But Can You Hide?

mini gun

(600 words)

To Whom It May Concern

First, the good news. If you are reading this, you are still alive. Now, the bad news. In twenty-four hours’ time, you probably won’t be!
You see, you took something that didn’t belong to you. Oh yes, you likely thought, ‘I’d better take this briefcase to lost property,’ didn’t you? But then curiosity got the better of you. ‘I’ll just take it home first, have a quick look inside, maybe I can find the owner’s phone number. It’ll be quicker that way.’ Pull the other one!
Well, wherever you are. At home, in a seedy cafe, maybe in a dirty, smelly little toilet, there’s something you need to know. YOU are now the target in an assassination game! So, you have twenty-four hours to hide or be killed, probably in quite a nasty way.
You see, the briefcase had a chemical powder on the handle. Nothing that’ll harm you (much). You can’t see the stain it made on your hand but it IS visible through special glasses. The ones worn by our agents. And by the way, it takes a few days to wash off!
The briefcase has a hidden camera. Ha, you didn’t expect that, did you?! A number of images have been taken of you and posted on secret websites. The ones used by our spies. Yes, there are such people and, furthermore, they need ‘live’ training exercises from time to time. Hence this little ‘challenge.’
So, as you are reading this, you may feel a little frightened. ‘Is this real?’ you are asking. Or maybe you’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is one of those silly TV pranks. I’ll be on the telly! Better brush my hair!’ Sorry! It isn’t. REALLY!
So, when you’ve finished reading this letter, you will have to start thinking and running. And by the way, just like the old TV program, this letter has a coating, which once exposed to air, will dissolve it within three minutes. Perhaps you’d better read a bit faster!
Well, maybe I shouldn’t tell you this (it’s all rather hush-hush), however, I think it’s only fair. But between you and me, there are twenty agents vying for a job. A very prestigious job, a bit like James Bond. They have your picture, your hand(s) will glow when seen through their special glasses and they know where the briefcase is right now. So ‘they are coming to get you,’ as they say in the old horror films!
Well, every other day for two weeks, a briefcase, just like the one you ‘borrowed,’ will be left on a train somewhere. The successful agent will be the one who accrues the most points over the fortnight. The agents get points for both their speed in locating the ‘target’ (people like yourself!) and the originality of his/her ‘dispatch.’
For example, it could be a poisoned dart from a blowpipe (yes, we’ve borrowed a few ideas from our jungle ‘cousins’!), it could be a ‘crazed Japanese,’ slashing you across the throat with a ceremonial sword, or perhaps a noose thrown over your head from a passing motorbike, before you are dragged to your death along the road. I know the agents are having fun with their ideas! They’ll each have a partner on hand to film your demise!
Anyway, the clock is ticking so you’d better get moving. The good news. The hunt will be called off, and you’ll be a free man (or woman) if you survive twenty-four hours! Good luck, you will (definitely) need it!

PS. I know what I’d do. But I’m not telling 😉

Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories

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8 thoughts on “But Can You Hide?

    1. Yes, wearing gloves would be a good move, although you might have touched your face before reading the letter, so then your face would ‘glow’ through their special lenses.
      They would have facial recognition software so as long as they had a clear image of your face they could likely find your name and address instantly. So trying to go home might be too risky.

      The briefcase would have some kind of beacon so they would have been tracking it already. Let’s say the letter was in a compartment and when that compartment was opened they knew about it. Then from that moment (at least) the assassins would be on their way to your location. I think the best bet might be to take a bus, train or taxi to a random destination and try to find a guesthouse there until the 24 hours were up. It’s a pretty scary scenario though, isn’t it?! Also, I thought it would be a good twist if the victim was actually someone well known, a politician or celebrity etc.!

  1. Wow. This really set me on the edge. Let’s see what I’d do if this letter was addressed to me- I’d identify this chemical with the help of my chemistry teacher and then use something that cancels out its effect to wipe it off.
    By the way, it could make a great thriller. Maybe you should try extending it into a novel.

    1. Hi, it’s definitely a What If? scenario, and yes, what would you do? You could go to the police station and say you wanted protection, but they likely wouldn’t take you seriously. What evidence is there? Well, the letter would have vanished and there would be a briefcase with a hidden camera and likely one or two other tricks, but they’d have to have a specliast go over it, that would take time and would they want you hanging around the station in the meantime? “How exactly did you come by this briefcase, sir?” would be embarrassing!

      It would make a novel, true, but I think I’d rather write fifty more short stories! However, I think it would make a GREAT film. Although in the story the briefcases are planted two days apart (and of course someone MIGHT actually take one to lost property, so MI6 (British intelligence service) would have had to have prepared for that eventuality). But the film could follow say four passengers. One hands it in and the other three go on the run.

      What would I do? Well, I think I would become extremely paranoid! From your image they could probably find your name and address, so it wouldn’t be good to go home. Maybe find a call box and phone an old friend? Hmm. Not a situation I would like to find myself in!


      1. You’re right, the film would be a hit.
        It’s easy to imagine what we’ll do if something like this happens to us, and what a great adventure it will make, but we’ll be scared out of our wits if it does happen.

        1. I agree. I’d be petrified!

          Also, in the film the first two would meet a horrible end. The first one garrotted, and the second one, perhaps as in my suggestion, lassoed and dragged along the road. The third one, a good looking girl (of course) would have several narrow escapes, then would finally be cornered, facing a horrible death. Just as she’s about to be killed, the 24 hours are up, and she’s free, giving a nice ‘feel good’ factor to the film!

          So, if there are any film directors/producers reading this, feel free to contact me. I might be open to a (generous) offer 😉


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