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by Sara Genge

Butler scampered through the brush, zigzagging to avoid the
slingshots. A sharp pebble nicked his ear and blood trickled down his
neck. A mistake? He didn't think so.

The villagers were getting nervous. He knew he shouldn't count on the
hour that the law gave an embalmer to escape before he could be hunted
down. The corpse had been a young girl's--emotions were running high.
They'd begun play-shooting with their slings only seconds after he'd
been paid. He suspected they'd unholster their lasguns soon.

He hid behind a tree and peered out. He hoped the pay was enough to
make this worthwhile. He hadn't had time to check the purse before they'd started to shoot.
It was bad luck to cheat an embalmer and the family was usually generous. Why else would anyone risk their lives to embalm a corpse?

The next stone nipped the bark. No use avoiding the slings when the
lasguns were due. He swore and tore off in a straight line. The money
bag swung against his chest.

There!, the river. He dove in without thinking and let the current
take him through the rapids, away from the villagers and their

He was dumped unceremoniously into the Triptican lake. It took him a
second to realize that he had surfaced. He was breathing. Lying on his
back, he pedaled towards the shore.

Butler opened the pouch. Instead of money, he found a stone. It was
round. Tendrils of gold were set into the carvings. He read the
history of a family, in the stone. On the side, filigree letters spoke
an ode to the death of the only daughter.

He laughed madly. The old man had placed his family-stone in the
purse. He had to be mad! This stone represented the old man's family
honour. Butler could use it to get money for credit and the stone
would testify for his honesty.

He stopped laughing abruptly, and felt a pang of guilt. It was too
much. The law required fair compensation, but not this. For a
second, he thought of giving it back. But the lasguns would be legal
now. He got up, dusted the stone reverently with his hand and
went home.



Fun stuff. Makes me want to see more of this word.

Posted by: Daniel Braum | November 27, 2007 7:40 PM

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