Exercise: Use this sentence somewhere in a short story: His/her hair was wind-whipped and his/her clothes were tattered.
I had some fun with this one, with a classic 1940s-style hero. The idea is actually that the story is about a time-traveling villain (Gunter in the story) who’s plans are always foiled by whatever hero he happens to run into during the course of his schemes. I may write a whole series of these.
Oh, and yes I totally stole Gunter’s last name from a classic ’60s Captain America story. Agent 13 used that same last name as part of her disguise when she infiltrated Baron Zemo’s army.
Gunter watched the flailing form as long as it stayed in sight. Eventually the dark squiggle disappeared against the vastness of the ocean churning thousands of feet below the airship. Gunter turned to his assistant, Dieter, a large man in a black polo who was nursing a broken arm.
“Who the hell was that?” Gunter asked, jerking a thumb out the open hatch.
“Uh, said his name was, um, Danny Random, I think,” said Dieter.
“Danny Random? Turn us around, maximum speed!” He lunged for the steering wheel.
Dieter just looked confused. “Um, I think he’s dead, boss. Nobody could have survived that fall.”
“His name is Danny Random, you idiot!” Gunter spat. “Nobody with a name like that dies so easily. You’ve been in this business long enough to know that.”
“Hope you’ve been in it long enough for a good dental plan, you mountebanks!” Danny Random called from the rear of the cabin. Gunter and Dieter spun about to face the hero. He looked remarkably like someone who had just been tossed from an airship at 6,000 feet. His hair was wind-whipped and his clothes were tattered. A rivulet of blood trickled from one corner of his mouth. But there was a fire in his eyes and a grin on his face that suggested he was far from out of the fight.
“Oh, you are kidding me,” Gunter muttered.
Danny Random charged and decked the slack-jawed Dieter. The assistant fell back, crashing into a control panel. Sparks showered across the cabin, but the hero pushed through them to continue his attack. Dieter cried for help and tried to shield his face, but with one arm useless he put up a poor defense. In moments, Gunter’s assistant lay crumpled over the console.
Gunter dived for his Luger, hanging in its holster on the captain’s chair. Random was too fast, though, and intercepted the villain halfway to the chair. A quick one-two punch to the jaw sent Gunter staggering back against the steering wheel.
“Give it up, Razi!” Random said. “Where are the plans you were delivering to Berlin?”
Gunter growled, then grasped the steering wheel and heaved it hard over; the airship lurched and the cabin tilted over. Danny Random leapt and grasped the captain’s chair. The unconscious Dieter was hurled through the open hatch and vanished overboard.
There was a scream from behind the control panel, and the lovely Rita deMattis tumbled from her hiding place toward the open door. She screamed, and her arms and legs flailed, trying to find something to grab.
Danny Random came to the rescue. Strong arms stretched out, grasping her wrist. His legs wrapped securely around the supporting column under the captain’s chair.
“Miss deMattis,” he called over the roar of the wind, “we have to stop meeting like this.”
“Get me that exclusive and we won’t have to,” Rita said with a crooked smile and a wink.
“Oh for the love of,” Gunter muttered. He reached under the battered control console and yanked free a bundle of papers. A quick twist of a knob on his belt started a light blinking.
“It was unpleasant meeting you, Mr. Random,” Gunter said. “But I must now take my leave of this time. Maybe I’ll look you up in the footnotes of history sometime.” He smiled, waving the bundle of documents.
“I don’t think so, scumbag!” Random jerked one arm up, training a pistol on Gunter. It was Dieter’s pistol, no doubt swiped from the incompetent henchman during their tussle.
“Shit!” Gunter cried in a high pitched, panicky voice. He frantically tried to scramble out of sight, but could barely move thanks to the cabin’s skewed orientation. The gun blast was largely lost to the wind, but Gunter felt the impact. Pain lanced up his arm, and he involuntarily jerked free of the steering wheel. The secret papers scattered and he tumbled across the deck. He screamed as he slid past Rita deMattis and her hero and out the open door.
“It’s on you, sweetheart!” Danny Random cried. Before Rita could fathom what he meant, he doubled over and heaved her up deck toward the steering wheel. She let out a quick yelp of terror, then grasped the wheel. Rita hauled herself up and in moments had righted the out-of-control airship.
“Nice work,” Danny said as he stood to dust himself off.
“Not so bad yourself, there, Dan,” she said.
“Call me Danny.”
She cautiously crept to the edge of the open door and peered out at the English Channel.
“So much for—”
“Ah-ah,” Danny Random chided, interrupting her. He gripped the wheel and sent the ship in a slow turn back to the west. “That was Gunter Kruhl. I’ve been in this business long enough to know that nobody with a name like that dies so easily.”