Chip Assassin

Wow, just wow. This one was crazy tough. I wrote the ten chapters at exactly one hundred words each per Chuck’s flash fiction prompt. I figured I would make this introduction a hundred words as well, just because I can. I had intended for this story to go a different direction, but well… Ya know. The origin of the chip assassin came from my buddy who happens to also be the main protagonist in my novella, Forlorn Hope. There are still plenty of cliches, goofy comedy and oh, did I mention cliches? This one’s for you Garret.
Here’s Chip Assassin:

*1*

“Sour cream, onion and death!”

The shout was a fraction of a second before the small round object grated across warm flesh. A gash opened immediately and a fountain of blood drenched the wall and floor. The masked figure discarded the weapon and held the victim from behind. It looked like the embrace of lovers, comforting each other at the beginning of another day. It wasn’t until the body was dropped unceremoniously to the floor that the viscera was revealed. The masked figure looked around the room, picked up a laptop, and quietly closed the door on the way out.

*2*

Josephine Montez ducked under police tape, stepped through the open door and surveyed the scene. Kneeling, she examined the face-down body and the dark sticky pool. She made certain her shoes stayed clean.

“Yo, Jo! What do you make of this?”

Josephine’s partner stepped through the same door, but didn’t venture far into the room.

Without turning, Josephine called out. “Hey, Doug. Looks like he’s struck again.”

“Another potato chip?”

She held up an evidence bag. “Sour cream and onion.”

“We won’t find anything here. Let’s get outta here.”

Josephine stood, smoothed her pants and walked out the door.

*3*

The next morning, Josephine walked into the bullpen to see Doug scrutinizing several photos. Several were face-down on his desk.

“I just can’t get used to a homicide detective who’s queasy at the sight of blood.”

“Seen enough blood in my time, don’t need to see more.”

She smiled and draped her coat over her chair. Before she could retort, the phone on the desk rang.

Doug seized the phone. “Crawford.”

He listened for a moment and frowned. “Same to you, asshole!” He slammed the phone down to disconnect the call.

To Josephine he said, “We have a problem.”

*4*

“Then what did the caller say?”

“‘Ruffles have ridges, motherfucker’ and I hung up.”

The captain frowned. “And you didn’t keep her on the line for a trace, because?”

“Sorry, Ma’am. I lost my cool in the heat of the moment.”

Josephine interjected, “Ma’am, this assassin has eluded us for months, I doubt a trace would’ve led us anywhere.”

“Guess we’ll never know, will we?”

In unison the detectives responded, “No, Ma’am.”

“Get out and get this case solved.”

The two detectives stood, glanced at each other and again said in unison, “Yes, Ma’am!” before scurrying out of the office.

*5*

“Up for some lunch?”

Josephine scowled. “From the roach coach around the corner? No, thank you.”

“Ever been?”

“Uh… No. I prefer my foodstuffs properly prepared.”

“Come on, Jo. These guys are subject to the same Heath Department as a restaurant with windows and doors.”

“The whole setup looks skeezy.”

Doug grabbed her coat before announcing, “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.” He tossed it at her and continued, “My treat. Surely you won’t pass up on a free meal?”

“More like free food poisoning” Sighing, she relented. “Lead the way.”

Side by side they walked to the elevator.

*6*

Doug shoveled pico de gallo, sour cream and ground beef into his mouth as though he hadn’t eaten in days. Josephine watched and ate small bites of her gyro. She hadn’t thought of a Mexican food cart for Greek food, but other than the sauce, they were similar enough. They ate in relative silence. Doug so he could focus on shoveling, Josephine concentrating on the case. Each time she attempted to work out a piece of logic, Doug would grunt and shovel another tortilla in his mouth. When he finally finished, he asked, “Can I ask you a personal question?”

*7*

“Why did I become a detective?”

“Yeah. Your family is in the food manufacturing industry. You don’t exactly need this job.”

“You mean, ‘why did you turn your back on the family potato empire?'”

Doug shrugged his agreement.

“Let’s put it this way: the family business is all-encompassing and I didn’t want to mix it up in the mud.”

“Still, that’s a lot of money to walk away from.”

“Someday I’ll have to deal with it, but until then, I’ll do my job as a detective.”

“That day might be sooner than you think.”

“Let’s get back to work.”

*8*

“Let’s call it a day.”

Josephine looked past Doug to a clock that read 5:15. She closed the file she was studying and grabbed her coat off the back of her chair.

“Walk you out?”

“That’s hardly necessary.”

Doug flipped his scarf over his shoulder. “Suit yourself.”

Josephine walked through the parking garage. She felt uneasy. Instincts told her she had a missing piece to a puzzle she was only vaguely aware of. Sitting behind the wheel, staring at herself in the rear view mirror, she saw the grill of a large truck seconds before she felt the impact.

*9*

Josephine awoke tied to a metal chair in the middle of an empty warehouse.

“Hello?”

Her shout echoed. She didn’t know how long she was unconscious, but she watched a moon beam creep across the floor. She worked her wrist and felt her binding loosen. She had been at it for hours and now watched sunlight fill the warehouse.

Her attention was drawn to an opening door as Doug entered, gun drawn.

“Doug! Over here!”

Doug rushed to her side. “There you are.”

“Help. I’m almost free.”

“I see.” He said tightening the rope. “I got here just in time.”

*10*

“I said five million!” Doug shouted into a cellphone. “Fine. I’ll be waiting.”

Closing the phone, he focused on Josephine. Glaring, she spat at him.”You work for a rival company?”

“Please.” He scoffed. “I have loftier ambitions.”

His rant was interrupted by the sound of a car door closing outside. A man walked through the door with a briefcase. Doug rushed to him and seized the case with both hands. Before he could open it, a fine red mist erupted from his forehead.

The man walked over to Josephine and holstered his weapon. “Let’s go home, pussycat.”

“Yes, daddy.”

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About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degree in Computer Systems and Applications and is currently attending Northern Arizona University. View all posts by Mark Gardner

16 responses to “Chip Assassin

  • Mr Urban Spaceman

    Good story, and nicely wrapped up, too! Each chapter seemed to flow really well, even though they were self-contained. Also, have you changed your blog design since I last perused? I like this one much better, it’s a lot easier on the eyes!

  • Mr Urban Spaceman

    And might I say it is a change for the better! Hope it was a smooth transition.

    • Mark Gardner

      I’m already getting more exposure on WP. Although I still left the FFC posts up at blogger, I’ve deleted the rest of the posts there. I may shoot Chuck an email and see if he’s willing to edit my posts over at terribleminds.

  • Mozette

    Very cool! I love it.

    What happened with Google? I’ve had my issues with them, but never to have to change to WordPress… actually I’ve had more problems with WordPress than with Google… hmmm… I guess we have different ideas of what we want from blog formats :)

    • Mark Gardner

      I had a personal profile for my friends and family and an author profile for writing stuff. Google+ swapped them and intermingled the contacts. I tried for a month to get it fixed, but google & blogger told me to bugger off. So I set up the wordpress blog and migrated.

  • allsnjill

    Nice build-up, and interesting combination of potato chips and death. One thing I wish you would have expanded on is Josephine’s reaction when Doug tighten the ropes instead of helped her out It’s such a twist that I think it deserves to be savored :). Thanks for sharing, you handled this challenge well.

    • Mark Gardner

      I actually wrote an extra 80 words doing exactly that, but I had to cut it back to 100. It was really tough to tell the entire story in only ten 100 word chapters. Over all, I probably wrote about 1800 – 2000 words and edited it down to 1000.

  • Rebecca Douglass

    Impressive. The chapters really work well. I hope I can do as well when I write mine!

  • Trine Toft Schmidt

    So. I read the first chapter and was a little sceptic of the whole slicing someone open with a chip thing. But by chapter two I’d forgotten all about my doubts and was hooked. Great story and I think you managed the chapters perfectly. .

    • Mark Gardner

      Obviously, the assassin is some sort of mutant using a psi power to infuse the potato chips with… Um… What does Gambit from X-men use to power up the playing cards?

      • Trine Toft Schmidt

        Obviously! (and this is where I fail to profess my utter lack of knowledge in the universe of X-men.) But hey I suppose this is what fiction is really about, to suspend disbelief and transport us to far and unfamiliar worlds… in which a sour cream and onion chip is a deadly weapon (for things other than the waistline.:)

  • Catastrophe Jones

    “…and death!” Giggling terribly over here. I love chips. May never look at them the same way again.

  • Kickstarter 2014 | Article 94

    […] Champion Standing. I expect to have something to show you all tomorrow. I “donated” Chip Assassin to the boards flash fiction anthology. I’m not sure when that project is completing, but […]

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