Flash Fiction Challenge, Stories, Writing

The Politician’s Umbrella

In a quest to write more, and to improve, this week I took part in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge, using this marvellous twitter account to form the basis of the story.

I chose:

A politician watches a tv show about an umbrella that can destroy time and becomes obsessed with finding it.

Here follows the story:

The Politician’s Umbrella – Sam Ellis

“Did you see that program on the telly last night?”
“Which one was that then?”
“That one about the umbrella.”
“Umbrella?”
“Yeah. Did you watch it?”
“What channel were you watching?”
“Four.”
“Four was showing the Bake Off, Sarah.”
“No… no, it wasn’t… It was a documentary…”
“It was the Bake-Off Final.”
David walked away. Sarah felt confused. She walked in the opposite direction to David, starting to question herself. Had she watched a program about an umbrella that can destroy time? David was the fourth person to tell her that the Bake-Off Final was on Channel 4. She’d mentioned to one other person she’d watched it on BBC1. They had informed her BBC1 had been showing EastEnders.

Returning to her desk, she opened her laptop and started searching for the program online. Nothing. Glancing around to check nobody was watching, she changed the search topic to ‘umbrella program channel 4′. Nothing. Sarah glanced around again. Had she fallen asleep after a glass of gin and imagined the whole thing? She didn’t think so. Frustrated, Sarah typed in ‘umbrella destroys time’.

The outline of a figure on the other side of the door loomed as she hit enter. She hastily navigated away from the search, but not before noticing the first result.
“Sarah, these need signing pronto please,” David placed a stack of documents on her desk.
“Hmm?”
“Signature, now.” David pressed a finger into the top of the pile, staring at Sarah.
“Oh yes, right.”
“Something wrong?”
“No, no, just trying to get my head around the budget. What are these for again?”

Once David had left, Sarah re-opened Google. There at the top of the page was a link to a blog. ‘The Umbrella that Destroys Time’ was its title. Intrigued, she clicked through. There were no contact details for the author. It contained a detailed history of the myth behind the umbrella. An object passed down through ancient history that could destroy time. In a flash, everything would stop motion forever. Sarah wanted that umbrella. As Prime Minister, Sarah started to fantasise about what she could do with that power. She could threaten Russia into submission. Force America to stop picking on Muslims. End the war in Syria, force world peace! She could rule the world.

Sarah opened Google once more. There had to be more information about the program. Who made it? Who wrote the blog post? Relieved, she wasn’t the only one to have seen it after all. Another thought crossed her mind. ‘What if the program was only shown to World leaders? What if it’s a competition, a race to find it first?’ ‘It must be me!’ ‘If Putin or Trump get their hands on it…’ Sarah scoured the blog for any sign of the author.  There were no contact details, nothing. Not for the first time, her limited knowledge of technology was holding her up.

“Toby, I need your help please, but I need you to be discrete.”

Sarah placed the phone back on the receiver. Getting someone else involved was risky, but she had to know, and she couldn’t get much further alone.
Minutes like hours passed, when there was a quiet knock on the door.
“Prime Minister, IT.”
“Come in, Toby.”
As the young man passed through the door she motioned at her laptop. She decided the best way to approach the situation was not to mention anything. Ask Toby to do the work and nothing more.
“Toby, I need contact details for the author of this website.” Sarah directed, passing the laptop across the desk.
“Ok, that should be easy,” Toby replied, tracing his finger across the touchpad.

Sarah watched his face with intent, for any signs Toby might be about to condemn the Prime Minister as mad. Toby’s eyes widened. His hands stopped moving then he reached into his pocket.
“Prime Minister…” Toby looked at Sarah, white.
“Sarah, I insist.”
“Sarah… I…” He handed Sarah a piece of crumpled paper.
On it were some contact details. And the title of the blog she had been reading.
“You saw it too?”
Toby nodded.
“But… Do you know anyone else who saw it?”
“Not personally. There’s a forum on the Dark Net buzzing about it though.”
“Dark Net?”
“It’s like a secret internet, where people can’t track you. I found these details last night. The number rings out, and the email address bounces back.” Toby explained.
Sarah frowned. “Show me this forum thing.”

Toby moved the laptop back round to Sarah’s side of the table crouching down next to her.
“If we just…” Toby was fast. Programs opened and closed with speed on Sarah’s laptop. It almost made her feel dizzy.
“There we go,” Toby pointed at the screen.
Sarah began reading.
‘Umbrella in Kazakhstan… Umbrella in Lebanon… Umbrella in The Cotswolds…’
“All these people saw the program?”
Toby nodded.
“Blows my theory out the water.”
Toby looked at her.
“I thought it was only shown to world leaders, causing a race for the destruction of the earth. That or world peace.”
“What do you want it for?” he asked.
Sarah pulled a face at him.
“Well… I guess we need to find this before it falls into the wrong hands.”

Sarah nodded. Toby scanned the forum for any slight detail that might lead them to the Umbrella.
“Here,” Toby pointed at the screen.
“What does it say?”
“Putin has left Russia for Lebanon.”
Sarah picked up the phone.
“David, can you tell me the whereabouts of Mr Putin, please? And don’t ask any questions.”
Sarah put the phone down before he could reply. Toby continued to scan the forum for clues.
“Trump is getting on a plane… details are sketchy. There’s a rumour Trudeau and Macron are on the move too…”
“Good Toby. Keep looking, where are they all headed?”
“Lebanon, I guess… Maybe your theory about world leaders is true after all…”
Sarah nodded. “I’m not sure that’s important anymore.”
Toby glanced at the Prime Minister. Her face gave away nothing. They both jumped as the phone broke the silence.

“David.”
“Mr Putin is still in Russia, Prime Minister.”
“I need a plane to Lebanon, NOW!”
“But…”
“No buts, we have to go!” She slammed the phone down and stood up.
“Toby, grab that laptop, you’re coming too. I want you to tell me everything as we go.”
Sarah grabbed her coat, pulled the door open for Toby, and stopped there.

 

 

Photo by Craig Whitehead on Unsplash

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