One fun thing about the collaborative writing site Panhistoria are the different contests held throughout the site and on the different zones. There are zones for different genres; Action, Contemporary, Fantasy, History, Horror, Other, Science Fiction, Western and Romance. So there's a place for anyone to fit in.
Often the zone sponsored contests are writing contests specific to the genre. This month in Action Zone the contest revolved around a James Bond theme. I took my characters Andre & Meredith and had a little fun with them. Here's my short story for the Action Zone.
- - -
It's All In The Name
The handsome couple who exited the plane last took a moment to soak in the warm tropical sun while the other dozen passengers made their way to a covered area to be greeted with fruity drinks and local tour guides. The younger of the two men looked about at the tiny little excuse for an airport, at the wrecked plane at the end of the runway they’d flown in over with ‘oops’ spray-painted across the wreckage, up at the cloudless sky, and finally at his blonde companion who cleaned his sunglasses on the tail of his shirt. He spoke in French. “This is it?”
“This is it, André,” the man replied in his fluid British accent. “Sorry if you wanted casinos and night clubs. We could always take a boat over to one of the bigger islands, but I think this is perfect. We needed a holiday away from the city. There’s nothing to do here, except entertain ourselves.”
“All right, Meredith, but this better not be one of your secret missions I’m not supposed to know about. There’s nothing here. Makes me think of some evil villain’s secret hideout.” He walked along behind Meredith who wanted a drink and a ride to their small resort. "It’s okay for you if your arch nemesis or some mad scientist is here. You get to have fun. I’ve seen the secret agent movies. I know what happens to the attractive sidekick. I’ll be taken hostage. Tortured. Made to listen to ABBA, while watching Celebrity Big Brother, and eating microwaved burritos. I will be very upset with you if I’m taken prisoner.”
Grateful he didn’t add ‘again’ to his lament, Meredith handed him a red and yellow drink. “It’s merely a holiday, mon lapin. It’s no one’s secret hideout. You’re perfectly safe.”
“Isn’t that what you said about Hong Kong? Prague? North Dakota?”
“To be honest North Dakota took me completely by surprise as well.”
André pat Meredith’s shoulder. “Yes, I understand. Who expects such a large concentration of ninjas in North Dakota? Who expects ninjas anywhere? Who expects ninjas at all? Sneaky little bastards.”
“I’m sorry. But it’s not my fault entirely. You have this way of attracting trouble like flies to honey.” He held open the backdoor of a Jeep for André and followed him inside. “I don’t know why I’m apologizing for that. It had absolutely nothing to do with me. They mistook you for that insane venture capitalist Shorty McStump.” He gave the driver their destination.
“I resent that still. And that name, Shorty McStump. That is someone evil. Villains always have ridiculous names. They can’t have normal names like other people.”
“Says the guy whose last name means ‘knife’.”
“Yes, it means knife, Mr. Pike.”
“Quit worrying and let’s just enjoy our holiday. Nothing will happen.”
André’s dark eyes bore into Meredith’s bright blue eyes. “Oh thank you so much, Old Man. Why not draw a target on me, put me in a blow-up raft slowly losing air, and pour some blood in the water to attract the mutant flying man-eating electric sharks? Never ever say nothing will happen. Might as well call the ninjas.”
“Is your friend all right?” the driver asked.
“No. He’s neurotic. But I love him anyway.”
* * *
All was going well. After a day where the most exciting thing that happened occurred in a hammock, André began to feel more at ease and secure.
Together he and Meredith entered the cozy building referred to as the lodge where meals were served family style. A new guest had arrived and stood behind the bar mixing drinks with a silly Japanese man who wore an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt. “André-chou, get us drinks. I’ll get us places at a table.”
“Not with the old peoples from Florida. I not want to hear from that man about how the States keep saving my froggie behind from the Gestapo.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it. Get me a gin and tonic. Lime not lemon.”
“Ouias.” He went to the bar and smiled at the woman who didn’t smile so much as simmer.
She radiated smoldering passion and sexuality. Her luxurious scarlet hair was streaked with golden blonde. Half of it was twisted up in an elaborate coiffe, the rest hung down in thick shimmering coils pulled forward over her shoulder. Her hair was so abundant it nearly obscured her bandeaux top which tried with all its might to contain her ample perfect breasts. A sarong in shades of brilliant greens and blues clung to her hips yet allowed almost the entirety of one long leg to be revealed.
André noticed her eyes. They were not the same color. “You are making the drinks for all, please?”
“Yes, darling. I’m playing bartender. I do so love it when alcohol is inclusive in the cost of a package, don’t you?” Her voice was a smoky purr.
“Yes, whatever you say. So, you will make for me a gin and tonic with lime and give to me a Stella?”
“No, problem, sweetheart.”
He tilted his head at her wondering why she kept calling him pet names. Maybe she was a waitress in a diner and couldn’t help herself.
“Here you go, cutie.” She set a glass and bottle of beer in front of him. “What’s your name?”
“André Couteau. You?” He picked up the glass and beer and took a sip of the gin and tonic because she had filled it to the rim.
The glass shattered on the floor. The bottle bounced off a barstool spewing its contents. Another barstool fell over as André staggered back, his hands held up defensively before him. “No. No. You stay away from me! Evil woman! Stay away!”
Meredith ran to André and grabbed him by the shoulders. “What is it? André, tell me. What is it?”
“Her name. Fraise DesBois! It means wild strawberry.” André tore away from Meredith and ran from the lodge ranting about arch villains and ninjas.
Meredith could only shake his head in disbelief. “I think the stress of the restaurant has finally gotten to him.”
Fraise DesBois watched with a smile as the tall blonde man left the lodge. She pat the head of the wiry man next to her. “You did well to alert me, Bak Phat. Not only have you happened upon Mr. Pike, France’s greatest secret agent who is British, but with him is his Achilles Heel.”
“I thought he said his name was André.”
* * *
Meredith had calmed André with a shot of reason and a dose of tranquilizers. He left André tucked snugly into bed, returned to the lodge for dinner, and offered his apologies to Ms. DesBois, beginning his apology with “You may have noticed my friend is French…” That was really all the explanation needed, that and he added André was a chef and overworked.
He returned to the cabin with a tray for André, they had to get the recipe for the lobster bisque, and set it on the little table just inside the door. The shower was running. “André, You’ll be happy to know Ms. DesBois has a good sense of humour and understands how stressed out you are and has no hard feelings. I brought you,” he opened the door to the bathroom and fell silent. Steam billowed out. He stepped inside, reached into the empty shower and turned off the hot water. “André, did you start a shower and go back to bed?”
Stepping into the bedroom his eyes narrowed at the bed which was not only empty, but in disarray. The mattress tilted half off the bed, the bedside table overturned, the lamp only shards of pottery scattered across the floor. “This better be a really bad practical joke, André.”
He returned to the bathroom and saw the steam revealed a message written on the bathroom mirror. “Bring the flash drive to Cpt Morgan’s Cave at sunrise or you will never see your Chef again.” The last portion was hard to read because of the limited space on the mirror and the length of the message. At first he thought it said something about never seeing Cher again which was fine with him.
* * *
“Stupid ninja,” André scowled at Bak Phat.
“I told you, I’m not a ninja. I wasn’t even born in Japan. I was born in Cleveland.”
“Did you or did you not sneak in my room dress like a ninja?”
“I wore a black ski mask and a Hawaiian shirt. This shirt!” He tugged on the rainbow hued shirt he wore.
“Cause you a stupid ninja from Cleveland.” André sneered.
“I’m not a ninja!”
“Bak Phat, stop talking to him,” Fraise DesBois snapped for what seemed like the hundredth time.
“I try, but he keeps calling me a stupid ninja.”
“I calls them like I sees them, stupid ninja.” André muttered under his breath. He was really getting tired of this. This boring cave was no place to spend the night. “Hey, is this not a pirate cave? Are not pirates and ninjas mortal enemies? I hope a pirate come and cut you to pieces.”
“You’re insane, do you know that? Stark raving mad!” Bak Phat waved his hands in the air. “You’re a freaking prisoner. Can’t you cower in fear or go whimper in the corner?”
“I might could if you were scary ninja ‘stead of stupid ninja.”
Outside Meredith who saw no reason to wait around until sunrise to launch a rescue for André dropped down behind one of DesBois’ armed thugs, this one wearing a golf shirt covered in palm trees and a ski mask, tapped him on the shoulder, and head butted him when he turned to see who it was. “I guess the current economic crisis must be effecting her ability to afford experienced minions,” he said as he inspected the machine gun the man dropped. He removed the clip and tossed it into the ocean. “Overkill, really. I’m just one man.”
Carefully stepping over the man he proceeded toward the next minion who patrolled the opening to the cave.
Inside the cave DesBois was getting tired of the bickering between Bak Phat and André. “Can the two of you please just shut up! This has been going on for hours. Shut up!”
“Yeah, shut your mouth. Ninjas is to being silent.”
“Your English really sucks.”
“No, you suck, you fa- ooph!” He fell over clutching his family jewels.
Outside Meredith heard someone cry out. The minion heard it too and began hurrying towards the cave entrance. Acting fast he sprinted, tackled the man, and held his face in the sand until he stopped kicking.
André shook his head and examined his shoe for scuffs. “Evil Lady, your ninja got lousy reflex. I hope they not all this bad or Meredith gonna be disappointed at no challenge.”
“I’m the one who’s disappointed, sugar. I really expected more of a challenge than this myself.” She began pacing the length of the cave. “I guess it really would have been a challenge had he come alone. I just planned to do what I did with Jim.”
“Jim Bond.” She continued. “With him it was simple. He fancies himself a ladies man, so I only had to seduce him.”
“Yeah. That get you nowhere with my Meredith.”
“I can’t believe his name is actually Meredith. What kind of name is that for a secret agent? Did his parents want a daughter? How scared am I supposed to be of a man named Meredith?”
“Very scared. He behind you.” André smirked.
“Like I’m falling for that.” Just in case she looked over her shoulder. “Meredith!”
“That’s Mary F@cking Death to you.” He delivered a swift fist to her eye.
After reeling back from the sucker punch she lashed out at him. He caught her hand and snapped a long lacquered nail followed by another and another.
“My nail tips!” she screeched in horror.
“Your fingers will be next if you don’t give up hope of obtaining the secret information, gather your pretty useless minions, and leave the island.”
“Damn you, Pike. I’ll leave, but this won’t be the last you hear from me.” She stumbled into the wall when he released her.
“Try to call before noon. We get quite busy at the restaurant after that.” He unknotted the ropes around André’s wrists. “Are you all right?”
“So-So. Stupid Ninja scuff my shoe.” He kicked Bak Phat one more time for good measure. “I can’t believe you hit a woman. That was not very nice.”
“She made fun of my name.”
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