Reddit Writing Prompt #18: The Prank Wars

In the future, the nations of Earth have settled into a lengthy peace. The military forces of the world grow bored. A covert task force is set by one country up to pull an elaborate, harmless prank on their friendliest ally. Things escalate. Write a story about the ‘Prank Wars’. – charliewr

The airplane zoomed through the sky, the wind from the open door blasting against Captain Sterr as he watched the world far below. Miles below his feet, the continent of Asia was lit against the night by countless cities and countless lives. His heart pattered in his chest; he’d done parachute drops before, but never from this high.

“Approaching drop point!” the pilot announced. “ETA two minutes!”

“Copy!” Sterr responded, checking his gear one last time. Black combat gear, check. Parachute, check. Spray paint, check. Cyanide pill, check. This would be the biggest day – er, night – of his military career.

The timer reached zero, and Sterr launched himself out of the plane.

Five miles, straight down.

Sterr was very glad he wasn’t afraid of heights.

When he had dropped far enough, he yanked on the parachute cord, and the pitch black silk billowed out behind him, arresting his descent with a heart-wrenching jerk. He was also very glad he hadn’t eaten anything before this. Sterr drifted to the ground, far outside the reach of any stabbing searchlights. It would be a ten mile hike through the mountains, dodging patrols, until he reached his target.

Upon landing, he cut himself loose of his parachute, checked his gear one last time, and hurried off into the night, unseen.

His feet chewed up the ten miles in no time at all – or at least it felt that way – and Sterr’s ultimate destination was in view. The Great Wall of China. Maybe not visible from space, but still impressive. Sterr had been given a history of the wall during his debriefing, but he didn’t think it was very important.

Small packs of armed guards patrolled the top of the wall, peering down the sides with flashlights. Monument security had become paramount across the world, after an unidentified nation somehow managed to turn the Statue of Liberty’s torch upside-down without being noticed. The Prank Wars were dark days indeed.

Sterr waited for a gap in the patrols and raced forwards, hugging the wall. He would only have one shot at this. He shook the can of spray paint, and prepared to perform tactical vandalism.

He pushed the button, and moved the can in a horizontal line to draw the beginning of the ‘KILROY WAS HERE’ mark, but what came out of the can wasn’t bright orange paint, as he had expected.

Instead, it was the piercing sound of an airhorn.

Every guard on a ten-mile stretch of the wall heard the horn, and with electronic communications, all the guards out of earshot were made aware seconds after that. Sterr dropped the fake spray paint, holding his ears and howling at the unexpected noise.

Betrayed! Somebody – a spy – had swapped his mission equipment for a fake! An airhorn disguised as a spray paint canister! Bastards!

From on top of the wall, flashlights pierced the darkness to illuminate him, and a guard yelled something in Mandarin. Presumably ‘don’t move or I’ll shoot’. Sterr immediately swallowed the cyanide pill, and was curious why nobody told him that cyanide tasted just like sugar. Sterr put his hands above his head, knowing he would be punished for his failure. When the guards arrived and pinned him to the ground, he caught sight of something etched on the bottom of the fake spray paint can.

It was a maple leaf.

One thought on “Reddit Writing Prompt #18: The Prank Wars

  1. So good to get some more stories today. As always I enjoyed reading them and as always am impressed by your imagination and storytelling skills. The fish one puzzles me slightly, but perhaps I’m taking it too literally. E.g.the fillet suddenly becomes a whole fish.   I’m fascinated by the way you use your own intolerance of boredom (which you share with  me) in the Sherlock Holmes story.    Your closing lines are always so good, brief, succinct and FINAL.    Thanks for sharing your work. I really appreciate it.I check my IPad regularly to see if there’s anything from you. Love, Oma


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