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The Revenge Business

by Dane BH 12 days ago in Adventure
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a story by Dane BH

NOX

The horn startled him awake. Nox flipped over, slid off the velvet seat and whacked his head on the wall. On the floor, he felt the pulse of the tracks beneath him.

Before he had a chance to swear, rub his now-aching head, or figure out where the hell he was, a deep, amused voice cackled at close range.

"It helps if you hold on."

Nox looked up and squinted. A spry, wiry woman glared back at him, her lips twisted into a smirk. “Come on,” she said, cocking her head towards the front of the car. “I’ve got ice you’ll want in a minute.”

Nox closed his eyes. “Where am I?” he asked. “Last thing I remember was...”

“ - your fourth rendition of Up The Lady’s Gown, seventh shot of whisky, and falling across the piano?” the woman finished. “Yeah. This came after that.”

Nox grimaced. “I fell across the piano?” Well, that explained the ache in his ribs.

“Yep.” She dragged the word out to a full measure’s worth of disapproval. “I suppose it won’t surprise you that you’re permanently barred from the Thirsty Fox.”

“Wouldn’t be the first,” Nox muttered.

The train’s horn blasted again and Nox winced as the sound pounded straight through his skull. “You have ice?” he asked.

“Right this way,” the woman said. Nox stuck a hand out, which she ignored, turning on her heel and heading for the front of the car. He staggered to his feet and followed. Nox would bet money she had steel in her boots. Her pants were well-beat leather; a similarly weathered leather vest was fitted over a dark red blouse. Her hair was in a thick, tight knot at the back of her head.

Nox ran a hand through his own loose shoulder-length hair, wishing he had something to tie it up with. Loose hair was a terrific disadvantage in a fight, and it looked like this lady knew it.

Not that Nox wanted any more fights.

He caught up with the woman - she was faster, but his strides were longer - at the edge of the train car. She crossed the empty space where the cars were hitched together without breaking her stride. Nox faltered at the sight of the tracks racing beneath them, swallowing the urge to spit.

You’ve done this a thousand times, he scolded himself. And your legs were a lot shorter, then. The woman was already halfway down the next car. Nox leaned out, grabbed the door handle and nearly fell in. He stumbled his way down the car to the front row seat, where the woman was rummaging in a wooden chest.

“You got a name?” he asked as she handed him a cold, damp towel. He pressed it gratefully to his head.

“Sure do,” she answered. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and a little nudge. He sank into the high-backed seat.

“You’re not gonna tell me what it is.”

“You’re not as dense as you look.”

“Well, thank you for the ice…ma’am.”

“I’ll take Captain over ma’am.”

“...Captain?”

“What’s the matter, you need ice for your ears, too?”

Nox shrugged. “Whatever you say, Cap’n.”

*

When Nox woke again, it was dark. The train hadn’t slowed. There were just a few dim lights in the train car but the woman who called herself Captain sat next to him, frowning into a book. Nox’s stomach growled. Captain looked up.

“You’re awake.”

“Yeah. Uh, thanks for…” Nox gestured at his head, but the compress was gone, along with the throbbing ache. “Do you know if there’s any food?”

Captain opened the wooden chest at her feet, pulling out a small bundle wrapped in paper.. “ You’ll want something to drink with it, but all I’ve got is sour tea and you won’t be wanting that.”

“Sour tea?” Nox unwrapped the package to reveal a sticky dark lump with a few bites taken out of it.

“Some say it tastes like alcoholic piss.” She cracked a crooked smile as she said it, like a memory had suddenly tickled her.

“That’s…interesting. And what’s this?” Nox tried not to be obvious as he sniffed the lump, but couldn’t get much of a scent off it.

“That’ll tide you over. Couple of bites is all you need.”

“Can I ask what’s in it?”

“You really don’t want to know, but the taste isn’t bad.”

Nox took a cautious bite. The substance was gummy and tasted of smoked meat. Captain watched as he chewed, her expression plainly looking for amusement, which made Nox determined to keep his face straight. He tasted berries, unexpectedly, and felt some seeds in his teeth. It took him a minute to swallow it all.

“Smoked - venison?” he guessed. Captain’s lips twitched and she gave him a short, approving nod. “Some kind of fat,” he continued, “and - I don’t know what you’d call them. A berry, real common where I am. My Ma called it a sarvisberry. Dark blue, grows in clusters on a bush?”

“So you know food,” Captain said, holding her hand out for the remainder. “We call this gunk,‘a bite of life,’ because it keeps you going when you’ve got nothing else, and it keeps forever.”

“Well, I appreciate it,” Nox said, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. “Honestly, I’d even take a sip of that piss you’ve got."

Captain chuckled and pulled out a bottle. Nox took a sip.

He instantly regretted it.

The sour tea did, in fact, taste a lot like alcoholic piss. It took everything he had not to spit it out. Next to him, Captain shook with near-silent laughter.

Nox swallowed and gasped a few times. “You did warn me,” he said.

Captain turned to look at him. “You know, I wasn’t sure, but now I think I’ll keep you.”

“Keep me?” Nox repeated. “Keep me where? With whom?”

Captain leaned back, pillowed her hands behind her head and put her feet up on the wooden chest. “I’ll tell you when we get there.”

“Get where, exactly?”

“Oh, that’s right. You don’t know, do you. You weren’t exactly sound of mind when we boarded.”

“You brought me on this train?”

“More or less.”

“Why?”

"Because!"

“Do you ever give a straight answer, woman?”

Captain’s hand darted out, and a searing pain tore through Nox’s finger. He jerked and tried to twist, but Captain held him in a tight grip that caused his whole body to bend toward the source of the agony.

“I thought we were clear on what to call me,” she said.

“Apologies - Captain -” Nox managed. Captain tucked her hand back behind her head. Nox swore, squeezing his hand between his thighs.

“You're here because no one else volunteered to go. You didn’t object because you had nowhere else to go, and no one to vouch for you. After I saw what you did to that piano, I figured I could make it work with you,” Captain continued, as if she hadn’t just set one of his joints on fire.

Nox felt the greasy meat-berry paste and the sour tea starting to come back up. “What is it, exactly, that I’m volunteering for here?”

“Well,” Captain said, “how does first mate sound to you? It’s only fair, since you’re the first one on board after me.”

“On board for what, exactly?”

“And I liked the way you hung on to the sour tea. Takes a real man to swallow that stuff on a first try. Sets a good example for the crew.”

“And if I say no?”

Captain shrugged. “You got anywhere else to go?”

“Sure I do.”

Captain sniffed. “All right, fine. Where will you go?”

“I’ve got places -”

“Not according to the proprietor of the Thirsty Fox. He said he’d been letting you sleep in his storeroom in exchange for your services as a barkeeper, and that he’d been about to throw you out before your little escapade.”

“He was?”

“Said you were the worst bartender he’d ever had. Something about lecherous advances toward any man, woman or beast that stumbled into the place, that you drank more than you served, and that - what was it?” Captain put an exaggerated finger to her chin and cocked her head as if deep in thought. “ - you made a TERRIBLE rum toddy.”

Nox thumped his head against the seat.

“Like it or not, I’m the best option you’ve got.”

“That all depends on what your ‘first mate’ does, I’ve never set foot on a boat in my life.”

“Oh, there’s no boats. I just like the command structure.”

“Oh for the love of - WHAT is it we’re doing here?”

“I like that you’re thinking of us as a team now.”

“We won’t be a team if I throw myself off this train and pray to die under its wheels, will we?”

“I need someone who can take a few punches and serve as a good distraction - or cause one.”

“So you can do what?”

Captain drew a stubby charcoal pencil from the inside of her vest. She scrawled on her palm, and showed it to Nox just long enough for him to read.

Nox leaned in and whispered.

“And who is it we’re killing, exactly?”

ALZA

Alza slouched against the window of the train car and took another swallow of sour tea. It surprised her that Nox - who she was still calling “Piano Man” in her head - seemed to have forgotten to ask where they were going. All the easier. It’d be harder for him to leave once they arrived. And he’d be in better shape after another round of sleep.

She reached for her boot to make sure her knife was still accessible, checked her trunk’s lock, and stepped over Nox’s legs, turning to head towards the cab. A blast of heat greeted her as she unlatched the door and slid in.

“Heyo, lass.” Alza smiled. Danyl would be the last man alive who’d ever get to call her that, and she’d treasure it until he died. “How’s the big fella?”

“Sleeping,” she said, reaching around his belly to hand him a bottle of sour tea. He uncorked it with his teeth and took a gulp.

“Ah, that’s the ticket. Good batch, this one. Bit less pissy than the last.”

“I aim to please,” Alza replied dryly. “How far out are we?”

“Good two hours, give or take.”

“Feh.”

“Alza?”

He rarely called her by name. It made her back straighten and jaw stiffen.

“Sir?” It had been years since she addressed him as such, but the habit came back with nerves.

“You sure you know what you’re doing?”

“What choice do I have?”

Danyl grunted.

“I’ve learned a LOT, Danyl.”

“Like how to pick ‘em?”

She’d have swatted him if there’d been room. “Let me know when we’re half an hour out. Same signal?”

Danyl nodded. Alza inched her way out.

Nox was still sound asleep. She climbed over him again and settled in. A nap would help, and Danyl would make sure she woke in time.

NOX

Nox woke up refreshed, despite the achy back. Night had clearly passed, but ugly storm clouds covered the sky. He stood and stretched, caught a whiff of himself and grimaced. He wasn’t much for baths, but he wasn’t trying to be rude, either.

He headed to the toilet at the end of the car and managed a rough wash. On his way back to his seat, he passed a conductor carrying the common water bucket. Remembering the Captain’s “sour tea,” he welcomed the drink. He considered asking where the train was headed, but didn’t want to alert anyone to his lack of a ticket or destination. He knew what happened to passengers who didn’t pay.

Nox’s father had wanted to be an engineer: driving the train and answering to no one but the timetable. He only ever made conductor. Nox had grown up riding the rails on short trips when there was no one to care for him otherwise, which there often wasn’t. He’d seen his father deal with stowaways: genteel ones were put off at the next station, with a firm escort. Ones that looked like Nox could be tossed out anywhere at slow speed. He edged his way back into his seat and checked the window again. It was raining now, and darker. As he drew back, she sat up. He watched her check the window, figuring out how long she’d slept. Then she swore, whirling around and looking alarmed.

“That motherless son of a goat said two hours,” she muttered. “I’ll be right back.”

Nox kicked his leg out and braced it against the bulkhead. Captain stared at him.

“What are you doing?” she asked, her voice leaning into a trace of a country accent he hadn’t heard the night before. “Shove off.”

“Gotta pay the toll,” he said placidly, in the tone he used to tell drunks to pay upfront for their pints. “And speaking of tolls,” he dropped his voice, “I haven’t seen any tickets on either of us, and I’m not a fan of getting dropped on my ass in the middle of nowhere. I think you owe me an explanation, Captain.”

“I don’t owe you jack,” she said. “But the engineer and I have an understanding. No one’s going to kick you off."

The train began to slow.

“We’re almost there, I reckon,” he said. Captain peered out the window. When she turned back, her forehead was furrowed, her lips pressed into a thin line.

“We’re not. And there’s a storm brewing." The train’s brakes screeched as they slowed to a shuddering stop. “I’m going to find out what’s going on if you’ll just let me -”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” called a conductor’s from the rear. “We’ve received word of bridge damage up ahead.. We sincerely apologize for the delay.” He sped through the car without taking questions and hopped to the next one.

Captain plopped down, swore and knocked her head against the seat-back.

“So this place we’re going, or this mission we’re on - there’s a deadline?”

Captain leaned forward and buried her face in her hands, elbows on her knees. “I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure?”

“How dense are you, Piano Man?”

He lowered his voice to a whisper again. “I’m not the one plotting murder without a plan, kidnapper.”

"I have a plan for that," Captain hissed.

“Oh good. Wouldn’t want to have to go all improvisational about it.”

“You’ve a good vocabulary for a lousy barkeep.”

“And you’ve a very nice wardrobe for someone with that accent.”

Captain’s mouth fell open. “I - I haven’t lived in the hill-towns for a long time.”

“But that’s where we’re headed, aren’t we? If you were planning to do - what you’re planning to do - on someone else’s coin, you wouldn’t care so much about it. And since it’s your plan, and your mission, there’s got to be something personal about it.”

A mix of appreciative respect and irritation spread over Captain’s face. “You’re less dense than you seem,” she said. “Fine. Yes, we have a limited window of time.”

“Why?”

Captain leaned back and looked him up and down. “I’ve got to get there before my father dies.”

Nox nodded. “He’s sick?”

“Something like that. I only got word two weeks ago. He might be gone already, for all I know.”

“So you’re in a rush.”

“Aye.”

“Is there still a - a plan, so to speak, if he’s…” Nox trailed off and raised an eyebrow.

“If he’s dead?”

“I wouldn’t be putting it so indelicately, but yes.”

“Might be.”

“Oh, lovely. Would you be letting me know before or after we do or don’t execute said plan, then?”

Captain closed her eyes and sighed. “Were you slapped as a child for asking too many questions?”

“With hand and belt and wooden spoon.”

“Nox?”

“Aye, Captain?”

“I need someone I can trust. Can I trust you?”

“Depends on what for and how drunk I get.”

“I need to know you’re not going to make advances in my direction, that you’ll follow my lead, and won’t scupper the whole thing.”

Nox looked her dead in the eye he ticked his answers off on his fingers.

“One, you’re not my type. Two, I can tell you’re skating the edge of rule and law, which happens to be where I live most comfortably. Three, I’ll give you a pass for not knowing me, but I answer to blood before money, and friendship before blood. Which is to say, tell me what’s going on, and I’ll either decide I’m with you to the end of the line, come hell or defeat, or I’ll put myself off at the next station and not breathe a word to anyone. Fair?”

Captain took a long moment. Nox held her gaze, letting her ruminate. Finally, she stuck out her hand.

“We have an accord. Follow me.”

ALZA

Alza led Nox toward the cab. She motioned for Nox to wait while she opened the door. Danyl was slouched against the wall. Alza beckoned to Nox, who squeezed himself into the cab along with them.

“I hear you’re old friends,” Nox said with a barkeeper’s smile. Danyl snorted. Alza rolled her eyes fondly.

“Danyl took me in when no one else would,” she said. “Had me shovel coal for him on a train just like this one.”

“Ah. I knew a man like that once. He taught me how to pour a drink and stop a brawl,” Nox said.

“You asked for answers,” Alza continued. “I’ll go find some food and you and Danyl can have a little chat.” She thought it’d be better this way. Men let other men speak concisely.

“You trust me with that? That’s a new one,” Danyl said. Alza elbowed him gently. “Go on, then. You got any more sparkling piss back there?” Alza shook her head.

“You drank my last bottle. I’ll make some more when I can.”

*

Nox waited until the Captain was out of earshot before he spoke.

“Be straight with me: can she kill a man?” The older man raised an eyebrow and paused.

“If she had to, I think,” he said. “But she doesn’t want to.”

“Why not?”

“She wants them to know she could, but she wouldn’t want that on her shoulders.”

“Wants who to know?”

“What has she told you?”

“Nothing, except her Da’s sick and maybe dead.”

“Ah.”

Danyl had the reassuring steadiness of a man who’d been doing the same job for too many years, rearing others to follow in his path. Benj from the Whistling Steed had been like that, had taken Nox in when he was all fire and vinegar and too much to prove and knocked him down a peg or two before building him up into a man worth a hair’s respect.

“So she’s got something to prove,” Nox said. “She wants someone - or someones - to know she’s smart, she’s deadly, she’s…” he trailed off, gesturing for Danyl to fill in the blank.

“You ever met a woman like her?” Danyl asked, failing to take the hint.

Nox thought. “Bits and pieces, yes,” he said. "But no. No one identical.”

“Exactly,” Danyl said. “She was one of three girls at the Academy in a class of twenty-five, where only five actually graduate. They cut five every year.”

“What is this, a school?” Nox asked. He’d never heard of anything like it.

“Most folks where she’s from just call it the Academy. Best and brightest. The hill-towns pay steep taxes to cover the costs. No one complains because it’s the only way our people get a say in the capitol. Life is better since we started the Academy. But it’s a lot of pressure on the kids.”

“So she was in the Academy?”

“One of the best ever seen, to hear some tell it,” Danyl replied. “She worked hard, but she had a natural talent, a kind of grace most people can’t learn in a lifetime. And it was everything - diplomacy, history, negotiations, geography, politics.”

“But she didn’t graduate?”

“She should’ve.”

“But…”

Danyl looked him over. “You think life is fair?”

Nox snorted. “No.”

“You ever see the right somebody’s son get handed what it would take you a lifetime to earn?”

“Of course,” Nox said, thinking of the hundreds of children who his father had waited on There was never any care left for Nox when they got home.

“Well, the Academy was supposed to be about true skill and talent, not nepotism. But the idea of a girl graduating was just…unpalatable enough for some that a few scales got tipped, and she was cut in the final round. Lost her spot to a bright, but none too clever son-of-the-right-man.”

Nox winced.

“It gets worse. No one wanted to admit the Academy was wrong. If the towns think the Academy is as corrupt as the capitol, then why should they pay to keep it running? Better to denounce the girl. Find something on her, a justification.”

Nox shook his head.

“So the boy who took her spot - his father started the rumor that she’d only made it that far by…” he gestured crudely. Nox didn’t need any further explanation. “It was just her and her father by then, and he was so embarrassed by it all that he put her out himself. Made a big show of it to save his own standing.”

“So how did she meet you?”

Danyl cracked a smile. “She showed up with a sack on her back and told me she’d shovel coal for two days straight and sleepless if I took her on. I liked that. She came from somewhere, but she wasn’t afraid to work.”

Nox grinned. “Did you take her up on it?”

“Ayuh,” Danyl said, his smile spreading.

“How long did she stay with you?”

“Two years. By the time she left, she was stronger in many ways. Left the rails and said she would come back when she was ready to show everyone how wrong they’d been about her.”

“How long’s it been?”

“Let’s see. Probably five years since she left me. I know she was in the capitol for awhile, then in some of the border towns. She sent me a letter or two each year. Once hopped a train I was runnin’. But this is the longest I’ve seen her since she ran my boiler.”

Nox nodded. “So, she wants me along for...what, exactly?”

Before Danyl could answer, the door opened and Captain stuck her head in. “Are you done yet?The conductor wants to know when we’ll be moving.”

Danyl raised his hands. “I don’t make the rules,” he said. “When I get word about the bridge, we go. Until then, we stay.”

Captain’s eyes narrowed. “Who’s your contact about the bridge repairs?”

Danyl gave her a name. Her eyes widened. Someone she knows, he thought.

“You’ve been in touch with him?” she asked, tersely.

“I don’t pick the bridge-man, I just wait for his all-clear.”

“When’s he due to update you?”

“Your guess is as good as mine, lass.”

Nox held back a smirk. “You know the man he’s talking about?” he asked.

“He’s the one I’d like to see -” Captain stopped herself. “He may have information about my father.”

“Ah.” Nox nodded, pretending she hadn’t just named her possible murder victim.. “I’d be eager to hear that, too,” he added, just to let her know he hadn’t missed a thing.

“Look,” Danyl said. “Go back to your seat, eat some more of that disgusting paste - don’t give me that look, I know you’re hungry - and I’ll send the man back when he arrives. Is that good enough for you?”

“It’ll have to be,” Captain mumbled. “Come on, Nox.”

ALZA AND NOX

“Hey - bridge-man!”

Petor hadn’t heard that voice in seven years. He whirled around and found his old classmate charging into the empty car as the train began to move again, followed closely by a man who looked like he’d been raised in a tavern. He opened his mouth to say hello, but something in her expression struck him silent. Instead, he staggered backwards. Within seconds, Alza was bearing down on him, drawing herself up to her full height. He’d always assumed he’d be taller than her one day, but it had never come.

“I knew you’d never make it to the capitol,” Alza spat into his reddening face. “I knew you’d spend the rest of your life - your Academy education, everything your father could buy - spending your days on something trivial and your nights on something worthless.”

Nox tried his best to look menacing.

“Alza Danjori,” Petor answered, his voice rising on each syllable. “Last time I saw you was -”

“Right after your father bought what was rightfully mine?”

“...Wait. What?” His face furrowed. “What are you talking about?”

“You know what I’m talking about, Jorison.”

Petor gave Nox a helpless look. Nox had seen that expression before, on the faces of men who truly believed themselves friends with men who loaned them money, only to be rudely informed otherwise when they didn’t have the cash to pay up.

“I believe what my friend is saying,” Nox said “is that your life would look much the same if you hadn’t graduated from the Academy, but hers was put at a significant disadvantage. You know, being run out of town in disgrace and all.”

“There’s no guarantee that graduating from the Academy means a life in politics,” Petor huffed. He sounded like he’d given that argument a number of times before and didn’t quite believe it himself.

“I would’ve,” Alza announced. “If it’d been me instead of you, I’d have gone and represented us with the others. I’d have brought back funds to repair the roads - and bridges,” she added pointedly. “If it’d been me instead of you, I’d be coming back for a hero’s welcome, not to make peace with my father before he -”

“Oh, that’s RIGHT,” Petor said. “Alza, I’m so sorry about your father. He was…a good citizen,” he finished weakly.

Alza froze. Nox saw her right hand twitch.

“Was?”

Petor looked like he might cry. “I wondered why I didn’t see you at the funeral,” he said. “I assumed it was because you hadn’t spoken since you left. That you didn’t know.”

“When did he die?” Nox had to give her credit - her voice stayed steady and clear.

Petor shifted on his feet and looked down. “Not until last week, but the stroke was almost two months ago and he might as well - gods, Alza, I can’t believe I’m the one telling you this.”

“Me, either.”

“Look, you’re clearly still angry about not making it, but I just wanted to say I’m really sorry -”

Nox shot his hand past Alza’s shoulder and caught Petor’s neck. Petor flinched, his hands flying up in an attempt to bat Nox away, but Nox moved this thumb to rest over the hollow of Petor’s throat, and he froze. He took a breath and gagged on it, eyes wide.

“Captain?” Nox kept his voice light and calm. His face was close enough to Alza’s shoulder that he could feel her trembling. He shook like that, too, in fights. But Alza hadn’t moved.

“Let him go, Nox.”

Nox released him. Petor slumped over and started gasping and coughing.

“Looks pathetic right now, doesn’t he?”

“He always was, a little,” she said softly.

“Not worth the blood on your hands, is it Captain?”

Alza slowly shook her head.

“No.” She leaned down and slipped her knife out of her boot, and slid it under Petor’s chin, lifting his head to meet her eyes. “Does your father still own the Howl and Bark?”

“Yes,” Petor rasped. “What do you want?”

“A room,” Alza said. “No, two rooms. And you’re not to tell anyone I’m here. We’ll be on our way tomorrow. You’ll bring us food, water, and whatever else we need.”

“Whatever you need,” Petor repeated hoarsely. “No one will know.”

“Good.” Alza withdrew her knife and slipped it back into her boot. “Come on, Nox.” She turned and started toward their car.

“Captain?”

Alza paused and turned.

“I’m wondering if this good man would be willing to take us to your father’s grave before we go.”

“What for?” she asked.

Nox shrugged. “Praying, if you’re that type. Swearing. Spitting. Light vandalism. Whatever seems fit to mark the occasion.”

Petor spluttered. “You can’t just go around swearing on people’s -”

Nox turned towards him sharply. “Did I ask you? Did anyone in this car ask you?” he asked, reaching his hand toward Petor’s neck and spreading his fingers menacingly. “If my Captain would like to spit on her father’s grave, that’s her business and nobody else’s.”

Petor nodded. “Of course. I can take you there. It’s not far. It’s -” he threw one more sad, desperate look in Alza’s direction - “it’s a nice one. Under a tree. The whole town pitched in for it.”

Alza attempted to sneer and failed. “That’s nice for them,” she said. “But no, Nox. I don’t need to see it.”

“All right, then.” Nox let his hand fall and turned to follow Alza out of the car. “And make sure those rooms have nice views!” he called over his shoulder as the door slid shut behind them.

Back in their seats, they noted the train was picking up speed; Alza looked for the bridge coming down the tracks. It wouldn’t be long now.

She turned back to Nox, who was mopping the sweat off his face with his sleeve.

“Hey,” she said to him. “You did well back there.”

“Yeah? Glad I could help,” he said. “You know, if you’d wanted to, I’d have -”

“I know,” she said. “You would’ve. But you were right. It’s not worth it. They never were.”

Nox sighed. “Wish I’d learned that sooner for myself,” he said quietly. “What’re you gonna do now, Captain?”

She looked out the window again, and then back at him. “I’m not sure. But whatever it is - if you want to stick around, I’ll be glad to have you.”

“Well, I heard I was getting evicted anyway, ” he replied, cracking a small grin.

“Good,” she said, leaning back and closing her eyes. “Oh, and one more thing.”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Call me Alza.”

****************

If you liked this story, you can thank Call Me Les for her grace, candor, and ruthless editing skills. She's the reason it got here.

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About the author

Dane BH

By day, I'm a cooking teacher, foster parent, cog in the nonprofit machine, and poet. By night, I'm a creature of the internet. My soul is a grumpy cat who'd rather be sleeping.

www.danepoetry.com

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  • Carol Townend11 days ago

    That was brilliant. Well written, and extremely entertaining!

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  • Robert Mitchell11 days ago

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  • Kat Thorne11 days ago

    Great story, super interesting read!

  • Heather Hubler12 days ago

    Very enjoyable read! I was impressed with your character development, well done :) And congrats again on Top Story!

  • Call Me Les12 days ago

    YAY!! Told you this was fab <3 So glad it got across the line. Best of luck for the contest! Fingers crossed!

  • Babs Iverson12 days ago

    Congratulations on the TOP Story!!!

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