• Tariq Slee-Egeler

Flash Fiction Fridays #2

Updated: Mar 28

It's Valentine's Day, so I thought a little bit of romance was in order.

Well... Did I really? I guess you'll find out.

Rainfall never did mask the sounds of gunfire in London's Dead Zone. The pitter-patter of raindrops against the windows lended its arrhythmic drumming to the skirmishes that raged through the Dead Zone around the clock. Law and order were distant memories to most residents outside of Syndicate territory; force of arms and gang membership were the accepted safety nets of the part of London most wished didn't exist.

"Your parents won't approve," Alberto said with a chuckle, taking a swig from his beer. The inside of the club was blanketed by a layer of stale smoke and men and women in cheap businesswear played cards and drank while they socialised. Night was when the city, especially the Dead Zone, awoke.

"Fuck 'em," Lia answered, gripping his long trenchcoat and pulling him into a passionate kiss. "Maybe I don't want to return back there tonight anyway," she whispered with a grin.

"Well, I wouldn't turn you away to wander these mean streets alone," Alberto replied, placing his free hand on her hip, sliding her cocktail dress up a little.

Lia slapped his hand away playfully.

"Not in public."

"Then shall we find somewhere that isn't public?"

"Lead the way," Lia responded, taking his hand.

Alberto grinned at her, taking one last swig of his beer before placing it onto the counter. "Then let's go," he said, collecting an umbrella from its position resting against the bar.

As opposed to the rest of the Dead Zone, moving through Syndicate territory was easy, as long as you weren't on their blacklist. As members of the Syndicate, movement was as effortless as it was in the corporate-owned section of the city. Nobody dared to attack Syndicate members in the streets of their own territory. Such was their reputation.

The pair arrived at a refurbished block of flats. A lot of property within the Dead Zone was decrepit, the construction rotting away from age and poor maintenance, though with investments from the Syndicate, most of the buildings in their territory were functional and even kept the rain out.

The pair made their way up the stairs, making no effort to conceal their passionate exchanges as they went. As they arrived at Alberto's front door, he pushed her up against it, rubbing her thigh with one hand as the pair exchanged another, passionate kiss. He fumbled with his keys with his spare hand, jamming them into the lock and turning, with the pair bursting through into the apartment, toppling to the floor with Alberto on top of Lia. They looked at each other and giggled, though an unfamiliar voice cut through the playful, loving air.

"And there we have your snake, my dear Antonio," the voice rang out, a noticeable, yet subdued Japanese accent accompanying it.

The pair looked up to see a woman dressed in a designer business suit sitting comfortably on a padded lounge chair, flanked by Lia's father, Antonio Scarcelli, the leader of the Syndicate, as well as another, younger Japanese woman wearing a similar business suit with an expensive looking katana hanging from her waist.

"And my daughter disgracing herself and our family name," Antonio responded, watching with heavy disappointment.

"I don't give a fuck, father," Lia responded, getting to her feet. However, as she stood defiantly, Alberto clambered to his feet and attempted to run out of the door, however it was closed before his eyes, a mountain of a Japanese man stood in his way with visible, military grade body armour underneath his expensive suit.

"And the snake shows his colours," the sitting Japanese woman said, an amused expression on her face. "Now my dear Akiko, please remove the snake's head and place it at Mr. Scarcelli's feet, if you would?"

"Hai, Matsumoto-sama," the woman responded, her tone totally neutral as she unsheathed the sword from her side. A draw she had done thousands of times.

"No, get that corpo-skank away from me!" Alberto yelled, trying to push past the mountainous Japanese man, though he got pushed further in, the man's immense strength far too much for Alberto to contend with.

Lia moved into the way of Akiko, blocking her way. "I won't let you sell out to these Japanese corpos, and I won't let you kill him!"

Akiko moved with incredible speed, sidestepping Lia almost casually, though Lia's reactions matched the woman's speed as she stepped in the way again, earning a surprised look from the otherwise totally composed Japanese woman.

"Baka," she muttered, grabbing Lia's outstretched arm, taking control of it and pushing her to the ground through a painful arm lock.

"Get the fuck off me!" Lia cried out, though she was shocked when the woman complied, as Akiko stepped past her.

Alberto pulled out his gun, but she was already too close. With a single swing of the sword, she separated the man's head from his shoulders before wiping the blood from the blade and sheathing it once again. Before Lia could get to her feet, Akiko picked up the head, hopped over her and placed it at Antonio's feet.

"There you go, Antonio. This is how we Matsumotos deal with traitors," the sitting woman said, looking over at Antonio.

He looked at the head that lay on the ground before him, fear still etched into the dead man's features. Antonio flared his nostrils, nodding. "So it seems, Ms. Matsumoto."

Akiko walked next to the seated woman, whispering something in her ear. The seated woman nodded, before looking to Antonio.

"I have one more request to add to our deal," she said, giving Lia a calculated look.

"Yes, Ms Matsumoto?" Antonio replied, an uneasy expression on his face.

"Your daughter. She has huge potential, but requires a lot of work. I'm sure you would agree with me that she needs some discipline?" Matsumoto asked, raising an eyebrow.

"This is too far," Antonio replied, shaking his head.

"Is it? It will not be a permanent arrangement, just so we can train her and help her reach the heights she is capable of reaching. Then we shall return her to the fold."

Antonio looked over at Lia, who was now back on her feet.

"I'm not a commodity to be traded to some corpos. Dad, you can't just sell me off to some Matsutech drones!"

"I accept," Antonio answered, dipping his head and looking at the ground.

"Splendid," Matsumoto said, clapping her hands together and getting to her feet. "You shall have your deal, and we shall shape your daughter into the successor she should be. Our partnership will solidify your position here in London, both inside and outside the Dead Zone."

"You can't just... Dad!" Lia exclaimed, but he looked away, remaining silent.

"Come now, Lia. You'll thank us when all is said and done and we would rather take you willingly than having my associate here knock you out and drag you," Matsumoto said, stepping away from Antonio who just stared at the severed head on the ground that was oozing a pool of blood into the cheap, cream coloured carpet.

Lia fought back the tears that threatened to overflow from her eyes. "I'll keep my dignity if my father cannot. Let's go, corpos," Lia answered, glaring daggers at Antonio before walking out of the door that the mountainous Japanese man had re-opened, escorted by Akiko.

"You're making the right choice, Antonio. She will always be your daughter and we can offer her training only reserved for the most elite operatives," Matsumoto whispered as she passed Antonio, before leaving the apartment, the mountainous man closing the door on their way out.


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Flash Fiction Fridays #1

Catchy title, huh? I love a good alliteration. I was thinking to myself how to branch out when I'm feeling like writing something not necessarily to do with the novel I am currently working on. Flash

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