The Robbery – Submit Your Tenth Short Story For 2018 Today

I am so excited to accept your tenth short story for 2018. [If you want to find out more about 12 Short Stories, click here: Short Story Challenge]

Submission process:

I will accept and approve posts for The Robbery (Word count: 1250 words) from 3 October 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00), until 4 October 2018, 8:00 (Johannesburg time | GMT +2:00) on  Please ask Google to figure out what time that will be in your part of the world. 

Please use the correct format:

In the post title bar:    Story Title by Author Name.

Just above the story:   Prompt: XXXXXX | Word count: XXXXXX | Genre: XXXXXX

Warning: Please add a warning if your story is not appropriate for sensitive or younger readers.

Can I still join?

You can join the 12 Short Story Challenge in any month. So, if you start in June, that will be month one for you and then May 2019 will be month 12.

Here is the procedure:

  1. Read today’s post.
  2. Post your story on 12 Short Stories.
  3. Read and comment on at least four other stories. Please spread the love. Look for stories that haven’t been read, instead of everyone reading and commenting on the same stories. If you want tips on how to comment, read this post: The Complete Guide To Evaluating Your Short Story.
  4. This is an exercise in discipline. The comments are a bonus. There is no prize because I want you to focus on writing for yourself and to try and take more risks.
  5. Be kind when you comment. Start with a positive comment, suggest an improvement, and end with something positive. We are here to learn.
  6. Our next prompt is at the end of this post.

A few more points:

  1. I will try to read as many posts as possible, but I do have a day job that I would like to keep.
  2. NO hate speech. None. If you see something nasty that I should be made aware of, please send me a message.
  3. Be careful of profanity.
  4. I need to approve every post. Please be patient with me. I am teaching during the day and I will approve them as quickly as I can. They will all go up.

Here is my short story:

Title: I’ve earned my pardon by Mia Botha

Prompt: The Robbery | Word count: 1500 words exactly | Genre: Action

Warning: Violence and reference to upsetting themes.

The order to execute reverberates over hundreds of headsets of hundreds of soldiers crouching in the jungle. They all move at the same time, over three different sites. Joy and Drew are ready, guns loaded. Joy closes her eyes and counts to three as the commanders give the orders. She plunges into the fray. Parting a jumble of jungle leaves along the narrow jungle path. Only to be met by…nothing. There are no guards. No vehicles. No challenge at the gate.

They walk into the compound. They walk into the factory. They walk into the holding facility. The simultaneous attack is fast, precise, and one by one, the commanders report their results. Three “All clears”. Three sites. Three failures.  Everything has been removed. The only comment that is made is about the horrible smell.

“Site secured.” The radio squawks again in Joy’s ear and she flinches. The commander’s fury is barely contained. “There is nothing here. Absolutely, bloody nothing. Except a damn stink.”

Joy and Drew move according to their positions, following their squad leader. They enter through the nearest door eager to see inside, hoping the stench will be less pungent once they are in.

Men in black fatigues move around in the dark warehouse scanning and double-checking spaces. They open and close office doors, peer inside broom closets, check storage spaces.  There is no reprieve from the smell.

The commander sees Drew and Joy enter and walks towards them pulling off his night vision goggles. “Nothing,” he says, “it’s been stripped. Looks like a bloody rental property, one that’s been robbed.”

He leads Joy and Drew through the factory. Scrape marks on the floor show where the tables once stood. The lab equipment is gone. Even the packing materials that were piled high in the farthest corner have been removed. They stand in a big empty warehouse. “What do you have to say for yourself, miss?” he says in her face. “The house has also been cleared out.”

A soldier approaches the commander. “Sir, we’ve found a dump outside. It’s a huge dump.  They put fire to it, everything has been burned. It looks like all the evidence is destroyed. As far as we can tell it is a pile of drugs, all the equipment they used in processing,” he pauses, “and men. They burned the men, Sir.” He looks towards the door, “I suppose that explains the smell.”

No one says anything. Joy makes a conscious effort to distance herself from the smell of death, to remind herself that the burnt bones and bodies were those of drug dealers, human traffickers, bad men, it didn’t work.

The commander ducks and holds his earpiece, he nods along at a frequency only he can hear and turns back to the expectant group. “Same scenario at all three sites. Not a thing left, everything burnt.” He looks at Joy, his moustache quivering with indignation. “Everything.” He stretches his eyes wide. “Who did it?” He demands. “Who destroyed our entire operation?”

“No clue.” She meets his accusing stare. “Perhaps it was his own men on whom he set the dogs.” She takes a step closer to the man. “Perhaps it was the father of a young girl whom he sold as a sex slave.” She takes another step closer. “Perhaps it was one of the equally evil drug traffickers whom he managed to piss off.” She stabs her finger into his chest. “Perhaps it’s all of the above.” She is close to him, relishing the surprise in his eyes. “Take your pick.”

The commander takes two steps back and snaps around. He walks away heading for the big doors on the other side of the factory.

Drew frowns at Joy and rolls his eyes. He trails behind as the group moves towards the fire and yanks Joy’s arm, pulling her away from the group. “Would this have anything to do with the weird phone call last night and why Carlos’s team never pitched and why you have been acting psycho all day?”   

Joy looks ahead quickening her pace. She clenches her fists. “Not now.” She hisses between clenched teeth. She’s been working for this for years and now is so close to all falling apart. She doesn’t need an inquisitive DEA agent at her heels.

He puts a hand on her shoulder stopping her dead. “What, the fuck, are you playing at?”

She stops and glares at him, but instead of the inquisitive DEA agent she just sees Drew. She turns away from the group. “Carlos stripped it last night.” She tilts her head towards the smouldering dump. “That’s what Carlos does. José knew about the raid. He knew we were coming. He would have been waiting for us. His friends in the police had already told him. His deal was simple: warn him in time and get a cut. The police would have seized the drugs and sold it a week later. They would have raped every woman and child in that holding facility and then still sold them to the pigs who buys humans. It would never have worked, and that’s why I needed Carlos. He is incorruptible.”

“He’s a drug dealer” Drew almost yells and sticks his hands in his pockets. An ineffectual attempt at control.

She takes a deep breath. “He isn’t.” She braces herself, suppressing the horror of betraying a confidant’s best kept secret. A secret that enabled him to save hundreds of people. A secret she has kept for the last three years. “That’s just what he wants the world to think.” She pauses trying to find the words. “He rescues victims from the slave trade and takes them places where they will be safe. He intercepts drugs and destroys everything. He’s a good guy.”


Joy sighs. This was a deep betrayal, but this was Drew. Not just some cop. It felt like enlisting a partner, not betraying a friend. “José kidnapped and sold his sister. He hasn’t been able to find her. He is the one person in the world who hates José more than I do.”

“Then why are you so angry? You got what you wanted. José’s cartel has been destroyed.”

 “José escaped.” Fear breaking free, Joy’s voice cracks. “This is all worthless because they didn’t get José.”

“Miss Garcia!”

They hurry to join the group. The commander bellows as he stands with his feet at the edge of the smouldering pile. “Miss Garcia, I’m still at a loss. You said he’d be here. We were supposed to have caught a cartel leader, in the act of processing drugs, trafficking humans and killing innocent civilians.” The commander waves his hands for emphasis. “I need help right now to understand why I put my unit at risk for your faulty intel.” His words echo against the empty buildings.

“I’d hate to state the obvious commander, but I think we’re in the middle of turf war.” Drew says.

“But who has the man power to take on José Garcia? Who has the guts, beside the American Government, to rob a drug dealer?” Another soldier asks.

“The Diablo Cartel or maybe the Sanchez brothers making a play?” One of the men suggest. 

“Who is that?” the commander asks.

“The Diablo Cartel is José’s rival or the closest thing to it. They’ve been after each other’s business for years. Something must have happened to push it to these limits and no, not the Sanchez brothers. They don’t have the manpower for a job this big.” Joy adds.

The commander doesn’t look like he believes her.

“Get the lab techs down here to start making sense of…” he waves a hand over the smouldering ash, “all this.”

The soldier closest to the burning pile of rubble picks up a half melted plastic wrapper of a burnt cocaine brick. The last of the coke falls out mingling with the ash.  

“Why would a competing cartel burn the merchandise, and if the holding facility is empty, where are the women? Where did they take them?” the soldier asks.

“Good questions. Any ideas Miss Garcia?”

“Not a clue Commander. I gave you the info. You’re inside the compound. I’m sorry you are disappointed by what you’ve found. I’ve done my part. I’ve earned my pardon. José’s business has been shut down. I can only hope he is one of the smoking corpses on that pile.” She walks away, ducking down the nearest jungle path.

“Get her back here.”

She hears the man bellow, followed by an exasperated “Joy” as Drew tries to catch up. She grins. He’s coming to get her. He won’t let her go to find José alone.

She misses the soft crunch of a new leaf behind her, but the rifle butt that meets her skull is harder to miss. She gags when they force the thick material into her mouth. The plastic ties cut deep into her wrists. The hessian bag closing over head is the last thing she sees before the world is engulfed in black.

Here is the 11th prompt for the 2018 challenge:

 by Mia Botha

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

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