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Fiction: Legal Theft– The Truth (812 words)

“Hey, AM.”

Marta looked up from the book she was reading cross legged on her bed to see Arthur—now sixteen years old and taller than both her and her sister, leaning against the doorframe to her room. He looked conflicted, and Marta wondered if he was going to try to pull that Since you’re my real mother can you tell Mom to let me… crap again. “Hey-o Kiddo, what’s up?”

“I wanted to ask you a question. Mom says I shouldn’t ask it, but—I don’t know. I kind of feel like I have to.”  Marta furrowed her eyebrows and considered him.

Technically, yes, he was her son, but Marta had never had that easy understanding of him that Avery did. They were a perfect case study of a genetic connection versus sixteen years of love, care, and direct devotion. That’s why he never got away with any of that real mother crap. They all knew that Avery was his mother, no ifs ands or buts.

“Yeah. Come in. You know you can ask me anything.”  Arthur crossed the room in two long strides, sitting himself down in Marta’s computer chair, spinning it so he faced the bed.  He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and Marta started to be able to see just how really worried he was. “Kiddo, what’s wrong?”

“I want—um—it’s just,” Arthur took a deep breath. “Mom says that you won’t tell me no matter what, and that I shouldn’t even ask because it will just upset you, but it’s not just that I want to ask, I feel like I need to ask whether you answer me or not I’ll go crazy if I don’t ask.” All the words came spilling out of his mouth in rush, like if he paused he would lose his nerve.

Marta was starting feel anxious now. She knew that this moment was going to come eventually, but the older and older Arthur got, she started to believe that she was going to manage avoid it. “What did you want to ask me, then?”

“I wanted to know,” Arthur smiled weakly at her, “Do you know who my father is?”

Marta smiled wildly, “Of course Kiddo. You do, too. Tall guy, dark hair, sometimes talks in an annoying accent, always looks at your Mom with those sappy eyes that makes us want to gag.”

Arthur shook his head, looking down at his feet. “No, A.M., I know who my Dad is. Obviously, Dad is my Dad, but—who is my father, I mean, my biological father?”

Marta’s smiled faded away now. “I do, Arthur. I’ve never had a doubt about who your biological father is. But—The truth of the matter is, Kiddo, he wanted nothing to do with us. He called me a whore, telling me that I’d probably had sex with so many men I couldn’t be sure it was his, and then offered me four hundred dollars to never talk to him about it again. I didn’t take his money, but I never spoke to him again. And I never spoke about him again until now. If you really feel that you must know, that your life cannot be complete without knowing his name, then I will tell you, and only you, on the condition that you never tell Avery or Bradley, because they are both still Very angry about things that happened around the time you were born, but I’m telling you now—your Mom and Dad are better than that boy I ever could have done raising you, and I’ve always believed it’s not worth wasting time on people who aren’t willing to give their time to you, so…”

Marta had spoken a lot faster than she met to.  Perhaps Arthur’s rushed speaking from earlier was a family trait. He looked a bit stunned. She realized she’d never been so stern with him, and he never saw her properly angry, like she got whenever she thought about that stupid teenage boy who had insulted her character for a mistake that was equal parts both of their fault. It did take two to tango, as the cliché said.

“I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want anyone in my life who doesn’t want to be in mine. But—I was going through Mom’s year book the other day and I looked at every single face to see if there were traits of mine. I need to know his name so I can stop wondering. I think I deserve that.” Arthur answered.

“It’s a secret you will have to keep from your Mom and Dad.  Until you die or I die, whichever comes first, you understand?” Marta insisted.

“Yes, I promise,” Arthur insisted, leaning a little bit closer.

“Okay,” Marta smiled, “Yeah. Okay. Then I’ll tell you who your biological father is.”

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Unhealthy

There was no hiding from sleep. I could avoid it for a little while—with a steady diet of coffee, sodas, and on the more extreme days, Kroger brand “Stay Awake” caffeine pills. But in the end, sleep always got me. Which is probably for the best, I guess, because they tell me that if you don’t sleep you die.

I digress.

And really, the truth of the matter is going to sleep isn’t the problem. Asleep, I dream.  And when I’m dreaming, everything is fine. He’s not dead yet, I’m still making money, and everything is okay. It’s nice to be happy and okay again.

Waking up is the problem. Because no matter what, I do wake up, and always sooner than I’d like.  And I’m alone in bed again. And in ways that I cannot properly explain unless you’ve felt it too—that sucks.

I know it will get better with time. I know that every morning that I wake up I will miss him—but eventually, it will get to the point where I don’t hate laying down to sleep, eventually it will get to the point where waking up isn’t the worst part of my day. But for now…Well, I’ll run from sleep as best I can.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Alone (99 words)

She lived alone for most of her life. It just came naturally for her to be retreated away from everyone. Even she lived in town—she was happiest when left to her own devices, tucked away from the rest of the world.

She found a job that required only an internet connection. She logged in the morning to find her list of tasks, worked until she completed them, then turned off her computer until the next morning. And when she’d saved up, she bought a house in the middle of nowhere and went off to hide in the woods.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Team (518 words)

“I do not like you.” Amelia was quick to make sure that he knew where he was in her opinion right from the start. She didn’t want there to be any confusion that her agreement to here and to help had at all changed her thoughts about him.

Evan nodded like he had expected as much, with that condescending look that set Amelia’s hair on edge and brought out the worst of her temper.  “You don’t have to like me. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of you. But Lindsey wanted us to work together. Because of that, our dislike for each other has to stay between us.”

“I know,” Amelia snapped at him quickly, before taking a deep breath. She continued in a much more civil tone, biting down on her temper as hard as she could. “I mean, I know. We have to act as a united front for Donald. It’s what Lindsey would have wanted.”

Almost subconsciously, they both turned just slightly to look at the silver urn on the fireplace, carved with a rose, next to a picture of the most important woman in both of their lives, Amelia’s sister and Evan’s wife.  Amelia felt the temper drain right out of her. Lindsey would hate to see her like this. She really had to work on that whole being the person my sister would want me to be promise she had made herself at Lindsey’s funeral.

“We are all he has now,” Evan said quietly. “We can’t pull him apart by trying to turn him against each other. That’s not fair.”

“I promise,” Amelia said quickly. When Lindsey had been alive, Amelia had never hesitated to make her distain for Lindsey’s husband known. Evan had always treated her civilly, even kindly, in spite of how Amelia acted to him. If he ever spoke bad of her it was in private. If anyone had to make the commitment to change, it was going to be here. “I promise, that from here on out any complaints I have of you will only be made in private to my friends when Donald is not with me, or to you directly if it is a concern with our—working relationship for a lack of a better word—when we can discuss it civilly with Donald being aware.”

For a second, Evan looked like he was sucking on a lemon, but his face returned to a neutral expression as he nodded. “Okay. I will promise the same. From here on out, we are a team.”

Only by thinking of Lindsey watching her, could Amelia stomach the thought of being on a team with him. Only by focusing on her love for her little nephew, Amelia swallowed down the bitter taste in her mouth and repeated back. “From here on out, we are a team.”

“Good,” Evan nodded, even managing to smile at her. “So. Let’s discuss the weekly schedule, shall we?”

Evan pulled a cleanly printed booklet out of his bag, labeled “Donald’s Weekly School/Play Schedule” on the front, and Amelia tried very hard not to scream.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Unintentional Change [Part 2 of 2] (574 words)

James swallowed hard a few times. “I what? I don’t have the ability to make anyone immortal. Do you? Is that something we develop over a few millennia or something?”

“It is something you can do. I can too, apparently. It’s just the circumstances are so weird that it’s not something most of us run into.” Matthew was less angry now that James wasn’t lying to him. He was in teacher mode instead of integration mode.  “Apparently, Protectors can influence mortals through extended contact and strong emotions. Right now, her DNA and blood samples match those of a protector, although she was clearly not born that way.”

James blinked at Matthew. “What?”

“Here, look,” Matthew shoved the open book at Matthew’s hand, “Start at this paragraph.”

James looked down at the page automatically, but it took him a little while to calm his brain down enough to actually start processing the words on the page.

Protectors live in a contradictory way with the mortals that they help protect. On one side of the argument, they must care for the mortals their lives touch in order to continue with their destiny of protecting and keeping the mortal lives balanced. Without caring for the mortals then the motivation to protect and save would fade away entirely.

However, Protectors also live for thousands of their mortals’ lifetimes, which makes it harder to connect with mortals on any kind of interpersonal level, often their problems are hard to relate to when they will be over in a comparably  very short time. Because of this, most Protectors stick to their core groups of two to five Protectors per case. Romantic relationships between Protectors occur only fleetingly because the population of Protectors very rarely deplete since very few mortals are capable of harming Protectors in any kind of meaningful way.

Even rarer is a genuine relationship between a mortal and a Protector. Physical relationships are not unheard of, but a genuine romantic relationship has only been documented six times in the study of Protector history. This is easy to document because of the strange effect that being in close contact with a Protector who cares for them has on mortal DNA.  The mortal, over time, begins to develop Protector traits, and if the attention of the Protector continues for long enough, the mortal’s DNA will change to almost identical to Protector’s DNA, with only the most researched in DNA studies being able to see the difference between original Protector DNA and converted mortal DNA. 

It is the attraction and attachment of the Protector that creates this effect on the mortal DNA, as there are many cases of mortals sharing homes and close proximity with Protectors without any of the mutations occurring, even a Protector and a mortal living isolated together did not introduce this change. (See The Forty Years Isolation Experiment, pg. 218) This lead many scientific minds to believe it is the romantic attachment of the Protector.

James stopped reading and looked up at Matthew shell shocked.  “I did this to her?”

“You did this to her,” Matthew answered bluntly, taking the book away from him, “Now, if I were you, I would go in there and start groveling because of the way you’ve been treating her the last few days.” Matthew snapped the book shut and headed back up the stairs.

James turned to face the basement door. What in the world was he going to say to her?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Early Bird

Sunrise was an acquired taste. At first it came as bitter, as Rachel pulled herself up out of bed to the blare of an alarm, got dressed in the semi-darkness of the first rays of sun filtering in through her window, eating breakfast as her kitchen got lighter, and sticking to a strict time for leaving to make sure that she was driving to work early enough that the sun was still behind the low buildings or late enough that the sun was high enough that she wasn’t burning her eyes out while she made her grumpy way to work.

But slowly, she started to notice the little things.

The first she noticed was traffic. Heading to work, she would see a car or two, and that’s about it. There was the occasional frustrating stop light that was on a timer instead of a sensor, that drove her mad, but other than that, the drive to work was so much more enjoyable. It took her less time to get to work, and she found herself in a better and a better mood when she got there.

Then she started to notice the stillness.  Since most sane jobs didn’t have start times until later—there were very few people moving around in the morning. She could look out her window while she was eating breakfast, and with the exception of the occasional bird, there was a stillness outside that made the whole view out her window look almost like a painting, one that just slightly changed every morning as the seasons went through their cycle.

Lastly, she noticed the quiet. She’d lived in apartment buildings her entire life, so she was used to hearing pipes and steps and people through walls. Her life was always surrounded by the busy through and through and other lives around her. But—when your alarm went off so god awful early, most people weren’t moving yet. No pipes, no footfalls, no annoying teenagers screaming at each other in the apartment next door. Walking down to her car, there wasn’t anyone banging on doors, or dropping things on the stairs, or any of that nonsense.

 

So, after months—they asked her if she wanted to move back to the normal schedule, the 9-5, and she answered without even thinking about it. She liked being up before sunrise.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Unintentional Change [Part 1 of 2] (518 words)

Cindy sat on a chair in the basement.  Matthew was pouring over book after book, comparing the blood that she’d given him under the microscope to the pictures covering his pages.  James sat slumped on the futon in the corner, trying to act casual, but he kept glancing back to Cindy to make sure she hadn’t moved. It broke his heart not to trust her. She had been such a good friend to them, for so long—but he didn’t know who she actually was. He wanted to believe that she didn’t know either. He wanted to believe she was just as shocked as he was to wake up after what should have been a fatal blow to the back of her head and neck.

But what if she wasn’t shocked? What if she was something he didn’t know, and he was there to hurt him, to hurt Matthew? What if she was the thing that Matthew and he had been drawn here to protect against?

He saw Cindy shift uncomfortably in her seat, and he realized he’d been staring at her for a while. He turned back to look at Matthew, who now seemed very still. That meant he was close. He’s almost figured it out and now he was just ironing out details before he presented his ideas to anyone else. James subconsciously relaxed. Matthew would have an answer soon. Whether it was good news or bad news it would be good to finally just have a concrete answer.

Slowly, almost like he was coming out of a trance, Matthew stood up straight at his work table.  After a moment, he turned to look at James, almost like he was in a daze. “James. I need to speak to you in the hall.  Now.”

It was the sharp tone in Matthew’s voice that caught James off guard. Matthew wasn’t the sharp-voiced type. It was that distraction that made James follow Matthew out of the room without thinking about the fact that they were leaving Cindy alone with several means to escape.

They had barely gotten into the hall when Matthew swung the door shut hard behind them, and pointed an accusing finger to the room. “Do you love her?”

There were two beats of silence, then James blinked and said, “No.”

“I’d advise you not to lie to me,” Matthew retorted, in full professor voice. It wasn’t often that James thought about the fact that Matthew was technically nearly double his age.  That was the problem of being immortal in a mortal world. Sometimes he forgot that he lived in a way that was unlike those around him.

James didn’t say anything else. He wasn’t stupid enough to lie again when he’d been warned. Matthew nodded his head sagely. “Well, why ask the question if you already knew the answer?” James countered, starting to get annoyed now. He had no idea what all this was about, and he didn’t appreciate the third degree in the meantime.

“I knew the answer, because if you love her—you did this to her. She’s immortal now—because of you.”

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Stories

 

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