Enslaved by Business: An Epic of a Lost Blogger

Enslaved by Business: A Epic of a Wayward Blogger

1 Not so long ago, in the town WordPress
2 Lived a teacher who dreamed of being more
3 During the summer vacation he planned
4 To once more become an adventurer
5 For though he loved his students so dearly
6 He longed for a great life of excitement
7 And committing heroic acts for all
8 Whether saving damsels from fates horrid
9 Or slaying evil beasts of all sizes
10 And writing about all his mighty deeds

11 So he prepared to adventure once more
12 This time not letting distractions derail
13 His focus and zeal to go and explore
14 While he attempted such things many times
15 Each time he returned to life as before
16 Never having the energy to last
17 More than a couple of months at his best
18 For while his heart was pure, his body failed
19 Always weighed with responsibility
20 Demands called him back from adventuring

21 This time would be different however
22 Wiser and more committed than ever
23 Our man developed a much better plan
24 Pacing himself and setting up smart goals
25 He was more motivated than ever
26 As he set out to live his lifelong dream
27 Of poetry and prose for history
28 All would know his name and his fantasies
29 Etched in annals for antiquity
30 Nothing would stop him from his destiny

31 All was well through the summer months so warm
32 With students out of school at home to play
33 He began his adventuring posthaste
34 Was off to a glorious beginning
35 His spirits high as he traveled the land
36 Gaining ever more followers around
37 While citizens of WordPress expressed likes
38 Swelling the man’s heart with encouragement
39 He believed he finally found it all
40 The call that pulled at his spirit so strong

41 Alas, the students beaconed him return
42 His children desired he coach their team
43 Now hours of time used for adventure
44 Was instead used to instruct the children
45 And his adventures slowed as he tired
46 When before he had tales, now he had snores
47 The energy he had slowly destroyed
48 And his heart forgot the call of the wild
49 Though his spirit would one day stir anew
50 These days he digs deep merely to get through

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Sureshot Excerpt: Durbar meets the archery captain

“Well, here we are,” declared Karr at last. “Let me introduce you to the captain of my archers.” Karr led him toward one of the men who was shooting. He was tall and had massive arms. His hair was short and his face clean like most of the other men Durbar had seen. Karr stopped them before reaching the man. The bowman held his massive bow up to shoot. It was finely crafted and had metal plating at the handle and tips. Durbar had never seen a bow that had metal before and wondered what the purpose was, but let it go as decoration. The giant man pulled back on his massive bow and loosed an arrow. It flew with amazing speed and struck the target just outside the center circle, driving the entire tip of the arrow into the wood. The spectators cheered and the man held up his bow in response.

Karr was clapping lightly having seen the man shoot better. “Tarbon,” called the general, “come here. There is someone you have to meet.” Turning, bow in hand, the man came over to Karr and Durbar and saluted the general. Karr returned the salute.

“General Karr, what brings you out to the range?” the bowman asked.

“Well, this here is Durbar, the prince’s mysterious Sureshot that he has been talking about for the last few months. The prince wants us to allow him to train here before the competition. Word is that he is taking your place on his team.”
The huge man towered above Durbar by about five inches. He glared down at him with fiery blue eyes. His face was square and flat and looked to Durbar as if it had been pressed that way.

“So, this is the man Rothan thinks is better than me, eh?” he questioned in a deep voice, almost a growl.

“The prince’s opinions are his own,” answered Durbar.

“Well, what do you think?” Tarbon asked pointing a finger at Durbar’s chest.
“I know that I am better than you.”

“Ha! Ha! Ha!” the man roared leaning back, holding his belly with one hand as if to keep it from bursting open. “And how do you know that? You just met me and you have never seen me shoot.”

“I saw you just now.”

“And after just one shot you know you can beat me?”

“Yes.”

“Well, if you are so sure, Mister Sureshot, then let’s have a little competition right now.”

Durbar was really starting to hate his new alias. “I will not decline,” he answered confidently.

“Good! General Karr would you kindly judge our shots and determine the winner?” Tarbon requested?

“Of course I will Tarbon, but are you sure you want to do this right now?” the general questioned with some apprehension in his voice.

“Why not? I want to show all of the men that I am still the best archer in Harmon.”

“As you wish.” He thought for a moment. “Let’s make this easy. Ten arrows at the one-hundred-and-fifty-foot target. Ten points for a hit in the innermost ring, eight points for the second ring and so on. The man with the most points after ten shots wins, simple. You can use your own bows but not your own arrows. I will give each of you ten arrows made here at the garrison. Do you both understand?”

Both men nodded. By this time, word of the Tarbon-Durbar match up had spread like a wildfire, and everyone in the near vicinity had gathered to watch their captain and the challenger, Sureshot, compete in a pre-competition match.
“Good. Tarbon take row three; Durbar, row four,” Karr ordered. The general called a couple of men and told them to clear the targets, get the men a ten-arrow quiver, and move everyone into the stands. As they were preparing the range, Durbar strung his bow and pulled back the string a few times to loosen it up and make sure it was secure. The range was finally set up and each man stood ready.

General Karr announced, “Okay, men, I expect that each of you will be courteous to the other while shooting. Tarbon, since this is your range, you can start.”

“It would be my pleasure, general,” snorted the captain.

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Title Vote:

62b6e664d963f3d4b83dc364e3fd7fc7--character-inspiration-file

Help me with a Title!

So far I’m thinking:

  1. The Sureshot (like the old title)
  2. The Sureshot is Born
  3. The Sureshot Rises
  4. Rise of the Sureshot

Working title for book 2 is “Sureshot the Assassin” and for book 3 is “Sureshot the King.”

Comment your pick!!!

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What’s that sound?

Ever wake so slightly in the night? When it is far too dark for you to see? What is it in the dark? While everything else is deadly quiet, except for the scratching in the wall? Or the tapping on the window? What’s that howling in the night? What do you do? Do you try to go back to sleep? Do you attempt to ignore the sound and calm your nerves? But it persists doesn’t it? And you simply can’t ignore it? Doesn’t it seem much louder than it ought to be? What on earth is it?

Is it a simple rodent crawling in the walls? Could it be nothing more than a tiny mouse, searching for a bit of food? That isn’t so scary is it? But how close is that mouse to you? Why is it so loud after all? A very large mouse perhaps? Would that explain the sound in the dark of night? Have you ever heard a mouse make that much noise? I thought the term goes “as quiet as a mouse?” This tiny mouse isn’t very quiet though is it? What if it’s something more?

Maybe it is only a rat then? Aren’t rats larger? Wouldn’t they make more noise than a mouse? But are you afraid of rats? Why? Do they seem more frightening than a mouse? Are they more dangerous perhaps? Will they sneak into your sheets and bite you in your sleep? Will you scream? Will you ever be able to rest after that? Will you always think of the rat in your bed? Could you ever get that feeling out of your head? Maybe it isn’t a rat?

What if it’s a ghost? Is it haunting your house? Is it the ghost of someone murdered? Or could it be the killer himself? Can he still torment the living? What if he can kill from beyond the grave? Was he sent by something more sinister? Is he there to torment your spirit? Perhaps he brought friends? Are they going to feast on your soul? Is there anything you can do to fight them? Are you helplessly alone in bed? Shouldn’t you investigate? Or would you rather be dead? But ghosts don’t exist do they? Isn’t it something else? But if it’s not a mouse or rat or ghost, what is even left?

Could it be a monster? Are monsters even real? Perhaps it lives in your nightmares? Does it stalk you in your dreams? Does have sharp claws and teeth? Does it snarl or snap or howl? Can it devour people whole? Or perhaps tearing you limb from limb is its goal? How many arms does it have? How many eyes? Does it look like a massive spider? Or maybe it is more like a reptile? Is it really scary? Are you frozen with fear? Can anything save you from this monster? How often is it here? Has it followed you from your childhood? Has it been there every year? Is your heart pounding? Are you breathing too fast? Or are you holding your breath? How long can that last?

It’s probably not a monster is it? Or anything to fear? A lot of things scratch in walls don’t they? Couldn’t it be anything? Or nothing at all?

But what if it really is the thing you fear? Will you face your fear once and for all? Or will you let your fear continue? Will you let it have control?

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Grigor’s not-so Mirror Images

Far to the north, near the Spine of the World, a party of adventurers trudged through the frozen landscape in search of giants who attacked one of the Ten Towns. The group consisted of a mighty, yet simple, barbarian, a devoted dwarven cleric, a noble human and a very clever and studious mage named Grigor Marsk. Prior to leaving town to track the giants, Grigor spent hours upon hours by daylight and candle light pouring over scrolls and tomes ever searching for new spells and strategies for defeating the beasts who plagued that land. With a twinkle in his eye and a sly smile he anticipated the next encounter with the giants. He sorted out a plan that would make quick work of even those formidable foes.

With huge tracks left by the giants, the trail was not difficult to follow. A trio of the monsters camped against a short cliff and the heroes approached from above. Hearts filled with confidence, they did not hesitate to engage their enemies. Grigor cracked his knuckles arrogantly as he began his work. The mage spoke the words of an ancient spell and energy suddenly surged through their loin clothed barbarian who flexed his swollen muscles and gripped his massive maul before shouting an enraged battle chant and leaping into the giants’ camp. Grigor smiled. So far so good.

With the barbarian swinging his mighty maul in an absolute fury below the ledge, the noble among them took aim with a musket he crafted his self and fired off a shot at one of the giants but the shot sailed helplessly wide of any adversary. The dwarf called upon his god for favor in battle and his spiritual hammer appeared and began to smash the giants along with the barbarian. “Excellent, this is going well,” Grigor mused.

The giants roared, toxic breath from their hateful mouths, picked up their enormous clubs and searched for targets. Two decided to batter the barbarian to death while one elected to climb the cliff and look for the being that fired a shot at them from the mysterious mechanical weapon.

The barbarian took some savage hits but stood tall to the onslaught and howled back at the beasts defiantly. He swung his maul with extra speed and might curtesy of his mage companion. From his vantage, Grigor the mage could see the giant climbing the cliff and would have none of it. Mages do not survive blows from a giant’s club. That is for the duller and sturdier adventurers. Grigor did not fret however, clever as he was, he closed his eyes to concentrate and recited the words of a new spell that would protect him. Moments later mirror images of conjurer appeared around him; four images in total. This was intended to confuse his enemies and protect him from attacks. Grigor smiled.

The noble gun slinger fired at the giant climbing the cliff and missed yet again. Grigor shouted at him to shoot the others but the nobleman would have none of it. Who was a dirty mage peasant to tell a member of the aristocracy what to do after all?

The dwarf battle cleric was not about to allow his friend the barbarian take all the glory so he too leaped off the cliff and into the fray wielding his hammer, swinging it at his hated enemies. Together the pair smashed the giants, cracking bones and bruising bodies.

The giants pounded the enraged barbarian, badly beating his body as he pummeled them in return. The third, however, pulled a large bolder from a massive bag and took aim at the mage, Grigor. The mage just smiled knowing his mirror images would give the giant enough targets to consider that the chance of him choosing the actual Grigor was small. The giant reached back and hurled the boulder directly at the unarmored mage smashing him hard on one side. Dazed and wounded, Grigor shook his head and looked at his mirrors who seemed to look back blankly at their conjurer.

The battle raged on. The rifleman fired at the giant on the cliff hitting him, bullet penetrating the giant’s flesh deeply. Grigor shook his head, dismayed his party was not following his expert strategy. The dwarf prayed to his deity and channeled some healing energy into the savage barbarian who did nothing but smash the giants before him with speed and precision. Grigor shouted words of power and magical energy flew at a giant, pelting him with the magic missiles. Satisfied, the mage remained confident that the battle would be one.

With bellows of hate, the giants would not relent and again their heavy clubs pounded the brave barbarian who dared oppose them. The rock heaver took aim once more at the mage and his mirrors. As the dull monster considered his target he was momentarily confused by the number of identical mages that stood beyond, yet in the next moment it seemed as though four of them pointed to one. Not one for thinking, the giant hurled the bolder once more, at the actual Grigor, knocking the poor mage nearly from his feet and injuring him further.

Head spinning and body aching, Grigor fell to one knee and tried to reason out what was wrong. He looked around him and in fact his mirrors were still there, yet the giant had not been fooled by them in the least. They even seemed to shrug at him as if to suggest they also didn’t know what was wrong.

Below, the barbarian smashed one of the giant’s knees bringing him low while the cleric blasted his war hammer into his face, caving his skull and ending his miserable life. They turned to the other giant next to them and started hammering away at him. The noble marksman took aim and fired again at the foe on top of the plateau, once again hitting the beast, bullet burying deeply into the creature’s chest causing him to wail in agony.

Sensing that his life was nearly over, the badly wounded giant drew another boulder from his satchel and looked to take one of his enemies with him to the grave. The mage watched as once again the monster took aim at him, hoping his mirrors would finally confuse the beast. The giant glared at the group of copies and noted that four appeared to gesture towards one yet again. The giant, strength failing, launched the rock at the mage. Grigor’s eyes grew wide and he froze while he watched the rock hurl towards him. His mirrors watched as well, unconcerned. The mage held his breath and closed his eyes anticipating the end. A deafening crash rang in his ears and he was certain the boulder had smashed him. Another moment passed however and the sounds of battle below continued so he slowly opened his eyes. He was still living. The rock lay next to him and his mirrors smiled at their master and raised their thumbs simultaneously in approval. Grigor was not impressed.

The mage decided he could not remain on top of the cliff and was convinced his mirrors were in league with the giants. He slid down the cliff on his rear end so as to prevent the fall from killing him and remained prone while he cast yet another spell to injure the giant below.

Another blast from the rifle ended the giant on the plateau and with his friends dead and his body badly beaten the final enemy chose to flee from the heroes. He turned tail and ran away only to be chased down by the hasty barbarian and smashed once more with the heavy maul, splitting his spine and bringing him face down into the frozen ground.

Victorious yet bloodied, the heroes celebrated. All except Grigor, who glared at his innocent looking mirrors, wondering why his illusion was so unsuccessful in confusing his foe. There would be many more hours studying his scrolls and tomes to try to understand why his mirrors were so disloyal to their own conjuror. Perhaps some team building was necessary to bring them together?

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Battle of Beasts

A fantasy writer’s metaphor for the conflict in Charlottsville

The charred-wood arena was located in a remote land; far from the regulating eyes of the legionnaires. The fights that were held there were illegal, but also the most fantastic of all, and so many risked arrest and banishment to travel to the hidden site, beyond the woods and carved into a mountain, as legend has it, by dragon’s fire. Indeed the rock jutted inward from the otherwise regular contour of the mountain in jagged edges and teeth-like points. The arena itself appeared somewhat like the snarling mouth of a serpent snapping at its prey. In its throat monsters and men battled to the death.

The arena was run by despicable men. Men who cared nothing about right or wrong, only about money and prestige. They profited off the deaths of heroes and slaves, champions and beasts. They did not value life in the least; only coin and fame. With this goal in their hearts, they captured or lured many types of souls with promises of mercy for their families or wealth for their pockets, yet most promises went broken. Still, the bouts did not go unfilled and the seats did not remain empty. Many gathered for glory, entertainment and wealth.

This particular evening there was a fascinating match. The owners of the arena managed to capture an ogre and pit the foul beast against a troll, and equally disgusting creature. Both were very strong yet also heinous. All were intrigued by the fight which was about to begin.

A pair of men, who placed bets of the opposing beasts sat next to one another with goblets of ale apiece. Each were officials from a nearby kingdom; lofty in position and authority. Though the arena was forbidden, they did not hesitate to participate in such sport, confident that the regulation did not apply to those meant to enforce such social constraints. They delighted in the spectacle and enjoyed seeing the hoi paloi risk their lives for a small purse of coins. Their names were Lords David and Vanne.

Lord David, smile beaming across his face leaned over to Lord Vanne who he was already very familiar with and stated with confidence, “This troll will defeat the ogre easily! I’ve put much gold on that! It will be a glorious battle!”

Lord Vanne grimaced, “I wouldn’t be so sure. The ogre is a savage creature. Deadly. I put my coin on him.”

“You know nothing,” David scoffed, “Trolls are ancient creatures. They’ve roamed the lands murdering and destroying peasants since before civilization. They’ve lasted this long, they’ve learned to survive anything. This orge is no match.”

“You are ignorant in the ways of ogres, clearly,” Vanne countered, “Ogres are stronger and more savage. While the history of them is shrouded in mystery, their results speak for themselves. None can best them. The ogre will tear the troll limb from limb.”

As they debated the virtues of the beasts, the monsters were released from their cages and set loose in the arena. For moments they were confused, each looked about and saw all of the spectators. Each howled at them and roared with stinking breath detectable throughout the circle. All held their breath and coughed trying to escape the stink of the combatants. With attendants pushing the beasts with poles and trying to anger them, they finally noticed the other. They did not hesitate to attack, each recognizing the danger in his opponent.

The foul creatures rushed toward the center and collided as two boulders sending an earthquake throughout the arena and a deafening crack like the snapping of a giant trees. Each monster howled in pain as bones broke in the collision. Undeterred they attacked further through a grapple. They bit and clawed and kicked at one another.

Blood, spit, hair and teeth were flying in all directions as the two hideous creatures battled for their very lives. Meanwhile, the crowd roared in approval.

Lord David was confident his favored monster, the troll, was winning. “You see this Vanne, you fool? The troll is the better beast by far! Surely he will win!”

“You must not be watching the same fight,” Vanne replied, “It appears to me that the ogre is much more powerful. There is conviction in his attacks. The troll will succumb to his savagery any moment.”

“Nonsense!” bellowed Lord David. “Your ogre is done for. Trolls cannot die except by fire. The ogre will never prevail.”

The lords yelled at the top of their lungs at one another trying to convince each that they were correct to back their particular brand of monster. Neither budged but stubbornly held their convictions.

The ogre and troll grappled with equal strength, each unable to manipulate the other into submission. Both monsters dug deep into their pain and anger and battled on. As they struggled for control of their enemy the troll tripped and stumbled backwards. In his fall, however, he pulled the ogre with him and threw the beast with all his might into the side of the arena.

The monster crashed through the wall separating the spectators from the combatants and several who were cheering on the battle were injured. Screams of terrified mortals filled the air as the ogre, confused and blinded by hatred, clawed and punched those near him. One by one he murdered those men who moments earlier cheered him or his opponent on. They were not as gleeful now that they were part of the fray.

Guards with spears sped into the arena, some to block the troll, who regained his footing, from engaging the ogre any longer, others to try to coax the ogre from his attacks on the crowd.

The ogre would no be deterred. He relentlessly attacked those around him and the number of dead rose quickly with blood and limbs spraying from the epicenter of the attack. The heinous monster left a trail of death as he moved through the fleeing crowd.

The troll was mollified for a moment as the spears thrust at him gave him pause, but he was far too angry and hateful to be calmed by a few guards and when he backed against the wall he looked up and decided he could leap upon in. With a roar and a mighty jump, the troll bound to the top of the protective wall and stared down the helpless crowd. He hopped off the wall and into the crowd of people and tore through them like he evil counterpart did on the opposite side of the arena. All were in peril.

Lord David blamed the ogre, “Your stupid ogre caused this mess! Now look at what’s happened! People are being murdered by that dull monster and you were naive enough to support him.”

Naturally Lord Vanne saw the scene very differently, “You imbecile! That hideous troll you so brazenly backed threw the ogre into the crowd. It is the troll’s fault that these people are dead.”

The Lords continued to argue about who’s fault it was and who was misguided in their support of their respective monsters. Meanwhile the evil beasts murdered any they could get their claws on, included the pair of lords who did not have enough sense to flee when danger approached. They were more concerned with blaming one another than saving their own lives. In the end, dozens were murdered and the beasts escaped and fled into the night.

Kings denounced both beasts eventually and passed decrees outlawing such arenas and the beasts they forced to fight therein. But alas, little changed. The charred-wood arena was rebuilt and once again was a place for the hopeless to seek fame and fortune. Others like it thrived across the land. All the while ogres and trolls roamed the countrysides murdering peasants and destroying towns.

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Sarah’s School

Sarah shifted in her reclined chair, suddenly aware of cramps in her neck, arms, legs, back. Her eyes hurt and it was difficult to see the screen in front of her, gripped in her hands. She tried to look around the room and get a better sense of her surroundings. She could see other people but could not see much beyond the glow of other screens and the reflection in their users’ eyes. She whimpered like a puppy as she wiggled to try to get free, but the chair did not allow for much movement and was designed to keep her, and those like her, seated and in the best position to use her phone.

Before long an attendant strode up to her chair. “Is something the matter Miss?” the attendant asked in a high cheerful voice.

“I just don’t feel right,” Sarah explained.

“Oh I see. Do you need something to eat or drink? Perhaps an energy drink? Some more lava chips perhaps?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah whined. “I just don’t feel right. I feel like something is the matter. I just don’t know what’s wrong.”

“Is there something wrong with your phone? We just upgraded it to the latest model. Isn’t it pleasing to you?”

“No, it isn’t my phone. I don’t know. I’m just not right.”

“Hold tight then dear, I’ll call someone who can help. Please remain seated. School isn’t out for a few more hours yet.”

“Ok, thank you,” Sarah murmured and watched as the attendant walked away from her. Sarah thought for a moment. She looked around but that didn’t seem to help her. She looked down at her phone. There were already dozens of notifications scrolling one after another. She saw a notification that Diego sent her a text. She opened it.
Hey! You there? it read.

Sarah read it a few times. It didn’t quite make sense to her for a moment. It was as though she had fallen asleep and just woke up from a dream. Then she remembered, Diego was her friend.

She texted Diego:
Hey
I’m here
What’s going on?

Diego:
What do you mean?

Sarah:
Where are we?

Diego:
In school
Duh
Where else would we be?

Sarah:
What are we doing here?

Diego:
Are you ok?
You’re acting weird.
Hey, it’s your turn on Battle Words, I’m still crushing you lol

Sarah stared at her phone. There were constant notifications about messages and games and updates but they seemed suddenly overwhelming. She didn’t quite know what to do with them all. She began breathing rapidly and her heart was racing. She tried to get up but didn’t seem able to sit up in the chair, reclined as it was, and couldn’t seem to move her arms or legs enough to gain any leverage. Worst of all she didn’t seem to be able to put her phone down. She twisted her head left and right and screamed.

Just as she started screaming a technician arrived at her chair. “Miss Sarah, please calm down. Here, take this,” the technician held out a pill and a glass filled with a colored beverage. “It’s sweet, it will help you swallow and this will help you relax. I’m sorry you got so upset. I’m here to help,” he assured her in a soft and soothing voice.

Sarah took the pill slowly and examined it carefully before placing it on her tongue and swallowing. Already she began to breathe a little slower. She closed her eyes and everything was black for a moment before her senses returned and she was confident that she was indeed at school. The technician noted her breathing and knew she would be fine.

“There. Much better now,” he began. “For the report however, I need to ask you a few questions. What is your name?”

“I’m Sarah.”

“That is correct.”

“Do you know where you are Sarah?”

“Yes, I’m at school.”

“That is also correct. Very good. And what were you feeling when you had this short attack moments ago?”

“I’m not sure. I felt very strange. I felt like I wanted to get up. Or that I should be somewhere else. I didn’t really even know where I was for a moment and I didn’t know what I was doing here.”

“That must have been terrifying for you.”

“I was.”

“But you know where you are now? You know what you’re doing here?”

“Yes, I’m at school.”

“Yes of course, we covered that, but what are you doing here? What is your purpose here?”

“I’m here to play and use my phone.”

“That’s right. Very good. Is everything ok with your phone? We recently upgraded you to the newest model after all.”

“Yes. I like it very much.”

“And is there anything you are dissatisfied with? I see here,” the technician was studying from a tablet he held in his hands, “that you have downloaded several apps that you haven’t used yet.”

Sarah looked at her phone. The notifications continued to scroll by. “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll make sure I use those. I just got confused for some reason and didn’t know where I was or why I was here. I remember now though. I’m at school, and I’m here to use my phone to play games and chat with friends.”

“Very good. All is well. I’m glad you are ok now. Continue to relax and please go back to using your phone. The country needs you at your best you know. A break in usage could mean a break in our economy or heavens forbid, make us vulnerable to attacks from foreign governments.”

“I know. I’m very sorry.”

“No worries, Sarah, everything is back to normal. Enjoy the remainder of class.”

“Thank you, I will.”

Sarah settled back into her chair and gripped her phone with both hands and began to pound the brilliant touch screen with lithe fingers, desperate to catch up with the missed messages and neglected games.

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