Author & Blogger Chuck Wendig posted this Flash Fiction challenge http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/11/21/flash-fiction-challenge-superheroes-plus-2/ …
Heaven help me, I rolled Dieselpunk and had to Google it. Now I even have a Dieselpunk station on Pandora. (It’s for research, dude. Creating mood.) I also had to look up a Noir Glossary. Bet you didn’t even know there was one out there.
Right, so I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo and wasn’t gonna even do this, but then Guy and Betty got in my head and I couldn’t resist. (Sorry Helga, Gretchen, and Oswald, I had to leave y’all out of it. 1000 words wasn’t enough for your stories too.) Anyways, this will turn up in my NaNo word count as a story one character remembers his mother reading to him when he was a kid.
Thanks for checking it out – hope the story satisfies.
And again, please forgive the rough edit. NaNo, remember? 😀
A Dieselpunk Noir Superhero tale, 1000 words
If not for the skin-tight leather mini-dress and thigh-high boots, she coulda passed for a classy dame. From her glossy brown hair coiffed into a fancy ‘do, down to gams right out of a girlie magazine, she was a real dish. No bird like her should’ve been on this side of town at all, let alone in this shady establishment built by a sadist at the dirty end of the airship port.
That meant she probably had a job for me, and from the looks of things, I wasn’t gonna like it.
I introduced myself, and she raised one perfect eyebrow.
“Very funny – but what’s your real name?”
Even this doll thought she was a comedian. “That is my real name. Guy Noir.”
She laughed, blood-red lips wide like a waiting grave.
“Aren’t white men always named Black? A darkie like you should be Mr. White. It’s a – what’s it? an axiom, right?”
“No.” I stared at her. “It’s a cliche’, ma’am, and not a very interesting one at that.”
Her blue eyes looked me over like a cat checking out Bobby’s new goldfish. “Don’t take it personally, I’m only kidding you.”
A chill ran through me. I felt like I’d slipped somehow, but this was no time for self-doubt.
“How can I help you, ma’am?”
Hers was a sad tale, indeed. She was there for a job, just not the kind that would make me any dough. Secretary. I told her the position was filled, but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Said she wanted to try out, she’d prove herself.
“Fine,” I said. “You can start by getting me a cuppa joe. Black and sweet… like me.” I winked. “Kitchen’s down the hall.”
She gave me a slow smile and sashayed out of the room. I locked the door behind her and got on the horn. I needed backup.
“So, Betty. You want the job. What are your … assets?”
She leaned over the desk, her cleavage straining against a row of thin buckled straps. “Would you like a demonstration, Mr. Noir?”
She came around to my chair, swung her booted leg over my knees, and settled in my lap, hoisting her short skirt even higher. Before I knew what was happening, one of her gloved hands wrapped around my neck and her tongue was down my throat. Her other hand slid under my belt.
This was the interview? Well, it was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. I steeled myself. Time to take one for the team.
Moments later, the doorbell buzzed. I pushed her away. Her lipstick was streaked, but not one hair on her head was out of place. The buzz repeated.
“Wait here. Nobody else in today; I gotta get this.”
I turned away, towards a big framed mirror. Took an elaborately decorated fountain pen from my suit pocket and looked around for a place to hide it. Made sure she saw me slide it carefully into a book — one of the few left in the city. I kept my back to her while I set the book a shelf in front of the open window. Didn’t look at the mirror — she had to be watching. I wiped my face and smoothed my jacket.
“Be right back.”
I closed the door behind me and went into the next room. Looked through the one-way mirror. Betty was sitting in my chair, looking bored. Maybe the boss was wrong.
Then the Orion’s engines roared. The dame swiveled around and watched cooly as the huge cruiser lifted into the air, just outside the window. Heat blasted into the room like a bunch of coppers raiding a speakeasy. As the ship moved away, the current reversed, sucking air and paper outside.
The book slid towards the window. Betty leaned forward. So did I, leaving nose-prints on the glass. Would she bite? The book’s cover flipped open. Pages rattled. The pen jerked bit by bit until suddenly it flew to the window sill, hugging the frame.
Betty sprang up, lunged for the window. The pen rolled onto the ledge. The girl hoisted herself up in one move and followed the writing instrument out of sight.
Damn. I hoped the boss had her pegged.
Minutes later, hair still perfect, she climbed back into the room. Dusted herself off and carefully replaced the pen in the book.
When I walked through the door, Betty was bored again, swiveling back and forth in my chair.
“You got the job.”
At my words, she perked up and looked ready to reward me. Ugh.
“Not secretary though.”
Her face fell.
The boss followed me in. He swatted my bum as he passed, and I glared. He knew I didn’t mean it.
“Nice work, Guy.”
The boss stuck his hand out to Betty.
“Congratulations, Miss Fairlane. Welcome to the Society for Literary Preservation. I’m sure you’ll excel as our Infiltration and Retrieval Specialist. My sources report you have no fear of heights, a devotion to the waning art of writing fiction, and an exceptional talent for impersonation.”
Her jaw dropped.
“As a courtesy, would you show us your real face?”
She nodded. Closed her eyes. Changed her face, her clothes, her body.
Betty Fairlane was a middle-aged house-frau, her straw-colored hair coiled in a bun atop her head. She wore men’s slacks and a knit sweater. Low-heeled oxfords replaced the boots. When her eyes opened, they were still a clear blue, like the sky out in the country on a sunny day.
Her gaze met mine and I stared. Smiled.
The boss cleared his throat. “Right. I can’t wait to learn about your other abilities. For now, though, I’d like to introduce you to our staff.”
“I gather you’ve already met my … personal secretary.” He winked at me. “Right, Guy?”
I squirmed like a worm under a robin’s bright eye. “Yes, sir.”
Her eyes widened. “Sorry about that, Guy.”
I grinned. “All in a day’s work, ma’am.”
Aaaaand That’s all, Folks. *runs backstage*