So this week’s flash fiction challenge at terribleminds.com was to mashup two movies from a list of 20. I was very excited about this theme and settled on “Breaking Bad” and “Star Wars”.
The main critique I got on my last piece was to include interesting characters with good dialogue, and to show the action. I don’t think I did a great job, but here it is: my second ever attempt at flash fiction (actually, since I’ve gone way over the 1000 word count limit, I’ll call it flash fiction and a half!).
“Just give me the fucking jib, Quintal! You know I’m good for it!” Tane’s hand shook as he reached for the syringe. “Come on man, how am I supposed to fight without it?”
“Not my problem” said Quintal calmly as he moved the syringe out of the gunner’s reach. “You’ve been saying you’re good for it for months now, and the only thing you’ve shown me is that you’re good for nothing.”
Tane lowered his hands and looked down as he shuffled his feet. He could feel the cold metal of the ship’s floor through his boots; it was nothing compared to the icy stare he felt from his dealer’s slate-grey eyes. Nervously, he glanced out the window and tried to calculate how long he had. He was due back at The Union soon, and if he didn’t get the jib before then he was screwed. No, he was more than screwed: he was completely fucked.
“Look” Tane began “I know I haven’t been paying on time lately –“
“Shut up Tane!” the calm was gone from Quintal’s voice, “You may be top gunner at the Union but you don’t fool me. The only reason you have so many kills is because of my jib. You’re nothing without it, and with it you’re nothing but a jonesor.” He lowered his voice again and let the calm wash over him. His face was stony as he said “Either way, you’re a loser.”
Tane ran his hands through his long curly hair. He knew Quintal was right. The only reason he’d made it into the Union was because of the jib. It made him run faster, react quicker, and most importantly, shoot better. Over the years the drug had helped him become an integral part of the Planetary Wars; he’d killed more Rebels than any other Unioner. Knowing that he had single-handedly stopped so many enemy fighters was good, but the love and admiration he got from the citizens of the Union was even better. He wasn’t about to let that go.
“You’re right Quintal” he would have to choose his words carefully here “I’m a nobody – a fucking loser. But I need you and I need your jib, it’s the only way I can keep going.” He unfastened one of the medals from his uniform. “Here, this is solid gold, it’s gotta be worth at least 3 syringes. I’ll let you hold onto this until I can come up with the money.” He looked pleadingly at his dealer.
Quintal took the medal in his hand and then threw it down at the gunner’s feet, laughing heartily. “You really take me for a fool don’t you? What the hell am I going to do with that? Look….” he leaned forward in his Pilot’s chair, the pedestal it was on brought him face to face with Tane, “…I don’t want your fucking medal, and I don’t want to listen to you bleating like a goat anymore. It’s time for you to go back to your ship and stop bothering me.”
“Bu… but – “ Tame stammered
Quintal unbuttoned his gun and rested it on the chair’s armrest, the barrel staring Tane in the chest. “I’m not going to ask you again.”
Dejected, Tane turned around and walked slowly back to his ship, desperately trying to think of a way to get the jib. As he made his way to the bridge he couldn’t help but notice how clean everything was. The floors were spotless, the smooth white walls didn’t have a single smudge, and there wasn’t a speck of dust in sight. Quintal’s ship would be the envy of any Unioner in training; the Bosses would praise the sterile, dirt-free environment.
Tane giggled hysterically to himself as he ran his finger along the wall, realizing how ridiculous he was to be thinking about something so inconsequential. Without the jib his career was over – or worse yet, he would die in combat. The panic began to take hold: his shoulders shook and his breath quickened. His eyes darted towards the entrance of his ship, searching for something, anything that could save him.
Tane’s body reacted before his mind had a chance to process what he was doing. Before he knew it, he was racing back down the hall towards the cockpit, the knife he had grabbed from his ship gripped tightly in his hand. He may be revered for his gunning skills, but his hand-to-hand combat was nothing to scoff at.
He burst through the doorway, ready to pounce on Quintal, grab the jib and run. Tane looked feverishly at the pilot’s chair and blinked in confusion when he saw that it was empty. The last thing he felt was a searing pain radiating over his entire skull; being pistol-whipped was almost as painful as being shot.
He couldn’t have been out for more than a minute or so, but as he came to he could see that Quintal was back in his chair, lazily pointing a gun at his head.
“So my old friend” he said “this is what it’s like to watch a hero fall from grace. Did you think you could come back and finish me off?” He rose slowly from his chair and stepped down from the pedestal, motioning with his gun for Tane to get up. “On your knees Tane, let’s see how good you really are at finishing people off!” He grinned as he rubbed his groin, and then grabbed the back of Tane’s head as he unzipped his pants.
Tane looked at Quintal in horror, forcing the sick back down his throat.
“Quintal please! I don’t….I can’t….I’m so sorry!” Quintal tightened the grip on the gunner’s hair and tilted his head back, then bent down to meet his wild eyes. The fury shone through as Quintal stared Tane down. After what seemed like an eternity, his eyes softened and he began to laugh.
“Oh Tane,” he said as he let go of his head and stood up “you should see the look on your face! Priceless!” he walked back over to his chair and sat down. “You may be pretty but I prefer bigger tits and fuller lips. Stand up, you stupid fuck.”
Tane rose slowly, trying to steady himself on his shaking legs. “Now, back to that pretty face of yours,” said Quintal. He was enjoying this. “I wouldn’t want to do anything to mess it up, I know how important it use for all that Union propaganda they plaster it on. So I’ll shoot you in the leg instead.”
Tane heard the bang before he could react – and that’s when he realized that he had been wrong about being pistol-whipped. Getting shot was much worse. He screamed as he pressed on the wound, the blood spilling over his hands and onto the floor. “You shot me! I can’t believe you fucking shot me!” he moaned.
Quintal leaned over and found a rag in one of the drawers. “Let this be a warning to you Tane,” he said as he threw the rag at him “No one fucks with me. Now take your shirt off and tie it on your leg to stop the bleeding, then wipe that shit off the floor. I hate it when my ship is messy.”
Tane composed himself the best he could and then did as he was told. His breathing was ragged and he was starting to feel light headed; he had to get out of here soon or he was going to pass out. He gripped the door handle and pulled himself up, then wiped his bloody handprint off the wall.
“Please Quintal, I’m sorry. Just let me go back to my ship and you’ll never see me again. I promise.” He couldn’t help it – his shoulders started to shake as his eyes welled with tears. A sob escaped his mouth before he could stop it.
Quintal looked the gunner up and down; the disgust was plain on his face. “Just get the fuck out of here Tane and don’t say another word. I don’t want to hear from you or see you again.” Tane opened his mouth to speak, thought better of it, then turned around and walked back down the hall towards his ship.
He didn’t see Quintal raise the screen that blocked the cockpit off from the rest of the ship. And he didn’t see the huge grin on his dealer’s face as he pressed the button that opened the airlock. What he did see was the reflection of the terror on his own face on the hatch that was opening beside him.
In his desperation he fumbled for something to cling to, but the vacuum was too strong and he was quickly sucked out into the vastness of space; the blackness devoured his screams before they could escape.
Back in the cockpit Quintal shook his head as he closed the hatch and lowered the screen. It was a shame he had to kill him, he had grown somewhat fond of Tane over the years. But business was business. He bent down and wiped a spec of blood off the floor – It wouldn’t go over well with the Union if the hero’s remains were found on his ship. He pulled the lever to detach Tane’s ship, and then set a course for his next stop. There would be many Unioners competing for the top gunner’s spot, and he had to make sure he was there to help them.