Short Story: Shortest. Job. Ever.

Tina rifled through the photographs in her hand, all of the same person: a young girl, couldn’t have been older than fifteen. Not what many societies would consider pretty, but the residents of Windermere had learned to discard such bullshit long before they’d found the system of verdant moons that came to be dubbed the Lake District.

“My fee is three hundred crowns daily.” Tina finally said, breaking the few minutes of silence that pervaded as she memorised each photo carefully. She looked up to her client, an elderly man with three prongs of neatly trimmed and shaped facial hair that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Earth’s Old West.

The man, resting his chin against interlocked hands, arched one brow. “Three hundred daily? I’ve had cheaper offers.”

“I could have sworn you said my reputation preceded me just a few minutes ago.” she sighed. “And if that’s true, Mr. Clark, you’d know that I get the job done quicker than most of the cut-price slackers that call themselves hunters in this system.”

Clark nodded, a silent sign that he conceded that point. “Very well. Three hundred crowns daily. Plus expenses. Deal?”

Tina smirked, and the two shook hands. “Deal. And it just so happens that I’ve already found your daughter.”

“What?” Clark barked. He tried to pull his hand away, but to call the newly-hired hunter’s grip iron was the ultimate understatement. It was titanium. Behind her, the door swung open, lashing out at a decorative table playing host to a vase of false daffodils. The vase became the first casualty of the job. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Tina glanced behind her, offering a curt nod to her partner as she stepped through the open doorway. Molly Clark, the girl in the photos, wrapped her arms around the other hunter’s neck as if letting go would be the last mistake of her life, all the while staring the sharpest of daggers at her father.

“Basement, Bette?” she asked.

Bette smirked. “Just like you said, boss. A bit distraught, but otherwise unharmed.”

Tina returned her attention to Mr. Clark and tightened her augmented grip on the man’s arm. Though he didn’t scream, his agony was written all over his face.

“Well, this might just be the shortest job I’ve ever taken.” the hunter grinned as her eyes began to glow a demonic red. “But sending me on a wild goose chase, which I’m assuming was a plot to tarnish my reputation, is also going to prove your most costly mistake.”

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This short story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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2 thoughts on “Short Story: Shortest. Job. Ever.

  1. Thanks for liking “room service,” Jonathan..” Your short-short above s good, and includes the must-have energy of a return or the wish for a return, even if the wish is bogus (which supplies your surprise and – more importantly – your irony). “In the glory days of literary theory, we sometimes heard that the root principle of narrative art was the ‘Fort-Da.’ Here was the real bouillon cube, the ultimate condensation of all literary complexity. Fort-Da (literally ‘There-Here’) derives from Freud, his observation of the cycle of the infant throwing the toy from the crib – Fort! – and then wailing for its return – Da! What could be more basic?” Look for the energy of “return” in most successful narrative literature of any length – either pervasive through the entire story or tacked onto its end. .

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