Tag Archive: blank charm


98 – Puzzle

Kelly was lining up another charm when there was a knock at the door.

“Who’s that?”

“Gate’s.”

“Sure.”

The door opened and he walked in, bag of fast food held in his hand, “Here,” he looked down at the charms scattered all over the floor with a raised eyebrow, “I thought you couldn’t take the bracelet off?”

She had already plunged into the bag and was unwrapping a burger, “Whatever gave you that idea?”

“I just thought, all that mystical shit, it always sticks itself to the person who wears it.”

“You’ve been watching too many movies,” she bit into the burger, and boy did it taste good.

“So what are you doing, looking at them? Making a map?”

She shook her head, “It’s a puzzle.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”

She gave him a look, but swallowed the food, “It’s a puzzle,” she nudged the three pieces that she had managed to slot together.

Gates picked up the three pieces, delicately, and examine how the metal pieces clicked together, “What for?”

“No idea. But it’s definitely a puzzle, and I’m going to solve it.”

“Is that a good idea?”

“Anything that puts me one step ahead of the suits is a good idea. Maybe if I can find out what it’s a puzzle for, I can figure out why I’m in this goddamn mess.”

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Her back was pressed to the railings, the setting sun throwing long shadows over the scene. It looked like a god-damn movie.

The police cars were at the edges of the bridge, blocking off anyone else from coming on, as the officer evacuated the people who had already driven on, leaving empty cars all around her.

Her hand was slippery, but she gripped the gun even tighter, eyes flicking back and forth to either end, as she spotted both uniformed officers, and men in suits, the ones that she had been running from all this time, advancing towards her.

Shit.

There was a megaphone, an officer saying…something. She couldn’t hear the words, even though there were being yelled at her. Probably something about putting the gun down. Hell no, as soon as she let herself get caught, that was it. Game over.

And she still wasn’t sure what the game even was.

She gritted her teeth, gun coming up fractionally, and she saw the ripple of response through the officers, as they took cover behind cards and doors. Shit, she didn’t want to hurt any of these guys, they were just cops, doing their jobs. It was the suits that she was afraid of, wanted to go away. Clearly, if they could get the cops of side, then it was bigger than she had anticipated.

The sun set her hair on fire as it set below the edge of the world, everything in reds and oranges and burning colours, urgency in the very air as this played out. And she could see how it would all end here.

Unless…she flicked her eyes over the edge of the railing. This bridge wasn’t all that high, it probably wouldn’t kill her. She glanced back at that slowly advancing teams.

Damn it.

In two steps, she had turned and was over the fence, air whipping past her, screams from the bridge. Shit, it was higher than she had thought. And it was high tide.

Kelly took in a huge breath, and made sure her heels were pointing at the water. She’d read somewhere that surface tension was often what killed people jumping into water. And then it hit her.

Tumbling, down, the air being squeezed from her lungs, she gripped onto her bag and her gun, even though her instincts said to let go. She kicked, but didn’t know which way, she couldn’t see anything, the water was pressure in her ears, her eyes stung as she opened them and could see only bubbles.

The air was being squeezed from her lungs, she didn’t know why way was up, but at least it was calm down here. No screaming sirens, or men in suits. Maybe it didn’t matter anymore.

There was pressure around her neck, something fierce, but she didn’t quite care anymore.

Until something stomped onto her chest, and she woke up,  hacking up her lungs, screaming from every inch of her body as she spewed water out of her lungs, someone pressing down on her chest.

She slapped the hands away, and rolled onto her side, curling around her lungs as they sucked in air, great bit whooshing gasps.

“You crazy bitch, what the hell were you thinking?”

“Gates?” Kelly rolled back over and looked up at him. “What the-?”

“You’re bloody lucky I decided to follow you when I saw you sprint past. Come on, stand up, you need to keep moving or you’ll die of hypothermia. Seriously, jumping into the Illinois?”

“I didn’t want to shoot the cops.”

Gates looked at her, something between incredulous and exasperation, “Here,” he swung his jacket off and wrapped it around her shoulders, “Come on, I know a place.”

“I don’t have one.”

“If you’re having trouble finding your rating, then you can look on your guild’s web page.”

“You aren’t listening. It’s not that I can’t find it, I don’t have one.”

“Everybody has one.”

“Everybody in a guild has one. I am not in a guild.”

The enlister standing behind the booth stood dumb for a moment, his mouth hanging open as his eyes looked at her.

Kelly crossed her arms and looked at him back, waiting for the shock to pass over him.

“I’m sorry, to join our guild we need to know your rating.”

“So how do you accommodate kids joining a guild for the first time?”

“Our junior program assigns children a rating before they join the guild properly. They work towards a good rating in their junior camps.”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “Right. Because that’s so people friendly.” And then she turned on her heel and stomped off. She kept going until she had left the recruitment fair, and found a bench.

Hitting the vending machine in the sweet spot, a can rolled out, and she popped it before sinking onto the bench.

Her science teacher, Mr Rhodes was the one who found her. “Kelly? Why aren’t you in the fair?”

“Taking a break.”

“You should really get back in there. A guild is essential for social life and extra curricula activities.”

“I seem to be doing fine without it so far. Besides, if they’re going to have stupid entry requirements that I can’t achieve then there really isn’t anything I can do.”

“Come back in, give them another try.”

Kelly sighed, and drained the can before crushing it and throwing it in the recycling bin. “It’s not my fault we are rated on our merit outsides of anything but guilds.” She muttered under her breath as Mr Rhodes ushered her back into the Hall filled with stalls.

The sun was beating out a relentless tune on the dusty streets. Kelly adjusted her hat, sweaty fingers finding it hard to grasp onto brim as she tired to bring it even lower.

Her pale skin was screaming at her as her sleeve fell away. When her family had chosen to come to this god-forsaken country she had no idea. They knew how she felt about hot weather.

She pulled her sticky sleeve back down to cover her skin, and was pleased by a small breeze that sprung up from nowhere. The dust that came with it however, was less pleasant, and sent her coughing as she made her way down the busy street, trying to find somewhere to get a drink.

The vendors called at her from all directions, a few of the bolder ones even coming out of their stalls, trying to grab her arm. She viciously jerked away from them when they did that. All she wanted was a drink, why did they have to be so pushy for the stupid tourist tat. She hated this damn foreign country. She wanted to be at home.

There was a square of shade ahead, and Kelly made a dash for it. Sighing with relief as the darkness washed over her skin. She took her hat off and tucked her hair back into it’s bun. One moment of relief.

A gentle poke on her back caused her to jump a mile, and she whirled around, but was then blinded as the sun flared out from behind the awning.

There was a small chuckle, and then a voice, thick with accent said. “You no like sun? Come. Shop cold. You like.”

Kelly screwed up her eyes and looked at the tiny person who was standing there. She wasn’t even sure whether it was a man or women, there were so many wrinkles on that face. But the offer was tempting, even if he would try to sell her something.

The old person hobbled back inside, and with a moment’s hesitation, Kelly followed. Out of being sold something by a foreigner and the sun, she’d take the cold inside of a shop any day.

“What does a bracelet have to do with any of this? That’s what I really don’t understand.”

“Is it valuable?”

“Not really. It’s not gold, silver or any other precious metal. I think it’s brass, which is really not something you would, well, send government agents over. If that’s what they are.”

“Do you know who they are?”

“Of course Gates, do you want to come to dinner? Of course I have no idea who they are, I just ran.”

“No need to get snarky with me, I was just asking.”

Kelly clenched her hands and then released them, resisting the urge to punch him. “Yeah. Just asking. That’s all anyone seems to do these days. Ask. Question after question after question. Do I have any of the answers? Of course I don’t. All I know is that I go on holiday, find this bracelet in a tiny little shop, think it’s cool, buy it, and now all this shit.” She waved her hands round in circles, emphasising everything.

“Don’t get mad at me, get mad at the peopel chasing you!”

“Well they aren’t here and you are, so who else am I going to yell at?”

Gates stood up from where he had been sitting on a dead log. “I think, that you need some coffee.”

“Gates I can’t just walk into a store and get some coffee. Those little things called camera’s? They’ll be onto me before I can even buy the stuff.”

“I didn’t mean in town. Come on, I know a diner. Real quiet, filled with biker types. No one there is going to rat on you.”

She crossed her arms and looked at him. “Sure about that?”

“Sure. They’re my boys, they won’t rat on me, and to them you’ll just be another girl I’m hooking with.”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “Because that makes me feel so much better about everything.” But she did accept the helmet that he passed her, and did up her jacket as the motobike roared into life and she settled on the back, wrapping her arms around him and parying that the diner would be free of questions, and well supplied with coffee.

 

95. Curious

Kelly had her bracelet off again. She was counting through all of the different charms on the bracelet that she had gotten on that holiday. No two were the same, although they were all cast in the same metal. It defiantly wasn’t something that you could buy in the shops over here though.

Here was a clock, then a mouse, then a sail boat, and a book, then a cat and a bus.

It was a rather eclectic collection of things around the bracelet really.

It was all in all, rather curious, as her mother was fond of calling it.

To be fair, Kelly herself was curious. She had tried to find that little shop again before they had left the city, but hadn’t managed to. Even though she swore she retraced her steps exactly, she just found herself in a little alleyway.

It would have been nice to. She really hadn’t had the time to look around the shop. And it was definitely a curiosity shop. The little man who ran it had pressed the bracelet into her hand so almost forced her into buying. Not that she regretted it, it was a lovely charm bracelet. It was just a bit mysterious in all.

Kelly was going to do a little digging around on the internet, see if she could find out anything about the bracelet, or that shop. A little curiosity never killed anyone. Well, except the cat.

79. Eyes

Kelly was having a hard time keeping her eyes open. She’d chosen a seat at the back of the classroom, right next to the big window. The sunlight of the day was filtering through, warming up the classroom. Combine that with the breathing of forty odd other people and Kelly’s eyelids drooped lower as she stifled a yawn.

It was such a lovely day outside, too nice to be indoors. She glanced at the clock on the wall. Had it really only been three minutes since she had last looked? This day was going slow. Maybe she would skip the afternoon, go outside and have a luxurious nap in the glorious sun. It was better than being in here.

Her eyes looked back outside through the half closed lids. It looked so nice out there. She shifted in the seat, mildly uncomfortable as there came a prickling down her neck. Idling scratching it, Kelly looked out the window again.

The bush in the corner was moving slightly. It took her a moment to work out why the was odd, but then she realised that nothing else was moving, there was no breeze. Her eyes started to open more as the bush moved again.

And then a squirrel jumped out and began leaping across the parking lot, stopping to nibble of some piece of food left on the floor.

Kelly smiled and sunk back into her seat, eyes starting to close again. Lucky squirrel, it didn’t have to think about school and science. Only where its next meal was coming from.

Stifling another yawn, Kelly sank onto her desk and rested her head onto her hand. That had only taken a minute. Forty five more to go, this was going to be a long lesson.

She didn’t notice that the bush was still moving ever so slightly, or that there were eyes still on her, watching her through the window.

63. Laugh

“Oooh, look at that bear! It’s soo cute!”  Sasha squealed as they passed one of the game booths at the fairground.

Kelly looked over at the game. “Shooting game. Sure, want me to give it a shot?” She grinned at her own pun.

“Ooh, would you?” Sasha was making those little excited hands as she looked over to the bears.

One of the men who was standing at the booth with one of the guns in his hands scoffed. “Yeah, right. We’ve been trying this for a half hour. The game’s rigged.”

Kelly raised an eyebrow, as she looked over their uniform and guild tags. Military, and not very high grade either.

“Yeah? It’s that hard?” She asked, loading up her voice with girly abandon and worry.

They laughed and made space. “Yeah, but don’t let us stop you. Hey after you go, maybe we’ll try again and win it for your friend.” They grinned at Sasha.

Kelly picked up the gun and felt it in her hand. Then she grinned back at the guys, tossed the gun in the air, caught it in one hand and fired off three shots. Each of them made a ringing ping sound as they toppled three targets.

Sasha squealed again as the man running the stall handed over the huge bear, Kelly put the gun down and  turned away from the stall, giving the military men a short look. “Uh huh, rigged.”

She turned her back on their grumbling and smiled at Sasha. “You like it.”

“Yes! Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou! And those guys…”

“Eh, they were just trying to show off. Guys. Testosterone. It happens.”

“Really, they didn’t bother you at all?”

“Frankly, they just make me laugh.”

46. Hope

46. Hope (6/1/11)

College was proving a challenge, although some of this was anticipated and some of it was not. Kelly had decided a while back not to hide the fact that she was unaffiliated, it was better in her opinion to get it out in the open, rather than try to hide it when it would probably just come out anyway, what with all the guild days that occurred. So when they had their first home room and they had to introduce themselves, she had come right out and said it. “Hi, My name is Kelly, I came from Westend High and I’m not in a guild, I’m unaffiliated.”

This had of course, caused a stir in the class, even the teacher had lost his train of thoughts for a moment, jerk. You would have thought that him getting paid would make him more professional than that. So the morning had been spent fielding questions and comments about it, although she had made one new friend in their biology class, Sasha, who had come up, asked her why she wasn’t in a guild, received the answer, and then shook her hand saying that she was impressed as she’d never met someone who stuck to their convictions so surely. Kelly was glad to have one person who didn’t judge her straight off. Although she was glad to be going to lunch where she could catch up with Dan and Michelle who had decided to come to this same college.

Grabbing a tray, piling it high and then paying she turned and scanned the cafeteria for her friends, and then spotted them at a table over by the windows. Sliding into a seat she tucked into her pasta.

“How goes the morning?” Dan asked

“As well as I expected. I swear, even the teacher was shocked when I announced my non-affiliation. Git.”

“Ah well, you knew this would happen. In all probability, you are the only non-affiliated in the entire college”

“I could check that if you wanted me to?”

Kelly raised her eyebrow at him. Dan raised his hands at her “Hey, you’re the one who calls me Tech, and I could do with the practice.”

She shrugged, “Go for it then.”

“You ready for more this afternoon then? At least we have chemistry together, so you can sit by me.”

“I live in hope that someday people will not judge others for not following the conventions of society.”

33. Illness

33. Illness (13/02/10)

Kelly picked her customary white out of the wardrobe, dressed, and shook out her auburn hair. Yet another shitting guild-fair, yet another shitting day of telling guilds to go fuck themselves she was not interested in joining. Sometimes she thought that being unaffiliated was more trouble than it was worth, then she thought about actually joining a guild represented here and shuddered. Besides, white did suit her.

On the way out the door she grabbed her backpack and sports bag and slung them over her shoulders, yelling “Bye.” to any of her family that might still be left in the house. She walked down the lane, turning at the park entrance and saw Dan sitting in his usually spot on the bench. “Morning Tech.” Tech was her nickname for him, which was appropriate when he messed around with as many computers as he did. He was in his guild colours of black and green. Dan turned to her, “Morning.” He stood up and stretched out. “Are you late because of the guild-fair?”

“I wish I could skive, but our dear head always like’s to make sure I’m around. I swear he thinks that me not joining a guild is some kind of illness to be cured.” She rolled her eyes.

“How do you know it isn’t” Dan asked with a grin.

“Oh you are dead, get back here!” She cried as she gave chase. All the way to the guild-fair. Kelly sighed. It wasn’t an illness; she had just never found a guild that she could fit into, pure and simple.

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