First thing is that it wasn’t my fault. None of it was my fault. Not one bit of it.
Yeah, that’s what people always say, isn’t it, that it wasn’t their fault but in this particular case it’s 100% true. One-thousand percent.
Don’t give me that look, I’ve faced much tougher than you. Much, much tougher.
Anyway, I was minding my own business, as I do, walking along the street, when I happened across a plain brown paper bag. You know the kind, right, the ones they use for lunches or for people who can’t breathe. Whichever.
Me being the curious type, I take a peek.
That’s it. That’s all I did. Peek into the brown paper bag. Now I ask you, how many times out of ten do you think peeking in a brown paper bag you find in the street is going to get you into the kind of trouble I got into? How many times of ten do you think? One? Three?
Well it was my unlucky day. Or maybe my unluckiest day. Because whammo, I won the lottery, but the opposite.
All I saw was a bunch of shiny crystals. Some green, some red, some clear. Just crystals as far as I knew right there in that moment out on the street with a paper bag in my hand. They were pretty, sure, we’re all magpies at heart, take something shiny and who doesn’t want it? How does something that glittery not catch your eye?
I told you, it’s not my fault.
Okay, okay, it’s all over your face. You wouldn’t think they were crystals. You, of the ultimate wisdom, you’d think they were some kind of jewels or something, right?
Am I right?
That’s exactly where you’d be wrong. Maybe or maybe not the same thought crossed my mind. Maybe or maybe not when I took my peek of fate—nice ring, right? Peek of fate?—I thought my ship had come in right on the sidewalk in a paper bag.
Now see, you’re here too, so you know what happened next. You’re here too, so you know that the moment that first crystal, that red one, hit the freshly polluted Thursday morning city air, it changed and grew and surrounded me until, well, poof, here I am.
Eighteen months I made it out there, hopping through that great beyond, eighteen glorious careful months from Andromeda to Taurus and back again.
Because of a case of mistaken identity, you understand, like I said, it wasn’t my fault.
And even if I was there when that crateload of rare minerals disappeared from the landing bay of Settlement 8403, it doesn’t mean I took them. And it doesn’t mean I sold them to the Usurpians, who, in all fairness to me, I didn’t know had started a whole war thing with us like a standard month earlier. And bad timing on my part doesn’t mean I deserved to be sent to the harshest prison in this quadrant of the universe with its anti-matter locks that obviously can be defeated, no matter what the manufacturer says.
But I’ll tell you this. They can keep me here in the Leo Lockup, because I’m not going to back to the Black Eye Galaxy Prison. Not again.
Stupid, shiny warrant traps.
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