For this week’s Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge, which must start with someone at the door, I’m sharing a scene from a WIP of mine. If you like what you read here, please check out Ties That Bind. I’ll periodically post digestible portions of the story. Thanks for reading!
Doran raised a massive fist and pounded three times on the door. Julia didn’t hear an immediate response, and was surprised that Doran was patient enough to refrain from knocking again right away. Eventually, someone fumbled through several locks on the other side of the door, and it opened a couple of inches, restricted by a chain still fastened across the gap. A short, thin man peered out at Doran from within. “Yeah?” he spat, clearly eager to close the door again.
Doran glared down at him in disgust. “Marcus Espinoza?” he rumbled.
“Who wants to know?” the man countered, his voice laced with practiced toughness.
“I’m here about the job.” The words seeped through Doran’s gritted teeth. Perhaps not obvious to Marcus, Julia knew that the larger man was losing his patience very quickly.
Marcus rolled his bloodshot eyes, giving no indication he would open his door further. “Look, I told the last guy to tell Jimmy it takes time to do this right. You wanna get caught slicing into ATM systems with shitty hacks, fine, that’s your problem. You come to me to get the job done, I’m gonna take my time with the code, make sure it’s bug-free and undetectable—“
Doran cut him off by slamming his hand against the door and making Marcus jump despite himself. “Not that job.”
Marcus actually grew more annoyed. “Oh Christ, you’re here about the project for the feds? Listen, I took the pathetic amount of money they offered, I lost clients because I had no time to work on anything else—what more do you bastards want from me—“
Doran assaulted the door again, a single blow slamming on the surface with enough force to snap the chain on the other side. The door swung wildly inward, sending Marcus reeling back. Doran crossed the living room in a blur, physically forcing Marcus against the far wall and pinning him there with a forearm across the top of his chest, just below his neck.
A female voice interrupted the commotion. “Marcus, what the hell is going on—“
From her vantage point in the hallway, Julia spotted a young woman emerging from another room inside Marcus’ apartment. Not entirely unattractive, she stood just inside the living room in her underwear, her ears and nose bearing numerous piercings, her dyed-black hair badly highlighted, and her eyes marred by smeared cheap makeup. Doran’s eye darted to her. “Get out!” he shouted.
The woman screamed, bolting for the door and snatching a purse from a sunken, dirty couch on the way. “No, no, no, baby, don’t leave!” Marcus called to her. “It’s all a misunderstanding, I swear! Just gimme ten minutes—“
Marcus’ guest paid no attention as she tore out of the apartment. Passing Julia without a glance, she hurried half-naked down the hall toward the flickering “EXIT” sign at the far end. Marcus groaned emphatically. “Thanks a lot, man,” he berated Doran, as if in a position to criticize. “You just scared off the best lay I had in months—“
Doran impatiently slammed an open hand against the wall directly beside Marcus’ head. The smaller man finally stopped talking, flinching at the sudden noise. Julia was amazed he had spoken as much as he had while trapped between the wall and Doran’s forearm. She would have been scared speechless if Doran had introduced himself to her like this. People had different coping mechanisms, she guessed.
“Shut the door,” Doran growled at her over his shoulder. Without hesitation, she entered the apartment and closed the door behind her. Once she had fastened a few of the locks, Doran returned his attention to Marcus. “Start talking!”
Marcus blinked. “About what? I don’t know who you are or who you’re with. You a cop? A fed? A moneyman?”
“I’m not with anyone,” Doran spat back. “I’m your worst nightmare if you don’t start telling me about the ‘project for the feds’.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said coolly, despite having introduced the topic himself seconds earlier.
In a flurry of motion, Doran produced a gun from inside his overcoat and jammed the barrel under Marcus’ chin. The sight of the weapon gave Julia cause to consider leaving the apartment again. Marcus simply let out a bark of nervous laughter. “Come on, you think this is the first time I’ve had a gun in my face—“
Still glaring at Marcus, Doran suddenly swung the gun to the side and squeezed the trigger. The silenced weapon spat a bullet into an expensive-looking computer monitor mounted on an adjacent wall, shattering the screen and burrowing into the plaster beyond. Marcus had no backtalk now.
Doran loomed closer. “Having you working with me will make my job easier,” he rumbled disdainfully, “but I don’t need you. Now are you going to talk?”
Marcus relaxed a bit under Doran’s arm—an arm thicker than his neck. “Christ, all right,” he relented in exasperation. When Doran didn’t immediately release his hold on the smaller man, Marcus glared accusingly at his attacker. “Can I fucking sit down?”
They stared each other down for a moment longer until Doran grudgingly let Marcus go. Slowly, keeping an incredulous eye on the old soldier, Marcus crossed to his couch, making a show of throwing himself onto the faded cushions and propping his feet on the low table in front of him. His resentful gaze briefly lingered on Doran before he finally acknowledged his other visitor. “I’m sorry, where are my manners?” he asked sarcastically. “I didn’t get your name. I’m Marcus.”
Julia hesitantly glanced at Doran, who slowly paced the room, gun still in hand. He simply looked away in disgust. “Julia,” she replied.
“A pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Marcus replied. He glanced back at Doran. “Nightmare, right?”
“Good,” Doran growled, “you remembered.”
“Hard to forget the guy who destroyed your three-thousand-dollar monitor,” he sighed casually, stretching his arms across the back of the couch. “What is it, exactly, you want to know?”