For lines like, “C was supposed to meet someone else here, but if he was reduced to a letter, the other party didn’t even reach the alphabet”, and the hilarious use of The Forbidden Beginning.
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Read all the entries here.
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I like the rain. Somehow it makes the city at night feel more real. Helps with the crime rate, too – well, most crimes.
I looked at the people at the next table. They didn’t seem the type. No, they knew better. Not like the guy I was tailing. He knew what he was getting into, and he did it anyway. I was swirling my fork around the soup bowl in front of me, wondering why I wasn’t hitting anything, when I realized I’d finished all the noodles again without touching most of the soup.
The door opened while I was spearing a piece of pork. I fished out a picture from my pocket. Yep, that’s him: short black hair, clean shaven, predilection for baggy clothes. The face came with just an initial: C. C was supposed to meet someone else here, but if he was reduced to a letter, the other party didn’t even reach the alphabet.
I could feel that piece of pork hit the back of my throat and threaten a choking fit. I drained a glass of water before I could start hacking up a lung and call attention to myself. The waitress came by and filled it up again, and I asked her to hold the ice.
“Sure.” Her eyes flicked down for a moment, then up again towards mine. “Nice gun.” She walked over to another group just sitting down.
I fingered my compliance regulator. I should probably get that concealed carry permit. I’d have to get a less clunky one, though. They’d mostly gotten rid of the nasty side effects, but I could remember when these things were new. That was…almost twenty years ago. I shut my eyes for a moment, trying to dislodge that thought, but I couldn’t.
I had a partner back then, old Douglas. We’d cornered a wild one, a woman that somehow slipped through everyone but us. Not that I had much to do with it—Doug was the one who pieced together the little scraps to make the whole picture. I was just the young rookie along for the ride.
“Get the hell outta here!” she screeched, while backing into a wall. “You aren’t stopping me!”
Doug lifted his regulator, and aimed it at her. “Laura, don’t.”
She laughed at us in short barks. “No. No. I can’t help it!” Another shriek. “It isn’t my fault! It was—”
“Don’t! Don’t say it!”
“It waa-aaaaahh!” The world went white, for a second. Douglas had fired his regulator, and hit Laura square in the chest. But instead of being knocked out, she fell and screamed. At the same instant, Doug’s regulator exploded, and he went down too. I was paralyzed, not knowing what to do first. I eventually shook out of it and went to help Doug.
His hand was useless after that. But he came out of it a whole lot better than Laura; she wouldn’t stop screaming. When Doug had shot her with the malfunctioning regulator something happened to her that made her feel nothing but pain. They’d put her out, but when she woke she’d start yelling again. She didn’t live long—maybe a day or so, but it would’ve been a kindness to have killed her just then.
It was raining then too, but not like it was now. The downpour had gotten stronger, and still no sign of C’s mystery contact. My soup had gotten cold, and apart from us there was only one other customer. C was looking out of the window when he suddenly got up. I could see someone outside, their back to the door, standing in the rain holding a huge black umbrella. C went out the door and got underneath the umbrella, and said something to the other party. I was just getting up from the table when a passing car flashed its high beams and illuminated their faces. I froze.
“Elena,” I said to myself. Of course it would have to be her. I was working so hard on not thinking about her that I willfully ignored all the signs.
She turned and looked right at me, a corner of her mouth raised in a mocking smirk. She then turned to C, mouthed the word “go”, and C ran. I debated whether to chase after him or not, but he was going and Elena was still here. I decided to take the path of least resistance.
I stepped outside the shop. “How did you know it would be me here, and not someone else?”
“Well hello to you too, Stella,” she answered. “Pity about him, hmm? You know, this reminds me of a story.” She smiled. It was a smile so devoid of warmth it could turn the rain into a blizzard. “Do you know how it started?”
She was three steps away from me, and she took the first. “It was…”
“…a dark.” Step.
“And stormy.” Step. I shut my eyes.
“Night.” I could feel her finger trace a line down my jaw.
I opened my eyes, and her face filled my view. “You know the articles of the seventh Geneva Convention,” I started. “That line–“
“Yes. And now that I’m here, in front of you, what are you going to do about it?”
“I…” I sighed. “I can’t let you go again.” I reached for my regulator, but only managed to grab thin air. My eyes went wide, and I looked down at her hand pointing my own weapon at me. She stepped backwards, still smiling.
“I’m afraid that isn’t written in the stars. Not tonight.” Her smile vanished. She pulled the trigger, and the world followed suit.