Flash Fiction Challenge: Must Contain Three Things

from my collection

I came across a fun blog in my reader this morning by Kristi at Writerish Ramblings.  She accepted a Flash Fiction Challenge by Chuck Wendig.  Since my day-to-day life has been short bursts of so many different things, I haven’t given creative writing even a morsel of my time.  Inspired by both of the posts (linked above), I decided to give it a whirl.  I rolled these three words to write 1,000 words about:  Poison, Assassin, Magician.  As the queen of wordiness, I feel like it ended up being a good first chapter of a story.  I’m beginning to wonder if I’m capable of summing up an entire story in 1,000 words or less!  There could be worse things for an aspiring writer!

Here goes:

Of all the days to have said goodbye to cigarettes, this was the worst. Simone hastily grabbed her jacket off of the recliner and headed for the door. Days of avoiding her apartment meant tripping over her roommates belongings all the way down the hall. Otherwise, she would have thrown everything onto their beds. It was her trademarked, passive aggressive, way of making her point. It only egged them on. One of these days she would follow through and actually get her own place. With a quick flick of the wrist, she locked the deadbolt and was on her way.

Not two seconds out the door, her pocket buzzed. She reached inside and pulled out her phone, thinking, Phoebe, you better have my package ready or I swear to God … “Hey, I’m on my way to you now.” The nagging weight of her breathing and havoc being wreaked on her nerves without a smoke made the delay an even bigger worry.  The nervous voice on the other line was not reassuring.

Phoebe sounded distracted and flustered, which was completely out of character. Her poise and composure were as implicit as her eye color. With strained breath, she said, “It’s Phoebe.”

Overwhelmed by the possibility of not getting the necessary ingredients for tonight’s incantation, Simone was sure she was hallucinating for a second. She watched her fears loom before her in waves of choking smoke. Oh wait, someone’s smoking. I chose to inhale that intentionally … why?! Pffth. I’m done with that poison for good this time. Picking up her pace from a fast walk to a jog, Simone said, “Hi Phoebe. I’m on my way to your shop to pick up the package now. Everything okay?”

Phoebe sniffled and her voice caught in her throat, “Zach is dead.”

The repetitive beeping in her ear cued the end of the call. Regretting her decision to walk the five blocks to Obscurius, Phoebe’s storefront, she ran the last two and a half blocks. Each step of the way, her mind tried desperately to comprehend the how, why, and when of something so devastating.

Obscurius’ usually brightly lit entryway was dark and foreboding. Phoebe’s customary Enya meets Lindsey Stirling playlist was not on either. After pushing and finding it locked, Simone took her keys out of her pocket and opened the door. A solitary light shone from Zach’s office, causing an emotional amplification of the whimpers within. The door opened halfway, she slowly pushed against it to step inside.

Startled and distraught, Phoebe jumped to her feet with a gasp. Just before she could chant the Consto Debilito, she spotted Simone and said, “I could have hurt you! Oh my God, Sim. I’m so scared!” With a tearful, vacant stare, she turned back towards Zach’s desk and crumpled back to the floor.

Now able to fully view the office, Simone noticed someone else in the room. It was Zach. He was wearing his favorite hoody; the one Phoebe and Simone picked out for him together at Comic Con a few years back. They thought he would appreciate the large eyed octopus with various superheroes in each tentacle and they were absolutely right. When her eyes made it to his face, her stomach clinched.

Zach’s head hung awkwardly to the side. In the place his eyes used to be were two horrifically vacant wounds. Taking care to navigate around Phoebe, Simone went closer and concluded the voids were the size of a .44 caliber. It was not enough for the killer to simply end his life. The second shot was unnecessary at best.

It had to have been because of the last ingredient. Zach arranged to have it delivered in person. They’d been so careful not to let anyone know. Zach reiterated the severity of the situation with, “it’s a matter of life and death.” As Zach was known to be about almost everything, he was right.

It was impossible to know all the covenant assassin’s signature, but there was definitely someone working towards changing that. Nessa’s database could identify any other Foedus killings with the same M. O. It was nowhere near all inclusive, but would be a start. The incantation ingredients were more important than ever. Whoever did this may have taken it. Foedus presence furthers the need to enhance the covenant. It’s the only hope.

Simone said, “Phoebe, what happened? Please talk to me.”

“It was the Foedus. Has to be. His eyes, Simone! His beautiful eyes!” Phoebe began speaking rapidly with less and less coherency, “He said it would just take a second. Had to make the exchange himself. And you! I told him not to get involved. Knew they’d come. Knew it! Protect the others!! I know, but assassins! It’s their job! Such risks! You’re enhanced, FFS! Zach isn’t … wasn’t. Oh, Zach.”

Speaking as softly as she could manage under the weight of circumstance, Simone asked, “Phoebe, where is the chrysalis?” Silence compounding urgency and not even the blink of Phoebe’s eye in response, she asked her again. “Where is the chrysalis?”

Blank stare fixed on her face, Phoebe shuffled slowly towards Simone. Displacing her hands from the long sleeves of her sweater, she reached out and grabbed her shoulders. The grip, uncomfortably strong, caused an instinctive resistance. Simone took a step backwards and Phoebe followed suit, not letting go.

Feeling stretched way too thin, Sophie exclaimed, “Do you know where it is, Phoebe? Is it here?! Please just take a deep breath, let go of me, and tell me!”

When Phoebe spoke, her voice came out, but the words made no sense, “You were supposed to know where it is, naive little magician.”

Phoebe’s right hand released its grip and moved stealthily behind her back and up again. The blade tore quickly through the layers of clothing and entered just beneath Simone’s ribs.

Giving it a sharp twist, once to the left and once to the right, the imposter using Phoebe’s voice whispered in her ear, “Shame, you could have been useful.”

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