Thanks to the NYC Midnight flash fiction prompt I met my favourite antihero. Harvey, a badarse chick I’d love to have a drink with! Dying to develop her story a bit more ‘Hell Has No Fury’ became my submission to the 2019 Scarlet Stiletto Awards.
Why do readers love antiheroes? The answer is simple because they are human. They are flawed and easy to connect with. We have all felt anger, desired revenge and dreamed of showing up our haters. Antiheroes don’t need to be redeemed they and don’t need to see the error in their ways. We love them for their imperfections, their drive and ultimately the way they give the finger to the power, people and corporations that have tried to keep them down.
She ran as if her life depended on it. Pulling the giddy bride along with her as the vines caught on her dress and pulled at their skin. By her watch, the message was about to be sent and she needed to be much further away before all hell broke loose! It hadn’t taken long before the tablet worked its magic and the blushing bride was bursting through the bathroom door looking for a place to go full exorcist. Harvey locked the door silently behind her and closed in like a hungry lion. While poor pathetic Sarah was grasping onto the porcelain throne she removed the syringe from her garter and plunged it into the woman’s fake tanned skin. Finally, Harvey saw the road, they had reached the edge of the estate. A black limousine flashed its lights and Harvey half dragged, half carried the intoxicated bride to the waiting vehicle.
Wanna play a game?
How ‘bout hide and seek?
I hid the bride, now it’s your turn to seek.
With only three hours you better search fast.
Or her happiest day will soon be her last!
The message was illuminated above the extravagant seven-tiered wedding cake. The room was
alive with hushed whispers, gasps and murmurings. The black-suited security team converged on the party like a swarm of ants. Richard Mason was turning different shades of red as he began barking orders, “If Harvey has the arrogance to infiltrate my daughter’s wedding he is sorely mistaken! We will find him! You two find the guest list.” He started pacing anxiously, “call it in I want an entire search and rescue team here within 10 minutes! Everybody else grab a torch and start searching, we have 12 acres of vines to get through people! Bring my daughter home!”
Unsettling for most was watching this titan of a man look so small and helpless. For in this room were Mason’s closest friends, his highest connections and senior staff. Whispers in the halls at Mason Enterprises said he was actually a robot devoid of feelings. He was a harsh man who expected the world from the people in his employ of which 90% were male. To put it bluntly, Richard Mason was a misogynistic swine stuck in the 1950s who believed women were nothing more than house makers and mothers. It’s because of his ignorance Harvey knew she would defeat him tonight. He had launched his ‘manhunt’ so quickly not realising the most dangerous thing in the world is obviously a woman.
The vines stretched out beyond the horizon of Deerhorn Estate. As dusk approached the paths between the bell tents came to life like fireflies. The canvas billowed in the hot humid air and the sound of muffled voices caught the wind. Merriment and music wafted down from the ranch a sure sign that the soiree was in full swing.
Unzipping the tent a bare leg emerged from within. Harvey let go of her crimson gown and it cascaded to the ground. When trying to fit in, she found it best to stand out. Her gown was moulded to her hourglass figure, her dirty blonde hair fell in loose curls just below her shoulders, her lips were stained blood red and her emerald eyes were sharp with determination. Slipping on a pair of black diamond earrings she murmured, “Octavia do you copy?” There was a brief pause before a husky voice responded, “loud and clear boss lady!” As Harvey meandered through the canvas tents and past the faceless security guards she scoffed at their stupidity. Phase one of the operation was already a success. She had successfully and easily infiltrated the most heavily guarded party of the decade.
Grabbing a glass of champagne Harvey moved around the room with confidence while expertly avoiding the photographer. Scanning the room she quickly located her target. Michael Jenkins, senior security officer for Mason Enterprises and notorious ladies man. His eyebrows jumped when he saw her and a sickening smirk crossed his clean-shaven face. Swaggering his way towards her Harvey controlled her impulse to elbow him in the face! “Someone better call heaven, they’ve lost an angel.” Michael drawled. You have got to be kidding me! Harvey thought mentally rolling her eyes. Outwardly she giggled like a school girl placing her hard on his arm and batting her eyelids at him, “Stop it! You’re too kind. Hi, I’m Daisy.” she said extending her slender hand. Harvey appeared to do nothing but smile, giggle and listen to Jenkins drone on about nothing in particular. He was arrogant and loved the attention especially from such a beautiful woman so much so that he didn’t notice her lightning-fast fingers fish into his back pocket retrieving his well-worn wallet. Excusing herself, Harvey calmly made her way to the cellar door which was secluded from the party. In the safety of the office, she riffled through Jenkin’s wallet retrieving his access pass. Old man Mason sure had some imbeciles working for him these days! She sighed in relief upon seeing the words A-Z written in bold letters. “Octavia, I’m ready for the retinal scan.” she murmured fishing a pair of simple square-framed glasses from her clutch bag. A red dancing light emanated from her eyewear and as if by magic the office printer roared into life. The hum of the laminator was soothing as Harvey waited for the machine to heat up. It was a basic copy but it would be enough to fool the dimwitted Jenkins for now. She snatched the counterfeit access pass from the machine, its warmth comforting her and slipped it back into the wallet. “Phase two complete. Is my message ready to send?”
“You just need to place the bug within range.”
“Congratulations Mr and Mrs Knight!” she sang as she kissed them both on the cheek while expertly dropping a minuscule tablet into the bride’s glass. It fizzed momentarily as it dissolved into the champagne. Before they could respond Harvey was on the move again, the puzzled looks from the bride and groom fading into joy as the next well-wisher approached them. Harvey walked with purpose stopping to rest one hand on the cake table while the other readjusted her shoe strap. Straightening up she disappeared into the bathroom leaving what appeared to be a small sugar flower behind.
Harvey had grown up enamoured with the great magicians; Houdini, Copperfield and Blaine. She loved the look on a person’s face once they realised they had been fooled. All good magic stems from distraction make them look left while you move right and Harvey had long been a master of magic. Pulling uncomfortably at her shirt collar she dismounted the sleek black engine. With a few modifications, her bike had been able to make the trip between the winery and Mason Enterprises in 12 minutes. She looked up at the sleek glass structurer towering above her. It had been three long years since she had stood here last.
The first day she had walked through the glass doors of Mason Enterprises she had been in awe of her surroundings. Her sensible heels clicked loudly on the marble floor as she approached the security desk. “Name and purpose for visit.” a robotic man asked behind cliche black sunglasses. “S-S-Sadie Martin,” she stammered suddenly self-conscious. “It’s my first day.” The security officer stared at her his eyes lingering too long. “You must be the new secretary, you’re going to want to head to level C.,” he said handing Sadie a temporary access pass before turning his back on her apparently no longer interested. “Umm. Sorry. Excuse me.” Sadie tentatively reached over and tapped the middle-aged man on the shoulder. He turned as if he’d been struck with a cattle prob glaring down at her with unwarranted malice. “Sorry but I’m not the new secretary. I was told to meet Mr Lewis I’m starting in the Special Tech Division.” The security guard scoffed as he touched his earpiece and began talking to himself quietly, “Mr Lewis there is a Ms Martin here to see you.” The silence that followed stretched out uncomfortably before he scowled and handed her a new pass. “Level Y.” he barked.
The Special Tech Division of Mason Enterprises was like a military black site. Nobody quite knew what they actually did, no reports were ever issued and the company denied publically that the division even existed. Sadie blinked rapidly her eyes struggling to focus on the monitor. She had been working around the clock since she started. She was the only female in the division and her coworkers had been anything but welcoming. It took them four days to realise they actually needed her. She was the fastest computer programmer they had ever seen. Code that took them hours to write took her merely minutes. She relished their emasculated looks as she outperformed them day after day. It was the only consolation she had.
“Martin!” Sadie’s eyes snapped open. “They need the revisions for project 57 in an hour are you going to be able to make that happen?” Her manager Dean glared down at her as he tapped a file on her desk. “I’m almost done,” she mumbled back reaching for her now cold coffee cup. “Well hurry up Special Tech don’t miss deadlines.” he retorted as he trudged back to his cramped office. As she placed her coffee mug back on the desk she noticed Dean had left the project file behind. She was inquisitive as she had never been given the full details of the projects she had completed for Mason Enterprises. She relished the challenges they put forward but had always been curious what her hard work and groundbreaking programming was being used for. The manilla folder had the cliche TOP SECRET red lettering stamped across the front. Sadie hesitated before opening the cover and rifling through the pages. She wasn’t prepared for what she found. With each document, she read she felt sick with horror and shame. Had she been naive to think she had been helping people with her work? As she scanned an internal memo her mouth opened agape. They had weaponized her work. The last page in the folder was a printed email from Richard Mason himself authorising the testing and sale of the weapons to foreign investors. Then she saw the photographs. She was mesmerised by the mangled bodies and horror-stricken faces. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered. Sadie’s body was trembling both from shock and rage. Richard Mason was a celebrity, an entrepreneur, he had created endless jobs in the country and was loved by all. He was untouchable. As she stared into the lifeless eyes gazing out of the photographs she felt a pang of sickening guilt and a consuming desire to make him pay.
Her plan was so bold that she felt no fear as she strode through the glass doors. Dazzling the night guard on duty with a smile Harvey extended a scarlet fingernail and pressed the elevator call button. The sliding door opened soundlessly and she stepped inside. Removing the stolen ID badge from her hip her hands shook with excitement as she held the pass up to the scanner. The circular light flashed green and she pressed the button labelled Z. The walls shook and the lights flickered as the elevator plummeted further and further into the earth. As the doors slid open once more she stepped out into an entirely white room. “The fox is in the henhouse.” Harvey could hear Octavia take a sharp intake of breath. “You need to find the main console it will have four large multicoloured buttons prominently displayed. Can you see it?” Harvey whipped her head around the stark space until her eyes fell upon the only colour in the room.
“Plug the USB into the control panel and then press the blue button. It’ll give me access to their systems and once I’m in it’ll only take 75 seconds to get what we need.” Harvey walked tentatively up to the console her heart hammering in her chest. In a few short minutes, she would have access to Mason’s entire empire, his weapon plans, his bank accounts and most importantly she would be able to access every email and company memo! Finally, she would have everything she needed to nail Richard Mason to the wall. Her hand hovered over the round cerulean button as a wicked smile cracked across her porcelain face. Revenge never tasted so sweet.