The Thief - I

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(A/N): Dedicated to Er-Mah-Gerd; Happy Birthday!

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It was not a good day.

The thief stuck a foot underneath the bench seat and dragged it out from under the table forcefully. A loud, ear piercing screech echoed throughout the public canteen as the stubborn metal legs of the bench scraped against the concrete flooring, causing a few unpleasant looking heads to turn. The thief returned the attention with a well practiced poker face, and proceeded to drag the bench seat back under him as he sat himself down, recieving a round of groans and protests from the crowd. He rolled his eyes.

It was not a good day.

The thief slumped down on the table surface and crossed his arms over his head, letting out a deep sigh. "It's a big country," he muttered to himself under his breath. "It's a big country with big industries and big people, so why the hell are there no jobs?" He knocked his head on the wooden the table in exasperation and pulled at his bristly locks, half expecting the stress to render him bald at the end of the week. He vaguely registered someone pushing a bowl of broth at his direction, asking him to eat up while ruffling his hair -- likely adding to the bald theory. Not even bothering to look up, he grunted a thanks as he wrapped his hands around the wooden bowl, feeling the warmth of the brew seeping into his fingers.

Goosebumps ran down the thief's arm as the autumn wind danced past the open canteen, and he shivered as he was reminded of the ultimatum that his sister had set him. She was out of the country at the moment, but she had told him sternly that if he still wasn't employed by the time she returned, which she specified was at around mid-winter, she would 'personally kick [his] sorry arse out of [her] doorstep'. He had even bumped into her not long ago when he was applying for a job in Arianova, and it was safe to say he would rather die than see the look that she gave him again.

His sister is a very successful surgeon you see, and being a 'hobo' does a good deal of damage to the family honour.

What he failed to tell her though, was that he did in fact have a job. Not the official kind of course -- the kind that pays you at the end of each month -- no not those. It was much more secretive, much more illegal and much more likely to shame the family honour than him starving on the steam-powered streets of Tresoline. However, it was this job that placed the bowl of broth in front of him every day, and for that he was grateful.

Well, almost.

The thief lifted a spoonful of the concoction and shoved it in his mouth, and it took everything in his willpower not to spit out the vile mixture in twice the urgency. His eyes widened as his taste buds registered what he may just have accindentally swallowed, and he enclosed a fist over his mouth as he shakily tried to ingest the rest. He let out an involuntary gurgling sound, which elicited a few knowing chuckles from around the canteen. It tasted repulsive, like rubber mixed with soaked tapioca flour. He groaned as he chugged a cup of water down to cleanse whatever monstrosity that still subsided in his mouth, while wiping the beads of sweat that had formed on his forehead. To be honest though, he pondered to himself as he licked the roof of his teeth, it was to be expected. The canteen was a rather charitable service, and recieved little to no help from the government. Most people who dine here are either barely capable to pay the owner, or are in debt to him; the thief himself included in the latter category. He was actually genuinely surprised it managed to withstand for so long with such a poor performance.

The thief stood up again with his bowl, absentmindedly pushing the bench away from the table, much to the dismay of those who were sharing the seat. There was a familiar screech from the obstinate furniture, but this time nobody had bothered to shoot an angry glance at him. However, the unmistakable chorus of sighs didn't go unnoticed by the thief as he walked out of the canteen, dumping his bowl of whatever in a wooden basin by the door along the way.

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