Posts Tagged ‘flash fiction’
Tags: Aberdeen University, Bill Robertson, book week scotland, flash fiction, scottish short stories
Tags: Aberdeen, Bill Robertson, flash fiction, free stuff, lemon tree writers, scottish fiction, short story
Anyway, since I haven’t posted anything for a while I thought I may as well share it here. The story was inspired by the picture.
‘How was Bogota?’
They were standing in front of the model globe. Anderson could feel the slight chill of air-conditioning through his suit. Outside the muggy New York streets waited for him.
‘The arrangements were excellent as usual.’
‘And Señor Mendoza?’ Philips let the question hang in the cool air. He was close enough that Anderson caught a faint whiff of his cologne. He remembered the heat from the car bomb washing over him even from a safe distance. The plume of black smoke had stretched above the city streets like a crooked exclamation point confirming that Carlos Mendoza had ceased to exist.
‘Will no longer be a problem.’
‘And the authorities?’
‘Mendoza frequently criticised the drug lords so everyone assumes the Cartel did it. So far the press hasn’t made the connection to his campaign against foreign investment.’
‘Excellent,’ Philips turned to the younger man. ‘I believe there was some collateral damage?’
‘Senor Mendoza’s wife and his daughter were also in the car.’ Ana Maria Mendoza had been just six years old. Her smiling, gap-toothed school picture had stared out at him from the front pages of the newspaper while he waited for his flight.
‘Unfortunate,’ Philips shrugged. ‘However, these things happen in our line of work.’ He smiled. ‘You’ve done well Jimmy. Your name is going to be heard by a lot of important people after this, you mark my words.’
‘It’s good to know that my work is appreciated.’
‘That’s the spirit Jimmy,’ Philips clapped him on the shoulder. ‘I have another assignment coming up if you’re interested.’
Anderson hesitated. He was exhausted after the Mendoza mission but perhaps keeping busy would be for the best under the circumstances.
‘What’s the job?’
‘Bit of a change from the last one,’ he rotated the globe. ‘How’s your Russian?’
‘Pretty good. I have a slight southern accent but not enough to make me stand out.’
‘Perfect.’ He reached into his inside pocket and handed over a small black box. It looked just like a regular Smartphone.
‘You can download more information via this once you leave here.’
‘Any other special instructions?’
‘You’ll need to pay a quick visit to the Lab before you go.’
‘The Lab? What for?’
‘This job needs to be a little less …public shall we say, than your last one. The political situation is more delicate. We need this to look like natural causes. From what I gather the eggheads downstairs have concocted something using polonium to do the trick.’
‘It’s a radioactive isotope. The effects won’t be immediate but they should be fatal in the long run. You’ll be completely safe of course.’
‘I see. Well, I’d best be get down there and make a start.’ He made as if to leave.
‘Jimmy?’ Philips called after him. Anderson turned back.
‘Mendoza’s family – I trust you aren’t being troubled by any pangs of conscience.’
He thought again of the photographs and shook his head. Conscience was a luxury.
‘Strictly business, Mr Philips.’
Tags: Aberdeen, Aberdeen University, Arts, Bill Robertson, blog, Fiction, flash fiction, free, lemon tree writers, literature, new writing, Online Writing, Scottish writing, short story, Special collections, University's Special Collections Centre, writing
Updated: after contacting the University I have been given permission to include the picture prompt that I used to come up with my competition entry. Many thanks to Scott Byrne from the Special Collections Centre for allowing me to use the image.
Earlier this month I spotted a sign advertising a flash fiction competition organised by Aberdeen University. The entries had to be based on one of four pictures taken from the University’s Special Collections Centre’s rare books and archives. Figuring there was nothing to lose I went home, found the pictures (I chose number 2) and had bashed out a 500 word effort in a couple of days. I was quite pleased with it as I normally hate “writing to order” as so many competitions seem to insist upon these days. I also rather enjoyed the period feel of the story that developed which was a bit of departure from my usual style.
The winners were announced today and sadly I did not feature in the top slot or even get a special commendation. However, the story is published along with many others on the University’s website. There you will find the overall winner and links to all the other stories and, most important of all, the pictures which started it all.
I’ve included the story below for you.
‘This way Sir,’ Drummond said as Porteous stepped out of the basket.
Porteous followed the younger man through the tunnel. The stifling heat of the jungle lay over a hundred feet above and the walls sweated and ran with constant moisture. A cool draft teased his exposed skin. There were no mosquitoes this far down either which he supposed was a blessing. He detested the bitter taste of the quinine pills the Professor insisted the men take daily.
‘How is the dig progressing?’
‘We seem to be back on schedule now.’ The locals Drummond had hired had strong backs and toiled night and day for their few pennies.
‘Just as well – London is becoming impatient. Several telegrams have arrived insisting that we make haste.’
‘Yes Sir I realise that but…’ Drummond hesitated.
‘Well? What is it? Out with it man.’
‘With all due respect Sir, I don’t think they appreciate our difficulties. The locals say this place is haunted. It took a lot of persuading to get them to overcome their reluctance to dig here.’
‘Stuff and nonsense lad,’ Porteous snorted. ‘Let me tell you, I have travelled far and wide and I’ve yet to encounter anything that can’t be seen off with a taste of cold steel.’
‘If you say so Sir.’
The tunnel broadened out into a wider cavern. Porteous could hear the scrape of shovels from up ahead.
‘Are you sure the map is correct?’
‘Positive Sir. It took us a while to translate all the information on it but this is the place all right.’
The map had passed through several sets of hands before coming into the possession of Porteous’ employer. It purported to show an ancient burial site hidden deep in the jungle where untold riches were said to lie. Porteous had been hired to lead the expedition – a task which he had gladly accepted. Civilian life was far too mundane for his tastes although the heat made his old wounds throb.
There was a sudden clamour of voices raised in agitation. One of the workers, his face streaked with dirt ran up to the two men jabbering excitedly.
‘He says they’ve found something,’ Drummond translated once he got the man to calm down.
The diggers stood at the edge of the shallow pit as if unsure what to do next, a few shifted from foot to foot nervously. A stone casket lay at the bottom of the hole. Porteous could see the intricate carvings decorating its surface even through the dirt.
‘Out of my way,’ Porteous said, shoving them aside. He grabbed a pick from one of the men and jumped into the hole. He grunted as he hefted it over his head and brought it down to strike the stone.
A flash of light burst from the shattered casket, consuming all of the men. It burst through the tunnels and shot up to the surface. When it subsided the excavation had been erased and only the sounds of the living jungle remained.