Here's something short. It failed to win a recent competition for an Irish website called Brilliant Flash Fiction. The theme was It Came In The Mail. The word limit was 500 words, which is very tough. This didn't make the grade, so I'm inflicting it on you. Ha! Yeah, it's a bit blunt and simultaneously info-dumpy, but I like the core idea and it's got nowhere else to go. Some news is coming soon about published work though. Hooray!
“Good morning, Natalia.” Striding through his office he greeted his secretary with an assured smile. “You look radiant.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
Through a door to his room, Peter sat at his desk. Another day ruling his empire, a multi-million pound mail-order bride agency.
It all began in Russia. Peter had been a British trade envoy. When the Cold War was over Peter decided to branch out.
Back in the day Peter had met a man in an underground fair in Moscow, a magician who only had one trick but it was a good one. He folded things that were impossible to fold and put them into spaces they could not fit. The climax of his act was putting his assistant into a matchbox and taking her out again, unharmed. Peter saw an opportunity. He brought the magician under his protection.
There was so many desperate people in Russia, young women in particular, who would do anything for a better life. Peter's idea was having the magician fold them into parcels and mailing them to rich, lonely men across the free world, saving on visa and plane tickets (a crucial edge in the market).
He still had to drum up demand but that was easy. Peter had many connections. He fed his clients with pretty pictures and beautiful promises. He ensured supply in much the same way. Keeping his monopoly was the most difficult part. Peter had the magician bought off and, ironically, locked away in luxurious captivity, a mansion in Sochi where he lived and worked under guard.
The situation in Russia stabilised. Peter had to work harder. A fake casting company here, a non-existent scholarship there helped maintain supply. Rival firms tried to extract his trade-secret, sometimes even steal his magician outright. Peter always dealt with his rivals, problems to be packed away. He was a clever man.
“Here’s your mail, Sir.”
“Thank you, Natalia.”
“You’re welcome, Sir.”
He was an important man too. His only regret was his trade wasn’t recognised enough to get him a Knighthood, even though he’d found matches for two Senior Secretaries, a gay Saudi prince and a French ambassador.
Natalia left. Peter fondled his post, two letters and a parcel. He chuckled. Who sent mail anymore? He did, he supposed, but the letters were hardly worth reading. He glanced then cast them aside. Someone should find a way to send brides as an email attachment he thought. He laughed again as he prized open the parcel. There was a puff of air, it sprang apart. Shocked, Peter dropped the parcel. It fell to the floor and a woman climbed out.
“Who are you?” he gasped. The woman was tall, tanned, supple, wearing heavy make-up and a short cocktail dress, like one of his pretty pictures. The Woman said:
“I was a mail-order bride, now I am a mail-order assassin.” She reached behind her back, produced a pistol and took aim, “and I have come for you.”