the smuggler’s bible


Stockbridge prowls silently over warped floorboards and staircases. His steps leave footprints an inch deep pressed into white dust. Once, he doubles back and finds the trail erased behind him—the grime flowing back in to cover evidence of his trespass.

He stops under an empty portrait frame and, in the glow from his last stub of a candle, unfurls the map again. It is fraying at the edges. Already he has lost the front entrance. But the years can’t have everything. Whatever ancient scraps he finds clinging here will be worth it.

Stockbridge snuffs the light and moves on.