Sunday, 6 July 2014

Due Date

Chuck didn't give us a prompt this week... actually it was overdue the due date... thus the name of my flash fiction this week. Enjoy.

She ran along the streets with the sheaf of paper in her hands.  It was becoming late – almost too late; but she had finished her work and had printed it out and was on her way to handing it in.
If she didn’t make it on time, there was going to be dire consequences.  Michelle wasn’t sure what those were, but from what she heard from others, when past students handed in their assignments late, they were never heard from again.
So, she had to make sure she got this in before the doors of his office were locked against the dying day of the beginning of the weekend. 

Michelle watched with a knotted stomach as the corner store closed its doors for the day, as did the fruit shop next door.  She rushed past them as the people went about their business of rolling down the large, steel grates against the darkening skies and the street lights flickered on.
She didn’t have far to go, now.
Just around the corner and along the pathway to the building on campus and then she’d be inside the place – first door on the right.  She climbed the short flight of stairs, pushed opened the large glass door (which nearly didn’t give for her) and then turned to the immediate right and …
…his door was closed!
Tears filled her eyes, “No.  Not now.” Looking down, she unfolded the assignment.  She had put so much work into this thing and she wasn’t going to let him just fail her… no, she wasn't.  Michelle raised her fist and knocked on the door.  The sound of her three knocks echoed down the empty hallway and she stood there for what seemed like an eternity before the locks turned and the door opened just enough for a small face to appear: “Hello, there.”  She said to the tiny, older woman who had answered the door, “I’m here to see, The Professor.”
“The due date had come and gone, Michelle.” The woman said, “You are too late.” She turned and closed the door.
“No!” Michelle shouted dropping her assignment on the floor and punched the door in time with what she was saying next, “I’m not too late… the sun is still setting, you old bitch!  You get your arse out here and take my assignment!”
The door opened slowly – wider this time – and older woman stared at her, “Well, aren’t you the little shit.”
Michelle didn’t really care what the woman called her, “Yes, I am.  Now, you take my assignment, because I’m not too late.  I arrived just as the sun vanished below the buildings.” She picked up the papers and shoved them into the woman’s hands, “I’m not leaving until you take them for The Professor.”
She looked down at the folded assignment.  The woman really shouldn’t have taken this off her, but she did, “Wait here.  Take a seat and just wait.” She closed the door and turned toward the fireplace, “I told you she wouldn’t leave.”
He sat forward from the large winged chair, puffing on his pipe, and looked around at her, “Give me her assignment.” She handed it to him and he ran his right hand over the front page, nodding, “Well-written… she put a huge amount of work into this – as usual.” He half-turned, “Let her in.”
The woman opened the door and looked at Michelle, “He wishes to see you.”
“Oh?” she stood and walked through the doorway and into the room where The Professor was sitting by the fire with her assignment in his hand.
“Michelle Sanders, please take a seat.” He said gesturing to the other large winged chair across from him, “Coffee, hot chocolate or tea?”
“Um… hot chocolate please.” She sat down across from him, “You’re not mad at me?”
“No.  I’m happy with your work – as usual – and how you dealt with Delta, there.  Most people get discouraged at her ways, but you don’t.” he smiled, “And I’d like to offer you an opportunity.”
Delta placed the hot chocolate on the side table by Michelle’s chair, “Thank you, Delta.  What kind of opportunity?”
He removed his glasses and looked at her, “I’m looking for a researcher and you have the guts and determination and intelligence to be mine.” He smiled, “However, I’m visually impaired and need somebody who will also stay here with me and be my eyes and ears for me… my carer.  Delta isn’t young anymore; and so you will be filling big feet.”
“Can I think about this?”
“Of course.” He smiled, “Please drink your hot chocolate… Delta makes a killer one. I love it.”

After downing the most beautiful hot chocolate she’d ever tasted, Michelle headed home.  She walked to her place to find there were police cars outside her place and her family had been worried sick about her.
Molly, her neighbour, spotted her coming home, “There she is!” and came running up to her, “Michelle!  Where have you been?”
“I met up with The Professor to hand in my assignment.  It was overdue.  He offered me a job.” She shook her head, “Why are the police here?”
“Oh, Michelle, he got to you like he did the others.” Her mother burst into tears.  Her father comforted her as all he could do was stare.
“Molly, what’s going on?” Michelle asked, “I’ve only been gone a few hours.”
The middle-aged woman shook her head as she produced a mirror from her handbag:  “Michelle, you’ve been gone longer than that… much longer.”

Michelle looked into the mirror and found the face staring back was one of a very old woman… and not just any old woman – the face staring back at her was Delta’s face!  She wondered exactly what was in that hot chocolate, and if handing in her assignment was really all that worthwhile.