Let the Battle Begin

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Our short story, Let the Battle Begin, won honorable mention in the 2007 Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by The Verb.


Let the Battle Begin


The chairs and tables in the community hall stand ready. Place cards document the name of each zealot. An informal buffet sits by the right wall. The long console holds an array of mouth-watering delectables. Before the afternoon is over, the plates, filled with golden cheesy potato bites, Spanish sausage coins, and a kaleidoscopic platter of cocktail snack kabobs, will be empty. For now they make a colorful display in an otherwise drab setting.

Ella Kacy runs her fingers through dark hair framing a face of indeterminate age. Surveying the scene in front of her, she smiles. Soon the hall will ring with the scraping of chairs, the sounds of nervous conversation, followed by secretive silence as everyone concentrates on the task at hand. Yes, the combat zone is ready. She can hardly wait for the battle to begin. This time she and her fellow collaborators will win.

Outside, tires crunch on gravel as cars enter the parking lot. Ella checks the roster. Thirty-two loyalists are expected. Once they’re all inside the building she’ll take her place with her partners.

The first comers enter and seat themselves. Four women who look like they mean business. Next a mixed crowd of enthusiasts walks in. They glance at Ella, pump their fists in the air. Within ten minutes more high scorers arrive, and by the time the doors swing shut every chair sports a gung ho occupant.

Ella turns her back, takes out her cell phone, taps in the preprogrammed number of a national TV station. Her second call goes to the New York Times. Zero hour is almost here. In a short while, one group of four seated in this room will become eligible to compete in the world arena.

She knows with a certainty she’s never felt before that this is her moment. Today her name is anonymous. Within a week her face will be pictured in every daily and the nightly news.

Ella almost laughs out loud. The event has taken a lot of planning and now it’s high noon.

As the clock on the wall strikes twelve, she calls out, “Is everyone ready?”

When the crowd explodes with a wild chorus of cheers, she moves to her table, raises a hand, lets it fall and reaches for the cards.

“The competition begins! Let’s play bridge!”