In a world full of the relics of the past and
the toys of the future, Lila Howell is a psychic
who struggles to remain ethical in the face of
her government's demands. Currently, her
government is demanding that she use her job to
retrieve information from Susanne Newton. She
must make a decision between keeping her life or
reaching for something more.
by Brandy Hunt
Published by Brandy Hunt
Copyright 2011 Brandy Hunt
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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2008 Obama is elected.
2012 Sarah Palin is elected. She continues to serve for four terms, as the
United States becomes more insular and militant.
2015 Afghanistan is declared a U.S. territory. The fighting in Iraq
2018 War begins with Iran.
2028 The military overthrows the Palin presidency when General Michael
Thackery holds the Electoral College hostage until they elect him. The
United States becomes a police state. The wars with Iraq and Iran heat
2055 A limited nuclear exchange between Iran and the United States leaves
part of the western half of America a barren wasteland. What is left of
California, Oregon, and Washington secede from the union. The military
dictatorship is overthrown in a series of riots lasting several months. A
conservative group called Palin's Pride manages to restore order, and The
American States take over the eastern seaboard.
2057 The Congress of the American States decides that too many non
Americans are consuming the limited resources the country has left. They
begin to deport people who can not prove European or First People ancestry
out of the country.
2060 Canada closes its borders. Soon afterward, the military invades and
takes over. While the UK tries to regain Canada, they have problems of
their own. The climate has begun to fluctuate. This particular year is the
coldest and longest winter ever recorded.
2064 A record summer sees snow thaws in areas that have never seen them
before like Alaska, Iceland, and Siberia. Heat stroke kills thousands in
what is left of the Southern American States. When people from Mexico try
to come north to escape the heat, they are shot on sight.
2071 After several cycles of harsh winters and blazing summers, a group of
people calling themselves the Religious Majority takes control and the
American States becomes a theocracy.
2082-2085 During this time, the American States begin to run out of money.
In a drive to pay off the national debt, the Religious Majority has
demanded more and more taxes until finally, the country is debt free, but
the economy is depressed and money is scarce. People can no longer pay
their taxes, and services, such as police and fire suppressant, begin to
breakdown. This is the beginning of the Passing, as civilization begins to
break down and "pass away."
2086 By this time what was left of the American States is now a series of
territories generally protected by a Mayor or Governor. Laws are
administered by the Mayor or the Governor, and order is upheld by the men
he hires for this.
2089 Susanne Newton is born.
2107-2108 A year-long winter, called the Winter Year, comes.
2139 The last war lord, Heavenly Wind, is defeated, and New Dawn, the
first centralized government since the American States, begins the process
of becoming the government on the East Coast.
2187 Lila Howell meets Susanne Newton
Receiving a work order at the end of the day meant her plans for a relaxing
evening with Ervin would likely become a pity party. Lila Howell's email
dinged as she packed her things to go home. She doubled checked the work
order when she saw three names on it. Leann Winters was her direct
supervisor, but the other two, Aron Kirby and Brad Colon, were not people
she recognized. As an archival historian, she recorded the
autobiographies of those who had lived through the Passing, the dark times
after the end of what had been left of America. These autobiographies,
often called passings, were done in the final days of the person's life
unless signs of dementia began to appear.
Because of her psychic abilities, in the early part of her career she had
been loaned to the Security Ministry occasionally. After she had refused
to work for them anymore, there had been attempts to manipulate her into
helping them. As long as the Ministry didn't force her into hurting
anyone, she pretended not to notice the manipulation. The extra names on
this work order likely belonged to Security Ministry personnel.
Susanne Newton had helped formed the New Dawn government. As a historical
figure, most of her life after she started helping the N.D. had already
been recorded. The battles and the politics involved in the last few days
of forming the civil government and the separation between farmsteads and
city government were mostly attributed to Susanne Newton. Normally, her
passing would be done by someone higher up in the Archive Department.
However, with a question already attached to the work order, Lila
suspected the Security Ministry of attempting to manipulate her into
helping them again. It was a violation of the agreement reached a few
years ago after her refusal to work for the government at all.
Lila sighed and printed out the work order. There was time enough to work
on this tomorrow. At this moment, Ervin was supposed to be cooking
dinner, and she was in desperate need of a glass of the wine he had
acquired a week or so ago. Lila stuffed her papers into her bag along
with her equipment and hurried home. She stored everything, and then went
out via the balcony and around the corner. Ervin had left his back door
open for her, and she walked in to see him pouring a golden liquid from a
jar and into a drinking glass.
"What is that?" Lila asked as she picked up the glass.
"Mead. It's a wine made from honey," Ervin said. "I can't tell you how
good this is because the wine went through at least two other sets of
hands before mine."
Lila took a sip and sighed as the alcohol burned just a little. The taste
was heavy with oranges and some sort of spice.
"Sweet and alcoholic. It'll do. What's for dinner?" Lila asked.
Ervin opened a couple of containers and set them down on the table. "Tofu
curry with rice and tomatoes."
"I thought we were splurging for actual animal protein of some sort," Lila
said as she sat down at the table.
Ervin snorted. "I went by two lunch counters and the allotment center. No
animal products are currently available in Macon even if you are willing
The two ate quietly for a few minutes. The habits of childhood still
dictated quietness at the dinner table, and in fact in most activities.
Most of the teachers in the crèche had preferred the quiet, well-behaved
child rather than the smart one, especially the one that might be
affecting their mind. As they finished eating, Lila sat back to take a
sip of the mead Ervin had acquired.
"This stuff really puts the fire out after the curry. Is this from the
farmstead market on the edge of town?" Lila asked.
"To be honest, I'm not completely sure. I got it from one of the squatters
in the old section of town. If actual oranges were used in the
manufacture, then it did probably come from the farmstead market," Ervin
said. "At the very least, we didn't have to pay the insane tax the
Cleansing Council imposed last year on alcohol."
"I agree with most of what the Council has done, but that was taking it a
little too far. Remember back at the University, how we used to buy a few
bottles of wine and throw a party on the roof?" Lila asked.
"Those poor kids," Ervin said. "Well, what exactly had your tail on fire
when you got here? I can see the rant building as we speak."
"I'm not going to rant. Or rave. I'm too tired. I got a weird work order
just before going home," Lila said. "I am to ask Susanne Newton who the
Southern Dragon is and get the rest of her passing."
"So, I've heard rumors that she's grumpy, but you are the Rock when it
comes to getting those old farmsteaders to open up," Ervin said.
"The two extra names on the work order worry me, Ervin. I'm afraid the
Security Ministry is involved. I almost went to re-education instead of
doing what they wanted. I can't risk hurting someone else with my gift.
I came way too close to killing the last guy they had me interview," Lila
responded. "Besides, Ms. Newton's health status is listed as good on her
work order. The first prerequisite for a passing is a life threatening
condition unless dementia is a concern."
"Maybe dementia is a concern," Ervin said as he cleared the table. "Or her
attitude. I know one of the historians Ms. Newton ran off. She was
insulting and rude to her historian."
"I don't like it. I can't refuse the work order, because this is my job.
My precognition says the timing is wonky," Lila said as she sipped more
"I think you should slow up on the wine. Wonky?"
"I just have a really bad feeling. My abilities are not something to play
with. Even if I didn't mean to, I allowed the Ministry to push me into
hurting someone while using my abilities to interview them. There is also
the issue of consent that comes up whenever I utilize my charm ability. I
have ethics, and the Security Ministry has tried to push past them
before," Lila said.
"I remember. They kept you for ten days," Ervin said as he sat down to his
own glass. "But your abilities also give you a huge advantage in our
field when it comes to the shy or recalcitrant clients. It was only a
matter of time they would call you to do this passing."
"Someone with a higher standing in the department should do it," Lila
"They have tried and failed. Yippee, now it's your turn."
They sat in silence for a few moments. Lila finished her glass of mead,
but waved away a refill.
"I'm afraid, Ervin. Someone is already pulling strings. There is a
procedure we use, and it works for me, for my abilities. What happens
when they mess with the way I was trained to work, and I can't deliver
when they want?" Lila asked.
"You remember what happened to me last year?" Ervin asked.
Lila nodded. "They kept you for three days."
"I filed a report with the wrong tone thinking that no one would realize
it, and then loudly complained about the woman whose passing I was
conducting because she was lying through her teeth," Ervin said. "I was
given a glimpse of re-education and was offered a chance to retrain or
watch who I spoke about, since she was the mother of some high muck in
"Yeah, that's when we decided on the no socializing in public thing since
we had both had run-ins with the Security Ministry," Lila said.
"I think you need to give them what they want as quickly as possible if you
can. If you can't, you need to find a way to cover yourself. With the
Security Ministry, at the end of it all, it comes down to the finger
pointing and the blame, not ethics or morals," Ervin said.
"I don't know if I can deliver the information in the time they want it
in," Lila said. "I don't want to hurt anyone."
"And that unshakable belief that you are right is why people call you the
Rock. I'm not going to tell you to do what's right. I'm going to tell
you to be careful and do what you need to do to get out of this with your
skin intact," Ervin said before downing the rest of the golden liquid in
his glass. "Your contract is what keeps you from living on the streets or
in the case of someone with your abilities from languishing in Security
Ministry custody. Without one, you would have to get something at the
University or go hungry until the Security Ministry picks you up. The
only one hiring is the government, after all."
"Well, we'll see how this is going to go. I will be talking to her
tomorrow," Lila said with a sigh.
* * *
Susanne stared at the woman who had knocked on her door. Young people
rarely came to the hospice, but a woman of color was rarer still.
"Who are you?" Susanne asked.
"I'm Lila Howell," Lila said with a smile. "I'm to be your new
"I'm not dying," Susanne said, blocking the door.
"This is unusual," the young woman said. "I checked everything with my
superior. This work order was issued by the Security Ministry."
"What difference should this make to me?" Susanne asked as she began to
close the door in the girl's face.
Lila managed to check the door with her shoulder and push inward,
"Is rudeness necessary?" Ms. Howell asked as she stared Susanne in the eye.
For a moment, Susanne started to gray out.
"I can't help being here any more than you can," a soft voice said.
Susanne shook off the feelings the voice tried to give her. This wasn't
the first time someone had tried to influence her. She might not be a
rated psi, but she had ways of defending herself.
"Those little mind tricks the government is so fond of won't work on me,
child," Susanne replied.
"I'm showing how this can happen, Ms. Newton. For some reason, there are
people in the Security Ministry who want to confirm the identity of the
Southern Dragon," Lila said. "My work order includes the authorization to
use all of my abilities, and I'm rated a three. This means eventually I
would prevail and find a way into your mind despite your natural
"Why are you telling me this?" Susanne asked. She was impressed and a
little flattered. A psychic who rated as a three had several abilities,
at least one which could be considered invasive or affect the ability to
give consent. Theoretically, Lila Howell could force Susanne to tell her
everything she wanted to know.
"I don't want to hurt anyone, Ms. Newton," Ms. Howell said. "And forcing
you to respond to me might hurt you."
"Well, I'm not the Southern Dragon," Susanne said.
"And I will certainly tell them in my report," Ms. Howell said. "As this
is our first interview, why don't we introduce ourselves?"
"All right. It's been a long time since I saw a woman of color. Most of
the European stock in the farmsteads have intermarried those of color
until you can't tell the difference between us anymore," Susanne said as
she sat down and started to knit.
"My parents were adopted by the Iroquois nation before they were disbanded
by the New Dawn government. Both nations took in several families of
color when the American States declared everyone of African or Hispanic
background to be non-citizens," Ms. Howell said politely. "And I
understand you are from a farmstead. Most of my experience has been in
documenting farmsteaders' passings."
"Really, how nice for you. Do you feel you know a lot about the
farmsteads?" Susanne asked.
"More than most city folk. I know you think the government is incompetent
in its efforts to help the farmsteads since they don't listen to the
farmsteaders," Ms. Howell said.
"You know a lot more than most of the regular government buffoons. You
would think they might ask what works and what doesn't," Susanne said.
"Several months ago, I wrote a report on this to the Agriculture Ministry
on behalf of a couple of my passing clients, and no one responded," Ms.
"I wouldn't expect them to. They want to control, not to help," Susanne
"It may seem that way, but the New Dawn government is only trying to keep
things together," Ms. Howell responded.
"So we should let the N.D. stumble along without comment so they can keep
things together," Susanne said. "Life is about more than keeping things
together. We should always strive to make the world a better place.
Instead New Dawn wants everyone to be identical sheep grunting the same
"I don't know what you mean, Ms. Newton," Ms. Howell said.
"I am talking about the Cleansing and the Council that enforces it.
Stripping away anything that might cause aggression and replacing these
ideas with fanatical politeness isn't going to make everyone's lives
better. Ambition and innovation are fueled by aggression and the need for
change," Susanne explained.
"So is harm against others. Better to channel those with aggressive
tendencies into the security service within the government so they can be
monitored, and those tendencies used appropriately," Ms. Howell said.
They sat staring at each other until the bell for tea rang.
"You bother me," Susanne said. "This is enough for today. Go."
"I'll be seeing you Monday after lunch. I wish you a good afternoon, Ms.
Newton," Ms. Howell said before she left.
Susanne sighed. Lila Howell seemed to be made of sterner stuff than the
usual archivist. She might not be able to run this one off. As Susanne
picked up her knitting, her friend Larissa came in with the tea tray.
Larissa had come with Susanne to the hospice to keep her company and get
away from her daughter-in-law.
"That is a strong one, Susanne," Larissa said as she sat the tray on the
"I know. Whoever is seeking this information is bold. She is a psychic,"
Susanne said. "An honest one though. Came right out and said she had the
means to make me give up my secrets, but since that might cause harm, she
would rather work with me."
"Honesty will get her nowhere in the Security Ministry," Larissa said as
she began to pour.
"She's an archivist. She's been tapped by Security Ministry, probably
because of her high aggression rating. They don't test for ethical
considerations, I imagine," Susanne said.
"This might end well for all considering. We just have to wait and see,"
Larissa said as she settled down with her spindle and began to spin yarn
Susanne grunted. She doubted that anything could end well at this point.
They were behind enemy lines, with no way to retreat.
Lila hurried from the bus stop. Lunch traffic had been heavier than usual,
and she didn't want to be late for her first official interview with Ms.
Newton. She wanted to make sure she was early in the hopes of getting in
Ms. Newton's good graces. However, when she saw one of nurses that she
was familiar with looking over something at the receptionist's desk, Lila
"Nurse Meier, do you have a moment to speak with me?" Lila asked.
"I have just a moment, Ms. Howell. We are in the middle of performance
reviews," Nurse Meier answered.
"I'm doing the passing on Susanne Newton, and I was wondering if there was
any history there that isn't covered by confidentiality," Lila asked.
"Well, she keeps to herself mostly. We don't have a lot of farmsteaders
here at the moment, and they tend to stick together," Nurse Meier
responded. "Her best friend, Larissa Bergh, came to the hospice with her
so she wouldn't be alone. They have been here for five years."
"Thank you so much, Nurse. Good luck with your performance reviews," Lila
"You are welcome."
Lila hurried down the hallway, then stopped to catch her breath and walked
the last few feet. She knocked and waited for Ms. Newton to open the
"So, it's you," Ms. Newton said. "What shall we talk about today?"
"I always like to start at the beginning," Lila said as she began to set up
her equipment. "What are some of the first things you remember?"
"And this information is going to keep the Passing from happening again?"
Ms. Newton said.
"Well, we analyze the recordings for the Archival Department, and those
reports go to the History Department at the University. They try to
understand what caused the breakdown in government and how it affected
people," Lila said. "It is important to have a proper understanding of
the time period for posterity."
"Yes, I have heard the propaganda. You don't want to repeat history. But
you must realize that no one goes all the way back to the end of the
American States and the beginning of the Passing," Ms. Newton said
"Yet, we do know some things from that time. Some records remain. Adding
to it can't be bad," Lila said.
"You don't put everything in. The stories that go on record are decided by
committee," Ms. Newton said.
"Not everything is true. We all misremember things. The committees help
us by keeping an accurate account of the time," Lila said.
Ms. Newton sighed and sat down. "Well, I was a baby when the Passing
started. I suppose we should start with my mother's death. This event
was the beginning of my adulthood, I suppose."
* * *
First session: Lila Howell recording Susanne Newton
The last time I saw my mother I was unable to talk to her. Even from a
distance, I could see she was wasting from the soul sickness. She had
always told me that she was grateful that she hadn't passed the sickness
to me, and I think for once I could see why. My mother wasted away
because of another man's stubbornness.
We were farmsteaders, and in the Passing, farmsteads were the backbone of
what was left of civilization. My mother had told us stories of the days
that had Passed. My grandmother had been someone with just enough fame
from her stories to secure the farm before the Passing began. I get my
storytelling ability from her, so my mother said.
If the farmsteads were the backbone, the small towns provided the shell.
The Mayor kept a standing patrol that protected us from marauders and so
on. We were far from the wastelands, but there were always bandits
cropping up on the roads.
I suppose my mother weighs heavily on my mind in these days before my own
passing. She was a strong woman who never broke a promise. The last
words she said to us were said in strength. The Mayor had decided that my
mother's knowledge should be in his household. His favorite wife was
about to give birth, and the Mayor wanted my mother there for as long as
need be. He sent four soldiers to collect her and a minor maid from his
household to replace her in ours. My father cried silently as she packed.
They had been afraid this would happen since she managed to breathe life
into a baby born a bit too young earlier in the spring. The Mayor wanted
a son who lived more than he wanted to keep the farmsteaders happy.
Before she left, she sent the soldiers outside. I still remember the way
they jumped too.
"Bill Johnson, I want you boys to wait outside while I smooth this over,"
my mother said.
"Missus...," Bill Johnson began.
"Do you think I'm going to try out running you over the pasture, Bill
Johnson? I delivered your baby brother just two years ago, if I am
remembering correct, and I reckon I should be able to call in a favor over
that labor. Let me talk to my family," she said waving them toward the
They left, edging out the door. They knew what they did was wrong, but
such things were between can and can't. My mother watched them go then
hugged my father.
"If Goddess wills, I will be back. So dry your eyes," my mother said as
she rocked him against her breasts. Then she turned to my brother, who
was a few years older than I.
"You can't go running off now. Your father is going to need all kinds of
help. I need you around to make sure that your Uncle Michael doesn't try
to take over or marry off your sister before her time. I don't want her
married before she is sixteen, you hear?" our mother asked, and my brother
Then she turned to me and dried my eyes. "I want you to remember what I've
taught you. Keep the books for your father just as I have done. Marry
for love, for there is precious little in this world. Don't let
bitterness poison you against the maid they send to replace me, and for
Goddess sake, child, keep your hands busy. Busy hands are a blessing in
life," she said then leaned down. "Take care of your father should I not
return, for he will need you."
Then she turned away and faced the young girl they had sent to take her
place. "Look, learn, and listen. We are a good people, and I doubt you
will be treated unkindly. Don't try to change things too much, and they
should welcome you with open arms."
With that she walked out of our house. The next time I saw her was in town
for a harvest festival a few months later. She had lost so much weight I
wouldn't have recognized her except for the woman she was following, the
Mayor's favorite wife. That was when I knew her sickness was upon her.
Occasionally, her soul would sicken, and the only way to actually make her
live again would be to find something for her to do, that only she could
help you with. This wasn't hard, as my mother had been the center of our
I tried to speak to the woman, to tell her what was wrong with my mother,
but got slapped for my trouble. I was lucky to be so young that she did
not think to have me whipped for my impertinence. A month later my mother
died. The Mayor sent us two young bulls, one to keep and one to use for
the fall breeding.
My father didn't talk for almost a year after wards. Eventually, he
accepted the young woman they had sent to take her place as a housekeeper,
but she never shared his bed. Later he released her when she fell in love
with one of our field hands.
The loss of my mother will always be linked in my mind to the Passing. If
the Mayor had sent her home as soon as she started to ail, she would have
gotten better and lived for many years yet.
* * *
"This will be uncomfortable, Ms. Newton, but I've never heard of a
reference to soul sickness before," Lila said. "Please describe it."
"I suppose today you would call soul sickness depression. Both my mother
and my grandmother had the affliction. Once or twice a year the cares of
her life just seemed to collapse over her like a cresting wave. She might
cry for no reason or just sit and stare at the wall. This sickness was
one of the reasons she liked to say busy hands were a blessing," Susanne
sighed as she began to do something complicated with the yarn in her lap.
"Work seemed to be the only therapy she needed."
"I was wondering if you could give me some more explanation behind the
expression 'between can and can't,'" Lila asked.
"Between what you can do and what you can't do. When you become a soldier,
or a police officer, or a fire fighter, you give up some of the control
over what you can do and what you can't do, because you are beholden to
others. Especially during the Passing when sometimes the only work was as
a soldier for the Mayor," Susanne answered.
"What was your grandmother's name and did any of her work survive the
Passing?" Lila asked.
Susanne snorted then stood. She grabbed a very old looking book from a
bookcase. "The homestead is still there, being run by my niece now. We
have copies of most of Fanny Clayton's work, even though it was banned in
the Cleansing. Since we are family, we are allowed to keep the originals.
I doubt anyone else will ever know she existed."
"What did she write?" Lila asked as she carefully took the book. The title
read Zombie Hunters. "This is a horror novel, but she also wrote fantasy
adventure. Unfortunately, her work is too violent according to the
"I would like to read this tonight, if you don't mind," Lila said as she
put the novel back in the protective cover.
"I don't mind. Just bring it back. When I die, the book will go back to
my niece," Susanne said.
"It is late. I'll be back tomorrow after lunch," Lila said.
"Of course you will. May your footsteps be safe, Lila Howell," Ms. Newton
said as she sat back down to finish what ever she did with that yarn.
Lila finished packing together her computer and microphone and quietly
left. On the way home, Lila reviewed the medical file that had been part
of the work order. Ms. Newton had pulled though several illnesses
including a couple of cancers. It didn't feel right to handle an old
woman who had been through so much in the last few years. It felt
disrespectful. Archiving was a job that she loved and had always been
about respect to her. Susanne Newton's role in history demanded more
respect than this.
Susanne Newton had helped the New Dawn government clear out the last
entrenched warlord so that the New Dawn Government could begin. Without
her and her compatriots, the N.D. government would have faced more
bloodshed and more fighting before unifying the eastern seaboard.
Lila didn't understand the hostility from Susanne Newton, and she had never
been assigned someone who was so repulsed by the idea of being
interviewed. Susanne Newton's politics also didn't make sense. She had
been integral to the current solidarity of their society, but she referred
to the Cleansing with such disdain. Most of those who survived the
Passing seemed to be so grateful for the care of the state. Wasn't it
better that Ms. Newton live out her life in some comfort than on a farm
with few amenities? And certainly Ms. Newton didn't want to put that sort
of burden on her family.
Lila sighed as she got back to her living quarters. The apartment was
small, but private. Lila quickly settled herself on her balcony to read
the novel her assignment had handed her. Her computer compiled a file on
Fanny Clayton as it rested on the table. Lila barely read the first
chapter before she had to put it down. The dark humor had taken her
aback, and now checking the file on Fanny Clayton, she felt she
understood. The woman had been something of an anarchist and
nonconformist. In some of her interviews, she had expressed the opinion
that the end of their society was coming one way or another, so shouldn't
they have fun while they were here.
She turned back to the book trying to navigate past some of the out of date
jokes to understand the underlying theme of the novel. Lila sighed as she
began to speed read. She had a feeling her head would ache before this
* * *
Susanne knitted socks because she could. Just as Larissa spun the yarn
Susanne used because she could. It kept their hands busy. It kept them
from going insane so far from their families. Larissa however had it a
bit better than she. The oldest Bergh had married a woman Larissa
couldn't stand. At least she didn't have to deal with the woman on a
For Susanne, the letters from her niece kept her going. Mayme wrote once a
week. Listening to her niece go on about how the government kept sticking
their nose into the working of the farm, only to get it snapped off
pleased her to no end. They had been keeping records on the farm's output
and how the weather affected the land through the Passing and beyond. She
doubted that her niece was ever surprised with what might happen based on
the family records and the stellar Newton intuition.
However, Mayme always seemed to ask for advice. Most of the time, Susanne
had forgotten the answer, but she knew which of the old books contained
it. She advised Mayme to send one of her young ones to an engineering
school or sit them down with the old engineering texts since the answers
to most of her questions were found in one of the old textbooks. She
always sent a pair of socks or a hat home in her letters.
She carefully collected this week's letter along with a bonnet for one of
the younger girl children she could never keep up with all the way out
here. She sent the hat out via a bonded personal messenger who she knew
"Now, Evan. I want this in family hands. I suppose you could give the
package to someone on the farm. I know that driveway is terrible, but I
want your assurance that it will be hand delivered to someone in the
family," Susanne said.
"You know I wouldn't put it in just anyone's hands. Paranoid much? What
do you have in here?" Evan asked.
"No, but the regular mail loses things so easily. I have the money, why
not use it on something other than books and magazines," Susanne said.
"I hear ya. Well, I got to go. I'll get it there in about two days or so.
I have a lot of stops," Evan said.
"You say that every time and every time I say that's fine," Susanne said as
she paid him.
"Yeah, I know. But I like the ritual," Evan said.
"Well, take care, Evan. May the Goddess guard your steps," Susanne said as
she patted him on the shoulder.
"Thanks, Ms. Newton," Evan said as he left the lobby.
Susanne sighed. She didn't completely trust the new government's mail
system. A bonded personal messenger pretty much guaranteed delivery
simply because if they didn't deliver they would never get more business.
Besides, the habits of a lifetime kept her careful, even now, stripped of
her sword and her knives.
She knew one day her end would come, but she doubted it would creep up in
the night. Nothing in her life had yet.
Copyright © 2011 by Brandy Hunt
All rights reserved unless specified otherwise above.
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