Healing through story

Month: August 2023

shortfiction24 – a scar to keep a memory alive

A pissed off young man terrorizes a school bus full of children when he shoots the driver and threatens all the children on board. Enjoy the story.

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A Scar to Keep a Memory Alive

Bob Gillen

“Did you see that second goal last night! It was awesome! No one could have blocked it.” Lincoln Marrs twisted in his bus seat to talk to his friend. Two weeks into the new school year and morning energy still abounded.

The school bus stopped outside twelve-year old Sam Skor’s house. The last stop on the daily route. 

Sam got up from sitting on his front steps, slung his backpack over his shoulder, and ambled towards the bus. As Sam stepped on, the driver closed the door, said, “Let’s move it, buddy. We’re running late today.”

Sam pulled a small caliber revolver from the pocket of his hoodie and shot the driver. He slumped forward over the steering wheel. The bus rolled a hundred feet down the road, slammed into a pickup truck parked at the curb.

The truck’s owner came roaring out of his house. “What the hell is wrong with you? Look what you did to my truck.”

Sam fired a shot through the door of the bus. The man raised both hands, backed up to his front door. Sam pulled the door closed.

Inside the bus the younger students began crying, moaning, screaming. Someone cried, “Sam shot Lou.” Kids slumped down in their seats to avoid being shot. 

Sam fired a shot into the roof.

“Shut up!” he yelled. “All you little kids, get off the bus.”

No one moved.

Sam screamed. “Get off the bus.”

The younger kids moved to the front of the bus. “The door is closed,” one kid called out. Sam pointed to an older girl. “Open the door and get them out of here.”

The girl ran forward and began ushering the little kids out of the bus. The smell of urine filled the bus as some of the kids peed themselves in fear. A woman, grandmother age, ran forward and herded the younger kids into her house and out of sight. Several other residents crept forward and helped the woman with the kids.

The older students still on the bus busied themselves texting 911 or their parents.

A woman stuck her head inside the bus door. “I’m a nurse. Can I look after the driver?”

Sam fired a shot through the bus windshield. The woman backed away.

Sirens screamed as first responders arrived on the scene. In moments the bus was surrounded by police officers, guns drawn, all hesitant to approach because of the students present.

Sam waved his gun at the older students. “Put your phones away!”

In the back of the bus a few students slouched down in their seats, trying to be invisible.

A soft voice said, “Sam.”

Sam whirled on Lincoln. “Shut up.”

Lincoln said, “Sit down. You’re an easy target for the police.”

Sam looked around, sat down.

He said, “I should shoot every one of you. You threw me off the soccer team.”

Lincoln said, “Can I tell you why?”

Sam fired a shot at Lincoln. The bullet grazed his right arm. Lincoln clutched his arm as blood began to seep through his shirt sleeve.

Outside, the police moved closer to the bus. Sam saw them, yelled “Back off!” and fired another shot out the windshield.

A girl pulled a wad of tissues out of her backpack and passed them to Lincoln. He pressed them against his arm.

Lincoln gritted his teeth, spoke again. “Sam, you’re always angry. You fight with everyone over the rules and the scoring.”

“I know more about soccer than any of you. I know more than the referees and the coaches.”

Lincoln said, “We know you do. But you always pick a fight.”

“You’re all so stupid.”

Two police officers inched their heads in the door. Sam waved the gun in their direction. They ducked down under the bus chassis.

Lincoln said, “Sam, give up before they kill you.”

Sam put the gun up against his chin. “They won’t take me.”

He pulled the trigger.



Click. Click.

“Sam, you’re out of ammunition. That gun only holds six bullets.”

Sam dropped the gun on the seat. “I’m screwed.” He slumped back, fear and desperation crossing his face.

Lincoln reached across the aisle, shoved the gun to the floor. He waved to the officers. “He’s out of ammunition.”

Officers rushed in, guns aimed at Sam. They spun him around, slammed him against the seat. They handcuffed him, led him away. Other officers hustled the remaining students off the bus.

EMTs attended to the driver, who was still alive. The nurse stepped up to Lincoln, examined his arm. “Looks like only a scratch. You’ll be okay.”

“I can’t stand the sight of blood,” Lincoln said. He tried to stand, crumbled to the floor.

Lincoln woke up to the sound of wailing sirens. His own ambulance ride. The nurse held his hand. “Hi. My name is Mary. We’re going to the ER. The police called your mom. She’ll meet us there.”

“She’ll be so upset…What about the other kids?”

They’re all safe…uninjured.”


“He’s in police custody.”

“Will he be okay?”

Mary shrugged. “He’s a minor…but he could be facing attempted murder charges.”

Lincoln shook his head. “He’s a good kid. Always pissed off, though. He fucked up…oops, sorry about the language.”

“No worries. I’ve heard worse.”

Lincoln looked at the compress on his arm. “It hurts.”

“Yeah, it will for a while. They’ll give you a pain killer in the ER.”

“Will I need stitches?”

Mary nodded. “Probably.”

“Oh. I never had stitches before. I might pass out…again.”

“You were lucky. The bullet could have done a lot of damage.”

Lincoln shrugged. “I guess I’ll have a scar…a scar that won’t let me forget today.


shortfiction24 – Marina’s first oner

Steadicam operator Marina Cabrera steps in to replace Tyler, a male operator, for a tracking shot on a film set. He is furious over being replaced, but Marina aces the shot.

The photo shows real-life Steadicam operator Jessica Lopez, whom I interviewed for my filmmaker site ten years ago.

Enjoy the story. Comments welcome. And if you would like to suggest a story prompt that I might use, please drop a comment.

Marina’s First Oner

Bob Gillen

Marina Cabrera propped her Steadicam rig up against a storage shed wall on the outdoor set for a television show based in post Civil War Colorado. 

Confident her rig was secure, Marina moved to the Craft Services area, grabbed a turkey sandwich and a Coke, and looked for someplace to sit. Rodney the sound mixer waved her over as he and his assistant Terrell finished their lunches.

“Join us, girl,” Rodney said. Marina sat and dug into her sandwich.

“How was your morning?” Rodney asked.

“Good. I got more b-roll than the editors could ever use.”

“Be careful with that,” Rodney said, waving a finger in her direction. “You don’t want to piss off the editors, or they’ll never put any of your footage in the show.”

“Not to worry. I got shots of the schoolhouse, the steam locomotive, the town streets. All good stuff.”

As Marina wolfed down her lunch, the director called forTyler, the principle Steadicam operator, to strap on his rig for the rehearsal of the next scene. A tracking scene.

Rodney said to Marina, “You get a chance to do any tracking shots since I saw you last?”

Marina shook her head. “My dream is still the Dunkirk beach scene from Atonement. A five and a half minute tracking shot. A thousand extras. Incredible orchestration and rehearsal.” 

She waved her thumb toward Tyler. “I could dance around him with my eyes closed and still get a better shot. I hear about how some of these guys couldn’t do a decent tracking shot. Like their brains couldn’t tell their body how to move around.”

Rodney smiled. 

They watched from their table as the director began rehearsal for the one-shot. A production assistant, his hand against Tyler’s back, guided him through the shot. 

The director called “Background.” Several extras crisscrossed the street. A horse and rider rode by behind the camera. The director called “Action.” As the horse passed behind Tyler and the PA, it let loose an enormous stream of piss followed by a pile of horse apples. The PA stepped on a horse apple, slipped and stumbled, but stayed upright. Tyler also stumbled, fell on his butt in the middle of the horse droppings. He cursed a blue streak as he rolled off the mess and stood up. His rig was not damaged but he himself was covered in horse droppings and pee.

The director yelled “Cut.” She told Tyler to leave the set and get cleaned up. She waved Marina over.

“Take over the shot for Tyler. And hurry. We need to rehearse before we lose the light.”

Marina strapped herself into her rig as Rodney gave her a thumbs up.

The tracking shot would follow a couple as they exited a town building, walked down the street to the train station, where the man would board the train. 

While the director filled in Marina on the shot, crew moved in to remove the horse droppings and shovel dirt over the pee.

Tyler approached the director. “This is my shot. You can’t give it to a girl. She won’t have the stamina for the whole shot.”

Marina said, “Oh. Because I’m a woman, I can’t carry a rig, I can’t be that good?”

“You’re out of here,” the director told Tyler. “You smell like shit. Clean up. There’s plenty of work tomorrow.”

Tyler stormed off. 

Now stationed at his sound cart, Rodney bit down on a finger to keep from laughing out loud.

The director walked Marina and the PA through the tracking shot. 

The director said to Marina, “I’m going for the pain of separation in this shot. Keep the two actors in frame.”

Marina nodded. “Got it.”

As the director called “Background,” then “Action,” Marina followed the two actors as they exited the building. She was able to whip pan to the townspeople for a brief moment. She then kept the two in frame as they walked to the station. 

The director yelled, Cut.” She pointed to a horse tied to a hitching rail.” Someone quiet that horse.”

The horse was chewing loudly on a wooden hitching rail. Rodney got up, approached the horse. He stroked its nose gently, whispered to it. The horse calmed down.

“Thanks, Rodney,” the director called out. “Okay, from the beginning.”

Marina and the PA positioned themselves in front of the town building. “And action.”

They moved through the shot, following the couple down the street and up to the rail station.

Once at the station Marina whip panned to the steam locomotive, then back to the two actors. The PA guided her onto the passenger car, followed the male actor as he took a seat by the window, waving at his tearful woman companion on the platform. 

The train began to move out of the station. Marina kept the woman in frame until the director called, “Cut.”

From the video village, the collection of camera monitors, the director called out. “That’s a wrap. Good work, Marina.” Several of the crew applauded Marina’s work.

The director moved on to setting up the next shot.

Marina crossed to the audio cart as Rodney moved it to the next scene. “My first oner!”

“Be proud, girl.”

Marina unstrapped her rig as a huge smile broke across her face. “Wait till you see that shot, Tyler!”


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