Friday, October 10, 2014
Flash Fiction Friday: The Formula
Henderson walked into the diner. He scowled as he glanced around the place. He decided that if you looked up "greasy spoon" in the dictionary, this place wouldn't be clean enough to be the picture.
The changeable-letters sign read "Seat Your elf" (the missing "s" at the bottom of the sign). Henderson wondered what you were supposed to do if you didn't have an elf handy. Or perhaps it was like a "curb your dog" sign, the proprietors wanted to ensure all elves were seated.
He smirked and walked to a booth, sitting down on the vinyl that was shiny from too many asses sliding across it. The table had a metal rim, grooved and riveted in place. The top was red Formica that maybe looked cheap once. Now it just looked scratched and abused.
"What'll ya have?" the middle-aged waitress asked.
"I haven't had a chance to look at a menu," Henderson replied.
The waitress pointed to a rack against the window. "There's the menu, I'll be right back."
Henderson thought she was in an awful hurry. The place wasn't crowded. In fact, except for one man sitting at the counter and Henderson, it was empty. That was until she walked in.
She was tall, thin, with long dark hair. In this place she appeared like a rose among dandelions. Old dandelions that had gone to seed, Henderson amended his thought. She spotted him and walked over, giving him a chance to admire he long legs and hear her heels clack on the tile.
She slid into the booth.
"Nice place," she breathed.
Henderson frowned. "You picked it."
She smiled sweetly and her blue eyes flashed. "No, I didn't. But no matter."
"What would you like, ma'am?" the waitress asked. Henderson hadn't even seen her walk over.
"Coffee, black," the woman asked. "And a piece of pie."
"We don't have pie," the waitress replied. "Would you like a donut."
The woman's serene smile never wavered. "Sure, a stale donut to match my mood."
The waitress scowled, and Henderson thought for a moment she was about o protest that her donuts weren't stale, until she realized that, yes, they were.
When the rotund figure walked away the woman asked. "Do you have it?"
"Of course," Henderson replied. He reached inside his suit and pulled out a small vial of blue liquid. It shown with its own nacreous light.
"I need your account number," she said.
He handed over a slip of paper. She extracted a smart phone from her clothes, and typed for a while, occasionally glancing at the paper.
"Is that secure?" Henderson asked, his voice tinged with anxiety.
The look she gave him was one you might give someone who asked if the sky was blue.
"Done," she said. "You're a very rich man, Mr. Henderson."
He smiled broadly.
She held out her hand and he passed over the vial.
"And what are you going to do with it?" he asked.
"That wasn't part of the deal," she whispered.
"Neither was this," he said, and pulled out a second vial, popped the top, and drank it.
The woman stood up quickly, and started back off. Henderson slid out of booth and walked slowly after her, the menacing look in his eyes caused even the waitress to take notice.
"I did a little research," Henderson said. "You're not the CIA. You're working for the Chinese. Now why do the Chinese want my formula?"
The woman was still backing off. Henderson wasn't surprised when she pulled out a gun. He was a bit surprised by how fast he moved, and that in a fraction of a second the gun was in his hand and the woman on the floor, looking up at him.
"I'm CIA," she cried. "And you're in big trouble."
He smirked, pointing the gun at her. "Then why does the CIA need a formula to make men into psychopathic killers? And why does a company owned by the Chinese government pay your expenses?"
Her face fell, letting him know he was right. His skills as an investigator hadn't changed even if he'd retired from the FBI to pursue his dream of inventing a serum that would turn men docile. But it had the opposite effect, and made them killers. He never believed the CIA wanted it as this woman claimed, so he did some digging.
"What are you going to do?" the woman whimpered.
"Enjoy my money," he said. "Now give me the vial."
She handed it over with trembling hands. "Are you going to kill me?"
Henderson smiled. "No. I forgot to tell you one thing. The effect only lasts about three minutes. Just long enough to scare you into giving me back my vial of shampoo."
"Yeah," Henderson said with a chuckle. "Just in case you got away, I didn't give you the real formula."
Two men walked in in business suits. Henderson smiled at them. "Take her away, gentlemen."
"Who are you," the woman asked.
"FBI," one of them said, helping her off the floor. The other handcuffed her. Henderson turned over the gun to them.
Henderson went back to his booth as they led the woman out. If she talked, and she would, that would help break up a Chinese spy ring in the U.S. He could feel the lingering effects of his formula tingling in his veins.
The waitress was staring at Henderson with her mouth agape.
"What's it take to get some service in this dump?" Henderson snarled. Must be the last of the formula making him so rude, he thought. But with a hundred million dollars, he could afford to be rude.