Tuesday, 1 October 2013

So, let's work out this blogging thingy.

Ok, so hopefully a link shall appear, like magic, here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/09/27/flash-fiction-challenge-the-cooperative-cliffhanger-part-two/

I hope it links back to Chuck Wendig's co-operative cliffhanger challenge.

So, I picked this up at the second part. The first part involved others writing a 1000 word story, ending on a cliffhanger. The second part was to finish it from the cliffhanger, also in 1000 words. I didn't quite manage to keep in the limit (not even nearly!) but c'mon, give me a break. First creative writing in 20 years!

I chose to finish a story called Simon and the Box. Magically linked here. Tah dah!  http://jeffandwendy.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/simon-and-the-box/

And here we are, Part 2:

Simon smiled and opened the box

A soundless, percussive wave of


something emanated from the box, scrambling his brain. He shook his head and the shrieking buzz in his ears subsided. He could have sworn he’d heard guns go off, but no bullets smashed into him.

“What the…?” The sound of his own voice made him start. He realised he could only hear himself. He strained to hear something, anything else. Utter silence.

He blinked sweat out of his eyes and looked down. They didn't move, or blink. The Boss’s mouth was wide open, screaming noiselessly, veins in his neck and temples outraged. Rhino, aka Agent Sims, knelt on one leg, both hands on his gun. Reckless, or Agent Jax stood to his right, legs wide, gun held in a two-handed grip.

Simon took a trembling breath and smelt that smell you get after lightning’s struck; metallic and cold. It clung to the back of this throat and he coughed drily. He looked down at the box in his hand, lid hanging by the hinges. It was empty. Shrugging, he jammed it deep in his jacket pocket, purposefully leaving the lid open.

He turned and looked at the street below. He could see people on the block, frozen in whatever act they were engaged in before this happened. Across the way he could see a pigeon about to land on a deep window sill, wings outstretched, just that tiny bit away from landing.

He jumped down. Before him he could see Jax and Sim’s bullets, suspended in the air. He gingerly pushed one. “Damn!” he cried, sucking his finger. He’d felt it give slightly before he realised how hot it was. It rested back in the same spot.

Simon circled the Agents. He could smell The Boss’s aftershave, a cheap, synthetic musky smell which tickled his nose. He could see sweat on Jax’s face, a bead threatening to leap from his nose. “Freaky, freaky shit, man,” he muttered. He could hear the panic in his voice and shut up Ok. Ok. You're fine. Obviously that's what it's meant to do. Need to make the delivery. Quick.

He headed to the ramp, slowly walking backwards, watching the Agents not move. Confident that opening the box had somehow frozen time,

[frozen time!],

he breathed more comfortably, but he didn't know how long it would last, so he had to be fast. He turned, picking up the pace, legs protesting strongly. Gee. You couldn't have fixed that, as well? he thought, sarcastically.

Jogging and wincing, he wove through the strangers in the street. He passed a hot dog seller handing over a chilli dog to a kid with his mom. A delicious, salty, onion-y smell enveloped him for a second and then immediately disappeared. He ignored the grumbling in his stomach, and concentrated on the hollow slapping as his foot hit the sidewalk. It sounded too loud, too echo-y.

At the end of the road he saw two police cars, frozen as they sped towards the garage. “Suckers” he mouthed, with a self-conscious curled lip. He stopped, taking out a flick knife. Eight slashes and a moment later he hurried on. Three more blocks and he wondered if he could slow down. After all, he had all the time in the world,

[the only time in the world!],

didn't he? But he didn't know how long his ‘magic’ second would last. He carried on, soles of his feet burning and pulsing, the hollow, slapping sound that matched each foot's spike of pain keeping him going. His clothes were soaked with sweat and his chest heaved, but he managed two more blocks before he had to slow.

He stopped a moment, still breathing hard, and wiped the sweat from his forehead before he took out the box. He hefted it; it was pretty solid. It felt and looked wooden, but as he turned it in the sun he could see a metallic sheen. He turned it upside down. No markings. The swirls and stars carved into the lid were pretty, but they told him zip. He jammed it back into his pocket, knocking the lid closed as he did so.

Noise boomed. Traffic moved, beeped and screeched. Hundreds of noises assaulted him as conversations continued from twenty minutes, no -- a millisecond -- ago. He froze in shock as life speeded up around him. His heart tried to make a run for it through his throat.

“Hey, man. Watch it!” A young guy walked into him and bumped past, dreads whipping round as he turned to insult him, “Dumb fucker!”

He lent against a building while he fought to breathe properly. He grabbed the box and flipped the lid. Nothing happened. “Dammit!” he cursed, ramming it back. He caught a startled look from a passing grandmother as she moved quickly away, knuckles whitening on her shoulder strap.

He hurried to the stop light, next to a young woman on her cell, “Jamie’s mad for it, but I’m not spending a grand just so he can go to Florida.” She gave him a sideways glance and turned away, uninterested. Bitch, he thought, as he slalomed between vehicles before it was safe. Head down, ignoring his screaming shins and the fiery balls he jokingly called feet, he sprinted to the building on the corner.

The opaque doors swished open to safety, and his sweat immediately froze as the air-con hit. In the dimmed lighting he could only just make out the guard behind the desk. He crossed over the lobby, his pulsing feet thankful for the plush cream carpet that appeared halfway across.

“Delivery for Mr Barnard. Simon Samuels”, he said to the guard, a female lit harshly by the screens on the desk. She looked down at him coolly, “One second, Sir, I call up”. He checked her out as she used the handset on the desk -- straight up and down, with an athlete’s build –but more to the point, he could see the outline of a serious gun in her holster. He whipped his eyes away. Finishing, she turned, “Elevator to top floor, then through doors on the left.” Pointing, she continued, “Elevator is through double doors just here. Please leave your knife, Sir.”

He stepped from the elevator into a bland, nondescript corridor, through wooden doors carved with the same swirls and stars as the box, and into a plush reception room. A muffled voice immediately called out from behind the only door, “Come through, Samuels.”

Barnard sat, wedged in a chair behind a swirls-and-stars-carved desk. His rotund belly provided a convenient cushion for his pudgy hands to rest atop. He stared down at the city through the glass wall. Simon stopped in front of the desk, next to the chair, waiting to be invited to sit down, despite his tiredness.

Barnard continued looking out, “Well?” he asked. Simon set the box down on the desk.

He peered up at Simon, “I didn't expect you on your own, Samuels. Where is Collins?”

“They caught him scoping the hotel, sir,” Simon explained, resting on one sore foot and then the other. “It’s why they were on the move. But they didn't spot me.”

Barnard nodded and sighed heavily, “Given the manner of your arrival I assume you used it to get away?” He waved his hand airily as Simon started to explain. “No, don’t bother. Collins had other means. But you haven’t finished your training. I’ll make an exception, not an example,” he said, smiling tightly. Simon swallowed thickly, nodding his thanks. He hadn't known what else to do.

“You've done well, getting it back.”

“Yes, Sir, thank you. I hope.…”

“But how the hell Jax passed our checks, I don’t know: A government Agent infiltrating MY company!” His voice rose and he glared through Simon, eyes disappearing as he screwed up his reddening face, “A decade of development gone to waste for the blasted NSA!”

He moaned, sucking in sharply, clutching his chest, “I have to calm down.” He breathed deeply several times, before continuing normally, “I’m getting too old for this, Samuels. And I don’t know how we got so lucky. If he’d passed this on sooner we'd already be shut down.” He shook his head, “Incompetents, the lot of them. But they've got nothing, now. And once deal is done the box won’t even be in the country. The Chechnyans are taking it, I think. Or maybe the Russians?” He chuckled. “Who cares, right? They’re all the same to me, with their bloody ideals and politics. As long as they have money! Big money!”

Simon heard a small sound behind him. Then a louder one. “Fuuuccck!” he screamed, as his shoulder exploded into pain. He felt warm, sticky blood soaking through his clothes. He slumped down, gasping as it jarred his shoulder. It was The Boss. “Shit, oh shit”, he moaned. How’d they manage to trace him? It didn't make sense. He’d disappeared in front of them.

The Boss pointed his gun. Barnard’s face turned a dirty shade of gray as he grabbed at his chest and gasped, “Don’t kill me! I’ll give you everything. Everyone. Please!” He begged for his life between tortured breaths while tears and snot streaked down his ashen face. The Boss lowered his gun. “I don’t need a bullet, do I, you piece of shit?” he asked, as he watched Barnard turn grayer and grayer and finally slump forward.

He turned to Simon, checking him thoroughly for weapons before roughly checking his shoulder. Simon moaned pitifully. “You’ll live,” he said dismissively. As Simon’s vision started to darken and blur at the edges, he watched The Boss talk in his comms unit, “Tell Collins it was a successful take down. He’ll get immunity.”

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