The Catch

The Catch

A Chapter by Katie de Lavani

Two unconventional thieves spot their biggest catch of the year. Their planning and quibbling is interrupted, however, when Yezri hears someone coming...


I raked my matted hair back into a ponytail, the discolored ribbon barely holding my locks together, as I eyed the field below. It wasn't the most gorgeous patch of green I’d come across. Not by a long shot. But that mindless, four-legged stock of meat grazing a few hundred feet down on it brought tears of desire. For the past week it had been gamey mittron and the fact that those contaminated rodents didn’t cause me to gag anymore had generated shivers.

'Drey!' I called back into the cafeteria-sized duct. The noise echoed off the network of curved tunnels composing the Wires.

A half minute passed before a barely discernible shout responded. The fans weren't running at this hour; otherwise communication would be impossible. Among other problems.

From my aerial vantage point behind the S-22 vent here in the Dryus Sector, I observed the rolling hills, placid lake, and dense hunting forest were owned by that quaint castle in the distance. The stalwart structure bore giant flags at the gates and over the towers. Checkered green and black flags waved. An emblem too small for me to make out sat their centers. Typical of the Bio's. Building a medieval dump of stone to reinforce their self-importance and hold frivolous masquerades. I’d been in short attendance at one of those balls before. It was one of the more idiotic chapters in my past. Without one of those domed curtains to wear, nor a mask to blend in further, I was lucky to escape with my life. Still, a short thrill spiraled through me as I remembered the grandeur I had witnessed.

Now was not the time to idle and judge, though. That animal might move out of range and we would have lost our biggest catch since last year's moose.

Not waiting any longer, I rested against the chilled curve of the duct, unfastening the straps of my rollershoes, and looped them around my belt. Without the simple wooden slabs fixed to a few wheels, all that covered my feet were linen bindings to prevent splinters. I wiggled my naked toes on the biting cold of the metal.

It was the temperature of an early spring morning up inside the Wires, though I knew it was only a cold front simulation moving in through the workings of these immense air ducts. Down there, it was mid-summer. Using artificial high and low pressurization, the Capital could reproduce almost any type of weather.

Gliding of rollershoes soon filled the duct, and I turned to meet my partner. Drey was abnormally tall for a seventeen year-old boy. On his gangly figure, a dull green illumination glinted off his brown hair. The reminder caused me to glance upward. The traffic light perched at the top of the vent indicated whether danger was heading our way. Useful for Ratters. Green for the all-clear.

Drey’s youth rescued his pale face from becoming gaunt from lack of food. The rest of his body was either muscle or bone. I was reluctant to think of having to identifying him as a man, even when that chin was so pronounced and there was scruff gathered round on it. The Wires would mature you, but real men led others; they were industrious in their own right... As he approached the glow of daylight, I noticed his red T-shirt was in desperate need of a wash. The same could definitely be said for his knee-length jean shorts.

'Hey,' I said. 'Guess what.'

Drey twisted to a stop. 'What?'

'I found something you'll like. Finally, something worth camping up here in the Wires for months.'

Realizing I had taken off my rollershoes, he set down his pack and proceeded to do the same. 'Something I'll like, eh?' He shook his head, slipping off the shoes and standing. 'That's pretty hard to imagine.'

'Still have that parachute we nicked from Hygras a few months back, right?' I scanned the field below again to determine if the animal had moved. Not an inch.

'Yes-s?' he said. 'The one that's supposed to be used only for emergencies? Like life or death emergencies? Like, red light, Cleaners moving in, emergencies?' Drey checked the traffic light overhead, just to be sure.

'Or make us rich emergencies,' I said, bouncing my eyebrows and smirking.

Drey considered me as he moved towards the vent, his feet padding like drums on the wall. 'What do you see down there, Yezri?' He peered through the grate. 'Oh, Yez,' he adopted a wary tone. 'You should know by now the risks-'

'”The risks”, yes! I am very, fully, completely aware of the risks! You have drilled them into me quite thoroughly! But just look at that beautiful stray. Look!'

Drey peered through the vent again and sighed. 'We don't know if he's tagged or if there's a patrol...'

'Ugh, calm down, oh' cautious one' I said. 'Are we really going to sit on our hands? Or are we going to claim us some Bread Money?' I paused for a moment. 'Up in the Wires for over a month now, Drey. The Cleaners are bound to catch up to us soon. You know that, probably more than me. Do you really want to go back down without a catch?'

Drey rolled his eyes and dropped down to rummage through his pack. I squealed with excitement.

It would infinitely longer before I could come to consider myself a woman. To this day, I still hid from Drey for kicks, practiced jumps on my rollershoes instead of conducting site security, threw rubber balls down through the Wires for their silly sounds. I still fantasized being the princess of my own castle, my own kingdom. I sighed.

All the antics were a blessing, though. They were a buoyancy that had preserved me from sinking into the despair that the Wires and Keeling inevitably brought. The Cleaners constantly hunting us. The competition of other Rat’s nests. The starvation. Ratters like me and Drey were like devilish angels from above, swooping down to steal scraps for survival. Condemned to never live a normal life on the Surface, we were poisoned by our very dreams.

‘I’ll go down first to check for tags,’ Drey said as he pulled out a twenty pound brace-rig with a shimmering package on the back. I snapped out of my morose reflection, pulling out my own materials. Nanotech was difficult to come by these days, but this chute was an essential survival item for the Wires.

“Oh-ho, no,’ I said. ‘You think I’m letting you down there alone with my catch?’ I stuck my hands on the black tactical belt at my hips. ‘What sort of delusion caused you to reckon I trust you? Not in my lifetime, camel spit. I’m going down there with you.’

Drey grinned, but knew when to stay silent. As he clipped the parachute into place, I tied myself to him. Tight.

A gag was caught in my throat and I almost sputtered. That pungent wave of perspiration, soiled garments, dirt caked on hair and skin, feet that hardly knew soap, wafted up. I lived with this boy, why hadn’t I gotten used to his smell?

Once we were suited up and bound together, the two of us slipped awkwardly through the slanted vent cover into the daylight. I almost tumbled out, Drey along with me. ‘Ack!’ Reflexes shot out a hand to grasp one of the vent’s slanted panels.

It was always a pleasant shock to my eyesight and ears when I entered a biome. The ‘sun’ was practically blinding, fertile smells hung in humid tufts, and chirping birds rang out with glorious life. Even the mosquitos were a welcome distraction. Though I was painfully aware the soaking intensity of this direct sunlight was just a replication of the real thing, I still enjoyed its sizzle every time.

 ‘Careful, klutz. You’re going to take the both of us down!’

Drey ignored my comment. ‘Since the animal is right below us,’ he calculated, ‘should be only a couple hundred yards to the service door.’

‘Yea, ‘bout two hundred yards,’ I nodded.

Drey eyed the castle a few miles off, one hand holding onto the vent cover behind and one to shield his eyes from the yellow blaze. ‘How many times have you visited here, Yez?’ He was aware of my daydreaming and biome-watching. Much to my chagrin. Wasted time, spent away from doing any real scouting, he had told me time and time again.

I considered lying, but knew his question had a purpose. ‘Couple hours once a week for the past month or so,’ I admitted.

‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ he scoffed. ‘There some handsome face you spying on down there? I know your perching here isn’t for casing the place.’ I mock laughed and squinted into the sun. I was beginning to regret tying myself to this boy. ‘Well, Yez, I’m just curious. What are the chances a security team will be out here? Or one of the residents? Seeing as you know this place so well…’

Rolling my muddy blue eyes, I said, ‘Highly unlikely.’

Wait, was that…? A high-pitched whine of mag-boots rounding a corner caught my ear. No, it couldn’t be. What were the chances that another Rat’s nest was close by?

‘Ok,’ Drey continued. ‘So we go, we land, we check for tags, we-’

‘Wait,’ I whispered in a rare seriousness. I grabbed on to Drey to stop him from rambling. Ears focused. There it was again. A continuous miiiiiiii somewhere close in the Wires. We had to move. Now, before we were detected. ‘Jump! Now!’ And I threw the both of us off into Biome 22.

© 2015 Katie de Lavani

Author's Note

Katie de Lavani
Any and all reviews are most welcome! Review and I shall return the favor.

My Review

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It felt staid until the biodome came into play, and the mention of roller skates really threw me off. For a minute I was imagining an old-fashioned skating rink with a disco ball. You just don't expect that with thievery.

Also, there are sentences where your pronouns get mixed up. For example "------," I said, waggling her eyebrows. You mean waggling 'my' eyebrows, right?

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 6 Years Ago

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Added on April 1, 2015
Last Updated on April 28, 2015
Tags: futuristic, technology, theif, castle, adventure


Katie de Lavani
Katie de Lavani


Hi. Nothing much to say about me. I'm always looking for a good story in my life and sometimes base the stories I write on real life experiences. I love to read others writing to see just how horrible.. more..