I hope you’re starting to read and enjoy my new story through the flash fiction group Wednesday Briefers.
Each week we get a prompt to write our chapter/story with a maximum of 1000 words.
This week’s prompt was use quarry, motel, whiskey.
An interesting conversation has broken out between Torrins and Franc. What have we here?
Missed the first installment and want to start at the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1
“What do you mean no?” Torrins appeared equal parts confused and affronted by Franc’s refusal, whatever is was about.
“You know exactly what I mean.”
Franc’s dark gaze locked onto Torrins and the two resumed the unspoken communication which took on a new intensity and flared into an unheard argument. A test of wills, helmsman challenging the captain. Arad wondered if they were going to share their ideas or continue to communicate through body language and psychic streaming. Although Arad had the impression neither man had the requisite hardware installed or would allow themselves to be connected to any corporate network in such a fashion.
A strobe of red and blue caught Arad’s eye. Through the nearby window, a sector authority officer tackled a running man, slamming his quarry against the wall. Security drone lights swept back and forth, their harsh spotlight flashing into the tavern, distorting the interior’s colors. Disquieted murmurs from the establishment’s patrons flitted between booths and tables. Arad shuddered at the thought of what might have prompted the overzealous arrest. Neither Franc nor Torrins gave the scene the slightest attention.
Torrins shook his head and took a swig of his drink. He slid into a seat facing the booth and nudged Arad to sit in the adjacent chair. “I don’t see what your problem is.”
“This isn’t what we talked about.” All of Franc’s earlier playfulness had vanished. What was left was an unerring sharp edge aimed at Torrins and it brought up a wave of concern in Arad.
“He’s perfect.” Torrins leaned back in his chair, leaving his arm resting on the back of Arad’s. His fingers cupped the join between Arad’s neck and shoulder.
“You don’t know that.”
“He fits everything we need.” Torrins began a deliberate massage with his thumb, working up to Arad’s nape. The move underscored Torrins’s interest and under better circumstances if would have settled Arad’s worries. It did not. The contact failed to rise any revulsion, creating a sense of wariness instead. There was far more going on than he understood, but he managed to gather at least one thing out of the veiled discourse.
“Excuse me. Are you talking about me?” Arad tried to stare each man in the eyes, to no effect.
Franc reached out, only to find his empty glass which only renewed his scowl at Torrins. “The crew won’t like it.”
“Too many people knowing puts everything at risk.”
Torrins looked at Franc’s glass and taunted him by taking a slow sip of his own. “Not everyone has to know everything.”
“There’s not enough room on board.”
“We have plenty of space if we get creative. We were prepared for that.”
“Daiko and Serene will have a shit fit. You know they didn’t want anything to happen unless they had a say in it.”
“Well in the end it’s my ship, and I’m gonna hold onto my supreme veto power, if you don’t mind.”
Arad waved at each man in turn. “Hello, if you’re talking about me, I’m right here.”
And again, they continued talking as if Arad wasn’t even present or trying to be heard. Heat built along the edges of his ears at the insult. He may have been a slug, but he had some pride, even as low as it had become recently. Outside, the officer ignored the man’s pleas and requests for the charges as restraints were lashed around his wrists. Dust swirled around them as the sentries hovered close. Another officer joined in and grabbed a fistful the man’s hair, drawing his head back at a painful angle. They clamped a gag around the man’s jaw, stifling his outcries.
“You’re asking for a mutiny. We all have a stake in this.”
“And you’ll all get paid. Just like normal. Shit, Franc. I’d think you’d back me up a little here. It’s what we’re here for in the first place, remember?” Torrins gave Franc a knowing grin. “You know, you stand to benefit in a lot of ways too. I’ll make sure of it.”
Franc’s glanced at Arad and then away just as quickly. “I don’t like this at all.” He couldn’t mask his frustration as he rubbed his face with both hands.
“Fat payment cards will make it all better. Now’s not the time to get squeamish when what we need is right in front of us.”
Outside, the authorities dragged away their suspect as he kicked and squirmed, protesting their handling. They heaved him into the back of the security trawler that had flew in during the scene and brought down the solid metal door. The searchlights vanished, leaving the tavern in its standard level of bland lighting. Everyone else in the tavern went back to their booze, meager snacks, and whispering, pretending their lives wouldn’t be touched by the violence out there, but knowing it could at any moment with one wrong word or one wrong move.
Arad kicked back his chair and set his drink down hard. Drops of cheap alcohol splashed onto his wrist, chilling as they evaporated. Abruptly, Arad stood, dislodging Torrins’s hand from its perch.
“You know what? I think the two of you have some serious issues to sort out. I’m going to go. Thanks for the drink. You boys have a nice evening.”
Torrins and Franc both finally shut up. Interrupting their discussion gave Arad a small sense of satisfaction even if the night had turned into a complete disaster. Nothing had gone as planned, no matter how flimsy a plan he’d started with. At this point, Arad should have been shacked up in a motel earning the credits to feed himself, but no… he had to take way too long to choose a mark and ran into these two.
With a snug grip on his bag, he turned and stepped away, only to halt when Torrins spoke up over the room’s din.
“Arad, come back and finish your whiskey. If you leave now, how are you gonna get paid?”
Want to start from the beginning? Click here for Chapter 1
Be sure to check out the other Wednesday Briefers!