Road to Justice is my first ever publication in a magazine. You can find the short story on Arena Fantasy Magazine website by clicking on this picture. Obviously, this was part of a competion, but as the magazine is in it’s staring phase there wasn’t a high number of entires. I managed to be the only one sending my story.
While exploring an abandoned rubbish dump location off the coast, a young boy discovers an ancient sword.
This story is a different viewpoint on the rag to riches trope, with a touch of Arthurian legend. A very well written story and you end up feeling for the character. This story could easily be part one of a full-blown fantasy novel. Keep an eye on Victoria Liiv definitely one to watch for the future.
This is a little something I wrote for a NYC Midnigt flash fiction challenge, round 2. There was a 1000 word limit and I had to use given prompts: A gost story, paint store, high heels. I hope you’ll enjoy it.
All Rights Reserved
Sir Hugh Charles Clifford’s Badge of Honour
Burn it, bury it, leave it in the past or sell it! Isobel Clifford would do anything to get rid of the last family heirloom and get on with her life.
Isobel Clifford clacked into the ‘Spray & Display’ paint shop on her Gucci high heels, carrying a Prada handbag and wearing a red Valentino minidress. Among other things, the shop had services for metal polishing, paint restoration and cleaning up trinkets and jewelry, their website announced.
Isobel didn’t need a paint job, her Lamborghini always looked new. She’d come there for a family heirloom from the 1880’s that belonged to her great, great,… great grandfather, Sir Hugh Charles Clifford.
She should have gotten the courier to handle this, but surely, she could do a simple drop off. Besides, she couldn’t trust an errand-boy with something as valuable as her great, great,… great grandfather’s badge of honour, something only very few were ever granted – or so Isobel liked to believe.
Sir Hugh Clifford had been a British colonial administrator, a high position, no doubt about it. Their family prestige still revolved around his accomplishments. Now that Nana had passed away, Isobel was ready to rid herself of the Knight Grand Cross Order her predecessor had been ordained with. Sell it, make some money and never hear the name Hugh Clifford again. Growing up in that household had been a total nightmare.
“You’ll never live up to the Clifford name if you slump in your chair like a commoner.”
“Mind your words, young lady, a Clifford doesn’t speak like that!”
“Cliffords always eat their vegetables!”
The door to the shop closed with an unexpected boom, startling her. Taking in the interior of the storefront, she stepped closer to a checkout counter. High-end items were locked up in glass vitrines while motor parts scattered about the shelves in an open exhibition. Distasteful mismatched collection, if you’d ask Isobel, but nobody was there to inquire for her opinion; the counter was unmanned.
Isobel lifted her chin up higher, gritted her teeth and studied the display for several minutes before impatience won over curiosity. She strolled over to the empty counter, deciding to ring a bell nestled between a bowl of mints and a pencil holder. The shrill ding echoed in the deserted shop.
Yes, Miss Clifford had entered S&D’s almost at closing time, but that wasn’t an excuse to ignore a paying client. She tapped her high-heeled foot on the tiled floor. Her eyes roamed over the displays once more before stopping on a door marked ‘Employees only’. She traversed her way over to it and knocked twice before pushing it open. A wide concrete floor and bare walled workshop gawked back at her from the doorway, a grave contrast to the cluttered storefront.
“Hello!” she called out, her voice echoing in the scarcely filled workshop. Several doors lined the left wall while two garage doors at the back made it easy for cars to drive in and get their plating recoloured.
A loud clanging sound originated from somewhere deeper inside. Isobel took a step into the workshop to get a better look. A nudge from behind pushed her all the way to the room, the door banging shut of its own accord behind her.
She jumped, let out a startled yelp and turned to look at the now closed entryway.
“Hello?” she called again, her voice shaking slightly.
Nobody answered and the door didn’t budge when she attempted to reopen it. The metallic clunking rose in volume and brought goosebumps across Isobel’s skin. She took a deep breath hoping to calm her rising anxiety.
“Stop making things up, young lady! Cliffords don’t indulge in conjectures.”
There were no such things as ghosts, Nana made sure Isobel understood that much, but as the room grew freezing cold and her breath came out in a misty cloud, she thought her childhood fantasies were more than mere imagination.
“A Clifford is brave and strong,” she muttered under her breath. Her voice caught as an apparition emerged in the middle of the workshop: a bald man in a white military dress suit. Even though he wasn’t smiling, laugh lines surrounded his frowning mouth. Two wizened eyes studied Isobel as her mouth formed words that didn’t escape her lips.
Around his neck, that man wore an exact replica of the Knight’s Order she had hidden in her handbag. He himself was an exact replica of the painting hanging in the great hall of Nottingham Palace. She knew, she’d stared at it in fury every time she’d choked down her vegetables.
“I’m going crazy,” she whispered. “This can’t be Hugh Clifford’s ghost.”
She pinched herself, but the apparition didn’t vanish.
“Why sell my badge?” the man, the ghost,… Hugh Clifford asked calmly, his voice holding a rough edge.
“I-I… ugh… Why should I keep it?”
“Few things really matter in life: faith, health and family, always staying kind and gracious and never giving up,” Hugh explained. “This badge signifies chivalry, pure heartedness, honour and justice. It’s more than a piece of metal on a silk lint. It’s the essence of being a true Clifford, honest and selfless.”
Despite still being slightly afraid, Isobel snorted “Are Cliffords selfless?”
Hugh studied her and the way she held herself up regally. “We used to belong to the Order of Chivalry.”
Hugh Clifford was nothing she’d expected him to be like. She stared at him in astonishment as he stepped closer, took the badge from around his neck and placed it around hers. It rested on her chest.
“Isobel Rachel Clifford, I ordain you to the—”
He was cut off by the clerk shuffling out from the bathroom across the workshop. The man stopped, still pulling up his zipper. “Can I help you?”
Isobel looked back to where the ghost had been, but the space was now empty. The badge weighed heavy around her neck and Hugh’s words replayed in her head. His badge stood for a better way to live, for chivalry. It was hers now.
“No, thanks. I’m good,” she said. When she tried the door back to the store, it opened without a problem.
This is a little something I wrote for a NYC Midnight flash fiction challenge. There was a 1000 word limit, but I took the liberty to extend it. This is not the same version of the story I submitted to the competion.
All rights are reserved.
Chuck Tucker investigations
The Club Shooting
The beat was sick and the crowd wild. I might’ve had one too many shots, but it didn’t matter when the stunning blonde ran her hands down my chest. We were crammed up against the bar with a bunch of other partygoers, most of them pissed off drunk or on their way to it. I’d ordered her a cocktail, but she was already slurring her words before I squeezed in next to her. A couple of compliments and suggestive comments later and she was leaning into me. Not my usual type, but she was hot as fuck and I didnt bother to care about the rest when she bit down on my earlobe.
I pulled her closer to me, letting her know exactly what I thought of her sneaky tongue and soft lips sucking on my neck. Her breasts pressed up against my chest were probably fake, but that ass I was gripping was perfectly firm, perfection.
It was my day off, nothing to stop me from having some much needed release. The local club, Wicked Angels, was as good a place as any to find what I needed and the woman writhing against me was ready to give it.
There were too many people around. Drunk or not, this wasn’t the place to continue our introductions. She seemed to be on the same page, because as her hands roamed around my chest, her lips uttered exactly what I was thinking.
“Let’s get outta here.”
I had just taken her up on her offer when the first shot was fired. Right in the middle of the raving dance party. Right in the middle of my fucking night out. Right as I was about to get out and get laid. It blasted off into the beat of music almost perfectly. To untrained ears it came and went, unnoticed. I almost thought I’d imagined it and was about to blame it on my nerves. Only the scream of a terrified, practically naked brunette got me to look twice at the scene unfolding in one of the most secure clubs in LA.
The crowd parted to a white gangster-brat waving a gun around like it was a toy; the brunette wailed as a young man at her feet bleed out from a fatal chest wound. A heroic young man attempted to wrestle the weapon away from the lunatic, but that only caused it to rapidly fire six more rounds into the crowd. He ended up with a bullet in his leg for the effort.
The blonde who had promised me a good time stood in shock, still pressed up against me, as several more people dropped on the dancefloor with various injuries. Some dove to the floor seeking cover.
Seven rounds had been fired now. If the magazine had been fully loaded he’d have ten, maybe eleven bullets left. I was pretty certain he was gripping a 9mm Glock, but it was hard to tell in the dimness of the club. It had sure as hell sounded like one and at this point I trusted my ears more than my eyes. The flashing LED lights roaming through the room didn’t help my vision one bit.
Reluctantly, I released my hold on the blonde. Ashley? Aileen? No freaking clue.
I managed to make only three steps toward the idiot disturbing my weekend when the gun, definitely a Glock, pointed right at me.
“Now, why don’t we just chill for a minute, hmm?” I suggested. I had my hands up to make him believe I was no threat. My own gun was across the street in my car. Clubs like Wicked Angels had a strict no gun policy that I respected the hell out of. Only now, staring down the barrel of one that somehow managed to pass through the inspection, made me crave for my S&W.
A group of security tried to clear a path through the chaos, but they wouldn’t be fast enough.
“Stay the fuck back.” The kid’s hands shook. Two wild eyes stared back at me. He was scared shitless, but that didn’t stop him from waving the weapon around.
The man who’d been shot first drew his last breath and the brunette kneeling next to him let out a horrible cry, but as long as the gun was pointed at me the rest of them would be alright.
“What’s the plan here?” Even though I would’ve very much liked to be locked up in a hotel room with the woman I’d left by the bar, I was unable to ignore the thrill of adrenaline rushing through my veins. I’d dealt with many of his type on the line of duty. It could get all kinds of bad real quick. “Shoot a dude, cause a scene and get out? How’s that getting out part coming along?”
“Stay the fuck back!” The kid shouted again.
I had taken two more steps forward, hoping he didn’t notice. God, he was what? Barely twenty one? If even that. No, he must have been younger. He wore a ballcap backwards, loose jeans ripped at the knees and a T-shirt. Heavy chain hung around his neck completing the look. No visible tattoos. No scars. He was also lacking the street hardened ‘I’ve seen some shit’ stare in his eyes. He was too young and terrified to fit the recent gang activities picking up around the neighbourhood. Could’ve been a new recruit?
The recent rise in crime was concerning on its own, but having a shooting in the middle of a crowded nightclub was a new low. The Black Raven’s were either incredibly stupid or getting way too bold with their attacks. Unless this prick was here all on his own. A possibility, however slim. His shaking hands and trembling upper lip led me to believe he was not accustomed to violence. His eyes flicked to the dead man on the floor before turning back at me. The pure terror in his expression once the realization hit – he’d killed a man – showed it must’ve been his first. What the fuck was he doing here?
“Why don’t you give me the gun and I’ll walk you out. Save you from the trouble of finding the way yourself, hmm?”
The security had reached the scene and tried to clear the crowd. The movement of people scurrying away caught the kid’s eye and he turned in a sudden, unexpected motion. That’s when he saw the security team of six. The fucker emptied his magazine into one of the onlookers. His finger must’ve twitched on the trigger in surprise. I couldn’t fathom it being deliberate after staring into his fear stricken eyes, but as I counted ten shots banging out while rushing the rest of the way toward the bastard, now exposing his back to me, it was obvious I’d read him wrong. Ten whizzing bullets crushed through an unlucky redhead standing next to one of the security guards before I reached the little shit, ripped the weapon away and gave him a blow to the face just for the sake of it.
I only had a slight glance at the gun before I tucked it in my waistband. The slide hadn’t locked back. His magazine had been fully loaded. Not letting the son-of-a-bitch recover from my hit, I secured him in an arms lock, pushing his arm up behind his back harder than was necessary.
Allowing myself only one regretful look back at the blonde, I walked the boy out like I said I would. The woman hadn’t moved from where I’d left her. She was visibly shaken. As one of the less drunk visitors put a hand around her, I knew she’d find her comfort elsewhere tonight. I focused my attention to getting the fuck out.
Two of the security followed us out of the still blaringly loud main club as the rest of them dealt with the bloody aftermath. They should have cut the music as soon as the shit hit the van, but whoever was behind the controls must have been as shocked as everyone else.
The entrance was quieter, but not free of chaos. Besides the wide-eyed girl by the coat racks, thirty something people pushed at the counter, refusing to leave without their belongings, but eager to get out nonetheless. A wasted young man was climbing over the barrier to get to his coat faster and the poor girl dealing out jackets for a restless couple was unable to stop the punk.
I had my own hands full, but would have expected the two security guards to try and calm the crowd. They didn’t even look at the people. Instead of dealing with their duties they spent their time stopping me from marching the kid – now a murderer of at least two – out of the front doors and into the station.
“Sir. We’ll take it from here. The police are on their way.” The guy reached out for the kid.
Even though I’d left my gun in the car, I hadn’t bothered to lose the badge, so I fished it out of my pocket to flash it at the guards. “They’re already here. Chuck Tucker, LAPD.”
The two men shared a look. One of them gritted his teeth. “Follow us, Mr. Tucker.”
“I’d rather not.”
The chattier one let out a short chuckle. “I’m afraid we can’t let you leave with the criminal.”
I raised an eyebrow at them. I could’ve done whatever the fuck I wanted with the criminal, walking out being one of the easiest things. Still, I decided to play along. “Lead the way.”
The criminal in question had relaxed in my hold the moment the two guards stopped me. If that didn’t raise any alarm bells then the second guard fidgeting with his belt and looking at anything else but me most certainly did. The guards were in on the crime. That would explain how the kid smuggled the gun inside the club. The ‘why’ I’d find out shortly.
They took me through an unmarked door to an empty hallway. I couldn’t help but notice a camera at the corner as it moved to capture our passage, being fitted with motion detectors. The whole club would be full of cameras. To think that the Black Ravens – they had to be part of the gang – would believe they’d get away with such a public display of violence. The nerds behind their computers back in the station would find the identities of the rogue security guards and the kid within a few clicks when they get their hands on the tape.
“In here.” One of the men pointed to a sterile holding room, pulled the kid from my arms and pushed me through, instead.
I had expected something of the sort and pulled the kid’s gun out in less than a second. The last – eighteenth – bullet in the chamber pierced through his chest faster than he could’ve said ‘shit’. Dropping the now useless weapon, I charged at the other man, smashing his head against the wall behind him. He lost consciousness after the fourth blow. The kid was even easier to subdue.
This sure as hell wasn’t how I’d intended to spend my evening, but there I was in a secluded hallway with one security bleeding out, the other lying next to him on the floor and the kid – hands tied behind him with a belt I’d pulled out of the unconscious guard’s pants – rambling about whole bunch of bullshit.
Personally, I didn’t give two fucks about the guard that I’d shot, but it wouldn’t look too good on me if I did nothing about his wound now that I’d subdued the threat. Half-heartedly, I pulled off his jacket, revealing a tattoo of a raven skeleton on his arm. Fucking knew it! I wrapped the cloth tightly around the wound expecting it would slow down the bleeding enough until the ambulance arrived. The bullet had missed all the important stuff. The fucker would survive.
“What was the plan, hmm?” I ask.
He didn’t answer. No surprise there. He was starting to look pale and his eyes were rolling back. I wouldn’t get any answers out of this one, so I turned the question towards the still rambling kid. He had crouched into a fetal position, his whole body shook. Not once did he stop his rambling.
I pulled out my phone and dialled Tylor.
He picked up on the third ring. I could hear the sirens blaring in the background through the connection. He’s on his way. “Chuck, whatever it is, I don’t have time for it. I’ll call you back after I’ve dealt with this club shooting that got called in a few minutes ago.”
“Don’t hang up, Ty.” Fuck.
I called him again.
“For fuck’s sake, Chuck-”
I didn’t let him finish and hang up on me again. “If you get to Wicked Angels, come through the unmarked door next to the garderobe. I’ve got the shooter and two gang members tied up. Bring Liz, too if she’s with you. One of them’s bleeding all over the floor.”
“Jesus, Chuck, weren’t you supposed to have a day off?”
“Didn’t pan out that way.”
The ambulance got there before Tylor and Elizabeth did and took one of the perps away. I told them to care for the victims first, even if this idiot would die without immediate medical assistance. The woman wheeling him away gave me a disapproving stare, before she disappeared down the corridor. A couple of minutes later Tylor strolled in. Elizabeth was right behind him, but I didn’t need her anymore as the nurse had already taken care of the injured guard.
“Took you a while.” I pushed off the wall I’d been leaning against. The kid had stopped muttering nonsense and the guard I’d knocked out had come around when the nurse looked over his companion. She’d wanted to wheel him away too, but other than a mild concussion this bastard would be alright. He didn’t need to take any more time away from the real patients.
“Since when do you tie up nightclub security guards?” Tylor asked, taking one look at the fella sitting in his mate’s blood.
“This one is Black Raven. So was the other one.” I said.
“You shot the one that was just wheeled away?” Elizabeth asked. What was it with women and disapproval today. I really should have walked off with the blonde when I had the chance and left this whole mess for someone else to clean up.
I took her in. Her black hair was just long enough to tuck it out of her face and behind her ears. Those warm brown eyes that found compassion even for the people who didn’t deserve it stared at me with a sharp glare she only reserved for me. I’d never seen her wear much makeup, didn’t think her fair features needed to be covered up with the stuff. She was fucking sexy, even with the uniform smoothing out her curves. The first time I’d seen her without the blues I’d made a fool out of myself. After that I vowed not to check out the ladies in our department, no matter how hot they were. Besides, who needed a complication like that?
“As I said. A Raven. Want to bet those two imposing as guards let the kid here walk in with a gun in the first place.” I waved my hand towards the boy.
“The kid…?” Her voice trailed off as her eyes took in the gangster-brat hugging his legs close to him. “Chuck, you don’t mean-”
“That’s our shooter. Walked him out myself and would have brought him in, too, had the other two not stopped me.”
“Let’s get them to the station,” Tylor muttered, “and Chuck, I need you to tell me exactly what happened.”
Don’t hesitate to leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Do you want to read more about Chuck? Do you want to know about the Black Raven gang? Should I continue the story? Any feedback is much appreaciated!