Giving in wasn't an option, but there was little else she could do.

"Ok, ok," she told the young galant with the sharp blade, "take whatever you want. Just don't hurt me."

The rascal had a look in his eye so sharp it could cut glass. "What I want, my lady," he said, drawing the space out between words to give them import, "is you."

The young woman's eyes widened, her ruby lips opened, but words failed her.

Reaching down, he made himself ready for his reward; then laid his hands upon-

her chastity belt.

Freed of the constraints of...

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The desert rose would always grow.

It knew nothing of circumstances beyond its control. Nothing of bodies drying in the sun, baked by heat on the hot sand. All that mattered was the sun and the wind and just enough moisture to survive.

The girl turned, picked the pink blossom, and tucked it into the soldier's kaki colored uniform. The color clashed happily with the washed out surroundings, almost as much as the smile with which he repaid her small kindness.

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The power of flight could be transferred.

When Marisa first discovered this, she was thrilled. As far as she knew, other 'birds' could only fly themselves, the envy of other humans. Being part of the elite wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Envy was a problem. Bitterness led to hate led to violence.

Her mother had told her to hide her abilities, that others would fear and resent her. But this new ability changed everything; didn't it? Instead of hating her, she could grant that power to others. What wouldn't those stranded on the land give to be...

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All Sam had wanted was a ride.

He's grown up in the Mid West, eaten his breakfast from cereal cartons plastered with the faces of lost children, so he knew the dangers. Still, it was raining. The weather was crap, and out of the falling rain the white ambulance had come like an angel of mercy. It's flashing lights were off; only the fog lights cut through the gloom, shining on him like a halo.

"Want a ride?" called the driver over the water's roar.

Indeed, he did. His goal, simply to get from point A to B in relative...

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At least the cold would keep the goods from spoiling.

That was Fred's first thought as he lugged the heavy packages from the back of truck, balancing them awkwardly as he struggled through snow. Luckily, the hospital was only a couple blocks away. Delivering the cargo on time without any fluids leaking or parts spoiling shouldn't be a problem. The last thing a transplant patient needs is complications.

Thank goodness for the cold.

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She tried online forums, crosswords, excercise, volunteering for charity. Church, self help books, counselling. Crafts, writing, setting up websites, interior design, feng shui, alternative therapy. Gratitude. Socialising. This was the latest fad.

More boyfriends than anyone else in the town. Popular, all ages, all gender everyone wanted to be her friend. Yet, all she felt was the pervading sense of loneliness. Years of 'if only I had .........' then I would feel happy. Envious reading about lightbulb moments, lives changed, passions followed, fulfillment for the rest of their days.

She wondered what on earth was wrong. Karma from past lives?...

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Just one more step.

That's all it would take to step into eternity. Not even that. If the day had been wet instead of dry, his resolve would not be needed. He could fool himself into thinking he was just standing on the precipice, looking at the horizon, without a thought of anything but the space around him... His loose fitting slippers would slip on the mossy rock and responsibility would no longer be an issue.

Saint Peter would ask, "Did you mean to take your life that day?" and Henry would answer, "No, I just wanted a view."

Of...

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Malcolm's coo became a cry.

The child peeked into the cardboard box, vexation clearly etched etched upon his face. "What's the matter, little bird?" he asked, reaching down to stroke the wounded pigeon. His mother had warned him to stay away, that sometimes birds would bite and a wild bird like Malcolm could carry diseases. He didn't care. He wanted to stroke his back feathers, far enough back that the bird's beak couldn't reach his pudgey fingers... just in case.

"David! Stay away from that bird!" his mother called.

The boy yanked his finger back just as the pigeon lunged...

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He wandered a lot. Not usually while he was home, but when the time presented itself and he was in a new location before starting a new job, or before he was scheduled to leave. Staying in one place was too suspicious at times, though some places took his 'look' in strides, gave him attentions, asked him questions. That was no better sometimes. So he made wandering a pastime of sorts.

His focus mainly centered on terrain. Particular landscapes could prove resourceful in the heat of battle if he were to ever return there. Monuments, gardens, parks, fountains. The environment...

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There were times like that, where even if it was something relatively mundane, he could stare long and hard at it and still have no clue what it was. Sometimes it worried him. One, it meant his vision was probably steadily worsening. Two, that he would imagine up something else in the place of an everyday object did not bode well for arguing his sanity. On the other hand, he could just say that meant he was ten-fold more creative than the average person.

A lot of the times he managed to draw up something quite unsettling though, and it...

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