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A story by Laurie J Rich

Elua expected a job with the One World Shadow Government™ would be conspiracy and magic. Turns out, it’s kind of a drag.

If you’re the best in the world at anything, they’ll find you. She didn’t hesitate to sign after hearing that. They sell you on jobs for spies, historians, authors — they don’t mention some are downright mundane. And once you’re in, there’s no variety, no advancement, no reprieve.

The pay is great but the contract’s terrible. The door beeps and she turns to greet her customer, one hand on the register, smile aching. Twenty years to retirement, and she feels every minute.


Enriquillo and Ayiti found each other waterfall-bathing accidentally, six years ago. He was barely a man and she only just a woman. They shrieked and accused and ran away, then carefully came back at exactly the same time–one week later, and every week since.

But they are not lovers, Ayiti reasons, and therefore what she feels is not jealousy. Once she had Enriquillo’s attention on her, like a warm scent, even alone; now it’s cooling. The new girl is a deprivation.

So she curses four times, licks a black stone, and writes Elua’s name on the wall of thieves.