"You've been able to read people's thoughts since you were a child. But no one has ever talked back. Until now.”
I'll have the prompt show up in bold in the flash so you can see where it falls out. This worked pretty well with my Bad Boys of Beta Squad WIP, Deli's Take Out.
Deli sat up and froze, listening hard. A rhythmic thumping came from somewhere near the house. Holy shit, are those bastards actually using some sort of battering ram?
He slid his feet to the floor and shot a look at Caroline. She slept soundly and didn’t need to wake for another twenty minutes according to the clock. He didn’t bother to put on his shoes, but grabbed his Glock and thumbed off the safety as he padded through the house.
Why aren’t the dogs barking?
He paused at the end of the hallway before it opened into the living room. A light beside the couch and another over the kitchen table glowed in the late evening darkness, but otherwise the house remained still. He scanned the room for movement, while he listened for the thumping. It had stopped while he crept down the hall. But after a few breaths, it started up again.
He followed the sounds, keeping to what shadows were left in the room. He paused again at the door to the kennels outside, rising on his toes to peek through the window. Someone moved with strength and grace through the room beyond, but he couldn’t clearly see who. Grasping the doorknob, he cracked the door and focused on the person inside.
Only one light burned in the far corner of an open-air porch with outdoor carpet on the floor. White holiday lights hung around the edges of the porch allowing soft illumination. To the left of the door, he caught sight of a large red punching bag. The rhythmic thumps came from the strikes of the assailant’s fists.
He could only see the person’s back, but the shoulders were petite and not much higher than his own. He pushed the door opened a little wider and found Beryl, Daphne’s boxer lying against the wall of the kennels beside the gate. The dog raised its head to stare at him, but otherwise seemed calm.
Deli thumbed on the safety of his Glock and shoved it into his waistband at his back, throwing his shirt over it before he pushed out onto the porch.
He watched Daphne take on the punching back with Judo moves and from what he could tell, she had good form and skill. A knife dummy made of smooth wood stood to his immediate left with arms that could be folded up for easy storage. He hadn’t seen it before tonight and wondered where it had come from.
He shifted to the side so she’d catch sight of him before he said anything. He didn’t want to surprise her, though given her abilities, he might end up being the one surprised.
“Nice moves. How long have you been taking Judo?” He leaned against the door, well out of her way.
Daphne shot him a quick look before returning to her assault on the bag. “Pretty much since I got back from my trip.” She shook her head as she punched the bag again. “I figured I needed to be better prepared.”
She landed some more punches and kicks that made his balls ache just from watching.
“Knowing how to disable an opponent and get away won’t do any good if you’re drugged.” Hadn’t Rimshot’s woman learned that the hard way?
“I know.” Daphne slammed the bag a few more times before she paused and turned to him. “But I’m done being a victim. I can’t do anything about drugs, but maybe these skills will help keep me from getting drugged in the first place.” She shrugged. “It makes me feel better, anyway. What are you doing out here? How’s Caroline?”
Deli gestured to the bag. “I heard the thumping and came to check it out. And Caroline’s sleeping. She doesn’t have to be awake for about ten more minutes.” He tilted his head as Daphne headed for the knife dummy. “Does she know you do this?”
Daphne shook her head as she picked up a hard resin “knife” and took her stance. “No, and I don’t want her to. She has enough to worry about. This would stress her more than necessary, so please don’t tell her.”
He raised his eyebrows. “You don’t think she’ll want to know that you can defend yourself?”
“I think she won’t understand my need to do this. She’s a healer, not a fighter, and this kind of skillset might make her think I’m going to seek out my attackers.”
He nodded. “Are you?”
“No, I don’t even know who they are. I was drugged, remember?” She shot him a look that said she knew he remembered her very well, but she returned her attention to the dummy without pushing it.
“Right. But you said your aunt’s a healer. How do you know that?”
Daphne shrugged before she took some shots at the dummy. “She set up this sanctuary for the military war dogs. She believes in second chances and that everyone can be reached with love and patience.” She stopped a moment to meet his gaze with a wisdom he hadn’t expected. “She almost always knows what’s wrong. She’s good with people. She’s an expert with dogs.”
“Has she always had this skill?”
Daphne nodded as she stabbed her assailant a few times. “Yeah, even when I was little. She’s had this talent. It’s like, she's been able to read people's thoughts since she was a kid, you know? She could figure out where the hurts were.”
He snorted. “But no one has ever talked back, right?”
She shrugged again. “I don’t know. I’m not like her. Maybe no one has, until now. She knew exactly what each dog needed when it came here. Including Sergeant Trace. She's kind of a mind reader, but not a fighter.”
Deli tilted his head. “I don’t think that’s the case. She’s been holding off those thugs and protecting you.”
“But she only does that because she has to. And I don’t want her to become a fighter like that.” Daphne paused and fixed him with a hard stare. “That’s your job.”
That's it for me this week. Check out how the prompt worked for the other flash fiction authors below and happy reading.