Welcome to Short Story Saturday, where I practice my skills in writing shorter fiction pieces. My aim is to get myself out of the habit of overthinking the prompts I’m given, and to instead just start writing.These pieces will likely not be polished or proofread, they will instead be posted “as is”, almost like flash fiction, though in many cases, a bit longer than the average flashfic.
Today’s story was inspired by the prompt: You’ve always been a clumsy person. One day, you wake up tied to a chair, and in front of you is the best Hitman in the world, who has been trying to kill you for years. I had hoped to make it actually a weird but cute romance, but I didn’t have time to flesh it out that way. That’s a much longer WIP right there, where they then band together to get the people trying to kill her. Or something. Anyway. Here it is.
As Lou came to, the first thing she noticed was the crick in her neck. Her chin had been resting on her chest for too long. She was sitting up, her back against the hard wood of a straight-backed chair. She tried to raise a hand to massage her neck and that was when she realised her hands were bound behind her. She instinctively jerked them from side to side, trying to free herself, but instead, she put a bit too much force into it and tipped the entire chair, and subsequently herself, sideways onto the floor.
“OH MY GOD!”
She started, and tried to look around from her unfortunate vantage point to see where the male voice had come from. The voice sounded like its owner’s last shreds of patience were about to disappear. Lou didn’t recognise the voice at all and wondered what she had done to earn such ire.
“Hello?” she said.
“Are you really that… could you just not fall over or hurt yourself for two seconds?”
“First, I was supposed to shoot you,” said the still disembodied voice. He was standing behind her. “But you tripped right at the second I pulled the trigger and the bullet went through the door behind you. Then we tried poison next, but you fumbled the cup and ended up tipping half of it over yourself, and leaving the café without drinking the rest.”
“Hang on… what? You tried to shoot me?”
“Yes, you’re…” The voice stopped abruptly, as though he suddenly realised he was saying too much.
“And then you… wait, you said ‘we’. Who’s ‘we’?”
“I’m not telling you that. There’s a reason I’m standing behind you, you know. I’m not that stupid.”
“Then why am I still alive? Wasn’t I unconscious five minutes ago? Why didn’t you finish the job then? If I’m causing you so much trouble.”
Lou felt a hand under her arm and then a jerk as he righted the chair. Her head cracked against the chair back.
“Ow!” she yelled. “Watch it.” It was only after she spoke that it occurred to her the irony of telling a hit man off for hurting her.
“Because I got too emotionally involved,” he said.
There were a few footsteps and then he was in front of her. He wasn’t even wearing a mask. She looked at him quizzically for a few seconds and then recognition dawned.
“I know you,” she said. “You were the first aid guy at the café.”
She remembered the incident he had referred to well. She’d been wearing a flimsy skirt so the boiling water went straight onto her skin. He’d helped her into the kitchen where they had been able to awkwardly balance her under a tap so that they could run cold water on the burns.
He looked sheepish now. “I realised I didn’t want to see you hurt,” he said.
Lou blinked at him. “Killing me was fine but as long as I was alive, you felt guilty?”
‘Are you blushing? This is getting weird. Can I go home?”
Suddenly there as a gun pointing at her. She pushed herself back into her chair, but obviously it didn’t create much distance.
“Okay, okay. Nick? Is that your name? We can talk about this. You don’t have to kill me.”
He scoffed at her, the previous bashfulness gone. “If I don’t kill you, I don’t get paid. And I’ll also never work again.”
“There are… other career options, you know.” She’s trying to keep her voice non-judgemental. “You could work in an office or a café or something.”
“Stop it. It won’t work.”
“I mean it. Look, I think we both know that if you were going to kill me, you would have done it by now. So why don’t you –“
The bang of the gun cut her off. Nick watched, satisfied, as the blood gushed over her still-bound hands, and pooled behind her on the plastic sheet on the floor. His loved getting close to his marks, running into them in a supposed coincidence, letting them see his face, letting them thing there was a way out…
Messing with them first was half the fun.