This is an image post. Inspiration for this sketch came from an image provided by Stephen Cole. If you have an image you’d like a story about, simply email it to quintusflaccus (at) gmail (dot) com. I’ll do my best to write a story about it.

Woman patrol the streets of Almeja, sell fruit gems spices guns books on every corner, lounge lanky and saturnine under the streetlamps, knives flashing under shawls the color of sandstone. They dance together in crowded bars, bodies swaying to the music of accordions fiddles guitars. They spill out into the plazas in a wash of light, noise, blood. Cedar keeps her knife handy, but she hasn’t had to use it yet. She avoids the bridges at night, though — every morning there’s another body fished from the river, faceless, gutted and cold.

She toys with her vermouth and watches the scarred face of the woman across from her carefully. So far, she’s kept herself free from the bloody alliances and mésalliances that rule the city, but they breathe politics like air here and sooner rather than later she’ll have to choose a side or leave, and she’s not ready for that just yet.

“Bitches,” growls the woman, and gnaws on her thumb feverishly. “And daughters of bitches! They take the best of us and give nothing in return! I would feast on their still-beating hearts if I could!”

“God, I love local politics,” says Cedar, and downs her drink.