Posts Tagged Flash Challenge
So here’s the challenge for next month. Posts are due by the 12th of July for the meeting on the 19th. Let the bodies hit the floor!
The air was thick with smoke from a building burning off in the distance. Steve followed several feet behind the fleet of policeman as they marched to- well, he didn’t know what exactly. With each step he took, his feet became heavy. An itch in the back of his mind told him to turn around. He couldn’t shake that there was a missing piece of information about this mission but seeing the city in distress made him carry his heavy feet on. These people needed him and he would not turn away.
Steve hears dialogue from the police CB radios but it’s just white noise in the background to him. Suddenly, the inaudible voice speaks in a rushed, forceful tone and panic floods into Steve’s body. The fleet of officers who were moving so smoothly and in unison before begin to rush forward around the corner. Steve braces himself for the unseen threat lurking around the corner while his feet betray his ready stance, feeling like they want to melt into the ground.
As the officers disappear around the corner, he can hear increasing screams and chants in unison, though he can’t make out the exact words. The thought of staying where he is burns a hole in his mind.
A woman’s scream breaks Steve out of his stance and his protective instincts kick in. He rushes around the corner only to come to an immediate halt, shocked at the scene before him. A large man gets kicked in the gut by an officer, while another officer grabs the same man and sends him flying to the floor. Another man keeps his hands raised in surrender while an officer chokes him from behind with his baton. Another man starts screaming profanities at a group of officers. Without a hint of remorse or pleasure, the stone faced officer extends his arm to the man’s face, spraying pepper spray. The man is brought to his knees, crying out. He tries to keep his hands up, but his arms are shaking as he is weakened by the pepper spray.
The attacks seem to continue for miles as Steve watches, feeling betrayed. But nothing makes his heart drop more than seeing, out of the corner of his eye, a Captain America poster that has clearly been spray painted with huge letters “Black Lives Matter”
He knew in that moment he had been lied to and used. He was told they needed Captain America to save the Country from “terrorist action”. He knew now he was just a ploy in the media’s plan. He was the poster boy for keeping the protestors’ quiet. Steve felt guilty that his eagerness to help had lead him to agree to do something so horrible.
A woman’s scream takes him out of his trance and he watches as she gets knocked to the ground. The officer grins and raises his baton high as the woman curls up to protect herself. Steve throws his shield knocking the officer out with a quick clunk. He rushes over to the woman and extends his hand down to her. She is still shaking, big black frizzy hair mixed with blood. She looks at his hand and looks at Steve and he nods. Steve could see the fear in her eyes as if she were asking him “aren’t you with them?” As he helps the woman to her feet, she has no words but in her eyes he can see the gratitude. She begins to open her mouth to say something, but then suddenly her pupils shrink and she points over his shoulder. Steve turns.
A young boy, possibly no older than 10 stands alone as a group of policeman circle him, guns drawn. The young boys’ eyes are puffy and red from crying and he is drawing in sharp breaths in between sobs. His face is wet with tears. To Steve, the young boy looks like somebody’s son, innocent and free. But Steve can tell that the police aren’t taking into account this boys’ age. To them, all protesters here tonight are a threat. The young boy is trying so hard to stand still and keep his arms raised, but his sobs betray him and he jerks back a bit, almost like he is being punched in the stomach. That’s all it takes for the police to make that split second decision.
But before the gun can go off, Steve leaps into action, throwing his shield near the arms of the trigger happy officer forcing him to drop his firearm to the ground. Almost instantly Steve is face to face with the officer, knocking him unconscious with one fatal blow. The officers direct their attention to Steve and aim to shoot him, but it only takes a few effortless kicks and punches before the entire squad is unconscious lying in the street.
There are hundreds of people staring but there is a dead silence. Steve looks out at the crowd of people stretching out for miles. Faces that look back at him with a mixture of confusion and amazement. It’s possible they assumed Captain America was on the side of those working to silence the protesters
A blinking red light catches the corner of Steve’s eye and he notices a news camera, possibly broadcasting live. He imagines the nation, comfortable and safe on their couches, watching, mouths dropped to the floor. Steve imagined the chief of police, tearing his hair out, his plans now blown to bits. But then Steve pictured in his mind, the mother of the slain boy behind the protests, eyes glued to the screen, teary eyed, feeling relieved for the first time since her son had been murdered. Thanking him, in her mind, for making the world see that her sons’ life, and the lives of all black people, matter.
Steve smiled and with a flick of his hand sent his shield to smash the camera and interrupt the feed to all.
Ted slid his water bottle into his cruiser’s cup holder and checked his mirrors. He grinned as a Ford zoomed up behind him.
As soon as the Ford saw the silver POLICE scrawled across the side of Ted’s black cruiser, they slowed from ten miles over the speed limit to five.
Ted considered flipping on his lights, but it was midafternoon, just after the lunch rush and right before school let out. The streets were slick from the melting snow, but they were in good condition.
Ted sped up, fifty-two in a forty-five zone. He was the only cop in this area, so why not?
Ford followed suit, trailing a few feet behind Ted in the right lane.
The light turned red, and they both came to a gradual stop. Ted looked at Ford.
He was a middle-aged man, clean shaven with buzzed salt and pepper hair, but his jaw was square and strong and his brow was free from excessive wrinkles. Ford glanced at Ted and apologized with a half wave and a dip of his chin.
Ted smiled and waved back, then jerked his head at the light and revved his cruiser’s engine. It purred like a panther.
Ford frowned then revved his truck. It roared like a black bear.
Ted chuckled nervously. If anyone found out he dared a citizen to a street race, he would be fired. He’d been on the force for two years, and only within the last few months did they allow him his own cruiser and patrols.
He read Ford’s lips ask, “You sure?”
The look in Ford’s eyes reminded Ted of his father the day he graduated high school and applied to the force. “You sure you can handle it?” His father had asked.
Ted’s resolve hardened like it had back then. He’d show Ford like he’d shown his father. He was up to any challenge.
He smirked and revved his engine louder. “Bring it on, old man.”
He wasn’t sure whether Ford understood, but the frown disappeared and Ford mouthed, “You’re on.” Then he gunned it.
Ted had missed the light turning, and his distraction cost him. His tires squealed as he floored it, the engine protesting against such rough handling. Adrenaline coursed through his veins as the odometer climbed rapidly. Ford had a good head start, but the cruiser was built for high speed chases. Ted caught up quickly, and in no time he was ahead.
Fifty-five. Sixty. Sixty-five. Seventy.
The next light was just beyond the curvy strip next to the flight school. Ted slowed out of habit and Ford took advantage of Ted’s instinct to speed past him. Ted laughed but it morphed into a gasp as the sheen of unmelted ice blinded him. He slammed on the brakes. The cruiser fishtailed, but he regained control.
His sigh of relief never made it past his lips as a cacophony of metal grating across metal rang through his skull. He slowed to a stop as his mouth fell open.
Ford had hit the ice going seventy, swerved completely around, then slammed into the curb. The truck flipped as it struck the fence to the air field, and now lay upside down, a smoldering husk of twisted metal in the snow.
Ted jumped the curb and parked next to the fence. As he got out, he radioed for an ambulance.
He jogged to the overturned cab, the hood belching out thick, black smoke. Ted knelt carefully on the glass strewn ground. “Sir? Can you hear me?”
Ford’s head was turned at an awkward angle, blood coursing up his forehead and into his hair, but at Ted’s question, his eyes flickered open. “Loud and-” Ford coughed. “Clear.”
“Alright, I’m going to pull you out of there. It’s gonna hurt.”
“Ready when you are.”
Ted sliced the seat belt, and Ford slipped into Ted’s arms. He dragged him a safe distance from the smoking truck then checked for injuries.
Broken ribs, concussion with laceration, definitely internal bruising and bleeding. Yet Ford hadn’t screamed once. Ted chalked it up to shock.
“You radioed in?” Ford asked.
Ted blinked in surprise. “Yes. An ambulance will be here soon.” But as Ford’s eyes glazed over, Ted realized that soon might not be soon enough and remorse surged up from his chest. “I’m sorry.” This wouldn’t have happened if he’d just been a good cop!
“No, it… Was my fault, too. You’re a good cop, son. Protecting the people. But not uptight like some I’ve known.”
Ted tried to get a handle on the sobs strangling themselves in his throat. He’d seen plenty of crime scenes. Why now? But Ted already knew why. Ford’s grizzled face looked like his father’s as he lay dying of cancer, smiling, telling him it’d be okay even though nothing would ever be the same again.
“The truth will get you fired, won’t it?” Ford’s breathing rattled in his chest.
Ted made to shake his head, but all he managed was a tight grimace.
“Thought so,” Ford rasped. “Let’s say I was speeding, hit the ice wrong. We’ll blame it on the three cups of coffee I had before driving. Sound good?”
Ted nodded mechanically, helpless.
“Got any water?” Ford croaked.
“In my car.”
“Mind getting it?” Ford wheezed. Ted didn’t want to leave, but Ford’s, “Please,” drove him to run for the water bottle. When he returned, Ford no longer needed the water.
Ted clicked on his radio. “Time of death… 1:47 pm…”
The following day, Ted’s boss called him into his office.
“I want you to know that you did the right thing, Officer Hurling.”
“What do you mean, sir?” Ted asked dully.
“That man who died in the car accident you were on scene for? Government assassin just released from prison.”
Shock coursed down Ted’s spine.
“Good riddance,” his boss snorted. “That’s one less criminal in the world.”
“Yes, sir.” Ted nodded then slipped out of the office so his boss didn’t see his tears.
It should have been easy. Kill the man, plant the evidence, wait for the Coppers to find her. They’d take her to gaol, right where she wanted to be. She didn’t count on the glaring incompetence of the Copper force. They had a monogrammed silk handkerchief that clearly did not belong to the victim right there on top of his face. Surely in any other city that would have been evidence enough for at least a talk.
She had come to the city as a woman looking for work, kicked out of the family home with the purse strings pulled tight. It was an industrial city, the working poor crowded in trying to find work. Filthy children played in filthy streets and the dull roar of the coal-fired factories pervaded everything. There was no doubt among anyone that she had come from money, her expensive corsets and cloaks made her stand out among the drab rags. All the better for her, she wanted the attention. Better that everyone recognize her as an outsider, someone who didn’t belong. But after a week nobody had come to her about the body yet.
The next body she left behind had even more clues for the Coppers. Two room keys from the Sky Hotel. It’s not like many people in this hellhole of a city had the funds to even hire a dirigible, let alone stay at the Sky Hotel. And the keys were different, it had to come from two separate stays. She wouldn’t have been able to go there had it not been for certain skills that were in high demand by a certain type of clientele. Even her father couldn’t afford the Sky Hotel. She got paid well for what she did, and that usually included leaving no trail. It galled her to have this traced back to her. Except the Coppers still couldn’t put the pieces together.
For her third trick she considered leaving a signed letter. Possibly a confession. But that would be over the top, really. So she used an automaton instead. One that her father’s company had made. One that had been stolen from the company. And really, that should have brought them right to her doorstep, there was nobody else in this city who would have had any sort of access to the Olsen Automaton and Robotics Company factory.
Were these Coppers simply idiots? Were they on the payroll of someone else who wanted them kept away from the truth? Dirty Coppers wasn’t outside the realm of possibility, after all. But really, all she needed to do was get caught. Her real target was waiting there in gaol. Once he was dead and blame laid elsewhere, her employers would make sure she was free to go again. The plan was simple. It was supposed to be a simple kill. Of course she’d get paid for two bodies, the first to get her into gaol and the second that was waiting for her there. All this improvising, all these extra bodies…well, her expenses were mounting. At this point she’d have to go back and renegotiate the contract.
Perhaps the next one she could simply shoot. She had a registered gun, it had been inspected by the Coppers when she arrived. The commented on how rare it was for someone to have such a nice pistol. If she shot someone would that gain enough attention to get her arrested and sent to the gaol? She hated this backwater town and wanted nothing more than to finish her job and go back to her regular life. Upper London had been her home for nearly a year and she had grown accustomed to the opulence there. Homes fully equiped with gaslights and running water, gowns for every occasion and a woman to help her tight lace her corset. Oh, yes, and Coppers that seemed to give a damn about their wards and have the brains to do their jobs.
The fourth body she decided not to use her gun. It wasn’t worth losing it over a job like this. She trusted that when she was taken in, her employers would send someone to clean her flat out and her things would be waiting for her at home. It was how things were done. It was a shame, ruining her clothes like that, but something had to be done. Wandering around in bloodstained clothing was at this point a small price to pay.
She hadn’t known, though. How could she have known? He was a Copper. He had just come down from Upper London to help investigate these murders. And for as blind as they had been for the murder of the poor they would not let the murder of one of their own go unpunished.
The trial was quick, and for that she was grateful. Perhaps she would be in and out of gaol just as quickly. The man she had been hired to kill was old and weak. His only danger was in what he knew, not what he could do. She could kill him easily and be home in time to see the new opera premiere. Perhaps she’d even decide which gentleman would have the pleasure of escorting her.
The Magistrate’s decree came as a surprise. They had finally pinned all four murders on her and in his opinion she should segregated from the rest of the prisoners. She was clearly deranged, he contended, and was a danger to herself and others. A woman would not be put to death herself no matter how heinous her crimes, but would instead be left to rot, forgotten by society.
It should have been easy. Wrap the sheet, kick the stool, over instantly. But she didn’t count on her own incompetence as she swayed back and forth, her body struggling against the inevitable.
I am a master of death and destruction. A hired contractor. No matter how big the job. And I always deliver on time. So I press myself into the perimeter and examine.
The concrete wall creeps out and up. A field of dying grass and bunk houses crams into it’s cold gray arms, and it strangles the buildings.
Inside the housing, small cages stare out. The lights in each window die, sentenced to death with no chance of parole. The door slams shut, locked by key no electronic override.
In the grave silence, I search for weaknesses. I am the hunter, the planner, the architect of death. My kill count is unknown, untracked, accepted by those who hire me, and ignored by those who don’t.
I do not kill in hate or in shadows like my prey. No half eaten bodies or floors swab in blood remain when I’m through. A clean kill, no remains, that how I work, but not my prey.
No, a trail of newspaper clippings, photos and headlines flash corpses and sensationalism. Bodies burned and graves uncovered dangle through time like charms on the reaper’s sickle. For the final slash of this murderer’s throat, no price is to steep, no casualty too much.
My bag weighs heavy, and the moon slips high into the sky. I sway closer to the bunk house and search its base. A crack in the wall splinters up two stories. Its primed, a start. From the bag, I pull a metal tube as long as my finger. Its tip wedges into the building. All along the crack, the metal spikes stud and accent the weakness. I move on.
The bag lightens as the moon finishes its arch, but my shoulders stay just as heavy. No one finds me as I set the field. Yet all around me specks of sliver glint and catch my eye. They will be seen. They will attract attention. Time is running short. The deadline approaches, and the job must be complete.
I place the last spike and retreat to the wall. It stretches up and forever out in a horizon of strength. It stands at my back, and I press hard against it. Shakes start in my thighs and my breathing flutters. It’s time. It must be done.
I close my eyes, breath in the moonlight, and remember my purpose. I am the assassin, the cleaner, the last man standing, the expert. It will go as planned. In this moment, I give up my doubt and fear. I set my plan into motion.
The night pops in a series so fast it sounds like one hit of a drum, one drop of the gallows, one strike of electricity. Dust slams into me and tries to choke. Still my eyes stay shut. My ears are deaf, my lungs starved, my eyes burning, and my heart racing. Still I wait.
The night returns. Stone dropping on stone clunks louder as the water drains from my ears. I listen as the sounds of continuing destruction settles. When I can breath, I open my eyes.
The buildings lay dead, crumpled on top of themselves. The giant wall is clear in all directions. There is nothing left. These walls that have sheltered the worst of society and let them feed upon themselves, these walls that could not hide the weekly deaths, these walls that whispered of suicide and murder to all they trapped, these walls stood for nothing now.
For I am the master of death and destruction. The architect of death. The cleaner. And I have ripped the heart from the rib cage of these walls and crushed it. Never again would it steal, rape, and kill. No longer would this be the red forty-seven acres. For I, I am the demolition man.