The Master’s Apprentice

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #132, where we write about the image below, from Kate Trifo at Pexels.

A picture containing grass, outdoor, nature, smoke

Description automatically generated

“Here. This place should do”, indicated Jordan, as he and Melissa reached a cornflower blue pickup truck. 300 metres away from the Hartford Sailing Club. Looking back, Melissa could not help but notice several million dollars’ worth of Lamborghinis and Ferraris in its car park. She smirked as she thought of the tears that would be in the eye of the insurance company.

From their vantage point, they waited until a large black limousine swept past, with a smaller SUV in close pursuit. The vehicles stopped outside the entrance, and a man alighted from either side of the SUV. An approaching valet was swiftly warded off, bowing to the limo as he bade his retreat. Each man slowly approached the limo, scanning the surrounding scene carefully as they neared. Apparently satisfied with their surroundings, the man on the passenger side opened the limo’s door in what seemed like a rehearsed manoeuvre.

A tall, middle-aged, well-dressed woman stepped out of the car. Looking not an inch out of place in these opulent surroundings. She walked quickly the ten metres into the club, again followed closely by the nearest man. Once the two had disappeared into the building, the last man walked to the entrance, continually scanning as he did so, and followed the pair inside.

The walls in the foyer were lined with nautically-themed oil paintings, although the visitor paid them no attention. Turning to the men, she commanded, “You two wait here. I’m going to say a quick hello to these people, but I will be back out in thirty minutes. I need to be back in DC by ten.” Having dismissed the men, the visitor, who clearly knew the layout of the building, strode purposefully up a wide flight of stairs covered with plush, red carpet into a magnificent bar of beechwood and gold, and carpeted similarly.

There were already several people in the bar, and it did not even cross her mind that those people might have been there to see her. “Judith. How nice of you to grace us”. A familiar voice interrupted her. A short man with a neatly trimmed white beard approached her. If Judith had not already known him, the blazer denoting the captain of the club would have given him away. “Henry, how lovely to see you.” She offered her cheeks to him, and Henry obligingly kissed them. “Will you have some refreshment?” “Oh. I could die for some of that Pouilly Fumé, do you still have any?” Henry nodded curtly to the waiting bartender before asking, “And how is Harold?”

Outside, Melissa removed her iPhone from the band on her arm. Unlocking the phone, she offered it to Jordan. “Do the honours?”

Jordan, happy to allow his partner to continue, shook his head, refusing the offer. “Be my guest.”.

“Okay. Let’s do this.” She opened her list of contacts and prepared herself. “You ready?” Jordan crouched beside the truck and opened his mouth wide. “Go for it.” Melissa placed an earbud in each ear, crouched beside him, then dialled the number.”

The initial flash simply obscured the scene in a brilliant white light. For a split-second, it would not have been possible to see either the cars, or the building behind them as they began their disintegration. As the flash subsided, it was followed quickly by a deafening roar. Had either of them been viewing, they would have seen a blast wave rush towards them, coming from the building. Then, the pressure. Even at this distance, the blast rocked the truck, which shuffled side-to-side before resuming its inertia.

As Melissa opened her eyes, she was greeted by the subsequent cloud of dust, which had been lifted far into the air and was now parachuting back to the ground. Already, the truck was becoming visibly lighter as the particles showered down. Ten metres away, a plastic hubcap came to rest, a frisbee tossed by the blast.

As the dust started to settle, the sounds began to come through. She could hear running water, where the mains pipe had burst, an alarm ringing from the building itself, plus several car alarms seemingly trying to outperform each other. And, the screams were just beginning, gradually increasing in volume as more and more people joined the chorus.

From the relative safety of the truck, Jordan now stood and dusted himself off.

“Well done, Mel”, before gazing through the cloud at the smouldering ruin of the building and remarking, “a good job well done, I think. You’ll get a commendation for this. But we’re not quite through yet.” Then a playful jolt. “Come on, I’ll race you back to the apartment”, he challenged, as he started toward the Bayside Walkway.

Melissa, too, brushed herself free of the dust. Opening her Music app, she smiled a satisfied smile as the music began to play through the buds. Fixing the phone back into its armband, as Melissa jogged to catch Jordan, she began to hear the wailing of distant sirens.


    • I wanted to leave that open tbh. I used the word commendation somewhere, didn’t I? That implies to me a military operation, and on reflection I don’t like that word because it carries that implication. So, could be state-sponsored. But I also wanted to leave it open that it might be some kind of contract killing.
      I maybehad the woman down as a politician because I mention Washington, but again I wanted to leave that open – there’s plenty of businesses based around there.

      Liked by 1 person

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