Friday, July 30, 2010
Flash fiction piece/lead-in to World of Ash
Below is a flash fiction piece titled Jax-of-all-trades. It provides background information on a couple of characters from World of Ash and also acts as a lead-in to the story. Enjoy!
“Dan.” With both hands cupped around his mouth, Jax called to one of the workers below. Like a hitchhiker, he lifted his right thumb from a fist formation and motioned upward. “Bring it up.”
Dan, dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, hard hat and gloves, nodded to Jax from two stories down.
Jax looked out the doorway of the windowless office, about thirty feet above the base of the drilling platform, and noticed his boss approaching. “What now,” he mumbled.
The company CEO waved as Jax slowly descended the stairs to ground level. Jax admired the guy’s gutsy fashion motif. Not many people could get away with wearing a sports jacket and jeans, especially with a plaid scarf in place of a tie, but his boss certainly did.
The gentleman extended his hand. “Good to see you again, Jax.”
“How are you, Mr. McCloskey?” Jax inquired shaking his hand.
“Not too bad.” McCloskey grinned and removed his hard hat, exposing the white fuzz atop his head. Jax could barely make out McCloskey’s beady, hazel eyes given his overhanging brows.
“What can I do for you, sir?” Jax rested his hands on his waist.
“How long have you worked for me, Jax?”
Jax took a second to think about it. “For almost ten years, sir.”
“That sounds about right, and during this time you have gone from being a roughneck to the manager of field operations for my company. So, you know how highly I think of you.”
Jax bobbed his head in confirmation, fearing an inevitable ‘but’ was soon coming.
“Good,” McCloskey said, “because I am going to need you for a special project.”
Jax was relieved. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and lifted the hard hat to scratch an itch along his hairline. McCloskey could see Jax’s curvy, russet hair below the front of the hat.
“What kind of project?” Jax asked. “Do you need me to run seismic on the new government leases we acquired?”
“Not quite. It’s something different, but a job you are more than capable of performing.”
Despite growing impatient, Jax was intrigued. “Can you elaborate?”
“I’ll brief you on the details later. In summary, though, I need you to meet up with a couple of business associates in Tellare.”
Jax looked over McCloskey’s shoulder. McCloskey’s right-hand man, Ted Johnson, walked up behind him. “Good day, Mr. Johnson.” Jax tipped his hat to him.
“Ah, perfect timing, Ted.” McCloskey turned to face him. “I was just informing Jax of his promotion.”
“Promotion?” Jax was confused.
“Well, there’s extra money involved should you choose to accept this project.” McCloskey focused his attention on Jax again.
“Larry, we have a situation,” Johnson interrupted.
“Well, tend to it. That’s what I pay you for, isn’t it?” McCloskey took a hard tone with Johnson and then smiled at Jax.
“Yes, but it’s something out of my control. I need your assistance on this one.”
“Fine,” McCloskey said. “Just give me a minute with Jax.” Johnson stepped back, but he remained within arm’s length of McCloskey.
“Excuse me, sir.” Jax intervened. “You said Tellare.”
“Yes. That’s correct.”
“Sir, isn’t that close to the danger zone?”
McCloskey laughed. “Nothing gets past you, does it? Anyway, I’m not going to stand here and pretend this job isn’t a dangerous one. However, if I didn’t think you could handle it, I never would have asked.”
“I understand.” Jax appreciated McCloskey’s faith in him, but he was still skeptical. Jax had never turned him down before, and he did not want this instance to be the first. “I’ll do it.”
“Excellent.” McCloskey rotated his torso and placed his hand on Johnson’s shoulder, continuing to maintain eye contact with Jax. “Ted will hook you up with whatever you need. Gear, weapons, it’s all at your disposal. Oh, and if you want to bring someone else on the trip, just let me know, and I will take care of it.”
“Thank you, sir.” Jax shook McCloskey’s hand.
“Come to my office after hours and we’ll discuss it further,” McCloskey said. He turned to Johnson and retreated with him back to the administrative building.
“Larry,” Johnson whispered, “you might as well be signing the kid’s death warrant.”
“Hey. He’s willing to do it, which is more than I can say for you. Maybe I should make him my right-hand man.”
“Assuming he makes it back,” Johnson said. “Hell, we’re partly to blame for what’s going on out there, and now you’re going to throw him in the middle of it?”
“Watch your tongue,” McCloskey snapped. “Just remember everyone in this company is expendable, including yourself.” McCloskey veered off, leaving Johnson there to ponder his statement.
Posted by Kevin Hopson at 7:05 AM