the smuggler’s bible

Fiona

The cat sits purring beside her on the leather bench seat, enjoying the afternoon sun dripping warm and golden through the car’s passenger-side windows. The road is mostly clear of obstacles—no concrete traffic barriers, collapsed overpasses or rusted chassis full of skeletons. And no sign of any factions since mid-morning.

“We might be clear,” Fiona says.

The cat doesn’t answer, but flicks its tail gently.

“Clear as anybody ever gets, anyway. Listen, it would have been tough alone.” She reaches down to scratch behind the cat’s ears. “So, thanks, I guess, for sticking around. I’m glad I scavenged you.”

Fiona

She winds a scarf around the crowbar and sets the chisel edge carefully against the ignition. The rock is on the floor somewhere. She feels around, keeping her head low. It’s dark outside—she broke two flickering streetlamps and dumped sand into a trash fire to be sure—but if one of the factions catches her in here, things could get much darker indeed.

“Just a little torque,” Fiona mutters, “and then the trick shot.”

The rock thuds against cushioned metal. One, two, three. The lock shudders, and then, moments later, laughter and the thrumming song of rubber against asphalt.

Fiona

Fiona wakes up under a sheet of canvas stiff with frost. It crunches as she rolls it away and sits up. The cat is gone—a warm spot at her side, fading in the wind.

“We need a car. This is embarrassing.” She stretches and walks to the pile of brushwood she used to camouflage the bike, digs around for her duffel. “Motorcycles are for factions anyway.”

Breakfast comes out of a plastic carton and tastes faintly of motor oil.

“There must be something left in this city,” Fiona says, chewing, “with four wheels and a little bit of rumble.”

Fiona

Fiona wears a vest under her sweater that’s made of porcelain or something—left over from the war. When the gang tough jams his friggin’ thirty-cent scrap metal gasher into her stomach, it bends like tin foil. There’s no blood, but it still feels like getting stabbed. Sort of.

The tough blinks and rears back for another shot. With a yowl, the cat drops onto his head from the fire escape and starts scrabbling around.

“You bastard,” Fiona gasps, hefting her pipe and digging deep for a golf swing at knee height. “I’m gonna have a bruise for a week.”