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>escape

>escape

The bedroom door flew open with such force that a frame fell from the wall and clattered to the floor. Aura stepped hastily onto it as she stormed into the room, eyes wide and frantically scanning around for the shape of her duffel bag. She found it, folded haphazardly in what was more a lump than anything, tucked partly behind the dresser. Jimmy Jams Vega bounded happily towards her from his spot under her desk, but she shooed him away as she pulled the duffel bag from the floor, giving it a hasty shake to clear it of any dust bunnies before yanking open the zipper and tossing it back to the ground.

Jimmy Jams Vega whimpered as he tottered forward to sniff at the bag, pulling his head quickly back as a lump of clothes landed where his nose had been moments before. He sniffed those too before looking up at Aura, a questioning glint in his remaining eye. Aura finally paused in her rushed packing, sighing as she dumped another armful of clothes into the duffel. She crouched beside the dog, reaching out to pat him on the head and scratch behind a tattered ear.

“Sorry boy, we’ve got’ta go, an quick,” Aura shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut, making a fist with a free hand and thumping it against her thigh, “Donnic’s gone out’n doublecrossed us, the bastard.” Aura stood and jogged lightly over to her desk, considering the array of small microchips and bits of wire for a moment before sweeping her arm across the lot of it and dumping everything into the backpack she kept under the desk.

“Which, of course, is not that surprising,” Aura continued, now shoving packets of food into a large ziploc, Jimmy Jams Vega’s ears perked up at the crinkle of the wrappers, but he did not move from his place beside the duffel bag.

“But wha’ is surprising, is that he did it by going to the bloody Foxrunners of all people, an we all know how they feel about me,” Aura dumped the bag of food into the duffel and shoved it to the side where it was less likely to get crushed.

Her comlink pinged softly in her ear, but she ignored it. Jimmy Jams Vega whimpered again, boofing softly as Aura disappeared behind the paper divider that separated her bed from the rest of the room. She sighed heavily as she unlocked and yanked open the bedside table drawer, but froze just before she stuck her hand into it. Jimmy Jams Vega sniffed curiously as he trotted up behind her, sticking his nose into the open drawer. Aura cracked a small, one sided smile as she scratched the bridge of the dog’s nose, and he huffed a soft bark again. Her eyes fell back to the drawer.

Another ping from the comlink, again ignored. Aura checked the clock… she had time. With a little grunt, she pulled the drawer from the night table and carried it over to the duffel. She sat down heavily on the floor, the contents of the drawer clanking and clinking softly with the motion. Ping. Aura rolled her eyes as she once again ignored the notification, instead finally reaching into the drawer. Her fingertips brushed gently over the tops of the numerous small objects: a shot glass, a pair of sunglasses, one lens cracked and spider-webbing out from a small bullet hole. A toothbrush, still in its package, with the words “Diamond Bay Casino” embossed in silver on its side. Jimmy Jams Vega sniffed happily as he reached down and took a roughed-up rubber ball into his mouth, tilting his head back as he chewed on it. It made wet squishing sounds, and the dog’s tail thumped against the scuffed wooden floor.

“Oh, so you remember that one, ah?” Aura said as she smiled, reaching out to give the now slobbery ball a playful tug. Jimmy Jams Vega gave a muffled bark as he lay down, continuing to chew on the ball. “That was the first time I took you on a job with me. Scared the shit outta my contact.” She patted the dog on the head. He chewed at her. Aura looked back into the drawer, little flashes of memory popping behind her eyes as they glanced over the collected knicknacks and miscellaneous objects.

Ping. Aura dropped her head and shook it as another notification popped up on her comlink. She ran a hand over her face before at last opening the message.

maud> whats going on??

maud> felix said something went down with the fxrnrs??

maud> you there?

maud> i know youre seeing these

Aura hefted a heavy sigh as she pulled out a folded square of pearly silk. The sound of ripping fabric, followed by the tinkle of broken glass as it hit concrete, “Shit!”

aura> alright alright im fine

maud> ass, why didnt you respond?

Aura chewed on the inside of her lip as she replaced the piece of silk in the drawer and pulled out a small plastic figure of a woman in a poofy dress. She ran her thumb over the figure’s smooth, pink surface. Whirling dancers, the sound of soft violins drifting over dull chatter. The clink of champagne glasses. “You’ve got it?” “Downstairs, this way.”

maud> youre leaving, arent you?

The message caught Aura by surprise, pulling her from her memories, and she dropped the figurine. It clattered against the floor, and Jimmy Jams Vega looked up questioningly from his ball. Aura tapped the sole of her boot with her nail before answering.

aura> yeah

maud> alright, ill pack

Aura thumped her hand against her thigh as she stood abruptly– Jimmy Jams Vega jumped slightly– and with clenched teeth strode over to the chest of drawers again. She yanked open the bottom drawer and pulled out a drawstring backpack.

maud> where should we meet?

With less care than she probably should have used, Aura began stuffing handfuls of objects into the bag, tugging the string closed so forcefully that the fabric around it threatened to tear. She shoved the bag into the duffel.

aura> you cant come

maud> fuck that, corner of belmont and daybreak 30min

Aura put her head in both of her hands. She knew Maud would do this, insist that she would come with. But no…

aura> too dangerous, stay here

maud> like hell

maud> where you go, i go, remember

Aura thumped her boot down hard against the floor. Damn this woman, with her beautiful eyes and complete lack of self-preservation. 

aura> not this time

maud> fuck you. belmont and daybreak. 30min.

With a muttered curse, Aura bent at the middle and slashed the zipper of the duffel bag closed. She grunted as she lifted it from the floor, trotting over to pick up the backpack by the desk as well. Jimmy Jams Vega loped along behind her, still happily slobbering over his ball. Aura opened the staircase door and descended quickly, boots thumping loudly against the warped wood. With one thought to her comlink, the door locked behind her.

Her garage was dark and silent, but the lights on the van blinked once at Aura’s will. She unlocked the door with another thought, a small light next to the handle flashing as it got the signal from her comlink. She threw the duffel into the space behind the front seats before hoisting herself up into the cab and pulled the door closed behind her. She heard Jimmy Jam Vega’s muffled bark from outside the passenger door, and leaned over quickly to pop it open. The dog hopped up easily into the seat, dropping his ball onto the cushion as Aura pulled the door closed again.

The van rumbled to life as Aura buckled herself in, and she took a moment to look around the garage one last time before putting the vehicle into reverse and opening the garage door.

A thin mist of rain was still falling, catching the glow of the numerous neon lights and casting a multicolor haze across the otherwise dark street. Aura pulled the truck onto the street, the garage door closing as soon as the van was clear. Of course, the light at the end of the street was red, and Aura pressed the brakes gently to come to a stop.

She propped an elbow up on the ridge underneath the window with a sigh, eyes flicking between the dashboard clock and the rearview mirror. A black car trundled to a stop behind her, windows so darkly tinted they looked opaque. Aura tapped a finger anxiously against the steering wheel, glancing up at what had to be the longest red light in history. She looked back in the mirror just in time to see the ripple of moving glass as whoever was in the car behind her rolled down the window…

The van’s tires screamed against the asphalt as Aura slammed her foot onto the gas pedal, the echoing clangs of bullets bouncing against the back of the vehicle ringing in her ears. The van shot forward through the red light, and Jimmy Jams Vega yelped surprisingly as Aura swerved to avoid another spray of gunfire from the car behind her.

“S’alright, boy!” Aura yelled as she took a hard left, the dog in her passenger seat squishing up against the door as she did so. A bullet shattered the side mirror, and Aura flinched, jerking the van into a sharp right before stomping both feet on the the accelerator. The van’s engine roared as it sped down the street, water spraying up behind it.

maud> take your next left

Eyes wide, Aura cursed loudly as she followed Maud’s advice, the back end of the van fish-tailing out behind her and jerking up onto the curb.

aura> WHAT THE HELL

maud> i still have your code for the traffic feeds

maud> turn right

The steering wheel strained against Aura’s instructions as she sped around the corner, and she blew a strand of hair out of her face as she dodged an unsuspecting pedestrian. Thank God no one’s out at this hour on these streets, Aura thought as more bullets pinged off the back of the van, the black car trailing further behind than before.

maud> keep going straight

Aura shot a glance into the rearview mirror again. The car was still following her, but looked to be struggling to stay in control on the wet street.

“Motherfuckers,” Aura whispered under her breath as she opened a program on her comlink, a semi-transparent black page appearing in her field of vision. She began inputting line after line of code, glancing between that and the road every few seconds.

maud> you better not be hacking and driving 

“Shut up,” Aura said out loud though fully aware that Maud would not hear her, and sped through another red light. A soft ping let her know that her ghosting software had kicked in to erase the picture the traffic camera had taken.

“Al…most… done…” she muttered before entering her block of code. There was a sudden loud bang from behind her, and she just barely caught the sight of the car behind her spinning out of control and smashing headlong into the side of a building.

“An that’s why you never hook up your damn car to a wireless smartdrive system,” she said smugly, reaching over to pat her terrified dog gently on the head. He whined and looked over the edge of his seat for his ball.

maud> turn left. you owe me

With a sigh, Aura complied, and a figure standing under a distant street lamp came into view, an umbrella over her shoulder. Aura couldn’t help but smile as she slowed the van down to a stop in front of the person, and threw open the passenger door.

“Nice of you to drop by,” Maud said as she climbed into the cab, lifting Jimmy Jams Vega into her lap as she settled into the seat.

“I thought you said to meet in thirty minutes?” Aura asked as she started the van moving forward once again. Maud shrugged, forcing her bag between her feet with one hand while the other scratched the dog behind an ear.

“I knew you’d try and leave without me, bastard.”

Aura shrugged, “Well, you’re here now.”

“You bet your sorry ass I am,” Maud said as she leaned over and pressed a kiss to Aura’s cheek, “Now let’s get the hell out of here.”

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JD

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