Furious Fiction – Australian Writers’ Centre.
Coronavirus “Iso” has given us the time to do things we would normally leave to “when we got around to it”. What started as a valiant attempt to sort out my digital storage, descended into a trove of old stories found in my messy Google Drive. Included in that hot mess were previous attempts at Furious Fiction competitions, and fragments of stories I don’t remember starting let alone have an inkling of where I was going to go with the storyline. (I’ll publish them later and challenge you to finish them!)
Here is the entry I wrote for the September 2018 competition. The criteria that month were:
- The entire story must take place in an airport.
- The story must include the word SPRING somewhere. (Plural also okay.)
- The story must include the phrase: IT WAS EMPTY.
This is the second of two found stories from my archive. I have also published other FF stories which you can find here.
Always ready to spring into action, Krysia was scanning the crowd of bleary-eyed, unwashed, overfed and under-slept travellers who stood at the carousel waiting for their bags to be spewed out onto the belt.
Like a tractor beam in an old sci-fi movie, her eyes locked onto the guy in the suit. Too tidy. Too neat. No doubt he flew first class. She directed her hidden camera on him. It scrolled through the biometrics, settling on an identity within seconds: Clifford Saunders. Australian. DOB 25/09/78. No flags. No tags. No dossier. A clean skin.
She turned to her boss. “Looks dodgy, Pam, I am going down on the floor.”
Pam nodded. “I’ll put the decoy in play.”
Decked out in civvies, Krysia sidled up to him and rubbed her eyes in a mock yawn.
“I hate this part – just give me my bags already!” she said. “What flight were you on?”
Cliff ignored her. Not many refused her charm. Definitely dodgy!
The decoy bag came in view. When it was right in front of him, she leapt forward. The accidental collision, a perfect distraction, as she triggered the micro-gas detector.
“Quick Pam, test that” she whispered into her sleeve, as she wrestled the bag to the floor.
After thirty minutes of tense and awkward waiting, there were only two bags left on the belt. The bag with the first-class tags was going past again. This time, Krysia stepped up to grab it, simultaneously flashing her ID and a smug smile. Cliff shifted on his feet, ready to run. She made the signal. A cloud of black-uniformed officers swarmed around him.
“It’s light – scan it” she barked.
The X-ray showed it was empty.
After seven hours of intense interrogation, Krysia had to let him go. There was nothing. No residue of drugs, explosives or wildlife.
She went upstairs to report to Pam. The walk of shame. She’d have to listen to the lecture about picking the wrong mark – again. She’d been so sure this time! Apparently, there was nothing illegal about having an empty bag. There should be!
Pam’s office was empty. That’s odd?
Krysia filled out the forms and emailed them through. An out-of-office email pinged back within milliseconds. “That’s odd,” she thought “Pam didn’t say she was going on leave”
Odd indeed. Krysia began to panic. She pulled up the CCTV footage.
There! Right there! Just when Krysia was causing a huge commotion with Clifford Saunders’ arrest, with every officer on shift in one place at one time, there, right there, was Pam picking up the second of the two remaining bags from the belt. There she was with a passport and a boarding pass like any other traveller. There was Pam walking through the arrivals hall and buying coffee. And there, seven hours later, was Pam, in the back of a limo, leaving the car park with Clifford.
“I’ll put the decoy in play,” Pam Saunders had said.