Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Flash Fiction #7 - Just Another Day

Just Another Day --

As her dinner companion's head exploded, Mary took a last sip of her espresso before sliding out of the booth and using the chaos that had erupted in the coffee shop to become disassociated with her unfortunate companion. There would be no point in sticking around for the cops -- she had nothing that could help them, and they would only hinder her.

It hadn't been one of her better days, she reflected as she slipped out the back door and blended in with the other pedestrians hunched to avoid the drizzly grey weather. But, she supposed, still better than some. At least she'd had time to pick his brain before it splattered so rudely across the table. Personally she didn't think his knowledge was worth killing for, but maybe she was becoming insouciant. Perhaps it was time to find a new career.

She followed the herd down to the subway and traveled three stops before emerging to flag an anonymous yellow taxi. She picked a random address she could've walked to, but habit had her instinctively make the job of those following her as difficult and inane as possible. Several cab changes later, she headed to her target location.

She slipped into the back of the lecture hall to hear the aged professor finishing up his under-graduate level talk. She waited as the students gathered their items and exited the hall with the extreme speed that only students escaping mandatory classes are capable of.

"Ah, Mary Mary quite contrary," he started seeing her sitting alone in the auditorium. To which Mary outwardly smiled and inwardly felt any respect she may have had for him disintegrate, "how may I assist you today?"

"Trevor Peters" she stated, watching him closely. The professor's face transformed from friendly-grandfather to one who has seen and known too much.

"I'm sorry, my dear, that name means nothing to me," he said.

After the day she'd had, she had no patience for the conventional games. "Spencer Matthews was killed a little over an hour ago. There's a very good chance Trevor will be next. Where is he?" The older man blanched slightly but otherwise gave no sign the news of his former student affected him.

"We haven't spoken in a while," he said inanely, "perhaps you'd like to come over for a coffee?" Several sharp retorts about the outcome of her last cup of coffee jumped instantly to mind, but resolutely she stifled them, knowing he was her only link to the information she required.

"I'd like that," she lied blatantly, and followed the professor out to his car. She was suspicious but not overly concerned when he drove to a stately old home instead of the nearest Starbucks.

The door was slightly ajar and the professor was cautious in opening it -- his movements betrayed an ingrained knowledge of tactical maneuvers not learned in the classroom. Mary was forced to reevaluate her opinion of him as she followed him in, sweeping left while he went right, her Springfield XD 9, previously concealed, now held confidently in front of her. As Mary shadowed the professor into what appeared to be his home library she was not particularly surprised to see him retrieve a Glock and magazine from a hollow book and load it; as her mind registered the significance of the practiced movement, she wondered idly what else might be in those books.

A quick sweep of the rest of the house proved what both instinctively knew -- they were alone. And nothing, so far as Mary could tell, had been touched. She wondered if the old professor had simply forgotten to lock up that morning, but as he was appearing less and less like an old professor by the second, she kept that thought to herself.

"What is it you want with Trevor Peters?" he asked bluntly.

"Information," she replied. "Information of the type people would kill for.” While she didn't particularly care one way or another about the life of the hacker who’d learned one secret too many, she had long since learned that playing the 'help safe a life' card motivated most civilians.

"What makes you think I know where he is?"

"If you didn't, I wouldn't be here." she stated, neatly avoiding the question. She knew better than to reveal sources -- even dead ones.

The look he gave her was that of a disappointed parent. "You don't know nearly as much as you think you do, young lady." Surprisingly she was more intrigued than insulted by his patronizing tone.

"Educate me," she challenged.

"This morning," he started, "I knew exactly where Trevor Peters was." Mary nodded -- she'd already ascertained that much. "He was here." That worried her briefly, maybe she really was slipping. She'd been certain the old professor knew where to find him, but had had no sign her quarry had been in the immediate area.

"I’ll help you find him," the professor stated.

"No thank you," Mary said, knowing even as she said it that the offer hadn't been an offer so much as a command. "You'd be putting yourself in danger. These people kill indiscriminately; just for talking to me, you could be at risk."

"Then I may as well be involved," the professor argued with a disturbing twist on logic. "And they're not that indiscriminant, otherwise how do you come to be standing here when Spencer is dead?"

"What makes you think I was there when Spencer was killed?" Mary asked focusing on the detail he shouldn't have known.

The professor gave her that withering you're an idiot child look again before pointing out that she had unmistakable flecks of brain matter staining her shirt. Ok so she should've picked up on that. Definitely time for a career change. But then, a math professor, on the verge of retirement, should not have.

"I will find Trevor." he started, taking advantage of her momentary discombobulation. "I can find him on my own -- in which case you'll never get to ask your questions, or we can find him together and see what he says." Mary’s tension rose as she envisioned her weeks of searching, not to mention a significant amount of money, being wasted due to a rogue professor

"There is one more thing that you don't know,” the professor stated, piquing her reluctant interest. Her raised eyebrow encouraged him to continue:

"Trevor Peters is my son."


I'm left hanging! Nice drop kick off the cliff. :)


I hope having someone's brains spattered on my shirt never becomes just another day for me. :o I get the feeling this is an intro piece, to a larger story. Both Mary and the Professor come across as interesting characters. Good start.

I would point out you have a fairly consistent typo running through this, with started where I believe you mean stated. Might want to fix those.


Ooooh, intriguing. I hope there's more of this coming! I like both characters, and particularly liked how the Professor's true character is slowly being revealed.
Loved the pick his brain joke :)

A couple of minor points - why the abbreviation in "blended in w/ the other pedestrians"?
the other thing is an odd one - your use of the word "inane" in two places. It sounded wrong and out of place to me, to the point where I had to google its dictionary definition. The definition makes it sort of fit, but ... argh, I'm sure this is probably just me being silly :)

and can I just say, as a Mathematics graduate, that it's nice to see a Maths professor presented as cool and Glock-savvy, for a change :)


I'm going out for coffee soon with a friend but I'm not sure I want to do this now, heh.

Yes, it's an intriguing story. And I would like to read more!


this was a rocket ride. swift paced, chilling, tense and now you left me hanging. more please!


Thanks for the comments!

Jon started is intentional -- as in "started to say..." You'll notice those are always followed up w/ more from the same person -- or rudely interrupted! Hahaha I tend to use started for something that’s going to be followed up. Stated for the much stronger “this is what I’m saying, and it’s not open to discussion.”

Mazz -- the w/ I simply missed. Thanks for that -- have fixed now! When I type I type almost entirely in abbreviations for speed and then go back and fix for publication -- occasionally I miss some. Esp if I’m not on a machine w/ a “find and replace” feature. Inane is appropriate where it's used -- and, I always thought, a relatively common word :) I imagine it seems out of place because you didn't recognize it -- that's often the way of these things. As to the math prof -- while I just barely passed enough math to graduate (I still think calculus is evil!), I always suspected if any of my profs would have a dramatic second life, it’d be one of them! *g*

Thanks so much for reading guys! Glad you enjoyed it! I certainly enjoyed writing it :)


Oooo -- Laur! This is basically what I want my nano novel this year to sound like (although maybe with a good dash of silly...)!

You should write more so I can steal ideals/be inspired :D


hahaha well in that case Dana I definitely want to read your nano!


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