The Man Who Would Be Kid (Rise of the Dread Urchin)

The Man Who Would Be Kid (Rise of the Dread Urchin)

Status: In Progress

Genre: Science Fiction



Status: In Progress

Genre: Science Fiction


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Chapter1 (v.1) - Error #1 Working the Wrong Jobs and Having Fun at the Badges Expense

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 01, 2017

Reads: 67

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 01, 2017



To whome it may concern:


I’ll tell you right now that the words you are going to read are not a plea for forgiveness nor are they going to be an apology. They are absolutely not an admission of guilt nor are they going to be the gloating’s of a pompous fool. They will simply be the highlights of my life and insight into the reasoning behind my actions. Hopefully by the time you finish reading these words which I have decided to broadcast over your entire network, you’ll come know me a little more intimately, maybe even see me in a whole new light. I only say this because when my team comes to obliterate you and your world is uprooted and the fires of hell surround you, you’ll understand this fury I’ve laid upon you, and perhaps, in death, find a little peace in your hearts.



No one ever wonders how a man gets his name…

Scratch that, it’s a horrible approach.

Let’s try this instead…

Hello, I’m Guy Kid, captain of the Dread Urchin, the only annihilator class, super-battleship in existence, leader of countless men and women who would gladly give up their lives for me, willingly no less, before your first bullet casing even hit the ground. It’s a job I could never have imagined a guy like me holding, but here I am, pirate extraordinaire, prowler of galaxies and seeker of new conquests.

It all came with a price tag though; one so big that it had to be set up with a payment plan, but that will all come a little later. As for now, I should probably start my story by telling you about all the things I’ve done wrong in my life, for it was a compilation of those errors which have snow balled over the years and led me to my current predicament.

Error #1


Working the Wrong Jobs and Having Fun at the Badges Expense


As I relax here in Captain Kidwell’s chair aboard the U.S.S. Brimstone, I can remember quite vividly the first day I laid eyes upon the second love of my life. The deadly bitch is as black as a devils nightmare, prettied up by her natural beauty rather than the thick toxic concealer and variegated paints that other women smear on their faces. I’ve come to find that she’s also loyal, almost to a fault. She’ll follow me through the gates of Hell if I ask her. I know this because she’s already done so on numerous occasions. As for her speed, well, she’s fast, faster than most her size. She can outmaneuver the most agile of Titans as well as out-shoot any token runner I’ve come across. And don’t get me started on her form.

My god, her form…

She’s built like a brick shit house with girth in all the right spots, and a bosom so large it steals the attention of anyone in her presence. She’s my dark goddess, vengeful and cruel, yet to all those who seek refuge beneath my command, she’s saint and savior, the brightest star amongst the blackened void.

Even as I’m writing this down I can’t help but feel the warm spike of sexual desire coursing through my veins. The mere thought of her arousing the lustful beast I try to keep subdued in the deepest depths of my guts.

But enough about my ship, I need to finish this announcement so I can get back to her, for if I don’t see her soon, I fear I may just die right here and now.

But I can’t die right here, nor can I die right now. There is too much to be told, and one thing I need you to understand before all hell breaks loose, is why I chose this life, and how might my choice in this type of life effect you. To do that I’m going to need to introduce you to my soul mate, my one true love, the one who will always come before the Dread Urchin, the one I met long before the pirates I roam with today. You see, It all started with her. She was the first link in a long chain of events that has ended with me sitting here right now, threatening you with total annihilation.

It all started when I hit eighteen and the orphanage kicked me to the curb. I’d had to spend five long years in that abusive place, and each scar on my body tells of the nightmares I’d had to endure. If you read them right, each lump of skin will read like brail, each one a separate story in which I’d been severely disciplined.

The one across my lower back tells the tale of a boy who had objected to a teacher’s racist remark, and the wide one across my knuckles, the story of a child no older than twelve who had stood up to the facilities director to protect a child half his age. Her name was Maggie, and the brutal lashing I’d received across my knuckles from Director McGregor’s favorite cane pole, went unappreciated by that little girl.

The scars are thick and pink and riddle my body almost like an old man’s wrinkles, but I’m an adult now, and the horrors of that wretched place are long behind me.

I’d not been out of the facility for longer than an hour when the equally cruel life of the outside world hit me head on. It was a half-drunk lawyer type in a red sports car going twice the speed limit. I went over the hood of that car, smashing its wind shield and putting a bloody splotch on its fractured hood. It came to an abrupt stop and my body was spit off its hood, my skin grating against the pavement as I rolled shoulder over shoulder. That’s when the drunken man started running structural diagnostics on his vehicle, completely ignoring the teenage boy he’d hit.

I rolled to a stop and bounced up with a scowl on my face, aiming it at the man who seemed more upset about his car being ruined than the wellbeing of the pedestrian he almost killed. I checked myself thoroughly, feeling for protruding bones or missing chunks of flesh. To my amazement, as well as a talent agent who saw the incident unfold, I was perfectly fine. I did have a small gash above my eye brow, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with some fresh air and a little ointment.

So fine was I that I ended up pulling the drunk from the cab and beat on him till the cops came and arrested me. That was my first run-in with the law. It wasn’t but a few hours till the talent agent came and bailed me out, offering me a job I couldn’t refuse. And how could I? How could I say no to any kind of offer at such an opportune time of my life?

“You’ll be famous,” the man had told me. “Rich and famous.”

Only, what I didn’t know at the time was that the man was just setting me up to be the punch line for a series of sadistic jokes. I didn’t learn that until several years later, long after the man had already put me through countless scenarios where my life was quite literally on the line. I suppose the agent thought that if the sports car didn’t do it, the job would. He wanted to see just how invincible I really was, and make some good money in the process.

The agent had introduced me to the movie business, quickly finding me work as a stunt man for major motion pictures. But I knew I’d only gotten the job so the agent could watch my body be destroyed by all the wear and tear the stuntmen went through. It didn’t matter; I was in no position to refuse. I was broke, homeless, penniless, and alone.

Only I faired pretty well at it. It came to me naturally, and several movie producers thought so too. They stole me out from under the agent by offering me what I wanted most, more money. They offered to pay me triple what I’d been receiving, and after I said yes, they set me up to become the most sought after stuntman in showbiz.

Over the next few years I had become increasingly famous for my death defying stunts, but my old agent didn’t like it. During a high risk scene where I was supposed to fall from the top of a ten story building, the safety harness I’d been attached too mysteriously failed. Out of revenge, the agent had decided to end my life by sabotaging my equipment. But I didn’t die. Instead, Id landed on the roof of the directors van. It shouldn’t have been parked there on that day but the director was running late that day and some numb-skull from the studio across the street had already snatched up his favorite spot.

He ended up parking on set in an area marked with a caution sign and dozens of bright red road cones. Luckily, his morning breakfast was too hot to consume and caused him to be almost an hour late. Lateness was always bad, for the early birds got the worms; the worms being the parking spots. If you weren’t on time, you’d end up parking in a crime ridden shithole three or four blocks away, leaving you a slot machines chance of returning home with the vehicle you arrived in, and not some cab.

For me, this late arrival turned out to be a miracle. The directors van was so old that its frame had been weakened by rust, and when I slammed into it, it collapsed, catching me like an old leather baseball mitt. Sure my life had been spared by the lucky happenstance, but it also came at a cost.

At the time, the newest wave of cybernetics was just becoming a thing and was only affordable by the rich elites. Luckily for me, my career had made me a very wealthy man, although not quite as affluent as needed for the cybernetics I needed. The spine replacement surgery and prosthetic they'd put in me cost me everything.

While recovering in a hospital bed and going through extensive therapy for many months, my old agent had been busy spreading rumors and hate to everyone I knew in Hollywood. By the time I was ready to go back to work, my image had been severely tarnished. Again, I found myself homeless and poor.

Desperate for money and food, I took up a position for a local bookie to forcefully extract monies owed. I’ve always been scrawny and wiry, no taller than the average man; shorter possibly, depending on my footwear. But the bookie noticed a sinister way about me that was just eerie enough to be intimidating.

I ended up filling the position nicely.

Ronnie was the bookies name, and I would thank him if I ever saw him again, for it was during this time of my life that I met my girlfriend, Mia. I’d been hired to rough up her boss at the fast food restaurant where she worked. I’d watched him for hours, learning his daily pattern, trying to find the perfect time to retrieve Ronnie’s money. Then there was this girl, the prettiest one I’d ever seen. She was slightly older than me; twenty four she’d told me.

Her hair was long on one side and buzzed short on the other, and just as blue as the bluest berry I’d ever eaten. Her eyes matched her hair and had been genetically altered to glow in the dark, but I’d not learn that until the end of our third date.

I’d seen her boss touching her in ways bosses shouldn’t touch their employees, and happily, I intervened. From there till present, I’d managed to hold this woman’s attention and loved her as deeply as I knew how. I didn’t work for the bookie much longer than that, and soon became tangled up in the world of auto theft, which is where I will begin my story.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was lying in the snow, flapping my arms and laughing boisterously at what I’d gotten myself into. I knew the consequences I’d face for my actions the past few hours, but it wasn’t quite time for me to be concerned at that point. I had at least five more good minutes to leave my mark.

I remember I was pissed that early summer morning, pissed because I’d been locked away from society for three long months. I’d been arrested on so many occasions I can’t even remember what I’d done this particular time. But it happened and I’ve come to accept it. They’d just let me out the night before and I’d been celebrating my freedom ever since. Only, my idea of a celebration doesn’t consist of big colorful balloons and party hats, but of the metaphorical middle fingers I give to the authorities that despise me.

Anarchy, what better way to start a new day?

It was lucky for them though because my personal celebration had to end at nine. That was the time Pablo Pablo opened its doors and my favorite person in the whole world went in to work. This is the woman I mentioned earlier. My one true love. My soul mate. The woman that would forever unlock my true potential. The woman that would propel me from minor criminal, to number three on the governments most wanted list. Look at the posters scattered around, you’ll see me. You’ll also see the twenty million dollar bounty I have on my head. But that’s not to brag. If anything, the twenty million is a disappointment. Makes me feel like I’m not giving it my all.

I couldn’t wait. She’d told me that she wanted to celebrate with me, and I knew what that meant. It meant laws would be broken. She was just as wild as me, but I’ll tell you more about her a little later, right now I just want to keep the flow moving in chronological order.

My hair hasn’t changed much since the beginning; it’s still short and white, same as it was on the day in question. I’d been able to keep it cozy and dry inside a black water-repellant toboggan, despite the melting ice that was beneath me. I knew I wasn’t dressed properly for Mount Whitney’s three thousand meter summit, but I wasn’t planning on staying there very long. I only needed a few more minutes before my work was complete and the mountains highest point had been autographed with my frantically made snow-angel.

I was surrounded in the expanse by pure white, contrasted only by the green jumpsuit I'd been arrested in. Around me, the Alps jutted out of the landscape like long jagged fangs, making me feel as if I’d just been snatched up inside the maw of some titanic beast. Small patches of gray dotted these fangs as the rock beneath tried to peak out through the snow, making this beast look as if it had the worst case of cavities I’d ever seen.

I knew I needed to finish my design quick as the wind at that elevation seemed like the epitome of ice itself. It was sharp and strong, biting at my ears like little rats with their sharpened teeth. I hadn’t been there long enough to enjoy its desolate landscape, and to be honest, I didn’t much care too. I’d seen Mount Whitney’s ranges from every possible angle, and quite frankly I was sick of it. But Mount Whitney as it were, was the perfect place to lay low, and laying low was something I’ve had to do more than a few times.

Even back then, running from the law was a piece of cake, and a hell of a lot more fun than it had been several years prior. Cops just weren’t as brave as I'd believed them to be back when I was growing up, or maybe, brave is just another synonym for crazy. I’d zip through the ravines and valleys, fighting against the brutal turbulence. But officers aren’t reckless, and once I made it to the moutains, they'd end their pursuit like cowards and so would end the fun.

Then the assault drones came. The slang term is Taggers. They were originally a secret, military-only tool, but they’d been distributed to law enforcement agencies after proving themselves highly effective in combat. They were a fairly new concept to the public, especially to the small town of Lone Pine. After a new budget had been recently granted for Lone Pine’s police department, those battletested balls of electronics were purchased by the dozens. They could go just about anywhere and neutralize any threat, and I knew that right then, they were on their way to neutralize me.

Hurrying as fast as I could, I waved my arms and spread my feet until my snow-art was perfect and complete. Then I sat up inside the depression and rubbed my shoulders. My jumpsuit had been absorbing the snow and was starting to feel as if I’d wrapped myself up in a cool wet beach towel. It had to come off soon or the law would be the least of my problems. It was thick and absorbed the melting snow faster than I’d expected. It was one of them expensive jumpsuits too, one I wouldn’t have paid for myself. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. The chop shop had issued me one when I was hired, only, after they told me my services were no longer needed, I simply kept it.

Of course they wanted it back and even chased after me as I left. But I needed compensation. I wasn’t going to leave empty handed, not after the prize I’d brought them. The last car I stole on their behalf was a six hundred thousand token sports car, not just some beat up solar-sucker they usually focused on. Hell, I was trying to make a name for myself in the garage, and I would have succeeded too had I’d known who the owner of the car was before I took it. A mayor would be awful upset when his chip-tracked sports car came up missing; only I hadn’t thought about that. My boss did though.

“Jed Florence,” an artificial voice called out from above me. “You are under arrest for the theft of police property.”

My eyes are a vicious green and narrowed while my teeth grinded inside my mouth. “That’s not my name,” I replied sourly.

It was indeed my name, only I despised everything about it. It was my birth name and I’d given it up just like my parents had given me up. I didn’t want anything from them, not even the name.

“Roll over to your stomach and place your hands on top of your head. An officer will be by promptly to place you under arrest. Your compliance is appreciated.”

I rolled over and pushed myself to my feet.

“Get back on your stomach, Mr. Florence,” the electronic voice commanded again. It spoke calmly and plain but its pitch was so high that it was almost as irritating as a policeman’s sirens.

I could see two Taggers hovering over the side of the mountain while several more approached from the distance. Due to their outstanding performance holding down strategic locations our soldiers had recently captured overseas, it was decided that they should be shared with the public. They were dished out to nearly every law enforcement agency with enough tokens to afford them. They made safer arrests and controlled situations and neutralized threats long before an officer arrived, helping to save countless lives. They ended up being so fun that I just couldn’t resist testing their capabilities.

My voice came out dry from the thin air, a squeak almost coating my words. “No one calls me by that name anymore.”

“Last warning,” the Tagger threatened. “Get on your stomach or we will be forced to open fire.”

When I crouched, the Taggers acknowledged the action by activating their weapon systems, rotating their three long barrels in order to switch to a more suitable, less-than-lethal option. The distinct posture I was making had been preprogramed into their software and they knew what was about to happen. It was the sign of a runner. Unlike their deployment in warzones, the Taggers had been reprogramed and rearmed as a deterrent for civilians. They’d been retrofitted with posture and voice recognition software as well as a host of other supportive functions. If their presence and capabilities weren’t enough to pacify the civilian population, then their newly outfitted, less-than-lethal weaponry and nimble mobility would surely do the trick.

A sardonic grin slowly carved through my lips. “You’ll have to catch me first.” My hand went into the snow and my fingertips pressed against the frozen earth beneath.

My foot dug down and twisted till I found a good stone to push off of. Then I took off across the mountaintop, my knees pulling up high to clear the deep snow. Nearby, a glistening white and red police interceptor was awaiting my guidance. Its engine was still warm and its residual heat had melted the ice around it, leaving behind a large pool of mud and limp grass. Its landing gear had been sinking in it slowly, but the power this machine held would have no problems pulling itself out.

Several pulses of blue light whizzed by my head as I ran, two of them zipping through my toboggan as it left my head and twirled behind me. I could hear them crackling with energy and knew I’d be out of the chase should one of them hit me, not to mention they’d sting like hell.

I slapped the pressure plate to open the cock-pit hatch, and continued on around the interceptor to escape the volleys that continued to zero in on me. The rest of the Taggers soon arrived and the pack pushed forward, their pearly white bodies shimmering in the sun, nearly blinding me as I turned back to judge their distance.

I knew there were multiple gadgets concealed inside their small bodies, but the seams in their metal bulk were so precise that I couldn’t see them at all. A smaller sphere sat in an alcove in the center of the Taggers, each with a blue sensor that glowed angrily. Each of them was aimed at me, staring at me like a demons eyes, unblinking and cold. On either side of the Tagger was a thruster port, equally curvy protrusions that were both powerful and dexterous. They could tow a tank weighing seventy metric tons if its treads were intact, and they could maneuver their husks through Mount Whitney’s winding canyons and treacherous valleys quite easily.

The Interceptors door had fully opened by the time I’d made it to the other side. I climbed in as fast as I could just as a string of blue pulses evaporated in the ships metal hull. I strapped myself in, sealed the hatch with the push of a button, and started its engines. It was a smaller ship but was built fast with twin pulse engines that could give any flight-capable vehicle a run for its money, even the Taggers.

The robotic spheres surrounded me and gave more passive aggressive commands. “It is in your best interest to stop the vehicle. You are in violation of multiple California statutes. Jail time is increasing.”

I smiled deviously and pushed forward on the ships throttle. White beams of light ejected from its two main engines and carved out a long melted path through the snow behind it. The Taggers barrels revolved, changing their artillery chambers to live ammunition. They opened fire, riddling the police interceptor with dents and chips.

“Oh shit, you guys mean business.”

The vehicle lifted off the ground and shot off into the clear blue sky, leaving the round machines spinning in its draft. They quickly recalibrated their gyro stabilizers and took off after me. It didn’t take long for them to catch up, but that was my plan. I’d slowed down just enough that they could give chase.

It wouldn’t be fun if they weren’t able to keep up.

I didn’t wait for them to give more commands; instead, I waited till they surrounded the stolen interceptor again, and then shoved the throttle forward.

Blood was coursing through my veins by then, carrying with it the sweet adrenaline I’d become addicted to while working as a stuntman. “Pablo’s should be open by now,” I reminded myself, “and I could go for a burger.” I turned the loud speaker on so the Taggers could hear me taunt them. “You guys hungry?”

They gave no reply.

Ten more of them had joined the chase by the time I’d decided to dive into the city, leading them between buildings at break neck speeds, weaving in and out and over traffic, the big white balls in hot pursuit. They were fast for their size and more agile than the interceptor, but my experience was far superior to their programming. I flipped the interceptors sirens on and let them wail, my maniacal laughter muted by their repetitive, high pitched tones.

Two blocks ahead of me was a neon-lit sign that read, “Pablo Pablo.” I titled the control stick forward and aimed for its thin drive-through lane, hopping over its customers, cutting them in line and stopping briskly at the drive-through window. The hatch on the interceptor slid down to the nose of the ship with the press of a button. The sirens fell silent with the push of another.

A friend of mine met me at the window. It was Donald, a red haired teenager whose smile showed off a string of large silver braces. “Guy Kid… to whom do I owe the honor?”

“That Sally girl working today?”

He looked back at someone in the kitchen area and waved. “Just came in a little while ago.”

“She still saying I don’t know how to fly?”

“I told her it was you flying that jet in that movie a few years back,” Donald said. “She won’t believe me though.” Then he stuck his head out the drive-through window to see how his customers were reacting to the interruption. He continued with a chuckle. “I’ll go get her.” He pulled his head back inside and disappeared behind the counter.

Several seconds later, two girls with dark hair and yellow aprons tied around their hips, ran to the window, their mouths opened in awe. They stared wide-eyed at the police interceptor, and then at me. Neither of them was shy but they both giggled and their cheeks ran pink.

Behind me, the Taggers had grown in number and were closing in fast, their fabricated bodies seeming to blink into existence as they swooped down out of the clouds.

Donald saw my expression gradually turn urgent as I shouted at him. “Tell Mia to hurry her ass up, I don’t have much time.”

“She said she was on her way.”

My leg was bouncing on the foot pedals as the drones approached, my hand squeezing the rubber grip of the throttle. I was too focused on the objects in my rear view to notice the woman jumping into the passenger seat.

Her hair was as blue as her bright, twinkling eyes, contouring the delicate curves of her cheek bones on one side. Its styling had been wrecked from hours of work and sweat, but was quickly doctored once she ran her fingers through it. Her apron was black and greasy and protected the red flannel shirt beneath it. Its sleeves were rolled to her elbows and a small black note pad peeked out from its breast pocket.

The corners of her lips nearly touched both of her ears when she smiled at me. “Let’s go,” she demanded.

I spun towards her and leaned in to kiss her quickly, closing the hatch before I had time to savor the dampness of her lips. “You can take that damned apron off now.”

She did so happily and buckled herself into the seat. I shot her a quick grin, my eyes taking in her form as well as the shape of her thighs as they pushed out against her thin jeans. “Hold on baby doll.”

Behind me, the car I’d cut off finally honked its disapproval. I replied with a short burst from the interceptors exhaust ports, blowing the vehicles hood clean off. Then I pushed the throttle forwards and took off towards a strip of condominiums, pulling back on the steering column to fly over them. On my way back down, two Taggers had cut around the buildings and were hovering in front of us. They unloaded large caliber slugs to damage my engines, but a well-executed barrel roll helped me evade the attack.

Mia grabbed the roll cage that ran behind our seats and held on tight, her body jarring left and right with each sharp turn. Her lungs compressed, and like the whistle of a train, a shrieking sound of excitement poured out. “Woo-hoo,” she yelled.

Seconds later I veered towards the sky. I had a plan I knew would work because I’d done it plenty of times before. After I’d broken through the clouds, I watched as the Taggers stopped, hovered in the air, and then fell back towards the Earth. “They’re breaking off,” I assured her.

My plan had worked.

Mia spun around to watch them disappear. “Why’s that? They give up,” she asked.

“They’re not made to go this high. Their circuit boards probably froze up. But we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Mia looked over at me, her eye brows nearly colliding in the center of her forehead. “We’re not?”

“Those things have the ability to dispatch token hunters once they thaw out, if they haven’t already.”

“What about the police?”

Their jurisdiction ends at the stratosphere.” I aimed for the deepest, bluest portion of the sky and pulled back on the ships yoke, making the craft climb at almost a ninety degree angle. “But they’ll try to cut me off before I get there, and they’ll have way more firepower than those stupid Taggers, but we’re going to fix that problem.”

“Oh,” she replied. “How’s that?”

She could see my face take a more serious look as I flipped a few switches overhead to pressurize the compartment and seal certain key openings in the ship’s hull. Then I flipped another one on the dashboard marked, oxygen.

A short hiss came from somewhere in the cock pit and Mia’s eyes widened, her hand jumping to my thigh. “Are you taking me to space,” she squeaked, her hand squeezing with anticipation.

I let my hand fall to hers and pried it from my leg. I held it tight and caressed it with my thumb. “For a few…” I told her. “Have to lay low for a little while.”

“To hide from those guys, right?”

Those guys?

My head jerked around to look out the window. “That was quick.” Two police interceptors were closing in fast, their lights flashing amber and green, their pursuit desperate and intense. “We’re way passed the stratosphere. What are they doing?”

The chase must’ve excited Mia and she smiled. “They don’t seem to care about jurisdiction, babe.”

The muscles in my jaw bulged. “We’ll lose them when we get into space. Military’s been doing training exercises near Earth’s orbit for a few months now. There will be plenty of places to hide.”

Above us, my assertion proved correct. There were shimmering metallic dots amongst the blackness, each one so close to the next that they appeared to be silver dashes laid out haphazardly, littering the portion of space between Earth and its moon. As we drew closer, the dots within each dash became clearer, until their terror invoking composition became visible. The dots were battalions, dozens of warships that were creeping along slowly in various tactical formations, heading away from Earth.

I chuckled to myself. “This must be the tensest area in the whole universe, what with the Titans trying to secede from Earth and everything.”

Mia tossed me a crooked glance. “You’re over there giggling about shit when we have the law on our ass.” She pushed her seat back and sucked in her gut, as if the approaching interceptors wouldn’t be able to see her.

It wasn’t the first time I’d fled from the police with her in the passenger seat, and I can tell you this, it excited her every time. I believe she loved me for that. Not the fact I was making her an accessory to each of my crimes, she didn’t have to worry about that, she had a dad that made sure her record stayed clean. She loved me because he was so carefree.

She suffered from chronic depression and was a hard person to stimulate, but I always seemed to know how to make her smile. The occasional thrill brought her back to life, so to speak. Being around me not only gave her a reason to live, but let her enjoy it as well. She’d told me that before we met, she was heavily medicated and unpleasant to be around. She was always quiet, at least until she snapped and yelled at someone for whatever reason she could think of at the time. She’d sit and let her mind brew until the thought to end it all crept up, then she’d have to act-out in order to change the topic and clear her mind. She said if it weren’t for me her life would have been bleak and boring, if not over already.

She let the air seep from her lungs in a long sigh, her head rolling over to me to watch me work the controls.

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