#8 in the 2nd round of the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction Contest

This is my submission to the second round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest 2018

Photo by Andi_Graf on Pixabay

I came in #11 out of the top 15 of my group.
I didn’t accumulate enough points to advance on to round three. 
I was placed in group 66 with these parameters:
Word Count: 1000 max
Genre: Spy
Place: A First Class Cabin
Object: A guitar Case

*No changes have been made. This is the same piece I submitted to the competition so you can judge it at the same parameters as the official judges*

The Italian coast highlighted the horizon as he slowly made his way across the deck of the luxurious cruise liner. He kept his hands in his pockets and his ball-cap pulled down and smiled to those who took any notice of him. To anyone watching, he was just an old man taking a stroll and enjoying his vacation. Like everyone else, he was waiting to watch the sunset, but as the other patrons all started to gather around the bow of the ship, he slowly made his way towards the stern until he reached the lifeboats.

He trailed his fingers along the inside edges of each one as he passed them. They were more for show than anything else, but even so, when he reached the third one his fingers brushed against something smooth and thin stuck to the wood. Without missing a beat he unstuck it and continued on with it clasped in his fingers before finally wandering away and tucking the keycard safely in his pocket.

She’d done it, just like she said she would. Now all he could do was hope that she’d been able to follow through.. She’d never given him any reason to doubt her, but in her position anything was possible.

He slowly made his way to the starboard side of the ship and couldn’t stop the stir of guilt in his gut. If she was ever caught, they’d kill her. He’d seen the remains of others who had betrayed The Family, and he wouldn’t wish that on anybody. He stopped at the edge of the ship, near the entrance to the first class cabins and waited while life bustled around him. Would they still all be so carefree if they knew who was on this ship with them?

Right on queue, they appeared on deck. The heads of the largest criminal organization the world had ever seen. Hubris. They’d risen to power in the midst of World War One, and now there wasn’t a single crime ring in the northern hemisphere that they weren’t connected to. Big or small they had a share of it. He was looking at the three most powerful men on the planet.

If he had a gun he could topple their regime right here and right now and throw it all into chaos, but that wasn’t what he was here for and he pushed the thought of it out of his mind. As tempting as it was, he was here for intelligence.

Their one and only window into the inner workings of Hubris came in the form of a teenage girl who was latched onto Taras’s arm. Geillis Bogdanov. At first glance, one might think she was his child, but she was his wife. They’d dressed her up in fine clothes and extravagant makeup to make her appear older, but she was still just a child who’d already been forced to have a child.

That was the other reason he was here.

They had to find a way to topple the regime that ended with those two surviving.

The Bogdanovs paraded her around like she was a trophy. The only reason they were on the cruise in the first place was so they could put her on stage and have her perform. She’d told him that Erik would only allow her to sing classical music, and occasionally jazz. Erik was the father of Taras and Ivan, the supreme head, and the least insane one of them all, according to her.

He took out his phone and held it to his body so it didn’t look like he was using it. The camera was on and filming. It wasn’t often that those three men were all together in public.

He watched Geillis look around the deck, and as soon as her eyes fell on him she looked quickly away and started speaking to Erik. Taras kept her on his arm and treated her like an object, but Erik spoke to her and treated her well, which was probably why she’d never given any information on him specifically.

They all soon trailed away with their guards and melded in with everyone else towards the front of the ship and he took his chance. He slipped through the doors they’d just exited and made his way to the end of the hall. The last door on the left.

The key card swiped green and the door opened without issue. He ducked in and quickly closed it behind him. He didn’t have time to hesitate.

The first class cabin looked more like a high-rise penthouse than a room on a ship. Extravagant didn’t even begin to describe it.

So far so good. She’d said it would be in the guitar case on the far side of the lounge room.

What she hadn’t said was which guitar case. Seven of them were piled up together and he checked his watch. He only had three minutes to find it and get out.

Even that wasn’t a guarantee.

He pulled on his gloves and quickly opened them up one by one, and each one housed an elegant instrument that screamed money, but none of them had what he was looking for.

Outside he heard another door open and close and voices rise in the hallway. He was out of time. He arranged the cases so they were exactly how he found them and stood to leave but there, laying across the coffee table at the other end of the room was another guitar case.

The door to leave was closer … but he’d come this far. He crossed the room quickly and opened the case. It held the deep red one that he’d seen Geillis using on stage, and taped to the top of it was the guitar pick she said would be there. He peeled it off and there, on the back, she’d taped two memory cards. They were downloads of Taras and Ivan’s phones.

This was the closest they’d ever gotten.