“The greatest characters are those with a history, and those with dark secrets in their past. The reader doesn’t even need to know the history it will come out in the character. Come and meet TJ.”
I wrote this story in answer to the following prompts:
FOWC with Fandango — Awry
Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge — Oath – Engage – Push
Your Daily Word — Hone
Ragtag Daily Prompt — Train
Word of the Day — Figure
Her name is TJ. That’s what she’d always been called. Even she didn’t know what those initials stood for – if anything at all. Her identity had died with her parents when she was barely a toddler.
Two gunshots from a man with a prosthetic arm and a laser-green eye to match; and her family was gone. TJ remembered the man like she’d seen him yesterday. The vision of him shooting her parents and walking away with the family safe burned into her brain.
Now, TJ was twenty and on a mission. She may have only been three when it happened, but from that moment TJ had taken an oath of vengeance. A determination to get justice or payback against the man who taken her parents from her.
TJ worked every day to hone her mind and body for this day. She would train in the gym longer and harder than anyone else. She would push herself until she could barely walk or lift her arms some days.
Then she saw him again. Her parent’s murderer climbing from a limousine and entering his office building as if he never committed a crime. She wanted to engage him in conversation, force him to admit his heinous crimes there and then. Of course, he’d never admit his guilt and would probably make her life hell for accusing him.
Instead, TJ bided her time and got a job as a clerk in his office building and used it to gain intelligence. She learned just who multimillionaire Stuart Westfall was. He had a wife and no kids, at least five mistresses and far too many car-shaped penis extensions for TJ’s liking. Now, it was time to go to work.
Darkness fell with a foggy haze this evening. TJ moved through the shadows with the lithe and grace of a prowling feline. Her form-fitting, dark-grey Lycra bodysuit camouflaged her in the gloom.
There across the street was the silver and white façade of the Westfall insurance office building.
The blue strobes of the police vehicle forced her to hide behind a low wall. This was no night to get arrested
With the danger passed, TJ cartwheeled over the wall, dashed across the road and melted into the alley beside the office building. The alley was a minefield of rubbish, bins and the detritus of the decaying city.
TJ planted her feet, vaulted from a wooden crate and somersaulted over a barricade of rubbish bags. Rolling to her feet, she ran at the office wall, kicked into the air and caught the top of a rolltop bin in a handstand. Smiling, she curled herself into a crouch on the top. ‘Mmm, that was fun. They should do gymnastic parkour at the Olympics,’ she thought.
No matter how hard a person trains, they can never override the bodies senses and automatic responses.
TJ cursed that now. She could feel the pangs of anxiety building in her chest. The tingling of nerves prickling her skin. Her feet demanding that she ran away. Instead, she gripped the rungs of the fire escape ladder and began to ascend. She’d waited her whole life for this. There would be no running away for her.
Ascending to the top of the building, TJ passed the fire door and slipped her fingers into the frame of the side window. With little effort, she eased it open. A large advantage of working in the building you plan to break into; is that you can leave yourself an entrance.
TJ curled her body through the window and dropped to a crouch just inside. The room was lit only by the smallest amount of silvery moonlight that dispersed through the mist.
Another benefit of training was that TJ had practised moving through the low light. She could see perfectly fine.
The rich leather armchairs identified this as a waiting area outside the executive offices. TJ came here every day to bring messages to Westfall’s assistant. She grinned at the gold plaque on the bird scumbag’s door. “Time for a little —
TJ saw a light appear as the lift door began to open. Spinning around she dashed behind the giant cheese plant in the corner. She pressed herself against the wall just as the room lights came on.
Three men emerged from the lift. Leading the way in his fine grey suit was Westfall. The black glove covered that prosthetic arm. Unlocking his office, he led the men’s inside and closed the door.
“Well, that’s my plan gone awry. What are you doing here so late this evening — boss,” TJ mused as she slipped from her hiding place and extinguished the lights. dashing to the office door, she pressed an ear to the woodwork.
“Has everything been taking care of, Stuart?”
“What of the loose end?”
“Wouldn’t worry about that …” Footsteps approached the door.
TJ rolled across the floor and rose in front of another executive office. She tried the handle; it was locked. Taking a leather pouch from her boot she went to work.
Westfall’s door handle turned.
The lockpick clicked the tumblers open. TJ whipped the door open and slipped inside. Closing the door behind her, she felt her lips running dry. “Damn my nerves!” she breathed while looking about her. This room was pitch dark forcing her to use another tool. A tiny red flashlight, the colour enabled her to see without damaging her night vision.
The room was not as she expected. It was no office at all, lined with shelves and stacked with boxes, this was a storeroom.
Moving through the boxes of paper and stationery, TJ looked for a place to lie low until the men left. She reached the far wall before she saw it. Hidden in the corner was an old black safe. Its door painted with unmistakable gold scrollwork.
“Daddy’s safe!” TJ felt tears welling as she placed her hands on it. There was a lot of dust, the safe had probably been here since that horrible night. “Why would you keep this? It’s evidence you murdered my parents.”
TJ allowed her fingers to play over the unlocking dial. It required three numbers to release the deadbolts. She remembered both her father and her mother unlocking the safe. Her father would always point at her as he turned the dial.
With a shaking hand, she began to turn. 21 left – 05 right – 01 left. No click, nothing. Wrong combination. Unperturbed, she tried the same combination but turned the dial in the opposite directions. “Damn, it’s not my birthday!”
“You weren’t born in May,” said a new voice.
TJ looked up into the face of Westfall and grimaced.
His false laser green eye seemed to bore into her skull. “I’ve been waiting for you to come in here since you started working for me.”
“Then you knew all along, I was coming for you.” TJ rose in front of him dispelling fear in favour of a fury that left her trembling. “You killed my parents and you will pay for that, you obnoxious, under-endowed, slug!”
Westfall swung a hand with amazing speed.
TJ felt his knuckles crack her jaw, the shocking impact slamming her against the shelves and dropping her to a knee.
“How dare you disrespect me!” he yelled.
Standing again, TJ felt blood oozing from her lip. “Murderers don’t deserve respect. Tell me, why did you execute them. Why did he take my parents from me!”
“What? You going to start blubbering now?” Westfall swung his hand again.
This time TJ was ready. Sure, she felt the sting of the slap across her face but she held strong – seething. Staring him in his one real eye. “Tell me!”
Westfall appeared impressed, “Fine, you deserve that before you commit suicide by throwing yourself from this building.
Your parents were private investigators. They were about to cost me a lucrative deal and tarnish my great name and franchise in the bargain. I couldn’t allow that to happen.”
TJ wrinkled her nose in disgust, “So, you took my parents from me because you are greedy, gluttonous, hog!”
Westfall’s face turned bright red, “I told you not to disrespect me!” he yelled as he made to grab her throat with both hands.
TJ almost smiled as she rolled beneath his fingers, “Missed me!” she teased like a little girl as she straightened behind him.
He roared, swinging a haymaker for her nose.
Cartwheeling away, TJ ensured her boot slammed against his chin as she rotated from her hands to her feet. “Missed again!”
“Ahh! I’ll kill you!” Westfall drew a revolver from inside his suit jacket. Holding it in his prosthetic hand. It was the revolver.
TJ knew at once this was the gun he used to kill her parents. Throwing a spinning heel kick, she felt his titanium fingers break as the gun skidded across the room. “Ut-ah, no guns, they’re dangerous,” she teased in the little girl voice.
Westfall called her something unrepeatable. “I should have made your parents watch me kill you before I blew their brains out!”
“Thanks for the admission. You —” TJ leapt into action. As fluid as a snake, she unleashed every ounce of her taekwondo training. She nailed Westfall in the head, chest and stomach multiple times before he slumped unconscious amid his office supplies.
TJ fell upon him and ransacked his pockets. She found what she was looking for in his wallet. A combination, hidden beyond a large wad of cash. Returning to the safe she began to turn the dial again. 14 left – 10 right – 01 left. With each digit, tears flowed down her cheeks. TJ couldn’t help the welling emotion, she realised she knew nothing about her real self at all.
This time the safe clicked open. She opened the heavy iron door and revealed very little inside. An empty ring box and a few papers. Beneath them was a brown envelope.
TJ gulped as she opened it. She withdrew photographs at first. Pictures of her with her mum and dad. The one of her on the slide in the park made a smile. She remembered that day. It was one of the last special days before she lost her parents. TJ gazed upon pictures that shouldn’t be there too. She saw herself in her foster home, and at middle school. Another photo of her at high school. There were even ones of her winning her gymnastics medals.
The photos alone proved Westfall had been keeping tabs on her, her entire life.
TJ allowed the pictures to fall to the floor. There was one other thing in the envelope. A birth certificate. She unfolded the brown paper and her breath caught in her throat.
NAME … Toni Jane Westfall
“No!” TJ felt her knees buckle. “This can’t be true!”
“Oh, but it is!” Westfall groaned as she rolled into a sitting position. A bruise was blooming around his fake eye making him look demonic. “You’re my niece!” he said with a sinister smile.
TJ had so many questions. “So, you killed your brother and sister-in-law but you couldn’t kill your favourite niece. That’s it isn’t it?”
“Killing my brother was easy. He’d always been a pain in my arse. I regret killing Sara every day. If only she had chosen to marry me instead of him. I always loved you, Toni. I couldn’t kill you then. However, if I have to kill you now so be it. What I have is too much to lose.”
“Seems my mother knew a rotten scumbag when she saw one. She gave birth to someone smarter than you too!” TJ headed toward the door.
Westfall raised his feet. “You choice, join me or die!”
She swung around low and hard, scything his feet from beneath him with a vicious kick. Not stopping to see the results, she left the room and locked him inside. Leaving the building at speed, she found two police detectives waiting for her by Westfall’s limousine.
“TJ are you okay?” said one.
“My name is Toni Jane. My uncle is up in the top floor storeroom. Here is the proof of him murdering my parents.” TJ handed over the recorder she’d had hidden in her catsuit. “Arrest him and lock him away for good. I left him alive today. If I see him again, I’ll send him to hell!”
“Thank you, Toni Jane. We’ll take it from here,” said the detective.
TJ nodded and disappeared into the night. With justice served she could finally begin to live and love life.
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!