It always happens, doesn’t it? You get a flash of inspiration to write, even when having other deadlines (such as one that I have in just over a week!) on something totally different. I’ve recently crawled back to the Buy-2-Play MMO called The Secret World. It’s great because there’s no subscription, so I can drop in and out as I please, like with all other games that I play. Seriously, most subscription models just don’t seem to be worth it, and I am partially regretting my subscription that I paid for Star Wars: The Old Republic, even if it is a very fun game to RP in and Galactic Starfighter was incredibly fun until the bomber/gunship stacks happened. So, that being said, I decided to take part in the tsw-rp writing prompt for this week. The prompt was as follows:
“You are eating, alone, at a Chinese restaurant. The waiter brings you a complimentary fortune cookie. You crack it open, and the slip of paper inside says “RUN“. ”
So, I took to writing something up. It was only meant to be a brief something, but it turned into a rather long forum post. I decided that it was long enough to share here, and I may do that for all that I write for these writing prompts. For those who do not know, The Secret World is a modern day setting where every superstition is true and three secret societies vie for power, the Templars (a bit old fashioned, obsessed with tradition and bloodlines), the Illuminati (corporate model, slightly more modern society and directly opposed to the Templars) and the Dragon (Uh… Something about Chaos theory? Seriously, they’re a hard one to figure out), and for the most part players take on the role of a super-charged bee-influenced demi-god. Really, player characters from a narrative perspective are nigh-unkillable because, when they are killed they are whisked away by the bees and rebuilt, much to most villain’s dismay. So, naturally, I play a mortal character (well, that’s unfair. I have 4 characters, 2 are “bee-charged” and 2 are mortal) named Renée Laurent, formerly named Katarina Zaytseva and former owner of a fashion label until she was “killed” at her own wedding. It’s a long story, and I may post up something about it at another date, but it’s influenced fairly heavily from one of my characters from one of my own settings.
Anyway, onto the fiction-y bit! I apologise as my French is not perfect. One reason for playing a French character is that I am trying to get back into French. I was bordering on fluency about 6 years ago, but circumstances meant that I stopped practicing.
Renée Laurent did not often eat in such a restaurant. The décor made everything darker than the outside, which was considerable as the weather was so miserable in Paris, and gave everything a tinge of red which, in Renée’s opinion, caused her blouse to clash with her shoes, but such was life. She sat near the window, gazing through the rain-speckled glass onto the street outside. It was a wet winter’s day, men and women under umbrella coverage or rushing between sheltered areas outside of shops.
Honestly, Renée was only sitting here because she was in the business of re-inventing herself; she had never really eaten Chinese food before, always having enough money to enjoy expensive French cuisine. Regardless, it was at least warm and she had chosen an up market place, unlike several that she had passed on the way that smelled like old feet.
“Bonjour. Qu’est-ce que tu voudrais boire?” the oddly accented voice of a waitress interrupted Renée’s train of thought. She turned to face the woman. She was Chinese, an immigrant, that much was obvious by her accent-based butchery of the French language, though Renée gave her a mental A for effort.
“Ah,” Renée replied, picking up her menu. She had very little idea what to expect as she ordered a small variety of dim sum and a glass of wine, red of course, pointing at the menu more than vocalising what it is that she wanted. She was not used to this place.
The waitress smiled with a half bow, taking the menu and the order away from the table.
The food, as it was, turned out to be interesting, but not necessarily bad. Whilst Renée would not be converting from French cuisine to Chinese food any time soon, she admitted to it being better than expected. However, she was expecting it to be foul, so her words could have been up for interpretation there.
Shortly afterwards, the bill was brought to her table, along with a complimentary fortune cookie. Renée chuckled quietly to herself and the thought of the fortune cookie. They were simply manufactured with pre-set messages and shipped out for touristy fun. She bit into it with a crunch, chewing the half that broke off and reaching in for the slip of paper inside. She was not above a bit of fun either.
Then her amused grin turned into a look of confusion.
And then it shifted to one of horror. Had she opened such a fortune cookie a month earlier, she would still be smiling and chuckling to herself. She placed the last half of the fortune cookie in her mouth and pocketed the slip of paper, her facial expression returning to one of cheerful neutrality. She placed down a €50 and a €20 note, far more than the cost of the meal plus the service, but she wanted to leave; she did not have time to count out change.
She stood up and placed her handbag over her shoulder, smiling at the waitress with a half bow, who was now returning to her table, as she swallowed the last of the fortune cookie.
“Merci beaucoup, madame,” the waitress beamed.
“De rien,” Renée responded, before turning around and making her way towards the front door, heels clacking against the marble floors. Her pace was quick, but not rushed. Walking quickly and totally confidently in heels was one of many talents she had picked up as a model.
She opened the door and walked outside, under a small canopy outside the restaurant. She took her hat and placed it gently over her head, angling it slightly to the left before putting her umbrella up. After all, nothing was wrong. She was just a normal woman who had just enjoyed lunch in a Chinese restaurant. She made her way to the Metro station through the rain; it was hard to tell if she was being tailed outside as Paris was a busy city, it would be easy to tail someone in the mass of people traversing the city streets, but in the Metro it was easier at this time of day. Thankfully, it was currently off-peak hours.
She transferred trains nine times, running complex circles through Paris’s Metro system and keeping an eye out for anyone following her, her wide-rimmed hat giving her some level of concealment as her eyes searched the people on the train.
She got off at an old station, it had fallen into relative disrepair compared to some of the more central stations, but this was a rougher area of Paris. People usually didn’t get off at this stop.
Except two people did, other than Renée of course. A man and a woman, both Caucasian, the man possibly German or Austrian, based on his facial structure and the woman could have been French.
Renée went into the ladies’ bathroom and went over to the sink. Her gloved hands were shaking as she removed them and reached into her bag for her make-up bag.
The woman who got off the train entered the bathroom and took a position next to Renée at the sinks.
“You know, even in London our stations are maintained better than this,” the woman started, also removing a lipstick from her handbag and looking into the mirror, carefully applying a fresh layer of a fleshy-pink colour. Her accent was easily identifiable as English. East end of London to be exact. Renée had done photo shoots in London.
Ugh… Rouge serait meilleur pour vous, Renée noted as the woman finished. Renée’s hands were shaking far too much to do anything, which caught the woman’s attention, raising an eyebrow.
“You okay, love?” the woman inquired as she slipped her lipstick back into her bag.
“Ouais. J’ai froid. C’est tous,” she replied to the woman who just seemed to stare in confusion. Vous venez en France sans apprendre á parler en français?
“Ah, I’m sorry. I am just cold, that’s all,” Renée continued, shaking her head with a smile. Her expression was totally believable, a smile covering up waves of unease. After all, smiling was a part of her job.
“All right. I’ve got to go,” the English woman replied, pushing away from the sink, “hubby’s waiting for me outside.”
And with that the woman walked out.
Renée breathed a heavy sigh of relief.
She applied some touch ups to her own make-up, applying some mascara and touching up on her own lipstick, a deep red colour. She reached into her pocket to pull out her gloves, but her fingers made contact with something. Something absolutely tiny that could have been mistaken for a speck of dirt. She knew her fabrics. Her coat should not feel like that.
She made her way back to the station and got on the next train to pass by. She changed trains twice more going to inconsequential stops… And then dug out the bug and dropped it onto the tracks. She then proceeded home.
Nobody else followed her and she didn’t receive and surprise visits. That was certainly going in her report to her handler.
I may have rediscovered my inspiration to write. Yay!