Here’s a snippet from my current work in progress. The chapter has no title yet. ?
“Who’s there?” My voice was sharper than intended. More rustling, coming from behind a stack of wooden crates, and a towheaded boy no older than five tumbled into view.
“What’cha lookin’ for?”, he asked.
“You first, whelp. What’s your name? Shouldn’t you be abed?” I wondered what the boy was doing here in the Alley, far from the whelp dormers. He was far too young to have been taken into a Firefly House yet. Jericho catered to many tastes, it’s true, but Luchanya had put a stop to the use of children as courtesans, just as he’d established one of the prime Laws of Jericho, being that rape was punishable by death. Any harm to a Firefly was met with swift, often brutal, justice.
“I’m Milo! I’m on a task very impor’ant. I got a whole kolu for it! See!” The boy gave her a broad, gap-toothed grin and held up a shiny gold coin for her inspection.
“Well, Milo, my name is Jaelil. I am looking for someone who hurt a friend of mine. I think they came this way. Have you been here long?”
“Uh, huh. I been here ‘fore the drums started. I was supposed to keep watch for a man. But he hasn’t come yet.”
Well, if my quarry had indeed come this way, Milo was sure to have seen him. Or her.
“Milo, has anyone else been down this alleyway, or gone up it?”
The boy’s face scrunched up. “There was another man, came down it awhile back.”
My heart hammered in my chest, the thrill of the hunt washing away my uncertainties.
“And can you tell me how long ago he left?” I asked, trying to keep the excitement from my voice. Milo shook his head, lips tight.
“Because he never left,” a gravelly voice whispered behind me.