Flash fiction, written for The Parking Lot Confessional. This is supposed to be 500 word, and it says it is in my word processing software, but the blog wordcount had it at 490 when I imported. Not sure what that’s about. At any rate, close enough. Enjoy…
Life can be mean. In one hand he holds a swath of red silk, in the other, a stuffed envelope. Neither choice is good. He looks at The Five, then leans over and drops the envelope out the window into The City. They lean forward and watch it spiral 30 stories and break apart on the sidewalk. Pedestrians sidestep it without missing a beat.
They sit back and look at him, five sets of eyes awaiting further direction. He holds up the red silk.
“We’re on our own now.”
They nod, solemn and committed.
“They’re gonna be looking for us soon” Rat says.
The Five nod again, this time more vigorously and he senses their agitation. He knows he has to get them busy, and fast, or they might start to spin off. He can’t risk losing even one of them. Each is critical to the Plan.
“Do you all remember your task?”
More nodding, except Rat, who is staring at the red silk.
Rat tears his focus from the silk, and looks at him.
“Rat, are you with me?”
“Okay. Do you remember your task?
Now to kick them into action. He folds up the silk and slips it into his jacket pocket as he speaks. They watch him, hypnotized, then focus on his face as he says quietly, “All of you, scatter and take care of business. Meet downstairs in 2 hours – at seventeen-hundred. Got it?”
They all nod, this time only one nod each; they are focused and ready to act. They stand up and run out the door in single file. He stands by the window after they leave, staring down at the sidewalk. The envelope contents are now scattered in the dirty breeze, or trampled beneath the unending feet of the masses. By tomorrow, it won’t matter anymore. He knows that if he’d kept that envelope and dropped the red silk instead, life for all of those automatrons would continue while he’d be on a plane heading for a small island in the South Pacific. But that option is gone now, and nothing will ever be the same again. For him, for the masses, for The Five. For her.
At an airport on the other side of The City, a beautiful woman is boarding a private jet. She’s speaking into her cell phone. “Charlie, it’s over. He chose the red silk.. Get out of the city, now. Head south.”
She pauses at the plane door, looking back at The City, then turns and steps through the doorway. She settles into her seat and looks out the window. A tear rolls slowly down her cheek.
At 4:57pm, he puts on his jacket and heads down the back stairs. He turns left onto the teeming sidewalk, and, one at a time, The Five fall into step behind him. They move through the city silently, marching with precision toward their final destination.