Kevin and Esther strolled quietly down the sidewalk, hands in their pockets, glancing furtively at each other every now and then and pretending to be embarrassed when they caught one another looking. The warm bellyful of steak and the bright sky full of stars had Kevin feeling happier than he could remember being in a long time. Happy enough even to try something a little bit brave…

He withdrew his hand from his pocket and casually swung it back and forth a few times, then, as if by accident, let it brush against Esther’s hand, which was still inside her pocket. In half a second flat he felt her fingers twine into his and give a firm squeeze. He looked up in surprise, and she flashed him a modest smile. His cheeks turned red and he grinned like a little schoolboy.

The rest of the world melted away. The street noises faded into the background. They were walking, and they were holding hands, and life was good.

Suddenly Kevin was jolted out of his happy place by a shoulder to the chest. Continue reading



The truck swerved hard to the right as Taylor jerked with the impact of the bullet. A low concrete wall sprang out of the darkness towards them and SMS flung his arms over his head. The front grill of the truck crumpled inwards and SMS, who hadn’t had time to put on his seatbelt, was thrown up onto the dashboard and against the windshield. It shuddered and cracked, but somehow held.

SMS’s head was ringing like a bell, but his instincts of self-preservation were blaring warning sirens, telling him to move. Continue reading


Cyber reached up with his other hand to steady his aim.

SMS’s bravery faltered, and he closed his eyes. If Cyber didn’t kill him soon, he thought the anticipation might do it first.

Then: crack-crack-crack! Gunshots, followed by another burst of fire: crack-crack-crack-crack!

SMS’s eyes flew open. He wasn’t dead! The gunshots had come from behind him. So who was—

A blur of movement caught his peripheral vision and Pavelec slammed into him, throwing him against a stack of pallets. Continue reading

Come Together

SMS heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of allies instead of enemies. Well, allies of a sort, at least. People who weren’t actively interested in shooting at him.

He made brief eye contact with Cyber. The cocky grin on the hacker’s face was a little less sure than usual, a little more reserved. SMS wondered if Cyber was as uncomfortable with all these guns around as he was.

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Taylor jogged off back to the doorway to follow out her orders and Pavelec stepped out into the open warehouse to make her phone call. SMS put his gun down on the table, grabbed the duffel bag out of the corner, and looked at Olivia. “So,” he said. “What do you want me to pack?”

The woman nodded towards a pile of folded clothing beside the TV, and SMS began layering it into the bag. There was a wool sweater at the bottom of the pile, and as SMS grabbed it he felt something hard and flat wrapped up inside. He hesitated as he lifted it, and looked over to Olivia. She got up off the couch and came over.

“What is it?” asked SMS quietly.

Continue reading