The Time Merchant, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 42

time merchant fiction flash

The Time Merchant follows the story-line of Ferris Wheel (1), Two of a Kind (2), and A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon (3), my contribution to fiction in a flash challenge week 42 based on the image prompt provided by Author Suzanne Burke.

The Time Merchant (4)

Dangling above the abyss, at the end of a rope, the man felt thankful that it was not tied around his neck. He would have been dead by now. And angered, for he was tied up like a cocoon and could do nothing about it, except talk.

When the picture slid down the cord and slapped his face – why everything slapped him lately? – his first reaction was to protect his eyes so he twisted his head till it cracked. Due to the human skin’s elasticity, the neck should be twisted 360 degrees twice before it comes off completely, his mind offered. But that still won’t free me.

‘Remember her?’ words rolled over his head.

‘I can’t see the picture. It’s too close to my eyes. Can’t focus!’ He dangled himself, throwing his head further back, sweat building around his receding hairline, the cord sneaking tense overhead, creaking like the voice of death in his childhood’s fairy-tales… Yet the picture, secured by a carabiner, remained glued to his face.

Despite the freezing air a trickle of sweat rolled down his temple and itched. Scratch and die.

Not his nature. He angled his head the opposite way and used the photograph to scratch his itch. It envenomed it.

Lead negotiations with a clear mind. Fresh air all around, teased his brain.

The man dangling from the rope suspended from a hot air balloon by a woman wearing a caviar-beige Channel gown and perfume, a woman with whom he shared a passion for bird-watching, that man decided to take control over his situation.

He parted his lips and made a whooshing sound expelling the little air left in his lungs. Sealing his lips he inhaled slowly counting to four, held his breath, and exhaled taking double the time. Repeated twice will have to suffice loosen his anger, allowing him further decisions with a clear mind. Time was of the essence.

‘I want to remember her, but I must see her face. And I can’t, not tied up like this,’ he spoke up.

Only the wind whooshed around, slapping the picture against his cheek, slap-slap-slap. He made no attempt to protect himself. Was his voice strong enough to carry his words? His self-assurance?

The rope groaned overhead.

He lowered his tone to the pitch of a mellow cello, ‘I want to offer you answers. You deserve them. She deserves them. For the sake of the time we shared bird-watching -‘

‘Leave that out!’

He angled his approach.

‘How long ago have you lost her?’

‘Too long to count.’

‘Was she related to you?’

‘She was my baby sister and you took her away from me! Why her?’

So many reasons that didn’t make sense anymore…

‘Let’s work out a plan so I can see her face and offer you the answers you long for. You still want to know, don’t you?’

‘NO. I’ll give you her name.’

Too many names… complained his mind, but he kept that to himself.

‘Blanche-Rose,’ she said in an agonising whisper.

Had he heard it or his mind had groped for the rolling consonants? He remembered that name, and he remembered the sweet face framed by ringlets, and the earnest, hopeful look in her eyes when she had asked him for more time. Just a little bit more time.

Now it was his turn to ask for time.

time merchant, fiction flash
Clock image by Marka Merka, Unsplash

‘It is a lengthy story. We need to sit for you to understand what happened,’ he called.

The sun was shining in his eyes by now and he began to feel like a pig on a spit. Above his head, the rope cried and cracked. How much longer will it support his weight? All that aged whiskey gone to waste…

‘There is nothing more for you to tell me! I was lost when she disappeared, confused and hopeless as if a part of myself had been torn… I blamed myself for not trying harder, I was angry at the world, I lost friends, I lost a life, my life, as I had lost hers… I prayed, and I vouched that I will not stop till I find the one, the one responsible for her disappearance. For her… death.

‘She is NOT dead! I don’t kill, I sell time. Time people need to fulfill that ONE dream. Time for THAT illicit love affair. Time to do with as THEY please. I am the Time Merchant. Now, do you know how to land this thing?’

‘What? NO, I don’t!’

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance, 100 words story

Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance 100 words story

With Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance we’ve reached the 4th century AD in our 100 words story posts along the historical timeline of Transylvania. Remember how it all began? Do you see the pattern?

A Paleolithic Murder in Transylvania
Behind the Cave Art of Transylvania
Conduct in a Neolithic Kingdom in Transylvania
Dacian Horses of Bronze Age
Echoes of a Battle, the Getae
Falx vs Gladius, Dáoi vs Romans
Greed, of the Roman Kind
Hope Has Multiple Faces

Immortalis, the Immortal

For each lad lost to Ielele, Fairies, ten wish to join Căluşarii, Stallions, in dance-battle.

The voiceless one, masked – goat and sun, death and rebirth – leads into the clearing drawing a sacred circle with his two-edged sword. In leap Căluşarii  as one, counter-clockwise, armed with sticks crossed over their bodies, red ribbons, garlic.

They pledge on their linden-poled flag then spring, their bodies twisted roots… float like leaves, bells ringing in the wind… climb their sticks… pounce across, hop, spin.
One drops dead.

They broke the spell like an earthenware jug crashing. The sick cured, Căluşarii  depart quietly.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Immortalis, the Immprtal Căluşarii Dance 100 words story - The voiceless one, masked - goat and sun, death and rebirth - leads into the clearing
The voiceless one, masked – goat and sun, death and rebirth – leads into the clearing

Immortalis, the Immortal – words, stories, and some history

Immortalis, immortale, immortal. (Oxford Latin Course, Balme & Morwood)

Căluşarii  and their dance goes back as far as the Thracians and Dacians. Was those a more peaceful time? I hope so, as the rituals developed then and involving important life stages have survived and have reached us.

Men, and by this I mean the male gender, were willingly involved in dancing ritual even before Mr Darcy’s (in)famous words:

[Dance] “has the advantage also of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies of the world; every savage can dance.”

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The Spartans, for once, had their pyrrhike (having its roots apparently in the exultant victory dance performed by Pyrrhus, Achilles’ son, after killing their opponent’s leader. Dancing stayed with the Greek soldiers for centuries, part of their military training, until combat rules changed and only Sparta kept the tradition alive.

Yet Greek philosopher and historian Xenophon describes in his work Anabasis (The March into the Interior – the interior land beyond the Black Sea), a Thracian war dance he witnessed. The Thracians danced to the sound and rhythm of the reed pipe.

Reed pipes stuck with resin later became the panpipes, a Romanian national musical instrument.

For me, I will never forget the Haka, the ceremonial challenge-dance of the Māori culture as it is still performed by the New Zealand sports teams before international challenges.

Back to Romanian Căluşarii  and their dance, its tradition rises from Dacian times and it still holds its pagan essence. Led by their great priest who would ask the gods for guidance, Căluşarii  would perform their ritualistic dance to fight off evil spirits, and heal the sick.

Immortalis, the Immortal Căluşarii Dance, 100 words story, Calusari dance Mures

Initially, Căluşarii  were a restrictive groups of odd numbered men, between 5 and 13, sworn to stay together in celibacy and to perform ritual dances during a period of three – seven – or nine years. Their leader was the only one to know all the secrets, some passed on orally, others taken to the grave. Căluşarii  were / are feared warriors who fight Ielele, magical maiden fairies who steal the spirit and the minds of all those men who happen to see them in the forest. Ielele only dance on the night of Rusalii or the Descent of the Holly Spirit (Pentecost). Rusallile go back to the Roman celebration of Rosalia, the day of the roses, dedicated to worshiping the dead and bringing them food and roses.

Why Căluşari? Cal in Romanian language means horse, perceived as a fantastic creature. Horse, cal, symbolizes heat, warmth, summer, it even aids the sun climb atop the sky every day. As is the head of a horse, sculpted in wood, seen as a protective, positive symbol. Therefore Căluşarii are divine stallions.

horse head woodcraft positive symbol
horse head, crafted wood, seen as a positive symbol

The dance Căluşarii  perform imitates the horse’s walk, canter, and gallop, but also the rider’s jump on the horse’s back, as well the limb walk of a horse without shoe-horses. Over 100 dances, all performed to become as strong and agile as a horse, thus receiving a stallion’s divine powers and fight off evil spirits.

The costumes worn by the Căluşarii  is filled with symbology. Made of white linen with stitching to depict the geographical area they belong to, it is decorated with colorful sticks stuck in their belt to form a cross, for protection. Hand made hankies (gifted by women and girls for their own protection and fortune in the year ahead), silver spurs and bells, a leather harness complete the look while their hats have tassels and colored ribbons, white and red -sacred Dacian colors.

Calusarii dance, Hunedoara

The most important instrument is their flag, a three to ten meters long linden (oak or hazelnut) stick topped with a white cloth decorated with white-red ribbons, garlic, wormwood, wheat and salt.

There is a wealth of information and symbology behind Căluşarii, their dance still performed all across Romania. Know that since 2005 Căluşarii  are par of the UNESCO Heritage.

As always, you can find all my books on Amazon.

A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 41

ride in a hot air balloon flash fiction

Following the story-line of Ferris Wheel and Two of a Kind read A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon, my contribution to fiction in a flash challenge week 41 based on the image prompt provided by Author Suzanne Burke.
Enjoy! I had so much fun writing it 🙂

A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 41

A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon

The ballroom was a giant aviary. People’s actions, she found, mimicked those of birds. Courtship, chatter, hunt, all here. Except that birds, birds didn’t belong in a cage.

She spotted the gold-trimmed black mask the instant she crossed the doorway. Nothing ever escaped her eagle-like eyesight. Yet she pretended not to, allowing him the illusion of initiating the hunt. Men fell for that. So she stood atop the stairs, in her black and caviar-beige Channel evening gown, the perfect shade of beige. She stood, tensed, the center of his attention; him, the man with the mask matching hers. She stood; unable to enjoy what was finally coming. Feeling none of the happiness she thought she will.

Why they call it sweet revenge? She tasted bile.

 It had been stipulated in the contract. Both parties involved will be issued matching masks. Both parties will be aware that arriving at the masked-ball involved and was conditioned by, establishing contact with their prescribed partner.

He’d come. He was watching her, facing her, as she closed the distance. One step at a time, oblivious to music, and the agitation surrounding them. Aware of her dry mouth, her increased pulse, and the reason she’d done it all. To right a wrong.

For the first time since she dressed she was thankful for the mask, covering her flushed cheeks. Her lips, frozen in a sneer she hoped mimicked a smile. The pain she had harbored forever, she allowed it to escape as she took step after step. There was so much hatred that letting some steam escape, by staring at him, didn’t matter anymore.

By the time she had descended, he had closed the distance extending his hand to aid her take that final step. Her arm stiff, to mask tremor, she reached for his.

Their touch felt electrifying, and he smiled the moment he saw the specks of aged whiskey in her treacle eyes.

‘I am sorry I wasn’t there, at the foot of the Ferris Wheel’, he said, so she recognized him. Really saw him. Past the black mask trimmed with gold, past her veils of hatred. It was him, as the contract stipulated it will be, the man she wanted for her revenge, yet he was also himself, the man she had met in the park.

‘The bird-watcher!’

He smiled.

Too late. His had touched her gloved one, the double glove soaked in poison. Soon, his somatic muscles will paralyze. Her plan would have reached its climax.

~

He came through with a strange feeling, that his feet were not touching ground. And he was cold, chilled to the bone.

He was dangling.

Was he dead? His eyes were open, he thought. All he saw was blackness.

Black is the impression of lack of color, his mind offered.

He heard nothing either, only the blood rushing through his ears. He would have touched his eyelids but his arms were secured against his body, tied like a cocoon. He could wiggle his fingers though, frozen stiff.

His mouth shot open. A yell came out.

No echo. His voice just left his body – and was gone. And his body was dangling in space.

At least he wasn’t buried.

Purgatory?

He looked around again. Above, as below, he discerned specks of light. Of all sizes. Then a river of them as if someone had spilled, in the dead of night, milk across the floor.

The Milky Way!

More crumbs ablaze caught his eye in the celestial horizon. A handful of fairy lights. A city!

And his body, dangling between them.

From what?

Ignoring his stiff neck he forced it backward and stared, forcing sight. A silk glove tied around his neck brushed his cheek like a slap. After the ozone-rich air an explosion of freesia invaded his senses. It matured, denoting elegance and grace

Stop it, you old goat.

And another note, above the spring-like ones: shimmering hints of honey.

The dawn, lifting the horizon, removed the amnesia cloak too. He remembered the masked woman descending the stairs, their bird-watching, and she, his project for the night. The disbelief that slashed his heart, and the electric shock when their hands touched. Losing consciousness…

‘Why?!’ he howled at the moon.

From the height of the hot air balloon gondola the woman in the black and caviar-beige Chanel gown retrieved a picture, kissed it, and let it slide along the cord to the man dangling below.

‘That’s why,’ she raged, her scathing tone like knives. ‘Remember her?’

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

What do you think of the story thus far, in its three installments? I’d love to read your impressions in comments below.

SAS Red Notice, How Sam Heughan ‘s Performance Saved it

SAS Red Notice Sam Heughan performance saves it

SAS Red Notice might be full of explosive situations, but the only real fuse burning through its story-line is Sam Heughan ‘s performance.

What is SAS Red Notice about? Spoiler Alert

We jump into action in the Republic of Georgia where a handful of guerrillas nicknamed the Swans “clear” a village whose inhabitants don’t want to sell their land to the investors into a new gas pipeline. Three of the Swans are brought forward, William Lewis, the father (Tom Wilkinson, solid in his role), his daughter Grace (Ruby Rose), and his son, Oliver (Owain Yeoman).

It is the Swans decision, Grace’s to be precise, to “kill the men and the boys. Let the women spread the fear.” But one Georgian girl shoots a video of Grace Lewis on a backdrop of explosions, burned homes, and torched innocent villagers, and the video goes viral, Grace’s image filling the newspapers.

William Lewis, Ruby Rose, SAS Red Notice on AlluringCreations
Tom Wilkinson (as William Lewis), Ruby Rose (as Grace Lewis), SAS Red Notice

The Swans are now labeled as terrorists and must be arrested for crimes against humanity, everyone points at them, including those who hired them, the British Government. Chased out of their mansion in Hampstead, the Swans take over the Euro train, bringing it to an abrupt halt under the English Channel. Their demands are clear. The UK Prime Minister must acknowledge on Live TV that the British Government is behind the “clearing” in Georgia and has ordered Special Air Services, SAS, to hire the Swans to do their dirty job, as well as to wire 500 million dollars into the Swans bank account OR… Or an incriminating video exposing the chain in command and linking the UK Prime Minister with the Swans will leak on social media platforms.

There is only one man to do the job and he falls into it willy-nilly, Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan).

Sam Heughan, Tom Buckingham, SAS Red Notice on AlluringCreations
Sam Heughan as Tom Buckingham, SAS Red Notice

Tom Buckingham is a SAS operator. We meet him on his breathtaking estate (and it does make you wonder why he is an SAS member since he’s got all those money). But Tom is a softie, or he just looks like one in the beginning. He plans to propose to his girlfriend, Dr. Sophie Hart (Hannah John-Kamen), with his grandmother, his Nana’s ring. It is a special ring, that “great Henry Buckingham chopped from the finger of the Maharajah during the great mutiny,” and then offered it to Nana. (Here I wondered if the ring was special to Tom because it was his Nana’s, or because of its bloody story – which would tell us something about Tom’s character).

Tom and Sophie’s plans to fly to Paris (where he secretly wishes to propose to her) are blown off by his last-minute involvement in the tracking of the terrorists, the Swans. So Tom and Sophie take the train instead, the Eurostar, to Paris. It is the same Eurostar the Swans took to fulfill their plan, force the Prime Minister to pay them the ransom, and clear their name.

After the Swans high jacked the train and passengers got wounded, Dr. Sophie jumped to their aid. Already aware of whom he has to deal with, Tom Buckingham fights the terrorists single-handed, explosions blasting left and right. Eventually, a team of SAS is sent to assist, while more terrorists arrive on sight, in the tunnel.

The UK Government (represented by Sir Charles Whiteside with a personal interest in the British Gas pipeline) agrees to pay the ransom money (but without broadcasting it) and all that’s left to be done is for Grace Lewis to be killed by SAS so that no word ever escapes of the SAS involvement and chain of traitors.

Tom’s only wish is to save his girlfriend and to propose to her, but knowing that she will never leave casualties behind he knows has to save everyone on the train as well. That’s why when Grace Lewis reels him in Tom goes willingly, to save his girlfriend.

It is now that we witness what else the British Government has been hiding in their side of the tunnel, as well as how long the chain of SAS traitors is. And one of them will have to be the UK Government’s scapegoat. But which one?

On the outside, the SAS and the UK Government comply with the terrorists’ plans and it looks as if they will save the passengers, and they will be successful in capturing the terrorists, the Swans.

While from the inside of the tunnel Tom Buckingham realizes that “this isn’t about the money, it’s about revenge,’ and that Grace Lewis will never keep up her word, save the civilians, yet she will never surrender either.

"This isn't about money. It's about revenge"  - Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan), SAS Red Notice, Patricia Furstenberg movie review
“This isn’t about money. It’s about revenge” – Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan), SAS Red Notice

In the end, only Grace Lewis, Dr. Sophie, and Tom Buckingham are left standing, with Tom, wounded and on foot, chasing after Grace through snowed woods. In one last attempt Grace tries to convince Tom and bring him onto her side, turn him into a (black) Swan.

She seems to fail, as Tom finally kills her, but what we are left wondering, well, that you will have to read further.

How Sam Heughan’s performance saved the SAS Red Notice movie. Spoiler Alert

The opening scene warns us that “Psychopaths that can learn to love are even more rare than a black swan.” And this is the premise of the movie SAS Red Notice.

It is clear from the beginning that William Lewis and Grace Lewis, father and daughter, are psychopaths. To finish their mission William Lewis asks Grace to “make a decision. Do it now,’ and she chooses to blow torch innocent people to send a message. In a later scene, William admits that “Grace is special. She’s like me, only better,” namely a psychopath like he is (both William and Grace admit to never having loved anyone else in their lives).

But we learn this from the start, so I asked myself, what was the point of the opening line since we already know who the psychopath is?

We meet Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) planning to propose to his girlfriend with his Nana’s ring. But the ring has a rather bloody history, and although I found the idea romantic, I shuddered at the thought. And the shudder stayed with me. What kind of a man does something like this? But he’s the good guy, right?

It also caught my eye that Tom is pretty much a loner, he seems to have only his butler in his life (did Andy McNab had a little nod towards Batman here?), oh, and he has one friend in the SAS team.

It is to his friend, Declan Smith (Tom Hopper) that Tom Buckingham admits to loving his girlfriend Sophie (although he never, ever, loved anyone in his entire life) and that he plans to take off to Paris and propose – just like that, after all the killing they just did. And Tom is all smiling about his plans, no pains there for the lives he just took.

Tom Hopper, Sam Heughan, SAS Red Notice on AlluringCreations
Tom Hopper (as Declan Smith), Sam Heughan (as Tom Buckingham), SAS Red Notice

Sam Heughan is brilliant here in creating the illusion that this time is different, with Sophie, although he can’ quite explain it in words, not even to his only friend. And he does leave us with the shadow of a thought, could he be a psychopath too? But he’s a good guy, right?

Tom appears to be able to switch himself on and off quite easily; now he visits his girlfriend, now he hunts and kills terrorists, then he’s the perfect boyfriend again. At one stage, when Sophie gets to nurse his wounds, she asks him if it didn’t bother him that he had to kill a woman, and if “everything ever affects you? Ever?’ and he candidly answers ‘no”.

Sam Heughan brings this scene so well together, playing the cool and collected SAS soldier who had learned to lock away his feelings so well that he doesn’t even notice them anymore, to protect himself… or not? He doesn’t seem to understand why Sophie is so upset about, that he isn’t bothered by his job, by the killings it involves.

Hannah John-Kamen Sam Heughan SAS Red Notice on Patricia Furstenberg blog
Hannah John-Kamen (as Dr. Sophie Hart, Sam Heughan (as Tom Buckingham) SAS Red Notice

So I asked myself again, after this scene, who is the psychopath in this movie?

The fact that Tom Buckingham single-handedly took on the terrorists in that tight tunnel was hard to buy, but then so many heroes do it, right? James Bond does it and we kind of expect that from him.

Tom’s character is rounded up by the fact that he can speak French (well, he is SAS after all) to the girl, Emmeline, he rescued from the train, and that he makes her feel secure. I thought that this scene showed some of the character’s soft side, although the girl concludes to Tom that “there are lots of things you can’t explain.

I liked how Sam Heughan made us believe that he bought the “come get me” text message supposedly sent to him by his girlfriend Sophie (but typed by black Swan Grace Lewis), when he knew Sophie too well, knew that she will never choose to save herself and leave casualties behind.

But it was the final scene between Grace Lewis and Tom Buckingham that showed Sam Heughan’s portraying skills. Although it took him a rather long time to knock Grace down (he’s twice her size, but wounded, plus she’s a certified psychopath so this should give her extra physical strength, right?).

After previously telling Tom “we are more alike than you know,” Grace tried again to lure Tom to her side, telling him how he enjoyed the game they played, and how he wouldn’t think twice before killing a human being, just like she.

It is in this scene that Tom realizes that he was acting like a psychopath without being one. And he finds it hard to put it into words. Yet we see that on his face. But the fact that he knows Sophie is on his side saves his life in this scene, for he doesn’t give in, doesn’t fall into Grace’s dark side. We can almost see his skin crawl as he realizes the extent of Grace’s psychopathy. Yet he smiles at her, acknowledging that he is one, a psychopath. Looking as if he setts her a trap.

Yet as he waits for her to die, after sliding her throat, she stares into thin air.

What just happened here? Heughan takes us from one extreme to the next. And I’ve changed my mind again, I still can’t tell whether he’s a psychopath or not.

But we’re soon to find out.

It is the scene when Tom will propose to Sophie, just a little later.

“Will you marry me?” he asks hopefully and then we see on his face how terror sets in for she doesn’t answer.
“You’re not meant to be married,” Sophie says.
“I thought you understood,” he says and there is so much pain in his eyes that he can barely speak.
“I do,” she says, although this is the wrong “I do” and her eyes say something else. They say I do understand that you’re a psychopath. (Oh, no!).

Really? Is this it? – goes through my mind.

SAS Red Notice San Heughan - proposing scene analysis
SAS Red Notice San Heughan as Tom Buckingham – proposing scene

Wait, next he staggers backward and he cries. And calls her name.

Brilliant work here, Heughan, showing one single, powerful emotion to let your girl know that you do experience feelings, and you are not the psychopath so many thought you were (and sorry for believing it too).

SAS Red Notice, How Sam Heughan 's Performance Saved it
Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan) showing one single emotion as proof he’s not a psychopath.

My thoughts on the SAS Red Notice movie. Spoiler Alert

There were a few clichés and plot ideas I didn’t buy

The psychopath-terrorists

I thought it was a little bit of a cliché to open up with such a clear image, these are the terrorists, and they are psychopaths too. But it’s an action thriller, right?

We get it early that Grace is a psychopath, and she proves it again when she decides later to shoot one passenger for not handing in his cell phone. Yet why would she choose to save the bystander child, wounded in the arm? I know why; it helped the plot later. But it didn’t fit her character.

Grace seems to be walking around quite a lot with her hands pushed in her pockets. If she does this to show us that she’s a psychopath, I didn’t believe her. I’d imagine a terrorist rather walking as if he’s always ready for action, especially during an attack.

The gas pipeline

I also thought that the image of the poor Georgian village forced to sell its land for a gas pipeline to run through it was a little bit overdone. But the book came out in 2012, so maybe Andy McNab was one of the first to use it. The subsequent idea, that the Brits hid a gas pipeline inside their half of the Eurotunnel, was unexpected.

The involved government people

George Clements (Andy Serkis) I found to be a transparent character. For once, he knew William Lewis since their time together in Rhodesia. Yes, their paths could have split at some time, Clements staying with the good guys, Lewis taking the dark side. But Clements admits to Lewis that he’s still going, and that “politicians come and go, I’m the consistency” and he admits to cleaning Lewis’ mess more than once. So I doubted him from the beginning. Clements is also too visual in showing us how he keeps an eye on Declam Smith, later in the movie.

We also learn quite from the start that the Prime Minister is corrupt; he’s the one who ordered the Swans to clean the village. I would have liked to discover this later, and I would have liked a PM with more power.

I suspected Major Bisset quite early on, his character was rather thin too.

The PM, Major Bisset, and Clements are worried, too worried and that’s most of the time, that Grace Lewis will expose them.

Throughout the movie it felt like the only character developed at all was that of Tom Buckingham (Sam Heughan).

There is a lot of blasting and bombing, the special effects were rather entertaining, as was Tom’s and Sophie’s chat through the loo hole…

The poetry of one final scene stood out for me

Sophie Lewis, the Black Swan, runs through a snowed forest, wearing her dark clothing.

Ruby Rose SAS Red Notice final snow scene analysis Patricia Furstenberg blog
Ruby Rose SAS Red Notice final snow scene

Tom Buckingham is chasing after her, in shades of gray, and only his wound, covered in blood, stands out red against the white background.

Like a White Swan chasing the Black Swan.

Sam Heughan SAS Red Notice final snow scene analysis Patricia Furstenberg blog
Sam Heughan (as Tom Buckingham) SAS Red Notice final snow scene analysis

In this final, snowy scene, for the first time, there is no sound of bullets, of explosions, of commands shouted trough phones, only the eerie sound of falling snowflakes, of snow crushed underfoot as life chases death…

On a final note…

I thought that SAS Red Notice was entertaining, although its main story-line / script was thin and predictable. What stood out for me was the gold thread, the fuse that did blow up in the end, namely Tom Buckingham’s story and Sam Heughan’s performance. SAS Red Notice is worth watching one, for action and special effects, and twice to pay attention to the little clues left by Sam Heughan.

Movie clips and images are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

Silent Heroes

Two of a Kind, Fiction in A Flash Challenge 2021, week 40

flash fiction two of a kind

So many of you enjoyed the Ferris Wheel story that this week I wrote a follow-up in Two of Kind inspired by the image prompt provided by Author Suzanne Burke for Fiction in a Flash Challenge 2021, week 40.

Two of a Kind

He was never late. Always minutes early, time used to accustom himself with his surroundings, or people watching.

Today, as he lunged in a winged-back chair covered in leather softer than anything nature intended, waiting at The Gentlemen’s Club – a place so private that even its members were on a secret list – he admired the colors in his whiskey glass. Amber, most said, clueless to the fact that whiskey owed its shades to the charred white oak barrels. To him the shade was auburn, with hints of burned amber, he thought glancing through the glass. Like eyes he’d seen once, as dark as treacle and just as deep, yet hiding specks of burned amber… His pupils dilated remembering how he nearly got himself burned. That’s how he chose to remember.

He turned in the chair as one would and exposed the glass to the light slipping between velvety curtains.

Behind the swirling fire from his glass and heart, he observed – effortlessly, through a life-long exercise – the two gentlemen engaged in an animated conversation that the tabloids would have loved to expose together… The zoo of politicians daily at each other’s throats, now enjoying cigars by the fireplace… The man wearing a suit in the wrong shade for such an establishment, now relocating photographs in his briefcase while the gentleman seated across just ordered his 3rd double.

Always useful to arrive early.

He donned his glass and allowed the vanilla and grassy notes to resonate in his nasal passages. For a brief moment, he was in the park, it was early spring and the scent of fresh-cut grass floated like a spell. Across from his bench sat the woman whose eyes held specks the colour of aged whiskey. And just as many promises.

Enough.

Today he’d come here to close a business deal. Time for him to stand and meet his patron, the man who paid handsomely in exchange for his services. He always stood to meet his business partners. Common courtesy, although today’s partner could become tomorrow’s adversary. Some would say enemy, but he always strove towards turning his enemies into business partners. There was always something he could trade. People always had needs and wants. Especially wants. And he could always obtain whatever it was that they wanted when he gave his word. For his word was his bond.

Whenever he looked back on that fatal day he remembers the glass of brown whiskey, not amber, thirty years old – the mark of power – that arrived at the same time with the manila envelope… Although the glass had touched the table first. He still heard the sound of thick crystal against the mahogany, like the deep clunk of an empty gun.

‘From him, Sir,’ the waiter had said and they both knew: from the client he’d been expecting, whose problem he was about to take on. But who hadn’t thought fit to meet him and close the deal in person.

Only that his hand had touched the glass with the brown whiskey, the 30-year-old whiskey, first, thus sealing the deal before the manila envelope had landed on the table. And his word was his bond.

The picture inside the folder surprised him. It was not that of a person. He always insisted on a recent close-up, a time and a location, never questioning his patron’s reasons.

The picture showed two masquerade masks, white and black satin trimmed with honeyed cord. Day and night, female and male, good and evil… symphony and chaos, his mind offered as the white mask held intricate, hand-painted musical notes. And a pearl set in the middle from which feathers in shades of amber protruded. Like the whiskey…

‘She’ll wear the white one,’ was scrawled on the back and an address he recognized. The World Health Organization, WHO, held their charity ball there tonight.

He picked up his felt-hat and left.

True to his habit he arrived early, in a black mask identical to the one in the picture. But tonight he will curse his habit. The instant he saw the woman wearing the white silk mask, his partner for the night -and project – standing atop the stairs looking across without looking down on anyone, holding her clutch as if it was a drawing book, her right fingers poised as if they held a pencil, that instant, he knew it was her.

The woman from the park. The problem he had to solve.

Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.

Two of a Kind fiction flash with masks

What happened next? Find out in A Ride in the Hot Air Balloon.

Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE

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