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Mystery

“Thief!” the jeweler yelled as he ran from behind his stand and began chasing after the boy. 

           The boy’s small eyes widened in surprise, realizing that he had been caught. He had been sloppy with how he had snatched the amulet off the stand. So sloppy that he let someone see him. Even worse, the jeweler himself. With the big man now chasing after him and attracting attention, the boy buried the necklace in his pocket, pulled his gray scarf over his face and began to run. 

          The market was busy and congested with a dense crowd day. Easier to disappear, the boy thought to himself as he began to maneuver his way through the crowd. Or so he thought. The jeweler chasing him screamed at the top of his lungs and had the entire crowd acknowledge that he had just been robbed. Stares from several eyes began to flood the boy’s vision as he now began to push past both the rich and the poor beggars flooding the market. Now everyone knew what was happening. The villagers began clearing a path as they saw him coming, allowing the jeweler behind him to continue his pursuit. Not good, the boy panicked as he stumbled trying to find a decent hiding place.

          The jeweler caught the attention of a few guards and they joined him in the chase with their swords either strapped to their waists. They were much faster than the jeweler man and much more dangerous. They had caught grown men who attempted the same crime. Catching an eleven year old boy should be much easier for them. Child’s play. With his heart pumping through his chest, the boy jumped over crates, pushed past both young and elderly individuals, and turned many corners but couldn’t seem to lose the guards no matter how many times he tried. Suddenly, a small glint of light caught the corner of his eye. He turned and saw a merchant standing behind a crate filled with glass bottles. Some clear as water, others colored red or green, maybe even purple. He dashed towards the crate with the guards hot on his tail. He snatched two bottles and skid across the ground as he tried to turn another corner and keep his pace. 

          Just then, a hand gripped his shoulder. The boy turned on his heel, raised his arm, and watched as the glass shattered against the guard’s skull. The guard let out a scream as blood began to drip from his temple. He let go of the boy’s shoulder allowing him to keep running. He began to turn another corner only to be met by another guard. He gasped and tried to swing the other bottle, but the guard already had hold of his wrist and pinned the boy against the wall. The boy tried to wriggle himself free from the grip, but it was no use.

          “You’re a tough rat to catch, aren’t you?” he asked with a grim smile on his face.

     The boy growled but he was helpless against the trained soldier. He couldn’t match the strength of this man, nor could he begin to comprehend the many criminals that this soldier had apprehended over the years. The other guards caught up and found the small boy powerless.

        “There’s that little thief! This rat stole one of my most precious amulets!” the boy heard the jeweler yell. 

        The jeweler finally caught up to the scene out of breath but as soon as he saw the boy restrained, a wash of relief had come over him. No, the boy thought, he can’t have it back! The guard threw the bottle on the ground and kept the boy’s arms pinned behind his back as he led him further down the road. 

         “Let me go!” the little boy yelled and squirmed, but tightened his grip making the boy squeal in pain.

         “Don’t move rat. You’re lucky that I haven’t done worse.”

         “Why haven’t you done worse?! He robbed my stand! Does this boy even know what we do to people who steal?!” the jeweler grabbed the boy’s face and squeezed real hard. “Do you boy?!”

           The boy bared his teeth and bit down hard on the jeweler’s thumb, refusing to let go. The jeweler shrieked and yanked his hand free. He noticed the marks on his hand and he slapped the boy across the face, leaving his soft cheeks stinging red with pain. 

        “The little rat bit me! Are you guards going to just stand there?! Punish him!!” the jeweler demanded.

        “Relax,” one of the guards assured him. “We’ll take care of this. Just another body to pile with the others.”

           The eleven year old didn’t like the sound of that. His heart rate accelerated but he didn’t want to let them know that he had already started to panic. He tried to keep his breathing quiet and he tried to control his shaking all the while staring his enemies in the face. 

          “You said that he stole an amulet,” the guard who was restraining him dug through the boy’s pockets and tossed the necklace back to the jeweler. “Here you go.”

         “No!!” the boy exclaimed, squirming and kicking all over again.

         “Hold still!” the guard demanded.

      One of the other guards held a torch in his hand while the other found a jug of fuel. The panic began to spread throughout the boy’s entire body as they started to pour the fuel on the ground. Break free, break free! Squirming became his new hope but he was pulled back every time and that hope was soon diminished. Those evil smirks on their faces grew wider as they lit the torch. Even the man who he threw the bottle at was smiling, though he could barely stand. He looked for revenge and longed for the satisfaction of this young boy getting what he deserved.

         “You know what we do to thieves?” the guard whispered into the boy’s ear.

        The boy tried to move away as the heat of the flames neared his face. Sweat had broken  across his face now and he begged the guard not to throw him inside. All he wanted to do was get away, run as fast as he could, but he was being pushed towards the fire and he realized that he wasn’t free anymore. The flames grew ferociously and the boy began to feel the heat of the flames seeping through his clothes. 

         “Stop it!” the boy screamed. 

     He could feel his heart pounding incessantly and the sweat trickling down his face. He wasn’t trying to mask his harsh breathing anymore. There was no point. They now knew how afraid he was.

          “A rat always meets his flames. I hope you enjoy yours.”

      The boy gasped in horror as the guard shoved him forward and before he knew it, the flames had engulfed him with their immense heat and pressure. The guards continued to smile, thinking that their actions were just. The jeweler laughed as he watched the flames rise. Satisfaction drawn on all of their faces. Another thief, another fire, another body scorched.

     The eleven year old opened his eyes, his hand trembling still clutching the top of his shirt. What is happening? He expected to feel pain, fire piercing through his skin, scorching pain surging all throughout his body, but instead he felt warmth and comfort surrounding him. He had stopped shaking and he stood on his feet knowing that he hadn’t been defeated yet. He stood ready to run from the guards again, but when he looked at them, their satisfaction had been wiped from their faces. Terror had replaced it all.

       “What kind of madness is this?!” one of the guards asked.

       “Why is he not burning?” another one questioned, dread written all over his face.

     The boy looked at himself and saw how the flames danced beautifully around his hands and arms. His clothes themselves didn’t even turn to ash. It was as if the fire didn’t touch him even though his entire body was completely encompassed by flames. Even his eyes had changed color. They had gone from a dark brown to a deep orange with a slight shade of red sparking in the middle. Suddenly, small scales appeared on his face and arms the longer he stayed inside. He touched his face feeling the scales wondering how they had gotten there in the first place. 

           “Who in the world are you?!” the jeweler asked frightened.

         The boy glared at him and began to approach the jeweler.

           “Stay back! Help me guards! Don’t just stand there!” he cried out.

          But the guards were just as afraid as he was. They couldn’t find the strength in themselves to move, frozen, with their eyes glued to the unbelievable sight as he continued to approach the jeweler. The big man took a step back and could feel his heart escalate as he continued to take steps backward. Soon, his back was pressed against a wall with nowhere to run. Eyes of fire froze him where he stood.

         “What do you want?!” the jeweler screamed.

         “Drop it!” the boy barked.

      The jeweler immediately dropped the amulet that the boy wanted so badly and shrunk in fear. The boy snatched the necklace from the ground and clenched it in his fist. He looked back at both the guards and the jeweler who still denied that any of this was happening. He had power over them now, even though he himself couldn’t explain what was happening.

         “You chose to burn the wrong rat,” he pointed back to the market. “Get out of here!”

      None of them hesitated. They all broke out in sprints and ran as fast as the wind would carry them. He couldn’t have timed it more perfectly. By the time the guards and the jeweler had gone, the flames had vanished. He wondered where they went and how it all happened in the first place. He touched his skin for the scales again. They were gone and he didn’t have any burns either. What just happened? He let out a breath and hoped to figure out the mystery of his newfound powers, but what was more important in this moment was the amulet that he had gotten back. He held it close to his face and then close to his chest once he accepted that it was the same as before. He breathed a sigh of relief at the reality that he didn’t go through all this trouble for nothing. He had stolen from a thief, even though the jeweler would never admit to being one, but it didn’t matter what the jeweler claimed to be because this necklace was his. Only his.

July 24, 2020 18:07

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3 comments

Grae Velyra
06:11 Jul 31, 2020

I love this! I was on the edge of my seat as I read through. I love how you include so many different prompts at once into one story, and left everything unexplained until the very end. Great job!

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16:01 Jul 29, 2020

WOW! WOW! WOW! Amazing take on the prompt! I especially love your first sentence; it’s an awesome hook! Looking forward to more short stories from you, Anaya! —Aerin! (P. S. Would you mind checking out my story ‘Rebel Prince’? Thanks!

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Anaya Dennis
19:41 Jul 29, 2020

Yeah for sure. Thank you so much for your feedback! I’ll make sure to check your story out.

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