Stroke of Grace: A Twitter Fiction Story

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Twitter fiction, stories told in 140 characters or less, tests a writer’s skill at encapsulating a complete tale into an absurdly small number of words.

Source: The Stray

There are a number of subcultures that have developed around the writing of flash fiction. One of these is twitter sized fiction. This type of flash fiction may take the form of anything 140 characters and under, with 140 characters being the limit for a Tweet when this format was developed.

Some sites publish Twitter sized serials, which are stories told in Twitter length bits, and novels have been creatively developed through similar means with authors actually Tweeting the segments daily until the plot’s conclusion. There are even contests for Twitter sized plays, which different producers actually mount, and tickets sell out quickly in cities like London and New York. You would be surprised at just how much can be said in 140 characters or fewer.

Twitter fiction may also take the form of fiction that is exactly 140 characters, which takes a lot of effort to get precisely right. It’s almost like trying to solve a puzzle altering this word and that until everything fits in the required number of syllables. When you finally find the solution, the feeling is exhilarating.

The following story is told in 32 Tweets of exactly 140 characters each. They are sent back and forth between the head of a theft ring who has a job that doesn’t go as planned and one of his subordinates whose help he needs but who has other ideas. Enjoy!

Stroke of Grace — A Story Told in 32 Tweets of Exactly 140 Characters Each

Source: Carol Foundation

Locked in vault! Robbery gone wrong. Send help immediately before police arrive. Otherwise all bets are off. I will not be held responsible.

Well, that’s the price of doing business in a bank. Sometimes there are robberies, sometimes they go bad. You chose your career. Suck it up.

Suck it up? Reminder, I’m your boss. Get back here yourself and get me out or send help as requested. Otherwise, there will be consequences.

Consequences huh? That threat doesn’t have the same effect when you’re locked in a vault. A bozo move. Not impressed. Let me think about it.

I’m serious. Bullets will fly, customers will scream, no one will take the time to look in here. Nor will the lack of air cross their minds.

I suppose not with bullets flying and customers screaming. You really need to get your priorities straight if you expect others to help you.

Your attitude is making me quite testy. If I start to hear sirens I will get downright angry. Now stop messing around and do as you’re told.

Reminder, you are now locked in a vault, limited air, police arriving shortly and you aren’t likely to find them helpful. Want to try again?

When I get out of here so help me, you are going to be in big trouble. . . Unless you get me out of here right now! I’m running out of time!

And air. Don’t forget air. Do you really think it’s wise for someone in your position to threaten the only person who knows where you’re at?

Look, you son of a b*!&h, if you don’t me out of here, your investment goes up in smoke, same as mine. I took all the risk. You sat it out.

Oh, stop whining. Nobody made you do it. Didn’t you say the spoils go to the brave along with the risks? Well, You played the odds and lost.

What is wrong with you? Don’t you get it? I am in a vault with a fortune in gold, cash, art and jewelry. If I bring it home, we all benefit.

About that all. Seems the rest of the “all” aren’t thrilled with your leadership either. They take risks too, but you keep most of the haul.

Nature of the business. It’s just how things are done. Now’s not the time. If the cops get here, there won’t be a leader or a haul to split!

There’s always someone willing to lead, and the smart ones know who to get others to follow. As for the haul, we’re willing to sacrifice it.

Sacrifice it? What the hell are you talking about? It’s at least a million dollar haul! With six of us splitting it, that’s a huge paycheck!

But we won’t split it will we? You’ll take 50%, with the rest of us splitting what’s left. And there’s seven of us now. Minus you of course.

You sanctimonious little jerk! You better hope the police come. If not, I’ll pull your liver out through your nose. I taught you everything!

Careful or you’ll use up all your air. Doesn’t matter how I learned, what matters is they will follow me and you’re still locked in a vault.

I still don’t hear any sirens. If I were you I’d fear for your life. No one takes my business from me, no one. You’ll regret this I promise.

Let’s not quibble, what’s done is done. Let’s both walk away, move on. Well, you can’t walk away but don’t worry, the cops will get you out.

Still no sirens, no screaming, no bullets flying, seems pretty calm actually. I still have battery power left and there are others I can call.

Sorry, got to them as well. You don’t think I’d risk it? The cops will definitely be there, perhaps just held up by a more successful crime?

It’s easy to talk big when you’re safe in your hidey hole. No one will follow you when they realize you’ve left a man behind. That’s Rule 1.

We’re criminals. Rule 1 is take care of yourself first. Always. You taught me that. Remember Leon? Dave? Al? John? Alex? No Rule 1 for them.

But you and I, we’re a team. We’ve got each other’s backs. Look out for each other. You’ve always been my second in command. Is that so bad?

What happened to, “I’m the boss, do as I say?” Not really team talk.You’re not getting the big picture here. I’m no longer second to anyone.

Just get me out of here & we’ll talk about it! No retaliation — we’ll forget this ever happened. The cops would be here if they were coming.

You don’t seem to get the situation. I hold all the cards here. Rescuing you gets me nothing I need. Afraid this is where we must part ways.

You can’t take my place! Leading is more than taking over and gaining a following!! They’ll turn on you like you did to me! It’s inevitable!

Maybe, maybe not. I’ve watched and learned. I won’t make the mistakes you did. Though you won’t know one way or the other where you’re going.

. . .

Anonymous call successful. Announce new leadership. Tomorrow’s a go, even split. Plant evidence & leak story. Make sure he never comes back.

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Chicago, IL

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