#StoryADayMay 1

He staggered along the street in the failing light. His small, brown leather bag looked as though it had been through a war, so scarred and scuffed was it.
It has been, he thought, struggling to maintain his tragically slow pace. We both have.
Lash looked around and saw a brick apartment building ahead, maybe a four-plex, about three minutes’ walk away. In his current state, though, it would probably take five or six minutes to reach the questionable safety of its walls. He shrugged the brown, leather bag more comfortably in place across his body and gritted his teeth together. This was going to be tough.
A shadow flitted by in the corner of his vision. He refused to look, instead concentrating on the maybe-haven drawing closer. He fought down a surge of panic and kept shuffling along the nearly dark street.
The blow was a surprise, though not precisely unexpected. Lash staggered but did not fall as the wiry body slammed into him from an alley to his right. He did not let his bag drop, but rather reached inside it as he spun away from his attacker. He pulled out a small, .22 calibre pistol and swung it towards the enemy.
The sights lined up on a slim, haggard boy, maybe thirteen, but with thirty years of experience in his eyes. Lash wasn’t unduly concerned by the threat the boy presented, but he didn’t like getting caught in the open, and he didn’t want his other opponents to catch up as reinforcements. That would be disaster.
Lash tried diplomacy first, more out of a sense of honour than a belief that it would be fruitful.
“Listen, kid, I know you don’t want to eat this bullet. I don’t even want to feed it to you, but we’re in a tough spot here. I need to keep walking, and you need to stop me. Trouble is, if you try to stop me, I’ll have to kill you.”
The boy’s eyes were dead flat and dangerous. Lash could see the muscles tensed on the lad’s arms, coiled and ready to spring for him.
Lash tried again. “Tell you what. You slide back into that alley you came from and I’ll keep walking. Anyone asks, I must have gone another way, ’cause no one like me came walking down this street. You live, I save a bullet and a few minutes. Win-win, kid. If you make me shoot, we’ll both regret it, ’cause these rounds ain’t cheap anymore.”
The boy’s cold eyes looked less certain behind the lank, greasy hair that fell across them. Long moments passed, then his tension drained slowly away and he stood up straight. Nodding once to Lash, the teen warrior walked calmly and silently back into the dark alley he had hidden in.

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