Friday Snippet #17

I thought it might be time for a text snippet so here, 515 words of a story.This was a quick and fun thing to write, not a lot of sense maybe. I’m planning on continuing this so I’m not sure if this classifies as flash fiction or what, if anything, but here you go anyway:

Picture by Walt Stoneburner

A bad idea. An incredibly stupid idea that would end in all kinds of trouble. And still I’m doing it…

Hatcher shrugged, irritated by the sweat-soaked shirt clinging to his back. The people bustling around him created an impassable force so he had to go with the flow, his eyes never leaving the merchant stall twenty yards away.

A drone whirred above Hatcher’s head and he stopped, expecting a red-blue light to fall on his face. The drone moved on with a steady pace but Hatcher hesitated, rewarded with a hard bump to his back.

“Keep moving, boy!”

Hatcher scrambled forward, wiping his hands to his shirt. He needed steady hands, clear mind and a solid plan. He knew he lacked everything on the list. Only the vague hope of escaping the station’s lower planes kept him going.

“We need a datasphere,” Corday had said. “Bring us one, and you’ll have a promotion.” It hadn’t been a request but Corday never requested anything. He said what was needed and it magically happened. Hatcher couldn’t help feeling the only magic in this job would be how miraculously fast he could be thrown to jail.

The target stall was close enough for Hatcher to break off from the solid stream of people. He stepped to the side, glancing at the merchant. The man was old but far from frail, his broad shoulders and heavyset jaw intimidating Hatcher. He wasn’t fooled by the man’s smile; merchants always smiled.

Dataspheres were on the side table, arranged by features and price. Spheres of this caliber were hard to get on the lower planes, even for Corday, which made them highly sought after. And highly protected.

Hatcher brushed the side of his trousers, feeling the device in his pocket. It should disable the alarm system. He’d never tested a jammer and he’d heard mixed stories of their functionality, but it was all he had.

Waiting for an opening, Hatcher tried his best to look like he belonged there. He didn’t want the police drones to mark him as suspicious before he even had a chance to do anything.

The merchant turned away from Hatcher to serve a group of wealthy looking men. Without thinking, Hatcher activated the jammer and swiped the closest datasphere from its stand. He didn’t have a chance to even inhale when a piercing alarm cut through the crowd. Everyone flinched, glancing around to find out what had caused the alarm.

Hatcher’s mind went blank. He stood frozen, arm still outstretched, fist around the sphere. He heard the police drones. He already saw the jail cell. He could only guess at the length of his sentence.

“Seriously, Dave, why do you have to be so impatient?”

Hatcher barely dared to move his eyes. Was someone speaking to him?

“I hadn’t paid for that yet!

From the crowd emerged a man holding an electrocard. Hatcher had never seen him before but the man was addressing him, eyes locked on his.

The merchant had finally ushered away the customers swarming his stall. He stormed towards Hatcher, scowling. “What’s going on?”


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