Flash Fiction Challenge: Hell Comes to Breakfast

The good-looking guy on my right is Valentin Karmanov. He’s an FSB agent and my best contact in the Russian intelligence community.

Lately, the information he’s gotten for me has turned out to be not so good. Our station chief thinks maybe the Russians are onto him.

I was concerned as well. I should have been more concerned. I did not make the older guy in the shades to my left, but I saw a reflection in Valentin’s sunglasses of the guy making a move for his gun.

The station chief always insists there be no gun play in public venues. Sometimes you don’t get what you want.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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4 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Hell Comes to Breakfast”

  1. “Look out!” I cried as I upended the table in Valentin’s face.

    The heavy cast iron seemed to float through the air, as light as a feather, but I wasn’t paying it any attention. In that timeless moment of extreme stress my mind was busy ticking things off my internal to-do list.

    Shield Valentin with the cast iron table. Check.
    Reach for gun in purse. Check.
    Lunge out of chair. Check.
    Shoot assassin…

    Even as I saw my shot go wide, something punched me in the chest. I felt as if I’d been hit by a truck, but there was no pain, only a horrible sense of oops. I had made a mistake. The black ops guy hadn’t been after Valentin at all. He’d been after me.

    And then time sped up in a bright red haze.

    I hit the overturned table with a crash, and came to rest looking up at the distraught face of my lover. His sunglasses were gone, lost in the debris, and he was trying to say something. I could see his lips move, but no sound could penetrate the silence that enveloped me.

    It was over. Us. Being a double agent. The life we had planned. All gone. But as the warmth leached from my body I smiled, hoping Valentin would know I had no regrets. The love had been worth-…

  2. Sometimes you do what has to be done. I pulled my glock from its holster at the small of my back. “Get down,” I said. I was on my feet, gun pointed at the older guy. “Hands where I can see them.”

    When his hand came from his sport coat, it held his gun. He wrapped his hands around and trained it on Valentin’s forehead.

    “Dammit,” I said. I snapped off a couple rounds at the man. One round hit him in the left shoulder. This wasn’t his gun hand. The crowd around us went quiet, till they saw the guns.

    Logic dictates that if you are calm and collected you can get away from a dangerous situation with little trouble. This crowd didn’t believe in that. They scattered every which way.

    The gunman melded into the crowd, another shot was out of the question. “We need to get you out of here.”

    “Damn right you do,” Valentin said. “You owe me big for this one. I can’t go back now.”

    The vans stopped in front of the cafe, standard issue black vans. It may not be comfort but they were the safest way to get us to the US embassy. We climbed into the one in the middle.

    We sat across from Jane Doe while she explained the passports to us. A cover identity for him and my way home again. No one said anything when Valentin slumped forward. The silencer in the enclosed van made the work bearable.

  3. I reached for my gun and smiled at Valentin. The pigeons and tourists chirped, but, between us, there was vast silence.

    “Your friend pulls that gun, and you die. I don’t want it to go down like that.”

    Valentine started as he felt a short barrel pressed against his ribs. He made a sign with his hand, chopping the air, and I saw the reflection settle.

    “That’s better. Now, let’s enjoy our tea and have a chat.”

    Valentin sat rigid, petrified.

    “I did not do this thing. Whatever you are angry about.”

    “Don’t mess with me. You were never any good and you’ve gotten worse. So, you know what will happen now, yes?”

    “No. Please. Please don’t kill me.”

    I didn’t want to watch the man melt, so I focused my attention on the flight of sanguine pigeons. Beautiful things, pigeons. Like my Russian friend, they were beautiful on the outside. Inside, they were rotten, diseased.

    I took two cigarettes out of my pack and Valentin plucked one from my hand. He lit mine first. Always the two-faced gentleman.

    “Maybe you have things wrong? Can we go someplace and talk about this? I am sure I can make it right. Even if that means leaving. For good. Please Katarina, don’t kill me.”

    I smiled my first real smile in ages.

    “You’re already dead.”

    “What?! How?”

    “You picked the wrong cigarette, my friend. But your people never did know how to play roulette the civilized way. Goodbye, Valentin.”

  4. I knew, one day, I was going to get myself in over my head. But at the time, I couldn’t get work as an actress, not even in local plays. So the ad for an audition came at the perfect time. And really, is gathering information anything more than intuitive improv?

    I’d always been able to talk or flirt my way out of difficult situations. This, clearly, was different. I knew Valentin had to be seeing this as well. Why wasn’t he saying anything? Had he set me up? Or was he sitting there wondering the same things I was? Those damn mirrored shades made it impossible to read Valentin’s expression.

    I was nothing more than a lowly courier. Had I tripped over something big, bad, or deadly? Would I ever know?

    They say you see a rewind of your life in your mind’s eye before you die. Would I have enough time to duck a bullet? Was the only thing going through my mind.

    Suddenly, the man with the gun stood. He was huge – like hockey player huge. Valentin didn’t flinch. It didn’t make any sense. He was the seasoned pro – shouldn’t he be doing something?

    And the woman – well, she was beautiful – and she appeared out of nowhere. Her voice was smooth and confident. “What’s the matter, Valentin, seeing a ghost?” she nearly purred.

    None of it made any sense. The man – well, he was drop-dead gorgeous – and unlike her, he had a Russian accent. “Valentin, you turdy little squirrel…”

    A smile formed on his partner’s lips. “Aleksey, I keep telling you – it’s squirrely little turd.”

    “I like my way better.” He shrugged his enormous shoulders, then pulled Valentin onto his feet so he could cuff him. Valentin didn’t resist.

    The woman looked over her sunglasses at me. “Go back to acting, kid.”

    And like that, the three of them were gone.

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