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When Pennies Rattle

Just a Minute Challenge

By Christy MunsonPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 5 min read
Top Story - April 2024
When Pennies Rattle
Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

Convenience Store | 9:12 pm

Front door chimes. New shoppers coming through. I look up, instinctively. Shake my head. Old habits.

Three men enter shouting: "Get dahwn!"

"Get dahwn!" "Wha'd yaw looking at --"

"Get dahwn!" "Dontcha make meh shoot yaw --"

Southern drawl. Louisiana native. Maybe. Maybe Cajun.

Next comes curse word soup. He's into it -- terrorizing.

A flash of metal. South paw shooter. At the register, guns out. Who's in charge? He's waiting for orders. Jumpy. Twitchy.

Take it easy. Easy now.

Peripheral vision's on high alert. Old training's kicking in. Been too long. Too long since I was on the job. More than a decade. Come on. Hold it together.

Breathing slows. Don't think. Do.




What do you see?

In charge: 6 foot. Red hair. Blue ball cap. Rose tat, a girl's name. Lola. Slight build. Two guns. Three. Third's tucked in back. Black jeans.

Maintains his weapons. All three, well oiled.

Two guns drawn, fingers on. Safety's off. Shit. He's aiming. Ball Cap's in charge. And definitely aiming. The others are ready, overexcited. Hungry for the go ahead.

This is planned. Ball Cap knows someone here. Her. Dark hair. Fuck. He means it. Planned to do it. Came here for her. Won't hesitate. Shit. Target acquired.

Not a robbery. Not a robbery.

His voice turns my stomach. It's smooth, like caramel. Thick with a regional dialect. Home schooling, maybe. Momma's boy.

Spots me. Shit. Can he tell?

Play dumb. You're off the force. Be cool.

"Dahwn bitch." He smiles. Broken right front tooth. Tat under his right eye. Prison. Forest green. Spider? Cricket? Fly. Maybe. Shitty tat.

Need to move closer. Don't overthink it. Be decisive. Breathe. You've got this.

Clanking coins at 10 o'clock. Cashier's tray's hitting slots. Shit.

Cashier's panicking. Don't panic. Anything but that.

Shit. He opened it. He opened his cash register. Why not wait? Give me a sec?

Okay. Let it go. Focus on now. What can you do?

Second gunman slams the drawer. Low yield. Coins mostly. Too late to talk any of 'em down.

Ball Cap's on the move. Pissed. Out of control. Looking for the third guy. Looking for her.

What'd he say? No. Oh no. What'd he say? Move! Move! Now! Shield her. Get there.

Six clicks: Pop-pop. Pop. Pop. Pop-pop. Shit.

Can't get there. Too slow. Nooooo!

Who's hit? Who's hit?

She falls when pennies rattle. Slumps. No chance. Target's down.

I'm hit too.

Might be a through and through. Feel. Can't get my fingers there.

Greedy for cash -- that third gunman. All about cash for him. Addict? Yes. Focus. Where are the others?

Fingers fly over bills, counting, tossing coins. He's pissed. Dumps the last coins from the back of the tray. Spills them across the counter to the floor.

Crack? Can't tell. Points his weapon like a damned fool. Idiot. Kickback like that's a nightmare. No time for surprises. Lacks practice. Can't tell him anything.

Relative of Ball Cap's? Brothers? Cousins? Like brothers.

Teen drops a KitKat. Moving. Shit. Candy aisle earlier and now coffee station. Behind me. Can't see. Come on, please, be quiet. Stay where you are.

I slip to my knees. Losing too much blood. So much blood. Hard to think. Adrenaline's kicking. Apply pressure. Hands are slippery. Blood's under my nails. Everywhere.

Need to check the injured. Need to think. Slow your breathing.

Ball Cap's pacing again. Middle of the store. He's losing it.

Teen's gonna get himself shot. Thinking about his dad now. It's in his eyes. He's sorry for that last thing. Won't help if you get yourself shot. Stay where you are. Might get out alive. But you've got to stay still. Be silent.

"I wanna go home." Big eyes, snot bubbles, salty tears. Terrified. Six, maybe, seven. Where's your mommy, sweetheart? Shit. She's down. Mom's down. Shaking. In shock. Be still.

Trying to mouth "I love you." Except she can't. Kid's moving toward her. No. Please. Holding out her hands. Cannot reach. Stay where you are, kid. Christ.

Too late. Fuck. Pop-pop. Pop.


I can't breathe. Can't move. So much blood. Breathe. What do you see?

Ball Cap's pacing. Scared. Didn't plan for this.

"Not a kid, J. Fuck! Whadyaw dooo?!"

Ball Cap wanted the one capped. Just her. Black hair, green eyes. Taylor tee, shorts, jean jacket, hoop earrings.

He won't go back. Did time. Got out. No way he'll go down. Suicide by cop. He's thinking it now. Go slow. Don't spook him. Whatever you're gonna do, do it now.

"Permission to speak?" Gotta try.

"Whadyaw say?!" Gets in my face. Whisky breath. 6'1. Missed it by an inch. Focus. Breathe. Keep calm.

"Cop's'll be here in seconds - another 20, 30 tops. Station's just down the street--"

"Yaw can't know thaatah." Knocks over the donut case. Ringing metal clanks against the ground. Plastic O's fly everywhere.

"Jawhnny, yaw telling meh yawll ain't checked--"

"She's jerking ya off, man."

Teen's shaking hard, shoulders shuddering. He's hit too. Mid-leg. Bad. What can I use? Tie rack, back of store. Get there. Create a distraction.

"Take me. I'll go with you. Just let everyone else--"

"Think Ah'm stoopid?"

Second shooter steps up. Big man. Weak right knee. Proving himself. Use that.

"Not going according to plan, right? You see that. Don't you? Let me help. I can help." Breathing's getting hard. Punctured lung. Has to be now.

Ball Cap lays hands on his target. She's not dead. He wants her dead. She's not giving him what he came for. She's smiling. Crying and smiling.

"Ain't yours." She's feisty. Hold on.

"You ain't pregnant--" Ball Cap flips his right hand to his forehead. Knocks off his cap with the tip of his barrel. Incidental contact. He's thinking on it. All those times he followed her. All that sneaking she'd done. Was she just hiding that she was carrying his kid?

"Nah, yaw fullashit, darlin." Long drawl. Cajun, definitely. He believes her. He wants it. He's disarmed by this revelation. He didn't suspect that. He wants his chance. His one chance.

Too late for us all, if she dies. This nightmare's gonna become a spree. He won't stop til he's out of ammo. And somewhere out there's a truck full. Long dry stockpile.

He's losing her.

He's smart. Putting pressure on her wound. But his hands aren't strong enough to appease the damage.

She falls to the floor, his guns to his knees, her collapsed body filling up his sights. No way out.

Sirens ring out in all directions. Louder than loud. We're surrounded.

Ball Cap doesn't hear a thing. Only the sound of blood no longer flowing.


Copyright © 04/11/2024 by Christy Munson. All rights reserved.


Author's Note: Leave it here, or choose to read on. Check out Lola to find out what comes next, and what came before...

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About the Creator

Christy Munson

My words expose what I find real and worth exploring.

Top Stories: 🥳





Unofficial Challenge Winners:

Ask Me in December | Story of Humanity | Strangely Art

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

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Comments (23)

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  • Isabella Rose3 days ago

    I love the wording used in this story. Fantastic work!

  • Congratulations on top story 🎉🎉🎉

  • Mika Oka23 days ago

    Will move on to read Lola now

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    oops, forgot to say Congrats on TS!!🎉

  • Andrea Corwin about a month ago

    Very, very intense - I loved how you were able to do the former cop POV!!

  • Joe O’Connorabout a month ago

    Intense right from the get-go Christy! This hits the ground running and never lets up. I like how we are in the main character’s head and get their thoughts and what they see as they scan and react. The cutting between action and thought keeps it tense, but also allows for a lot to go on in this scene 👏 It doesn’t look like ending well:/

  • Anna about a month ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Novel Allenabout a month ago

    Done like from a cop's point of view, edge of your seat action here Christy. So very true to life and believable. The stupid things we do for misplaced affection. Congrats.

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    Woah. Floor on mouth...mouth on floor...whichever. lol. This was exhilerating to say the least. Loved the characterisation...the accent and speech patterns of the characters, the blow by blow account of all the action. Brilliant, Congrats on Top Story - deserves it!

  • ROCK about a month ago

    Everyone's worst nightmare; so detailed with excellent vernacular use. Kept me totally absorbed. Well done!

  • emaabout a month ago

    A truly captivating story! I love it!

  • Excellent work, this had me all the way through , and I knew Dhar would love it

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Oooo, I loved the amount of blood here hehehehehe! This was such an action-packed story! I loved it! Congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • John Coxabout a month ago

    Incredible writing, Christy. Just incredible. Congratulations on Top Story, but Vocal should have something even more special for this kind of good.

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    Great movie in my head playing.

  • The Writer about a month ago


  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    You are so good at writing action, which is super hard to do. And to have all of this packed into just a minute of the actual story - amazing!

  • D.K. Shepardabout a month ago

    Wow! Incredible story and challenge entry! They asked for action and you delivered!!

  • Kelli Sheckler-Amsdenabout a month ago

    WOW! Excellent job, congrats on your top story

  • Sara Frederickabout a month ago

    Congratulations on your top story!

  • M.B Hesperia about a month ago

    Full of curiosity , its really engaging.

  • Dana Crandellabout a month ago

    Wow, Christy! You packed an incredible amount of action into 60 seconds, and it's totally believable through the eyes of a trained observer. I'm blown away!

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