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A field mouse. She had a field mouse painted on her gas tank. The gas tank of her old green beetle. It wasn’t the best or stealthiest getaway car but she didn’t have anything else and no one seemed to be offering her any assistance here. Keeping her speed to exactly three miles over the limit, because going the speed limit could look suspicious, Toni drove through Diablos City’s back streets. Maybe she should be staying on the main strips. Hell, maybe she shouldn’t have moved to a place called Diablos City. Hindsight was twenty twenty but there was nothing she could do about it now. At this point she had a feeling she’d be followed wherever she went so she minus well stick with the devil she knew. Heh, the devil she knew…she was a clever one.
Toni drove, scanning doors for the mark. She didn’t know she’d been holding her breath until she spotted the white circle on a door that otherwise looked like all the other doors. She parked in the alley a block down. Praying no one would steal her car or set it on fire, she walked up the block to her destination. Hopefully the hippie guy at the head shop hadn’t told her a bullshit story. Apparently, sorcerers didn’t work with cauldrons anymore. They owned stores where you could buy bongs and vibrating silicone penises. Knocking once, Toni was caught off guard when the door swung open. She’d been expecting one of those peephole panels that slide open at eye level, then she had a “Duh” moment. These people could probably read minds or see through doors and walls. The big guy in the doorway, body wrapped in black leather, stared at her. No smile. No expression at all. She stared back because the hippie sorcerer hadn’t given her a password or a secret handshake or a gang sign to throw up. He’d just told her to knock once. So, Toni knocked and now she focused on winning the staring contest. She’d been in the third grade, she knew how to throw down.
“You plan on coming in?” The big dude asked. Wow. He sounded like a chipmunk which was beyond non threatening.
“Uh, yeah, if you move. I can’t teleport and you take up the whole doorway.” Toni choked on a laugh because, chipmunk or not, the guy could rip off her arms and beat her to death with them.
Big And Scary smiled suddenly and stepped to the side. “I like you,” he said as she walked by. “Be careful in there. We don’t get too many like you.”
Toni looked up at him. “What? Short people? People who don’t wear leather underwear? People who don’t specialize in the Kama Sutra of the mind?”
“If you say so.”
And what the hell kind of answer was that? Whatever. Toni couldn’t stand around mocking a man who could possibly melt her brain and make it drip out of her nose. She had someone to find. Someone whose name sounded like the name of a village in the middle of the jungle. Someone who could tell her why she was running from people who, as far as she knew, were chasing her for no reason. Chasing was the wrong word. Tracking. They were tracking her the way indigenous tribes’ people tracked big game. Too bad she didn’t have animal instincts and couldn’t run like a cheetah. The fact that she sucked at running was why she’d come close to failing gym more than once.