Creative Writing Challenge: 2AM Photo – One New Message

Image based on You Have One New Message by bixentro, I couldn’t resist thisCC-BY-2.0

I couldn’t resist this little writing challenge. Here’s my offering!

My phone buzzed, filling the room in an eerie white-blue LED light. I bolted upright and grabbed the Colt Python from under the pillow, scanning the room. I relaxed slightly and picked up the phone. It was 2am and there was nothing new but the phone message. The message was an oddity; there were no words, no explanation, just a photo. A city street scene with a store front and a red door that had the number 53 on it. Who the hell was it from? It rang familiar but I couldn’t place it.

2am and I was drunk with sleep. Crawling from the body-warm bed, I splashed cold water on my face from the tap. The resulting shiver didn’t feel good but made me more awake. I shouldn’t have slept so long. More than forty minutes of sleep at a time messed with me. I was strange that way. Sleep was like submission and something I actively avoided. Tonight had been the exception. The job I was on was wearing me down, making me constantly on edge. I’m pretty resilient but even I start to hallucinate after too many hours alert.

53, it seemed a familiar number. Now who would send me the photo and at the godforsaken hour of 2AM and then not sign the email? My mind wandered down roads it didn’t want to travel. I’ve been set up far too many times to not be cautious. But it couldn’t be related to this job – I mean who even knew I was watching?

Then it hit me. 53. The age of the mug I was tracking. In my line of work, there are no coincidences. I opened the laptop and zoomed the photo.

The door was definitely red, the exact color of his tie in the photo I’d been sent. I could just make out the bottom letters on the awning of the store front. OWED. Strange name for a fruit stand. The mangoes were Manila and the price sign said $1m.

As I said before, there are no coincidences. I could now wrack my brain for hours about who might have sent the photo but I knew that it would get me nowhere. Hitting reply would blow my timing. People with resources paid others well to hide them. The question remained if it was a warning or a threat. I was betting that the price on my target’s head had just gone up. I checked the tracker and cursed aloud.

It was dead. Hopefully my live tracker wasn’t. I had already hit the dial code.



“Do you have visual?”

“Yes, Boss.”

“Is there a gun at your head?”

A pause. “No Boss, should there be?”

Good. It was a tagline. He was actually okay.

“Don’t lose him. I’ll be there in 5 minutes.” I was already shrugging my holster on and grabbing my jacket.

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