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JPErgott

United States

"Stars" Excerpt

November 23, 2018

Today was truly a beautiful day. The sun was shining high above the towering skyscrapers of Reedson, the people were talking cheerily amid the stalls set up around the town square and I had a knife up my sleeve as I thought about who to threaten. Truly a beautiful day.
I wandered to a stall selling apples, or, more accurately, horrible mock-ups of the fruits that existed centuries before I was born. They had the taste and texture of candle wax, but as the closest thing to nurtrition that existed, I grabbed a few without even bothering to pay.
“Hey!” The owner cried, glaring at me as froze, food in hand. “You gotta pay for that, girlie! I ain’t running a charity ‘ere!”
“Oh, I know.” I replied with a smirk, pushing back the hood of my stolen jacket to reveal my platinum blonde hair. “But do you really wanna tell me no?” His face went pale as snow as I took a few more, shoving them into my bag and pulling out a penny defaced with my signature star. It was completely useless and not even worth the cent it had been, but as one of the most wanted criminals in the American Empire, I had a reputation to uphold. I flipped the small coin into the air and watching it land on the man’s counter, fear written all over his face in a prominent display. It was probably stupid to leave behind a calling card, but I was a criminal, not an animal. I had been raised with some manners, after all.
“I’m so sorry, miss.” He apologized quickly, gulping as I flashed him a pitiful smile.
“That’s better.” I encouraged, taking a bite of the foul-tasting fruit as I walked away.
Markets were gold mines when it came to stealing. So many people, yelling and screaming and talking and not paying enough attention to the people right in front of them. Despite my love for big game steals, it was days like this that I truly enjoyed. No expectations of greatness, no security cameras to impress. Just me, these fools and the things I wanted.
Not that I wanted these shitty apples, but a girl had to eat.
Eating the fake down the core, I wiped my mouth on the sleeve of the ratty jacket that I’d stolen as soon as I’d gotten into town and dropped the waste on the ground. Better to give the streetsweepers something to do with their miserable lives.
“Pick that up, young lady!” A woman’s voice cried. Confused as to if she was talking to me, I paused and turned around. No one else had thrown trash on the ground… which meant the girl in the silk sundress was talking to me. The ignoramus. “My family has worked too hard to provide for you hooligans for you to just throw your trash on the ground like common animals!” Ah, so she was a Noble. A low-ranking one, for sure, but one nonetheless. From her perfectly polished heels to her strawberry blonde braids, I should’ve guessed. No commoner would be stupid enough to show up to a market in those kind of clothes.
“Oh, I’m really sorry, ma’am.” I drawled, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “Maybe if you could teach a lowlife like me a few lessons on respect and manners, I might change my… my disgusting ways!” I said dramatically, meeting the girl’s now-frightened brown eyes with my own as I shed the jacket entirely, dropping it to the ground.
“Y-you!” She stammered, pointing her finger at me accusingly. “ARREST HER!” She cried, trying and failing to get the people’s attention. Silly, stupid child. These people knew better than to stand against me. I could make their lives hell in an instant. I could take everything they had and leave not a shred of proof behind. I could make them disappear.
“Nice try, sweetheart.” I said, mocking her thick southern accent. “But these folks know better than to mess with me.”
“Cowards!” She spat accusingly at the shoppers, the fear written all over her face. “She’s a wanted criminal and you’re all just going to stand there and watch her! Watch her make a fool of me!”
“Darling, you do that all on your own.” I supplied, letting her little charade play out for a bit. It was always fun to see what they did when they knew nobody was going to help them. Her and her family may have had them slaving away for them, day and night, but they all depsised her just as much as I did.
“Shut up!” She cried, turning back to me. “If they won’t take care of you, I’ll do it myself!” The ditz pulled out a mini-pistol, leveling it at me shakily as the people behind me fled. As if this runt of a girl would actually fire on me. I was untouchable. A rumor flying in the wind.
“That’s cute.” I said nonchalantly. “Does Daddy know you took that? I bet he’d be real disappointed in you if he found out.”
“You’re a lowlife and a criminal! I don’t listen to you!” She said, as if her words would actually hurt me. I reveled in the fact that I was wanted. I loved the thrill of my life being on the line. I loved mocking Nobles like her who thought they could get whatever they wanted at the push of a button.
“No…. but you are afraid of me.” I told her, walking closer with my hands in my pockets. “You’re afraid that I might hurt you… You’re afraid you might hurt me.” I reasoned, shrugging. “It’s not your fault, though. You’ve never killed anyone. Never hurt as much as a fruit fly. But you knew coming here wouldn’t be the best idea and that’s why you brought that little toy. Just in case. Just so you could tell Daddy all about how you went to the market alone, how you could protect yourself just fine.”
“You don’t know me!” Her hands shook as I stopped, the end of the gun inches away from my heart.
“No, I don’t know you…” I agreed. “But I know that you’re not going to pull that trigger. Just like I know that you’re not going come back to the market again. Just like I know that you’re not going to win this fight.
“You’re wrong!” She argued. “I will shoot!”
Then do it already.”
I realize that I went over about eighty words, but when it comes to this particular piece, there wasn't much more that I could cut to keep it interesting. Some editing might help cut it down for challenges like this, but at the moment I'm more focused on hitting my word count goal for NaNo/

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