Flash Fiction Challenge: Paradise Lost

flash fiction writing prompt 1998 cozumel dock
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Donovan basked lazily in the hammock as the gentle Caribbean breeze caressed him. Alone on this tiny out-of-the-way island, he could at last live the simple life.

Here, he could just let time wash over him. He ate fresh fish and crab and fruit. He didn’t have to worry about shooting anyone or being shot at. He didn’t have to cope with any plans cooked up by idiot desk jockeys back in Washington. Most of all, he didn’t have to think about her.

He frowned as he rubbed at the ropy scar on his left shoulder. The aching in the old wound always seemed to portend trouble.

His brow furrowed as he heard a familiar low thrumming. Of course. He looked out over the water to see an all-too-familiar little black dot in the sky.

As the whir of the helicopter grew louder and unmistakable, Donovan swung from the hammock and walked back to his hut…

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. 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. No political or religious entries, please. Need help getting started? Read this article on how to write flash fiction.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll so they may choose the winner. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday. On Saturday morning, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature.

Once a month, the admins will announce the Editors’ Choice winners. Those stories will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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8 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Paradise Lost”

  1. Couldn’t let anybody see me like this, he thought as he headed for the bedroom. She probably got them all together to come and make a fool of me.

    Donovon remembered the the way they used to sarcastically call him 008 on his assassination assignments. Couldn’t even count the kills he performed all those years working for them. What a challenge trying to keep some sanity in his private life.

    When “she” thought she knew what was really going on and left him with that scar on his shoulder, well,….. c’est la vie. She just wanted revenge for all the fruitless dating.

    He had to hurry. The growling copter seemed to be ready to land. It would take maybe ten minutes before they would get to the swinging hammock and then the front door.

    Well, I’ll be ready for them. They’ll never know.

    Donovon raced around and prepared his new motorcycle outfit. He kicked off his high-heeled huaraches, slipped out of the multi-colored sarong, wiped off the makeup, tossed the wig into the closet and quickly began to re-dress. His boots felt tighter.

    He walked out the front door, lit a large cigar, and waited.

  2. Donovan poured himself two fingers of Bourbon. “Singapore,” he thought. “They’re coming back for the money. He knew some day, a spectacled bureaucrat would recount those beans. Now, they were back to demand the cash.

    He smiled, and looked around him. His island “hut” was a stuccoed Tuscan villa with three marble fountains. Not exactly the middle-class retirement spread of an over-the-hill Cold War agent. They’d know the minute they landed where the money had come from…

    …and gone.

    He tipped back the Bourbon and tossed two cubes into the empty snifter before filling it. Twice the ice, twice the medicine. He hadn’t drank like this since he spent the night in a Bulgarian catacomb with a buxom refugee and bottle of Vodka back in ’73. The helicopter slowed and seemed to hover right off the coast.

    “Surveillance,” thought Donovan. “They’re as cautious as ever.”

    He lifted a middle finger, and swilled down his ‘meditative.’ He emptied the decanter in his third and final drink. No ice. No surrender. He set the snifter down and walked back into the bedroom. After several minutes, he returned with a Drugunov rifle, his vial of nitroglycerin tablets, and a photo of his ex-partner’s wife.

    He set up his defensive position, finished off his drink, and felt the warming heat overtake his system. Then, sharp pains exploded in his chest. Donovan spasmed twice, and died of a heart attack.

    The tourist helicopter made its way back out to sea.

  3. Island life was indeed simple. Nonetheless, he had built some high-tech features into his hut. He flipped the top on a small woven basket and hit the red button inside. With a whirr, his hut descended into a bunker. He flipped another concealed switch and along one wall, tiki heads slid aside to reveal closed-circuit monitors.

    He poured himself a drink and waited.

    In due time, the helicopter landed on the beach and she climbed out. He scowled. What was she doing here? She knew he’d never go back. And she’d lost her chance to join him.

    He had to admit, though, she looked spectacular in her black leather bodysuit as she ducked under the rotors and began walking up the hill toward his hut. “Ralph!” she cried.

    He keyed his mic. “My name’s not Ralph, Natasha.”

    “My name’s not Natasha.” She spotted one of his cameras and focused on it. “It’s Ruth.”

    “Sure, it is,” he said with a sneer. “Go away, Ruth. I’m not going back.”

    “Neither am I.” She struggled out of her skintight jumpsuit, revealing a tiny bikini – and a prosthesis where her left leg should be. “You were right about them all along. They abandoned me, Ralph. Please let me stay.”

    He finished his drink. Then he walked to the door and hit the red button again. As his hut surfaced, he strode out the door and took her in his arms. “The name’s Neil,” he said, and kissed her.

  4. Pushing the string of beads aside that acted as the entry to his thatched-roofed hut, Donovan grabbed his side-arm and pushed it into waistband of his shorn jean shorts—old habit—and went back to be the welcoming party. There was no use running from the copter—or from fate, apparently.

    “Who will be it this time?” Donovan squinted against the blow-back from the copter’s wings. He expected the grizzly, pot-marked face of his CIA handler, saying they were this close to a lead on the ones who’d ruined his reputation and his life. He wouldn’t fall for that again—or for her, if she made another attempt to suck him back in.

    The package fell from the copter like a cruise missile, whistling until it cratered into the sand. So they didn’t send the old stand-by’s this time. Donovan grew confident. His ‘no’ would certainly stand firm against whatever was in that thing.

    Donovan calculated the possibilities of what the package held. They had nothing to hold over him—he’d made sure of that. His family was gone. There was no fortune to lose. And revenge, he’d found, was a bitter pill to swallow.

    He crouched down and put his ear to the package. Now he knew. A rope ladder fell from the copter. The package was his final invitation; the ladder his affirmative RSVP.

    Donovan turned and pushed through the beads. He’d finish this thing on his terms.

    He didn’t feel the effects of the blast.

  5. Sheila watch Donovan walk away from the hammock stretched between palm trees on the beach. He was tall, tan and lean and she missed him terribly. It didn’t take long to find him after he left the Bureau. Luckily Donovan hadn’t found the device she had implanted when stitching up the shoulder wound.

    Donovan was packing his belongings into a knapsack when Sheila found him in his hut.

    “Donovan, Darling.” Sheila wrapped her arms around his bare torso. “What are you doing?”

    “What does it look like?”

    “It looks like your packing. I just don’t understand why.”

    “How did you find me?” Donovan growled, angrily tossing his knapsack over his shoulder.

    Sheila brushed the familiar scar with soft fingertips. “Don’t be angry Darling, I have my ways. Now let’s just be happy we found each other and can finally be together. We belong together, you know how I love you!”

    “How many times do I have to tell you? I don’t want to be with you.” Donovan brushed her hands aside and raced to the helicopter, hoping she left it with enough fuel to get him off the island.

    Sheila tried to catch him but he was too fast. Left standing on the beach below, she watched as her helicopter left with the only man she’d ever love. Plopping down on the sand, she took a cell phone from her bag. “Mother, he got away again. Tell Daddy to pick me up, and hurry, I think I’m wearing him down.”

  6. Donovan took his time entering the combination to the walk-in safe. He kept his most prized possessions there. Amongst them were the few guns he’d brought with him to the island. Ah, but which one was best suited for such an occasion? Donovan chose The Judge — a gun for any occasion. Much as he would like, there was no time to disassemble and clean the immaculate weapon one last time. Instead, he loaded a single .410 shell. Short range was all he’d need.

    Donovan crossed to the kitchen area and pulled a cold Lone Star from the fridge. He flipped the cap into the trash and drained half the bottle in one long swig. It was so peaceful, so quiet. Donovan loved the short time he’d been on the island. He’d made the right choice in coming here. He looked out the window toward the beach again. The helicopter landed. Donovan finished the beer in a second swig. He deposited the empty long neck into the trash as well. In a moment they would be coming up the path. Two of them most likely.

    This was it then. He took the gun from the counter, went out the backdoor careful not to let the screen door slam. Donovan put the barrel of the gun in his mouth. With only the briefest pause, he pulled the trigger.

  7. No surprise–the Company had signaled that they would ferry him to their cardiologist. He lifted the new appliance from the porch table.

    * * *

    The last time the Company had “helped” him, five years ago, their puppet Xaviera had implanted this miserable machine in his chest. She had insisted that his heart was damaged beyond repair. It was a trivial bradycardia, normal for a man his age. The Company wanted him gone, dispatched in favor of cheaper, fresher meat.

    On his own dime, he visited a discreet clinic in the Alps, where the battery life of his burden was extended and its remote capabilities excised. The technicians also tailored a separate battery-powered instrument.

    * * *

    Donovan watched from the beach. Sunsets at the seventeenth parallel were spectacular. He wanted to enjoy the next in peace.

    “Agent,” boomed from the onboard loudspeaker, “we are your medical transport.” The chopper banked over the surf. The pilot needed to come about and approach from the west.

    Donovan had had enough. The Company had devoured his soul and ruined his life. His heart was still his own.

    Donovan gripped the metal barrel, sighted, and projected the beam. Fifty milliwatts of coherent green light was the last sunset the pilot saw.

    The helicopter wavered above the surf, spun, and drifted down into the waves.

  8. Donovan spotted the large chopper coming in low over the waves, he raced into the hut. He quickly snapped together the pieces of his sniper rifle. At that moment, he heard an all to familiar voice challenging him, “Donovan! We know your in there. Come out! Now!”

    Donovan, knew he was out numbered and out gunned, “Alright, here I come.”

    He saw the Major grinning that he got the drop on Donovan, “Well! Well, you’re getting slow.”

    Donovan tensed up.

    The Major laughed, “Not so fast Donovan! You’re not done yet!”

    Donovan screamed, “What? I’m done! You said three months then I’m free to go! I knew I should not of trusted you!”

    Smiling wickedly, the Major yelled back, “That wasn’t the deal! You can’t leave until your job is done! I need you here three more months to coast watch them!”

    Donovan could not believe that he had to stay longer away from his newlywed wife. Then he noticed the pile of supplies behind the soldiers, there had to be a six month supply piled up, “Then why is there six months worth of supplies on the beach?”

    The Major trying to keep a straight face, “Why to make it up to you for pulling you away from your honeymoon, of course.”

    With that Donovan’s wife, Maggie, stepped out from behind the pile of supplies and sultrily came up to Donovan, and they more than just embraced.

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