1. Lilly James Haro
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    Lilly James Haro The Grey Warden

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    Past Contest Flash Fiction Contest #30 - 'Five Minutes to Midnight'

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Flash Fiction Contest Archives' started by Lilly James Haro, Feb 9, 2016.

    The theme for Flash Fiction Contest #30 is "Five Minutes to Midnight” which was chosen by previous winner @DefinitelyMaybe . Remember the word limit is 150-450 words and all entries must be posted anonymously in this thread by 6:00 pm EST February 27th. Make sure to include the number of words and any warnings. You can also make your entry private simply by clicking more functions before posting, and click the box that makes the post viewable by "Members Only."

    Update: All stories named 'Five Minutes to Midnight' other than the first post using that name have had their names changed. Apologies for this, but it makes voting very confusing if they all have the same name. I've tried to make them generic or close to the original, please let me know the name you would prefer if you are unhappy with the name I have set. Thanks
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
  2. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    IS this five minutes or five nights? The subject line is differing.
     
  3. Lilly James Haro
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    Lilly James Haro The Grey Warden

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    My apologies, it's five minutes not five nights. The title has been changed :)

    -LJH
     
  4. Rob40
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    Rob40 Active Member

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    Monsters of the clock [449 words]

    An old man’s sweaty palm knocked over the alarm clock. A half-empty glass of water and half-full pill vials wobbled on the nightstand. Antacids slipped between old chapped lips to settle an ongoing burn. He knew the time without looking. Every visit was the same.

    Laying on his pillow brought thoughts. He appreciated his staff growing accustomed to his worry. Time—how much there was to finish the job—is all he ever thought about. They knew its importance, so they made efforts to constantly remind him of deadlines, as instructed, or he would have given them a dismissal.

    “Deadlines are important,” he repeated in grave tone, “and we have to achieve our goal!”

    His stomach always burned with looming timetables. There wasn’t room for failure and even now, trying to relax, he agonized over all the choices. Staffers never understood why he pressured himself and others, but he compensated them well for stepping up to the challenges. His hair had turned white early on.

    The old man’s breathing grew panicky. His thoughts raced over how he could keep going in the face of a failure. He gave too much long ago and he paid for it. Ulcers, arthritic posture and headaches were necessary to achieve results. The contract demanded perfection. Achieving them delivered fortune and fame, but the price was enormous for everyone.

    Thinking of his youth in an old utopian town brought calm. He had lived with large parks and houses with porches. He played High-School games on Fridays and had a pretty girlfriend. His world was perfect until the night before graduation, when a well-kept secret changed his life.

    Thoughts saddened. His little brother had always been afraid of the dark—waking up scared of monsters under his bed. There was no such thing. He talked his little brother back to sleep through many, many nights. He knew real monsters came from the closet. They had been visiting since he could remember. The night before graduation, they changed. They weren’t like before.

    Restlessness came from remembering the promises. The draft wouldn’t touch him. He would have a long career in office with impossible success. He liked the thoughts, and agreed in blood with these monsters. Waking, it wasn’t a dream.

    His friends fought and died. He married his school sweetheart and had fifty years in office, all by doing as instructed: Make deals, steer the House—the Senate, get votes and shape decision. He had had enough. His vote guaranteed the doomsday clock would never see midnight. War would not happen. That wasn’t as instructed. They would come. In one long sigh, the Senator found peace with his final decisions. The closet opened and he smiled.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  5. Ghost in the Shell
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    Ghost in the Shell New Member

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    Five Minutes to Midnight [254 words]

    The city was spruced up for the occasion with pines decked out in twinkling strings of lights all over the commercial districts, candy canes and garlands coiled around sticky letters pitching oversized meal sets on restaurant windows, and even the odd red and white-costumed flyer hander-outer. But all this paraphernalia wouldn’t turn into profit until the following day, because in this part of the world nobody cared about Christmas Eve. Nobody but her, who had read about it in a book she salvaged while landfill diving. She had recognized most of the characters and there were pictures of presents and smiles on children’s faces as they unwrapped them.

    The clock on the rusty wall—which she had also scavenged and probably didn’t tell time very accurately—had shown five minutes to midnight. Squatting on the ground, she huddled her children and gazed up at the dim stars behind a shroud of smog. There would be no fireworks to disturb that slowly drifting sky, not even firecrackers to pierce the silence of that night. She had had the children prepare two small bowls with hay and rainwater for Santa’s reindeer, which she arranged around the cracked plastic pot where she had stuck the twig she plucked from the pine at the mall. She held her children tight, knowing there would be no one to work the magic inside their shack while she distracted them outside. She knew this, and yet she stared into the distance above, waiting for a passing sleigh.
     
  6. Marsh
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    Marsh Member

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    Five Minutes (383 words)

    "Well, it's always five minutes to midnight somewhere, I guess."
    "Shut up."
    "Lick the sweat off what I hold most holy."
    "I'm going to feed you your face, feet first."
    "Wow. You're about as much fun as juggling hair."
    "Telling you now. I don't do warning shots. Sets a bad precedent."
    "Tsk, tsk, lawman."
    "Those who abide by the mere letter of the law are doomed to repeat it."
    "What was that?"
    "I said. . . screw you, you flat-faced rat humper."
    "Unkind. Actually, I think of myself as a butterfly in a bubble."
    "You're a freaking loon."
    "That's probably true. My desert island book would be "How To Build A Jacuzzi."
    "And the smell? Seriously, man. What the hell? Like dead feet and cabbage."
    "What sm. . . oh, that's the nerve agent I put in your soup."
    "What?"
    "Can I ask you a question? Or two?"
    "What?!?"
    "Is there anything more exciting than an escalator fight in front of you? Do you like Brecht? I don't like Brecht. He flies in the face of all my naked stuff. On the other hand, you really can't become a fisher of men unless you first master bait."
    "Tell me what you did."
    "I once walked past a man carrying a file marked 'Baked Fish Simulator.' "You can't make this sort of thing up," I told him. But I did."
    "Oh, god. Oh, god. Nancy."
    "And here you thought following a trail of bread crumbs would lead you across the wide river."
    "I can't breathe."
    "I know. It's about to get much worse."
    "Hee-gahk. Hee-gahk. You bastard."
    "You have to be human for that. Me? I was born in an empty train station.
    Thunk.
    "Toooooooot."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 29, 2016
  7. zoupskim
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    Midnight (242)

    "What's midnight?" I ask Jethro, rotating slowly on the X axis.

    "Ooh, I've read about that." He perks up in his bean bag chair on the ceiling.

    "Pft. Reading." I am upside down in the middle of the room, Jethro below me.

    "It's a planetary concept." He pushes away from the ceiling, ascending slowly towards the floor.

    "Planet?! Hah, what are we, CEO's? Royalty? Celebrities?" I rotate slowly upright again, I watching Jethro float to the bookshelf on the floor.

    "I know right?" Jethro grabs a book and turns around into a sitting position, floating above the floor in the zero gravity. "Aha, to quote the "Wiki.."

    "Praise be to his name." I recite respectfully.

    "Midnight is the transition time period from one day to the next:..." Jethro pauses for a moment, soaking in the wise words of the omniscient one."... The moment when the date changes. In ancient Roman timekeeping, midnight was halfway between sunset and sunrise, varying according to the seasons."

    "See, those Romans were stupid." I am upside down again, Jethro below me with his book. "Why use planetary swing to determine time when you can just MAKE up all times, forming workdays, weekends, and holidays to be as long or as short as you want?"

    "It mentions 'sunrise'." Jethro stumbles with the word. "What is that?"

    "I dunno." I am upright again, my rotation endless in the zero gravity of deep space. "Probably some ancient, backwards, religious concept."

    The End
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 29, 2016
  8. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Hunted (450 words and a few expletives)

    Stan wasn’t sure how long he’d been hiding in the closet. It had to have been hours. Before he slipped in here he had gone to the bathroom, now his bladder was begging for relief again. Was she out there? His fear came back and he started shaking. His heart kept pounding. He thought to himself, this can’t be good, hours with this level of anxiety and fear he just knew he was going to drop dead. He thought he heard some noise coming from downstairs. Was that footsteps coming up the stairs? The sound stopped. Had it been real? Stan wasn’t sure. He was ready to piss in the corner. He didn’t want to die peeing all over himself. He listened as hard as he could trying to decide if she had come back. Nothing.

    More time went by. Sometimes he heard noises but he still wasn’t sure if he was alone in the house. She could be downstairs not making any noise. What was he going to do? He decided at least the bedroom had to be empty. There was no way she could have come into the room without him knowing. He wished he had brought a watch, this was driving him insane. He heard a car door slam close.

    Shit! Shit! She was only now coming back? He started shaking again. He could feel sweat running down his back. What was he going to do, this was nuts. He should have left before, but he had been too scared to move, too scared that she would get him. Did she know where he had gotten to? He had tricked her. After she saw him he had ran around a corner and then doubled back.

    There was the sound of a door opening downstairs. His heart continued to pound, it felt like it was going to burst. What had he been thinking? He knew he should have ran when he had the chance, he must be deranged. He could hear her moving around downstairs. Shit! Shit! She’s gonna come up here and kill me! What the fuck am I going to do! Then the footsteps were coming up the stairs. This time he was sure he could hear it.

    Oh God! Oh God! I’m dead, he thought to himself. Someone came into the room. He was trembling like never before. Suddenly, the closet door opened. She screamed, Stan raised his right hand and slashed her throat with the knife he had been gripping.

    As he was leaving he noticed the clock said 11:55pm. Stan thought, wow, was I really only in there for fifteen minutes? That was fun, maybe I’ll get my heart racing again tomorrow.
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Clock Strikes Twelve (446 Words)

    It wouldn't be a New Year party without champagne and the Donalds served plenty. Not the highest quality, only a tier or two finer than sparkling wine, but what can you expect from a middle class party this size? I stare at my glass, remembering why I began to drink in the first place.

    I put down my empty glass on a white table, and set out through the crowd in search . I think it was my eight? Or maybe my twelfth; I lost count at some point. I needed a bit of courage and at some point the drink became liquid escapism. It's easy to forget, easier to not do, but I had to or I'd regret it all year long.

    And the new year is about to start, so that's a long wait.

    I look upwards near a set of large glass windows, the snow frosting the edges in tendrils that glistened with the light from the chandeliers. Between the two panes is an old grandfather clock, an antique from Jefferey's mother's side. Five minutes, and counting down, I had to find him.

    I will apologize, plain and simple. It better be enough because I got nothing else. It's too easy to want to make a long speech, to present excuses, or do something lavish and romantic to make up for it. But if you love someone, a sincere apology better be enough or what's the point? Relationships aren't flowers and romance, they aren't future plans and expectations; they are an acceptance and partnership, and that's something even better than romance.

    I just hope he feels the same way.

    I suppose, maybe I should try having more deep and meaningful conversations with him, just to get to know him rather than hope we're on the same page.

    “Excuse me,” “Please, pardon me,” “Sorry,” I repeated these words without thought as I squeezed through the throng of guests. They all gathered instinctively in the main salon and the heady perfumes commingling together did not help my unfortunate drunkenness.

    “Excuse- Hey!” I smiled far too hard, the corners of my lips hurting. “There you are, handsome.” He smiles back, a little tight, but there was warmth there. “I'm sorry.”

    “For what?”

    “For–“

    “Five,” the crowd chanted.

    “You know; it doesn't matter. There's something between us and I'm not going to ignore it because it hurt for a moment.”

    “Two!”

    “I think we love each other.” And I kissed him as the room broke in applause to the sound of popping champagne corks and the grandfather clock's first chime of the new year.
     
  10. frigidweirdo
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    Keanu Reaves drives me crazy (446 words)

    The phone rang. Jake scrambled around with his hand through the junk and found the receiver. It was Keanu Reeves. “There’s a bomb in your brain” he said with a distinctly evil voice. “If you tell the time, it’ll explode” and then he hung up.

    It didn’t bother Jake at all. He shrugged his shoulders and tried to think of the last time he’d actually told anybody the time. He got distracted by the clock, 22:16. He was late for work. He thought it strange for a second because he didn’t actually go to work at night.

    He arrived late, it was one of those days when you’re in a hurry and everyone and his dog get in your way. “What time do you call this?” His boss asked him. Jake made to reply, but suddenly remembered Keanu’s call. “Sorry boss, one of those days” he said with a stiff smile.

    Jake sat down at his desk. Martin, sitting opposite, was scrambling around his desk. “What’s wrong?” Jake asked. “I’ve lost my watch, don’t suppose you know what time it is?” Jake calmly showed him his bare right wrist. “Sorry, no idea” while keeping his left hand under the desk.

    Even the boss’s damn dog looked up at him with that knowing look, and barked out the question he was dreading. He was relieved to get home and lock himself up away from the question.

    When Jake woke up he rolled over and looked at the clock. He asked himself what time it was. 22:16. Then it clicked, the call from Keanu, don’t say the time.

    Jake arrived at work in a state. His hands shaking like he’d been on the piss all night. He sat down at his desk hoping to bury his head into his work. Martin looked up. “What t….”

    “Don’t say it, please, don’t” Jake said trying to repress his fear.

    “Are you all right?” Martin asked but Jake was making his way to the toilet. Sat on the plastic seat, involuntarily inhaling the scent of urine and curried farts, Jake believed himself safe. Never a good idea in such situations, is it?

    Jake looked at his watch. 23:55 it said. He was too het up to ask himself why he was at work at five to midnight.

    “Hey dude” Jake heard coming from another cubicle “Would it be possible to pass me some toilet roll?” It sounded like Keanu Reeves.

    Jake screamed inside his head, trying his hardest to keep his composure. “It’s five to midnight okay, it’s FIVE TO BLOODY MIDNIGHT”. And then his head exploded. More or less. Into tears, as he sobbed and sobbed like a little girl.
     
  11. TurtleWriter
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    TurtleWriter Member

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    Operation Midnight (433 word count)

    Explosions shook his Raptor.


    “Damage report.” exclaimed Jason.


    “25% forward shield integrity. No physical damage.” replied the artificial intelligence (AI).


    “Upload anti air gun target coordinates. Stand by for missile launch sequence.” Jason said. His AI worked in sync with him as he pressed the necessary buttons to prepare for the attack. The ready indicator changed from red to green. Suddenly, he heard missiles skimming by the glass of his cockpit. A missile detonated on the underside of his Raptor. The shock jolted him. Warning alarms rang out alerting him to another incoming onslaught. Jason timed a perfect barrel roll to avoid damage. During his barrel roll, he saw missiles fly by in a near misses and pushed the trigger on the yoke to launch a series of his own missiles towards his target. His missiles hit his targets before the enemy could counter them. The anti air gun exploded in a large ball of orange fire.


    “You're up Reaper 2” said Jason.


    “Yes sir.” said Reaper 2.


    Jason pulled out of the lead position. He eased up on the throttle until he took the left corner of the diamond formation. He looked over to make sure he was flying at the same pace as Reaper 3. Then he watched Reaper 2 acquire her targets.


    “Sir. Incoming high threat level coming from Reaper's 2 starboard.” announced Jason's Raptor's AI. Jason pressed a button and pulled up a camera on Reaper 2's Raptor. Adrenaline rushed through his body as he saw the incoming missiles and red flashes of lasers. He knew Reaper 2 was going to need support.


    “Reaper 3. Shift your shields to front starboard. Protect Reaper 2.” commanded Jason.


    “Yes sir.” replied Reaper 3.


    Reaper 3 accelerated to cover Reaper 2. Reaper 3's shield lit up in red and blue as it absorbed the missile explosions and lasers. Meanwhile, Reaper 2 launched her attack and destroyed her target.


    “Warning. 5 minutes until 00:00.” stated Jason's Raptor's AI. A display popped up showing the count down time.


    “Open a channel to all members of the Death Squad.” Jason said.


    “Affirmative.” said his AI. Another display popped up showing he was on the team channel.


    “Time to wrap this up Reapers. Lets finish Operation Midnight!” shouted Jason.


    “Hoorah!” replied the Reapers.


    The hills lit up in fire from the attacking Reapers. Smoke filled the air. The clock struck midnight and Death Squad left a new fresh grave yard that used to be an enemy base. Operation Midnight was a success.

     
  12. BruceA
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    BruceA Senior Member Supporter

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    Ten Minutes Later (393 words)​


    Tick...

    Tock.

    Tick...

    Tock.

    Tick...


    The sound, regular and clock-like, was comforting: something to focus on, while she tried to work out what the hell had just happened.

    Tock.

    She blinked.

    Tick…

    And blinked again in an attempt to clear her eyes of the sticky substance that ran into them.

    Tock.

    The liquid - her blood, she guessed - began to run out of her eyes, up her forehead, and into her hair (making a mockery of the two and a half hours - and several hundred dollars - she had spent, in the hair salon, this afternoon).

    Tick...

    Her vision began to clear, along with some confusion. She was upside down.

    Tock.

    She was in her car, held to her seat by the belt.

    Tick...

    She blinked again, and was able to focus.

    Tock.

    The time on the dashboard clock was 00.05

    Tick...

    Ten minutes had elapsed since they had said their goodbyes.

    Tock.

    Or, rather, since he had said goodbye - even offering her one last goodbye hug forgodzake - and she had screamed: spitting hate and saliva, into his startled face.

    Tick…

    She remembered slamming the car door so hard she thought the glass would break.

    Tock.

    She remembered the squeal of her tires and the smell of rubber. The car driven by her anger, by her hate.

    Tick…

    She remembered glancing at her phone when it beeped.

    Tock.

    She remembered seeing he had texted, she remembered throwing the phone against the dash, she remembered trying to retrieve it from the floor. She remembered looking up to see a transmission tower where it shouldn't be.

    Tick...

    She realised she didn’t feel hate anymore. Nor anger, nor pain neither.

    Tock.

    She didn't feel anything.

    Tick…

    No feeling in her legs. Nor arms.

    Tock.

    What was that noise?

    Tick…

    It reminded her not so much of a clock, now she was properly listening to it. It was too...

    Tock.


    … irregular. No. It reminded her of the time she’d had a leak in the basement pipe: that drip-dripperty-drip onto the metal shelf beneath.

    Tick…

    There was a smell. Familiar.

    Tock.

    Gasoline, she thought. And what was that other noise?

    Tick…

    A cracking sound, like a whip.

    Tock.

    No, it was more electrical.

    Tick…


    She had just enough time to wish she had taken the hug, when it was offered at five minutes to midnight.
     
  13. Miguel A. Wilder
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    Bullets, Bombs, and Birthday Presents (435 words)

    The detonation left a huge hole, obliterating the partition that trapped us in the hidden office. Shrapnel and debris peppered the room, but Soloman and I were none the worse for wear. I let out a sigh of relief. In such a small space, the blow back could have taken us out, but I'd placed the c4 perfectly. Suddenly, behind us, I heard crackle, crack, crackle, pop.

    “Look,” I said, a knot forming in my throat.

    The huge glass wall, holding back massive amounts of water, had been damaged in the blast. My heart sunk to the pit of my stomach. I thought I'd set the charges so only the door would be destroyed. A large crack cobwebbed across the smooth surface, spreading out like tentacles, water seeping through. The impending doom whipped up an emotional maelstrom in me.

    Is this how it ends? Never seeing my wife, or son again? I couldn't let that happen.

    “Let’s get out of here.” I shouted, pulling Soloman by the arm.

    "Getting out of here is not going to be as easy as sneaking in," Soloman said, "someone surely heard that explosion... they're going to be coming for us, if their not on their way already."

    We slipped out of the hole in the wall, made our way down a corridor, weapons drawn. Soloman took point, peaked his head around the corner, signaling to me he's seen guards heading our way. My heart pounded in my chest, my hands shook, the water from the wall pooling at our feet. The elevator we took to get in, cycled in six minute intervals, due to return in about 90 seconds. We could either stay here and swim, fight our way out, or die trying. Personally, I'd rather face armed soldiers, over a flood any day.

    Soloman cocked back the hammer on his gun, "how much time do you thing we have before that glass collapses all together?" He asked.

    "The elevator is due in less than a minute," I said, looking over my shoulder at the huge wave barreling our way, as for the water... less than that."

    "Just in case we don't make it... happy birthday."

    "Thanks, but it's not until tomorrow," I said, looking down at my watch. "It's five minutes to midnight."

    "Well, it's your call birthday boy. Fight or swim?" Soloman said, looking back at me with a warrior's stare.

    I cocked back the hammer on my gun, and gave Soloman a confident nod.

    "That ain't no fish tank back there," I said, watching the wall of water careening towards us, "we're four stories below sea level."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2016
  14. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Poison Girl ( word count 391 )

    A simple wrist turn. But for God's sake, be subtle! Joe and Lisa had already taken notice during the aperitif and became all what's-your-hurry? Now, during the after-dinner drinks, after a long evening of politics, they were especially conscious of Elliot. Couldn't let the pinned down ear escape yet. Who knew how long it would be until they had such a captive audience.

    Watch said five minutes to midnight. Hell-ya! Blood fizzed in him like premature fireworks not waiting for the countdown. More exciting then freaking New Year's Eve as this upcoming midnight was the moment, not of a new year but - New Life. Free from Nagatha.

    The hit man would be opening a back window or creeping up the stairs. First door on the right. Follow the overwhelming scent of White Diamonds. The bottle had been hurled at Elliot last week with a message - “I wanted Poison Girl! Poison Girl! Not this old lady shit!”

    No poison, girl, just a knife. And you'll get it, old grrrl, you'll get it good.

    Elliot argued over the check. Joe, as usual, only by pretense. He kept the receipt. Force of habit. Although now it was exhibit A proof of his wherabouts. Soon Elliot wouldn't have to put up with Nagatha's shit about freeloading friends or her stalking, jealous eye following his every move or her skimpy allowances. Gone to, the worry that one of these evenings his card would be denied. Just the dangle of humiliation rained down little stones of red-fury inside his skull.

    The valet retrieved his double R Phantom pausing to give it a goodbye stroke of admiration. Elliot gave him five dollars, ignored the indignation and ducked inside.

    Three minutes to go and an hour long ride up the coast. His alibi was bagged. He lit a taboo cigarette after pulling onto the deserted highway knowing Hagatha/Agatha no longer had the power to 'kill him' for smoking in the car, and inhaled deeply.

    “Your wife wanted me to give you a message.”

    The soft familiar voice in his ear caused him to jump, yanking the wheel. Tires chewed up roadside gravel. He fought for control. Breathing hard, he pumped the brakes and came to a skidding stop.

    “What the -”

    In the rearview mirror a knife glinted.

    “She's not cheap when it counts.”
     

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