Last time our man Daat Praen had just witnessed Bull Mayday get shot down outside his apartment. Now Daat hears the police sirens coming closer and he's only got a few minutes to decide what to do with the smuggled jewelry in the kitchen...
So there I was, my heart beating into my throat and Bull bleeding out on the patio. It's funny how you really find out who you are in extreme situations. Turns out I was always a criminal and just never knew it.
For reasons still unclear even to me, before the police got to Bull's place I ran into the kitchen and grabbed up as much of the treasure-filled grocery order as I could. I considered for a half-second checking on Bull's mother, or rather checking to see if there had ever been anyone in that back bedroom at all, but I figured it didn't really matter anyways. No, I had just signed myself up for a life on the run. I didn't have time for sentimentality.
As I fell out the kitchen window, spilling greens and gems into the dirty alleyway, I wondered just how much worth my haul had. I also wondered just where the heck I thought I was going to go with it. I couldn't go to my sisters; the police might trace me there. Friends? I didn't really have any. No, I'd have to lay low for a while, somewhere far away. Maybe in the Virvi, I thought for a second, but then I'd have to go through customs. If I had made it to port fast enough, the police might not have issued a warrant yet. But the risk wasn't worth it. Instead, I decided to head to the campground just outside of town. I'd be able to get some gear there with the little bit of goldquartz bills I had, and it was the off-season for camping so I'd probably have plenty of privacy too.
Marv was hot at my heels like he always was, excited to be leash-free. As I prowled the alleyways and sidestreets, making my way out of downtown, I realized that I was passing many places that I might never again. The bank that held my meager savings, the grocery that I had frequented since I made trips there with my mother. It was a good, simple life I had led, the straight path of the lowly magazine editor, but it had certainly never made me feel like I did that day. What adventures would I be able to go on now, I wondered? Whether they were going to be good, or how long it was going to last, I had no iea. But I'd still exchange a million boring, safe lives for just one bit of excitement as high as that I felt that day.
I made it out of town in a reasonable amount of time, though it felt like days. I was sure every new person I saw was keen on my heist, although I'm pretty sure anyone would view a sweaty, nervous man running through back alleys with a load of vegetables and a three-legged dog a little strangely. No matter. This was my flight to a new life. I'd never see them again anyways, at least not as Daat Praen. Not as a member of the poverty class. Things were gonna change. And how.
"Any campsites available for the night?" I panted to the bleary-eyed receptionist at the campground when I finally made it there.
He looked up from under his furrowed brow, obviously annoyed to be disturbed in his off-season. "You want to camp? Tonight?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered, smiling probably too eagerly.
"You kow how cold it gets at night here, right?" he asked, putting the book he was reading down like it was a chore and then walking stiffly to the counter.
"Yes. I'm a local. I like it!" I said.
"Ah. Got some groceries there, huh?" he asked, eyeing my armful of wilted greens.
"Oh, yeah. Love to cook," I said.
"Hm. You need a tent?" the clerk asked.
"Please. And a sleeping bag, too?" I asked.
"Okay," the clerk sighed. He took quite a while to fill out a short form and then had me sign it. "You'll be at site one. The only guest we've got tonight. I'll bring by the tent and the bag in a little bit, okay?"
"Sounds great!" I said. As I left the counter, the clerk stared at me with a mix of confusion and apprehension.
About two hours later and I'm in the tent, sorting the contraband from the food. The food has gone pretty bad by now, but Marv is happy to destroy the evidence. All counted, I've got something like five thousand goldquartz in front of me. That's more than half of my yearly salary at Dog Lovers Magazine. And I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. I had always wanted to take a trip to the Aeliaonean Islands, to visit the town of Nowhere. To live the life of a pirate. And if I only got to for a day, if I failed miserably or my boat sank, it didn't matter. That was living. That was real.
Flashlights woke me up at about three am, it must have been. I heard dogs barking, which had Marv riled up. It must have been the police looking for me. Even if it hadn't been, I wasn't going to wait to see. I rolled out of the back flap of my tent after grabbing the sack I had stowed my new fortune in, and dissapeared into the night.
NEXT TIME: PIRATES? NO, COLLEAGUES!