Angleen thought herself so clever for stealing the enchanted length of rope from the Azurite temple. Now, as she knelt over the dead boy, she felt less so. For the third night in a row, she awoke to find the rope coiled around her hands and wrapped around someone’s neck. Each time she came to just as the person gave a last desperate lurch before succumbing to lack of air.
The first victim was the perverted woman who offered hungry children cupcakes in exchange for disgusting acts. No one batted an eye at that. Angleen was pretty sure the whole neighborhood would throw a block party in her honor if they knew. The police came and picked up the body without questioning anyone.
The second victim was only slightly more popular. A tightfisted curmudgeon and known member of the anti-repatriation movement, Valois was also the landlord to most of the people in the neighborhood. His rents went higher every year while the safety of his buildings burrowed to new lows. With no heirs, the homestead laws guaranteed ownership to the current tenants in ten years. Angleen wondered why no one had offed him sooner. The cops from Valois’ ritzy neighborhood came poking around for leads, but did not get past the barrier of silence automatically thrown up against outsiders.
The boy at her feet was an odd bird, but he was not hated. He was a space-born orphan whose father did not survive the rigors of interstellar travel and whose mother could not bear the return to terrestrial living. She backed into a dark corner of the alley and slid down against the wall. Tears filled Angleen eyes as she looked at her handiwork. She could not return the rope to the temple, the Azurites would imprison her for the rest of her life. She dare not dispose of it for fear that it might fall into another person’s hands.
Suddenly a movement caught her eye. An Azurite stood at the mouth of the alley. Angleen froze in terror as the blue-robed figure glided over to the boy’s body. A strange vibration emanated from the Azurite that rattled Angleen’s stomach and made her vision blurry. The body heaved once before the spirit of the boy stood up and followed the figure out of the alley.