A Rather Particular Gem – Ute Orgassa

Ute Orgassa’s “A Rather Particular Gem” won first place in our latest short story contest.

The Prompt:

While reading the paper, Chappy happened upon an interesting ad.

“Serious curiosities collector in search of gallimaufry’s crowning jewel.

Will compensate in kind. No demand is too high.

Will meet in dark alleyway of your choosing.”


You can read it or listen! So many options.

It would have been much easier if Gallimaufry’s crowning jewel had been a gemstone of any kind. I had nicked those plenty of times. Diamonds, rubies, pearls, what have you. I could get them with some planning and cunning and a little bit of luck.

But since the jewel in question was a darn live bird and also one of the most rare breeds to boot, things were a bit harder.

Martin had thrown the yellowed paper on the trestle table last night. It had soaked up the spilled ale and I had to snatch it up before the letters were all turning into foggy squiggles.

“That looks like a job for you, kiddo,” he had said.

“I’m not a bird catcher,” I had answered him.

“You better turn into one. You still owe me and this bird can turn a pretty profit. Get on it.”

I read over the ad again in the bright light of day. Why would anyone want this blasted bird to begin with?

It was bad enough that the royal haberdasher caged one of those in a tiny compartment in the king’s crown every day.

Whoever came up with the notion must have been not right in the head. Yes, those birds looked exquisite and yes, they sometimes sang in dulcet tones, but I doubted that either they or the king were happy with them sitting in his hair.

I had seen the contraption a few times while serving at court. It wasn’t pretty.

Whatever the collector’s motives were, I needed to get moving. I hid my trusty dagger in my skirt and put a shawl around my shoulders. Off to the market stalls I went to speak with Paolo.

He smiled when he saw me coming and inspecting some of the cages he had for sale.

“Let me guess, you want to know how to catch yourself a jewel?” Continue reading

Blood Orange – Amanda Wuenschel

Amanda Wuenschel’s “Blood Orange” won second place in our latest short story contest.

The Prompt:

While reading the paper, Chappy happened upon an interesting ad.

“Serious curiosities collector in search of gallimaufry’s crowning jewel.

Will compensate in kind. No demand is too high.

Will meet in dark alleyway of your choosing.”


bloodorangecover-01

“So, I’m a little hurt,” she said when he noticed her and froze mid-step between the bookshelf of first-edition books and the Pollock.

Iris was hard to miss from her position seated on top of his wide mahogany desk. Feet swinging, she tossed an orange from one hand to another, and his eyes followed it, body tensing during each arc until it was safely in one hand or the other.

“I’m a little hurt that you didn’t trust me,” she pouted. She stopped tossing the orange and cradled it with both hands.

He let out a catch of breath and relaxed his shoulders. She dug a fingernail into the peel and watched as he flinched.

She began to peel the orange. She freed a hexagon of the peel and set it on the desk, biting down on the inside of her lip to hide her smile as he took one jerky step forward. His hand reached out until she fixed him with a glare.

“I told you I could get the job done, and you had to go and hire a two-bit hack like Elijah Bary.” She added another piece to the pile.

He stepped forward again, eyes wide and fixed on the small pieces of orange peel. “Now, miss, please get down—“

“And I guess I can understand not trusting a short, pink-haired girl you met in the dankest, most disgusting alley I could find, but, well, let me remind you, you were the one who specified that it needed to be a dark alley. I would much rather have met you at, say, the Cheesecake Factory and made you pay for the most expensive thing on the menu.”

“We’ve never met. I don’t know who you are,” he protested, but it wasn’t confusion she saw in the white of his eyes or the rise of his shoulders. “Could you just—“ Continue reading

Serendipitous Collisions – Grey Geppert

Grey Geppert’s “Serendipitous Collisions” won third place in our latest short story contest.

The Prompt:

While reading the paper, Chappy happened upon an interesting ad.

“Serious curiosities collector in search of gallimaufry’s crowning jewel.

Will compensate in kind. No demand is too high.

Will meet in dark alleyway of your choosing.”


greycoverfinThere was a time when it was more responsible to put your hands on the steering wheel. Cars rushed on, one after another. Eating. Texting. Snapping a picture of the Han river. Haneul watched five cars rush across the bridge into downtown Seoul; not one driver drove. Which didn’t bother him as much as his inability to imagine it any other way.

The “Curiosities Collector” was not what Haneul had expected, but not entirely different either. Gallimaufry’s Crown Jewel was a pointlessly cushy pseudonym for the drug most just called Hash. But the man seemed pointlessly cushy himself, sporting a clean pressed suit that melted into the night.

As he approached Haneul and came into the boundary of the street lamp, Haneul pinched a smile and put a mental association to the buyer’s face. Friend. Safe. Fun. “Haneul.” He extended his hand.

The man did not take it. Instead, he replied using net-cafe name. “Atticus.”

“Shake my hand, Atticus.”

“I’d rather not.” The man adjusted his suit jacket, as if proving something by the fact he owned one.

Haneul fought the rising heat. Friend. Good times. Happy… He took a slow breath. I’m happy. “Relax, friend. I’m just a different kind of business man. Now shake my hand. It’s…statistically significant.”

Atticus finally understood, and his sweaty palm grasped Hanuel’s. A dull light blipped indicating a successful data transfer, and the lens in Haneul’s left eye populated with the man’s directory information. Haneul didn’t read the info, before minimizing it. He didn’t actually care what it said. Instead, he checked his watch. Contact exchanged within the first minute, very good.

Continue reading

Proper Thieves – Audio Book Preview

Proper Thieves isn’t just an ebook. 7th Titan is releasing the installments as audio books too. Check out the sample below of our first chapter read by the author Luke CJ Smith and head on over to the Proper Thieves page for character bios, and more!

 

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Love it as much as we do? Join us on Patreon for future installments of Proper Thieves and all the extras including short stories, behind the scenes notes, and extra art.

If you missed the first two months of Proper Thieves, have no fear. You can pick up past episodes in our Bookshop.