Anyway, the challenge of the week was pretty simple. Use the theme "We're all human, even when we're not' in the story in some way. I had a few ideas, some pretty generic things like a werewolf or other monster fighting the curse, etc etc. But then the image of Don holding a gun to someone's head and having to stop himself from pulling the trigger came to mind and this story grew from there.
Came pretty close to the word limit this week too, I might have done more with this, but it's been a busy week. I think this piece stands strongly as is. There are some pretty obvious things I'm trying to convey here and I'll let you figure them out. But mostly I wanted to have a story where...Well, you'll see.
B & B - Humanity
Don looked up from his desk when a shadow fell across the office door.
It had been a quiet morning. He and John had been enjoying the downtime between cases to finish some neglected projects. Well, Don was taking the opportunity to work. John had spent the morning lounging on the sofa with a cup of tea, ruffling through the morning paper.
The figure hovered outside the door, raising their hand to knock on the frosted glass window only to hesitate and back away.
Don called out, "The door's open."
John tossed him a glare which he returned with a quick mimicking squint as the door cracked open just enough for a young woman to slip in.
"I'm sorry," she said in a quiet voice, face downcast. "I was hoping- I mean, I'd like to hire you?"
John rose from the couch and led the woman into the office. He swept the desk clear, ignoring Don's indignant squawk of, "I was working on that!"
"You can work on your jigsaw puzzles later," to the client he added, "I think we can pencil you in."
John took her coat as he settled her in front of the desk, bustling off to make a fresh pot of tea. Don leaned back in his seat and took a closer look at the client.
'Lank hair, only enough makeup to push color into pale cheeks and lighten shadowed eyes. Outfit picked in a rush, buttons half-done, coffee stain on skirt.'
Her hands shook as she took the teacup from John with a muted, "Thank you."
They waited as she settled herself. Don twitched together a few pieces that had escaped John's callous attack, John leaned against the wall as innocent as if he hadn't ruined a morning's progress.
She finished her tea and set the cup down. Her voice still quiet but no longer as timid she said.
"My name is Rebecca Walker, and someone is trying to kill me."
John's name showed on the ID, Don had his phone open before the first ring finished.
“I lost her,” John hissed in pain. “Someone, white, 5'8", black hair, dark hood. He jumped us. She ran off as I was fighting him.”
“I took a hit when he slammed me against a wall. I was disoriented long enough for him to run after her.”
“Don't move, I’m on my way.”
“You don’t even know where I am.”
“Then shut up and tell me.”
“I’ll be fine Don. You need to find Rebecca.”
Don’s hand shook as he fought the urge to put a bullet in the bastard’s face.
His jaw ached as he ground out, “Where are they?”
The son-of-a-bitch just grinned, teeth stained red from where Don’s pistol had split his lip.
The room stank of decay, fetid and bloated corpses of young women ‘Victims!’ piled in corners.
And the man kept grinning that red-toothed grin.
The storage locker felt more like an animal’s den. Don kept his aim steady and tried not to breathe too deeply.
“Where. Are they?”
The grin widened as the eyes flicked to the far end of the room. The dim light from a single bare bulb only served to highlight the shadows surrounding a covered work bench.
Don edged around the bastard and pinched the sheet, tugging it off the bench.
As the white fabric fell to the floor he held back a fresh swell of rage and bile.
Rebecca lay screaming in fear. Her torn throat still dripping red.
“I wanted to,” Don’s hands still shook slightly, dropping ash from a lit cigarette he had yet to touch. "I wanted to."
John set down a pair of teacups, Don couldn’t bring himself to make the usual snark of ‘Tea, again?’ Looking at the cups he saw the chipped rim of the cup Rebecca had used.
He gripped the smooth wood of the kitchen table, looking at anything but the tea.
Don closed his eyes with a sigh, “I wanted to kill him. I still do.”
John’s warm hand on his wrist made him twitch away but John held firm.
“But you didn’t.”
John took the cigarette and took a long drag, coughing slightly as he exhaled.
"Give me that," Don said, taking the cigarette from John. "You smoke like a novice." He said, finishing the last of it.
John smiled as he sat down and took one of the tea cups and nudging the other towards Don.
Don ignored the tea and lit a fresh smoke, the match steady in his hands.