Death defying acts of flash fiction - contest entry
|Dante took a practice breath, expanding his lungs to their full capacity, hoarding oxygen sufficient to last until respiration could resume. He needed a full minute. A minute seems such a short period of time - unless you are shackled underwater in a locked, glass tank. Then, a minute is interminable and it takes more than just lung capacity to survive. It takes the ability to remain calm and focused.
Another breath, counting silently through the steps necessary to free himself. This act would provide a future and money enough to convince Cherise to marry him. She was getting too close to Drago, a second-rate magician who was jealous of Dante’s growing fame.
“Do you know what you are getting into?” Mr. Barton had asked him when Dante first proposed the stunt. As the proprietor of the theater, Theodore Barton wanted acts that would thrill an audience, but he was afraid Dante’s act would cause the ladies in the audience excessive distress. Dante had assured him that the relief and amazement they felt at his escape would more than compensate for the minute of uncertainty they experienced.
The audience murmured in awe as the curtain was drawn back, revealing the tank. From behind it stepped Dante and the beautiful Cherise, the love of his life. Cherise closed the cuffs on his wrists and verified the strength of his ankle chains to the audience. Just before he was lowered into the water, she kissed him, passing the key to the shackles from her mouth to his. Then, she stepped off stage.
The last thing Dante saw as the black drape was lowered over the tank was Cherise standing in the wings holding Drago’s hand.
It took Dante only a few seconds to realize that Cherise had given him the wrong key.
Word Count: 299