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Short Story: "Scaling K2" (part 3 of a series)

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While Ifan was laughing, Thad approached, minus the pleasantness he'd shown earlier. He spoke brusquely, and seemed somehow more at ease for it. "Okay, Mr. Carver, here's the deal. Pastor Simms said to give you one last chance to accept our help moving, but if you refused it, I can toss your crap on the street."

"Gee," Angela said, angling her cell phone screen towards Ifan so he could see that she'd been recording the audio all along, "what a gallant offer. You're a real gentleman, aren't you?"

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Thad elbowed them aside and reached for a book box. "Well," he said, balancing it on the edge of the bed, "what's it to be?"

Carver steadied the box and looked Thad in the eye. "You'll let us unload my stuff, squirt, or you can explain it to the police. Or didn't you see the Block Watch sign on the corner?"

He took a step back and crossed his arms. "You've got three minutes, grandpa. After that, I'm driving off with whatever's still inside."

Ifan quickly slipped into the van and started shifting everything to the rear, while Carver and Angela scrambled to ferry it to the sidewalk. Two of Carver's neighbors came running over to find out what was happening, but one look at Thad was all it took for them to pitch in as well. With their help, the van was emptied with time to spare.

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"That was a really stupid move," Thad said as he closed the rear gate. "JonesCo's gonna evict your ass one way or another. When it does, don't expect to be able to buy or rent from anyone in this city's religious community. Pastor Simms is a very powerful man, and he doesn't take acts like this lightly."

"What was stupid," Angela said, taking a step closer, "was making a threat like that in public. We've got witnesses."

He laughed. "Who can be bought or scared off."

"Maybe. But we've also got a recording of the entire exchange. This isn't going away. Now go run to your pastor."

Thad snarled ineffectively as he boarded the van, then slammed the door and drove off. Carver's neighbors immediately grilled him about what had happened. After he got them up to speed, and while they were all hauling Carver's stuff back to his house, Ifan and Angela filled them in about the mayor's new rule, the fact that it had been instituted downstate as well, and how it affected their ability to stage any kind of unified protest.

There was a knock at the door while they were mulling over what to do next. It was a uniformed member of the capitol police. According to the officer, Pastor Simms had called 911 to report a disturbance.

"What sort of disturbance," Carver asked, beckoning the officer to enter.

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"Well," he said, glancing at each of the people in the sparse living room, "according to the report, he said that two people from outside of the neighborhood had come in to incite the residents to violate their contracts with JonesCo for the sale of their homes.

"Oh?" said Ifan, approaching the officer. "Does that mean Pastor Simms is acting as an agent of JonesCo?"

"Are you one of the people he's talking about, sir?" the officer said, gesturing for him to keep his distance.

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Ever since I learned to speak binary on a DIGIAC 3080 training computer, I've been involved with tech in one way or another, but there was always another part of me off exploring ideas and writing about them. Halfway to a BS in Space Technology at (more...)

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