Rebel Magic Sample

Chapter 1

“I’m telling you Clink, my brother has some good shit going down. What do you have to lose?”

I looked at Cherry and shook my head. She’d been off world a few days and hadn’t long gotten back. The people of Crimson, where we lived, didn’t have the ability to open portals. Few worlds did, but sometimes, if a portal opener visited, for the right amount of cash they would take you to whatever alternate dimension you wanted to go to.

As long as you remembered to only pay them half up front, the other half when you got back. If not, you could find yourself stranded on some strange world, with no way to get home.

I’d been to other worlds a few times, enough to know that the red of Crimson was like nothing any other world had. No one knew why. Some said it was the blood of all those who’d fallen thousands of years ago that had seeped into every inch of this place, but that didn’t make sense.

Some said it was our distance from the sun that caused everything to glow with a red tint, while others believed it was just something innate in us, as everything here was pretty much that color.

Cherry stood in front of me impatiently tapping her foot. She’d have to be disappointed today because I couldn’t help her. I’d kept myself out of the blocker this long by mostly working solo, besides I’d heard her brother had a temper like a rattlesnake and a bite like one too.

She frowned at me, then pushed thick red hair out of her face. She had it done up in a mohawk, and the scar on her left cheek was from a previous job she’d done with her brother. She was a little on the slim side, yet the muscles in her arms told of her working out at least three times a week. At five feet five, my six feet three towered over her, yet Cherry wasn’t the type to be intimidated as she could sit most down with just one glare.

Her eyes went to the concrete of the floor for a moment. We were in The Grove, a place where people like myself and Cherry liked to hang out. It sat on the edge of town, and in a neighborhood that most found undesirable which meant they left us alone. Which is how we preferred it.

The Grove was a large abandoned building that used to be a factory or some shit like that. The inside was completely red, from the maroon walls to the candy apple floor. The space we lived in was about eighty thousand square feet, big enough that the fifty or so of us who hung out here didn’t get in each other’s way.

Everyone had their own section and most respected those boundaries. Yeah, there was always the occasional asshole who got out of line and had to be dealt with, but for the most part, things were cool here.

My section, or bungalow, as we liked to call them, was in the very back. That way I could see everything going on in front of me and use it to my advantage if need be.

I didn’t need much space, about three hundred square feet or so. As long as I had room for my stuff I was good. My two couches sat facing the front of the building, both red. I’d bought them from a street vendor a couple of years before. There were used, but I kept them in pretty good condition so you couldn’t really tell. I also had a red recliner which just happened to be my favorite place to sit.

We weren’t just a group of squatters, not really. All who hung out here had to contribute at least a couple of hundred every month to keep the electricity going. Yeah, the city knew about us, but as long as we kept that bill paid, they weren’t complaining.

I looked around my small space. I also had two redwood end tables that I’d gotten from a different street vendor. One sat in between the two couches and the other beside the recliner.

When this place had been operational, it’d used a lot of electricity, so every few feet there was a large beam with four to six electric sockets on it.

I used the one closest to me to keep my mini-fridge and microwave working. Which was another reason to keep the electric bill paid.

We all had a specific name for our bungalows. I called my section Crash, while Cherry called hers Ice. It was just something to give the place a little more jazz and make it feel a bit more tangible than any abandoned building had the right to. 

One thing that helped with that was the stack of books I kept on my end table by the couch. I found reading helped cool the beast in my mind and made me better able to focus, especially right before or after a job. So, I added to my collection every chance I got. 

Cherry’s bungalow was only a few feet from mine, while her brother’s was in the front of the building. I’d never interacted with him, and from all the stories I’d heard about his lightning fast temper and hands, I figured that was for the best.

No need to get rutted in shit if you didn’t have to. Cherry pushed more hair out of her face. She was done up in her usual style of dress, wearing a deep-red miniskirt, pink halter top, and combat boots. Her ears were covered in piercings, as well as her nose, bottom lip, and eyebrow. Right now, her jewelry sparkled and gave off a slight glow thanks to the large overhead light above.

Add another to the column for keeping the electric paid. Large light beams were molded into the ceiling, so we didn’t have to waste energy using our powers trying to keep the place lit.

Cherry let out an impatient growl. “He’s the best, Clink. You know that he is.” The best at robbing she meant, because that’s what we were talking about here. She wanted me to help her, and her brother rob something or someone.

I didn’t respond. Here’s the thing, I liked Cherry, a lot, but that didn’t mean she got to bully me into doing jobs that really didn’t interest me. Something she hadn’t yet comprehended, hence the temper tantrum she was now throwing.

I opened the small fridge beside me and pulled out two beers, throwing one to her and keeping the other for myself. She caught the bottle with one hand, then popped the top and drained damn near half of it in one gulp, a self-satisfied look on her face.

I chugged some of mine then leaned back in my recliner, loving the burn of the bitter liquid as it worked its way down my throat. It was Potomac Bomb, a universal beer, which meant that most alternate universes we went to carried it, but few people were brave enough to drink it. Potomac Bomb was ten times stronger than most beers and would keep you high for days if you weren’t careful.

Cherry burped, her fingers wrapping tightly around the top of the bottle. “Thought you wanted to leave here one day. Get a little house of your own.”

I shrugged. That shit didn’t matter to me one way or the other. My couch was big and comfortable enough to sleep on. Also, like most here, I had a clothing locker setup that held most of my supplies, everything except my money. I didn’t think anyone was stupid enough to leave cash in a place where a bunch of criminals hung out.

This place had once employed workers in the thousands. Which meant they had three employee cafeterias set up, complete with stoves, freezers, and large sinks. We also had three locker rooms, all with about a hundred showers each.

So, no, I wasn’t hurting for anything, and most here knew to stay out of my way, so privacy wasn’t really a problem. Except for at the moment. I looked at Cherry and decided to end this so she could leave, and I could crack open my new book. “I’m not doing a job with your brother.”

I don’t know why I thought that would work. Ever stubborn, she stayed rooted to her spot in front of me. “Will you at least meet him?” Was that pleading I heard in her voice?

“Yes.” If that was the only thing that would make her leave, then fuck it, I’d do it.

She nodded, satisfied, then downed the rest of her Potomac before tossing it in the wastebasket beside my electrical beam. I watched her go, wondering what the hell I’d just gotten myself into.

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