A Chronicle of Jails

  1. debscarey

    Love it! So glad you were inspired by the prompt this month. Especially as I didn’t get to do a story. For the last week I’ve been in the deadest zone ever moving my Mum into her new home. No Internet, worse no phone & no mobile signal do not even the data I was relying on for posting – oops!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OH NO! I’m sure David told you I was a little concerned after I settled in to read two stories and only found one!

      Yes, I really enjoyed this prompt, I may have to do it again. I’d only looked at the site for 5 seconds when the title leaped at me.

      I hope your Mom is all settled and enjoying her new place!

      Liked by 1 person

      • debscarey

        He did tell me, hence I popped on here as soon as I got some signal. I’m now back home and trying to catch up with my overflowing in box, my un-posted posts, and all my other work.

        My Mum is in her new apartment and it is relatively settled. There are still a whole host of teething problems, not least of which is finding places for all her nick-nacks. The apartment is positively overflowing with her collections of flower pots, vases, family photos, decorative plates, elephants & cats, and as for candles … 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds like it’s time to pare down! I hope she enjoys her new place. It sounds like it’s quite a change!

        I’m glad to see you back and around! I can’t imagine what the virtual stack is like!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much!

      I often find myself starting out that way, like the character is just talking through my head, and then I have to stop and consider whether it’s really the correct voice.

      It’s a lot of fun, because I only use it when you want an entirely unreliable narrator, or you want to really lock in the point of view.

      Maybe for your next writing exercise?!


      • I can do it with flash, because it’s short. I have a series on my back burner that I thought about doing in first person. Lia Rules: a twenty-something street smart, kick ass, former foster kid, PI who rides a Ninja motorcycle. I think I might tackle the first book this summer. Writing flash is taking me out of my writing doldrums. I plan these to be shorter, maybe 40-50k books.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think it’s really the way they may be going in terms of length.

        That sounds like a fantastic character! So the first person to give it that PI flavor? And making her 20-something gives her so much room to grow.

        I hear you with the writing doldrums. I definitely need to do much more flash. Fewer expectations, fewer threads to keep track of, shorter distance to go.


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