(Written for this week’s Flash Fiction challenge over on Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds blog. http://terribleminds.com/ramble I randomly generated the title ‘Daniel’s Treasure’ and this is what I made of it.
“You find anything, Pete?”
“Nothing. Some old science junk in the basement, that’s all that’s left.”
“Shit. Typical Danny, amirite?”
Tied to a chair, nearby, Yvonne said nothing. She would have said nothing even if she hadn’t been wearing that gag.
Daniel’s body wasn’t even cold and the vultures had already started to pick apart his corpse. The relatives first, those who he had loved, had been the first to descend to tear the place apart. They’d gone home disappointed, nothing but some silverware and old furniture that ‘might be worth something, I suppose’. Then it had been his friends, in whom he’d confided some, but never all, of his secrets. They fared no better, except with less available to stuff in their pockets. After them it had been his professional colleagues from the university. If friends and family had been disappointed, it was nothing compared to what the people he’d worked next to all those years, who had lauded him then rejected him, felt upon learning that in his later years he’d kept no notes except in his head. They’d taken some of the equipment, but not much, and smugly written Dr. Daniel Parmiter off as the ineffectual madman they’d always known he was.
No one, it seemed, had really missed the old scientist. All they wanted was what they could stuff in their grubby pockets with their greedy little hands. It turned Yvonne’s stomach.
Now it was down to casual acquaintances and people he had owed money to. After she had fended off one of them with a frying pan already this morning, the next bunch had taken the precaution of tying the feisty maid to a chair while they looted the house. Or tried to. It was already pretty well looted.
“You don’t think he blew it all, do you, Mac?” The taller and younger of the pair, obviously the muscle, made a face and scratched his head in a way that couldn’t help but strike Yvonne as being just like that of an ape.
“Blew it? On what? You seen how he lived. There wasn’t even no food left in the cupboards. And the guy didn’t have no vices or nothing. I asked around, to people who should know.”
“I don’t know, maybe he used it on, like, science stuff or something. You know, chemicals and shit.”
“You’d think, right?” Older, shorter and fatter, ‘Mac’ was the default brains of the pair. He sighed and threw himself into an old chair that creaked dangerously as he settled into it.
“But the thing is, I talked to some of his old buddies at the university, you know did my best ‘representative of the family’ bit. The lawyer routine always scares people into coughing up the goods. They said he didn’t have no gear he didn’t leave the university with when they gave him the boot. And I couldn’t find no receipts for anything new.
“I don’t know Mac. I don’t think…”
“Heh. There’s the truest thing you ever said, Pete.”
“No, really, listen to me, man. If he still had all that grant money they say he stole, why was he borrowing money from you?”
“‘Cause he had plans. He was making something he needed that money for. His ‘treasure’ he called it. Used to talk it up when he was hitting me up for more scratch. Never said what it was.”
“And nobody found it yet?”
“Can’t be sure of that. But if it’s still here, we’re going to find it. Pete, start prying up those floorboards, huh?”
“Sure, boss.” The big man took a prybar off the workbench along one wall.
“Me? I’m going to get some answers out of the girl here.”
Yvonne hissed something through her gag.
“Ahh, don’t be like that, sweetheart. Who knows, might even be fun, huh?”
There was something ugly in Mac’s smile. He drew a small, snub-nosed revolver from his jacket and ran the barrel against her cheek. The metal felt especially cold, which meant that her temperature was rising.
“Alright, now when I take this gag off, I want you to tell me where the old man’s treasure is, huh? You play ball with us and we all walk away from this, get me?”
He took off the gag.
“You can’t hold me here!” The words were choked with the tears and rage she’d been building up watching all these people tear apart the physical remains of Daniel’s life.
“We’re pretty far out of town, kid. Nobody’s going to hear you if you scream. So I can pretty much do whatever I want. You starting to get the picture?”
She was having trouble hearing him over the bass drum beat of the blood thumping in her ears.
“No, you don’t understand.” She took a deep breath and forced the words out calmly.
Her limbs were getting hot and starting to tremble.
“You can’t hold me here.” She flexed and the ropes snapped
It all happened so fast. Mac screamed and his gun went off, too close to miss. Pain pierced her through the side and red clouded her eyes. She didn’t remember hitting him, but she did see him go through a wall, his neck at an angle she wasn’t sure was natural.
Normals were so fragile, just as Daniel had always warned her.
Pete didn’t even look up in time to see the chair she threw at his head. At least he only looked unconscious.
She brushed her hair back out of her eyes and calmly walked upstairs and out of the house. She picked the bullet out of her flesh and it clattered on the old fashioned cobblestones on the front walk. The hole was already starting to seal up.
As she walked away, she could still feel the powerful beating of Daniel’s treasure in her chest.