this piece was another written for a writing competition that we were tasked with writing a flash fiction which is my first attempt at such. Me? Write short and sweet? This undoubtedly was a challenge for me but absolutely an excellent exercise in writing and out of my comfort zone as I don’t write Sci fi. Ever. But…I liked where this storyline was going and it is sprinkled with a hint of romance so who knows I may revisit this world. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Can’t be sure what woke me up. The banging in my ear or the stench of stale cigarettes filling my lungs. When the light trickles through, as I open my eyes, the banging returns. I jerk my head and nearly slam it into glass as I peer up at a man in a stupid looking police uniform. Outdated or something.
“You okay miss,” he asks. I stare in confusion, as if waking up in a dream. Where the hell am I. I strain to look over his shoulder at the tall brick buildings, smoke in the air, and the sounds of boat horns. I shift, peering beyond him, but I’m yanked back from something pressing against my knees. A steering wheel. A very sleek looking steering wheel. I crinkle my forehead trying to remember. I glance around inside the car hoping for some clue. The view matches the expensive look of the wheel. Leather covers the seats. Wood grain along the center console.
No sign of anyone else with me but for a lone black briefcase resting in the center of the backseat. “Miss?,” the officer mumbles again, his voice resonating impatience. I instinctively begin to fumble with the door handle to slide the window but huff in frustration discovering it’s automatic. I need keys. I look to the ignition. Empty. I drop my eyes to the seat next to me, to my lap, to above the visor. All empty.
I begin to open the door to the officer in the least to ask him where the hell I am. Just as it cracks open a new voice fills the air. “Is everything okay officer?,” the voice asks. I jerk my head to the passenger door where a man is now standing. I can’t see his face as he towers over the car. Only his t-shirted chest and jeans along with an arm full of shopping bags.
“This your car Sir?,” the officer asks. The man shoves a hand in his pocket and pulls out keys, clicking the fob and hearing the doors unlock, He immediately opens the door next to me. “Yes sir, it is. Is there a problem?” He peers in on me then and winks. Winks. What the hell. Blood rushes to my head from frustration and fear.
The officer clears his throat, and our eyes meet again as he looks away and back to the stranger standing just inches away from me. “I uh noticed your girl here. Wasn’t sure if she was drunk or…”
“Yeah,” the stranger laughs. “She’s fine. Right honey?” He leans in and catches my eyes which I’m sure reveal my absolute confusion. He shoves a hand back in his pocket and tosses something to the seat next to me. I reach for it and as I pick up the wooden square shaped box, my eyes immediately travel to the etched writing across the top surrounded by small colored jewels. As my fingers graze the writing, I smile.
I turn my attention back to the officer who’s eyes are on me intently. I slowly nod my head as I push the door open and stand. “Yes sir, I’m fine. Sorry for the confusion. I must have just dozed off waiting for my husband.” Shaking my head I giggle. “He always shops like he’s buying for any army.” I shift my head over my shoulder to look at Nate who’s now holding the bags up in the air, grinning as I grit my teeth regretting my words as soon as they escape.
“Guilty.” he says.
The officer takes another look at us. Staring at what must be our odd looking attire and then grunts. “Well alright then. Carry on.” And without another glance he turns away and meanders along the side street leading towards the hustle and bustle of the city alive with pedestrians. I turn back to Nate who has already tossed the bags in the backseat.
“Really?” I nearly growl at him.
“What?,” he laughs. “You were still out of it.”
“Well you could have tried to wake me up.”
“Don’t be too sure I didn’t Ry.”
I shake my head at him, knowing full well he didn’t. He never does. Always likes to be in control. Scope out the spot before we head out. “Whatever,” I groan.
Reaching in the backseat, Nate grabs the briefcase that holds all the intel for our assignment and slams the door, balancing the bags that hold our change of clothes. He walks towards me and tosses a bag my way. “Took you long enough to remember this time woman. What’s up with that? Nice touch on the husband bit though.” He nods as a deviant grin forms on his face.
I roll my eyes. He didn’t waste any time throwing my words back in my face. I had always insisted we play the brother slash sister role so we wouldn’t have to show any signs of affection in public for prying eyes when we were on assignment. With the slip of my tongue and the look I was getting from him, I knew what was coming. “You know you have a thing for me woman. Just admit it. We can work through it.” And there it was.
I don’t answer him as I pocket our time piece. My saving grace it seems. With just one look at the box that holds the power to allow me and Nate and others like us to travel through time, I was able to rebound and remember who I was. Ryland Creagh, acquisition specialist. And remember our task. To retrieve the sword that was stolen and bring it back to its rightful owner. Well the decedents of the owner anyways.
This assignment found us in 1930’s New York City. In a time when the country was just beginning to become alive again, slowly pushing forward past the Great Depression. A time when greed and desperation became second nature. Con-artists and peddlers ran the streets. Preying on the needy. The unsuspecting.
My attention back to Nate I laugh as I say “In your dreams old man.” He was three years older than me but calling him old was a stretch. At twenty-nine he was far from it. Mind or body. We were required to remain fit because of the “obstacles” sometimes our assignments presented for us. And Nate, well he took fit to a whole new level. I’d never admit it to him though. What little respect I did have as a woman in this business I’d lose that quick. Even though Nate would be the first to jump on anyone’s back to stand to my defense he also has the biggest ego of them all. And he’s my partner. Lucky me.
“Come on let’s go find Harry,” I say, ignoring his smirking grin. The con-artist we’d come to know as just Harry was an informant so to speak. More like a rat as for the right price he’d dime anybody out. Everything he ever told us always panned out so we trusted him. Well as much as you could trust a conny.
Harry who we found on the street corner peddling his latest gimmick knew right away where we could find the antiquity dealer who had a certain dark cloud over his head. A high class con-artist, that’s what he was really. As I stare at the length of row houses dancing off the moonlight, I twist my neck at the brownstone numbered twenty-eight fourteen. “This is it,” Nate whispers, too close to my ear for my liking.
I was still chapped about the attire he had picked out for me which I’m certain was his plan all along in sneaking out while waiting for me to wake up. Not an easy task climbing through the window with a two sizes too small dress with a cut that even I knew was risque for the time period. And Nate’s laugh under his breath as I did didn’t go unnoticed as I whipped my neck around at him.
Following me in we were careful to remember the layout from visiting earlier when the shop was open. Two stories full of what amounted to stolen family heirlooms. Items given to the shop owner for protection. In hopes that one day they would be returned. Little did they know they’d never see their priceless pieces again. Instead destined to be sold.
We slowly make our way over to the china cabinet where we had discovered the sword earlier that day. The sword owned by the family Gohen. Bestowed to them as a gift from the Queen from her private collection. The sword, ending up in New York all the way from Germany, during a time where it wasn’t safe for successful Jews. Fearing the worst many began hiding their valuables, their money, their artwork, their history. They were desperate to do anything to keep their culture alive after the terror ended.
Nate opens the cabinet door and retrieves the sword as I keep watch of the door and windows. We then slowly retrace our steps to the window. Sometimes our assignments were dangerous. Dangling atop high rise buildings. Lingering around terrorist camps. And then sometimes they were dull like this one. Uneventful. Boring. But necessary and paid just the same.
Just as I’m climbing out of the window and Nate is reaching up to help me down a voice yells out in the quiet of the night. “You there! What’s that you’re doing? What’s that you got?” I hop into Nate’s arms and the two of us look in the direction of the officer with a rottweiler gaining ground on us. We begin to run knowing getting caught was not an option. The rumor that remained in my mind. Remained in all of our minds really. The one that got caught once. Shot dead while he waited in his prison cell. Shot for the fear of him caving and revealing the organization.
As we round the corner to our waiting car, the power source for our time travel, I jerk my head over my shoulder to see the officer and the beefy rot still on our tracks.
“Faster Nate,” I yell. He digs in his trouser pocket for the keys and the box. We both bolt to the driver door and give each other a frustrated stare down.
“I’m driving Ry. No time woman. Just get in the car.” I grunt not pleased with him taking control but run over to climb in on the other side knowing now’s not the time to argue equality.
Nate tosses the sword in the backseat and shifts back around quickly to start up the engine as I twist the box in position. The sounds of the barking dog are getting louder as we begin to shift out of the dimension and safely back to our own. I turn to Nate laughing. “You know it never occurred to me until just now. This car, you picking it for our source, it’s so Back to the Futurish don’t you think?” He shrugs his shoulders. “Yeah, so. Good movie. Besides,” he turns to me with a devilish grin. “I like to feel power underneath me.”
I roll my eyes and fall back to my seat, trying my best not to grin.