Flash Fiction: Playing Games (433 words)

“I wouldn’t touch that if I were you.”

Aydak stopped because of the voice, not what it was telling him. Twisting, he looked over his shoulder, hand still hovering over the rolled sack in the corner. There was a girl in the rafters, a little younger than him, sitting on one beam with her arms crossed over another. Her hair was dark, mostly invisible in the shadows, but she had it tied back with a bright band of orange cloth. Her shirt and breeches had distinct I’ve-just-woken-up-in-the-roofline-of-a-hot-abandoned-building wrinkles.

“What?” Aydak asked.

“If you touch that, you’re gonna die,” she told him. She was resting her chin on her crossed wrists, her head bouncing up and down on every word. It was not a particularly threatening picture.

He glanced back at the sack. It didn’t have much in it. The top was folded down around a fat, lumpy roll at the bottom. He had guessed at some clothes, two or three apples or pears or peaches, and a handful of coins if he was lucky. He had a roll like it when he could afford it: all the extra bits that he could scrape together after a good month, purposely kept small and easy to run with. There was nothing dangerous about it either.

Standing, Aydak turned to face her. “I’m gonna die?” he asked.

“If you touch that,” she said.

“You gonna do it?” Aydak asked. “Kill me I mean?”

She shook her head without lifting it. It looked lazy and comfortable and so assured he almost believed her.

He paused. “When am I gonna die?”

She grinned, pleased and amused. “I don’t know. Probably about the same time as if you did touch it.”

“One more rob job inn’t gonna change my destiny much, is it?” he said.

“Nope,” she said. “But that is mine, and if you take it, I will chase you down and I will get it back, because that’s what I do. And that’ll just be a waste of a day for both of us. Knowing that you’re gonna die, and you’ve only got so many days left, do you really want to do that?”

Aydak stared at her. “Does that work on anyone?”

“Only the ones smart enough to know that a streeter who takes philosophosy is probably mental,” she said, head bobbing again. “The rest I don’t need it to work on.”

“You like playing these games?”

She nodded. “Almost more than I like keeping my stuff.”

He thought about that for a moment. She gave him another slow, broad grin.

Then Aydak grabbed the sack and was almost to the door before she finished swinging to the ground.


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