Ella’s Gun: Fiction

In the first rehearsal with the real gun, Ella screamed and raced over to make sure Aaron Meddins, who played the Gestapo Kriminal Assistent, hadn’t really been hit. It didn’t matter that she fired blanks.

But she had to control that fear, because Demons at the Door’s success hinged on creating Sister Edmund as a plausibly faith conflicted nun. She disarmed Daniel and his pregnant wife Freda when they first begged for shelter, but at the climax herself shot the Nazi who stumbled onto the convent’s hidden Jews.

“I’m fine,” Aaron said, then offered, “I’ll wink when you cross left. The audience won’t see.”

On opening night, that  gun felt heavy when Ella’s Sister Edmund snuck to its hiding place, and heavier still after she exited, waiting backstage for her cue to return.

Then, onstage, Freda said, “Please, our baby will come any day,” and Ella stepped into the sanctuary. Everything was as it had been in rehearsals, and yet different. She didn’t see her friends Aaron, Kera, and James. She saw a villainous gray-dressed monster menacing the quaking, pregnant Freda and her helpless husband. She regretted terribly taking the gun from Daniel, who would surely aim true now. She hated that she must be damned for a murderer, when the monster himself was yet a child of God. But for Daniel, and Freda, and their baby, and all the children hidden in the orphanage, Sister Edmund fired. The explosion rocked her back a little on her feet, and as the gray man fell, the Sister ran to the young couple. “To the cellar now, quickly,” she said. “He will have a partner somewhere.”

“But Sister Edmund,” Daniel protested.

“Go,” she commanded him. “We are all but God’s vulgar servants, and if I have offended His eyes, then I will answer to Him.”

As Freda and Daniel scurried away, Aaron winked at Ella. And Sister Edmund, seeing that flutter of an eye, thought that the monster might just need some more killing.


This week at Trifecta, the word is vulgar.





And over at Story Dam, the weekly Linkup asks for a story where a character takes a stand.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Ella’s Gun: Fiction — 44 Comments

    • Thanks! I remember when I got my own domain name and thought that was all I wanted to do. Now, I wish I'd stuck to that resolve. Almost. I'm starting to love my new home!

  1. I enjoyed the story but was a little confused with the last line. Had to read the story again. I guess I am just a little slow today. It was very intriguing. Congrats on the domain change!



    • Hmm.. it may not be you. I'll have to see if others can tell what's going on or if I've got too much happening there for it to be clear. Basically, she's finally stepped into her character, so this action that her friend is making to reassure her is actually annoying her character who just shot his character dead.

      • I didn't quite get that either. I admit to being a little confused at the end too.

        I did expect bullets in the gun, so I'm pleasantly surprised there weren't.

  2. This was intense to read. I was worried when the gun felt heavier that there were real bullets in it! Nice job!

  3. Wow! What an emotional story you've written. I love how it conveys such power of conviction. Thank you for sharing and good luck in the challenge!

    • Thanks! Trifecta challenges engage a part of my writing mind that hasn't been exercised for many years. I appreciate the visits!

  4. As a life-long recovering actress, I totally get this piece. The moment where the thespian finally steps into a role for real……..is the creepiest thing that's ever happened to me. I actually have swaths of my life where I've come offstage and cannot remember a THING I did. It was like an out-of-body experience.

    One of the reasons why writing feels so much more comfortable to me now. No less vulnerable, really, but I can go back and see what I did when I can't remember. 🙂

    Really perceptive writing, Jessie.

    • I did community theater for a lot of years. I always had fun small parts, and even with those, I absolutely felt surreal onstage. It was some of the most fun I've had in my life.

  5. A great transformation from nervous actor to fearless soldier. I wondered too about the gun feeling heavier. Wonderful descriptions throughout.

    • Yay! It came through double back there. She was backstage madly sweating terrified that the gun really was loaded, unable to decide if it was physical or emotional weight she held, and I was worried that with only a few words to devote to it, that part wouldn't come through.

  6. I had this horrible feeling there would be real bullets in the gun when the time came…but I see that it still might end that way…

    Dumdum duuuuummmmmm

    • I had the same feeling myself…I thought that someone was going to get shot for real there…It could still happen though…From the way things were going there, it looks like she might just shoot him for real! Wow, this is a really great story here. Excellent. So well-written. The tension and the conflict is great here. I really liked to read this one. You should think about possibly continuing this story if you want to…More please! 🙂

      • Be warned: there is NOTHING more dull than a writer running on about an idea. Unfortunately, you asked ;P. SO. With that said,

        It was your piece about the grandfather who had lost his faith that got me thinking in this direction, though I wasn't expecting it to come out this way.

        The play would be set in Poland, which means I'd probably have to figure out the proper title for the Nazi. I'm not sure if he would have been Gestapo or something else. It would be about this increasingly endangered convent that was holding a dangerous line, it being one of the miniscule number of places Jews could go for help. But only kids. And then this pregnant couple who nobody can bear to turn away. But they are problemmatic.

        Because In addition to the obvious, it would be about the tensions between religions as the Catholic nuns who are literally saving the children also try to convert them. There would be older children in the group who understood what was happening and tried to rebel and a strict mother superior who had no intentions of letting them leave her care still Jewish. The kids would get sent to Sister Edmund for punishment. She would tell them they must mouth the words to fool the Germans. But then she would tell Mother Superior that she had convinced them their parents sent them to the orphanages for a reason and that they could best honor their that intention with trust and compliance. And then into this would come the pregnant couple, who would catalysts to the older children and a dangerous force of subversion in Mother Superior's strictly ordered world. And Sister Edmund, watching this conflict, would be increasingly conflicted herself. She would initially take the gun from the couple, but when she overheard Daniel telling Freda that he knew where it was hidden, she would come back and secretly move it. There would be a scene with the gun on the table and her talking about the weight to God, wondering if she should hide it somewhere else or just destroy it outright. Then the scene would shift to the sanctuary and a confrontation between the soldier and the couple, with Daniel taking some heroic risk to warn Mother Superior so she could take action to protect the kids. Freda and Daniel would try to pass themselves off as Catholics, but it wouldn't be working for some reason, and the soldier would be getting ready to shoot them, and the audience would know they are helpless in the climactic scene. And THEN Sister Edmund would step out and blow the Nazi away. The play would end there, with her getting ready to go after the partner. [this is probably what would save poor Aaron and give Ella a chance to take the body back over in this scenario above]

        But the lights wouldn't come up. Instead, there would be a screen that showed scenes from the Holocaust, slowly at first, but with increasing speed. And then the images would suddenly stop on a screen that said "Never Again?" And the screen would go dark, but again, the lights wouldn't come up.

        THEN there would be a flurry of images with names of countries (Country on the first screen, flood of genocide scenes in the next screens; next country and so on) and FINALLY another black screen asking "When is never?"

        Then the audience could finally go home.

    • I think if she HAD real bullets it would. Luckily for Aaron, Sister Edmund doesn't realize that someone who has been shot but not killed might still come up behind you. She's too busy looking for the partner. She's planning to come back and deal with him later. Hopefully, by then, Ella will have the body back.

  7. Wow. I got chills. And I don't know if you changed the ending, but it really worked for me. What a time in history, what an amazing way to explore it. This was awesome!

  8. Wow! I was actually holding my breath and tearing up, feeling myself in Ella's shoes… fabulously written, Jessie!

    • That's really meta – you're feeling yourself in my character's shoes, and she's feeling HERSELF in another character's shoes…

  9. That was great! I love how the concern for the fellow actor turns into the concern for the people once th play is in full swing.

    You must have done some acting or do act.

    • Community theater for quite a few years. I'm glad you could see exactly the shift she was making! That was the main focus for me.

    • Awesome. It violates one of the prime directives of writing – don't call a character by more than one name – and it does so in the space of about a sentence, so I really am glad to know it's generally working.

  10. really good build up. I got that in the end, she was so much in character? I actually thought halfway through that the blanks would be switched for real bullets – nice job on the sleight of hand….

    • She's just convinced for the whole time that they have been switched. And she's thought so throughout every rehearsal. She thinks she's shot Aaron at least five times now, and her nerves are just fried. And yet, suddenly, the thing that has been keeping her together totally messes with her in-character mind.

  11. I also thought the gun had real bullets and I thought she intended to shoot to kill. But I figured it out and love the last line.

    • When she got out there, she suddenly DID shoot to kill. It would have horrified Ella, but it gave Sister Edmund grim satisfaction. Lucky for her nobody actually changed out the blanks.

  12. Thanks for linking up, Jester. I'm not sure what I loved more: the brilliant story or the ensuing discussion. There's loads in here and your piece stands alone without the clarifications. That said, however, it is always great to get the author's input after the story has been told. I especially enjoyed your answer to Scriptor's question (was that more than 333 words??). This one could run and run…

    Hopefully see you back for the weekend challenge.

    • Thanks! I really enjoy getting to talk through the piece in the comments. I always feel sad when I do something weird and obscure and people who visit go away without engaging in dialogue. It's really fun when I go off into Jessie-space and the audience is willing to come with me, even if I lose them.

  13. I really liked the way she had both her own thoughts and the thoughts of the character she played. Well done

  14. So Noises Off was one of my faves when I was in theater. I wasn't confused but it could be the acting experiences I have had. You bring a perspective to the scene that I absolutely love. It's brilliant.

  15. I read this and never commented? why?

    anyway, I love this. It;s tight, the dialogue is real and raw. You did great with vulgar and telling a short story.

    well done
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