She’d been thinking ’bout it for a while & decided that the gingerhaired thiefrat that Moneybags obsessed o’er would have to pay. She was thinking ’bout it while walking down Habanero Highway, which always reeked o’ gasoline on the desert afternoons, on a trip toward Verditropolis, which she was now thinking she’d have to postpone for a bit. She was in 1 o’ her millions o’ disguises, as she always was, & was on the move. She didn’t think she was wanted for anything, but there was no reason to stay in any place long ’nough to become wanted.
She kept eyes all round her: tho the rat didn’t seem dangerous, she knew her knowledge on the subject was short & stunted. Hell, based on what she knew, she ne’er would’ve guessed she could’ve been robbed.
She still wondered ’bout that, still rolled the memory thru her mind as if it’d just occurred. In the apartment that she rarely & temporarily called her home, nondescript, no different from the other thousands that infect the city, she was rummaging thru her bookcase where she hid most o’ her funds & noticed her funds missing. The books themselves were in the right place, down to the Talented Mr. Ripley being tilted gainst the right end; but the stacks of orange bills wrapped in rubber bands were nowhere in sight or sense.
For a second she wondered if she’d changed her hiding place & just forgot. She remembered well ’nough that changing hiding places was a common tactic she’d learned in her ol’ days in SOA. But, no, she knew she’d been robbed. She could feel it. She knew gut feeling was a big part o’ her “career”, & she could feel it stirring now.
’Course, since Madame Autumn Springer was her only victim who was a thief herself, she was the obvious 1st target. & while the rat was good ’bout keeping any hairs or fingerprints from leaving her trail, the rat’s clumsy method o’ research, which was just asking round the apartment complex for info, revealed her like blood still sticky on her hands.
Despite this fatal flaw, she had to admit the rat was rather clever. ’Course, that would only prove her own brilliance when she managed to shut the rat down.
’Sides, she could already tell from her limited experience with the rat that the rat was weak & would be easy to dispatch. @ the very least, she knew by fact that the rat had attachments. ’Twas simple just to use those attachments to lead her to the shredders like strings on a marionette.
She, contrariwise, was wise ’nough to have severed all attachments, making her invincible. This decision to do so was marked by her destruction o’ all her family photos, & grew from there, till she perfected it a few years ago. She had no family. She didn’t tie herself to any people, or materials for that matter. She didn’t flinch @ the loss o’ so much money: money, like everything else, was ephemeral. ¿Why become attached to any o’ it when she knew there was no way she could ensure she’d keep it — impossible in the end, e’en? Hell, she didn’t e’en attach herself to her own identity or appearance: she destroyed all evidence that she had a past & faked her death. & she’d changed her appearance — in ways greater than changing clothes or hair — & changed her name so much that whate’er her original appearance or name were had been buried from everyone including herself.
After long hesitation, with eyes burning red from the long hours still staring @ the bright light o’ her laptop monitor under the dim yellow light o’ the apartment, Autumn in a creaky voice that hadn’t spoken in several hours blurted out,
¿Are you guys busy tomorrow afternoon?.
Edgar & Dawn both responded with a
No, Dawn e’en mo’ eagerly.
¿Who are you robbing now?, added Dawn.
After ’nother hesitation, Autumn responded,
You, ’course, remember my last failure, right….
No, only you keep close stock on those, specially the imagined ones, said Dawn.
I mean @ Lance’s party.
Smiling, Dawn said,
Yeah, I definitely remember…. Autumn nodded sardonically. Dawn continued,
¿Are we trying Lance ’gain? ¿You think the other thief already ran off?.
No, I know the other thief is still in Boskeopolis, & that’s who I’m robbing.
Dawn sat up from her slumped position on her couch bed & crossed her legs.
Now I’m definitely interested. ¿Is this some thief’s code o’ yours that you have to get payback on someone who stole from you?.
Yes — specially a thief this lame, said Autumn.
¿What’s so lame ’bout this thief?.
¿Do you take seriously a thief who degrades themselves by drumming up Moneybags Jr. & just stealing his stuff while he’s asleep after you let him put his poker in you?.
Dawn glanced ’way & shifted in her seat.
I mean… to be honest, I kinda had to do the same thing to get by early on in college — tho without the stealing or lying thing, I guess….
Autumn glanced ’way herself & mumbled back,
Look, I’m far from the sentimental moralizer raising up the cross gainst sex work — as you said, it’s a’least honest, & there are far mo’ degrading careers out there, like being a reality-show actor or a self-published writer. But this is pretending to be theft. You have to admit that if somebody fucks — or bribes, or helps someone with their homework, or anything else — their way to the top o’ a… a music contest or whate’er… the other musicians have a right to be annoyed @ the way their craft — & I know it’s a batshit craft, but it fits the person who employs it — being cheapened. I don’t e’en care if Lance got robbed — he can deal with his own shame @ being fooled so easily. ¿But me? ¿Due to a technicality? — since Lance was the 1 who had us tied down, not Madame Indoor Shades. I may as well give up as a thief if I’m to accept that sitting down.
¿Do you already have a plan for how we’re going to do it tomorrow?.
1st we’d be doing on-site research @ her apartment. If she’s not home, then we might break in & steal whate’er money & valuables she has. Considering how clearly fake her identity is, it’s possible she doesn’t trust banks & keeps much o’ her money on her — if she has much money. Autumn tightened her lips, already regretting having said this last part. After Dawn’s qualms ’bout burglarizing that 1 billionaire’s brats she was always wary o’ Dawn’s obnoxious conscience getting in the way o’ her profits & didn’t want her getting empathetic for this ridiculous clown o’ all people.
& Dawn, indeed, began to look a li’l uneasy, — tho kept the humor on her face — but said ’stead,
You don’t think she might strike back @ us in revenge, ¿do you?.
That’s only if we leave proof that we were the ones who did it, which is something we’re already experts @ avoiding.
Well, I should be, a’least.
¿How does it work as revenge if she doesn’t know?, asked Dawn.
It matters that I know. Her insecurities are her own concern.
To her side Autumn noticed Edgar now had an amused expression.
I’m, ’course, quite aware o’ my insanity, said Autumn.
No, it’s not that, said Edgar, shrinking his smile.
I was just remembering the last time you got ‘retribution’ on a rival thief: ¿remember that time with Heloise?.
I try to forget ’bout that bird-masked almondjob as much as possible.
But she likes you so much…, said Dawn.
I don’t like being outcrazied, & I’m ’fraid I can’t reach her impeccable skill level. If I cared ’bout being brainfucked as much as I cared ’bout being a good thief, she’d be an unacceptable threat to my sense o’ being.
Edgar grabbed Autumn’s arm & hugged it in his lap as he leaned into her.
Well, then it’s a good thing there’s no thief as good as you are….
Autumn kept her eyes as far ’way from Dawn’s taunting smile as possible as she murmured,
That’s a proven falsity ’less we… — I a’least — beat Lance’s pretend waifu.
Mayor, I know it may sound odd… but I’ve been thinking ’bout that red-haired thief we locked up & lost recently…, said the woman who was @ that moment called “Dagny” as she stared with heavy lids @ her glass o’ champagne.
Chamsby made a guttural sound as if he were choking on the steak he was chewing. After clearing his throat with his own champagne, he said,
Let not that dreadful socialist soil such an ornate mind as yours.
’Twas good Dagny had perfected dominion o’er her mien after all these years, as Chamsby always made her want to crack up. He was certainly an entertaining mark, e’en if he wasn’t the best in bed. She’d almost miss her jester pet when ’twas time to fly.
You o’ anyone knows that moral people ne’er tolerate evil, for that only allows evil to treat moral people as doormats, Dagny said as she tipped her glass toward him, causing its wine to slosh, but not drop a drop.
Chamsby nodded, contorting his face in a mask — for just like Dagny, everyone wore a mask; only Dagny was bold ’nough to acknowledge it to herself — that Dagny assumed was s’posed to be serious, but gave the opposite aura.
That’s true. ¿You think I should try capturing her ’gain?.
Dagny shook her head.
No need. Capture her mo’ docile pet, the skeleton, & the hideous heart worm will wither without an organ to suck on.
Hmm…. Chamsby looked ’way with a bent frown.
Don’t tell me this pussy’s getting limp-dicked ’bout it already.
Lance said quietly,
We tried that already….
I have my own plan that’s different. Dagny leaned forward.
See, it may be hard to believe, but I believe I understand this Madame Springer. I know what makes her tick, & it’s related to that skeleton.
Chamsby looked @ her with a raised brow & far’way eyes… almost fearfully.
You… ¿You understand the skeleton’s voodoo magic? ¿How?.
Experience. But I can assure you, this ‘voodoo magic’ o’ the skeleton’s is nothing special. Many people possess it & many mo’ are weak to it. Trust me to take lead & I will destroy the Great Red Ponytailed Devil Thief once & for all.
Chamsby rubbed his chin. His eyes were concentrated, but @ seemingly nothing @ all.
That would be a huge feather in my cap… It’s been such an embarrassment, having such an ignorant street rat gainst all odds outluck my superior mind & morality so many times. It… Lance grasped his forehead…
it just doesn’t make sense. Part o’ me thinks I should just give up on this wasteful venture & focus on worthier projects, but that’d feel like surrendering — & to such a… street rat, that’s unforgivable. It’s madness. As you said, it can’t be done.
Give me just 1 chance to take a stab @ it, said Dangy.
Can’t be any harm.
Then Dagny leaned nearer with a wry smile & added,
But I haven’t told you the most succulent part: not only will I obliterate the amazing thiefrat; I will obliterate her in the easiest, most embarrassing way e’er. When you see how I incapacitate her, you’ll be shocked @ how she e’er outsmarted your average hobo, much less the many people she’s robbed.
Dagny spread her arms out.
& this will be shown right before your eyes like the best widescreen movie.
Chamsby gazed @ her as if she were the widescreen movie.
I only ask for 1 condition, Dagny added.
¿What?, said Chamsby, without his eyes exiting their trance.
When I succeed, I want you to acknowledge — privately, if you wish; I don’t care ’bout your appearance before the barbaric public, but only our understanding o’ each other — that I am your superior. That I am your John Galt while you are merely the Dagny, who tries e’erlong to defeat me while simultaneously worshipping the ground under my soles, ne’er to succeed.
Dagny’s grin grew as she saw Chamsby’s expression change in a way the average clod would find surprising, but that she with her impeccable experience reading fleshbags had expected: his mouth curled into a smile.
Chamsby reached his gloved hand out & said,
You have a deal, Madame Ludwig.
They’re so much easier when they base their brain patterns on so few books….
The hardest part was getting the damn skeleton ’lone long ’nough to abduct it. If it wouldn’t have spoiled the fun o’ her plan too much, she would’ve just bagged them both. Then ’gain, Dagny doubted those buffoons Chamsby had for henchmen would be able to apprehend the thiefrat.
They sufficed with a time when the thiefrat was out doing who-cares & the other whore was in the other room. Getting in was no trouble: ’twas effortless to convince the mayor to give Dagny a “Monster Key”, capable o’ unlocking every door in the city — a key she would claim was misplaced by 1 o’ Lance’s greasefingered minions, since such a tool had limitless uses.
She knew opening the door would alert the skeleton & that they wouldn’t be able to reach him & silence him before he belt out a yelp & alerted the whore, so Dagny tried a subtler tactic, which was her specialty, anyway: she disguised herself as the thiefrat, matching the defeated frown & floor-facing eyes she’d studied on this dour creature. As expected, as soon as she entered, the skeleton turned back & greeted her.
¿Back already?, he said as he walked toward her.
She let this ghoul wrap its arms round her, ignoring the feel o’ its hard head pressing gainst her crotch thru her denim skirt. Fortunately, the thiefrat’s custom was to just stand there whene’er this biological abomination embraced her in his claws, not hugging back. She couldn’t blame her. She didn’t e’en want to think ’bout how these freaks fornicated. Then ’gain, the thiefrat was so soggy she probably ne’er felt like having sex & the skeleton was such an insect she suspected he just accepted it.
Smiling, Dagny said,
Edgar, I have something cool to show you. She flicked her eyes upward, watching the door to the other room, wary that the whore could come out @ the worst time.
Edgar turned up to her, gazing with those cavernous abysses for eyes.
¿What is it?.
Come look — it’s a surprise.
She forced herself to gently grab Edgar by 1 o’ his appendages & led him out & down the steps. As she did so she glanced down & was relieved to see Lance’s henchmen still standing down there, 1 o’ which — likely the leader, whate’er stupid color name he had was — turned his head to look up @ her. That means they can’t fuck this up, ¿right?. But she knew she shouldn’t underestimate their incompetence.
Luckily tho, they did as they were s’posed to &, as she & the skeleton reached the ground level, they charged out from the shadows, grabbing the skeleton, 1st round his jaw so he couldn’t cry out, & then round the rest o’ him so he couldn’t flee.
But she couldn’t go on autodrive yet, as she had to scan the vicinity as they hurried for their limo, in case any nosy neighbors made the mistake o’ getting involved. Since she was masked as the thiefrat, it’d be no fret shooting 1 o’ them dead with the gun she kept in her skirt pocket; but sadly the street was free o’ such opportunities for excitement.
Autumn was surprised to find that she returned to the kitchen area before Dawn did — e’en if Dawn mentioned needing to catch up on work. Autumn was glad, too, as she stood staring @ the note she’d read a dozen times already:
We’ve captured your li’l skeleton pet. Be @ Castle Chamsby this afternoon if you want him to remain ’live.
Only the gingerhaired thiefrat is invited. Do not bring the whore in the green jacket or anyone else if you want the skeleton to live.
& know that you’re not dealing with Chamsby here, but someone far mo’ deadly.
No time to waste. Go.
This is lightyears ’way from being the worst risk.
Still, with a shaky hand, Autumn scribbled out a note informing Dawn that she & Edgar were gathering mo’ intel.
As she headed out the door into a warm, stale, & searingly sunny city, Autumn thought, She’s like to find out somehow, & I’m gonna get an earful.
Dagny twitched as she sat & waited on the “throne couch”, as she called it, in the center that Chamsby was nice ’nough to have his minions set up in this dark room, shifting in her seat & cracking her knuckles while she listened to the skeleton blubber quietly in his chair to the side. Chamsby sitting next to her also appeared to be twitching, but seemed to be enjoying it far less than she was.
Then she heard Purple Whate’er-the-Fuck tell her in a quivering voice o’er her phone that the thiefrat had arrived.
Hmm… ’Haps this rat’s mo’ menacing than I imagined. I s’pose I’d better use a pinch o’ precaution.
But before she had much time to linger on that thought, the door swung open, & standing in the deformed white square o’ its opening light was the thiefrat. Said thiefrat flicked her thin pupils all o’er the room, only to land on Dagny in the back center & widen with raised brows & a nod. Then the thiefrat smiled, which caused Dagny’s smile to fall too fast to catch it.
She won’t be smiling for long….
¿Are you the mo’ formidable threat than Lance?, asked Autumn.
Without letting her freshly-recarved calm smile be fazed, Dagny turned to her side with an arm out toward Edgar strapped into a chair comprised o’ rusty pipes & said,
I have your fluffy kitten in a makeshift electric chair. 1 press o’ this button — Dagny pointed @ the arm o’ her throne couch —
& he will be electrocuted to a black crisp. & if you’re wondering: yes, I’ve tried it on ’nother skeleton, & she was charred as well as any fleshy human.
This smacked the smile off the thiefrat’s face. Tho the thiefrat merely looked curious now mo’ than upset.
¿How’d you get the legal clearance? ¿Or can the mayor just do whate’er he wants like a Leninist dictator?.
This got Chamsby to sit up straight & say with force,
That skeleton was a convicted murderer, just as your vile skeleton friend would be if you 2 weren’t such corrupt… escapees from justice.
The thiefrat looked back @ Dagny with raised brows.
¿What do you want? ¿To lock me up?.
Before Dagny could proceed, Chamsby slammed his fist & shouted,
¡It’s time for you to taste the punishing justice that you’ve earned o’er so many years o’ corruption!.
The thiefrat didn’t e’en bother to glance @ Chamsby, but continued staring headlong @ Dagny.
No, I expect a mo’ permanent form o’ surrender to my superiority, said Dagny.
She reached into her gold-colored purse & pulled out a white pill, & then tossed it onto the floor in front o’ the thiefrat, clattering till it stopped @ her feet.
I want you to kill yourself.
The skeleton’s muffled whines grew louder, as well as its struggles gainst its pipe chains.
The thiefrat looked down @ the pill sitting there just before her tattered tennis shoes. Then she bent down, picked it up, & stared @ it with full concentration, her face having displaced all its former hauteur, her brows in uncertain knots, while her flat chest heaved up & down.
1 o’ you 2 must die, said Dagny.
Now, I know you’re already aware o’ what an innocent, wonderful person Sir Winters is. I know you know quite well that ’mong you 2, he is the 1 who should live. Let’s be real: ¿what are you but a petty thief? ¿What ’bout you is valuable? We all already know this — & I know you do, too. ¿Why swagger round it?
¡Just listen to Sir Winters’ obvious protests! ¿Can you believe he actually wants to sacrifice himself to save you? ¿How could someone be so lovely? ¿Have you no shame?.
Like the eyes o’ the common idiot following the magician’s moving hand, the thiefrat fixated on the pill as if hypnotized.
We know you’ve been planning on doing it, anyway. Here we have an answer that solves all problems. It’s the most efficient outcome.
The thiefrat continued to stare @ the pill for a few seconds, & then glanced @ Dagny, & then looked back @ the pill. Dagny was starting to get impatient & was ready to remind this idiot o’ the skeleton’s situation, but before she could e’en finish that thought, she saw the thiefrat smack the pill into her mouth & make a loud gulp. Then the thiefrat looked up @ Dagny with the same dull expression as before.
There. I did it. Look. She opened her mouth & hands; Dagny couldn’t see any pill.
¿So now do I just wait here till it starts working?, asked the thiefrat. Dagny could barely contain her annoyance @ this cretin’s casual attitude, sapping all the enjoyment out o’ her work. It made her wary that the thiefrat was likely lying & she would probably have to turn the skeleton to ashes earlier than expected. Howe’er, then she noticed the thiefrat’s frown become stronger & stiffer & that the thiefrat kept rubbing her mouth while her eyes, which were growing wearier, started to glance ’way, & Dagny began to feel better.
Grinning ’gain, Dagny said,
O, I don’t think you have too long to wait.
After a few minutes o’ standing there, with a serene look in her eyes aimed down & the floor, but betrayed by the uncomfortable frown & uneasy heaving o’ her chest, the thiefrat grasped her mouth mo’ tightly, as if ’bout to puke, & began heaving up & down rapidly, & then began making noises that sounded like a mix o’ choking & coughing. Dagny crossed her legs with her hand ’tween them, feeling her heart race as she watched this creature’s body begin to fall apart. Dagny glanced o’er @ Lance for a moment to see to her disgust pale dread plastered o’er his face. A spineless mayor fit for a spineless city. She swung her attention back to her dying specimen before she missed the best part o’ her play, only to see that her main player had already collapsed onto the ground. Dagny scrutinized her prey for signs o’ twitching, but saw none.
¿Could she be faking?.
It won’t matter once we get to the next act.
Dagny turned to Chamsby, ignoring his stony face, held an arm out toward the thiefrat, & said,
& there you have it. In fact, just to prove my point e’en mo’…. She slid off her chair & walked toward the thiefrat. Halfway down her path she dug a hand into her purse & pulled out a knife.
& they say school doesn’t prepare you for anything…, Dagny thought as she remembered those ol’ frog dissection projects.
Her heart began drumming as she came closer & closer to the deceased thiefrat. She still wondered if ’twould be smarter to have 1 o’ the henchmen check the thiefrat’s vitals, just to be sure. But she didn’t want to ruin her fun. She wanted the thiefrat to be faking it, so she could enjoy stabbing her all the mo’. ¿What had she to worry from this pathetic depressive?
Dagny raced forward the rest o’ the way with her knife out, only for Autumn to spring back to life, zigzagging to the side & then back, so abruptly that Dagny couldn’t react fast ’nough to prevent this spaz from pushing her onto the floor. In mere frames Autumn pinned Dagny’s arms down with her elbows, forced Dagny’s mouth open, placed something small & hard, which Dagny could only guess was the pill, into Dagny’s mouth, & forced down Dagny’s mouth, causing the pill to shatter & fill her mouth with bitter air.
During those moments Dagny built ’nough frantic energy to shove Autumn off & jump back to her feet. All the while Dagny coughed & exhaled heavily. She grasped her chest, feeling her nerves all shake & the corners o’ her eyes water with sharp pain.
She swung her head toward Chamsby, grateful that her shades were hiding her corked-out eyeballs, & choked out,
¡Chamsby! ¡Call 404 now!. Then Dagny yanked out her phone & called them herself.
She kept an eye on Autumn to see if she was going to try impeding Dagny’s miniscule chance o’ survival, but ’stead saw Autumn jogging toward — ¡the skeleton!
Dagny charged toward the throne with all her strength & yelled,
¡Guards! ¡Press the button on the chair arm!.
¿You mean your chair? ¿The 1 you were sitting on just before?, asked Purple Whate’er-His-Dumbass-Name-Was.
Dagny grunted in frustration.
¡Ne’ermind!. By that point she was already reaching it. The thiefrat asshole had already reached Winters, but was still in the process o’ trying to break his pipe chains.
Maybe she’ll get zapped by touching them….
However, she could see Autumn keeping an eye on her &, as anticipated, Autumn leapt forward with 1 arm out toward Dagny, blocking the throne, while the other hand blocked the button. Dagny was horrified to realize after the fact that she had shrunk back from the thiefrat’s instant actions — why, she should be ’fraid o’ this rat, she didn’t understand herself.
¡Guards! ¡Come & stop her!, shouted Dagny. Her throat hurt, but she didn’t care. She could feel from her breathlessness her seconds slipping.
As Chamsby’s minions scrambled toward them, Dagny shouted,
¡If I die before I get to press the button, press it for me!.
Fuck, & then fled back to Winters. Dagny laughed inside for only the millisecond before she noticed the button on the chair was gone, replaced by a hole with severed wires.
¡Crafty fucker! ¡I don’t give a shit if she has a PhD in engineering: that skeleton’s fucking dead if I have to order those guards to blow the whole fucking building up!.
Dagny tried fiddling with the cords, twisting them & pressing their tips together. But after several seconds o’ trying to reconnect the fucking things, they did nothing, & feeling the tight pinching heat flush thru her digits & the nerve-endings scream from all the tiny finger movements caused her to lose her patience & slam her fist gainst the arm. She wasn’t sure if ’twas the poison or her fury that made her feel like she being strangled.
¡Fuck! I’m wasting time. ¿How long does cyanide take to take effect? Maybe I still have time.
She turned to Chamsby.
Take me to a hospital by the quickest route.
Chamsby nodded, & then turned to Purple.
Agent Purple Mountain’s — .
They’re busy butchering these fuckers. Have only your least important guard take me. I should only need 1.
Agent Razzmatazz, take her to the hospital by the copter — & don’t let anything stall you.
¡& hurry!. Dagny raced forward toward the door, looking back @ Razzmatazz with a hand flapping wildly toward herself.
With a sliver o’ her attention she could see the other guards standing round the chair while Autumn worked on Winters unhindered. 1 scratched his head & said,
¿Where’d the button go?.
¡Get the thief, you fuckheads!, she shouted.
¡Chamsby, lead them!. But by that time she reached the exit & didn’t have time.
I can’t believe that worked, Autumn said breathlessly as she & Edgar fled out into a Wasabi Woods burning with the bright orange light o’ sunset. The way it made her constantly cringe irked her; it made it hard to see if Chamsby, his amazingly crazier girlfriend, or any o’ his lackeys were nearby.
She noticed Edgar staring glumly @ the ground below his feet & felt her stomach sink.
She was right ’bout Edgar being too good for me.
She won’t die, said Autumn.
Edgar’s head jerked upward — tho the melancholy didn’t leave his face.
¿You mean ’twas fake?.
Yeah. I had Dawn make me some. I e’en researched what the effects look like by watching a video o’ that millionaire who offed himself after getting some guilty verdict. I hid the real pill ’hind my closed knuckles when I held my hands up. Ne’er know when pretend suicide may be useful… or pretending to kill someone. Shocked I found a use for it. I was sure it’d screw up somehow, like usual. Autumn paused for a few seconds before adding,
You don’t think I’d trust that screwjob to keep her claim, ¿do you?.
You’re such a good actor, Edgar said, sounding perkier.
The best acts are those based on true sentiments, Autumn thought as she remembered Dagny’s words & her thoughts as she heard them: She’s right. Such cold, correct logic. I’m staring @ a mirror o’ what I should be, & can’t help recognizing that it’s not me in the slightest.
She didn’t mention any o’ this to Edgar, ’course; but she did say,
Ha. You saw the way she freaked out when she believed she was going to die, tho. Proved herself to be o’ the utmost strength. But then, that’s what one gets by tying oneself so tightly to something as banal as living: when one inevitably must give it up, one goes apeshit @ the loss o’ everything they valued.
Edgar looked up @ Autumn with surprise, & then looked ’head & nodded.
Autumn lightly jabbed his shoulder with a fist, causing him to smile weakly, & then added,
See, e’en you don’t have a hissy fit when you’re ’bout to die. You should brag to that crazy fucker that e’en you’re less ‘weak’.
Edgar laughed ’gain, but said nothing else.