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Penance

Penance

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Published by Gideon Gygax
United they stand, divided we fall...
United they stand, divided we fall...

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Published by: Gideon Gygax on May 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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03/14/2014

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Penance
Aaron Bliss
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Dan sighs and grunts as he wrenches his toe-capped boots off,turning his head to avoid the whiff of a turbulent day on the picketlines. It’s hard to know whether you’re really doing the right thingwhen you’re spat at and threatened day in, day out. He never askedto be head of the Union. The way Dan remembers it, his name wasput forward, followed by a hundred fawning sweet-nothings in hisear. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse, but leading any movement isonly fun when you are winning: then you’re all in it together. Intimes of adversity you’re on your own; the wrong choice; a failure. Your enemies tap your phone and your friends poison your drink. Atleast that’s the way it feels right now.Dan spins the Glenfiddich lid and retrieves a whiskey tumbler,pouring himself a treble measure. He has stopped watching thelocal news for fear of seeing himself portrayed as a villain, soinstead trudges steadily up the stairs to bed. He recalls the words of Pete earlier today:‘I’m worried about you Dan. Some members have got it in for you. Try to lay low for a while until this blows over.’He was invited to discuss tactics at the Gentleman’s Club thisevening, but all he desires at this moment is sleep. The warm maltlicks his throat and warms his gullet as the muffled hooting of owlssignals the onset of night. He peels off his stale clothes like he wasflaying an animal and crashes onto the soft eiderdown. A double-
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bed always seems indulgent alone. Dan pictures Caitlyn’s soft browncurls beside him; tastes her scent. He cannot wait until this is allover and they are a family once more. Even the impromptu 3 a.m.feeding and lullabies he can deal with. Matter of fact, it is thememory that keeps him going in his lowest moments. As he driftsoff he sees Caitlyn, smiling again.Dan stirs softly and mashes his face into the super-soft goose-feather as forceless footsteps pad across the kitchen linoleum andpeel smoothly up the staircase towards his bedroom. He is snoringobliviously as the boiler hums, orchestrating a radiator concerto. The intruder stops dead and hugs the wall anxiously before thedissonant banging and gurgling diminishes to simple landingacoustics. He dares to take a breath and listens intently at Dan’sdoor, before nudging it ajar; the moon from the skylight throwing hisshadow over the slumbering target as he stands poised over hishead, before deciding against hasty action and evacuating asnoiselessly as his incursion. Within a few efficient strides, Casperhas descended the stairs and bolted through the cat-flap. The terraced streets are devoid of life. The sun has been set for fourhours, and this section of earth is as cold as it will get. Not but thederelicts, addicts and nightshifts are awake, and none of themactive. This is the dead time. Casper glissades between the metalhalide pools like a true prowler, before arriving at the garden he is
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