Thinking back now, I remember it in slow motion, like when the film gets caught in the projector at the pictures and everything spins down until Greta Garbo moves like she’s underwater and sounds like a foghorn speaking Swiss. But at the time, it went so fast that the only real, conscious thought my brain got off was what the hell is Bruno Battaglio smiling about? Then the pistols started shattering the glassware above the bar, and I grabbed Ken’s tie, and we hit the floor hard.
The sound of approaching footsteps made Todd furiously wipe his eyes. It probably did no good, but he still hoped it wouldn’t be too apparent that he’d been crying.
“Hello.” The voice only carried a slight accent, but it was enough for Todd to realize that the man standing behind him wasn’t one of his own.
He whirled around, fear rising into his chest. The German immediately raised his hands in an obvious gesture of peace.
Nick learned this pretty quickly, dating Jamie. It was like his best friend had turned into a completely different creature. And it wasn’t Jamie’s fault entirely, not with–well, if he was going to tell the story, starting at the beginning was probably a better way to do things. Things always made a lot more sense with back story, right? Right.
It had started, as far as Nick could remember, when he was some-possibly-preteen-years-old and had discovered jacking off. He, being the fabulous and benevolent friend that he was, had decided that he had to demonstrate this remarkable wonder to his best friend in the world: Jamie.
Bao hid behind a pillar as soldiers, waving scimitars and shouting orders, ran past him. Somehow mercenaries had gotten through the gates. The soldiers of Sartaq Khan, Bao’s father, were the best horsemen in the seven kingdoms. They could shoot arrows while outriding deer. No one could beat them while they were mounted, even if the other force was twice as large and heavily armored. But Sartaq had led most of his men on a raid over the eastern mountains, so very few were left to defend the palace. It had never needed defending before.
Bao slipped to the next pillar. He had no weapon with which to defend himself, not even a knife. If Sartaq’s enemies caught him, a quick death was the best he could hope for.
You will make a change for the better.
Your lucky numbers are #33, 98, 47, 63, 24 : ).
Kyle crushed the cookie and its wrapper in the palm of his hand and shoved it into his small black purse. That was the ninth time he had gotten that fortune and he was starting to think he should take some time to find some other lame-ass two-bit Chinese place. Even most of the lower city had standards for food and when it seemed like the same thing kept getting shoved out in various stages of stale—it was. Still, creepy register boy, cheap fortunes, or greasy soup notwithstanding, the food was cheap and quick—and still probably better than some fast-food joint.
It was the thrill of not knowing just where, or how, things would end up that kept Justin playing the same dangerous games night after night. He’d been in almost every situation he could think of, and still not been ‘caught’ by those that ‘mattered’ in his mind. The one who ‘mattered’ never looked at him, anyway, so his antics were some poor attempt at displacement. Or at least that’s what the shrink in the county lockup decided for him. He’d tried to shake that off, but something about it made it stick in his head, gnaw at his brain even though he saw the shrink once and had only spent a couple of days in juvy.
His only saving grace was that he was still a minor. That would only help him a month longer, though. Somehow, he always managed leniency, but then, he was rarely caught doing the same thing twice. The judges, his parents, the shrinks all put it down to youthful vigor, except that one who’d said he wanted someone’s attention.
“There you go.” I flashed a smile as I handed over the gaily coloured package to the waiting customer. “One present, wrapped and ready for Christmas.”
“Oh! How lovely!” The pretty but frazzled-looking woman placed the box gently on top of her baby buggy, wrapping crinkling under her careful fingers. The infant inside cooed with delight at the twists of ribbon dangling in front of his face, batting one chubby hand towards them. I smiled.
Clink went a handful of coins into the donation box. “Thank you so much,” the lady said, with a smile that took years off her face.
By the end of the summer, Gwion was furious at the entire world. It was bad enough that they were war-captives — all right, to be fair, it was pretty much worst of all that they were war-captives, because all the rest of the trouble stemmed from that. But what frustrated him most of all lately was his brother.
They’d always been identical. He’d thought they always would be identical — somehow he’d never thought about the fact that they were going to war, that one of them could have been scarred. But neither of them had been, and anyway, scarring wasn’t much of a problem. A scar would have been easier to hide — or to fake.
“Ira? Ira, have you seen my red scarf? I can’t find it anywhere.”
Ira had curled himself up with one of his books in a patch of sun, tail curled around himself and tickling his nose in typical cat fashion. Disturbed from his reading, he yawned and stretched as Zachary surveyed the van in frustration. :Where did you see it last?: he asked.
“If I knew that I wouldn’t be asking you,” said Zachary reproachfully. He was only half dressed, his white shirt hanging half open and his belt unclasped. He rubbed a hand through his hair anxiously as Ira jumped down from the window sill and padded over to him. “You needed to be woken up anyway.”
She’s lying on the ratty couch with her head in her hands. She looks up when Ranjit enters the room, which is a good sign – she looks scared, and bone-weary, but she’s not broken.
“Listen, I’m not a john. I’m here to help you.” Ranjit isn’t sure what language he’s speaking until the words come out of his mouth, and even then it’s a tough call. Possibly Czech. “What’s your name?”
“Darja,” says the girl automatically.
“Okay, Darja. Let’s get out of here. Can you stand? Are you sick, or injured?”
It had been a day now, he thought. The ship had been attacked shortly before sunset, and it had been night and then another day since then, the sun starting to dip again towards the horizon. Score one for him – but he’d barely survived the night intact, cold doing nothing for the agony in his side, and although the sun had meant warmth, he had also now been a day without water.
He snorted at the irony, that he would die of dehydration while surrounded by water – but then, the wound might well kill him first. Almenia would never know what had happened to him; all the intelligence he’d gathered, his entire mission, useless.
Heat rose off the grates by Gradys’. The air was viscous with smog, smoke, and all the other beautiful substances the city offered. Smith’s eyeliner was smudged, his hair a mess, and his lipstick needed to be replaced after the last job. The fucker had yanked his hair as he sucked. He wondered if the guy might forget to wash off his cock before he went home to his wife. The bastard deserved it.
Gradys’ was a mom and pop store, strictly munchies and crack. Supposedly, some people shopped there just for Cheezits and such and not the sweets in the back of another kind. Smith leaned against the alley wall. He looked like a fucking bum, and that wasn’t good for business. Nobody wanted to fuck a stinking wino – or in his case, a stinking crack addict. All he had to do was turn a few tricks and he’d be sleeping in a warm place tonight, but Smith barely felt like moving. Coming down was a bitch and a half.
“Now remember, show him the courtesy due his title and not a whisper more.” Lady Emily lifted the lace curtain over the carriage window and glanced outside. Her lip curled faintly with distaste. “We must be almost here – the trees are all dead.”
“It is the middle of winter, mother.”
“I know the difference between a tree that has lost its leaves and one that is dead to the core,” Lady Emily snapped. “Straighten your cravat, it looks like a child tied it.”
“Hello, this is Ken-ken. I can’t answer the phone right now so leave a message and your number after the tone. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!”
“Ken? You’re there, aren’t you? Please pick up. Just… I’m sorry I said all that. I’m outside, I’ll be here for the next ten min—”
“Ten minutes,” Shion said, his voice frostier than the weather. Snow was falling now, onto his hair and face and jacket. A branded one, of course; he needed to keep up his image. “You’ve got ten minutes to talk before I go home and burn paper effigies of you.”
The only reason Alex had come on this trip in the first place was the chance to see snow for the first time in his life. But since snowflakes operated according to some kind of contract whereby they didn’t have to show up once the temperature headed below zero, the entire trip seemed pointless from his lovely vantage point at–he peered at the clock–3.37 am. Great.
Now that he was awake, he was aware that his blankets were pitifully inadequate at picking up the slack from possibly the most useless “radiators” (he refused to dignify them by removing the quotation marks) in the history of heating solutions; radiators which, against all decency, the cheapskate bastard hotel owner had elected to install nevertheless, leaving the room to achieve a determined equilibrium with the temperature outside.