(Source image: "C.L.U.M.B.A. and Maria in Hong Kong" by Igor Vasiliadis)
The briefcase's click was loud, much louder than it had any right to be. But Maria could barely hear it for the hammering of her heart.
The leader's eyes played over the neat stacks of bills in the case, coldly calculating. He leaned over and spat something in machine-gun Russian to one of his associates, then straightened.
“This is not Cold War era,” he said, sneering. “Russia does not raise fools. You are short by at least fifty thousand.”
The Yakuza boss sitting on the other side of the table raised an eyebrow. Like the Russian, he leaned over and spoke to his associates; as with the Russian, his rapid-fire Japanese was too fast for Maria to follow. Then he shook his head.
“She is not worth it,” he said. He stood, and his men stood with him. “No deal.”
The Russian spat. “I see that Japan does raise fools.”
Bolts clacked as MP5 submachine guns swung up to point at the Russians. More clacks as the Russians drew their own weapons. The threat of bloody apocalypse hung heavy in the air.
Maria's voice, bored, broke the spell. “Oh for God's sake,” she said. “I'll make up the difference myself.” She swung off the table and took the Yakuza's arm. “Let's go.”
Your challenge for today was to use the picture above and write a flash fiction of 100-220 words. Additionally, I provided a key phrase I wanted to see used somewhere in the submission:
"...heavy in the air..."
Nobody's checking word counts, or for the key phrase, but you're only cheating yourself if you break the rules. Unless you're doing it to earn a spanking (in which case, see me after class).
Special Bonus Director's Commentary Track:
This is, I think, the first time I've written an FFF that only hints at eroticism and sexuality. If you like, keep looking at the picture so you can see how lovely and sexy Maria is, even half-nude, and keep that picture in your mind while you read. But I was more fascinated by the story behind this one, what sort of intrigue might be going on in this back room of a seedy bar.
No, there's no briefcase on the table (it looks like a tray of poker chips to me, or possibly some other board game), but I saw it in my head as a briefcase full of money. And then I wondered why Maria was the only one who was missing her clothing, so I decided that she was being displayed because one of the sides was selling her to the other one.
Then I did some thinking about how someone being sold into slavery would feel, and suddenly there was the last twist: what if Maria wasn't horrified or terrified or upset by being sold, but gets off on it? So if the deal looked like it wasn't going to go down because the buyers hadn't brought enough, what would she do to make sure it did go through? Why, chip in the remaining amount herself, of course. And then follow her new owner home and submit to his every whim. Because the very idea gets her all shivery and wet with excitement.
Disturbing? Maybe. All I know is that's where my mind went this week. Your mileage may vary.
Also, yes, I know the participants are Chinese, not Japanese (the pic was taken in Hong Kong, after all). I don't care. I made the two sides into Russians and Japanese because that was how I saw the tale in my head.
Please note that I am no longer collecting the participants list. If you are playing along this week, please leave your link below using the widget. It will appear in the text of the post itself, not in the comments, so everyone that's playing will be listed here. This frees me from having to chase people down to find out if they're playing or update the Friday post several times for late entries. Your cooperation is appreciated.
In any case, the participants list is below. Go check them out, and thanks to all who played along.
Check back here on Monday for the next challenge! And if you have any photos or artwork you'd like to see in a future challenge, please send them my way.