Finding Nemo

A short story I wrote for a science fiction contest.  The rule was to take a movie title and write a story based on it, but not on the movie.  So this is definitely not about fish.


Nemo swore and pulled his foot out of the puddle. The pothole had been hidden, like a bear trap made to consume high tops. They weren’t real Jordan’s, but it pissed him off nonetheless. Last thing he wanted right now was a soggy foot.
He shook the sneaker before continuing down the street. Boarded up windows acted as a canvas for graffiti artists on the brick buildings around him as he limped through the urban canyons. Every other step was accompanied by a squishy slurping noise.
Momma told him this would happen. She said he’d be back on the street a week after getting out of jail. In fact it had only been five days. But a man had to eat, and nobody wanted to hire a repeat offender. Only halfway through his twenties and already out of options. He grunted. Maybe this time he’d be a little bit smarter and get away clean.
It looked like it would start raining any minute. That was good. Rain meant people would hurry from place to place, not paying attention. He pulled his hood up tighter around his face and looked for a place to wait.
He spotted an alley between an apartment complex and a grocer. It was dark down there, which was good. And it had lots of dumpsters and blind spots, which was better. The heavens opened up, and heavy drops of rain splattered down on the pavement. It was perfect. Maybe he’d gotten all the bad luck out of his system when he stepped in that puddle.
He walked over to a recessed doorway of a boarded up house. It was directly across from the alley, and he’d be able to corner somebody as they hurried through the rain. Nemo was not tall, but he was built like a bulldozer. He could get them into the alley before they knew what was happening.
Once he was under the shelter of the doorway he pulled out a carton of Marlboros and lifted one to his lips. He dug a Bic lighter from his pocket and flicked the wheel several times before he coaxed a flame out of it. No one would pay attention to a guy hiding from the rain on his smoke break.
The instant he took his first puff a skinny man in an expensive suit and fedora came around the corner. The man kept his head down, hiding his face, and carried a silver briefcase. Everything about the man seemed wrong, like he’d gotten off the subway in the wrong neighborhood.
Nemo didn’t waste time worrying about why the man was here. He was walking fast, and Nemo had to hurry to intercept him in front of the ally. He stepped out into the rain, tossing his cigarette aside and patting the hard metal of the .44 in his waistband. The man didn’t look up as Nemo approached.
Just as Nemo was about to run into the guy, the man with the briefcase quickened his pace and turned into the alley. Nemo smiled at his luck once more, and followed the stranger deeper into the darkness.
A few paces into the ally Nemo pulled out his revolver. He looked down to make sure the safety was off, and when he looked up he just about ran into the stranger. The man had turned around and planted his feet in the middle of the ally. His hat still covered his eyes, but Nemo could see a thin smile on the man’s narrow face.
For a second neither of them said a thing. Nemo recovered from his shock and lifted his revolver toward the man’s chest.
“What you got in the briefcase, man?”
The stranger’s smile grew until it revealed perfectly white teeth beneath his lips.
“You’ll find out soon enough, Nemo.”
Nemo blinked, bowing his head to try and see the stranger’s face beneath the Fedora.
“Do I know you?”
“You don’t know me, Nemo. But I most certainly know you.”
The rain drizzled down and rolled off the brim of the stranger’s hat, which slowly started to rise and reveal the man’s face.
Nemo recoiled when he made eye contact with the stranger. The eyes swirled with yellow, orange and red as if on fire. Nemo lifted the gun and backed away.
“What are you, man?”
The stranger took a step forward, and Nemo pulled back on the hammer, making sure the man could hear the click of the gun cocking.
“Don’t move. I ain’t afraid to put a hole in you.”
The threat did nothing to slow the man down. He strode forward as casually as someone walking through a park.
Nemo felt terror rising in his chest. He pulled the trigger and felt the gun jump in his hand. There was a puff of smoke, but the stranger didn’t even slow down. Nemo fired again, and again. He fired until the revolver clicked, nothing more than a hunk of metal in his hands.
Nemo’s knees buckled, and he fell to the ground. He opened his mouth to scream, but only managed a weak moan.
The stranger stopped, towering over Nemo, and opened his briefcase. He set the open case down on the ground, and Nemo saw that it was empty.
“N-n-nothin’ in it?”
The stranger smiled. “Not yet.”
The briefcase shuddered, and Nemo felt his body vibrating, followed by the sensation of being crushed. His body started to slowly implode on itself. He tried to scream again, but there was no air in his lungs. He began floating in the air, drifting over the case, and down into it. The last thing Nemo remembered was the sound of the locks clicking, then darkness.

The man with the silver briefcase strode out of the alley, head down to hide his eyes. He lifted his watch to his mouth and spoke. “This is Silver. I’ve got him. I’ve found Nemo.”

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