Her part in the game

03/08/2016 22:43

Yay! A new piece for Flash Fiction Friday, hosted by Black Ship Books and F3.

This week, the prompt is for a mystery story. I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think in the comments.


When she opened the safe, it was empty. Which was pretty much what she had expected to be honest, but it was still disappointing to have come so far for nothing. A sudden idea made her switch her tiny electric torch to her left hand and feel around the inside of the safe with her right. Bingo! There was something taped to the top of the safe. She pulled gently and heard the satisfying sound of Sellotape peeling away. The torchlight revealed a plain white envelope with nothing written on the outside. It was sealed but she could feel that there was something inside. Did she have time to find out what? A glance at her watch told her that she did not.

She quickly closed the safe and replaced the painting that hid it from sight, before leaving the room the way she had entered, through the door. The envelope and torch were crammed into her clutch bag, the latex gloves she had worn to prevent fingerprints were tossed into a convenient vase, and she was ready to rejoin the party. Which was only right, since it was being held in her honour. As she reached the top of the stairs, she heard someone calling her name.

“Sophie! There you are. I've been looking everywhere for you. Where did you get to?”

“Just powdering my nose, Alex. Even guests of honour are subject to calls of nature, you know?”

The other girl laughed. “I suppose that dress isn't exactly designed for a quick trip to the little girl's room, is it? And yes, I am insanely jealous that you can get away with something that figure hugging. Let's get you back downstairs, though. They're about to start the speeches.”

Sophie rolled her eyes but her slightly smug smile revealed how much she was looking forward to hearing herself praised.

“Come on,” said Alex, digging her in the ribs.

They hurried to where their host and employer was waiting for them. “Ah, here she is,” cried Harry, “the lady of the moment.”

With a smile, Sophie moved through the crowd to stand with him, the sound of applause in her ears. There was no doubt that she deserved this attention. In just six months with the company, she had broken one sales record after another. She was riding high and enjoying every moment of it. The fact that this was all a front somehow only made it more satisfying.

Her accomplishments were blazoned across the screen behind Harry as he extolled her virtues as a salesperson. After he had run out of words to say in her praise, he called for a toast.

“Charge your glasses, ladies and gentlemen, charge your glasses! I give you Sophie Markham!”

“Sophie!” the guests chorused and then, “Speech! Speech!”

She was ready for this, more ready than she had ever been in her life before. It was time to end this charade. Well, sort of...

“Thank you, Harry, for your kind words. I have only ever done my best to make you proud; and to make you as much money as possible!” There was laughter at this. “And thank you to you, my colleagues. You have made the last six months some of the best of my life.”

There were more cheers at this and suddenly she felt herself welling up. She had never experienced this much love and camaraderie, and she suddenly realised that she actually meant every word she was saying. Leaving these people was going to be a wrench. The unthinkable had happened. She had gone native! Well, almost. She still knew what she had to do next.

When the noise had subsided a little, she continued, “There is no easy way for me to say this, so I'm just going to say it. I... I'm leaving.”

“But the party's only just got going, Soph!” came a voice from the back.

She joined in the laughter. “Oh, I'll see you under the table, Dan, before I go home tonight!” she replied. “But I didn't actually mean the party; I meant the company. Apparently someone in LA has heard about how good I am and they just had to have me. I fly out in a month.”

This announcement was met with stunned silence but then Harry turned to her and shook her warmly by the hand. “Congratulations! It's only what you deserve. And Dan – you'll be able to top all the charts again, now, with the competition gone!”

There was more laughter and then the party was back in full swing. Sophie slipped away a few minutes later and got into the back of a van that was parked across the street.

“Got it?” asked the driver as he drove away.

“Yes,” she said shortly, tossing the clutch bag into his lap and then quickly changing into the dark jeans and sweater lying on the van floor. Paul, the driver, stuffed the envelope into his pocket, leaving the clutch bag on the passenger seat.

The two did not speak again until they reached a motorway service station. “Here,” said Paul handing her a set of car keys. “It's the white Mini with the Union Jack roof over there,” and he nodded towards the far corner of the almost empty car park. “I'll be back out in a minute.”

She walked slowly across to the car, unlocked it and climbed into the driver's seat. The tears were threatening to spill again and she rubbed furiously at her eyes. Harry had become more than just another mark in the last six months. He had become almost a father figure. And she had betrayed him.

Paul reappeared before she could follow this train of thought much further, carrying two take away cups of coffee.

“Did you look at it?” he asked as he climbed into the passenger seat.

She drove out of the car park before answering. “Of course not! Did you?”

He laughed. “I don't have a death wish either, Soph.”

His use of the familiar version of her name irritated her but she kept her eyes on the road. They tried talking but the only subject that really interested either of them was the contents of the envelope. They tried listening to the radio but most stations were playing late night songs for lovers. After an hour or two, Paul dozed off and Sophie could enjoy the near silence of the empty motorway. There was one magical moment that she remembered for the rest of her life. Just before the sun arose, the whole world was bathed in a light that was somewhere between silver and gold, and that made everything seem to shimmer. She slowed the car just to take it all in. Then the sun appeared over the horizon to her right and the world was the same as always.

Her companion awoke a few minutes later and yawned broadly. “Take the next exit,” he told her, “then I'll take over the driving.”

She nodded and followed his instructions, pulling over once they were off the motorway so that they could switch sides. This was typical of the Boss, giving each of them part of the route so that they had to work together. They reached the little market town that was their destination about half an hour later and checked into a very nice hotel under separate names.

After a long soak in the bath, Sophie grabbed a couple of hours' sleep, then went downstairs and placed the envelope in the hotel safe. Paul had probably already left. Or maybe he was still there. She really could not have cared less.

In the boot of the mini had been an overnight bag with two outfits in it, one of which she wore and the other of which was for the girl who would be staying in her room that night, and who would take the envelope on the next stage of its journey.

For now, Sophie had a new identity and a new set of instructions. It was time to start a new game, somewhere else.


Her part in the game

Want More!

Date: 07/08/2016 | By: Joyce Juzwik

Rose, Please don't say it ends here. I love how smoothly the story flows, just as smoothly as Sophie moves through her 'duties' and identities. The danger is apparent, due to the fact that neither she, nor her partner-in-crime, is willing to open the envelope, since taking a peek could cost them their lives.

Who is the Boss, and what is in the envelope? However, let's not forget another very important question. In whose hands is the envelope supposed to end up, and why? I hope you're picking up on my not too subtle hints that I need more of Sophie and 'her part in the game'. Great job with this, Rose.

Her Part in the Game

Date: 05/08/2016 | By: Dave Bradley

It's difficult to believe you don't write full-time Rose - your stuff is so polished. Intriguing and vivid.

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