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Typical, Mari thinks as she watches the two men sent to chase after her run out onto the street. People never look up. But as clever as it was to stay put rather than try to outrun men whose stride is twice hers, Mari can’t stay here. The top floor of the building is missing and the air has that faint gasoline smell it gets right before it rains. The scent of fear, death and warning.  She’ll be damned if she’s going to get slugged, burned by the rains, on top of everything else.

Her mother’s wail has turned into snarls and snaps. Mari watches as she’s pulled from their building shocked at her fierce resistance. The men are popping beads of sweat while trying to wrangle her over the broken asphalt.

“Fucking wildcat,” one growls.

“Yea, and you know what we do with those,” leers the other.

She watches them drag her to a set of white tents set up on the perimeter of the Safeway parking lot that is the de facto town square. Should she run? Should she try to free her mother? Maybe she should just go back home for the storm. She can’t run to anyone that they know and there aren’t many covered places within range that she can get to before the skies open up. Squirming with indecision and the need to pee she almost misses it when the raven haired boy who Sonjia was flirting with earlier exits their building.

Now where did he come from? Mari wonders.

He steps just past the doorway and scans the street. Then he reaches back into the building, picks up Sonjia’s body and starts making his way quickly but carefully down the road, away from the Safeway parking lot and her mother.

Mari races down the stairs deciding to go after the family that she knows is still alive, her mother, when through a trick of acoustics she hears the raven haired boy repeating, “Hang on. It’s not that much further. Hang on. We’ll get you the elixir and then you will be right. Hang on.”

Mari’s feet change direction at the word elixir and though she speeds after the raven haired boy she keeps herself hidden for she has learned that if it looks too good to be true, it is and she isn’t going to let that boy do Sonjia any more harm. She’s suffered enough and even though Mari would never have thought it, it seems that her mother can take care of herself, at least for the time being. Elixir indeed, she thinks with a muffled snort, riiiight.

***

Inspired by the lovely smashup of the world elixir and the power of smell from Write at the Merge.

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