Flash Fiction Friday
Friday Flash Fiction, as it is now erroneously termed, has switched things up this week. Instead of an opening sentence, we were given four words we needed to include in the story. They are in blue.

"You understand, of course, why I must appear in disguise," said the woman from behind her rubber mask.

Actually, I understood nothing about this situation, but sometimes it was better to not to ask a crazy person anything. I just stood behind the counter, waiting for the insanity to spill forth. I didn't have to wait long.

"I need to know I can trust you," she said, conspiratorially, looking over her shoulder and to the left and to the right, to make sure no one was listening. At 1:30 a.m. in the Kinkos on Broadway, that meant the one college student sitting at the PC with his earbuds in and his iPod cranked up. I think Crazy Lady was safe. For now!

"If they knew I was here, revealing all their lies, it would be the end of me. AM I MAKING MYSELF CLEAR?" she hissed between clenched teeth, grabbing my apron to pull my face closer to hers. Or, rather, the fake rubber one. "I don't have much time," she continued, slightly more calmly, yet no less unbalanced. "I need you to make 500 copies of this." She handed me a piece of paper.

It was blank.

I looked up at her. "You can't see it, can you?" She said, pityingly. "Only the Chosen Ones can read it. But we will spare you innocent bystanders when the time comes."

"Thank you. You're very kind," I replied. "Do you want this on white or colored paper?"

I couldn't see her face, but from the tone of her voice, she must've been looking at me like I was a brain-damaged cocker spaniel. "Dear," she said, patiently. "Do you think that message would show up on colored paper?"

I retreated to the storeroom, where I opened a fresh ream of white paper, put her sheet into an "originals" folder, waited a few minutes, and returned to the counter. I handed her the stack and cheerily announced, "All finished!"

She looked at the crisp white bundle, then at me. She pointed a manicured claw and me and spat, "You are one of THEM! You are trying to TRICK ME!" She backed away from me, shaking. She was seriously unglued.

"I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to trick you. I ... just thought..."

"That I am crazy? That there is nothing on the paper?" she finished. "I assure you, young man, the future of the human race could very well depend upon you doing as I ask."

"Let's compromise," I said. I'll run this paper through the copier, but I'm only going to charge you for a ream of paper. It would soothe my conscience."

She nodded, so I took the papers back from her. "Uh, which side is...?" She pointed to the side facing me, to indicate where the message appeared. I dutifully performed my service, and handed everything back. This time, she was visibly relaxed.

She paid, of course, in cash.

As soon as she left, the college student jumped up from his seat and ran after her. Dismayed, I raced after them. I found the "student" on top of the masked lady, snarling at her in an unknown language and choking her in an alley. I pick up a metal garbage can lid and smacked him across the back of his head as hard as I could. He fell off and released his grip, but dashed away carrying as many papers as he could from the scene. Only about half of her order lay scattered about the alley, some in puddles of dank water.

"Are you all right? I asked her, panting. I helped her up, and began collecting whatever papers I could find. "Do you want me to make some more copies for you?"

"Yes," she croaked out from her damaged windpipe. "You have achieved redemption!" she announced, with a triumphant gleam in her eye.

Just then, we heard the explosion. I didn't need to look; I knew it was my store. The Kinkos had gone kablooey. But even before the blast had taken my livelihood, I knew that I was now part of something much bigger.
Name: Übermilf
Location: Chicago Area

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