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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: 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: 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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Fiction: Legal Theft–Sentencing (470 words)

He was not an innocent man. Even if he hadn’t come out and admitted to everything that he had done, the evidence was stacked high and far against him.  Everyone knew what he had done, even if they didn’t know the nitty gritty, they knew that he was not an innocent soul. They had no problem with him being locked away in the darkest tower for the rest of his life. Many of them even slept a bit easier with that knowledge.

He was not an innocent man. She knew that, even before this crime came to light. She knew the kinds of things he had done for himself and others in the past. She did know the nitty gritty of many of the crimes he committed in this city.  And she knew that if the orders came down from his boss, he could do horrible things to people she loved and held near and dear to her heart. And he would do it without hesitation because that was his job.

He was not an innocent man. But he had been an innocent boy. He was the boy who would come and find her during the storms, to make sure that she’d found some place with a roof over her head. He was the boy who would sneak leftovers to her, so she could eat a meal, even if it was cold and a little squished. Even when there wasn’t that much left over for him to spare. He had been the little boy who held her close in a dark alley with a hand over her mouth to keep her quiet while the gang he eventually joined came screaming down the streets, riding wild and ready to take it out on whoever they ran themselves into. And he was the boy later that held her as she sobbed in fear, and calmed her by kissing her gently on the lips.

He was not an innocent man. But there was so much more to him than the crimes he committed. She brought him food during his trial, and a blanket for his head when he was left chained out in the rain, and accepted the booing of the common folk who didn’t know her or what he had done for that scared lonely little girl.  She couldn’t feel the relief of his sentencing, or breathe easier with him locked away in the tower. She knew that the streets were safer now, for her and her daughter, but she couldn’t feel any joy in his being locked away.

He was not an innocent man. But that couldn’t stop her from loving him. And only his flesh and blood could keep her from locking herself away with him.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Rainbow (99 words)

This was the hardest part. Not the hours of pain and laboring before–I would gladly go through those forever if it meant that this part would go well.

No, the labor was done, my baby was born, and they rushed her away to check her and clean her. And I had to wait in silence while three backs faced me, huddled over my child, waiting in the chilling silence.

Then, amazingly, miraculously, there is a scream of a cry. My little girl is alive. They wrap her up and place her in my arms.  For now, all is well.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Home Early (507 words)

Josephine had dropped her bag in the entryway, her keys still in her hand, hovering half way to the little hook where she usually hung them in the front room. She stared wide-eyed at him, just short of open-mouthed.

He smiled back at her—that little half twist of a smirk that she had seen many times before when he managed to pull off a surprise, like the time she thought he’d forgotten her birthday and made a panicked last minute reservation only to find her whole family waiting there for her in surprise. This was so much better than that time though.  Part of that was the fact that she still thought he looked damned fine in his uniform.

“Do you want me to go?” He asked, knowing full well that the answer was no, “Charlie can probably house me for a night or two.”

“Vince!” The keys joined the bag on the floor, and she ran forward, jumping at him at the last second, trusting him to catch her. He did catch her, kissing her as he wrapped his arms around her waist and she wrapped his legs around his back. “Thirteen more days. You’re not supposed to be here for thirteen more days.”

“Well, I can leave,” He smiled, easing her back down onto her feet. “I’m sure that Jack will let me crash with him for thirteen days.”

“No, don’t you dare leave.” She was standing on her own two feet again, but her arms were still wrapped tightly around his shoulders, forcing him to stoop just a bit to make up for their height differences. “How did you do this?”

“I called in a favor. And if we’re honest, got a little bit lucky.” He pressed his forehead against hers. “God, it’s so good to be home again.”

“And you’re really home? Here for good?” She asked eagerly.

“I’ve got to go in for a couple of days when the rest of the company gets home, to wrap some things up and finish the final paperwork. But after that, I’m all yours for a long while.” He brought his hands up to both sides of her face, holding her gently there, but not kissing her again yet.

“Okay.” She pulled away from him slowly like if she stepped away from him he might vanish from in front of her. Finally, she took a step and a half back, so that even his hands fell away from her face. The look on her face was still a strange mix of joy and disbelief. “Okay. I think. We need to not be in the living room anymore.” He raised an eyebrow, but she looked briefly around the room and nodded. “Yes. I think it would be best if we went upstairs. Like now.”

That goofy smiled grew across Vince’s face again. “Very well, Missus of the house. If you insist.”

“Oh, I do,” She turned on her heel, and he chased her up to their room. It was good to be home.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Go, Team, Go! (510 words)

There was nothing quite like turning up for the team.  It was rare that their team came to this small town on the outskirts of the country, and they definitely could not afford to travel to see them.  But every third year or so—they came out to the little pitch that the town spent the better part of a month getting into proper playing condition. At that point—well, there was absolutely nothing that was going to put a damper on the fan’s enthusiasm.

Sera had been a fan of The Blackbirds longer than she’d even been capable of conscious thought.  Her mother told the stories of Sera strapped to her back, not old enough to walk on her own or talk in full sentences, but she was still dressed entirely in black, the feather drawn intricately on her cheek, screaming utter nonsense in her mother’s ear every time The Blackbirds made a good play.  Both her parents joked that her first real word was ‘Boo!’ when the refs made a bad foul call against the team.

So, today, she was more than eager to get going.  She’d been very exact with the make up now on both cheeks, her hair looked like it might fly away with so many blackbird feathers stuck into it, and she was dressed from head to toe in black and blue.  Her mother looked pre-exhausted at the sight of her daughter on the couch, and Sera would feel bad if she didn’t know perfectly well that her sports enthusiasm had been inherited. “Oh,” her mother said with feigned surprise, “Is there a game today?” she asked as she poured herself a cup of coffee from the pot that Sera had already made.

“Hardy har,” Sera deadpanned, “can we be ready to go in, like, an hour?”

“Hmm.”  Her mother took a sip of her coffee and considered how much of her sanity would be at risk if she tormented her daughter too much more. “Your father’s not even out of bed yet.  Do you really think that he can be dressed and ready to go in an hour?”

Sera jumped to her feet and threw her hand to her forehead in a sharp salute to her mother. “Permission to enter your room and rouse the troops, Ma’am?”

Sera’s mom gave a little nod of the head as permission, and waited as Sera sprinted off up the stairs.  She heard the bed squeak, then a thump, and her husband shouting “Son of a Bitch!”  Two beats more, and the muffled laughter and footfalls as her husband chase his daughter around the bedroom with a pillow, half threatening to knock her head off.  It was the way of the game morning.  She expected nothing less.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2017 in Stories

 

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