Flash Fiction: Dust’s Cape

Courtesy jessicapeppler's Flickr

One of the titles generated by the Random Story Title Generator for this Terribleminds challenge inspired the following.

The people passing by on the street probably saw her as one of Boston’s countless bohemian young people. Between the purple in her hair and the rings in her lip, it was an easy mistake to make, and one she on which she relied. What was the point, after all, of maintaining a secret identity if people picked you out of a crowd on sight alone?

The Copley Plaza loomed over her. Her friend on the force dropped hints that Chavetti and his crew were meeting there. More than once in sessions at the social worker’s office that was practically her second home, the names came up. Chavetti. Charlie B. Big Mike. Dice. The same police friend had also indicated that they were here for a reason: meeting some big overseas honcho. Apparently, the FBI would be watching the hotel.

The thought made the sushi in her stomach flail in anxiety. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She’d walked through plenty of hotel lobbies before. If she walked with intent and didn’t look around nervously, nobody’d look twice. Even the gym bag wouldn’t seem out of place. She took a deep breath, crossed the street, and walked through the hotel doors.

Chavetti likes the suite on 6, her detective friend had said. He likes the view.

She didn’t pause or hesitate at all as she moved through the lobby. It was only once she was in the elevator that she caught her breath, and told herself to calm down. Once she pressed the button for 6, she dropped her gym bag, pulled it open, and removed the cape from within. It was long enough to cover her from her shoulders to her ankles, and the hood easily covered her entire head. As she swept it over her shoulders, she felt the sensation wash over her, like fine grains of sand were running down her entire body. It was not unpleasant, but it still unnerved her every time.

The cape was a curio, something that had been tucked away in her grandfather’s attic for years before she found it. Neither of her grandparents could provide an explanation as to what it was or where it had come from: her grandmother lost a battle with Alzheimer’s years ago, and her grandfather was very serious about the secrets he kept. Still, as the inscrutable magic of the cape swept over her street clothes, transforming them into the tough but flexible fabric that hugged her curves and protected her, she had to wonder where her grandfather had acquired it, and if he knew its true nature.

The elevator doors opened, and Dust stepped into the hallway. Discovering the cape had been eclipsed by discovering its powers, which had happened over several nights when she’d visited her grandfather with her parents after her grandmother’s funeral. Upon donning the cape for the first time, as it changed her clothes, she heard the voices of every mourning victim in her office. Social work wasn’t easy, and she’d always told herself that just listening made a difference. With the cape on, however, she always felt like she could do more than just listen. She could act. She could do what others could not. Touch those the law found untouchable. Bring justice where it was sorely needed.

So what if the cops called her a vigilante?

Dust approached the suite quietly. When she arrived at the door, she leaned towards it without touching it, her ear towards the wood. The doors were very thick, but she could make out several men laughing. Stepping back, she lifted the hood over her head, and focused her attention on the cape, and the arcane symbols stitched into its inner surface. She pulled the cape close around her, and in the next heartbeat, she felt herself dissolving into fine grains in the carpet. To a passer-by, she might have resembled a pile of brown sugar or sand. She was still capable of motion, however, and she slid under the door into the suite.

She couldn’t see so much as perceive the people in the room. There were at least six of them, possibly as many as eight. She had to assume they were all armed. She slid through the carpet towards what she hoped was the window, and willed herself to begin taking her normal shape. As she did, and her hearing came back, she heard the air conditioning turn on. This was good; any bit of wind could be helpful for her cause. When her eyesight was restored, she fixed her gaze on the short, slick, douchey face of Chavetti.

“I think you’ve made enough families mourn, Chavetti.”

Charlie B and Dice went for their guns. She waited for the last possible moment before she released her form again, moving with the wind as she felt bullets passing harmlessly through the dust she left in her wake as she moved. Dust stung the eyes of the gangsters and they began to fire wildly. She passed between them, moving as fast as she could, and when they started screaming in pain, she found herself smiling. She kept moving in her semi-dust state until the screaming either stopped or lessened to pained moans, and she stood before Chavetti, who was cowering behind a couch.

“You… you know who you just…”

“No. I don’t. Look at my face. Do I look like I care?”

Chavetti raised a hand. “Please…”

“Like all those families who begged you? You’ve had this coming.”

She went granular again, this time falling into Chavetti’s mouth and nose. The sensation was odd, but she mentally bore down and kept the gangster under her until he choked on her dust. Then, pulling herself free, she left the room the same way she entered, leaving the doorknob and lock untouched.

Outside, with her bag over her shoulder and tea in hand, she watched the police cars and ambulance speed in. She waited until they wheeled out the body bags, then walked away.


  1. OMG! THIS was great! You win…. need more….

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