An Excerpt from Game of Pi
Excerpt from Game of Pi
Pip had lied about her crime, claiming to have been put into prison for Jaywalking. At the time, she thought it would be kinder to censor the information going out to the Gang kids. But that also meant they wouldn’t buy her story. So she’d had elaborated on the lie, saying that it had taken place in front of the presidential convoy, which had led to her being labeled as a threat to national security. That, they bought. But they still doubted her as a noob player and now as a useless convict. They banned her from participating in that day’s project—stealing from a vendor.
Funnily enough, despite having lived in a shady trailer park where all the kids were pickpocketing thieves and little scam artists, Pip really was inexperienced when it came to stealing. The only thing she had ever done wrong was hang out with Eddie. He had been the charming boy from the opposite side of the tracks. He had found her pretty. He’d thought her exciting. She had liked him for matching reasons and tried to keep him as happy as she could. She was replaceable; he wasn’t.
The real mistake came the day he decided to get back at his parents for neglecting him his whole life and she didn’t stop him. She knew it was extremely stupid to get your Mommy’s and Daddy’s attention by robbing their bank. Especially when you could have just walked in there with the key and opened the vault yourself, but she stood by him anyway, afraid he would leave her. He hadn’t been very smart about it. At times it even seemed like he wanted to get caught. She had known though, that while he might not get into much trouble if they were caught, she would.
Once Eddie had told her how he planned on robbing the bank with guns and masks and barging in there like Bonnie and Clyde, she banned him from planning anything else. Instead of guns, she had decided that blackmail would be a lot more effective. She had been able to find dirty enough secrets on a few bank managers to make them cooperate. All Eddie had to do was walk in there, get a private talk with the managers, tell them they were to give him a certain amount of money without alerting anyone about it until closing time; then, they were never to reveal his identity unless they wanted their secrets spread. The amount of money varied from branch to branch. When they ran out of dirty bank managers she had to create a couple of dirty secrets herself, but that hadn’t been too hard. It was a flawless system, and the best part was--she never had to leave the car.
She could distinctly remember the feel of the unyielding leather seats as she ran her fingers along the tightly stitched seams. It had always been both nerve-wracking and thrilling to sit in wait, enveloped in the smell of new leather. On one hand she was really worried that Eddie would screw it up somehow, and wished she could have pulled it off herself. On the other hand, it just felt good to be in control again. Ever since her parents had died, she had felt like she was drowning. Becoming the puppeteer in the bank robbery plans had given her a rush she’d never felt before. A good feeling, for the first time since the accident.
In the end, although she was a retired bank robber of sorts and a convicted murderer, she didn’t know how to commit the simplest of crimes. Having grown up the way she had though, she had seen a lot, so; when Beast finished recounting his plan, she couldn’t help but feel like it could be improved on.
“I have a better idea.” Pip said, dropping her role as a silent bystander.
Pip had decided on the cloth vendor for a couple of different reasons. Fabrics were light and easy to hide and they were valuable, but not so valuable that the cloth merchant would be as vigilant as the Helian spice merchant. Pip had also remembered one of the requests she had seen on the bulletin board, it had stuck out to her at the time because it required the sewing skill, which she had, but materials that she didn’t.
Last Bend’s hospital was desperate need of new linens and they were willing to pay a very fair price to anyone who was able to deliver as many as they could, as fast as possible. There was an added bonus for anyone who could deliver at least fifty in the next day. Beast and Sera agreed to her choice. That isn’t really saying much though, since Beast was already eating out of her hand after she had outlined her scheme. Sera on the other hand didn’t seem to have strong feelings about… well, anything really. So, they’d burgle the cloth merchant as a team.
Sera reached the vendor’s stand, but instead of stopping she just walked straight on by and casually, almost imperceptibly, snatched a pile of cloth without missing a step. Pip’s eyes widened in surprise at the young girl’s skill, had she not been watching her closely, she was sure she would not have even noticed. Unfortunately, this was also true for the middle aged potbellied merchant who was busy talking to some woman at his stand. He didn’t react at all, and Sera got away completely clean, which messed up the rest of Pip’s scheme. Sera too noticed, and sent a message to the party.
At first Pip hadn’t known what a ‘party’ was; Beast had been shocked. But he had ‘patiently’ explained that it allowed people to team up to hunt mobs and complete quests while distributing EXP to all members of the party. It also allowed you to keep track of your party member’s health as well as allowing you to message them. This way they did not have to meet up again before deciding on how to proceed.
Serafyn: What now?
BeastMaster322: what happened?
Pipsqueak: Sera was too good
Pipsqueak: the guy didn’t even notice
BeastMaster322: what an idiot
BeastMaster322: he’s too busy with that boobs lady
BeastMaster322: OH! I take it back, looks like he’s noticed...
The merchant was indeed looking at the empty spot on his stand where a pile had been until Sera took it. He looked very confused and was furrowing his brow in annoyance as he scanned the crowd. Soon his attention was riveted back on the busty customer though, stolen goods apparently forgotten.
Pipsqueak: right. well, I say we try again. Sera?
Serafyn: On it.
Pipsqueak: Try to be more noticeable
Serafyn: I can try.
Pip kept a lookout for Sera’s second attempt, almost choking in surprise when she spotted her. The girl was tall for her age which Pip guessed to be somewhere around thirteen, but she was as thin and flat as a board; but now she appeared, sporting a bust that rivaled Pam’s. (It is board,but and not board;but)
BeastMaster322: well, that will def get this pervert’s attention… hahahaha, you da bomb sera
Pipsqueak: Beast. Focus.
Sera was soon upon the stand again and taking the stack closest to the merchant in a blink of an eye. It was a much more obvious robbery but just as quick and efficient. In less than two seconds, Sera was already running from the stand toward the route they had agreed in advance.
It took the NPC merchant a bit longer to gather his wits before shouting, “THIEEEEEF!!!!” at the top of his lungs.
The whole plaza caught on to the commotion at the cloth stand. Heads turned as people tried to get a better look. Eyes widened in shock as Sera flashed before them. No one reacted fast enough. Sera was unstoppable. Players and NPCs alike were too dumbfounded to react. Pip’s heartbeat picked up. It would soon be her turn. Up until a second ago, she’d been prepared. She wasn’t anymore. Planning and doing were different. She hadn’t felt this thrill since the time with Eddie and even then it hadn’t been quite this way. This time she was more than just a puppeteer. She was a star in her own show.
Pip could feel the adrenaline as her muscles tensed. Sera had a couple more stands to pass before they were in the clear and Pip could make her entrance. Faster than Pip thought possible, the girl darted between people, pivoting twice to avoid the collision with players who were standing still in shock. Pip admired the girl for being able to keep her cool like that while the angry merchant ran after her and screamed. He had finally taken up the chase, but he wasn’t moving anywhere as fast as Sera. He wasn’t going to catch her, not without help.
This is where Pip came in.
Stepping out of the alley shadows, Pip entered the fray unnoticed. She ran toward Sera at an angle so she would intercept her right before she could leave the plaza. As soon as she started running she realized she had miscalculated; Sera was too fast. Pip pushed her small legs as fast as she could, grateful for the adrenaline and the added speed boost of her new gang-provided shoes.
The original plan had been for Pip to trip Sera to the ground, but that wasn’t going to cut it anymore since she’d mistimed her entrance. Needing a new plan, fast, Pip thought quickly--or didn’t think--and tackled Sera to the ground.
“Oufff.” Sera’s body slammed into the hard pavement with a loud thud.
Pip wanted to grunt in pain as well. It felt like Sera was made of rock or something, but instead of complaining Pip whispered a guilty, “Sorry. I had to improvise.”
Approaching footsteps reminded Pip of her role, so she got up, clutching her aching shoulder, and pinned Sera to the ground with her right foot for effect.
The merchant caught up to them and said nothing as he bent over his large girth and heaved for air. He coughed a couple times, Pip thought he was going to be sick. So did the people who were gathering for the show.
When he raised his head Pip was able to say, “I.. I, erm. Are these yours?” as she reached down and yanked the pile of clothes that Sera was still clutching her hands.
“Yes. This filthy chit had the gall to try to steal from me in broad daylight!” He screamed, earning him some sympathetic murmurs from the gathering crowd.
“I’m… I’m sorry sir!” Pip said in a childish and nervous voice, assuming the persona she had created for her role in the scheme.
“Sorry!? I bet you’re in on this! All you filthy…”
Pip immediately began crying, trying to stop his tirade before he gained the favor of the still-growing crowd. She needed them on her side.
“No. I’m.. I’m really not! I would never…” Pip pleaded through her tears.
“Yeah right! I bet you’re with that gang that has been causing trouble! You street urchins are all the same. Instead of working for honest money like the rest of us, you go around taking the easy route to stealing from us …”
“NO!” Pip screamed in anger. “You don’t know me! Why do you assume all these things about me!? I’ve been pleading for work all day. Yesterday I even asked you for work, and you laughed in my face, you turned me down! I asked everyone in this marketplace!” At first it was meant to be a role, but suddenly Pip felt herself unleashing her real feelings. She figured it sort of fit the role and let her emotions play out like she rarely ever did in real life. “You said I was unqualified! It’s true, I am. I am also willing to learn though! I am a lot of things, but a thief is not one of them! What is it with you!? Here I am, trying to help you.. And what do you do? You accuse me of colluding with criminals!” Finally catching herself, she took a deep breath before saying in a calmer voice, “You know what? The one in the wrong is you, not me!”
Darting a quick glance at the surrounding crowd, it looked like she was in the lead. They were eating out of her hand.
‘Time for the grand finale.’ She thought. “Next time I see someone robbing your stall, I’ll just let them run off! I am sure you would have caught her on your own.”
Pip stood there awkwardly as she waited for Sera to take her cue. The silence stretched longer and when Sera still didn’t step up, Pip decided it was time for another improvisation and purposefully lost her balance after a pretended movement from Sera and fell to the ground.
Finally taking her cue, Sera got up and bolted from the scene with her usual speed. Pip quickly scattered and feigned an attempt at recapturing the girl but then purposefully stumbled and fell. Some members of the crowd were a bit more alert this time and also tried to pursue her, but she fled down the alley they had purposefully arranged the scene next to. No crowd members had been able to reach that side of the stage.
Pip watched, worriedly, as some of the people chased after, but soon realized they weren’t going to catch her. Now Pip cried loudly to regain the crowd’s attention and let big fat tears drop down her face “Mister! I’m so sorry Mister! It’s all my fault! Oh, Mister, I let myself get so angry and forgot to pay attention. It’s my fault she got away! And after I said all those things to you! I am so sorry! How could you ever forgive me! I will work off my debt!” she said. She begged from her still-kneeling position with large pleading eyes.
The merchant looked both guilty and embarrassed, “Now child. Don’t you worry.” he said, pulling her up off the ground. “I got all my wares back, so no harm was done.” Now he was trying to gauge the crowd. “You helped me get my fabrics back, so it’s me who should be thanking you, not the other way around
Pip pretended to bravely wipe her tears like she remembered seeing other children doing before she scrunched up her brows in a childish pensive manner.
“Hmm. You’re right!” She immediately brightened up. “I’m so happy I could help you. Mister! It would have been such a shame for her to get away like she almost did!” Pip beamed with her best childishly hopeful expression.
“Yes.” The merchant said awkwardly as he tried to extricate himself from the now very public scene. “You’re right. Well… I should be on my way…” He added as he turned around to walk back to his stand.
Before the potbellied merchant could work his way through the crowd though, a deep male voice rang out from somewhere in the crowd.
“Reward the girl!”
It was Beast. The time for truth came now when the crowd decided which side to be on. Pip took a deep breath as she waited for the verdict. She almost sighed in relief when another yell tore through the crowd, instigating others.
“Yea! She saved the day!”
“Look, she even hurt herself taking that other one down!”
“Face it! Your potbelly would never have let you catch up to the speedy minx! You owe this girl some gratitude!”
“Aren’t there rules in Hel for returning lost wares?”
“You’re right! Half the wares go to the finder! And look! She returned them all!”
“Well, I.. uh..” The merchant looked uncertainly at the crowd around him. “These are my best wares. The best of the…” Noticing that some members of the crowd were casting disapproving glances in his direction for withholding a fair reward from the poor child, he sighed in resignation and changed his approach. “You’re absolutely right. Half of these belong to the ch-... girl.”
Pip watched as he selected the cloths he would give to her. When he was about to hand her some, she couldn’t help herself and quickly memorized the ones he had chosen to give her. Then she said, “Oh, Mister! Won’t you let me chose the pretty colors!”
Remembering the first one he had taken out of the pile for himself, she added, “I have never had something in such a pretty shade of dark blue before!”
The merchant cringed at her request and Pip knew she was pushing her luck, but when he kneeled down and offered her the piles in compliance, she turned her victorious smile into one she imagined belonged to a sweet nine ‘year’ old girl with nothing on her mind but the happiness of vibrant colors.
Pip chose carefully, buying Beast as much time as she could. She ran her fingers along the cool smooth surface of the silky blue cloth. Then she moved on to other fabrics the merchant had selected for himself. A soft but raspy viscose material. A burgundy velvet that glided past her skin, reminding her of the contrasting tight leather of Eddie’s car. She brought it up to her face, a slight smell of lavender reached her nose. It was so different from the overpowering smell of brand new leather. This was so different. Pip decided that being the star to her own show was a million times better than being part of the unacknowledged backstage crew.
In the end, about two third of her pile was composed of the merchants more valuable wares. The poor man looked pale and Pip felt a bit guilty, but not enough to stop. The rush she felt was so much more than she had ever felt in her life.
She gathered all the cloths and left after thanking the merchant in a profusely childish way, by bowing and vigorously shaking his hand. Her part was done, she couldn’t stall the merchant and the crowd for any longer. Beast would be finished clearing out the merchant’s stall for sure.
It was at that moment that she realized that she, a nearly crimeless criminal, was learning her real criminal ways only after landing in jail. Once around the corner, she burst out laughing at the irony of it all.
Born in Brazil, but raised in Germany with an American father and a Brazilian mother, she is sometimes unsure of how to identify herself. Okay... always unsure. The one thing she knows she loves though, is books. Particularly Fantasy and Science Fiction books and she hopes she never grows up enough to get over them. She hopes to go into publishing after graduation.