Caught Red Handed

“Have you had enough yet?”

“Has the answer ever been yes?”

Melker winced as he bent and picked up his jousting stick, “Terms?”

“Loser picks,” Cho sang.

“Right,” he sighed, rolling his eyes.

Looking up he spotted the platform. Narrowing his eyes he examined the ledge. Perhaps it was the early start to the day. Or the 60 minutes of training. Or the whooshing of blood pumping through him, but he started to climb the rope ladder. Eyes gleaming Cho ran to the ladder on the opposite side of the column.  Pulling herself to the top Cho was confused when she didn’t see Melker waiting for her. A moment later he dropped down from the pole that passed through the platform.

“Terms: winner take all. The goal is to capture the flag,” he explained, gesturing above him. Fastened to a notch towards the top of the column was a bandana. “After this round we go get ready for class, agreed?”

“Perfectly acceptable,” she nodded and they were off.

Cho lunged toward Melker but before she could get very far he flipped open a panel on the shaft. Various buttons and levers quickly rose to the surface. Cho swung hard forcing Melker to duck. He blindly hit a button and adjusted a dial before springing back. As he retreated the platform began to pull apart and sections of it dropped down and folded into the column. Above the platform long poles branched out and started to rotate. Melker was briefly taken aback before refocusing. After a few moments of jumping from piece to piece of the platform he finally made it to the same section as Cho. He reared back to strike but before he could lunge he was knocked down by an arm. A brief chuckle came from Cho before she flipped back, dodging the arm.

As he caught his breath he began to rethink his strategy. He didn’t need to catch her, he needed to reach the flag before her. This must have occurred to her too because as he sat up she saw her jump onto one of the arms. Wasting no time he did the same. A passing arm, instead of knocking him over, became his now platform. He stood, and with careful balance edged his way toward the shaft. It was slow going as other arms rotated around forcing him to either flatten down or jump. Occasionally Cho and he would cross paths as well and they’d each make a halfhearted attempt at an attack. Reaching the column he began to climb. Cho too had made the column. He tried his best to stay out of reach, she liked to playfully pinch his hand whenever they grabbed the same hold. Playful or not, it stung.

They were within feet of the bandana when Cho finally spoke, “What’s the blinking light mean?”

“It means…wait, blinking?”

“Yup, blinking away.”

“It’s just the security camera.”

“No, that one is always on. I’m talking about that one,” she said gesturing.

Above the bandana a series of lights had appeared. As they stood transfixed they shifted from white to yellow to orange. As the flashed the frequency increased.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” he said.

Cho made a grab for the bandana, “me too.”

She tugged on the bandana but didn’t make much headway before Melker was beside her trying to wrestle it away first. As they futility pulled on the bandana in opposite directions they didn’t notice the light change colors. As they made the knot tighter and tighter the light stopped flashing. Slowly funnels descended from the ceiling and surrounded them. Once they finally noticed it was too late. With a bang, scarlet paint shot out covering them from head to foot. They stared at one another dumbstruck.

“Does this mean neither of us wins?” Cho asked.

“Why yes,” a voice called from below, “yes it does.”

Melker released the column in surprise and began to fall. Lightning quick Cho dropped too grabbing a still rotating arm just as she grabbed Melker’s ankle. As they hung there he tried to get his bearings. He could hear shuffling below him but was more focused on righting himself. The arms had started to disengage when the paint went off. One finally swung around within reach so he could grab it. Cho released him without comment. Then they both made their way to the ground, abandoning the bandana. It didn’t take long, but they left an obvious trail of paint.

As soon as her feet touched the ground Cho beamed, “Good morning Agent Lee.”

“Good morning Cho,” she sighed. Then turned and nodded, “Melker.”

“Morning ma’am.”

“What are you two doing?”

“Training,” Cho answered, simply.

“With paint?”

“That was an accident,” Cho replied.

Melker was happy to let her answer. In his experience silence was the best defense. His eyes darted back and forth as the two went at it. However after five minutes, with the paint starting to dry and pull on his hairs, he decided to end it.

“Sorry Agent Lee, I didn’t mean to initiate that particular protocol. I don’t think I could do it again even if I tried,” he finished with a meek smile. She looked at him, accessing. It didn’t take him long to realize she wasn’t really upset, despite the mess.

Standing even straighter she smiled, “I know. However you two will be back here for detention tonight to clean up the paint, fair enough?”

The both nodded and she dismissed them.

“Excellent,” Cho whispered once they were out of range.

“What is excellent?”

“Our rematch later today? Like you said, winner take all.”

He shook his head at his girlfriend’s inability to understand consequences. They took off their shoes and rolled their pants so they wouldn’t get stuck mopping every hallway in the school in addition to the training room. Then carefully making their way back to the dorm they discussed alternative obstacles for the rematch later that day.


Part of Agents & Abbies

Found via Pinterest.
Prompt: “What’s the blinking light mean?”
“It means…wait, blinking?”


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