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Hall of Mirrors
srorriM of llaH

Shrubbery Logistic


I tasted salt. Black smoke loomed in the air. The tongue of fire licked the lid of the glassy milk bottle beside me. Cressida looked up with a loaded grin. 

“Party time,” she sang. 

I dropped to my knees. I squeezed the life out of the flame with my leather glove. “Are you crazy?” I hissed, wincing through the pain. “They’ll use the Ripper on us!” 

“So? We’ve gotta break those shields somehow.” Cressida turned her eyes through the swirling crowds. The rows of police shifted and fidgeted on the stone stairwell.   

“Read the signs, you idiot!” I yelled, pointing my finger. The largest fluttered high against the moonlit sky, rocking with the chants and cheers.   

Bombing for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity. Talk to USZ !!!     

“Yeah, yeah, you can’t fight fire with fire. Whatever, Dani. Whatever.” Cressida rolled her eyes. Her silver ring glimmered from her lip. “We didn’t come here to make memes, for crying out loud.” She shoved the bottle back in her backpack with malice. “We’re here to send a message, and it’s not gonna work if they’re too busy stuffing their fat faces to even hear us.” 

 I glared at the glint of the chandeliers through the triple-glazed windows. Guards marshalled past the long tables of the dining room inside, fingers on earpieces, radioing the leader of their fellow thugs outside. The suited guests began to filter in. The silky curtains were drawn to a close.  

“Think about it,” said Cressida. “How much damage could we do if we bust through and made it inside? We outnumber them ten to one. What are we waiting for?”  

“They’re arms dealers, Cray-Cray," I whispered. “Don’t give them the excuse.” 

 I scoured the pulsing scene for the Ripper. The cops still hadn’t called for their precious WMD, but the option was getting close. Our protest was growing in numbers, and noise. Every shiver of the curtain – as waiters brushed by with platters and wine – sent spikes of rage through the masked front line; the punks, the draftees, the ones who’d already lost somebody. The metal barricade was rattling from its foundations, crumpling under feet and fists. The off-key thump of a hundred clattering batons was all that kept us back.    

 A helicopter dipped beneath the façade of Zeldmann’s mansion, a spotlight blazing from the undercarriage. I switched my attentions from the gates to the doors – barricaded after the last perfumed guest departed their limousine. Then I traced the light, up four stories to the sneering statues on the rooftop.  

Suddenly, I saw it. 

“Second floor,” I gestured to Cressida. “Above the marble arch. The window’s open.” 

She squinted her eyes. She stretched to her full height, then her tiptoes, balancing on her steel-capped boots.  

“Huh. So it is,” she mumbled. “I dunno if I can throw that far.” 

“No – that’s our way in,” I reasoned. “If we dodge the riot squad, climb up on the pillars using those awnings for leverage, and then maybe if you gave me a boost – I think I could make it up there,” I crossed my fingers. A low wail echoed through the streets. 

“We’re gonna need a distraction,” she nodded. 

“Yeah,” I agreed, slipping out my phone. “I’m calling in the van,” 

“A dozen of us oughta get this crowd fired up,” Cressida smiled. 

“Actually, I’m thinking of just one.” 

I blew up my cheeks with a warm breath, grinning as I tapped out my text message.   

“Ellie?” Cressida scoffed. “Jelly belly Ellie? You serious?”     

“Uh-huh,” I mumbled, narrowing my eyes.  

“Dani, I don’t know if she can stand up, let alone fight. She’s useless!” 

“She’s distracting,” I raised my eyebrow. “Which is exactly what we need. We stick it her at the front of the arrowhead. She lures the cops, you and me break off round the side. We do what I said to get in the building, then...I don’t know. Profit?” 

“On other people’s misery?” Cressida twizzled her frazzly hair. “If it’s at a donor banquet for an illegal war, go figure. But Ellie Sanderson?” 

“We’ll make it up to her,” I said, turning on my heel. 

"Oh yeah? How are we meant to claw back our reputation?” Cressida followed me as we weaseled through the crowds. “She’s a mess. She hasn’t stopped putting on weight since we hit D-Corp last November,” 

“And your point is?” 

“It’s June.” 

 We ducked under a banner and cut into a side street, disappearing down a corner of ragged bricks. For the first time all night I could breathe. I loosened the zipper on my leather jacket.   

“Also, cops have cameras,” my vice president went on. “People have phones. There’s definitely media there by now.” 

“Since when did you care what the media thinks about us?” I retorted.  

“Since we all started wearing this badge,” Cressida thumbed the image on her jacket pocket. Her painted nail blended with the spikes of the red seed planter. “S.O.W. What does that mean to you?” 

“Stop Overseas Wars,” I shrugged. “Wasn’t that what we voted for?”  

“It means respect,” Cressida stressed. “Respect for the U.S.Z., respect for the people. How are we supposed to get any if our prissy poster girl’s too fat for the goddamn uniform?” 

Headlamps dull in the fog, the black van trundled toward us. I clenched my gloved fist. 

“If you think that’s the case...” I said, dropping my tone. “...then you won’t have to worry about her sharing our emblem, will you?” 

I shot her an icy look, then nodded at the driver. I gripped the handle of the slider door. My nose wrinkled. Nobody talked about my cousin that way. 


“But the point is, I – ” 

"You just concentrate on the plan,” I butted in, stamping my foot on the rolling step. “The next draft call’s coming next week. We’re all gonna have to band together if we want it to blow over. Don’t give me a reason to cut you off.” 

 I threw open the slider. It hit the apex with a satisfying smack. Faces rose from the dark. I searched for my smile, and found it as I counted through the guys and girls around me. S.O.W. Twelve spanners in the works. Twelve guys and gals who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Twelve warriors, suited and booted and ready to go.  

And Ellie. She blinked in the starlight and wiped a smear of jam off her ruby-red lips, stirring from where she’d been passed out on the back seats. Her gut flobbed from under her blouse as she sat up straight. But then she smiled. She gave me her fullest attention. 

“Guys,” I cleared my throat. “It looks like they’re starting the first course without us,” 

I stripped off my glove and spat on my seared palm.  

“But don’t worry. We’ll make sure Zeldmann gets his just desserts!” 

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Welcome to my latest project!

'Hall of Mirrors' - a episodic piece with the latest releases exclusive to Curvage! It's my effort at a long-running, slow burning WG epic - with enough twists and turns to flip you through your core! One long fuse, one heck of an explosion still to come! 

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