Legal Theft Project: Shapes Shift in Water

He tipped his hat to her, ignoring the way it allowed rain to sluice down his neck. The lady appreciated the gesture with a smile before they parted ways, her safe under her umbrella. It felt like rain was still pouring through him. The visions had been coming faster and his head was so full of the possibilities that it was a wonder he didn’t crack. He needed a break, he needed to deal with his thoughts.

So, despite the rain, he walked home. Across the shining wet cobbles, letting the raindrops pummel his hat, his coat, the rest of him. The hat brim could only do so much and drops caught on his lashes. His hair made a wet rat tail over the back of his coat. He looked more dishevelled than he’d ever been in public before, but who would be looking? Or recognize him if they did? So he walked on, sorting through his head and letting the frantic energy of the last few weeks sluice away with the rain. By the time he got to his front gate, his head was as clear. Like a deep pool of water, not empty, but still. Thoughts dropped onto the surface like rain, but most of them got no further or were dealt with easily. Go inside. Take off the coat. Remove the boots. Leave them in the mud room. Doff the hat, leave it on the bannister. Go to one’s room. Get your sketch book. Sit in front of the fire. Draw.

The images flowed like a river. A scene of fire. Smoke drifting over a field, a house in the background, burning. People in front of it, swords drawn, pistols discarded. Pain. He shaded the shadows long. Finished, he turned the page to another. A night scene, a balcony, the party inside, the two figures on the balcony enjoying the night together, rather than the glitter inside. Page after page he filled, listening to the drum of the rain on the roof. Finally, he turned the page, and nothing came. His curse satisfied, he settled in to draw his current project.

On the page, the face of a lady took shape under an umbrella. Dark curls, delicate face, stubborn tilt to her chin. It was not the lady he had accompanied earlier. He looked at the face on his page and realized he might not be treading water.

Picked the first line of this piece out of Kid‘s pocket. It isn’t just a first line, clever thieves have hidden it in various places. Take a look.


Legal Theft Project: Rest in the Rain

Rain drowned the world in white noise.

Shedding his black coat and hat in the entryway to his home, the hard holder shivers. He is not immune to the cold and the damp, he only pretends it away when his people can see him. He sits down on the bench and removes his boots, placing them carefully in the tray just for them. He can hear the radio from the living room and sees the warm glow of a fire. Before giving in to the warmth, he drifts into the bedroom. His wife’s clothes are jumbled on the end of the bed as if she could not decide what to wear and so tried everything before she settled on something. It makes him smile as he picks them up and puts them away before taking out a sweater and slipping it on. He pulls the curtains closed on the grey grey day and goes back to the beckoning warmth of the fire. His wife smiles when he comes in and he lets the iron in his spine relax. He pours them both a drink and sits down with her in front of the fire.

Rain drowned the world in white noise.

The soldier, still lost, lets it wash all other thoughts from her head. She has not had peace since she woke up from the ice and the rain makes it easier to pretend. She sits back and takes care of her guns, watching the mechanic tinker with things she used to know the names of, now made strange and ethereal by the light and the man who twists them to do impossible tasks. She misses sitting in the barracks, playing cards with her fellows, bickering about assignments on similar rainy days. Back when the world was ordered. Back before storms and white noise were similar. Back when wolves only had one name. Rain at least, rain is the same. So she protects the items from her past and meditates on her place in the future, now that there is no army, no city, no country, to claim her.

Rain drowned the world in white noise.

Under the miraculous clear roof, the dedicate watches the rain. He’s met the springs, the sea, the fog, and the rain. While the springs may have his heart, the rains are a flirt, at times dangerous, at others delightful, and only time will tell which is which. Dry under the greenhouse roof, he tends to the flowers and vegetables, singing. His voice accompanies the scattered rushes of raindrops and rises and falls in time. When his work is complete, he walks out into the rain, letting it wash over him in chill sheets. It blinds him, but he knows the ways of his domain well and he makes it to the springs. He wades into the steam and the warm water with a smile. Water takes and water gives. And he is content to follow where it flows.

Rain drowned the world in white noise.

For the first time in a long time, the driver is not waiting out the rain in her car. Her car is safe under her custom tarp, though it does not keep the driver from the occasional worry when she glances out the window at the sheets of rain. The room is smoky and close with people lounging and dicing, playing cards and chatting. The radio plays lowly in the background, something moody and slow. Her brother is on a stool at the bar, flirting with the bartender. For his part, the bartender smiles and puts the finishing touches on something warm and steaming that smells of apples and better days. She walks over and takes a seat next to her brother and earns her own flash of a smile. They talk and the driver forgets to worry about her car. They are not talking of much, but it has been too long since she spent a day out of the rain. A day safe with other people, and not worried about what would happen when the rain lifts. At least while it rains, tomorrow and its roads will wait. At least for now, she can pretend she has a home.

Rain drowned the world in white noise. And the world slowed. And the wolves went home. And all, for now, was quiet, was well. For now.

Thieves abound! and stole this rainy first line to write their own pieces. Take a look! Completely independently that machete happy diplomat and I ended up with eerily similar pieces.

Legal Theft Project: The Measure of Help

Kimball was dashing through the game room when he saw something odd. As he didn’t know what exactly what it was he saw, he doubled back to check and make sure he wasn’t hallucinating or something. Nope. His friend was still there, and still had… “You have something furry on your back.”

“Fuzzy. I have many fuzzy somethings on my back,” was the response from Rell. “Technically, in my hood, not on my back. Which is the reason I am not currently out patrolling.”

Kimball hooked his mask onto the loop on his belt and wandered over. He looked into the fabric nest and down at the four sleeping kittens nestled there in and let out the most sincere awwww. “They’re adorable. Are they okay? Are you taking them to a shelter? Are you adopting them? Were they the witnesses to a robbery?”

Rell was staying mostly still and looking through his phone. “Yes. No. No. And I have no idea. They were alone, cold, and I have no idea where to find the nearest no kill shelter, or animal rescue center.” He held up his hand as Kimball opened his mouth. “No we are not setting up a drive, we are not going as our masked personas to hand out kittens to random people. I will donate to the shelter, but I am …. I…” Rell trailed off and Kimball kicked back on his heels. Rell listened to the soft purr of contented kittens.

“I needed the reminder that I can save people without a mask, okay?” Rell said.

Kimball nodded slowly and perched on the arm of the couch. “I can get you a couple numbers. I’ve volunteered before.”

“You should still patrol.”

Kimball shrugged. “The others will cover it. You can’t fight the scale. Tonight, you need a friend, and kittens need a home. We can foil super villain plots another night.”

Rell handed his phone to Kimball. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

“I won’t- and if they ask you…”

Kimball grinned. “What?”

Rell shoved at him, gently so as not to disturb the kittens.

“We were patrolling, found some little stuff, took care of it. The End.” Kimball said and smiled.

I am a thief! I stole the line “You have something furry on your back.” and wrote a bit of fluff around it. Click on the line to see who else stole it what what other furry things were identified or misidentified.

Legal Theft Project: Envy in Blue

Blue as skies in summer, pouring out exhaust, and attracting a small crowd, he’d never seen anything like it. He already wanted it gone. His garage didn’t have anything as would come close to those wheels and everyone knew it. The rest of the caravan wasn’t much to look at and the caravan master, Dixon, was the first to pop out of his battered van and head Allison’s way. For his part, Allison kept his arms folded and his face cold as Dixon tromped over.

“Allison.” Dixon bobbed his head respectfully to the man whose domain he’d entered. Allison didn’t acknowledge the greeting, keeping his eyes on the dapper wheels and the crowd swelling around it as the exhaust wisped away.

Dixon soldiered on. “Ah, Sammy’s girl. Elvira. Heck of a car. Heck of a lady.”

Allison turned his head slightly and raised his eyebrow a mere fraction. Dixon swallowed and nodded back toward the car. A mile of leg ending in denim cut offs and hello gorgeous, swung out of the driver side door like sugar in sweet. Her hip pushed the door closed and she leaned against it, pushing her sunglasses on top of her head. He hadn’t figured trouble in a blue jumpsuit into his plans. Oh he wanted her and her car out of his holding and back on the road something fierce. “You brought me trouble, Dixon,” Allison finally said.

Dixon looped his thumbs in his belt. “Got here fastest and safest I’ve ever done. Girl knows her wheels and don’t hesitate on the road. Brought plenty through.”

Allison unfolded his arms. “Any trouble she causes, you cause.”

“No no no. She’s good, but she ain’t mine.” Dixon shook his head. They looked at the woman by the car, answering some of the crowd’s questions, cool as snow in shade. “Sammy handles herself.”

Allison brushed the comment aside, letting Dixon shed the blame and accepting the tacit promise to stay out of the way. “Let’s see what else you brought.”

I’m a thief! I stole this first line from M.D. – take a look at other unique blues at the Legal Theft Project site.

Legal Theft Project: Self Image and Ski Chalets

Somehow he managed not to throw his hands in the air. Admitting defeat was accomplished by a gritting of the teeth and the flutter of panic in his chest. “I’ll look at the brochures, okay?” Carefully, he collected the glossy destination brochures from the table. Snow covered mountains, impossibly green grounds, and weathered brick and wood buildings all glowed upon the expensive custom print paper.

“We truly think it would be best for you, Aaron. There have been enough disruptions this year, we want to ensure you have the best foundation possible.” His mother leaned back and sipped on her vodka stinger and attempted a sympathetic smile.

He nodded and returned the polite fiction of upturned corners of the mouth. “Of course mother.” It has nothing to do with a lingering sense of guilt and a terror of all things new and sharp. He made it to his door and a tiny bolt of lightning arced from his hand to the metal handle. His temper, visible, and lively. He wrenched the door open and sent the brochures flying onto his desk. Before they could skid off, he swept out his hand and commanded the air to keep them in place. The brochures fluttered, but remained on the desk. One of them fell open to a picture of a charming ski lodge that was actually a dormitory. He had a sudden image of himself in a suit, holding yet another mixed drink and slowly calcifying into his parents.

His keys leapt to his hand and he raced down the stairs, out the side door, and slid into his convertible. Revving the engine, he tore into town and skidded into a parking spot. Got out, closed the door, locked his car and began hunting down the streets for some kind of answer, some form of additional immunity to turning into some pickled alcoholic specimen of his parents. He stopped in front of a tattoo parlor. It would be perfect, but he doubted they’d overlook his age. But a piercing…. He grinned.

It took him two hours. He went to every piercing shop in town, laid down fifty dollars and said that he paid for however many people it covered. Two thirds of the way through, he sat down in a chair, told them his parents had approved it, tipped the person in question an extra hundred dollars, and got a ring wrapped around the very top of his right ear. A stainless steel band etched with a wave pattern, it hurt like hell, and he grinned right through it. They told him how to keep  the piercing clean, warned him it might be sore. He waved them off and sauntered out. Oh sure, he’d have problems with it, short as his hair was, but right now. Well. It just felt right.

I challenged some thieves to run away with a dormitory and an earring. They did. Clever thieves.

Legal Theft Project: Storm’s Heart

The city’s scintillating towers and reflective edifices became somber and dark in the downpour. Rell settled himself on the narrow ledge and let the rain soak down to his skin. The rain wavered and shifted, allowing glimpses of the world spread out below. He ignored it and turned his face up into the rain. He could see the city from the height any time he wanted, but it was rare he found his way into this pure a storm. Letting it wash over him … well, he wasn’t one for meditation or spirituality, but this was pretty close. Connected to the natural world. Simply. So he basked.

Then with a long sigh, he let go of the peace and the quiet and let the storm inside him run loose. He breathed in and felt the air, felt the clouds, the rain, and the electric hum in the air. It had been raining for days, ceaselessly, naturally. It wasn’t someone like him. But … it wasn’t the season either. He couldn’t get a good reading from this building. He grinned into the wind and vaulted off the ledge. He allowed himself the fun of freefall for a few exhilarating heartbeats, before calling himself a wind and riding it into the sky. He coasted, following the odd drift of air and cloud. There weren’t nearly enough, not for this drenching. There was a significant discrepancy in the air quality over by the pier. He wavered over calling back up when he saw a familiar figure down below. He set down on the room in a swirl of wind and rain. “Been awhile Iron Sword. Looking for something to do?”

“I’d appreciate a change in the weather. You able to do something about that.” Iron Sword grinned and added, “Stormlord.”

“I was considering it, care to lend a hand?” Stormlord, Rell, grinned back.

“Thought you’d never ask.”

I stole this first line from someone with a machete.… and may have grabbed one of her characters as well. Hope she doesn’t mind. 

Legal Theft Project: Phantom Minds

It was strange to actually see her in the flesh. As she avoided him, he’d only been near her as a figment of himself and he’d forgotten the little things that flesh does to betray its feelings. Fingernails biting into his palm. The rush of heat signalling rage that boiled in the gut. Movement slowed becoming deliberate as he snapped down hard on his control. The way the light of battle felt like ice behind his eyes. And he saw the answering control in her movements. Wondered if words felt stoppered in her throat as she sifted through to the ones company would find acceptable instead of the simple expletives they used toward one another in the privacy of their own minds.

He knew far far too much about her. He kept his distance from her physically, accepting another’s offer to dance. His black haired nemesis did not dance and so he was given time and space to compose himself. He’d spent too much time ghosting around her. Sending his mind and senses to snoop around in her home, her study, and accidentally, mostly accidentally, snatching glimpses of her secret lives. With her family. Alone with her thoughts, with her birds. Writing, preparing to leave, and coming home. He hoped he’d begun to haunt her. To crack that controlled exterior and make the person within it rage.

He finished his dance and got a glimpse of himself in the large mirror on the ballroom wall. She was reflected in the glass, her back to it, to him and it struck him why seeing her in person was such a sharp pain. She paid little attention to him at all. For all that he could tell when she noticed him. See the physical reactions he had, mirrored in her posture. She had the luxury of position and power and dismissed him as one would an unappetizing meal. And he had no way to stop her.

Eyes gone blind with the realization, he staggered to a balcony and fresh air, hoping it would still the tears threatening in his eyes. It seemed no matter what he did, he was destined to be a ghost. He looked down at his hands, wavering through unshed tears. Still flesh and bone. He flexed his long fingers. He had little efficacy on the real world when he was incorporeal. Better to stay a tangible ghost. He blinked away a few escaping tears and turned to look back into the ballroom. He would be missed by others soon. A small dangerous smile curled the corner of his mouth. There were many types of ghost. Perhaps it was time to be a more violent one.

Another first line stolen from Bek. See who else found the physical realm unsettling here.

Legal Theft Project: Layered Lies

Marnie found me in a corner where I’d begun to collect attention. I tossed her a smile and she shook her head. “You’re incorrigible.”

“You expected something else?”

She pursed her lips, but her eyes were laughing. “Perhaps a dash more polish.”

“I’m only polished when I’m working.” I set my empty champagne flute on a passing tray and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt to the elbow. Marnie sighed, she’d lent me the designer garment.

“You know I make this look good.”

“I know.” She slipped her arm through mine. “Reyes has been asking about you, actually. You could have a contract with him if you wanted it.” She unconsciously slicked down an errant pleat of her mint dress, one of the designers originals.

I tilted my head in false thought. “You know, I do have a wish to see my face twenty to thirty times life sized.”

The laugh I startled out of her was worth more than any score.

“It shall have to wait, I have many more capers ahead of me before I become a public figure.” Funny, I only noticed how tense I’d been now that I was relaxing. Damn it, I love this kind of party, but I’d been hiding in a corner, drinking champagne.

Marnie smiled. “You alright?”

I shrugged expressively and surveyed the room. “I don’t belong here.”

Marnie looked at me. I’d said it almost absently and half to myself. I skimmed my eyes over Armani suits and Versace dresses, cinema queens and billionaires, the wealthy and the famous, and they brought me both envy and a quiet anger. I know Marnie saw it, she reads people the way I read rooms, intuitively and extremely well.

“Do you want to go?”

I shook my head. “I don’t get to see you or this carnival often enough. It’ll pass.”

A voice spoke up, preceding the click of approaching heels. “Marnie, how are you tonight?”

I didn’t turn. She wasn’t supposed to be here tonight. Marnie replied that she was enjoying herself and I could tell there was a silent exchange where Marnie indicated that I was not bothering her and not to worry everything would be fine, when she ever so slightly faltered, so I turned around so she could introduce me. Whatever name she called me, I didn’t notice or care which man of mystery I was tonight. I gave Bell a gracious nod. I didn’t trust myself to any of the other greetings available. Her disapproval was a frigid living thing and I gave into the dare and met her eyes. It was a mistake. Unable to name the feeling, something vivid and alive, near kin to recognition, but unarticulated jumped between her mismatched eyes and my contact enhanced green ones. All I wanted to do was run, but if I ran, she would chase.

I pulled on every reserved snobbish commentary, every supercilious mannerism, and every lie turned fluid and silver on my tongue. Never has anyone fled so quickly into a defensive conversation. Marnie laid a hand on my arm and drew me away from Bell with a few murmured comments. Bell watched us go for a moment, I could physically feel when she stopped watching us. I wasn’t fooling Marnie, but she let me make my excuses and vanish into the evening.

I’ve been a very selfish thief and not distributing my spoils. This first line was stolen awhile ago, check out what the other thieves divvied up in the corner here.

Legal Theft Project: Vengeance

There simply were no words. His people were already dead, blood pooling on the stones from their slit throats. The enemy stood in an arc, hands red and outstretched to the mage at the focal point of the arc. Offering blood, his people’s blood and all that came with it, to their leader. Between him and the enemy mages were guards and warriors. Whatever was happening they had to stop it. He felt his sister at his shoulder and they dove from the cave shelf. Lightning blasted from his hands and he struck down the closest priest. His sister swirled down, dealing death with a touch and disappearing into the dark to strike the next. The air was thick and close with the scents of the sea and blood and magic. More of the enemy swept into the cave. He loosed his chain and spun metal and magic through the cave. Fighting rolled and writhed. They were only two, but they were lethal. His sister broke through the guardians and slew two of the mages with precision hits from her short swords. He grinned as she darted away from their return magic. Spin. Spark. War.

He didn’t believe it when it happened. He looked over and saw his sister deliver a perfect short thrust through one enemy’s back. A killing blow. She had already moved on, economical with motion and no time to waste on a dead man. The dead man’s blade took her through the side. Even then, she turned and struck him again. Treated him as a living man, but the damage was done.  He didn’t bother to scream her name. He roared, wordlessly, and reached out to the blood in the air and wrenched it to his will. He was near her and she was dead and he stood above her and he tore everything this cave had to give, everything he had left in him, and he killed. He plundered the power of those he killed and rode it toward the man who impossibly still stood. He hurled his power into a bolt so white and sharp, the air turned blues and black. And the other man blocked with a wall of water which boiled. The steam blew back at the enemy and he screamed. The cave was full of death and he knew he would join it. He made his peace. Knew what powered a spell as powerful as he wanted. He whipped his chain around his own neck and cursed the man who killed his sister.

The man stumbled back and he poured everything into his desire. He felt his life draining. Then everything turned to light and fire and he screamed. And screamed. And screamed.


I have been robbed. See what left the thieves speechless.

Legal Theft Project: Once More With Feeling

I would have shut up, but he gave me the “If you do that one more time I’m gonna murder you” look and I adore dodging homicide. A beat later, I ease into the first verse  and by the second line I’m sliding behind a pillar to evade the lightning bolt. He holds his fire as I sing the next few lines, but I can’t help it and by line eight, I swing around the pillar a la singing in the rain and look straight at him. Deep breath while rolling out of the way and into the last two lines of the verse. Build up the bridge. I have a good voice, strong lungs, and know how to use both. Pop lyrics soar between the columns and bounce off the vaulted ceiling. Everyone else is collapsing in laughter. The collapsing also drops them out of the danger range of the purposeful and pointed electric annoyance doing its best to catch me, but so far so good.

The chorus is the absolute best part and we put on quite a show. I skid across the floor, cover behind tables, and pop up at the beginning of every line to direct all of the saccharinely critical lyrics at the ends of his platinum blonde hair. The last line of the chorus and I throw my arms open wide, but I timed it wrong and I finish my note and a bolt hits me straight in the chest. I fly across the room and hit the wall hard. There’s silence for a moment, and then everyone laughs. Well, I cough first, but then I laugh. After a beat, he laughs too and comes over to give me a hand up. I take it.

“You’re supposed to have better taste than this, Oh lord of poetry.”

“While most days I would agree with you, it rhymes, so, therefore it is poetry. Light, happy poetry, but poetry. Plus, I would call that performance poetic. We square, oh lord of storms?” I offer my hand.

He takes it, my hand tingles with the remnants of sparks. “Even enough. Just know that I am going to pick all of the music for the next revelle.”

I blink. “This is going to be painful for me, isn’t it.”


I sigh. Then, “Still worth it.”

My turn to share the wealth, see what my group of thieves did with this first line over here.