Hell’s Harlequin



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“There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief.”

Jester pretended to play a game on her cell’s frayed bedsheets with a worn deck of cards. The old Dylan tune running through her head seemed too cliché, even for her. She didn’t know how to play solitaire, but it mollified the guards while she planned her escape.

The thief was out there, the one who sent her to Hell. But Persephone hadn’t helped Jester escape Hades’ clutches just to be jailed for shoplifting food she again needed to eat. She would find him.

I wrote this for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ 24 March 2023 edition of Friday Fictioneers. The idea is to use the image above as the prompt for creating a short story or poem of no more than 100 words. My word count is 100.

The basis for my wee tale is an unsold short story I wrote called “The Joker and the Thief.” It’s a tale of a woman who has literally escaped from Hell in order to find the person who put her there. It’s a multi-dimensional tale using alternate versions of the same two characters and loosely based on Bob Dylan’s 1967 song “All Along the Watchtower.”

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to inlinkz.

To discover other aspects of my fiction writing, consider Ice.

At the end of time, the world is hot and men travel the vast oceans in merchant sailing ships. Captain Ki-Moon Yong of the Star of Jindo has discovered a new horror at the bottom of the world. Can he and the Star escape disaster long enough to warn a disbelieving world?


© James Pyles

23 thoughts on “Hell’s Harlequin

  1. Compassion is a modern word and never used in Law. Robert McQueen, Lord Braxfield (1722- 1799) lived in my town. Known as the hanging judge and said, after condemning children to hang for stealing bread. He was saving them from a life of crime.


    • I needed a reason for Jester to be in jail. Since she’d existed an unknowable amount of time in Hell and didn’t need to eat, when she was released (without money), she was surprised to be hungry. When she was arrested, without ID or a fixed address, she was detained. Not quite the same as hanging a child for stealing bread.

      Liked by 2 people

    • In the actual short story she finds the thief but he turns out not to be the one who sent Jester to the Underworld. They do encounter a bunch of alternate versions of themselves and reset the universe.

      Liked by 1 person

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