The Ring

Just thought I’d try a little writing exercise, taken from an online monthly writing competition. I didn’t made the deadline to submit but enjoyed the process and story enough to continue. The only rule I didn’t keep was the 500-word limit – I think I’m roundabout 530. Close enough, I figure.

Your story must take place at a PARTY of some kind.
Your story must include a BUTTON.
Your story must include the following sentence (which you will complete with one or more words): THE AIR WAS THICK WITH _______.

The opulence was overwhelming. His stolen tux fit him like a second skin, and he could tell from the appreciative glances he was getting from other masked partygoers that he wore it well. Still, he had never before moved in such proximity to people like this, and found it unnerving.

Gorgeous women tossed manes of perfumed hair as they danced in a riot of impossible colours and fabrics. Men executed expert footwork as naturally as walking, slick as panthers. The air was thick with different scents, flowered perfumes and spiced colognes, mingling with dizzying potency.

The thief swallowed. He could throw an arm out into this flurry of wealth, quick as a fox, and walk away with something, anything, that could feed him for a week or more. The thought of meat for every meal made his stomach roar.


All of a sudden: his mark. The thief forced his coiled muscles to relax, and leaned into the pillar with an exaggerated nonchalance, gazing out into the rain-soaked night as if he were bored and wishing to get away. Sure enough…


His mark held a shimmering glass to him. Beyond the mask, the green eyes were alight with merriment and a touch too much alcohol. The hand that offered the drink bore an ornate ring crusted with tiny precious jewels. They threw light into the champagne, greens, reds, blues glimmering in the liquid like restless fish. But the thief knew his craft well – it was not to the ring he looked, but into the eyes of its bearer. An opportunity like this was rare, months in the planning. He would not allow his desire, his hunger to betray him.

He accepted the drink, bestowing upon his mark a lazy half smile of thanks. The deception had begun.


Three hours later – long past the time the thief had allowed himself to be done with the trickery and away with his treasure – found the two of them sitting in one of the quieter rooms of the mansion. Partygoers swirled in and out from time to time, but largely they were left alone. Their glasses never emptied, topped up by waitstaff, silent and invisible as any thief.

As the hours waned, the masks had come off, the bowties and jacket buttons had come undone. They laughed easily and often and the conversation, like their glasses, never ran dry. If the thief felt any disappointment, it was only as if from a great distance: there would be no theft tonight.


Dawn had just started to thin the night when they parted ways. Plans to reconnect were made but the thief was all too aware of the lie that made those plans impossible to keep. There was a kiss goodbye, sweet and lingering, and a tight embrace.

And then he was alone.

Suddenly chilled, the thief thrust his hands into his pockets and felt his fingers close around something small, heavy and cold. The ring, catching even the nascent morning light, shone like a thing of magic against his palm.

Hunched against the cold, the thief began the long, slow walk home, wondering at what he had gained that night, and all he had lost.

My Funny Valentine IV

…continued from My Funny Valentine III.


Love Noir 1, by johnkphotography

Red curtains of hair fall away from her face as she looks up into his eyes. His heart aches at the hunted look in those blue eyes, the immense guilt.

Everyone described her in static colour. He could never understand why. Red hair. White skin. Blue eyes. Primary colours. Translucent shades. Hard beauty. Always beautiful, but always hard, as if beauty was an inanimate object; as if beauty wasn’t alive and dynamic.

There was nothing about her that was hard. Her hair wasn’t fire, it slipped softly through his fingers and tickled his face when they slept.

Her skin wasn’t lifeless porcelain; it was alive with colour and texture. Her arms and thighs were smooth, her palms were rough from a life of hard work, the backs of her legs were hard with muscle from her dancing days, her back was seared with cuts from her husband’s knives. What skin! He worshipped every inch of it.

Her eyes were the most expressive part of her. She could break his heart and mend it with a single look. When they made love, he couldn’t look anywhere but into those eyes. They would burn into his, telling him ageless secrets as the sensations swept them away. Continue reading My Funny Valentine IV

My Funny Valentine III

…continued from My Funny Valentine II.


Film Noir, by mindlesstoaster

He’s here.

She knew he would be but just seeing him again makes her catch her breath. She struggles to remain calm, to control the blush in her cheeks, the light in her eyes at the sight of him. But she is out of practice. Just another crowd. Just another day, she tells herself. She keeps up the charade, smiling coyly at the rapt crowd but watches him from beneath lowered lashes.

He looks good. Dammit. He always did.

He’s not smiling. Just looking at her in that way of his that made her feel as if she was the only woman in the world. She was used to men looking at her. Men had looked at her all her life. But no one had ever looked at her like that before.

First, euphoria.

Then, panic.

Doesn’t he know he’s being set up?

Why is he here? He must have seen the posters. But he knows she’s not allowed to perform. Why is he here? Continue reading My Funny Valentine III

My Funny Valentine II

…continued from My Funny Valentine I.


Film Noir – Femme Fatale II, by DoomsdayAsteroid

The minutes tick away on the old dusty clock in the corner and as the night wears on, the music switches to blues.

The stranger remains where he is, consuming his Vodkas slowly but steadily. His neighbours at the bar look on with a mixture of interest and admiration. Here’s a man who can hold his liquor.

There’s an unspoken cue and as an old favourite comes to an end, the lights dim and the music stops. Suddenly, the entire club plunges into inky blackness when the lights go off. There is a smattering of noise as worried customers call to Jack for assistance but he is uncharacteristically unresponsive.

In the darkness, he smiles in secret.

He knows what’s next.

* Continue reading My Funny Valentine II

My Funny Valentine I


Noir, by ikayuka

The club’s almost empty tonight.

It’s a Saturday and around this time, Jack’s usually got his hands full up at the bar.

But today’s different. Odd.

Missing are the members of the Family in their nightly finery. Missing are their expensive sidekicks, the oily gangsters playing cards in their pin-striped suits. Their exquisitely tailored cloth hiding cold pistols and jeweled knives that could be whipped out and used with deadly force in a matter of seconds. The place seems quiet without their boisterous laughter and thick New York-Italian accents dominating conversation.

Jack’s on edge. He’s not used to business being slow on a Saturday night and his waiters are getting lazy. He barks out an order at one of them to keep them on their toes. These youngsters. No sense of responsibility these days.

He glowers moodily as he leans forward on the bar, watching the entrance.


But for what?

* Continue reading My Funny Valentine I