The thief slid gracelessly down the hillside onto the hard packed dirt trail at the bottom. She paused for a moment and then started sprinting along the road towards the setting sun. Tauntingly, the voice of her tutor echoed in her ears over the sound of her thudding boots. “A running thief is a failed thief. A true thief is gone before anyone notices the treasure is missing. You are not a smash and grabber, you are not a purse snatcher, you are a thief.” She winced and rounded a corner. This was hardly even a real assignment. She was running for her life on a training mission. She was going to be a laughingstock when she got back to camp. If she got back to camp. A roar and the sound of shattering timber from the woods to her right interrupted her train of thought and she focused on running faster.
Eventually, the road bent to the right to follow along the banks of a small river. The thief stopped and glanced around. The sun had set further, casting fire red highlights in her golden hair. Here the sides of the road were hidden in shadow. She knew she couldn’t outrun her pursuer forever. Maybe here she could beat him. She walked between a few trees that grew between the road and the river and strode right up to the edge of the water. She turned back to make sure she’d left a few deep footprints in the mud and then looked upwards. The branches from a few trees bent overhead toward the river as if they planned to drink from it. One branch came from a tree with almost no leaves left on it, a second branch was far too thin and wouldn’t possibly support her weight, but the third branch was perfect. She grabbed it, hoisting herself into the cover of its broad green leaves. The thief climbed along the branch back to the trunk of the tree and waited for her pursuer. She didn’t have to wait long.
The bear that charged from the woods with a roar skidded to a stop at the bend in the road. He sniffed the air until he found the footprints leading into the river. He stood up like a man, claws tearing at his scalp, and bellowed. “Pathetic wretch! You break into my home! You eat my family’s food! You destroy our furniture!” The thief nervously pulled a knife from her boot. It wasn’t too long or too short, easy to conceal but still quite dangerous. She’d been very precise in her selection. “We have done nothing to you!” The bear continued. “This will not stand! I shall track your scent, I shall find you, and I shall kill you!” The bear was just past the trunk of her tree now. Soon he’d be in the river, too far a leap for the athletic thief. If she’d pounced before now he’d have seen her before she could attack. But now, Goldilocks thought as she prepared to jump, his position was just right.
- - - I am a twenty-seven year old New Jersey native. I write, draw, and work retail with varying levels of joy and disdain. I also enjoy games, puns, and the Oxford comma. You can see more of my work at www.separatedchaff.com or follow me on Twitter @TheHeightStuff.