M E Lucas. Author, of sorts. . .

Flash Fiction Challenge: The Wheel, Part Two


Now, this is not the first competition I have entered, but the first I have put up on-line; for all to see.


Not only that, I had to set up a webpage to do it; I digress.


The competition, set by Chuck Wendig at terribleminds.com, is a challenge of Flash Fiction.


Chuck braves writers to provide 1,000 words using a set of parameters randomly selected, via a random number generator, a great way to force one's hand with various categories.


My randomly generated parameters were as follows:


Subgenre: 3. Wuxia

Conflict: 2. Need to hide a body!

Must feature: 7. A suitcase of money.


The result...


The Swords and the Suitcase


With a jacket sleeve across my face I stood, rigid, back against the door. My feet, barely standing on the doorway threshold, with shoes poking out over the brink of splintered timber laminate into the thick swirling shredded paper and dust-filled air; the floor and walls that had been there, now disintegrated.


Just seconds earlier, I had stealthy tiptoed along the corridor to this door, as instructed. As I reached for the door handle, an explosion shattered the quiet of the empty office floor. Spinning round to confront my enemy I could only watch as the adjacent partitions and ceilings disappeared into the now huge gaping hole in the floor below me.


Years of training has given me the quickest reflex actions, without them, I would be dead for sure; crushed beneath the concrete, glass and various pieces of office furniture. No one had followed me to the building, I was sure of it. Security was disabled. So, who knew I was here?


The numbing noise from the explosion began to clear from my ears, only to be replaced by the ringing of fire alarm sounders. It would not be long before the area crawled with cops and bloggers, all wanting answers, phone cameras taking images for their latest blog post.


My other hand was on the door handle, I pressed backwards on the door to retain my balance; lumps in my back reminded me that swords were still strapped there. What good are they to me now? I turned the doorknob; it was locked.


Surveying the scene in front of me, I cursed. The dust was beginning to thin, slowly revealing that I was perched five stories up, high above a mangled heap of rubble, with nothing to hold on to and nowhere to go.


Sword handles pressed annoyingly harder into my back.


Standing alone on a precipice was something not covered in my teaching, neither was an unsafe swaying building. I racked my brain and tried to assimilate how my master would view these limited options.


"Calm," he would have suggested. "Look beyond the obvious. What can aid you with alternative strength?"


The metal hilts throbbing against my shoulder blades felt as if they would push me from the ledge.


It was time to act.


Letting go of the door handle, my feet relaxed slightly and I slowly tipped forward. I flicked my arms up, hands touched the cold metal behind my back. In an instant the blades were unsheathed and spinning through the air, slicing the thinning clouds of dust, with all my might I stabbed them as hard as I was able, an inch from my hips, into the solid timber door behind me. Then, leaning out over the bombsite, I pulled myself up, let go of the shining steel, jumped and spun round, grabbing at the hilts again and landing in the doorway. Now facing the door, I extended my arms and leaned out once more, then pulling myself in, I kicked out with my foot hard against the lock, smashing it through the jamb of the door.


The door swung inward, not looking back, I leapt through. I tripped over a shiny suitcase, placed exactly as described. So keen not to fall to my death, I had ignored what may lay in wait for me. Such recklessness on my behalf, an act I must not forget or mention again.


The room was dark, light from neon advertising signs flickered through the window illuminating dust particles that continued to billow in through the open doorway. I stood, wiggled the blades free from the door, and then closed it behind me.


Mr Qwong will still expect me to deliver the suitcase on time and in one piece, despite such events hampering my progress. I needed to move quickly and with a little less slovenliness this time.




The lift finally reached the top floor, doors slide open to reveal a dimly light room, my eyes took a second to adapt from the bright lights of the lift car. The micro sensor I tacked to the call panel flashed a green light to inform me it was operational. Hesitantly, carrying the heavy case, I stepped forward, towards two of Mr Qwong's heavies. Doors slide closed behind me.


Full-height glass to three sides of the room framed Hong Kong's skyline. In the gap between the men, I watched Mr Qwong pull away from the view and approach. Flashing lights and other distractions through the windows tried to lure my vision away from him; they didn't succeed.


'You look out of breath,' said a cross-voiced Mr Qwong, 'and you are later than we agreed.'


'My sincere apologies, Mr Qwong,' I bowed my upper body towards him, eyes focused on all three pinstripe-suited men. ‘An unexpected explosion, perhaps to damage the merchandise, delayed my progress.'


'I pay you to expect the unexpected, Xu Lin.'


'Yes, Mr Qwong.'


'Search him!' Mr Kwong instructed his bodyguards.


One of the shadowy figures moved in my direction, I placed the case on the floor and stepped to meet him. I raised my arms and spread my legs. The man frisked thoroughly and found nothing.


'He's clean,' a deep voice said.


'Now, Xu Lin, the case if you please,' Mr Qwong said, his tone calmer.


Picking up the suitcase, I proceeded to walk between the men to a table dimly lit by a collection of red glass ball pendant light fittings. I heaved the case with both hands onto the table and backed away. I sensed the two guards close behind me and knew they would be packing some weaponry.


Mr Qwong tapped a code into the electronic lock on the side of the suitcase, the mechanism clicked. He lifted the lid, folding it back to the table, the hanging lamps revealed a suitcase full of money.


'Excellent,' said Mr Qwong. Although, his words showed delight, his face did not.


'If that is all, Mr Qwong,' I said, not wanting to outstay my welcome.


'Just one more thing,' he said turning to face me. 'I need to hide a body!'


'A body?' I said, looking around to see if any of the low dark seating held a holdall or body-bag. 'Who's body?'




'I'm not sure I understand,' I said.


‘To be honest Xu Lin, I was surprised to see you here tonight.’


‘So, it was you, who blow-up your own office. Why?’


‘There is a lot of money here, all counterfeit. You were supposed to perish in the building Xu Lin, bringing shame with your deceit and ineptitude, dishonouring the house of Tai Lam. Now I will have to make you disappear myself.’


‘No need Mr Qwong, I can disappear if I need to.’ Whilst I had been listening to his speech, my hand had slipped into my jacket pocket and I sent a signal to the micro sensor; I had expected the double-cross.


As the lift doors opened, I made my move. Bending down I pulled a blade, concealed in my boot and pounced on Mr Kwong, hushing him and holding the knife to his throat, before he had time to say a word. I knew his men would have turned to the lift and raised their guns. I had been right and watched as they moved to inspect the empty lift. I closed my eyes.


I heard the bang, then loud cursing in Cantonese and opened my eyes. The sulphur blast had temporarily blinded all three. Pushing Kwong ahead of me, we encircled the stumbling bouncers; rubbing their eyes and waving their weapons.


Safely in the lift, albeit with a bit of a smell, we disappeared.


© Copyright 2012. M E Lucas. All Rights Reserved.