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News & Features » March 2018 » “When Luck Runs Out” by Zane Castillo

“When Luck Runs Out” by Zane Castillo

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, a daredevil couple’s burglary spree turns sour . . .

When Luck Runs Out
by Zane Castillo
San Bernardino, California

I grit my teeth as I press my hand tighter against the hole in my stomach. My clothes and my hands are covered in blood and I start to wonder just how much more I have left inside of me. I glance over at the passenger seat of the car; wishing that Jenny was there, but only my gun sat in her place. Tears slipped from my eyes to slide down my face in rivulets as I thought about her.

Jenny was always tougher than me. She never seemed to lose her cool in the face of immediate danger, but instead, welcomed it. Many times I saw that shit-eating grin break out on her face when someone tried to test her verbally or even physically. It never ended well for the tester.

We were the perfect team for a while as we stuck up liquor and convenience stores with abandon. At first, we did it for the money, but as time went on, we did it for the thrill. I never saw Jenny more excited than when she had a gun in a cashier’s face.

We usually tried to scope out the place we were going to hit, but sometimes we would just charge in for the fuck of it. There was even a time when we had stopped to fill up our car at a gas station when Jenny went in and robbed the place. I was just tightening the gas nozzle for the car, when Jenny came running out of the store with a bag full of cash in one hand, a bag of Doritos chips in the other, and that shit-eating grin on her face. We peeled out of there and laughed hysterically all the way back to whatever dump we were staying at for the night.

It seemed like our luck would never run out, but tonight it did. Our last stop was San Bernardino and we were running low on funds so we decided to stick up the first liquor store we saw. We cruised into Riverview and saw a small liquor shop with one clerk behind the counter. We waited right before closing hour and when the coast was clear we ran into the store with our guns raised and started shouting at the clerk to hand over the cash. The clerk was an older man who didn’t even flinch when he saw the guns pointed at him. He must have gotten used to being held up, I would think later.

He started to empty the cash register when a drunk man stumbled into the store. In our excitement, I had forgotten to keep my eyes on the door and we were both startled by the man. Both our heads were turned to the drunk who stared at us and our guns in fear. It was during this moment that the clerk pulled out a gun from behind the counter and shot Jenny in the head. Jenny’s body flew into the glass window as blood sprayed into my face and onto my clothes.

The drunk man screamed and ran out of the store. I turned my gun onto the old man as his gun went off and I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. I screamed in pain and I fired back at him as I hobbled out of the store. I half ran, half stumbled to my car and the passenger window blew in as the old man fired at my car. I fumbled with the keys and managed to start the car and drove out of there as quick as I could. I could hear sirens in the distance and I drove frantically in fear until I got to a deserted area. I parked the car and shut it off with a trembling hand.

Now here I sit, feeling the pain from the wound in my stomach and Jenny’s death. I lean back in the car seat as a cold feeling washes over me as if I have just been submerged in water. I can feel myself slowly welcoming the depths of that frigid embrace. I close my eyes and Jenny’s daredevil smile pops into my mind. I smile at the vision before everything goes black.


ZANE CASTILLO is a Brooklyn-based writer. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in publications such as Timbooktu, Friday Flash Fiction, Hello Horror, Every Day Poems, and Entropy Squared. He is currently at work on a novel and short story collection. 


Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Mar 22, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , ,