Pistil wished he had a tracker. One of those rad infra-red ones where you could see the body, see the heat, feel the heartbeat. Sick. Sweet, like the backpack Stamen wanted. She’d been pouting for it, longing for it, ever since she’d seen Thorn put away—whatever. Had to have it. “It’s that eye-shine,” she said. “Just look into those eyes staring into that pack. Mine. Make it mine.”
And Pistil would make sure that the pack was Stamen’s before the end of the night. They’d done the stake out. Seen Thorn and the pack enter the little side street but not leave it. And of course, each house had its green lawn open to the sky (browning a little now in the August heat, even here where they had the means to pay off the water meters). And the little garden gnomes and cute corners. A frog made out of tires. A child’s swing. But nothing that could hide Thorn.
So now he was lurking in the yards, hoping not to set off those laser red lines, those telltale signs of entry. Playing tag when he was the only one unarmed—much like playing with his older brothers when they were all so much bigger. “Go away little girl,” they’d taunted him. “Go play dollies.” The only one who was going to play dollies now was Thorn. He’d make sure of that.
The air was still too warm to look for clouds of breath, to redolent of crickets to hear a single person snoring—if Thorn did snore, which he doubted. But there—near the alley—could that be a bit of blue—a jacket under the bush? Pistil crept closer, muffling his feet like the Mohicans. The last of the Mohicans. The army. On point. Yep. Definitely blue. Quarry in sights.
Pistil closed in. Knelt down. Thorn was sleeping, hair barely brushing the backpack, eyes closed, chest gently rising and falling. Just ease the backpack out. Easy-peasy. A cakewalk. Pistil barely breathed through the operation and was almost through the rose bush, almost evading the thorns, not yelping when the stems did scratch his arm, almost…. Thorn rolled up and over, one hand on the backpack, the other grappling for his blade.