Encapsulating @EJFisch!

Hi all! I’m EJ Fisch. I answer to Fischy, Fischmeister, and even Edge Fish (blame Siri for this), but mostly just EJ. I’m the author of the Ziva Payvan series, sci-fi thrillers set in a distant galaxy. I’ve been dabbling in writing for just about as long as I can remember, but I started getting serious about it in junior high. I wrote all throughout high school and college and am still writing today. Since May 2014, I’ve published three novels (four, if you count the omnibus edition) and am currently working on a two-part continuation of the series.

I’m also an artist, gamer, crazy cat lady, Dr. Pepper addict, and overall nerd. I have a day job as a data analyst in a clinic, and I also coach volleyball at the high school I graduated from. When I’m not doing those things, you can probably find me camped out in the recliner playing Mass Effect or Fallout for the 5,000th time. I live in beautiful southern Oregon and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

#MuMo: What do you love most about writing? What speaks to you?

EJF: I was actually just thinking about this the other day as I was drafting a review for a friend’s new release. When you’re writing a book—and especially a series—there are so many things that have to be taken into consideration. How will the current situation affect events later in the story, whether it be five chapters or five books from now? How will a character’s development arc influence the way they react to things, and how will that have changed by the end of the story? Needless to say, there’s a lot of planning involved, and then there has to be some way to keep track of those plans.

Taking all of that into consideration, writing is designing. Engineering. That’s what I love about it. As a writer, I feel like an architect, creating a world and its inhabitants with nothing more than my brain. Sometimes I pick up one of my books and start flipping through it, and it suddenly dawns on me that all of that came out of my head. That sense of creation is amazing, really. I love being able to pick up one of my books, whether in paperback or Kindle, think about all the planning and development and keeping-track-of-stuff that went into it, and say “I made this.”

#MuMo: So, what have you written?

EJF: So far, my only published works are the three books that make up the Ziva Payvan series. The story centers around a superhuman race of characters who work for the primary law enforcement agency on their planet. Ziva Payvan, the protagonist and series namesake character, is the ill-tempered leader of a special operations team who ends up having to work with another agent whose brother she killed. Writing these two characters has been a lot of fun and it’s been interesting to see them both grow—and affect each other’s growth—throughout the series.

The first book in the series, Dakiti, was published in May 2014 and introduces the world and characters. Circumstances are such that their very survival hinges on their ability to work together and put their rocky past behind them. The second book, Nexus, was released in December 2014 and, while it still features many of the same characters, actually has a completely separate plot. I’ve had a few readers mention that Nexus can actually be read without having read Dakiti. But then the third book, Ronan (September 2015), takes these two seemingly unrelated storylines and ties them together. Going back to what I said about engineering and architecture, this story structure was so much fun to work with, and I’m very proud of how everything came together in the end. Excerpts from each of the books can be found on their respective pages on my site.

In addition, I’ve published a Kindle-exclusive omnibus edition of the series, The Ziva Payvan Collection, which includes all three books plus a couple of fun character interviews and sneak peeks to upcoming work. Dakiti was also included in a collection called Forged From The Stars, a three-book volume I collaborated on with authors G.S. Jennsen and Tammy Salyer. The collection isn’t actually available for sale anymore, but it’s still featured on each of our websites and review copies are available upon request.

#MuMo: When did you know writing was for you?

EJF: I don’t know if I can say for sure! I’ve always enjoyed telling stories, and as the World’s Biggest Introvert™, I’ve always felt like I’ve expressed myself better on paper/screen than verbally, so it was only natural that I kind of gravitated toward writing. I’ve always had really good handwriting (not afraid to admit it!) and all throughout elementary school (and high school and college, for that matter) I’d get comments from teachers about how much they loved reading what I wrote, even if it was just a couple sentences answering an essay question or something. I also learned to type fairly early—my 5th grade teacher put everyone through an informal typing course, so by the time I got to the actual typing class in 7th grade, I was already kind of ahead of the game. Having good penmanship and typing abilities has certainly helped enhance my writing. It only seemed fair that I put those skills to good use. Plus, it’s a fun, challenging, and occasionally profitable way to channel all of my creative energy.

#MuMo: What are you working on at this minute? What was the inspiration for it?

EJF: I’m currently working on a continuation of my series, a two-part installment I’m calling Ziva Payvan Legacy. The two parts, Fracture and Embers respectively, are direct continuations of one another, with Embers picking up exactly where Fracture left off. I keep telling people it’s essentially just one story, but I split it into two parts for fear that a single book would be the length of a George R. R. Martin novel.

And while I’m calling it a continuation, I’m also considering it separate from the rest of the series. For all intents and purposes, the Ziva Payvan trilogy is complete, consisting only of Dakiti, Nexus, and Ronan. The Legacy books do feature most of the same characters and have some overlapping plot points, but I’ll be including a synopsis of the trilogy at the beginning of Fracture so technically someone could read these without having read the first three (except you’d miss out on all the juicy character development!).

The story inspiration for Fracture kind of came from one of those overlapping plot points I mentioned. Ronan introduced a new mob boss character who became really popular with readers despite only physically appearing in one scene, so part of Fracture’s plot has to do with circumstances surrounding his role. But it’s only that: a part. There’s a much bigger picture than what my protagonists expected, which is good for me as the writer because it means I can add some meat to the story. If I’d just gone with my original plan, it all would have been horribly basic and I might not actually have been able to squeeze an entire novel (or two) out of it.Embers, of course, will continue the same story, but I’m actually going to be able to partially recycle an old story I wrote way back before Dakiti. It’ll at least help from a structural standpoint.

And here’s a fun fact I’d totally forgotten about until I started writing this: Friday Phrases was actually the inspiration behind Fracture’s title! Originally, the first book was going to be Embers and the second one was still unnamed. Then “fracture(s)” was a #FP theme one day and I had a line of dialogue that fit that theme perfectly. In that instant, it dawned on me how flawlessly that one word encapsulated the entire story, and I decided to go ahead and switch Embers to Part 2 and name Part 1 Fracture. That all happened a little over a year ago, and I talked a little more about my thought process in a blog post.

EJ Fisch @EJFisch

“My job is simply to create fractures in the infrastructure, weaken its integrity. And then when he strikes, this place will crumble.” #FP

I’ve also got a short story / novelette starring Kat Reilly, a character introduced in Nexus, that has kind of gotten pushed to the back burner. Part of it is available to read on my site. Then there are a couple of other completely unrelated things brewing in the back of my mind. One is more of a cyberpunk story set in the not-too-distant future, and the other is kind of a sci-fi heist story. They’re completely bare-bones right now, but both of their inspiration came from dreams I had.

#MuMo: What was the first story you ever remember writing, and what was it about? How does it compare to your writing now?

EJF: The first thing that comes to mind is a story that I think would have been some sort of murder mystery if I’d written more than two pages. I remember being at my aunt and uncle’s house and finding some lined paper and a pencil and just sitting down to write without any sort of plan or any clue what I was doing. All I know is that a girl went out into her backyard and found blood on the ground, and it seems like one of her family members had disappeared. I honestly have no clue where it was going, and I couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11 years old at the time.

In 5th grade, we did a project in school where we had to write a book. We went through this entire process of drafting and revising and then had to do all of our own illustrations too. Then we covered and bound them ourselves. It was actually a really cool project—the 5th grade teacher was one of those people who always had these fun but challenging projects, and she was by far my favorite throughout elementary school. My story was once again kind of a mystery and revolved around these twin girls whose mom disappeared during a thunderstorm. After “publication,” we had to go around and read them to other classes, and the writing level and complexity of your story determined which class you’d read to. I ended up reading to the 6th graders, which, as a 5th grader, was a pretty big deal. I’m sure I’ve still got that book saved in a box somewhere…

Back around 7th or 8th grade, I started really getting into TV shows like NCIS and 24, so I kept trying to write these stories about various law enforcement teams hunting terrorists and whatnot. They were pretty disastrous; I’d just write what I thought was cool and I never really stopped to think about whether it made sense or if the logistics worked. Unfortunately I broke the #1 Rule of Writing and got rid of all those stories, though I still have fragments of one of them I recovered from an email I sent to a friend once (and let me tell you, it’s pretty terrible). Still, despite the fact that I never finished it, one of those stories ended up being the basis for the Nexus we see today. It was kind of cool to be able to resurrect an old idea like that.

It’s hard to even compare any of these cases to my current writing abilities. Maturity is obviously a huge factor; I have a much better understanding of the world now (despite the fact that I write sci-fi and Earth Rules don’t always apply) and that alone has helped me learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned that you need a plan and can’t just spew words onto the page willy-nilly, except in rare cases. With that first murder mystery story, I remember being frustrated because I didn’t know what to do with it, as if I didn’t understand that an outline or some plot notes might help. Still, I obviously wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t had these learning experiences. In a lot of ways, writing is based on trial and error.

#MuMo: Do you work to an outline or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you? Plotter or Pantser?

EJF: A little of both. I like to at least have a rough outline before I start anything, mostly so I can generate some early momentum. Momentum has always been huge for me when writing, and if I get going at a good pace, the ideas flow faster and easier. If I don’t have as much momentum, I end up needing to plan and write down more notes so I don’t forget all of my ideas before I get to the parts where they need to go.

I usually stop and write down more notes as I progress in a story, just to make sure I’ve still got everything straight. It’s especially important when you’re dealing with a series with lots of continuity, because you don’t want to make any mistakes. That hasn’t been as big of a factor with my current project as it was when I was still working on the main trilogy, just because it’s a separate story, but I’ve still found myself needing to do some fairly thorough outlining. It’s not necessarily always “outlining” either—a lot of the time it ends up just being a list of bullet points where I write out questions to myself and then answer them. Physically writing it all down helps me put more thought into it.

#MuMo: What draws you to flash-fiction, to #FP? What do you love and hate about it?

EJF: I enjoy #FP because it’s a challenge. I always use lines from my current WIP(s), or, if I’ve just published something, I’ll take lines from it for a couple of months. You have to find something in the story that not only matches the theme but also fits into 140 characters. Sometimes you have to get creative and look for something that’s a synonym for the theme or fits the theme more abstractly. Plus, it’s fun to be able to share these lines—even though they usually don’t reveal much—with my readers. With no context, I end up leaving them guessing about what might happen in the story.

If I had to pick one thing I hate, it’s that I can’t always use lines I want to use because of Twitter’s character limit. Sometimes I’ll find something that I really want to post but it’s too long. The majority of the time, I’ll find some way to alter the line enough that it will fit, but that doesn’t always work. Other times I just cheat and take a screenshot of the paragraph so I can share it anyway!

#MuMo: What is your favorite motivational phrase or musing on writing, and why? What about it really hits home?

EJF: It’s not exactly motivational, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of Edgar Allen Poe’s quote “I am a writer. Therefore, I am not sane.” I always joke about how you have to be at least a little crazy in order to be a writer, but as funny as it is, it’s also 100% accurate. Writers are people who have entire universes inside their heads, often different than the one we live in. They lose sleep at night because their characters come alive at certain intervals and demand to be heard. They zone out during everyday conversations because they suddenly become lost in those worlds inside their heads. When I’m writing, I’m not really exaggerating when I say I become obsessed with the plot and the people it contains. And I know a lot of other writers who feel the same way. Writers’ brains work differently than other people’s, and we’re not afraid to admit it.

#MuMo: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

EJF: Just doing it. I’ve written many a blog post on this topic. I mentioned momentum earlier and how it has always been a key factor in my writing success. If I have momentum, I’m in great shape. But gaining it in the first place has always been the hardest part. I sit and let a story stew in my head for days (and in my current case, months) and then get all depressed when I’m not actually making any progress. Then I actually sit down and write, and the words start flowing, and I’m suddenly getting a lot of work done. Somehow this comes as a surprise to me every single time. Just sitting down and DOING IT is the only way to accomplish anything—it’s that simple, but also that complicated. For some reason, it’s often just hard to do.

#MuMo: What do you tell yourself every time it gets hard? Every time the stars stop aligning? What do you do when writer’s block knocks on your creative door?

EJF: Per my last response, I start by telling myself to “just do it,” though it doesn’t always work. At least there’s a measure of self-awareness there, because even though I’m struggling to make progress, I still know I’m the only one who can do anything about it.

More often than not, if I get stuck at a certain part but know of something else that has to happen later in the story, I’ll go ahead and jump forward and write that instead. That way, I’m still technically making progress, even if it’s not linear. This actually ends up being helpful because I can look at that gap between scenes and consider precisely what needs to happen to get from point A to point B, and it’s easier to fill in the blanks.

If I’m really having a problem though, I’ll go ahead and step away from the story and take a break. Being an independent author means I don’t have to follow a set schedule, so I have the freedom to do this without worrying about deadlines. Obviously I’d still like to get my work done as efficiently as possible, but sometimes breaks are necessary. Even if I’m not writing though, I still like to do things that have to do with the story, like make a new piece of promo art, work on the cover design, or even look at sci-fi concept art and fashion on Pinterest. This way I can still keep the creative juices flowing, and in the case of the artwork, I’m doing something that will have needed to be done later anyway. Meanwhile, I’ve still got the story swirling around in my head, so by the time I’m ready to come back to it, I’m usually able to jump back in and get through whatever problem area I ran into before.

#MuMo: What advice would you give to aspiring writers and poets, anyone who wants to free the art within? What helped you make it to this point?

EJF: The obvious answer is “don’t quit.” The only way to learn and improve is to keep working, regardless of what genre or medium you’re working with. Don’t be afraid to let your writing be bad. That’s what editing is for. Find your pace, your routine, your rhythm—don’t compare yourself to other writers and what they’re doing, because their routines and rhythms might not work for you. Some people write for a living and churn out three or four books in a year. I have a day job and, while I’m sure I could finish a book much faster if I devoted a proper amount of time to it, I haven’t published anything in a year and a half. Honestly, I don’t think I’d want to write full time, because that’s just not how my brain works. That’s my rhythm, and I own it. Find yours.

And perhaps most importantly, don’t ever get rid of any of your old writing. It can sometimes be painful to go back and read it, but it’s so helpful from a learning perspective, and it’s motivational because you can look back and see how much you’ve improved. Plus, sometimes it’s just fun to reminisce about terrible old stories and ideas!

#MuMo: What genres do you find yourself most drawn to? In your books and in your #FP’s?

EJF: My favorite genres to read are sci-fi and thrillers, and thus my own books kind of combine the two. I like sci-fi because you have the freedom to make up new worlds and ideas and aren’t necessarily restricted to Earth Rules. I like thrillers because they keep me on the edge of my seat, and I’ve always been intrigued by spies and assassins. It’s fun to be able to share my two favorite genres with my readers. As I mentioned before, all of my #FP posts come straight from my WIPs or recently-published work, so they all technically fit into those genres as well, regardless of whether it’s obvious from the actual line.

When it comes to reading, I tend to switch back and forth between the genres, so I’ll read a sci-fi book and then move to a classic spy thriller, with the occasional nonfiction book thrown into the mix. I like reading non-fiction that has to do with military and police psychology because I can learn things that will (hopefully) allow me to write my characters more realistically.

#MuMo: Sooo … reading anything good lately? Any recommendations?

EJF: I’m currently reading Kantovan Vault, the third book in Joel Shepherd’s military sci-fi Spiral Wars series. There’s a LOT going on in this series and the cast is  huge, so I’ve sometimes found it hard to keep track of everything (especially with this one since I haven’t had much reading time and keep forgetting exactly what was happening when I last read). But the overall plots have been exciting and I’ve really enjoyed the main characters.

I also just finished Rubicon, the eighth book in G.S. Jennsen’s Aurora Rhapsody series, which is also excellent, sweeping sci-fi. And whenever I get a change, I’ve been reading through On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Dave Grossman. It’s required reading in many US law enforcement agencies, and I’ve had it recommended to me by a couple of fellow writers who are former military. With a main character who is an assassin and a cast of supporting characters who are all operations agents of some sort, I figured it might be an interesting and educational read.

#MuMo: Any last thoughts for our readers?

EJF: Thanks for taking the time to read through my ramblings today! Whether you’re a reader, writer, blogger, or some combination, good luck in all of your future work, and most of all, have fun! If you’d like to know more about me or my characters, or if you’d just like to chat about books and writing in general, I’m always up for discussion. Feel free to contact me using one of the mediums below.

#MuMo: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

EJF: You can find me on just about every social media platform these days, though I’m admittedly more active on some than others. Check out my website for blog posts and announcements, or subscribe to my newsletter (I only send out updates every couple of months and will never spam you).

Website: www.ejfisch.com
Email: ej@ejfisch.com

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Presenting the Very Best of @EJFisch!

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“My job is simply to create fractures in the infrastructure, weaken its integrity. And then when he strikes, this place will crumble.” #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
Their arrival had been jarring, akin to awakening from a dream before it ended and leaving her confused, disoriented, and irritable. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
His eyes pored over the material within, studying it as if he hadn’t already spent countless hours and sleepless nights doing so. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“Things were easier back when our lives were normal, weren’t they.”
“They really were,” she said.

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
It would give her time to come up with…something. Whether that ‘something’ ever evolved into an actual plan remained to be seen. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
Behind her, she heard the coded key rod being inserted into its socket, followed by the squeal of rusty hinges as the door swung open. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“I can walk away at any time.”
That amused look evolved into a soft smirk and then into a wide smile. “But you won’t.”

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“What more do you know about this woman?”
“She’s a ghost. Nobody has gotten a good look at her. Rumor has it she goes by MatiaMoryi.”

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“That’s why she treated you the way she did, why she often came across so cold. She was protecting you.”
“From what?”
“From herself.”

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
He regarded her only with admiration and pride, not the shock and wariness she’d been expecting. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
It reminded him of the night he’d taken her up to the hill, the night all the barriers between them had finally begun to crumble. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“Well, she’s lucky to have you. She’s always had people who care about her, but she’s often been too blind and stubborn to see it.” #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
She had hoped to sound good-natured, but the thought of wasting valuable time had given the response a harsh edge. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
“They left me something to remember them by.” She turned into the light, revealing the two massive patches of scar tissue on her face. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
Even after two years, it was still hard to get used to the way Noro’s skyline had changed thanks to all the repairs following the attack.#FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
He looked older now, whereas she didn’t remember ever noticing much change in appearance in the ten years she’d known him previously. #FP

EJ Fisch @EJFisch
Torn between fear and a sudden, overwhelming sense of anger, it took him a moment to even muster up a response. “She…shot me.” #FP

Fracture Chapter 1

By EJ Fisch

Just go. Run.
The front door of the house lay just a few more strides ahead. His legs were pumping as fast as his heart was beating. He wasn’t even sure if his pursuer was still behind him, but he was in no mood to find out. To his delight, the door had been left unlocked; he punched the controls and slipped inside, taking a moment to catch his breath.
There was no doubt in his mind that this hunter was hoping he’d lead them to his father, the real target in this situation. He was merely a decoy, a distraction to occupy this assassin while the rest of his family fled the city. So far, the plan seemed to be working, but the thing about fishing was that it never worked out so well for the bait. If he failed, The Assassin would not hesitate to kill him, regardless of whether he was the quarry.
Once his racing heart slowed a bit, he carefully turned and risked a look out the window. The clearing outside was bathed in brilliant silver-blue moonlight that seemed nearly as bright as the daytime sun. He scanned the tree line for several minutes, watching for any movement or shapes that seemed out of place. Just as he’d made up his mind that he was safe, a shadow detached itself from the foliage and stepped into the clearing, striding purposefully toward the house. He shuddered and his heart collapsed into his stomach. This was the same shadow that had just pursued him for three kilometers through the forest, the one that had already killed his sister in an attempt to reach his father.
He was unarmed and The Assassin knew it. Otherwise, he doubted they’d be so quick to come out into the open. If they were trying to get inside his head, it was working. Purposely putting themselves in such a vulnerable position was just a reminder of how powerless he was. He had no idea whose house this was, but chances were slim that there were any weapons available. Anything that could be used for self-defense had likely been taken during the evacuation. He at least had the presence of mind to lock the door, and he stood there listening with bated breath as footsteps approached outside.
This house seemed bigger than others in the area and was well-decorated with a variety of expensive-looking objects. The owners were probably well off and had no doubt been some of the first to leave the city. Large pieces of furniture were stacked up nearby, giving him the impression that the front door had recently been barricaded against any attackers. He considered trying to move the stack back to the door, but even if he could move it himself, there was no time. He slowly began to back away, looking wildly about for some other means of escape.
A soft clicking just outside sent him scurrying down the hallway. Based on the skill The Assassin had already shown, he didn’t doubt their ability to breach the lock. Even so, the sound of the door sliding open came far too soon for his taste. He darted into the first room he came to, some sort of study or sitting room. A plush sofa and matching armchairs were arranged around a low table, and a desk and large cabinet were positioned against the far wall. He ran to the cabinet and flung it open, finding it empty except for a couple of deactivated data pads and an old blanket. The bottom shelf was clear, so he ducked down and crawled inside, pulling the door shut as quietly as he could behind him.
There in the confined space, each breath and heartbeat sounded horrifyingly loud. He leaned forward and rested his head on his knees, watching the room outside through the narrow crack between the doors. The moonlight poured in through the window, giving him a clear picture of the area. He strained to hear, willing his pulse to slow. He’d been able to hear nothing but himself since leaving the front door, and he had no idea where The Assassin had gone.
A cold sweat coated his forehead and he shivered, though whether it was due to nerves or an actual drop in temperature, he wasn’t sure. The idea of having been left behind was beginning to take its toll on him. Per his father’s plan, there was a small shuttle waiting for him at the spaceport, but the trek through the forest had taken time he didn’t have and he doubted the pilot would have waited this long for him. Most of the personal transports had either been destroyed or taken during the evacuation, but maybe there’d be something left that would at least get him up to the orbital transfer station. The trick now would be to just make it to the port in the first place.
An unfamiliar shape caught his eye and he leaned over to peer through the crack again, shuddering when he realized The Assassin was standing in the doorway of the room. The galaxy only knew how long they’d been there. He swallowed against the bile rising up in his throat and clamped a hand over his mouth, mostly to keep himself from crying out. His skin crawled as The Assassin took a couple of slow, silent steps further into the room. The moonlight turned their dark clothing a silvery-gray and illuminated severe facial features, and he was surprised to see that the person was a woman. She wore her dark hair pulled back and surveyed the room with eyes that appeared just as dark in the shadows. She wore a long combat knife strapped to one thigh, and in her left hand she gripped a suppressed projectile pistol.
The Assassin stood so still that for a while he wondered if she was simply a figment of his terrified imagination. But then her head moved, and she turned to look directly at the cabinet. It was all he could do to keep from squirming. Surely there was no way she could actually see him, but although he couldn’t see her eyes clearly, he was almost positive the two of them were making eye contact.
She knows you’re there, and she wants you to know it. After everything he’d seen, he wouldn’t put such a manipulation tactic past her, but he sat there shaking his head as discreetly as possible, hoping she couldn’t sense the movement and trying to convince himself there was no way she could possibly know where he was.
He nearly wet himself when he saw her take a step, but she simply pivoted and strode from the room as quickly and quietly as she had entered. He leaned forward, straining to see through the crack and hoping he’d catch sight of her passing by the doorway as she searched the remainder of the house. He held his breath and listened for her footsteps but was met only with silence. Then, after what felt like years, he heard a beep followed by metal scraping on metal. The front door had opened and closed. She was gone.
He was torn then between waiting to make sure she didn’t come back and rushing to a window to see if she was setting up an ambush outside. He settled on a happy medium and sat there counting under his breath for three minutes before easing the cabinet door open. When he was sure everything was still quiet, he crawled out, crouching until the circulation had returned to his legs. He moved across the room centimeter by centimeter, half-expecting The Assassin to appear in the doorway again. The journey out into the hallway remained uneventful however, and he breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that the path to the front door was clear.
He stepped out, mentally running through all possible routes to thespaceport from here. He dreaded the thought of going on foot but hehadn’t the foggiest clue how to break into a car and doubted he’d findone available for breaking into anyway. Running wouldn’t be so bad; itwould enable to him to hide and maintain a lower profile. But runningwould also require him to cut back through the same forest he’d justbeen chased through, and he had no idea where The Assassin had gone.
He wasn’t entirely sure which came first – the explosion of pain atthe base of his spine or the realization of exactly where The Assassinhad gone. Perhaps he had heard a sound or seen something in hisperipheral vision. He couldn’t remember, and the next thing he didremember was striking his head on the floor.
Something warm and wet was spreading at the small of his back and hecould feel it pooling under him. But there was no pain. He didn’tthink he could feel his legs.
The floor behind him creaked and the rough tread of a boot sole cameto rest on his shoulder. He drew a sharp breath in through his noseand was blinded by hot tears as a powerful leg flipped him over ontohis back. The woman was nothing more than a dark shape hovering abovehim, distorted by his swimming vision. Though he couldn’t see herface, he could once again feel her icy gaze drilling into him.
She stood there observing him silently for several seconds beforebending down and shining a small spotlight directly into his face,blocking his view of what – if anything – she was doing. He did hisbest to keep his eyes open, not wishing to be caught unaware again,but the light burned and sent pain stabbing through his head so heeventually allowed his eyelids to shut. He wanted to beg for mercy,offer to disappear and tell no one about this incident, but his throat seized up and the words eluded him. He guessed the effort would befutile anyway.
The light shut off after a moment as if she’d finished studying him.He thought he heard her release a disappointed sigh, though it wasdifficult to hear over his own raspy breathing.
“You shouldn’t have run,” she said.Her voice was a far cry from what he’d expected. It was low andsmooth, and despite the circumstances he couldn’t help but be soothedby it.
I know, he wanted to say as tears spilled down his cheeks. I know that now.
“Please,” he managed as she rose back into a standing position. Themoonlight glinted off of the casing of her pistol as she took aim forhis head.
He shut his eyes again, reveling in the darkness. There was a soft popfollowed by a brief burning sensation in his head, and then…nothing.


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Musae Mosaic is the place where writers come to replenish the creative spirit with an amazing community of artists of all kinds! Everything we do is a celebration and a place to find a new creative family!

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