Red lanterns wavered gently in the breeze as he walked past them, dressed in high-collared black silk. The restaurant owner moved towards him, then backed away at the familiar sight of the man with the trimmed, dark beard and the powerful gaze.

“In the back,” he said. “They wait.”

The man walked past him like he was an insect,Β stood in front of the back wall, and, with an effortless stride, stepped out of time and space, to the white-walled cathedral where his taskmasters waited in monochrome robes.

“We have a new mission for you,” one said.

“How many more?” the man asked. “How long until my debt is settled?”

“You,” the eldest replied, “have a very great debt to settle.”

The man knew they would never release him. He would find his own way out of the deal.

When he did, they would regret trying to control him.

Word Count: 149

This is for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and Singledust for providing the prompt photo!


  1. Jade M. Wong says:

    Love the play of colors from the title to the image and the story. I also really liked how suspenseful you made the scene, which was an interesting contrast to the atmosphere of the photo. Really nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ooouu, great story, J.A.! They have him under their control because he is working off a debt. I’m rooting for him!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What colourful imagery has been used. Great writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. michael1148humphris says:

    This is lovely writing, I really enjoyed the images that you created.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Iain Kelly says:

    Great scene and set up. Something about the imagery gave a real sense of mystery and almost something mythical. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynn Love says:

    Love that scene – it could open up into all sorts of interesting possibilities and places, shifting through time and space to pay a dreadful debt. Very nicely done

    Liked by 1 person

  7. James says:

    There must be something about this place that inspires crime dramas and conspiracy. Interesting to see how different authors respond.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Joy Pixley says:

    Nicely done! Great sense of atmosphere and emotion — love how that foreboding sense builds over the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Loretta says:

    Intriguing… makes me wonder who the antagonist is!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. afairymind says:

    An intriguing scene, JA. I wonder who ‘they’ are, and what debt he managed to accrue that is so great… I hope he manages to free himself from their hold. Nicely done. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Nice set-up. This could be a intriguing story.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. He sounds dangerous, indeed. Very nicely written πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  13. mandibelle16 says:

    I’m very much what debt he acquired that it would be so high as he could never be free. I think this debt must be greater than a monetary death, maybe a claim on his soul. The suspense was excellent and the vegence this man may reek left me a bit wondering at the end, how bad it will actually be for the taskmasters and those associated. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Singledust says:

    interesting you went down the debt road story- in the old days this was the place of many mahjong and gambling houses, though I doubt the debts they incurred were that huge as this guy had. I was amused as it reminded me well of my time there – there’s still the old shop that “washes” the mahjong tiles i saw last month. Thanks for the igniting the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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