365 Ficlets – Day #252 ~ “Night Kill”

The night was warm, close even; the humidity had left him covered in a sheen of sweat, even though he was clothed only in a pair of boxer shorts. The gun was heavy in his hand now, where before he had felt almost as though it was holding itself up, or at least that it had given him strength. He looked down at it hanging by his side; just to look at it there seemed to be nothing different about it. There was no curling smoke coming from the muzzle, nor was the slide locked out as one often saw guns in the movies.

He turned slowly and looked down at the bodies behind him, one of them was still alive, but the neck wound had left them with nothing to do but to silently open and close their mouth, like a fish gasping to breathe in air.

He lifted the muzzle of the gun and cradled it in his other hand, then looked deep into the eyes of his gasping victim;

“You want me to end it?”

The look of terror on their bloodied face intensified, and they started to shake their head violently.

“I should leave you alive?”

Nodding.

“No.”


365 Ficlets – Day #251 ~ “Turning Point in Pain”

When people say that everything slows down just as you have an accident I am often left with a certain level of disbelief. My experience is one of everything speeding up as circumstances accelerate away, and all that is left is to sit back and watch as body and soul fall on the mercy of fate.

That was what happened the day I skied for the last time. I was not doing anything particularly dangerous or difficult, particularly considering my experience, skill and level of fitness. I was descending, off-piste, between the Platières lift and the run coming down from Mont Vallon, knee deep in fresh powder and running on instinct. I had skied this section of the mountain many, many times, and usually in the same conditions – clear skies the day after a snowfall. I had no reason to be afraid for my safety, and then it happened. I would be able to piece it together later on, but at the time there was just a piercing pain in my knee, a wrenching and then I was neck deep in powder, on my back, looking up.


365 Ficlets – Day #250 ~ “I say ‘Pub’ you say..?”

“What do you mean, you think that the answer is Carly Simon?”

Jacob hesitated, unsure whether or not Gavin was taking the piss or not.

“Well, Gav, the question is ‘Which recording artist who has recorded a Bond Theme has also had a romantic affair with Warren Beatty?”, and the only one I can think of is Carly Simon, unless you think that Beatty has been shagging Shirley Bassey!”

Gavin smiled;

“Ok, yeah, you’re right. I just love winding you up on Bond questions.”

Jacob smiled and yet inwardly he was asking himself the same question that he asked every week; ‘Why am I doing this?’

The quiz master announced the next question;

“Which actor played Captain John Sheridan on the TV Sci-Fi show Babylon 5?”

Jacob knew the answer well enough; anyone who had even watched the show whilst awake would know that it was Bruce Boxleitner. Still he wanted to see how badly the team needed him, for all their sport and history knowledge, none of them could touch him anywhere in entertainment. None of them even looked up; they needed him.


365 Ficlets – Day #249 ~ “Needs Must”

“So, we are agreed? Twenty-eight hundred per kilo and any load over five hundred kilos will carry a ten thousand bonus.”

Piers nodded; it was not the best deal he’d ever made, but there was not a lot of choice. DeVere was pushing for his money, and much as Piers hated bailing his brother out he knew what DeVere would do to Mark if his debts were not covered. They were going to be having a conversation and more to the point, Mark would be doing his part on this deal.

They shook on it and then he was out in the cold air, suddenly filled with apprehension; Santos had negotiated the price down, but not as much as he had expected. He reasoned that all he had to do was make sure the crew were ready for the potential double cross and then get on with the job in hand.

He lit up a cigarette, nodded to the guy watching the door and then headed across the street to where he’d left his car. As he stepped into the darkened alley, just out of sight from Santos’ place, he saw a cigarette lighter flash into life;

“Hello Piers.”


365 Ficlets – Day #248 ~ “Aspirational Mismatch”

“What do you mean, you’ve decided that you want to learn to paraglide?”

David just smiled and nodded, employing his stock, enigmatic refusal to actually answer the question. Then after a pause he stood and cleared the plates.

Jennie had started to get used to David’s madcap ideas and fads; well fads was a little unfair as he generally did follow through with his ideas, but still. He was clearly not going to enter into a dialogue about it then and there, and yet unlike his desire to learn a computer programming language when they first met, or the French lessons that came shortly after they moved in together, learning to paraglide added a real dimension of risk to his hobby life. She tried not to see his cavalier attitude as selfish, but she could not help but be hurt by the fact that he did not want to even discuss this with her. He seemed to pay little or no heed to the fact that she would worry about him. What if he killed himself chasing the dream of unpowered flight?

“I need us to talk about this, David.”


365 Ficlets – Day #247 ~ “Anticipation”

The cold floor under his feet made it real finally. One quiet moment away from the others, looking out at the wall of mountain summits against the deep blue velvet of the sparkling night sky. He rolled the cheap tumbler between his hands and smiled; first night in the Alps in far too long, a dram of malt and a belly full of a good meal cooked by someone else, and good friends.

The next day was going to bring adventure and fun, just as it always did. There were many joys in his life, but very few of them stacked up against the feel of wind in his face and the sound of his skis on the snow.

There is no way to describe the feeling of flying down a mountain under the power of gravity and body control, working both in harmony and against one another at the same time. In the past he had tried to explain the sense of release that he would feel as the edges bit and he set his body into a long sweeping carve across an empty piste. That perfect moment is beyond the ken of anyone who has not experienced it.

Time for bed.


365 Ficlets – Day #246 ~ “Front Man”

The shouts and whistles of the crowd were as a low hum to him as he stood in the wings, waiting for the signal to take to the stage. The satisfying cold weight of his guitar’s body laying in the small of his back was his anchor. He focused on the picture in his mind’s eye of his lover’s face and imagined her resting her hands on his shoulders, squeezing gently and wishing him a good show.

Music had kept him sane when she had died, well music and his family of music. The band had been amazingly supportive and understanding, as had their fans, but in the end there had been a lot of good material to take from his grief and, feeling sure that she would have approved, he saved himself from his grief by telling the world about her.

The signal was given and he walked out into the lights. The roar from the crowd was genuinely palpable; it made him rock back on his heels and he could feel wave after wave of excitement and adoration. He turned to check that everyone was in place, plugged in and stepped to the microphone.


365 Ficlets – Day #245 ~ “Throwing”

The grit in the clay was biting into his hands as he centred it, elbows locked on the rim of the wheel to make a triangle with its point over the centre. Even now, doing this simple task that he had done a thousand times before he could not push his anxiety away. It was going to be another six days before he would hear about the test results, and he needed to be able to live for those six days.

The clay centred, he started to create a simple bowl, pulling the clay from the centre between finger and thumb. He focused in on the bands of clay that he needed to flatten as he raised the wall of the bowl between his hands. The muscle memory, like the wisdom of his body, his hands, guided his movements and allowed him to perform this delicate task, while his mind raced with the whats and wherefores of his condition.

He finished the lip of the bowl, the wheel moving at half speed as he curled the edge down in a movement that reminded him of the way that a tyre is rotated onto a rim; if he had cancer he would fight it.


365 Ficlets – Day #244 ~ “Preparation”

The sizzle of the onions and the garlic, as he chopped the meat, was all that he needed to shuck off the stress of the day. The pressure that he was under was the very last thing that he had expected when he had taken the job, but the truth of that was really just his own naiveté.

The meat chopped and the rice on to boil he poured a glass of wine from the bottle he had opened for the cooking and leant back on the surface across from the stove. He could hear the shower, upstairs, and smiled. He had been so engrossed in his cooking that Harry’s return home had gone unnoticed; he decided to pretend to be suprised when his lover came into the kitchen fresh and clean, the city washed away in his own very personal ritual.

He lit the candles on the table, and tried to resist the urge to re-straighten the napkins. Perfection was in the company and the food, not place settings, and anyway he did not want Harry to even suspect that this was a prelude to anything more than a re-kindling, a way to make time for each other.


365 Ficlets – Day #243 ~ “Washington Square”

He passed it from hand to hand, enjoying the chilly, smooth feel of the rook against his palms. He loved playing in the park at this time of year, his set always felt like they were carved out of ice during the clear winter days.

His opponent was following his hands while he considered his move, as if trying to understand his thinking. He knew that his opponents were often distracted by this habit, but it was not calculated to throw players off their game. In truth he did not know why he did it, and more importantly he rarely noticed that he was doing it until he saw the person opposite’s eyes moving from side to side.

The game was six moves from mate in his favour; this guy was not any kind of challenge. They never were all that tough any more in the mornings; it was as if the real players were sleeping in during the cold weather. The game wrapped, exactly as he expected, and he took the money, shook the guy’s hand and started to reset the board.

“Xavier Crown?”

He looked up; this new guy was not there to play.