Flash Fiction: Late Night, Hong Kong

Xiulan Qi stretched back, peering at the monitor on her laptop over her glasses before settling back into her chair. The code in front of her danced before her weary eyes and things started to run together like the tiny oil slicks on the streets outside. She looked out the window and, yes, it was dark. She got up, pushing the chair back with her legs as she padded barefoot into the kitchen. The new Linda Chung album stopped playing a long time ago. Hours? Maybe. She always had trouble following the passage of time while coding. But her client needed this app ready for demo next week and the more she got done tonight the less she’d have to do in the morning.

Opening the fridge she absently-mindedly reached for a Pepsi but, to her profound annoyance, she was out. “Tā māde!” she swore. Even under her breath, it seemed to echo in the empty apartment. She closed the fridge and stretched again, arms over her head and bending backwards. Her shirt rode up a bit and caught slightly on her new bellybutton piercing. She tugged it down over her panties again. She’d gotten comfortable hours ago when it was still light outside and wore only her tank top and simple white cotton underwear. She ran her fingers through her dark hair and leaned against the door frame, looking at her bed. Sleep tugged her toward the unmade bed, covered with pillows and stuffed animals. She resisted and looked out the window again, wondering if she should just go down to the street and grab something to drink.

As she pondered, her cellular went off, making her jump as the noise spilled over into the silence.

She picked it up and checked the screen. Mingxia. Smiling, she answered the phone.

Wèi, Ming-ming,” she said, dropping back in her desk chair and calling her lover by her pet name. “What’s up? I thought you were working?”

“Hey, sweetie. I was but I got off early. It was dead tonight so they let a few of us out early.” Xiulan could hear the sounds of the city through Mingxia’s phone. Hong Kong is almost always bustling with activity, but it sounded remarkably quiet at this hour. “What’re you up to? Still working on that app?” Ming-ming asked.

“Yeah, but I hit a stopping point, much as I hate to admit it. Damn data won’t come through properly, so I’m sure I’ve got something wrong in the API implementation. I could pull it through RSS or something but….” she trailed off and giggled before continuing. “But you stopped listening or caring around the point I said ‘data’ didn’t you?”

“No no! Please continue! I haven’t a clue what the hell you’re talking about but I’m sure APIs are just fascinating.” Mingxia said, her voice full of playful sarcasm.

“Oh, I’m not going to bore you with tales of Objective C and OTA security?”

“No. But someone as smart as you are should be using Objective D, I think. That’ll give you a lead on other programmers out there… or something.”

“Now you’re making stuff up as you go along,” Xiulan said, easing back in her chair with a sigh of mock exhasperation. “You heading home?

“I’d rather not. My sister is still there and she’s still pissed at her boyfriend so all I get to hear about is how big a júhua he is. I was going to ask if I could stay the night at your place.”

“You don’t even have to ask,” Xiulan said, a tired smile crossing her face. “I don’t know how much fun I’ll be tonight. I’ve been working on this most of day and I was about to get someting to drink and pass out before you called.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll let you sleep… eventually.” Mingxia said, her voice edged with seduction. “After all, you know how I hate to shower alone.”

Xiulan, rubbed her hand over her face and looked at her ceiling. For a moment she flashed back to a street vendor, selling noodles and rice not far from her apartment. A beautiful woman with streaks of red in her hair was leaving just as she crossed the street, drawn by the wonderful smell of his food. The woman lost her grip on skewered chicken satay and, by some weird miracle, Xiulan caught it, by the stick, before it hit the ground. The woman thanked her and they struck up a conversation.

She worked for a small restaurant as a hostess, waitress, and even occasional cook. Xiulan was taken by her perosnality, so unlike hers. While Xiulan had no problem with people, Mingxia reveled in them. She was so open and exciting, unlike Xiulan who was just as happy to hide in her flat and read her eBooks. Two hours later they finally went their separate ways, with each other’s phone numbers, and plans to get together for a little shopping the next day.

Zaibatsu. Tokyo. Akimov Mikhail
Zaibatsu. Tokyo. Akimov Mikhail

Xiulan was fairly certain she loved her, and by the end of their shopping trip she had a new skirt, a hooded sweater, and a girlfriend. Mingxia revealed to her over lunch that she’d been single for a year after a horrible relationship with another woman . Xiulan nearly choked on her food when she heard that, her mind tingling with the knowledge of Mingxia’s preferences for women. She wasn’t sure how things happened after that, or in what order. All she knew is that Mingxia woke up in her arms the next morning and they’d been together ever since.

“Hey, you there? You okay? Mingxia’s voice snapped her back to the present.

“Yeah,” Xiulan smiled. “I’ll see you when you get here, pretty lady. I’m gonna throw something on and pop downstairs to get a Pepsi. You want anything?”

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Copyright 2013, Daniel Messer, under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – Share Alike

contact Dan via cyberpunklibrarian@gmail.com

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Image: Zaibatsu. Tokyo by Akimov Mikhail. See more.

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