This is a ficlet based on my novel, Resistance, out now from Inkstained Succubus Press! You can purchase Resistance here directly from Inkstained Succubus (support small presses!) or here from Amazon.
She came into the Natives’ squat house like she owned the place. She threw open doors and slammed them shut, let out a booming cackle of laughter, and shouted for its inhabitants by familiar nicknames. Ezra had lived there a whole week and a half, a whole ten days spent quietly tucking himself out of sight in corners, watching and learning how the house worked. He thought he’d gotten his bearings. He thought he understood how the gang worked, how the house worked, who was who and what was what. And in came this tall, lanky red elvish girl, freckled and vibrant and thin but well-fed. In she came knocking around the kitchen and talking a mile a minute in a loud sharp voice to the gang.
She frightened Ezra. Most things frightened Ezra Crick; he hated it, his skittishness. He hated the way he slunk into shadows and startled so easy. He hated it, but it had saved his life more than once, so he trusted it. This loud, bright, boisterous girl frightened Ezra, so he made to slink off. He waited until she had her attention focused on the kitchen cupboards and then he skirted past the open doorway. She looked up just at the wrong moment. They locked eyes; Ezra blanched. She pointed to his freshly pierced ear. “You’re new, eh?”
Ezra stood very still, caught in her gaze like a fawn in a hunter’s trap. He knew he should say something—anything—but he couldn’t. His voice wouldn’t come. It felt like he was facing down a crowd of people. She was too much for just one person. She was more person, Ezra thought, than most people are.
She smiled, but it was a cocky, mocking smile. She held out an ink-stained hand. “We haven’t met. You’re a beauty. Got a memorable face, you, so I’d recall if I’d met you. I’m Shandolin.”
Ezra blushed. He opened his mouth and closed it again. In a halted, jerky motion, he took her hand and shook it. He tried to pull it back, but she held his hand tight. In a deft movement, she had him by the wrist. She glanced at the palm of his hand and looked over at him. “A musician,” she said. It wasn’t a question.
“What?” Ezra croaked. He tried again to get his hand back, but she had a firm grip. His hand flopped and twisted like a dying fish.
“You got callouses like a fiddler I know.” She finally, mercifully let go of his hand. “I hope you’re good. This city is glutted with musicians. You won’t bring much back to the house unless you’re real good.” She waited for him to respond. Her black eyes bored into him, willing him to answer. One of the other gang members caught sight of her and called her name. She smiled and glanced over her shoulder. And Ezra took the opportunity to slink off.