The Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge:
He’s a suave native American sorcerer plagued by the memory of his family’s brutal murder. She’s a provocative goth hooker with a song in her heart and a spring in her step. They fight crime!
The click of her heels staccatos through the hotel lobby as Morgaine walks toward the elevators. That sound always gives her a rush. It’s early on a Friday night and she’s headed to see her favourite John on the fifteenth floor of the Four Seasons. He told her his name was John, but it could have been Tom, Dick or Harry. She didn’t really care. He was a client. She likes this one a lot. That’s why she’s walking so quickly.
Heads turn as she passes by the lobby easy chairs. She knows she looks good, even if she isn’t a conventional beauty. Her raven-black hair surrounds her face in a severe bob that ends just at her chin. The time it took to get it straight and shiny was worth the effort. Her long black coat swirls around her ankles like a stormcloud. A grey velvet ribbon runs the length of her back down to a dainty bow right above her bottom. Her widow’s weeds, she calls this outfit. She looks more like a wailing woman than a hooker.
That evening is no different from any nights with John. He takes her gently and slowly, paying close attention to every nook and cranny on her body until she’s practically begging. When he finally enters her, it is with a desperation that makes Morgaine wonder why he spends so much time on her pleasure and takes nothing for himself. He’s the one paying for it after all.
John likes to hear his hooker singing in the shower afterward. He thinks of her as his hooker now. It used to be a once-a-month kind of thing but lately he feels the need to see her more often. Once a week. She sings terrible pop songs while washing off the makeup and sweat, and he thinks about his wife. His beautiful wife.
Morgaine doesn’t know about that part. He keeps it that way. No one needs to know that the night his wife was murdered his life was snuffed out as well. He finds pleasure in nothing. He doesn’t entertain clients—that was what led to Lisa’s death in the first place. He is lost. And the only thing that seems to clear the fog in his head is a night with Morgaine.
He lays the stack of hundreds on the bedside table as she comes out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel.
“Thank you,” he says, not turning to look at her.
She picks up the bills but doesn’t count them.
“Will I see you again soon?” she asks, unable to hide the hope in her voice.
He doesn’t answer right away.
It’s always a maybe, but she knows it will be sooner rather than later.
He walks her out at the end of the night. His fondness for her compels him to see her into a cab.
It’s late and the lobby is nearly empty. The only other person is the concierge, a young man stuck to the desk on the worst shift in the week—Friday overnight.
As John and Morgaine cross the lobby, the revolving doors start spinning. They eject two well-dressed men onto the gleaming marble floor. They look like they’ve come out of The Untouchables. One wears a trench coat and the other is in a three-piece suit. Both are wearing fedoras. The fellow in the trench wanders over to the gift shop display cases where jewels glitter beneath LED potlights. This hotel prides itself on selling exceptional and expensive pieces to their well-heeled guests. The other man heads to the concierge desk.
As he nears the display case, from beneath his coat, the man pulls out a sledgehammer. He swings and the glass shatters. The sound reverberates across the lobby like a shot.
The concierge is already reaching for the panic button but the other man pulls a gun out from his suit jacket and aims it at the young man’s head.
John pushes Morgaine behind his body. He’s six-foot-three and every inch an imposing looking man. His dark native American features have always provided John with a dangerous edge.
They’re nowhere near the lobby doors or the elevators. Memories of his wife’s brutal murder flash before John’s eyes.
Once upon a time he could have done something but now he is transfixed. He knew things. Knew how to get things through the ways of his ancestors. And he’d gotten them—fame and money. But all that stopped being interesting after Lisa died. She was killed by a former client of his who didn’t quite get what he wanted from the shaman. That’s what John was. A shaman. So the little punk actor with too much money and not enough sense took what he thought was owed to him—a pound of flesh.
Before he can stop her, Morgaine slips out of his grasp and starts toward the gunman.
He turns when she speaks.
“Surely we can talk about abut this.”
She’s trying to be diplomatic. The gunman is nervous, though. He didn’t think this would work and now it’s not working and he’s caught holding a gun on several people. The concierge reaches for the panic button again. In his panic, the gunman shoots, but his arm isn’t pointing at the concierge. Morgaine crumples to the floor.
There’s so much blood. John is thrown into déjà vu. Morgaine is blinking in shock. But despite his panic, John is suddenly aware of the sound of drums. She finally focuses and meets his eyes. She’s fading fast, but she has a smile on her face. Why is she so damn happy?! As her life essence is fading, the drum sound gets louder. He needs to focus on that sound. He recognizes it. He knows he can still help her but he must concentrate.
He slips into the altered consciousness. He’s standing in a forest clearing. It’s summertime and the air is sweet. The sun bathes him in a warm light. A horse enters the clearing, a black stallion. His coat is gleaming and his hair ripples softly in the warm breeze. It trots to a stop a few feet away and stares at him. It’s his power animal, returned at last. Behind the horse steps out his wife. She’s wearing a white cotton chemise. The sun shines through it, outlining the soft curves of her body.
She tells him not to panic. That it’s going to be okay. She’s here to give him strength. He begs her for forgiveness and she shushes him. She kisses him on the forehead.
He’s back in the lobby of the hotel and Morgaine is unconscious. He knows what to do. He places his hand over the wound and he can feel the warmth from his power animal—and his wife—coursing through him. Morgaine wakes up with a start and stares at him in amazement. The paramedics arrive and take over. By this point, the thieves have gotten the jewels and fled. He follows the paramedics. He’s not going to leave her.
As they’re putting the gurney into the back of the ambulance, he spies something strange in a nearby alley. There’s a car idling and it’s not a police cruiser. He goes to investigate. It’s the thieves. For some reason they haven’t moved yet. They’re sitting in the alley, looking through their lootbag. They don’t notice him standing right in front of the car. He can hear the drums again. This time he knows what to do. He raises both hands in front of him. He feels them grow warm. The thieves look up to see him standing in front of their car. They’re startled. The driver moves to turn the car on, but the ignition won’t work. They try the doors. They’re locked and they can’t open them. John turns and walks over to the cops standing by the ambulance and he tells them where they can find the criminals.