The Black Knight Squash Fiction League Match


Chapter 3 - Rough as it comes

by Richard Millman

Kim walked shamelessly naked from her small kitchen to her equally small bedroom.

She carefully placed two cups of coffee on the nightstand and slipped smoothly into the single bed behind the seemingly dreaming Christian.

She wasn't a promiscuous person by nature, but with repeated appearances of small masses within her over the past several years, she had decided not to miss out when she came across someone she liked.

And she liked Christian.

Apart from his wiry hard body, he had an intriguing turn of phrase, a quizzical humor that appeared superficial but afterwards left you pondering. She liked that. It suited her coach's mentality. Humorous but deeply inquiring.

For his part, Christian's love life was held hostage by wherever the Service sent him - usually not places conducive to meeting beautiful, athletic, Squash coaches with lovely voices and warm, soft, sensitive skin.

Christian turned around to face her in tight proximity.

"Seems like the only way to lie in this bed is one on top of the other," he teased.

She smiled.

"Really? Perhaps you had better show me how that goes again."

Within a few moments the Coffee cups on the nightstand were chinking rhythmically together as the bed bounced and moved.

The bed stopped moving as the couple sighed simultaneously in satisfaction.

But then, as they lay motionless, the Coffee cups began to shake and chink again.

First quietly, then loudly, then they fell on the floor.

Suddenly the nightstand was knocked over and the two naked bodies were flung like rag dolls against the bedroom wall as the boxlike structure of the room became an amorphous mass.

The whole world became an explosion of booming, shaking, rumbling sound for what seemed an eternity but was actually only four minutes.

Then - for about thirty seconds - there was silence.

First one, then another, then finally dozens of sirens across the city started whining their alarms. These were interspersed with a gradually increasing number of crying and moaning voices. Occasionally a desperate shout of "Help!" or "Help us!" could be heard and more rarely, the distressed yelping of a dog.

Rubble continued to fall and move, with larger structures collapsing with louder explosions as gas lines burst. Trickling water could be heard gradually increasing in strength.

Christian moved his head sideways.

"Kim?" he croaked uncertainly.

"Here." she said in a voice devoid of emotion.

Christian sensed trouble.

"Are you OK?"

She moved very slightly as he pushed the mattress and boxspring from on top of them.

"Don't know yet. More scared than anything else."

"What was that? An explosion?"

"No." Kim said, " San Andreas fault. An earthquake. A doozie. At least a six I would guess."

"Christ." said Christian. " We better see if we can get out of here. Can you move?

"I think so." She said.

Christian helped Kim up and they both surveyed each other and then what was left of the apartment.

They found their clothes strewn in various places.

"Thank God we're only on the second floor and it's only a four floor garden apartment complex." Kim said.

They scrambled over rucked up rugs and broken chairs. Everywhere there was a white dust - crumbled plaster, brick and sheetrock.

Finally they made it to where Kim's front door used to be.

Fortunately the stairwell was in order and they got out quickly.

Kim's building was actually structurally OK, despite the damage to the individual apartments.

As they emerged onto the street they saw that there were several buildings that hadn't been as lucky and like old fashioned dolls houses had had their entire facades removed.

An off-duty cop was flashing his badge and directing everyone to clear the area immediately for safety reasons.

"What now?" said Christian.

"Better check the Club." said Kim, "If we can get there."

Christian thought about his car.

"Where the Hell is it?" he thought to himself as he looked at the mayhem around them. " And what about that Bloody backpack?" he muttered darkly, under his breath.

They started picking their way toward the Club.


The phone was ringing constantly.

"14th Precinct. Donnelly speaking." said the desk sergeant, clearly fighting a losing battle.

Behind the glass windows that the sergeant stood in front of, in the offices of the criminal investigation unit, Chief John Mihalski was talking to his most senior detective, Shay Samuels.

" So at this point, four hours after the 'quake, the butcher's bill isn't quite as bad as we might have expected," Mihalski droned on, " twenty dead and sixty-eight injured in the downtown apartment complexes, unbelievably only five killed on the roads and cross town bridges and one guy in the marina near one of the piers."

Samuels cocked his head to one side quizzically. " I thought there was limited damage quayside?"

" Yes but I guess this guy was just unlucky. A couple of the yachts rode up on each other and one of the struts on the pier gave way. We assume he was on one of the two. Kinky thing was he had cuffs on one hand. Anyway you better get down there and check it out - make sure there's nothing to it. No good staying in town. EMS and the FD have got their work cut out for a couple of days and anyway it's too dangerous for you. Gas, electric and unstable buildings an' all."

"OK Chief," said Samuels and, sliding his threadbare corduroy pants off of the desk, sloped off with his big, athletic, loping gait toward the rear of the station and out into the chaos that lay beyond.


Meanwhile, Kim and Christian managed to pick their way through the pandemonium of downtown and in just less than an hour found themselves uptown outside Squash City.

Miraculously the 'quake had barely touched this part of town.

Kim used her personal key to open up and nervously tried the mains electric panel.


"Never mind," she said, and reaching further into the electrical closet, emerged with an enormous flashlight.

"Wait here," she told Christian and walked off into the gloom toward the back of the club.

Christian heard a few clicks and then a slowly accelerating whirring sound and then all the lights in the club came on simultaneously, followed by the reappearance of a smiling Kim.

"Generator's working. Fancy a shower?" she beamed.

Christian couldn't believe she was serious. This woman had just been in a major earthquake. He knew real field agents who would be more affected than this.

"Kim, we nearly died not two hours ago. Aren't you in shock?"

She shrugged her shoulders, threw back her head and gave him a winning smile.

"Get busy dying or get busy living buddy!"

"Or both." she thought to herself ironically.

She faced him provocatively with her hands on her hips.

"So which is it? Dyin' or livin'?"

Christian started unbuttoning his shirt.

"Livin' " he said as he walked through the door to the Women's locker room that she was holding open for him.

This girl was either crazy or a woman after his own heart.

He didn't know which - but he intended to find out.

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