The Only City Left: Part 30

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth.

If you are new to The Only City Left and want a quick catch-up, you can read a synopsis of Parts 1-27 and then start at Part 28. You can reach an individual part of the story by browsing the Table of Contents.

At the end of Part 29, Allin was yelling at Tyena for lying to him, when she turned the tables and suggested he had been lying to her as well. So there.

The Only City Left: Part 30

I opened and closed my mouth several times to say something, but Tyena’s riposte had robbed me of words. I had avoided telling her certain truths about my relationship to the werewolves, but she had actually known them all along. How stupid I must have looked to her!

She nodded emphatically at me and said, “There, you see. Don’t tell me I’ve been lying when you neglected to mention it’s your own uncle who kidnapped my mother, who ordered me to watch as they killed my brother! Don’t yell at me about secrets when it turns out you’re one of them!”

It felt like a physical slap, having my newly-discovered heritage thrown in my face like that.

“Does it matter that I’m related to some madman I’ve never met? That I might be a werewolf even though I’ve never become one?”

“It matters that you didn’t tell me!” Tyena shouted.

“I was afraid if I told you, you’d hate me!” I shouted in return.

We stood there without speaking, both of us breathing heavily. Tyena’s cheeks were flushed red and her hair had fallen over half of her face.

She kneeled down and picked up the camera, inspected it, and said softly, “It’s broken.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”

She looked up at me and said, “Let’s start over. We know everything there is to know now. It’s not too late to change your mind, to go along with Banshee’s plan. I’ll send word to Doyle that you’re coming in peaceably. You said it yourself, they want you alive. You’ll be safe. My mom’ll be safe. It’s the best solution.”

She set the camera down, grabbed onto my hand and pulled herself up.

Without letting go of me, she leaned in and said, “Please do this for me, Allin. I love you. Don’t you love me?”

I shook my head. Maybe she meant it, maybe she did love me, or maybe it was another lie. Either way, I wasn’t going to risk being made a fool of again.

“If I loved you, I could forgive you, right?” I asked as I shook free of her grasp. “Then I guess I don’t. Bye, Tyena, and good luck.”

I turned and walked away without looking back, while behind me Tyena screamed, “No! What about my mom? Allin, what about my mom?”

I don’t know who I was crying for as I left her behind: Tyena, me, her mom? It didn’t matter. The world had become a dark, awful place, but it wasn’t my job to fix everyone’s problems.

I wiped my eyes as I was leaving through the window, and I nearly bumped into Tumble, who stood on the platform outside holding my cocoon bag. He looked at me with an inscrutable expression and held out my bag without a word.

I shouldered it in a huff and traced a path down and toward the outskirts of Pudlington, to the only exit from the city that I knew of.

When I arrived at the inner gate, the two guards on duty were leaning against the wall lazily, but they snapped to attention when they saw me. I marched up to them and said, “I’m leaving.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t open this door without official orders,” said the cat on my left. He shifted his gun ever so slightly in his hands, bringing it closer to level.

I couldn’t believe it. “Am I a prisoner here after all?” I sputtered.

“No, but guests usually say goodbye and thank you before departing,” came a low voice from behind me that raised the hairs on my neck.

I turned around and looked down at the dour face of Emperor Banshee. Tumble, head downcast, stood behind and to one side of him.

“Allin, it’s not too late to change your mind,” Banshee continued. “You can help make a difference. We can end the tyranny of the wolves.”

“Everybody wants me to go to the wolves!” I shot back, and began ticking off points on my fingers. “You want me to risk my life on the off chance I can kill my uncle. Tyena wants to trade me for her mom. Doyle wants me there for who knows what reason, but I’m guessing it’s not to have tea and cake!”

I clenched my fist shut and shook it at Banshee.

“Well I’m not having any of that. You’ll all have to find another hero to enter the werewolves’ den. I just want to live long enough to see the sun with my own eyes. Is that so wrong?”

“Your decision is final, then?” Banshee asked, ignoring my question.

“Yes.”

“Fine. Go,” he ordered and then added, “How very human of you,” before he whipped around and stalked away. I told myself he had no right to judge, but my cheeks nevertheless burned at his scorn.

“Let me out of here,” I told the guards between gritted teeth, and this time they opened the gate without a fuss and escorted me into the hallway beyond. I looked back one last time and saw that Tumble had left, too. I regretted not getting to say a real goodbye to him.

I exited Pudlington as I had entered it, crouching and sick, though this time with shame and anger rather than a virus. I eyed the murder-holes in the walls and ceiling and wondered how upset Banshee was with me, but when I reached the outer gate, the guard keyed it open and I stepped out and stood up unmolested.

I turned around, watched the doors slide shut, and whispered, “Goodbye, and thank you.”

I meant it for Pudlington as a whole and for Banshee, too. Whatever his motives, he had taken me in and patched me up, and now I was healthier and better-equipped than before. I wasn’t fool enough to not appreciate all that, despite our differences.

One of the outer guards must have thought I was speaking to him, for he nodded at me and said, “Good luck on your journey, sir. Be careful out there. The world is a dangerous place.”

“That it is,” I agreed and waved at both of the guards before leaving Pudlington behind me.

* * *

Continue to Part 31 (or read my Author’s Notes below first).

9/9/12 News: Thus ends the first one-third of The Only City Left, roughly 30,000 words of an adventure not just for Allin, but for me as well. It takes a certain kind of naïveté (and it was naïveté in the beginning, not moxie) to state: I’m going to write a novel and post the first draft of it online each week, warts and all, for anyone to take a gander at. The results have already pushed me to become a better writer. Sure, for me it is a first draft, hopefully to be improved upon once the entire story is completed, but for most people stopping by here this is the only sample of my writing they might ever see. So I’m trying to make it a polished first draft. I read and re-read each post many times, trying to ensure it fits with where the story has been and where I see it going, trying to trim the scenes that last longer than they are welcome, trying to give a little insight into characters to make them more than cardboard place-holders for later edits.

All of which amounts to this. Thank you for coming along with Allin and me on our adventures. Please stick around for the next 60,000 words or so. I think you’ll enjoy it. (And now that I’m thinking of it, you might also enjoy my short story, False Negative, published this month in Electric Spec! Yes, a shameless plug. I really am acting like a writer now.)

The Only City Left is now listed on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on that site to help get TOCL noticed. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this post, please click the image below to give The Only City Left a vote on Top Web Fiction. (One vote allowed per week.)

Click here to vote for The Only City Left on Top Web Fiction!

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Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.

The Only City Left: Part 29

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth.

If you are new to The Only City Left and want a quick catch-up, you can read a synopsis of Parts 1-27 and then start at Part 28. You can reach an individual part of the story by browsing the Table of Contents.

At the end of Part 28, Tumble dropped a bomb on Allin’s psyche by revealing that Tyena’s motives were suspect: she has been spying for Doyle and the werewolves since she first arrived in Pudlington!

The Only City Left: Part 29

“What are you talking about?” I demanded, my voice raised. The kittens at play in the room stopped as one to stare at me. “That’s a lie.”

Tumble looked to his charges and nodded at them to keep playing, then guided me up and away from them.

“I’m afraid not, Allin. It is Tyena who has lied to you and us both, although we’ve never really held that against her. You see, we did find her wandering the city, half-starved, but we were not the first to do so. It was the werewolves who first found her.”

I gave him a hard look and asked, “How do you know that?”

“When Tyena first arrived here, she was distraught and aimless. We allowed her to sit in our planning councils, to give her something to do and because she had first-hand experience with the ’wolves from the recent attack on Glin’s Rising. Soon after that, we suffered a series of losses amongst our outside patrols. We traced the leak to her.”

“This is Tyena we’re talking about,” I said, shaking my head. “She’s not a super-spy. How would she even get information outside of Pudlington?”

“She doesn’t have to. Doyle has spies inside our city, probably more than we know about.”

“The guardsman,” I realized. The one she had been arguing with earlier.

“Him we are aware of,” Tumble agreed. “He regularly passes along intel to Doyle’s people while on outside patrol.”

“Then why don’t you stop him?” I asked, incredulous.

“Better to use him. And her,” Tumble said. “We give them just enough real but unhelpful information to keep them useful to Doyle, and much that is apocryphal. This way when we need Doyle to believe something, we have a sure path to deliver the information.”

I sat down against one wall of the dojo and put my forehead in my hands.

“So this is real, this is a real thing,” I babbled. “Tyena’s been lying to me this whole time. That cold—“

“Emperor Banshee is sympathetic to Tyena’s plight. Our best intel out of the Garden—for we have our spies, too—is that Tyena’s family is alive and being held hostage to her continued reports. She has no choice but to do Doyle’s bidding, which is another reason we have not closed her down.”

“Well, that’s just great,” I barked. “That’s so nice of you! How funny was it to watch me as I believed all her lies? And thanks for not telling me any of this earlier. I might not have been able to make such a fool of myself if you had!”

Tumble held out his hands, palms out. “I tried, Allin, I did. Remember my warning about the gerrybrook flower?”

I closed my eyes. “That was nice of you and all, Tumble. But instead of riddles, maybe you could have just told me?”

“I was under orders not to. Plus, I hoped it wouldn’t be necessary. You deserved some happiness, Allin, even if only for a brief time, and if you had accepted Banshee’s mission, you need never have known of Miss Branch’s duplicity.”

I opened my eyes and stared at Tumble.

“Well thanks a lot, buddy,” I said, standing up. “But I guess it didn’t work out for any of us, did it? I’m leaving. Alone. You can still send my stuff to Tyena’s, though. I’m going over there to tell her goodbye.”

I took his silence for assent and walked away.

My trip back to Tyena’s was filled with dark thoughts as I realized what a sucker I had been. I really thought something good had happened to me, reuniting with Tyena, clicking with her again despite the horrors of our past. But the past was inescapable, it seemed, and no matter how the cats felt, Tyena’s behavior was inexcusable. She’d get no sympathy from me.

When I tracked her down, she was walking through another floor of her museum, holding a device up to each of her paintings in turn.

“Look, Allin, a friend gave me a camera so I can record my paintings!” she beamed at me.

“Is this the same friend who passes along all your secrets to Doyle?”

The smile slowly melted from her face.

“What? No, what do you mean?”

“Stop lying to me,” I yelled. “I know you’re spying for the wolves. The cats know you’re spying. You’re not fooling anybody!”

She winced and held up her hands as if to block my words. “It’s not that simple,” she protested.

“What could be simpler than telling me the truth?”

“You want the truth, Allin? My mother is alive. She’s alive and she’s safe,” Tyena said. “And I’m doing what I have to do to keep it that way.”

“Including delivering me up to Doyle?”

“He promised to set her free if I could get you to go to the Garden.”

“What about your brother?”

“Killed three years ago. Before my eyes. To show me the cost of failure,” Tyena moaned. The light in her eyes had gone out. She looked more like the broken girl I had dragged out of Glin’s Rising than the joyful, vibrant one of the past few days.

I would have felt sorry for her but I was so full of bitterness and hurt there was room for nothing else inside of me.

“So you lied to me, you used me, so you could trade me for your mother.”

“It wasn’t a lie, Allin!” Tyena cried. “We’re not a lie. If you had only accepted Banshee’s offer, there was a good chance that you could have killed Doyle and then my mom would be free and we could be together and—”

“And angels would sing and manna would fall from heaven and everyone would live in perfect harmony!” I scoffed. “But when I changed the plans and said, ‘Let’s leave together,’ you went along with that pretty quickly. What was your Plan B?”

Tyena answered in a whisper, “I was supposed to lead you into an ambush once we were outside of Pudlington.”

“So much for my good chances then, huh?”

Tyena grabbed my hand in hers and said, “Allin, what else could I have done?”

I whipped her hand off of mine, accidentally knocking the camera out of her other hand in the process. It fell to the floor with a crack.

“You could have told me the truth!” I shouted.

“You’re one to talk about truth,” she shot back.

* * *

Continue to Part 30.

9/2/12 News: The Only City Left is now listed on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on that site to help get TOCL noticed. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this post, please click the image below to give The Only City Left a vote on Top Web Fiction. (One vote allowed per week.)

Click here to vote for The Only City Left on Top Web Fiction!

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Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.

The Only City Left: Part 28

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth.

If you are new to The Only City Left and want a quick catch-up, you can read a synopsis of Parts 1-27. You can reach an individual part of the story by browsing the Table of Contents.

At the end of Part 27, Allin caught Tyena having a heated argument with a Pudlington Guardsman. He was yelling at her about delays and lives being at stake. He fled when Allin arrived and Tyena said he was the messenger for a rich client. Allin told her he knew she was lying.

The Only City Left: Part 28

Tyena opened her mouth to answer me but no words came out. Rather than give her time to create a better story, I barreled ahead.

“I know what’s really going on,” I told her. I had suspected it for a while, but the presence of the guard confirmed it. “Did you guys think I was too stupid to figure it out?”

“Allin, no, you don’t understand,” she protested.

“I understand. Banshee knew I might say no, so he held you in check. Then sure enough, I tell him I’m leaving and who shows up in my room but you?” I asked rhetorically while pacing back and forth. I had anger and energy to burn, and it all came out in one torrent that didn’t allow Tyena to get a word in. “Your job was to what, keep reminding me that your family might be alive, until I felt bad enough to try to save them, to go on Banshee’s mission? Even though it’s more likely I’d die than be able to kill Doyle?”

Tyena stared at me, eyes wide, throughout my tirade. Only the tears pooling in the corners of her eyes slowed me down.

Words and tears spilled out of her simultaneously.

“He, he, Banshee told me I had to convince you to go,” she gasped out between sobs. “That if you wouldn’t do it, he’d exile us both.”

I cursed Banshee for his villainy and myself for being fool enough to trust him for this long.

“Let him exile us,” I said. “I don’t need Pudlington to be happy. And neither do you! Come with me, Tyena. We can find the Roof of the World together, feel real sunlight on our skin!”

“You’re not mad at me?”

“No, it’s not your fault that Banshee put you in an impossible situation. Will you come with me?”

Tyena wrapped herself around me, cried “Yes!” and kissed me. This was no peck on the cheek and there were no cats nearby to make me feel awkward.

Minutes later, we forced ourselves apart. Tyena looked happier than I had seen her in days, and I finally felt like I was doing the right thing. Banshee’s heavy-handedness had given me the freedom to choose my path without regrets.

“When are we leaving?” Tyena asked.

“Right now?” I answered, still in a daze.

Tyena made a face and looked all around her. “You’ve got to give me a little time to get some of my belongings together,” she insisted. “And don’t you have anything you need to do before we go?”

She was right. All my gadgets and my cocoon bag were still down in the Skunkworks.

“Okay, yeah. Meet back here in… two hours?”

“Perfect,” she agreed, and pulled me in for another long kiss. “See you then.”

“Yeah, perfect,” I repeated airily as she walked deeper into her loft.

I traced my path back to the exit, the dumb grin on my face transforming into a grimace as I made my way. Getting into the Skunkworks meant dealing with Tumble again, and I wasn’t exactly in the mood to deal with Banshee’s lapcat at the moment.

I didn’t really know what Tumble got up to when he wasn’t baby-sitting me, but with the help of some friendly cats I was able to track him down.

I found him leading a class of a dozen or so kittens in some sort of martial arts training, and when I arrived he nodded for me to wait at the back of the room.

He must have been near the end of the class already, because soon enough the kittens were bowing to him, he bowed back, and the kittens broke into raucous play, pitting their newly-learned skills against one another.

“Karate?” I asked when Tumble made his way over.

“Aikido,” he corrected. “A way to be one with the universe.”

I looked past him at kittens flinging each other around and giggling, and skeptically said, “Uh huh.”

“I thought you would be spending the rest of the day with Miss Branch,” he continued. “Is anything the matter?”

“No, things are great,” I answered. “But I want to get my things out of the ’Works. Will you take me?”

“If you want, I can have them sent up to you,” Tumble offered.

I wouldn’t get to say goodbye to Professor Copper, but if it meant less time with Tumble, all the better. I accepted.

“Have it sent to Tyena’s place,” I ordered, and turned around to leave.

“Allin, please wait,” Tumble requested softly.

I stopped, facing away from him, arms held stiffly at my side.

“Were you planning on saying goodbye?” he asked.

I rounded on Tumble and pointed at him accusingly.

“I don’t know. Were you a part of it?”

“A part of what?”

“Banshee’s plan to manipulate me into walking into the Garden.”

“I warned him not to push too hard,” Tumble whispered as if talking to himself. Louder, “The choice was always yours, Allin. Emperor Banshee merely wanted to help you see the necessity of his plan.”

I sneered. “By threatening to kick Tyena out unless she convinced me to go along?”

“Is that what you—?” Tumble started to ask.

He sighed and turned to watch his students, his hands clasped behind his back. He observed them for a while without speaking, and I was about to give up and leave when he spoke again.

“Allin, I was hoping you would have seen it on your own, but love is too powerful, I suppose, and can blind us all.”

I stepped up beside him and asked, “What are you talking about?”

He looked up and gestured for me to kneel, which I reluctantly did.

What’s going on here? I wondered.

He placed his hands on my shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes.

“There’s something you need to know before you go running off with Tyena. Yes, the Emperor asked her if she would help you see the importance of the mission, but he didn’t threaten her. She agreed to the plan gladly, for her own reasons.”

I could feel blood coursing through my temples, and my brain slowed down time as if to prevent Tumble from finishing his thought.

“You see, Allin, Tyena is a spy for Doyle, and has been ever since she arrived here.”

* * *

Continue to Part 29.

8/26/12 News: While this ending may not come as a surprise to you, it never fails to bring a smile to my face and produce a dun-dun-dunnnnnnn sound effect in my head.

The Only City Left is now listed on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on that site to help get TOCL noticed. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this post, please click the image below to give The Only City Left a vote on Top Web Fiction. (One vote allowed per week.)

Click here to vote for The Only City Left on Top Web Fiction!

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Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.

The Only City Left: Part 27

Welcome to my serial science-fiction/fantasy adventure, The Only City Left. This is the story of Allin Arcady and his adventures through a dying, planet-sized city called Earth.

If you are new to The Only City Left and want a quick catch-up, you can read a synopsis of Parts 1-24 and then start from Part 25. You can reach an individual part of the story by browsing the Table of Contents.

At the end of Part 26, Allin was feeling the pressure to agree to Banshee’s mission, so he told Tyena he would think about it. But while she slept, he just ran the same arguments for and against over and over in his mind, without coming to a conclusion.

The Only City Left: Part 27

Tumble woke us up the next morning and suggested I might want to return to my apartment to clean up before going down to the Skunkworks.

I ran a hand through my hair and turned to Tyena, who sat next to me. We both looked worse for having slept on the couch instead of a proper bed.

“What do you think,” I asked. “After we get ready, do you want to see what I’m working on down in the Skunkworks?”

Tumble coughed politely into his hand and cut in, “I am afraid the lovely Miss Branch does not have the Emperor’s permission to enter the ’Works. Perhaps you would like me to inquire about that?”

Before I could reply, Tyena answered, “That’s okay, boys. Allin, you can show me what you’re making when it’s done. I have some chores to do this morning anyway.”

She leaned over and gave me a peck on the cheek.

“Don’t stay down there all day today, huh?”

That tiny kiss left me flustered—it certainly didn’t help that Tumble witnessed it—but I assured her I wouldn’t.

“Your reunion seems to be going… well,” Tumble said as he walked with me to my place. “Do you even need a room of your own anymore?”

I stopped in my tracks and I’m sure I blushed as I protested, “It’s not going that well, you pesky cat! Geez, we’ve barely had a few hours together awake. You don’t have to rush me!”

He gave me a sideways glance, twitched his whiskers, and said cryptically, “Time waits for no-one, young man,” before walking ahead with a chuckle.

In his curious feline way, Tumble was all too right. The next few days were some of the best of my life but they passed in a blur as I alternated between spending time with Tyena and tinkering in the Skunkworks. The only power outage in the sector was that I had a tough decision ever-present in the back of my mind: would I or wouldn’t I accept Emperor Banshee’s mission to infiltrate the Garden and assassinate my uncle?

No matter how hard I tried to avoid it, the question dogged me. In Pudlington Above, Tyena and I spent our days exploring the city, making our way through and between ancient buildings, marveling at hanging and rooftop gardens, and getting lost in the immense maze of platforms and rigging. In Pudlington Below, I continued to craft whatever useful gadgets I could fit into my cocoon bag, and I kept track of Professor Copper’s progress in analyzing the lantern coil.

As much as I tried to live in the moment and enjoy myself, it seemed that around every corner there was some reminder of what was at stake. While out exploring with Tyena, a wayward kitten ambushed us, keeping us at bay (and in fits of laughter) with his clumsy ferociousness, until his mother came along, cuffed him behind the ears, made him apologize, and carried him away. The kitten stuck his tongue out at us over his mother’s shoulder and I returned the gesture, laughing. When I looked to Tyena, though, her face had grown serious.

“I miss my mom,” she admitted, and then was quiet the rest of the afternoon.

Down in the Skunkworks, Professor Copper put her search for the lantern coil’s moonlight mode on hold.

“It’s like there’s a password, but I don’t even know how to input it, much less what it is,” she explained in frustration.

I commiserated with her, but couldn’t help but think that this meant I only had one option left now if I accepted the mission: give myself up to the wolves and hope for the best. It wasn’t a prospect that filled me with much hope.

Copper distracted me from my worried thoughts with her theory about how the sun- and moonlight were emitted by the coils in the first place. She was sure that the coils contained one end of a quantum tunnel, the other end of which was in orbit around the moon.

“Satellites, most likely,” she confided in me. “The light, either straight sunlight or reflected first off of the moon, enters the tunnel and is instantaneously co-translated into the coil, which diffuses it.”

“How can knowing that help you stop the werewolves?”

“Well, if we can’t destroy all the coils, which are the output end of the tunnel, perhaps we can destroy the satellite that harbors the input end. Then the coils are useless!”

It seemed like a good idea to me, if you didn’t let the fact that a satellite in orbit was even more unreachable than the roof of the world itself. Copper read my expression and nodded her head sadly.

“I know, there is little chance of success,” she acknowledged. “But I must continue to try. Did you hear? The wolves took another settlement today. The humans fought valiantly, but hundreds died and hundreds more were taken. I fear if we don’t stop the wolves soon, even the walls of Pudlington will not stand against them.”

With that heavy load on my chest, I had Tumble escort me out of the Skunkworks and I went to find Tyena to talk things over with her. When I reached her window, I heard indistinct raised voices from inside. I slipped through the window as quietly as I could and made my way through the cluttered floor until the voices grew loud enough that I could make out the words.

“I’m doing everything I can,” Tyena said, her voice pleading. “He has to understand that!”

“He understands that you’re playing around while lives are at stake!” came a male voice I didn’t recognize. “Do you understand the cost of any further delays?”

“I understand. Now let me go,” Tyena cried.

Her distress shocked me out of my curious eavesdropping. I rushed to her defense and was surprised to find her in the grip of a Pudlington Guardsman.

I yelled out and the pair of them looked at me in surprise. The guardsman pushed Tyena’s arms away and stalked past me.

“I was just leaving,” he said brusquely.

“Hey, you wait!” I yelled lamely at his retreating back, but Tyena came up to me and put a hand on my shoulder.

“It’s okay, let him go.”

I spun around to face her.

“It’s not okay. What’s going on? Who was that?” I demanded.

“A client,” Tyena said. “I mean, he works for a client. A rich, nasty client. I’m late on his portrait.”

I didn’t believe that story for an instant.

“Tyena, why are you lying to me?”

* * *

Continue to Part 28.

8/19/12 News: The Only City Left is now listed on the Web Fiction Guide, a wonderful place to find all sorts of online fiction. If you are so inclined, I would appreciate any ratings/reviews/recommends on that site to help get TOCL noticed. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this post, please click the image below to give The Only City Left a vote on Top Web Fiction. (One vote allowed per week.)

Click here to vote for The Only City Left on Top Web Fiction!

#

Logo Credit:The TOCL logo is courtesy of Jande Rowe of the webcomic Aedre’s Firefly. If you haven’t already read AF, I encourage you to go check it out. Not only does Jande produce the comic, she reviews other long-form webcomics, gives tips and instructions on creating a comic, and is endlessly supportive of other creators. For a great review that will bring you up to speed on Aedre’s Firefly, check out this page at Webcomic Alliance.