the smuggler’s bible


A cold breeze whips out of the air conditioning vents and through the store aisles. It smells like cinnamon and nutmeg and the wind before a heavy snow. Hiro stands and draws his sword, then slides quietly over the tiles, his breath misting in front of him. He heads deeper into the maze of racks and cardboard signage.

“Laughter among the children’s toys,” the manager had said. “Bells, glitter, cookies—and the blood. My god, the blood.”

Hiro turns a corner and sees a small figure hunched over a shopper’s corpse. Its long ears twitch under a green stocking cap.