Entry for first round of the NYC Midnight 2015 Flash Fiction Challenge (http://www.nycmidnight.com/Competitions/FFC/Challenge.htm)
Location: A tanning salon
Object: A pet snake
Compared to the first two rounds of the Short Story competition from NYC Midnight, I actually found this particular assignment the most enjoyable to write. Particularly because of Brigid and Shouichi. Originally these two were from a collection of short stories I’d started a while ago and never finished, so I thought it would be interesting to put them in here.
“We’re On A Date”
Plot: All Lieutenant Turner wanted was to have a nice, normal vacation. All Major Kwon wanted was her pet snake. All Colonel Mitchell wanted was a stress-free life. And all Major Sengoku wanted was an ordinary date. Unfortunately, things don’t usually go the way we want them to.
“So I believe this is how it begins: Lieutenant Brigid Turner and Major Shouichi Sengoku step into a bar?”
“First of all, sir,” said Brigid pulling off her gloves, “this is a cafe, not a bar. Second, I only agreed to a date because I lost against Prod in a game of chess.”
The lieutenant and the major had both taken leave from work. Needless to say, Brigid was not at all happy that her break was being wasted on her idiotic superior. If she had her way, she’d go to the beach. But now, she was wearing a dress, with her short hair in curls, scowling at her freshly painted fingernails.
“I bet you’re really happy about this, though,” Sengoku grinned. He clasped his hands together and mimicked her voice: “ ‘A date with Major Sengoku! Oh, it must be Christmas!’ ”
“Christmas is in ten months, sir.” Brigid reached for the menu. “Two iced teas, please. And two strawberry crepes.”
“Ordering for me?” Sengoku’s smirk grew bigger. “You really do care.”
“If I let you order, you’d order something expensive and I’d end up paying for it.”
The waitress returned. “Two iced teas. The crepes will be here shortly.”
“Annie taught me some pick-up lines. How about this one? Are we in a tanning salon, or is it just me that’s hot?”
“Major,” Brigid said, her eye twitching, “that’s flattering yourself, not flirting.”
“Oh. Okay. You shouldn’t go to a tanning salon, because I think you’re already – ”
“I’m already tan enough as it is.”
Sengoku leaned back. “What do you want to talk about then?”
“Well – ” Brigid began, but the door of the cafe slammed open, the bell chiming discordantly.
Two people entered the cafe, saluting.
“First Lieutenant Turner. Major Sengoku.”
“It’s Mai and Prod,” Brigid said, surprised. “What’s wrong?”
“Yes, we’re on a date,” Sengoku added unhelpfully.
“Shut up, sir. Well?”
“The sergeant accidentally let loose the prison dogs.”
“The corporal is attempting to strangle him.”
“Major Kwon blew up West Twenty-fourth Street.”
Brigid groaned. “Again? All right. Mai, stay here with the major as his replacement date. I’ll go with Prod to sort this out.”
The door opened again with an impressive crash, and in strode a broad-shouldered woman.
“Lieutenants Prod Addams, Mai Ling, and Brigid Turner!” she barked.
“Good morning, ma’am,” the three of them chorused.
Sengoku lowered his tea. “Annie!”
“Control yourself, Sengoku,” Major Annie Kwon snapped. “You’re on a date. Tuck in your shirt and pay for the food, like I told you to.”
“Your tanning salon pick-up line didn’t work, Annie,” Sengoku complained.
“That’s because you don’t know how to use them,” Kwon replied, nonplussed. “Naturally, since Turner already finds you unpleasant, your lack of courting skills must’ve made her even more repulsed.”
“Major Kwon, did you blow up West Twenty-fourth?” Brigid interrupted.
“Yes, I did. Step aside, Turner. I am going to give my idiotic step brother a little lesson.” She cracked her knuckles and Brigid hastily backed up.
“I’m on a date!” Sengoku cried.
“But Major, West Twenty-fourth!” Prod objected.
She sighed. “Oh, fine.”
Kwon clapped her hands once, twice, and a green serpent slithered towards them, wrapping its tail around Sengoku’s neck in an incredibly short amount of time.
“Major!” three voices shouted.
“Annie,” the major croaked.
“Someone get a doctor!” Prod bellowed, whipping around. His arm smacked the waitress, who’d just arrived with the order, and she went sprawling, sending the crepes through the air. Both Kwon and Sengoku found themselves wearing hats of crepe, cream, and strawberries moments later, as Brigid and the two lieutenants stared, unsure of how to react.
“KWON! KWON, YOU SILLY EXCUSE FOR A MAJOR!” a voice suddenly roared, making everyone jump. The door exploded into fragments as glass fell like rain. “WEST TWENTY-FOURTH! YOU BLEW IT UP, DIDN’T YOU?”
“Uh oh,” said Kwon. “Mitchell’s here. See you later.”
As the colonel stormed in, cap lopsided and face red with exertion, Kwon took a flying leap and landed behind the counter, where she squatted, disappearing from view.
“Where’s my fiancee?” Mitchell demanded. “She blew up another street!”
“We heard,” Sengoku squeaked, attempting to peel the snake off his neck. “Fourth one this week. Is she trying to start a civil war, or something? Now excuse me, I am on a da – ”
“Found you!” Mitchel shouted, hauling Kwon from behind the counter.
Sengoku turned a nasty shade of blue and he stabbed the snake with his spoon.
“Don’t touch Smiley!” Kwon shrieked, scrambling for her pet. Her foot hit the plate previously holding the crepes, which made it cartwheel into Mai’s face. Prod pulled her aside just in time, receiving a platter-sized red print across his nose. He collapsed, and Sengoku gagged.
“Smiley!” Kwon screeched as Mitchell dragged her away.
“Shouichi!” Brigid yelled.
“I think you have a concussion,” said Mai worriedly to an immobile Prod.
“No more playing with explosives for you,” Mitchell growled, stalking out the door.
“But my snake! Give me back my snake!” Kwon yelped.
“He’s going to die!” Brigid retorted.
“Urghh,” Prod groaned.
“Major Kwon!” Brigid howled.
Kwon clapped her hands and the snake slithered back sullenly.
Prod attempted to sit up.
Mai forced him back down.
Sengoku slumped in his chair, rubbing his neck and wincing.
Brigid sighed. “Sorry, sir. I’m going to go help out with this mess.”
“You called me Shouichi,” said Sengoku. He peeled the crepe off his head, wincing. “And – Brigid?”
Brigid eyed him, already half out the door.
Sighing, she slapped several bills and a handkerchief on the table.
“Overtip the waitress,” she said. “Pay for the glass. This should be enough. And clean your face, please. It’s a mess.”
“But – ”
“And go see a doctor. You might not have injured your windpipe, but go just in case.”
“But – ”
The remains of the door clanged, metal frame clattering behind her.
Sengoku stood, half in disbelief and half in indignance.
“But we’re on a date!”