(Puts on excited TV voice) And now… for the conclusion of Shah’s request for something interesting “on trade publishers who accept previously self-published manuscripts.”
Tammy looked at Liz.
Mark couldn’t keep his eyes off the three men tied to a bench in the middle of the unfinished cellar.
“Are you guys sure this is okay,” said Mark, who mumbled something about legally disclaiming Shah and how Charlie’s Scribes would never condom kidnapping.
“Dude, we’re doing what you said,” said Liz, who worked on a new voodoo doll that Mark thought looked a little like David Powers King.
“Don’t mess with us, or I’ll stab you with my curling iron,” said Tammy, who schooched and sat by Liz. “The dust down here is playing havoc with my hair. Anyway, you have that manual on trades and stuff, so we’re good. Remember, we do everything you say, because you’re awesome.”
It was then that Mark realized he was in a work of fiction.
He sighed and opened his son’s first grade Economics Study Guide.
He tapped page 4 (of 8). “Trading goods with people is great for the economy and our nation.” He looked at the Scribes. “A previously published manuscript would be goods, right?”
“I don’t know how good it would be if you wrote it,” said Tammy under her breath.
Liz snickered and asked to see the guide.
She whipped it from Mark’s hand, leaving him with a one-inch paper cut.
“Owww! That hurts,” he said, as a second drop of blood dripped to the floor. “I need a blood transfusion.”
“Oh shush, Wuss Boy, you’ll live. Here, it doesn’t say anything about trading people for a book. You’re a dork.”
“I’m not the one whose family members worried after I spent hours creating an Irish voodoo doll from the remains of a Barbie Doll.”
With both hands on her hips, Tammy locked and loaded her upset-Mommy voice.
“You guys… we have to release these poor people. You two must apologize to each one, and promise never to use them as hostages again. Do you understand me?”
“It’s okay, we’re fine,” said one of the trade publishers.
“I’m sorry; these two need to learn a lesson. They’re eTwins, and I don’t keep a tight grip – who knows what trouble they’ll get into.”
The former captives stood and brushed off some dirt.
“Not a problem,” said the one. “This sort of thing happens all the time. By the way, I’m Gary – and don’t worry – my dog doesn’t bite. This is Fr. Al (he’s a bit of a dragon) and the one blitzing away on his smart phone is DL.”
He looked at the Scribes.
“Do you have business cards?”
“No, sorry, and oh my gosh… what is that over there?”
The trade publishers turned and peered into the darkest part of the cellar.
Mark looked at Tammy and Liz, who gathered their stuff and nodded.
[No trade publishers were harmed, and no upper body parts were shown in the making of this flash fiction.]
(Puts on gruff TV voice) If you, or someone you don’t really like, needs the help of Charlie’s Scribes, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org