From the archives: A Woman’s Place #flashfiction #amwriting


A Woman’s Place is in the Home

In the middle of a Hampshire suburb, Derek Bradshaw was living with a lie. On the outside, to everyone else, he was a mild-mannered accountant with OCD for cleaning and being punctual. He even had a pair of nail scissors, specifically for ensuring that every piece of grass on his meticulous lawn was exactly the same height. Of course these scissors were kept in his immaculate shed, to prevent them from bringing outside germs into his pristine house.

But what his neighbours, and indeed Derek’s own wife, didn’t know was that Derek Bradshaw was actually the employee of an organisation so secret that the Queen and Prime Minister didn’t know it existed.

While Alice, Derek’s beloved wife of ten years, was working as a legal secretary, or hoovering the cream carpet that ran throughout the semi-detached home, Derek was killing those who threatened the security of the United Kingdom.

It was hard to lie to friends and family, but it was part of the training, and Derek knew that if anyone found out what he really did, he would have to silence them. Permanently. On this particular day though, everything was about to change.

Derek was sat behind his desk, filling out the tedious paperwork that goes along with having terminated a terrorist, when his phone rang. It was Cecil, his boss, the man who had more power in his little finger than M from those silly James Bond films, could hope to wish for.

“I have a new target for you,” Cecil said. Derek listened intently as Cecil began to spill the details of a Chinese spy. British intelligence had intercepted a conversation that had triggered a codeword, and the spy was now active and plotting to kill prominent members of the UK government.

Derek sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He didn’t much care if the UK government was killed off. He’d only just returned from Syria and single-handedly defeated the IS troops, bringing peace and humanity to the entire world, of course giving all the credit to those girls and boys of both the US and UK forces. And now, he was being asked to save Britain once again. But it was his job.

“It needs to be done tonight,” said Cecil.

Derek agreed, and hung up.

Now, being the most punctual of people, Derek was always home at precisely seven p.m. but because of this new mission, he had to change his plans and found himself home at six-forty-six. Had he arrived home as he always did, then the following events may not have happened.

Alice was home, and hadn’t been expecting Derek for another fourteen minutes. She hadn’t cleaned up the mess that had been created in the kitchen, and when Derek walked in, already thinking of how he was going to track down and dispose of this Chinese agent, well… things didn’t get any better.

“What’s happened?” he asked, seeing the floor coated in a red, watery liquid.

Alice picked up cupcake with scarlet icing piped into swirls over the top. “I spilt the food colouring,” she explained and tried to smile and shrug it off. “No, no!” she exclaimed, as Derek went to move one bin bag filled with soggy red tissue. “I’ll do it. You go and relax,” she nodded.

Derek agreed, as he always did, and made his way upstairs. Once in the bedroom, he could still hear his wife clattering about in the kitchen, but he had more important things to consider than whether the food colouring would stain the beautiful white tiled floors. He hoped they didn’t though. The last thing he needed to do was hunt out matching tiles while he was trying to dispose of a body.

Loosening his tie, Derek began to change his clothes, removing his shirt and trousers and folding them up, before placing them into the laundry basket. He opened the wardrobe, dressed in a clean pair of black trousers and a black shirt, tucking a black balaclava into his pocket, and pressed a hidden button, which opened a secret drawer and allowed him to pick his weapon.

He was making his way back downstairs when he saw one last black bag by the back door. An arm flopped out. A severed arm, with a Chinese tattoo emblazoned across the flesh.

“Tut tut,” said Alice as she plunged the untraceable and fast-acting poison into the vein in Derek’s neck. “You should have been on time. I would have had it cleaned up by then,” she said in a Russian accent.

Derek died in his assassin-wife’s arms, and never did save the UK from Russian control. It turned out that Alice had been given the mission of killing not only the Chinese spy, but also the only British agent who stood in the way of Russia invading Britain. The fact that this unstoppable man was her husband, gave Alice as much of a surprise as Derek had felt when his heart stopped. But, as all good contract killers know, it’s just a job.

So, comrade, now you know how a mild-mannered man with OCD from Hampshire, was responsible for the demise of human rights and the freedom of all British citizens. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there is nobody better at keeping secrets than a woman, especially one who happens to also be a secret agent and deadly assassin. The moral of this story would have to be that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.


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