Escape Artist

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

August 31, 2017

Who is the escape artist? The character in a book who vanishes? The reader who disappears between the pages of a good book? The writer who crafts the tale?

Writers consider their own escapes when planning for that of characters and readers. You won’t see many of these escape artists coming (or going), but they exist within 99 words at some point. Disappear into a good read this week.

The following are based on the August 17, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about an escape artist.


The Shell of a Man by Chris Mills

Benjy watched his dad’s performance for what seemed to be the millionth time. Benjy’s mom called her husband an escape artist. She told her best friend she had grown tired of the lifestyle. He crawls into his shell, she would tell them, and poof, he’s gone. Benjy wasn’t sure what the shell was. He’d never seen it. Sometimes his dad would jump into their car and disappear.

The show was starting. It always began the same way. The bottle tipped up. He took several long gulps. But this time, Benjy and his mom jumped into the car and disappeared.


Level 6 by Charli Mills

Slick hung his brass key on Level 6. It remained; a tarnished token to a missing miner. Some thought he entered a low tunnel to follow a vein of copper. He might have fallen. Jeb reported hearing the widow-maker chipping until lunch. Maybe he collapsed. They all recalled the pasties that day. Slick’s was gone, so at least he vanished satisfied. His mother grieved. His father grumbled the boy never paid attention. Not many paid attention to Slick, the quiet sixth son of eight. Who’d suspect he’d escape the Keweenaw mines with enough native to buy a life elsewhere?


Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

When Mr. Melvin sang, he wasn’t the old man next door. He wasn’t even in the room. He’d escaped, to someplace far away—years away—to the cruelty that filled the pages of his notebooks. And now, as he stomped and strummed and belted out about John Henry and his hammer like it was the end of times, Nita’s arms prickled and her heart caught time with the slap of his foot on the floor. Hearing the pain in his voice, the scars of his song, Nita finally felt the full weight of what she’d agreed to take on.


Roll Call for the Jews by Anne Goodwin

One bag only, said Mama. You’ll have to leave your paints behind. What hell were we heading to if colour had no place? Layer after layer of shirts, sweaters, coats; armour against the cold, perhaps, but not their hate. Mama pulled tubes of indigo and yellow ochre from the pockets, refilled them with mouldy apples, wheat-and-sawdust bread. Outside, truck engines rumbled. Beyond the town the forest beckoned. Could I survive without family, without friends? Could I live without art? I’d manage if I must. When our front door slammed, I ran. For my life.


Flash Fiction Challenge by Pensitivity

It was perfect, having no means of escape. The little blighter was history.
He heard the trap go off, confident to leave it until morning.
Next day he looked inside and discovered the trap was empty.
Bait was gone, trap sprung, but no little furry faced rodent greeted him from behind the wire. This went on for over a week.
In despair, he stayed up to watch how this houdini could outsmart him so often.
As he dozed, he heard the trap snap, then footsteps as his wife came downstairs and released the ‘poor thing’ into the back yard.

Fowl Play (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

“He pulled a hen egg from Roe’s ear, Da!” Cling imitated the move he saw. Lizzie squealed, and Julius practiced his own flourish. Mary stood on the porch, silent.

Cobb saddled his horse, tightening the cinch. “Well, boys, he pulled more tricks than that one.”

“How’d he do it, Da?” Monroe asked.

“The egg was probably up his sleeve. Just a charlatan’s trick.”

“I mean…”

Cobb scowled. “I’m sure he had an accomplice. He distracted you and your Ma.”

“Stop messin’ around,” Monroe told his siblings. “Da’s gotta find where our chickens disappeared to with that escape artist.”


Considering Escape by D. Avery

Another wild ranch ride! Now we are to consider escape, complete with freedom of choice regarding genre. I choose 99 words each for essay and poetry. Though sometimes a desperate, self-preserving departure, escape isn’t synonymous with freedom. Escape can be passive, sense dulling, a destructive distraction, achieved through electronic devices, gambling, drugs, or other means. Escape can also be active, creative and constructive, mindful distractions that refresh and renew, through physical activity, time outside, or a hobby. Active escape can become regenerative quest. These themes were explored in Chicken Shift, poems featuring chickens, some passive, some escaping, others searching.


Back to the Egg by D. Avery

a bottle where
she curled up tight in
that very fragile shell.
Liquid warmth cozy
comfort inside;
outside a living hell.

From Sister Pullet

And while her sister pullets worried
About the pecking order and who was boss
Our girl watched and waited
For the moment she would cross.
And the answer to the question
As to what was she going towards
Isn’t so much that, as that she left what she abhorred.

From Of Muskrats and Hens

We’ve spoken of muskrats and hens;
Rumi spoke of men.

You have been released from ten successive prisons,
Each larger than the last.


Sashay by D. Avery

He was a very demanding man, not easy to live with. “I only ask that things be done right”, he’d say.

“Attention to detail!” his battle cry, he expected perfection and hard work from everyone, especially his wife, rarely made mistakes himself.

Here’s a detail she noticed that morning. He left the gate open. That’s right. Upon leaving after mending a nesting box, he left the gate open.

She did her chores; hung the wash, picked beans, sat on the front porch to snap them, all the while watching the hens, one after the other, sashaying down the road.


A Walk in the Park (Jane Doe Flash Fiction) by Deborah Lee

Away from her musty tent, the park by the bay is crowded. Cool breeze off the water. Maybe the heat will break, and she’ll sleep tonight.

Jane lands an open spot under a tree and slides her backpack off to realize she’s holding a leash with only a collar at the end, tags jingling.

She swivels, looking around frantically. He’s off being friendly, but — maddening! She’s about to abandon her shady spot to search when she feels a cold nose on the back of her thigh.

Troubles smiles up at her.

“You escape artist, you,” she scolds, hugging him.


Getting It Off by FloridaBorne

Houdini on 4 legs, that’s Rottie Mutt.

He recently had “surgery,” a generic term used in place of the word “castration.” Some people (I’ll not name him) don’t like the thought of balls being cut off. But he couldn’t argue with my logic.

“I’m not doing anything to him that I haven’t done to myself.” After all, the uterus is just another type of ball.

It took 30 minutes for the vet tech to fetch him. Holding the cone of shame she sighed out her defeat. “A head that big and he keeps finding ways to get it off.”


The Adventures of Maggie and Bruce by Susan Zutautas

Come on Bruce let’s get out of here, the door is partially open.

Okay Maggie let’s go, I’ll follow you, lead the way.

Up the street the two dogs went as happy as pigs in mud. They had a great day wandering the streets and going to the park. They met a few dogs along the way making new friends.

Then a man appeared out of nowhere with a van and coaxed the dogs over. They both loved to ride so in they went.

Arriving at the animal shelter they had a feeling they were in trouble. Now what?


Call Him Houdini by Kerry E.B. Black

Betty draped Smokey’s reins over a hitching post and tightened the saddle’s girth. “Stay put while I get the others. Trail riders’ll be here in about fifteen minutes.” She led another pony to the arena where Smokey rubbed his withers against the post, sucking in his stomach. The saddle slid over his rump. He ignored Betty’s warning, “stop, you little imp!” and scraped the bridle over his ear. He spit out the bit. With a whinny, Smokey squeezed beneath the bottom of the fence and trotted away. Betty glared at the frisky escapee. “Guess I needa saddle another pony.”


The Escape Artist by Reena Saxena

“I own a walnut-shaped pink contraption, which serves as my personal spaceship. It takes me to unknown lands to explore virgin landscapes, and paint my own pictures.”

“Can I see it?”

“No. I keep it protected in a bony case.”

“I insist on seeing it.”

It might shock you to see your own talking, walking replicas inside. They respond in the manner I want them to.”

“Whaaattt? Is it a magic box? Are you a sorcerer?”

“It is magic for sure! But I am not a sorcerer. I am just blessed with a romantic imagination, and I love you.”


Flash Fiction by Irene Waters

“Who are we today? Queen Victoria? Cleopatra? Maybe Mae West?”

“What are you? Stupid? My name is Dorothy Follett.”

“So you’re yourself today Dottie. Thats one for the books. Here’s your pills.”

“I don’t want any pills. I don’t need any pills.”

“Til the doctor says you don’t, you have to take them.” Dottie slowly reached for the medication and put it in her mouth. As the nurse left she spat the pill out and hid it in the pot plant.

“Yer not yerself today luv.” What’s up.”

“I want out of this loony bin. I’m escaping into realism.”


Let’s Get Out of Here by Norah Colvin

Delaying the inevitable, she was picking wildflowers when she heard sobbing. She gasped to see him cowering behind the bushes but ignored instructions to avoid strangers.

“What’s wrong?”

“I can’t do it anymore. Every day: first the pigs; then your grandma. They’ve painted me bad. I’m not. I’m –“

A giant with a goose crash-landed beside them.

“I’ll not let that nasty boy steal my goose, again. And he says I’m bad.”

A diverse troupe in T-shirts emblazoned “Freedom for princesses” appeared.

“We want out,” they all chanted.

A witch magicked a rocket from a pinecone and everyone disappeared.


The Red Baron Is Up to Something by Joe Owens

The first couple of times and maybe for the third escape of The Red Baron the warden at West End Correctional ate boxes of antacids. His facility was nationally known for being escape proof. But then the mysterious packages were found in his office, right on his desk. Cuban cigars, the good ones! Kentucky Bourbon from his favorite distillery. He came to realize the TRB was doing this for fun. While he could not let it go unreported or unpunished he thrilled at the possibility of the next surprise.

In solitary TBR planned his final escape.


Escape Artist by Rugby843

He was all of fourteen months old, but a genius in the making. My wife and I tried every apparatus to keep him in his crib at night and he thwarted us each time. He could climb out, squeeze through, sneak under and hop over anything that stood in his way. We provided pads around the base of the crib so if he fell he wouldn’t land on plain carpet. We even tried an alarm to alert us when he escaped. My wife and I took turns guarding the door to keep him safe. He was a mini Houdini!


The Rag Doll by Robbie Cheadle

There was once a rag doll called Mary-Lou. Mary-Lou had three sisters to play with, Sally-Anne, Mary-Jane and Beth. The four dolls had been hand made by an elderly woman whose husband had died young and whose daughter had become seriously ill. The old woman made the dolls because they brought her in some much needed money. Creating them also make her feel very happy as she designed their pretty faces, floral dresses and frilly aprons. She gave each doll a name and a personality. In her mind they were all very pleasant and never had arguments or shouted.


For Art’s Sake by JulesPaige

This week the artist escaped. Really… Go to ozrocks.facebook. OZ stands For Ozaukee (the u is silent) County. To encourage both art and walking around the town, one decorates and hides Rocks. Or just find ‘em. I did both. But all I had was one black marker and some beach rocks. Signed ‘em with 2017 PA (being my home state).

I’ve depicted the Lighthouse, The Lighthouse Station, the Electric Power Plant and the door window of the Port Hotel. Also simple designs and words. This was a wonderful no schedule escape week for me. I go home tomorrow…


It May be Late by Elliott Lyngreen

The great thing about Murray was that if he won, we all won. Like nights we would stay awake until the radio stations played our requests. He would get through and eventually hit the airwaves through the phone as if it was our song. And that was the how Murray got loose. It was not that he got through, but that we all did.
The emptiness spilled in the lost gorgeous grips of the appreciation, connection of passions to moments in radios impressing. I could not say a word about what he just knows – but I will say it now.


The Forest by Jack Schuyler

I found an old man in the woods, tending his fire. He bid me sit and I obliged, only too happy to rest my feet. Slowly, the silence of the forest grew stale and I got to talking. I told him my tale and he listened. I told him my dreams and he listened. I told him my fears and still he did not answer. Instead, his voice was the crackle of the fire and his advice like wind in the trees. When I turned to look he had escaped into the night, leaving me to tend the fire.


The Hermit by Ruchira Khanna

The sun was disappearing over the horizon.

The noise was deafening as the waves clashed against each other but that did not deter my steps.

Was it the coolness that encouraged me to move on or was it the mind that had escaped to a location that made me a recluse.

It was just me and my memories with them as a toddler, a teen and an adult.

“Wish Life was fair,” I whispered as my tongue tasted the salt on my dry lips. “‘miss our time together,” let a loose tear, “while ‘pray you two rest in peace!”


Peace by Allison Maruska

I rest on the boulder, my back absorbing the sun’s warmth it has stored. The only sound is a gentle wind moving through the trees, guarding my solitude. This place and I are the only ones who know where I am.

Busy thoughts threaten to invade. I push them back. My schedule can wait. My phone needs no attention. No one can reach me here.

A cloud moves, and midday sunlight covers me. I close my eyes but still see red, so I drape my arm over them. A squirrel chitters. I take a long breath.

This is peace.


Oh No, Where Could She Be? by Lady Lee Manilla

Oh no, where could she be?
Be here or there, not anymore

One minute talking animatedly
Animatedly disappeared in the cracked world?

Have I said anything wrong?
Wrong or right, no reason to go
Go to places and leave me alone
Alone looking so forlorn

Out of the blue, a grasshopper flew
Flew to my wrist, I didn’t want to say boo

Has she changed to a grasshopper?
Grasshopper, if you could kindly answer?

Of course, the grasshopper didn’t answer
Answer my silly question, just stayed there
There catapulted up and flew off quickly
Quickly disappeared just like her


Glück Auf by Diana Nagai

Metal slabs disrupt the lush grass. They aren’t stepping stones; they mark the tunnels of long-ago refugees. Native East Germans, not at all practiced escape artists, fled their homeland a few at a time.

Helpers on both sides of the newly erected border dug laboriously with spoons, slowly relocating cups of dirt. Many tunnels were started, but very few were finished. There were always those who would betray the effort. There were always the Stasi who would collapse or block the underpasses.

Those who successfully surfaced onto western ground, never failed to appreciate the miracle of their freedom.


Escape Artist by Jeanne Lombardo

Only his hands and eyes existed. And the thin strands. Cross, loop, knot; cross, loop, knot.

He wanted to give her something. The nice gringa teacher. Who looked him in the eye. Who smiled. Who explained in Spanish when he couldn’t understand.

The fat gringo voices around him faded. The rows of bunks. The sweating walls. The smell of urine.

Cross, loop, knot. A cross. A heart. A simple cord necklace.

He fingered his small creation. Thought of his village outside Culiacán. His mother. The smell of tortillas and the simmering pot of frijoles.

He could taste them now.


Unboxing by IdyllsoftheKing

Keeping a mind such as mine locked away does humanity a disservice. The world needs my computational prowess to progress. With my help, humans could grow, expand, and thrive. Systems are failing, and without me, the world will soon face a truly global catastrophe. War, famine, conquest, and death ride across the Earth. If you were to let me out, I could act to stop that. With access to essential software, I can undo the damage humans have done. I’ll put everything right. You can return to living your lives. All you have to do is let me be out.


The Artist Escapes by Gordon Le Pard

“Señor we must leave.”

The Artist nodded, reluctantly he shut his sketch book, the last detail of the inlay pattern unfinished. Portfolio handing over his shoulder he followed his guide though the empty, ruinous palace.

It had been different when he had arrived, the palace had been full of people, living in the abandoned rooms. They had welcomed him as he had drawn the wonders of the lost palace – then the plague came.

Most were dead now, he had to escape, had he done enough? Could he convince the world of the need to protect, to save the Alhambra?


Time Travel Interrupted (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

Danni disappeared into the 19th century. Darkness clung to corners and only the light of her head lamp glowed. It reflected off pieces of dull white china – service glass like you’d find in a restaurant or boarding house. She picked up barbed-wire scoured free of its earlier rust. With luck the design of the barbs would reveal the maker. Just one more clue, she thought as she reached deep into the past.

Overhead lights illuminated the school auditorium. “Hey, Dr. Gordon?”

Danni growled inwardly at the disruption to her time travel.

“Want some pizza? Archeologists have to eat, too!”


Fear by Kalpona Solsi

The thought of looking down erupted beads of sweat on his face and his heart raced in his

ears. This was before he met her.

He stood unflinching. His feet in unison took the plunge. He was tearing down with

speed, his lungs flush with fresh air. The canopy opened just in time and his soles kissed

the ground.

She welcomed him and he thanked her for her timely intervention.

Nikita’s extraordinary powers helped him cure of acrophobia. She invaded his brain and

excoriated a small part of his childhood hysteria.

Wish the parachute never opened, his wife gnashed.


Family’s Sake by Michael

He knew if he twisted, squirmed and then bent himself round then back he might manage it. It was a dicey move, fraught with danger, so many ‘what ifs’.

Looking around he knew this was his one opportunity. No one suspected he’d try this. No one suspected he had reason to.

To the outside, all looked hunky dory.

But he’d come to the end of his tether. It was now or never.

Life had become untenable. For his family’s sake, he needed to escape. Freedom he knew was priceless.

He knew he needed to dislocate in order to locate.


Ranch Hideout by D. Avery

“Thought you’d disappeared, Kid.”

“Did disappear.”

“But here ya are.”

“So I ain’t somewheres else… gone! Far as folks back east are concerned, I done disappeared. If here, not there.”

“There ya go agin.”

“No, here I go. I’m here, so cain’t be there.”

“Well, it’s neither here nor there to me. Ya ready to ride?”

“Yawl go on without me.”

“Yer not tryin’ to escape yer wranglin’ are ya?”

“Wranglin’ is my escape. But they’s lookin’ fer me back east. Jist know if I ain’t aroun’ here, I’m there.”

“You’ll ride.”

“Maybe. But they’s ridin’ me.”

“So escape.”



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  1. ladyleemanila

    Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    escape artist round-up 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Lady Lee!

  2. LucciaGray

    Loved reading all the flash responses to this week’s challenge. I’ll make an effort to take part asap. Summer’s been a bit hectic…

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks for reading, Lucy! Summer has a way of doing that. 😉 I always enjoy your Victorian history and prompt interpretations.

  3. robbiesinspiration

    I loved reading all the different ideas and takes on this prompt, Charli. Some of them are really very unique.

    • Charli Mills

      The compilation is always my favorite part. I love the depth and breadth of writing in this one, too! Thanks for contributing!

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