Legal Theft Project: Loopholes

The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. There were other factors of course. Dying in the first place was a pain and a half, manner of resurrection, possible bargains, and loss of property due to being deceased were all difficult, but being attacked on sight because of disbelief and grief was grating. So what if you were in a binding bargain with a demonic power? You weren’t evil, it was just that you had limited options. There were ways out of that. There always were, I mean, demon deal was a loophole out of being dead. Forget other ideas of boundlessness, its loopholes and human stupidity. Though describing the universe as basically one giant loophole recursion into infinity wasn’t a bad way to think about it. But I digress from the point at hand. To sum up: been dead, got better, came back, got attacked, friends threatening to make me dead again.

Lying as bonelessly as possible in an attempt to convince all and sundry that I really did mean to be good and not be perforated with holes leading to a loss of vital fluids was only being so successful. “I swear it’s been hours. Can you at least let me sit up?”

This did not sway the friends who were still threatening me with pointy things.

Benny, who was sitting out all this weirdness with a book, didn’t even look up. “It’s been less than five minutes.” He lifted his head in thought, then looked back down. “I think you were dead longer than that.”

This sparked more conversation between those who were deciding my fate via lethal weapon. I would have sighed, but they may take it as a sign of aggression.

I stole this first line as part of the Legal Theft Project and am very curious to see how everyone else defined ‘dead’. If you are too, click here.

Legal Theft Project: Drifting with Purpose

Aurora stormed back to her lodgings and slammed her door shut. Everything smelled like fish. She smelled like fish. She couldn’t not smell like fish, it was in her clothes, her bloody hair smelled like fish. She was halfway across the world. How did she end up here?

The room seemed to twist slightly, but it couldn’t be because she was sober, damn it. She didn’t conduct business drunk. She took two steps over to low table, yanked out a stick of incense, and fumbled the match to light it twice. Now her room would smell like incense and fish. She plopped down on the cushions that surrounded the table. Cushions in place of wingback chairs, a raised mat for sleeping, a narrow closet for her ever growing collection of clothes in bright silks and embroidered cranes. She looked over into the mirror. The woman in the mirror looked back, her dark eyes a bit wild. She couldn’t place her. Aristocratic bones, dark hair and eyes, tanned skin, eastern dress. No one back home would recognize her.

Here she was, halfway around the world, and for what? Following two men she’d known all of six months across the seas? Running from pirates. Becoming a pirate. What would her parents think?

What would her parents think. She took several deep breaths and managed not to choke on the incense. A bath would help. Several cool drinks of water, and a visit to the baths. She was becoming someone she’d never expected. She weighed the feeling as she shed her clothes. It wasn’t a bad one. It was the expectation of judgement that had her in a breathless panic. Which was ridiculous. She pulled on her bathing robe and belted it as she heard her two roommates return. Now was not the time to discuss her sudden internal crisis with her friends. She shook her head and let her hair hang loose. Friends. The best friends she had. Ever. People who knew her and liked her anyway. They themselves were an odd pair, and the three of them worked well all together. As she started down the back stairs to the bath house, she weighed her friends against the possible recriminations of home. And her friends won. It wasn’t no contest, but it was a very solid lead. She could figure the rest out later. Maybe write her parents. She made a face and shuddered. The dratted honesty of paper. Maybe she owed it to them. She’d think about it when she stopped smelling so much like fish.

I’ve been robbed! The line ‘Everything smelled like fish.’ was stolen and I’ve found it popping up in the lairs of Legal Thieves. Look! They’re right here.

Legal Theft Project: Security Blanket – Part 2

She woke up deliciously warm. She blinked sleepily and held the comforter up to her chin. Soft as a cloud and warm as a bakery at mid morning and twice as cozy, she adored her bed. She’d picked out the delicate violet duvet cover and the soft cream flannel sheets. Rolling over she looked at the narrow window and smiled at the pale rose curtains she’d made herself. She hugged her teddy bear as she gave thanks for another day where she wouldn’t worry about if she would eat, or if she would get too cold, or if… There were too many ifs to list. So many things she did not take for granted, not for one minute. Long sleeved floral pajamas. Slippers to keep her feet warm as she slipped out of bed.

The sun was up and warming the clouds, making the snow piled outside look like a glittering down blanket. Her breath fogged up the window and she drew a star in it. Gliding over to the door, she cracked it open and took a deep breath. The morning smelled of cinnamon rolls, citrus, and pine. She slipped down the stairs and perched on her usual stool.

Her guardian looked over from icing the cinnamon rolls and smiled at her. “You can open your stocking if you like.”

She glanced over at the pretty tree, with its white sparkling lights and elegant decorations, a couple brightly wrapped boxes underneath. Then over at the fireplace where two stockings hung, both pleasingly full. She smiled and shook her head. “I’ll wait for you.” Sitting very politely she watched the progress of icing swirling over cinnamon rolls.

Something festive and orchestral played softly from the hidden speakers. This was only their second Christmas, and it was far more deliberate than that first holiday when she’d snuck in a pint sized tree. He’d blinked, asked her if she wanted to celebrate, and then gone out and bought garland and holly and stockings and candles. The tree was bigger this year, the garland fresh, and all of the uncertainty was banished.

Cinnamon rolls frosted, kitchen tidied, he turned back toward her and smiled. “They need to rest for five minutes.”

The grin took over her face like sunrise and drew some matching warmth out of him. She took down his stocking and he took down hers, and they exchanged. He sat down in his arm chair and she sat on the floor next to the coffee table. He’d gifted her two bottles of good ink, hair ribbons in a cascade of pastel shades, a new pair of sewing scissors, some candies, and a tea cozy shaped like a cat. She’d given him a set of gourmet sea salts, an oven thermometer, a fine ball point pen, an orange, and several smaller exotic fruits. Finally, she gave him a hug. For the first time, she knew they would both be warm that year. And possibly the next year. It was a good thing to count on.

This first line was stolen by a gang of thieves awhile back. So I decided to steal it too. See Part 1 or the other stolen works by clicking the links.

Legal Theft Project: The Tipping Point

She shut the computer with a furious snap. Then, unsatisfied, picked up a throw pillow and hurled it across the room with a scream. One deep breath later and she felt better. In the scheme of things, it didn’t matter who got the credit. The press can laud the jock as often as they want to and cast her as the socialite girlfriend if they felt so inclined. She’d come away with something much more valuable than a headline. “Local Teen Rescues Friends from Homicidal Lunatic” trivialized what they’d been through. What they’d done. What she’d done.

A slow smile crossed her face and the reflection in her Victorian era mirror shivered. She tucked her laptop carefully away in its cubby on her rosewood desk and picked up a small dark iron key ring from a glass bowl. The keys dangled from her fingers as she stepped quickly past the elegant four poster and into her closet. Ignoring racks of shoes and dresses as she clicked open the secret door in the back wall. She listened to make sure her parents were still entertaining friends in the downstairs parlor before placing a key in the hidden lock and sliding the panel door to the side to look at her collection.

Her breath caught for a moment. The shelves held an assortment of beautiful, wicked things. A dark black bottle that seemed to writhe in the light on the top shelf next to an ancient silver amulet. Gems were inlaid around the edges of the amulet, surrounding an inscription in some unknown ancient language. The shelf below held a rabbit’s foot charm and a dagger. The dagger was made of crystal and steel with needles and tubes in a dangerous array both toward the blade and a few curving back toward the hilt. She ran a finger down the blade. It served her well in that place. Even if it made her feel cold inside. Even if her wrist still had faint scars from needles and blades. The third shelf held a battered ring, the inscription incomprehensible, and a crystal ball with hazy images spinning indistinctly through the glass. This was true wealth. This was real. Let the world say what they wanted about the past events. A slow smile crept over her face, and she passed her hand over the crystal ball. It would probably help her in the future. There had to be more. Such beautiful complicated things did not spring up in defiance of all known practices alone. They were wrought, forged, imbued, or cursed.

Maybe she should plan another group trip. Somewhere foreign. Somewhere…. Her eyes drifted back up to the dagger. Somewhere dangerous. Maybe she’d invite her friends.

She closed and locked her cabinet. Sliding the panel back into place, she couldn’t shake the smile. She’d give it a few weeks. This time she wanted to know what she was getting into.

I stole this first line from that diplomatic machete wielder’s “Small Gifts.” Shhhh. Don’t tell, I don’t think the theft has been noticed yet.

Legal Theft Project: Dangerous Fascinations

The Captain’s favorite detective had just staggered out of his office, demanded to speak to Organized Crime’s second most wanted, and declared his last name was Hawthorn, at least today wouldn’t be boring. Well, it was probably going to get her fired as there was no way she could keep her nose away from this delightful little drama, but… wow. The currently declared Hawthorn was bundled into one of the interview rooms while someone got the captain and Piper took advantage of the hubbub to slip into her superior’s office. He was the only damn detective with an office. And thankfully, upset enough to leave his computer on. There had to be fifteen tabs open. Most of them were news sites dealing with the recent arrest of J. Westwood. Except… Piper clicked through a couple tabs. The articles spanned the last five years of public information on her.

You would think that he would be happy about the second most wanted organized criminal getting arrested. Well, perhaps he was. Maybe he was harboring some form of old vendetta and wanted to confront the woman about it. The last tab left her blinking.

Then she let out a low whistle, flipped the tabs back to their original order and left the office. No wonder he had such strong feelings about procedure and source rights.

It used up most of her favors to get a spot, but Piper managed to get into the viewing room for the Detective… Hawthorn and J. Westwood interview. Westwood possessed striking features. A strong face, not beautiful or pretty. It left an impression. She was all ease and confidence. A person who knew what was coming and had accepted the consequences of police hospitality. Piper made a face. The woman would probably be getting book and movie offers by the end of the week. The detective was hesitating in the hallway. He wasn’t going to help the media blitz, tall, dark, handsome, and broody did a leading man make. Piper took a few notes, just for future thought. Finally, the interview room door opened. Westwood looked at the door and remained seated as the detective sat down across from her.

“Hullo, Jess,” he said.

Westwood froze, reexamining the detective’s face, before letting out a long slow breath. Piper was impressed at the lack of swearing. Then again, maybe she hadn’t figured out the history between the two as cleverly as she’d thought.

“This is unexpected,” Westwood said with pointed blandness. She maintained her casual posture, maybe it fooled someone, but it didn’t fool her, and evidently didn’t fool the detective.

“Is it?” The detective’s tone was mild. “Did you really think I’d let you take the fall for them?”

“We’ve all made our choices.” Her arm rested on the table and her gaze was level with a bit of warning.

The detective leaned forward slightly, then clearly thought better of what he was about to say. He ran a hand over his face. “Fine, let’s at least be idiots together.”

Westwood rolled her eyes and glared at him. “No.”

“I’ve already told my captain. Already crossed that bridge.” The detective was relaxing. Clearly he’d made some decision. In contrast, Westwood was finally swearing.

“-damn it, too many people would die, E-” She cut herself off, and rested her head on her hands for a moment. “Caught between two Hawthorns is my least favorite place to be.”

“Worse than prison?” He asked it half as a joke.

“Yes,” Westwood replied seriously. “Prison has easy to identify rules that I could follow and break because I know the consequences. This… this is a leap of faith between realities. Yours, mine, and his, and you know the difficulty I have when my heart’s involved. Especially when it’s involved on both sides.”

The detective let out a short, pithy swear. Westwood chuckled a little. “That the first time the people behind the glass have heard you swear?”

“Not the first.”

“I want a lawyer. I need more time.”

“We’ll see what we can do.” He started to rise, she watched him. He hesitated and a whole conversation passed in looks. Then he left.

Piper upgraded the threat to her future posed by her curiosity from ‘probably fired’ to ‘probably dead in the river at midnight’. She watched Westwood for a moment longer, the woman was recovering her composure at a remarkable speed. But Westwood wasn’t her main concern any more. She had a call to make.

Stepping outside, she leaned against the wall so she had a good view of any eavesdropping locations. She dialed the number she’d only memorized for emergencies, and tapped the back of her heel against the wall.

“Able,” was the terse answer.

“You are a sneaky, underhanded bastard, and you dropped me into an untenable war between at least four strong willed, implacable … well, I would call you all criminals, but considering what I’m doing, maybe we’ll just go with, nope. I don’t have a word for this.”

“Piper,” the voice acknowledged her. “You have eyes on our mess.”

“Yep, very close eyes. Clever of you not to mention who I was watching. It also meant I know they’ve spoken and it was odd. What do you need me to look into, specifically?”

“Lass, if you want out before this gets-”

“You can pay me back by telling me every bloody thing that happened then, and now, and in between. If I end up a casualty, you can put, ‘The damn cat wouldn’t listen’ on my tombstone. Now, what did you need?”

He told her.

“That is a damn odd shopping list. I’ll get it. You owe me a case of Amber Keyes Root Beer and so many explanations. Later, of course. I’m going back to keeping an eye on your boy.”

“Thank you, Piper.”

She blew a loud kiss at the phone and hung up. Life was complicated, deadly, and grand. She skipped a few steps as she headed back into the precinct.

Stole this first line from Kid’s “The First Switch“. I may have stolen one of her characters too….. see if you can spot which one.

Legal Theft Project: Red for the Blood that Covered Them Both

Taryn hesitated on the balls of his feet, wondering how there could be so much hazard in the cut of a smile. The man in red wasn’t even looking at him and Taryn watched in fascination as no one else noticed the warning. With an odd sort of double vision Taryn watched the man in red lean forward. Amicable. Deadly. His hand stilled on the hilt of his blade, at once calm reason and imminent threat. The dual nature invisible to the men he spoke to, and all too clear to Taryn.

In a blink, the curved knife slashed the closest sailor across the face from crown to chin, barely missing the eye, and the man in red smiled as his target swore. The group ebbed away from the man in red, lowly muttered epithets on their tongues as the smiling man flicked the blood from his blade. He asked them a question. The group paled, then vanished like smoke.

The man in red took out a black handkerchief and cleaned his knife before sheathing it and restarting the menacing tattoo of fingers on hilt.

Lazily, he glanced over at Taryn and leaned back against the wall of the building as if to say, What of it?

Taryn flushed, feeling like he’d been found wanting against the strangely weighted mechanics of the man’s eyes. But the hazard vanished from the smile the man in red shot his way as he walked over slowly. It would have been easy to run, but Taryn stayed. Slowly unfreezing from his initial shock.

“You’d be the poor mite then,” said the man in red.

It wasn’t the kind of greeting Taryn had grown to expect. This was better. “I am…”

The man laughed and his smile crinkled up at the corners. Taryn blinked. The odd double vision was back. There was no menace in his laugh, smile, or the creases on his face, but his hand was still tapping the hilt of his knife. Though in a slower cadence.

“Bloody proper manners all over, isn’t it?” He didn’t pause for an answer. “Most call me Blade, little otter. I don’t stand on ceremony.”

“Taryn.” He asked the questions before he thought about it. “Why are you here and why did you hurt those men?”

“I’m one of the Serpent’s dogs and Mercer wanted to wear red bad enough I thought it should go on his face the only way he would get it.” The man called Blade rocked back on his heels and swept his gaze desultorily from Taryn’s ankles to his face. “Red isn’t your color.”

“You’re wearing red,” Taryn said ducking his head a little, but not for long.

“I answer only to your grandfather.” Blade tilted his head. “The reds are his, the blue are his dragon’s, and the greens are you and yours.”

Taryn blinked then looked down at his clothes. “I’m not wearing green.”

Blade shook his head and started walking as he spoke. “Doesn’t mean you aren’t.”

Taryn hurried to keep up. He opened his mouth and Blade cut him off.

“I’m not a smart person to follow around, kid,” the hand not tapping a staccato on his knife waved dismissively to the side. “Too many flailing limbs, not enough…” he grinned, “thought.”

“But you don’t like them either,” Taryn bit his lip at the admission.

“Like?” Blade stopped in his tracks and looked at Taryn in utter bafflement. Taryn shrugged.

“The-the people who act like, like I’m,” he shrugged unable to put it into words, “you aren’t their friend.”

Blade leaned his head back and laughed. The startled laugh of true humor. “Taryn,” he said after a moment to catch his breath, “I don’t have friends.” He only tapped one finger against the knife in an almost absent gesture. “I love my ship. I listen to your grandfather. And I might like you.”

Taryn’s responding smile was surprisingly satisfied. “Then that’s a good reason to follow you around. Nobody else likes me, they’re all too busy plotting things.”

Blade considered a moment, then shrugged. “You look after your own head.” He started walking again. “And be respectful to my ship.” Taryn grinned and trotted after him.

I stole this from an eternal apprentice awhile back. Her piece was easy as a whisper. See what everyone came up with here.

Legal Theft Project: Security Blanket-Part 1

She woke up deliciously warm. There was a faint crackling of a fire and a richly scented promise of chocolate nearby. For three whole heartbeats she forgot about cold and fear. She let out a silent breath and fully opened her eyes. She was in a sparsely decorated living room. Two windows, sealed, no latches. Three doors and an archway. Light and sound came through the arch. Clinking and clanking of a kitchen and the subtle rustling of cloth from a single person moving. The other doors, two interior and one exterior. Exterior door locked. Interior unlocked.

The coffee table in front of her held a tray with a small mug of hot cocoa and a plate of gingerbread.

“You’re awake.” A man was standing in the archway, leaning against the frame. She froze, looking for warning signs, but he didn’t come any closer. “I found you on the roof. You were too cold. I thought you might die. I brought you in. Made sure you were warm. The cocoa and gingerbread are yours.” He stopped briefly, but she did not reach for the treats. He didn’t nod but she got the sense of one anyway. “I am going to go back into the kitchen to make some soup and a sandwich. Then I will bring them out on a tray, and you may have them as well. After I leave the tray, I am going to go through that door,” he nodded at the interior door closest to him, “and not come out until tomorrow morning. You can sleep here. The other door is the bathroom. Use what you need.” And he turned back into the kitchen like he said he would. Adults said a lot of things. Some times they did what they said, but most times they didn’t. She made sure she had a clear view to the kitchen before taking the mug and slowly sipping the cocoa. It warmed her insides just as delightfully as the blanket and fire had warmed her outsides. The whole environment soothed the familiar ragged edge to a strange ache. She set the empty cocoa mug down and clutched the blanket around her shoulders.

“I’m coming in now,” the man said from the kitchen.

She slipped off the couch and moved to the end farther from him, keeping the arm between them. The man walked to the coffee table and set down the tray. “Tomato soup and grilled cheese. Leave the dishes on the tray when you’re done. I’m going to my room now. I hope I’ll see you tomorrow.” He nodded to her and left through the other door.

The grilled cheese was crackly brown with butter and the tempting cheese melted slightly out of the sides where it got all crispy. The bowl was small and the sandwich was a half. She sat down and took a small bite of the sandwich. Her eyes closed. Cheese and bread had never tasted so good. In small bites, she ate the entire sandwich and the soup. For the first time in weeks she really felt full.

She left the dishes on the tray and went to explore the bathroom. She washed her face, re-braided her hair, and perused the linen closet. Among the linens, she chose a sturdy grey pillow case and carried it to the kitchen. There was a distinct lack of Ziploc bags. All the food was kept in glass or ceramic containers. Half had labels she didn’t understand. She did find aluminum foil, parchment paper, and plastic wrap, so she made small packets of essentials as she raided the pantry. Dried fruit and nuts, packets of uncooked rice or dried beans, or any other non-perishable, she made well thought out packets of supplies, wrapped them carefully, and packed them in the pillowcase. In case she had to run, at least she wouldn’t be hungry. Her eyes were getting heavy as she made sure everything was meticulously back in its proper place in the pantry. Clutching her running bag, she dragged her feet back over to the couch. Clambering onto it, she tucked the bag between her body and the back of the couch so it wouldn’t be seen and pulled the blanket up over herself. The fire was mellow and low and she was warm from food and the soft hug of the blanket. Her eyes closed and she hoped that this dream, maybe, could last a little longer.

Thieves abound! See who stole this first line over at the new Legal Theft site.

Legal Theft Project: Ripples in Time

The ashen clouds began to clear, letting sunlight stream into the twisted wrecks. The siren avoided the slashes of light, slipping herself between broken boards and crushed hulls. Countless ships had crashed and sunk on the surrounding rocks. Whether from sea, storm, or siren the end result was the same, wreckage, bones, and the detritus of human endeavor. Swimming through the shadows in the broken galleon she ran her webbed hand against the splintered wood, tugging more of it into disarray. There a chest buried in silt, there a rusted cannon, and here, the clean bones of a man. She grasped the skull and lifted it to her eyes, turning it this way and that.

And it looked like bone. Incredibly clean bone. She smirked, hiding her teeth. It elicited nothing in her. Not even when it had held the mind of a man and the muscles to move and a fair and pleasing shape did they ever mean more than a challenge or a diversion. A hunt, then satisfaction, of either or both kinds.

She thought of her sister, the rituals, the oaths, the promises spun fragile as still water and twice as deep, now binding her to the world of flesh and death. Of the mortals who danced and cheered as their prince wed. Of herself walking into the sea queen’s halls and telling her sisters what Liira had done. Of the bafflement and rage so counter to the fire and welcome of the mortal rite. And she wondered at the transmutation of it all.

Her liege would call it true love. He flattered the couple with gifts, with rewards for a state that he believed they’d earned. The fool would call it folly, if he thought of it at all. In all aspects it was as foreign to her as touching the surface of a star. Singular. Untenable. She leaned back against the hull of the ship and held the skull in both hands. It revealed no new mysteries.

Yet it could bind her. One day it could be a nephew, a grandniece, or… she shuddered and released the skull. She would handle that duty when it descended on her. If it did. For all she knew the mortal customs would demand her sister remain landlocked with her lover for eternity. She bared her teeth at the skull now settled on the seafloor. How dare it mock her with the folly of time. She swam through the wrecks to the dark open water and dove deep. Away from the slashing beams of light and into the unsettling depths that would crush a mortal man. Drawing her blade, she held it close to her arm to minimize drag and looked for trouble. But as she swam, she could not escape the trickling sense of mortal time passing far above, the niggling thought that a ship with one of her blood could be sailing by without her blessing, in danger from those in the deep who frown on those who cross the lines the wrong way. The deep did not give up its takings without a fight.

She soared through the water, challenging the menaces of the deep to dance with her. To take up a fight that was as much a part of her as teeth and song and scale. None answered her. She swam back up. Past the wrecks. Up to the rocks, where she sheathed her blade and pulled herself out of the water. It wasn’t a song that burst from her lips, but a scream. It did not in the least resemble something human. It pierced the air and seemed to make the sun waver as she sustained it. The water seemed to slow its swell, and gulls froze, gliding or standing. Then she let it die and waves rushed away from her. Empty of… something. And yet… she felt no better. She stood upon the rock and shed her scales, shaking back her hair, and donning her armor. It was enough.

I stole this first line from that machete wielding rogue. She wrote about “Illusions of Home.”

Legal Theft Project: The Proper Lighting

Outside the open apartment gate, a small pack of children threw rocks at passing cars. Fen ignored them and got a closer look at the shattered window and colorful graffiti that circled it. He got a few decent shots, playing with the afternoon light and saturation. He’d gained a small audience by the time he lowered the lens. Apparently he was more interesting than automobiles. He didn’t blame them. If he’d been out on the trail he would have had something for them. Something to light up the day and let them remember him. But … he simply lived here. So he stowed his camera and walked off, long legged strides leaving the curiosity and palpable pressure of boredom at his heels. A block later and he broke into a run. Tightened his camera bag strap so it wouldn’t fly off, and raced down the streets. Stares, whispers, and swears followed him. When he nearly tripped over a man leaving a shop and was treated to an improbable account of his ancestry, he finally slowed. He checked the sun and grudgingly turned his feet toward home, he still had homework to do.

His father was busy with the evening rush and his sister was off with her friends preparing for some school event. He understood glitter and poster board were involved. He managed not to shudder. Slogged through about a quarter of his assigned homework. Took a break by writing his required sentences for Spanish as a villanelle and then gave up entirely. Formulaic, cohesive, unimaginative crap. He put on the CD of traditional guitar he’d gotten when he last visited Spain and pulled up his pictures from the day. He studied the broken window, played with light levels and sharpness. Flipped back to earlier in the day, a blurred shot of a crosswalk, an electrical box so covered in tattered paper you could barely tell what its intended purpose was, the stark contrast of the new bakery next to the abandoned lot with the rusting car. He played with mood, making some stark, some bright, more false… but nothing worked. Frustrated he went downstairs and dug into the cookie jar. His sister must have been experimenting as his cookie contained both chocolate chips and butterscotch and the texture was delightfully crispy. He left her a note and headed back up the stairs.

It was the music that was wrong. Nothing about the pictures he’d taken felt like Spanish guitars. He flipped through his collection and made a list of modern, mostly eerie music and settled down in front of his computer screen. This time through, the broken glass was opportunity wasted, the electrical box showed time and carelessness, and the bakery seemed illogical in its place on that corner. Here, with the ability to manipulate moods, light, and blur, the world he was trapped in took on other properties. Transforming from desperate to mysterious, from abandoned to ancient. From mundane to magical. They became places he was willing to spend time. They just needed proper shading.

I stole this first line from a machete wielding diplomat. Well, at least it gave us something to do.

Legal Theft Project: Take that Bet

“You won’t be leaving this town alive.” He leaned over her car door, beer and menace on his breath. Lore smiled softly at him and brought up the mace in her right hand. Right in his eyes. Point blank. She turned the key, the engine revved and he was left, swearing, in her tail lights. His cronies were piling in cars and speeding after her. Two wild spurts of gun fires whistled up the street behind her. One dinged the paint. She shifted into a higher gear and made a beeline for the highway. Three quarter tank of gas and everything she owned in the world heaped in the trunk next to five and a half thousand dollars. Some men couldn’t take losing. She sped through a red light and cursed the fact that bullets were cheap as three more skidded over the back end of her red convertible.

Shifting again, she dodged three civilians in pokey sedans. Thankfully none of them swerved into her or her pursuers. The irritated gamblers weren’t driving terribly well. Her smile took on a razor edge as she flew up the freeway on-ramp. If she could avoid getting shot  for the next five miles she would lose them for good on the coastal highway. No way they would take those curves at her speeds.

She dropped into fifth gear and said a brief prayer of encouragement to her car. A few more shots trailed after her, but she barely heard them. The world became wind, road, and reflexes. Spirit soaring, she raced over the pavement. One of her pursuers dropped behind and fell out of the chase. Car repairs and surgery cost far more than what she had in the trunk. She wasn’t surprised the other car continued. Pride had a high value, for all you couldn’t sell it.

A white sedan swerved erratically and she swore. Managing not to get nicked, she made it by, but she lost ground. The curves of the highway were coming up fast and she started to hear the distant sound of sirens. She had to lose them, now. Curve after curve, she spun her complaining car down the curving coastal highway.

The squeal of tires and she risked a glance in the rear view. Her pursuer had finally messed up. She let out a long breath, glad he had spun out into the hillside instead of tumbling off the cliffs.

She let herself gradually decelerate and cruised along. She’d need to get gas, and then keep going. Change highways. Dip into small towns. She had enough to go on for a while. She turned on the radio, flipped to a pop station and sang along to whatever top hit came up. Alive, a couple thousand richer, a good chase behind her. Some days, it was all she wanted out of life.

Robbed that machete wielding rogue again. Click the link to see who else may not be leaving a town alive.