Legal Theft Project: Countdown to Burnout

Aaron was not getting much sleep. While not unusual, it was irritating that his subconscious was the cause. No matter, it suited today’s cover to be a bit tired. He let it show in the slight droop to his shoulders, and the lazy way his eyes tracked the streets. He’d never enjoyed being likened to a cat, but he admitted that no one cared if a cat watched them as long as it lazed unthreateningly.

“Here’s your coffee.”

Aaron looked up and smiled gratefully at the waitress. “Thanks.”

“You enjoy and let me know if you need a top off.” She returned the smile before attending to other tables.

He wrapped his fingers around the mug with the same pleasure as a person discovering their keys in the first place they looked. He sipped and watched the movement on the street. It was getting worse. Few people wandered. Everyone out marched with purpose and most of them scanned the streets as if waiting for an accident. It was not quite the air of an occupied city. No one had the hunched shoulders and tense faces of those who feared. Aaron sipped at his coffee. He never enjoyed the drink, but it served his purpose.

A group of boys in perfectly pressed uniforms, shoes and shirts shining with righteousness jostled a few civilians who were chatting across from Aaron’s bistro. The civilians scattered like so many birds startled from a bush. Aaron noted one of the civilians glance back at the recruits. An older woman with strong features she stood straighter and her strides remained the same, but shorter and more staccato. No, things were getting hotter here in the city and Aaron did not regret causing it. He frowned into his coffee. Those sort of thoughts were becoming more and more common. He would have to be careful.

He reached into his bag and withdrew the files he wanted to work on. His fingers touched something cool and smooth. He withdrew the object as well. A music player, left over from a job, and maintained as a useful prop for his civilian personas. He hesitated briefly before unwinding the earbuds from the case and putting them in. Maybe there wasn’t even music on it, but of course there was – it would not do to neglect details. His lips twitched in the briefest of wry smiles. He could not remember the last time he’d listened to music for pleasure.

He pressed play and opened his files. One for me, one for AJ, one for E, and one for H. He sipped his coffee and ignored the way it soured in his stomach. One way or another he was getting out, even if all the storm currents in the city boiled over. If it was that simple, he’d be gone. But people never were – and people…

Aaron took a long pull of his coffee. Forget being Aaron, forget the other people Aaron could be, right now he needed to focus on keeping each of his plans on track, and do it quickly. He put pen to paper and got down to work ignoring the taunting voice in the back of his head that if he messed up, if he failed, then the storm would be his fault, that maybe… maybe he’d always been a failure. But of course that was ridiculous, he just needed more sleep.


I’ve been robbed! See what the wonderful Kathryn wrote with this first line on her blog. It may not be up yet due to the influences of dark magic.


2 thoughts on “Legal Theft Project: Countdown to Burnout

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