Noticing a news article for an Ambage writing contest right after joining, I gave it some thought, and realized I had a good idea to go with the theme. Or good-ish, at least. lol Anyway, so here's a short story I wrote for the Ambage Fortnightly Flash Fiction Contest.
Dancing With Shadows
I moved stealthily through a dark aisle in a warehouse. Where is my quarry? I wondered. This was the right place. But where is she...?
It all started two days ago. I'd gotten a call from Headquarters saying they had tracked her down. She was going to meet with some criminal colleagues in a warehouse not far from my vacation spot.
Doesn't it just figure? I remember thinking. Take a vacation and she shows up nearby. Typical.
Why had it taken me two days to get to the warehouse? That's a story for another time. Let's just say it involved an ice-cream truck and a group of enraged monkeys and leave it at that.
So here I was, sneaking around in a warehouse, once again putting myself in mortal danger, searching for her, when I was supposed to be enjoying my vacation.
Suddenly I saw a figure pass into the aisle ahead of me. There! I followed. Stealthily I strove to gain ground, not making a sound.
Suddenly the figure dashed ahead. How had she heard me? I cursed my luck as I charged forward. Reaching the point from which she'd taken off, I angrily smashed in a small mirror with my elbow.
I was a little faster than her, and steadily gained ground. I have to reach her before her friends arrive! If they're not here already...
Suddenly she made a brilliant leap and grabbed a shelf, gracefully hauling herself to the top of the shelving unit. I followed, albeit a bit more clumsily. She'd already leapt to the next unit. As I leaped after her, she was already on her way to the next. As this continued, I realized I wasn't gaining ground anymore. Frustrated, I grabbed a small box from the shelves and flung it at her. My aim was true, but the missle was intercepted by a flying kick, the scattered remains raining to the floor.
I re-doubled my efforts, and was pleased to find after a few leaps that I was gaining. Then she stopped, turned, and smiled at me. Inwardly I sighed. And now, as usual, begins round two...
I landed by her side and we began to exchange blows, each of us displaying masterful skill in the martial art. Mind you, hers was always more agile and graceful than my heavy-handed form. But she was never as strong as me.
I remember the days we had trained together... So long ago, in that old monastery, deep in the Outback of the Down Under. Long, long ago... Before she'd turned to a life of crime and helped to have the monastery burned. I'd never understood it.
"Still haven't lost it", was my incendiary remark.
"Doing fine yourself", she retorted.
We moved through form after form, exchanging blow after blow, neither tiring, neither landing any major strikes, though by now my lip was bleeding, and her leg now bore a welt.
Trouble was we knew one another's styles too well. We knew what the other would do before the other did it. Compounding the problem, for me, was that I was the best at dealing with her. Headquarters had tried sending others, but those attempts had always... Failed. Now they always insisted on me.
But we always mirror each other perfectly. It was a complicated and deadly game we played. Skill didn't matter. The only way to win was through the spontaneous unorthodox.
Should've seen that coming. Instead of blocking my blow, she let it land and put in one of her own in the same moment. It didn't hit me hard, but it put me off balance, and in the worst of timing, when I was already on the edge of the shelf structure.
I fell into empty space. The air whipped through my ears. Then an idea occurred to me. I wasn't sure it would work, but I was desperate...
I grabbed a shelf so that my body curved toward the center structure, and slammed my feet into it. Two things happened at once. The structure shook, toppling her off balance. Then the entire unit began to tilt over, to her surprise as well as mine. I managed to leap clear and find my footing on the floor, whereas she toppled painfully down to it.
I was upon her in an instant, and I could tell she was physically beaten.
She laughed, then glared at me furiously. "Finish it, then", she snarled.
I glared down at her furiously, prepared to deliver. But in that moment, I couldn't help remembering the last time we'd fought...
It had been two months before. Similar situation. She was up to no good, I was sent in to stop her. Only that time, she'd beaten me. But just before landing the final blow, something had come over her... And she'd let me live.
I took two steps back and glared. "Your mission has failed. And our debt is settled."
She looked surprised for but an instant, then winked and smiled. Then she was gone.
I stared at the floor in fury. How long can this go on...? She, worming her way around in my heart...
I heard footsteps behind me. Her friends were here. Good, I thought. I could use some exercise about now...
Well, I hope you enjoyed Dancing With Shadows. Constructive criticism, comments, etc. are of course more than welcome.