Friday, May 10, 2013

FFF: The Italicist

Every week, Kurt posts a new bit of flash fiction. This week's story contains a HIDDEN MESSAGE! Enjoy...

The Italicist
Word Count: 600

Craven and Miller kicked in the door of the empty motel room. They looked around and cleared the bathroom, then they holstered their weapons. Miller swore under his breath. Another dead end.

“Dammit,” said Craven. “Where could he be?”

Six months. Miller had followed this trail for six months, only to find an empty room. It wasn’t even a particularly nice room. It looked like it hadn’t been renovated since the late seventies—orange carpet with wood paneled walls. Miller sighed. “He’s obviously not here,” he said.

“Is this even the right place?” asked Craven.

“Yeah,” said Miller.

“Are we sure?” asked Craven. “I mean, are we sure?”

“Pretty sure,” said Miller. “The trail led here. We know where he was coming from.”

“Too bad we don’t know where he was going to,” said Craven.

Miller sat on the bed. They’d been tracking the espionage artist known as The Italicist for half a year. He—or she—had been leaking government information to foreign powers, encoding it into key phrases of public dispatches. The only problem was that nobody knew who he—or she—was, and he—or she—had led Special Agents Miller and Craven on a merry chase across the country.

“God, I could use a drink right about now,” said Craven. “Or some sushi.”

“That’s nice,” said Miller.

“You ever go to the place on Fifth? Really cute waitresses,” said Craven. “What say we head over there and try to pick up some yellowtail.”

Miller eyed his partner, who was grinning and waggling his eyebrows. “You know, my sister-in-law is Korean.”

Your sister,” said Craven. “Man, I’m sorry. I was just making a joke.” 

“Forget it,” said Miller. “Let’s get forensics in here.” They’d only been working together for less than a month, but Miller could already tell they weren’t getting along. Sighing, he opened the closet, but all he found were a few empty hangers and an ironing board. No clothes, no shoes, no suitcase. Empty. Mostly empty.

“Hey, look at this,” said Craven. He was eying a TV tray with a half-eaten bagel and a glass of thick, dark liquid. He sniffed it. “Smells like Ovaltine,” he said. “Can you believe that? Who drinks Ovaltine?”

“This is good news,” said Miller, brightening. “Maybe we can get some DNA off the bagel.”

“And if he’s a government employee, that means we’ll be able to match it to a face,” said Craven. “Probably,” he added.

“More importantly,” said Miller, “it means he left in a hurry. Which means he’s close by.”

Craven walked around the bed and stood next to Miller. “Probably right under our noses. Dammit, that’s frustrating.”

Miller looked cross-ways as his partner. “That’s the job,” he said. “They frequently get away. But we tracked him this far. The credit card in Overland to the security footage at the mart down the street. A leads to B leads to C. We’re closing in.”

“Yeah,” said Craven. “Hey, I’m really sorry about the yellowtail joke.”

“I said forget it.”

“Tell you what, sushi’s on me,” said Craven.

Miller sighed. This partnership was not going to work out well at all. “You know what,” he said, “I’m not a huge sushi fan, but if you want to make it up to me, you could go down the street and get me a coffee.”

“Sure,” said Craven.

Miller was on his phone when he heard the tires squeal. He peered out the window and saw Craven in the car. Heading South. Fast.

There weren’t any coffee shops to the South.

“Son of a bitch.”

Edited by Carolyn "I Forgot To Tell You That You Were Ridiculous" Abram.

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