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Book Shopping
#1
Kiriena stepped into Igor's bookstore and took in a deep breath.  The smell of used bookstores was always one that made her feel at home.  It was a different smell from the plant life she was used to, but still, reading was a hobby that she sometimes didn't get a chance to pursue as much anymore now that she had a business.

Igor's was a favorite.  It was a used bookstore, so it often had treasures that you couldn't find at more modern shops.  Of course, reading had mostly gone to digital, but many still loved the feeling of a real book.  Kiriena smiled at Igor, a tall man with gray hair and glasses, and he gave her a smile and a nod in welcome.

"Good to see you Ms. Blum," the proprieter said politely. "Are you looking for anything in particular today?"

Kiriena smiled. "Not today," she responded. "I'm just here for the hunt."

Igor returned her smile with one of his own as he adjusted his glasses. [b]"Of course. If I can be of any assistance, please let me know."[/color]

Kiriena thanked him and made her way to the gardening and botany books.  It was where she always started. She looked and saw mostly the same types of titles she had seen since college.  Many were in her personal collection at the shop, but she still looked.  Her fingers went along the spines of the books, checking the titles for anything she didn't have that she might be interested in.  As her eyes ran though titles, she almost passed by one book.  Had she not been looking closely, she might not have noticed it.  The green cover seemed to blend in with it's surroundings.

Curiously, Kiriena pulled the book out.  The cover and spine had no title, and the book itself was a leafy green dyed leather.  The artistry on the cover made the book look like interlocking leaves and Kiriena had to admit that it was pretty to look at.  Kiriena had never seen this book in her life and her curiosity compelled her to open it.  Inside, she found that she didn't recognize the words.  The book itself was in a foreign language that she did not recognize, but it contained many drawings of different plants.  She could identify many of these plants.  Like the cover, the drawings were exceptional artwork.  Kiriena found a price, and it was pretty cheap.  She shrugged and held on to the book as she continued throughout the store.
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#2
He was alone, properly alone for the first time in over a month, and a master of his own actions. It felt tremendously free. He could go where he pleased, and quickly began to exercise that liberty, taking street turns at random, walking where his feet took him. For a while, he kept the still unmoving arch (haha, Lih didn't trust the power!) near lenin’s tomb at Senatskaya Tower in sight, as a point of reference, but it was soon eclipsed by glass towers and high roofs, so he resigned himself to getting lost. Getting lost would be freeing, too. There were always markers in his lens enhanced vision. He could follow those back to the station if necessary.

Almost every street and yard bore some slogan or notice on the walls. All were hand written, in a great variety of styles and degrees of skill. Some were pen, others spray paint or chalk, others charcoal—the latter, Lih reasoned, made by burnt splinters taking from the ruins. He couldn’t make out many of the slogans. Many were bold, angry graffiti, cursing the Ascendancy, or defiantly announcing a surviving spark of resistance. They called for death, for uprising, for revenge.

Others were lists of lament, carefully recording the names of the people who had died, or plaintive requests for news about the missing loved ones listed below. Others were minutely etchings of some sacred significance.

Lih found himself increasingly captivated by them, by the variety of them, and the emotions they carried. For the first time, the first true and proper time since he’d left home, he felt the poet in him respond. This feeling excited Lih. He had begun to fear he might have accidentally left his poetry behind in his hurry to join the force, or at least that it lingered, folded and unpacked, in his apartment downtown, like his least favorite shirt.

He felt the muse return, and it made him smile, despite the cold and dust in the air. it seemed apt, after all, that it should be words that brought words back into his mind.

He took his notebook out of his coat pocket and slid off the leather strap. Despite embracing technology he was a man of old fashioned inclinations, believing no great prose could ever been composed on the screen of a wallet, a point of difference that had almost got him into a fist fight at school with the other poets. That was at the start of the first year, during one of the informal dinners held to allow the students to get to know one another. He would have won the fight, if it had come to it. He was fairly sure of that. Even though his opponent was an especially large and fierce girl…

On the windy, dusty street corner in this broken city, he found his pen—a traditional fountain pen— and began to write.

The cold had almost congealed the ink in his nib, but he wrote anyway, copying out such pieces of wall writing as affected him, sometimes trying to copy the manner and form of the street art. Though it would have been easier just to snap visuals with his augmented vision.

He recorded one or two at first, as he moved from street to street, and then became more inclusive, and marked down almost every slogan he saw. It gave him satisfaction and delight to do this. He could feel, most definitely, a story beginning to form, taking shape from the words he read and recorded. After a year of absence, the muse had flown back into his soul as if it had never been away.

He realized he had lost track of time. The hour was late, and he had filled almost fifteen pages, almost half of his notebook.

He felt a sudden pang. What if he only had fifteen more pages of genius left in him? What if this notebook, bought so long ago, represented the creative limits of his mind?

Frowning, he put his notebook and pen away. He was standing on this lonely street corner, persecuted by the cold, unable to choose which direction to turn.

He shuddered, feeling afraid. He felt that eyes were watching him from above.

He began to retrace his steps. Once or twice did a new graffiti stop him and persuaded him to take out his notebook again.

Lih had been walking for some time, in circles probably, for all the streets began to look same-y, when he found the book shop. He walked inside, into the cold gloom of the shop, nodding politely to the other customers. None responded.

There was no bustle of commercial activity here, no hurrying workers laden with stacks of requested books. Lih walked over toward the back of the shop, presumed the books in this area was off little interest to the average buyer.
Viktor Lih
Officer of CCDPD
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