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My latest in the weekly flash fiction contest over at The Angry Hourglass. Photo prompt above. 360 words max. Entry below.

The dead squirrel wasn’t much of a conversationalist at this point. It just sat there, its back hunched over, head lolled to one side, some blood on its bushy, dead tail. Not say anything.

Which was fine for Kennedy. Right now, she needed to think. The ceiling was thin and she could hear the mumbled voices of the teenagers. At least, she suspected they were teenagers given one boy’s barely-ball-dropped pitch.

Words sifted down, gradually and settled into her mind, like kerosene. If she could keep her mind lit, ready to ignite an action plan, she’d make it out of this.

Words like “police,” and “kill” and “body” and “fucker” “fucked” “fucking” and a well, one girl really seemed to like variations on the f-word. Maybe she was a whore and it was some Freudian shit, Kennedy thought.

Kennedy felt the burn marks on the side of her neck from the stun gun. To her fingertips in the dark, they felt like a vampire’s bite. Except in this case, it wasn’t Brad Pitt with fangs sauntering to her, it was some angsty kids likely hopped up on meth. Or heroin. She wasn’t sure what kids were putting in their noses these days. Or asses. She’d heard about that, too, from Don Lindsay of Channel 9.

Then she saw it. A few feet from the dead squirrel was a brick pile covered by a tarp. As if someone had started building something down here and tired of it.

She picked up a brick from under the tarp. It felt heavy and dirty in her hand. Adrenaline flooded her veins in torrents.

“This is a live grenade for those fuckers, squirrel,” she said to the dead squirrel. He/she didn’t say anything.

With the feet of a would-be ballerina, she tip-toed up the stairs, keeping to the sides to avoid any creaks.

The darkness of the stairway seemed to swallow all of her gumption and spit it back at her; glop dripped from her hair, face and the would-be weapon of mass teenage destruction.

“Why didn’t you back me up?” Kennedy said in desperate breaths to the dead squirrel.

The doorknob turned.

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