Eric Lahti, a fellow author, blogger and member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group on Facebook produced a challenge.
He suggested a short story of around 1,000 words inspired by the graphic used below.
My response was ‘A Day of Reckoning‘, a story of honour and vengeance.
Monday, 15th February 2010
Lei Mei arrived into Glasgow Airport at 7am and made her way to the city using the shuttle bus service. It was impersonal transport, so she wouldn’t be noticed. She wore no makeup, and maintained an impassive expression.
The 30-year-old walked to Buchanan Street, where she found a busy early morning cafe. She ordered a traditional meal, with tea, and avoided making small talk. At her table, Lei used the map on her phone to locate her destination. It would take ten minutes to reach on public transport, or thirty minutes on foot. She walked.
Lei strolled along Sauchiehall Street, and chose a department store where there would be a washroom. Unlike most international travellers, the bag she carried over her shoulder contained all her needs. It held makeup, underwear, three changes of outfit, and travel documents.
On her departure through the store, both men and women gave her approving looks. Her long hair was centre-parted and brushed so it cascaded over her shoulders like a sheet of black silk. False lashes and makeup enhanced her natural oriental beauty. She wore a bright yellow blouse and black mini-skirt, complemented with black high heels.
It took her a further twenty minutes to reach her destination. She arrived in Cowcaddens and assessed the modern six-storey block as she approached. At a bus shelter less than 50 metres from the building, an old Chinaman in vibrant traditional dress waited alone. He had a straggly grey beard, and his long hair hung in a pigtail down his back.
Lei stepped into the bus shelter, glanced at the advertising posters, and then stared at the bus route timetable without reading. She half-turned to the old man to speak.
“Do you use this route often, wise one?”
He stood in regal pose, arms folded across his body, and hands inside the wide cuffs of the opposite arm.
“I walk,” the man said. “I prefer the light, and do not act in the darkness.”
“On occasion, we are compelled to act in the darkness,” Lei said. “I have no choice.”
The old man closed his eyes, and nodded imperceptibly. He handed Lei a wrapped item, and in exchange accepted her shoulder bag.
Lei’s ruby lips twitched. She gave a slight bow, turned and walked away.
Half an hour later, Lei revisited the old man at the bus shelter. His wrinkled face broke into a brief smile on her return.
“Use the subway,” he suggested, returning her shoulder bag. “Stay strong and true, child of Mei Bhei.”
It was early evening, raining and chilly when Lei arrived into Manchester city centre. While on the train, she’d removed her makeup, and tied her hair back in a ponytail. The smart costume was replaced by the drab outfit, lightweight coat and stout shoes.
She left Manchester Piccadilly Station, and made her way towards Chinatown.
In a small newsagent’s close to Faulkner Street, Lei met a Chinaman. He was similar to the man she’d met in Glasgow, but was older, wearier and used a cane. He exchanged a small package for Lei’s shoulder bag.
He said, “Remain strong.”
Following her second meeting of the day, Lei was again greeted with a smile when she retrieved her bag.
“May honour guide you, child of Mei Bhei.”
She smiled briefly, nodded, and was gone.
Lei caught a late evening train from Manchester and ate on the journey. When she reached Soho she was tired. She was wearing makeup again, and had changed into an attractive outfit, just like Glasgow and Manchester.
She left the meeting in Soho as a downpour began. Lei stopped at a late-night store to buy an umbrella. She used one hand to button her coat, as she hurried to Tottenham Court Road tube station to retrieve her floral bag.
A glance over her shoulder confirmed two figures following her, but she had difficulty walking faster in heels.
Tuesday, 16th February 2010
New Scotland Yard,
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Flynn pulled on latex gloves to inspect the mysterious parcel which had been delivered overnight. He placed the contents on his desk, and lifted the envelope. Harry removed the two sheets of paper and read aloud.
My father was Chief Inspector Mei Bhei. He was your mentor during your attachment to the Hong Kong Police Department in 2008. One month ago Mei Bhei was kidnapped, tortured and left to die in an alleyway.
Three key Triad figures orchestrated the kidnapping and subsequent events. The perpetrators had been invited to Hong Kong from their operational bases in the UK.
You will find these men in Glasgow, Manchester and London. I have executed them, and in each case, I cut out the tongue and replaced it with the testicles. Each man bled to death.
I have provided you with appropriate details to avoid lengthy investigations and enquiries. Before you, there will be a floral shoulder bag, two sealed bags, each containing a blade with traces of victim’s DNA.
Attached to this letter is a list of the dead men and their addresses. You will also have my three counterfeit passports, and list of airports used on my extended route from Hong Kong to the UK.
If I didn’t retrieve my bag following the third execution, it means I was unable to avoid detection. These people contacted each other regularly for their own protection, so I had to deal with all three within 24 hours.
On the attached sheet is a band-aid which carries my DNA. My body will be left in a public place.
Anybody touching my bag used the strap, which will now be missing from the bag, so my assistants are untraceable.
Please, do not waste resources looking for my murderers.
Lei Mei Bhei, Detective Inspector
Hong Kong Police Department”
The intercom buzzed.
“Sir,” the assistant said. “A young woman’s body has been discovered in Soho.”
DCI Flynn closed his eyes. “Bastards!”
6 thoughts on “A Day of Reckoning”
Tom, that was gripping! Too good for a short story, would have made an excellent novel. Maybe she has a sister just coming up the ranks in the HK police who decides some years later to avenge her, only this time she works with DC Flynn… Just a thought. Or even better she enlists the help of the BTL team!
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Thank you Barbara, and praise indeed from an author who knows how to hold the reader on the edge.
I’m already working on my American heroine Honey coming to Europe in her sequel, and I have a feeling she’ll be meeting up with the team. Perhaps at a stretch a young Chinese girl looking for answers will cross their path. I hope that’s enough for now. 😀
Very compelling story, Tom!
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Many thanks Peg. I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
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Powerful, Tom. You’ve got such a vigorous grasp of words and pacing… A wonderful read, nicely done.
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Hello Ramona and sincere thanks for your kind comments. I work hard at the plot, and providing realistic characters. The effort is increased when the lead is a female. 🙂
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