A few months ago, I ran the story “Among the Shine Clan” about Hannah “Fiddlestix” Braun and her adventures in the Appalachian Mountains. There, she meets Deacon Scott, leader of the Shine Clan. (The Shine Clan also features in “Under the Milky Way”)
This story won and Honorary Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future. Set in the future, cybernetic body parts have become commonplace. Fiddlestix is an ex-soldier, turned solo (bodyguard) for hire. Between jobs at present, she’s waiting for work to find her. She’s more than a little surprised with what shows up.
Daytona Beach Metroplex
July 15, 2052
Fiddlestix sat with her back to the wall, in the corner of the dingy, ill lit room, watching the crowd surreptitiously. No one came to Low Blow Gonzalez’ Bar because it was a popular night spot. They came to find work, but more often found trouble.
Dressed in dusty biker leathers, she fit right into the sleazy, dirty atmosphere with ease, just as she intended. Keeping a low profile, she continued to scan the crowd.
Dim figures moved around the room. Some drifted in the vicinity of her seat, but a glare from her and they quickly walked away, slouching into their collars, hands shoved deep in pockets. Her battered weapon and formidable cyber arm convinced them to move on.
Paper fluttered on the bulletin board near the abruptly opened front door. A dozen hands dropped to an odd assortment of lethal weapons. None drew, waiting.
A trio of men walked in. The first was tall, muscular and singularly ugly. The second was short, squat and wore a black duster that dragged the ground. The third looked like a lower level corporate; medium height, weight and build. His hair was a nondescript shade of brown. His eyes were covered with dark glasses. His suit was dark brown with a beige shirt and rust colored tie.
Once it was established that the newcomers were not there to start something, the customers returned to their conversations. The corporate stood behind the other two men, while the big one moved forward, scanning the room slowly. His gaze traveled the perimeter of the room, coming slowly to Fiddlestix’ location. Another step toward her, and she had her weapon in her hand. She aimed at him under the table, casually tipping back in her chair to get a better shot.
As if on an unspoken signal, the three men approached her table, in a non-threatening manner. The bodyguards kept their hands well away from their weapons, moving in to flank the corp. He stopped by her table, asking permission to sit with a gesture of his hand. A sharp inclination of her spiked blonde head indicated he could.
He leaned across the table in a conspiratorial manner drawing unwanted attention. Fiddlestix pressed her thick soled boot against his chair, pushing it away from the table, tapping his testicles in the process. Getting the idea, he moved back.
“Is there somewhere more appropriate we can talk?”
She was formulating a snide, snappish reply when he reached up to remove his glasses. For the first time, she saw something of him that wasn’t dull brown. His eyes were an unnaturally vivid green. The expression in them was one of desperation. Her manner changed rapidly from sarcastic to curious.
“Sure.” she said softly.” Low’s got some private conference rooms downstairs.”
The tall, ugly one nodded slowly. The short one looked around quickly, assessing the room before Fiddlestix and the corporate rose from the table.
“Lead the way,” the short man said with a thick Hispanic accent.
Remaining wary, she strutted toward the stairs leading down to the private, secure conference rooms. They were the only aspect of Low Blow Gonzalez’ dive bar that was high tech and sophisticated, laced with a security system that made Fort Knox look like it was made from Tinker Toys.
The corporate took a seat in one of the broken down chairs, inviting Fiddlestix to sit. Knowing the instability of the furniture, she chose to stand instead.
” How can I be of assistance, Mr…?”
He had failed to introduce himself. Fiddlestix refused to deal with people whose names she did not know.
“Smith,” he replied with a furtive look at his bodyguards.”These two gentlemen are Blacksmith and Buzzard.”
“Your real name. I don’t deal with people who hide things from me. You want my help, be honest.”
“Donnan Varin,” he admitted quietly.
© 2011 Dellani Oakes