Bare Handed

Jason Arson walked through the streets, sliding leather gloves onto his fingers as he went. The reason Jason wore gloves was so that he could distance himself from any actions he made while wearing them. It was a single degree of separation, but for him it was enough.

He was twenty minutes behind his schedule, and it made him agitated. He was still ten minutes ahead, his schedules were very early, but it still put him out of his element. He had less time to hand anything unexpected or unwanted. He had considered breaking into a run or light jog, but either of these would make him stand out. Right now, he needed to blend.

Jason had grown his hair and beard specifically so that no one would recognise him. So far it was working because the townspeople didn’t, especially since he no longer wore the uniform of a guard. Those that knew him best and might see through the disguise were in the castle. He knew he should feel safe about remaining anonymous in the crowd, but he felt as if he had forgotten something.

He turned a corner and saw it at the end of the street. The building with the item he was looking for. He looked at the sundial in the centre of the intersection. He was still behind, but he still had some time. He would sneak into the front door of the building just as the back door was being locked, and then hide as the owner locked up the front and left. Then he would find the paper bag, and unlock one of the doors, and leave. When Jason left, he would have to leave the building unlocked, since he had no key. That wouldn’t be an issue depending on how valuable the item inside the bag was.

Jason walked down the street towards the building and then he noticed someone. He recognized one of the faces. Why, was it a castle guard he knew? But they should all be on duty right now. He looked at the person’s face. It was a younger woman. No, he knew her for a different reason. This was one of the construction workers who had helped renovate the castle when had worked there.

He imagined what she would say if she recognized him. She would ask him what happened, she would ask him why he left. She would say that she was going to tell everyone that he was still in town. That he had just grown a beard, and to look out for him on the streets. To say hi, or something. Jason shook his head. She would ruin everything. He swiftly turned around before anyone noticed him, and took a detour. This was why he liked to be early.

When he finally got  to the building, he figured that he had no more than a few minutes. Could couldn’t seen anyone inside, but the door was still open. He figured that they must have gone to lock up the back, so he rushed inside and looked around. Where was the paper bag? He looked around the cabinets of syrups. He was confused, syrups used to be considered medicine, until people found out that they weren’t very healthy, that they just made a person feel good. Sort of. Syrups were now just used for intoxication. Jason sighed, and then saw the paper bag on a side counter. He walked over and grabbed it, then immediately realized his mistake.

He had messed up the order and grabbed the bag before the owner had left.

A man rounded the corner of the shop, just as Jason guessed would happen. Jason didn’t freeze, his instincts knew that that would look more suspicious. Instead, he continued picking up the paper bag, and then looked at the man, as if he belonged here, as if this was normal behaviour. And, thanks to ingrained social cues, the man believed it.

“That’s a new drink. I haven’t made a place for it on the shelves yet.”

On the shelves? Jason looked inside the paper bag. It was a bottle of syrups. He assumed that he had grabbed the wrong bag. This couldn’t be what he had been sent to take. He looked around for another bag, but there were none. This was what he had been sent to steal? Of all things, a bottle of syrups?

“Yep, it’s not a very expensive one, but it is our newest product. You can buy it if you like.”

Jason considered putting the bag down, and saying no, then exiting and coming back later to take it. That wouldn’t work, he would immediately be assumed to be the thief! And what then, if the guard was looking for his description? They would know both his trimmed and full grown faces! He couldn’t grow more beard. Jason thought for a moment, and then he knew what to do.

He put the bottle and the bag on the table.

“How much?” He asked.

The owner said, “twelve Solune.”

Jason nodded. He took his gloves off, put them in his jacket pocket, and took his coin pouch out of it. With his bare hands, he paid the man and took the bag with the bottle of syrups and walked out of the shop. He headed back to where he started. As he walked, he considered having a smug conversation with the leader about how he ended up getting the bag, what was actually in it in the first place.

Writing this one was actually a real struggle. I haven’t written anything outside of essays in the last ten days (I technically wrote four last week, although two were shorter philosophy essays for an exam). Sunchaser was written on the 23rd, and it’s the 3rd now, so it’s really been a while. (You should check Sunchaser out, it’s cool).

Anyway, my mind was blank. I thought about writing another chapter of the Solune Prince, but I’m really still not sure what to do about that series. So, I looked through the music on my computer for inspiration. I looked at a Calvin Harris album that I haven’t listened to in over a year, (his lyrics are kind of shallow), and found Slow Acid. It reminded me of the one preview I wrote with Jason Arson way back, and so here we are. (And Jason’s back story has been expanded upon since that one piece. Although the surround project has since been mostly abandoned.)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed it,

Daniel Triumph.

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