This story was initially submitted under the Prose Challenge "I am a fan of weird..." (https://theprose.com/post/396052/bait)
This story is inspired by the Reedsy.com prompt “Start your story with someone robbing a bank and end it with two people driving on an interstate.”
“You really have a way to pull this off Willy?”
“Of course.” Willy replied to his nervous friend Jobe, as they stood outside a bank that was closed for the night. “We’re gonna slip in, grab whatever amount you owe that scamming loan company, and no one will be able to trace it back to us. Although, I could take care of those fishing cheats from the loan company for you instead.”
“No, I just want my obligation paid and done with!” Jobe responded. Jobe had previously visited a loan business named WeLoanMonies in a shopping plaza. He had been told that he would have five years to pay off a loan of $5,000. When Jobe went to make an installment payment one week later, he discovered that the company had left the plaza. After another week passed, Jobe began receiving death threats from the company by phone. The last caller told Jobe he would sink him in a lake where no one would ever find him. The only way to end the threats was to pay off the debt immediately at a location of the company’s choice.
“Never borrow money from shady companies!” Willy sneered. “Fortunately, my little secret will give you a new lease on life. Take my hand.”
Jobe and Willy were both dressed in black and wore black ski hats to cover their faces. Jobe took Willy’s hand and felt a strange sensation. It looked like everything was growing bigger. When the sensation ended, Jobe looked at himself and Willy, and realized they had both turned into worms. Their clothes and the duffel bags that they were carrying had disappeared.
“Relax, we can still talk to each other, and no one can hear us.” Willy calmly told his friend. “I have the power to turn into a worm, and I can turn anyone I touch into a worm too. Another touch combined with my will and we will be human again. We will transform back with our clothes on, and anything we were carrying will reappear in our hands. But first, let’s go get that money for your debt.”
Jobe and Willy spotted a crack near the bank entrance. They crawled through it and found themselves inside. They continued crawling towards a vault door, which luckily had a sizeable crack in the wall next to it. They crawled through this crack and found themselves in a room surrounded by money. Willy crawled near Jobe and bumped his head against him, turning them both into humans again.
“Man, that was weird!” Jobe exclaimed. “But I can see how you can get away with anything with this power.”
“This is how I have all the nicest stuff while working a basic customer service job.” Willy said, snickering. “Grab what you need brother.... take a little extra on the house if you want to as well.”
“No, I am only taking what I need to get WeLoanMonies out of my life!” Jobe responded. “I’m not trying to live a cushy life like you, I just want my normal life back!”
“You know, it is going to look suspicious if the bank is missing exactly $5,000, and that is what you pay those loan monsters.” Willy said. “They could trace this crime back to you, use that knowledge to demand more money, and threaten to turn you in if you don’t comply. Why don’t you take some more and not make it as obvious?”
“Fine, but I don’t want it!” Jobe replied, giving in. “You take it! I’m not looking for extra, I just want to be free from those tormentors!”
“If you insist.” Willy sneered, filling his duffel bag with cash. Once he was satisfied, Willy tapped Jobe on the shoulder.
“Take my hand again.” Willy commanded. “It’s time for us to get out of here.”
Jobe followed this instruction and the two men transformed into worms again. They slipped through the cracks from before and exited the bank before transforming back. Then they went to Jobe’s apartment.
“Not bad, eh brother?” Willy said triumphantly. “We got the money to pay off your debt, and I have the money to get myself a little bonus for helping my struggling buddy! Should I get a new game system, or maybe a new car?”
“Do what you want.” Jobe said dejectedly, feeling guilty for robbing a bank. “You have helped me, but I am regretting knowing your secrets on how you have the best new stuff. I won’t sell you out, but I think we should go our separate ways.”
“If that’s what you want.” Willy replied, not sounding bothered in the least. “How about one more adventure together, for old times sake? You should have some backup when you bring those snakes that money you owe.”
“You know, for being a cheat and a thief, you have a good heart.” Jobe said, a small smile forming on his face. “Ok, this is the address they gave me to visit.”
“Let’s go, I’ll drive!” Willy replied. The two men walked to Willy’s new Cadillac. Willy put his duffel bag of money in the trunk, while Jobe held his, prepared to hand it to WeLoanMonies and gain his freedom. They drove to what looked like an abandoned warehouse that desperately needed repairs.
“What an original setting.” Willy laughed. “Here, I’ll carry the money for you. I’ll even take point.”
“Thanks Willy.” Jobe said, handing him the duffel bag. “You really are a good friend for helping me out of this mess.”
“No problem bub.” Willy responded kindly. “Alright, time for you to get your new lease on life.” Willy touched Jobe’s shoulder, transforming Jobe into a worm again.
“If I let you carry on, you are just gonna get duped again, probably by the same loan sharks.” Willy said, a twisted smile forming on his lips. “You have always been such a sniveling little worm, so you might as well live like one. We can go ahead and go our separate ways now!” Willy picked up Jobe and put him on the ground, then started walking towards the warehouse alone. Jobe screamed at Willy, begging him to transform him back, but that was the last time anyone heard Jobe speak ever again....
A slightly muscular man with slicked back hair and a business suit looked at Willy disapprovingly. “I was expecting Jobe.” He said. The man was surrounded by four thugs, even more muscular than himself.
“Yeah, Jobe was being a snively little worm, so he sent me to deliver the money.” Willy said. Willy stood before these intimidating men, normally very outmatched due to being overweight and out of shape. But thanks to his ability, he had all the confidence he needed. “Here, catch!”
Willy threw the bag over the heads of the thugs and their leader, and as they turned around to see where the bag went, Willy raced forward and touched each one of them on the back. Within a moment there were five worms on the ground. Willy grabbed each worm and put them in a live bait container, then retrieved the bag.
“You fools won’t torment anyone ever again. But I have one more journey for you.”
“So where are we heading for fishing this time, buddy?”
“A great new spot for catching big ones outside of the city, John.” Willy responded to his friend. As the Cadillac sped down the interstate, Willy continued talking to his fishing buddy, ignoring the pleas and screams from the worms in the container. They used to threaten to make those that couldn’t pay them sleep with the fishes, and now they were about to pay for their actions by being impaled on hooks as bait for the fishes. The only one that could help these tormentors was also a tormentor, and he was enjoying himself too much to change a thing....