Title: Dead Drop
Kyd and Marlowe
Word Count 470
Kit hissed through his teeth as he came down the embankment. The place was viscous underfoot. The mud sucked at his shoes, and the ends of old forgotten piers protruded like broken teeth. Here the river sucked a gummy edge, and it smelled of dark things rotting alone.
"Ow, damn--” One of those sunken things had stabbed him, he was bleeding through his stocking, he was sure of it.
He liked the river, in daylight. It gleamed, sinuous silver and alive. He loved the parts of it that were cheerful with boatmen, with commerce. Such places you could sit and watch, listen to talk and feel the way it went, the right way to put it on the paper later. And there were spacious places where great houses lined the river. And there were places where naked boys shrieked and splashed in summer daylight. Not here. This was none of these.
The next daylight was hours away. There was no moon now. This place was a fetid slash through the makings of men. In day it would be no better. The dark bulk of the city rose around him. It pressed at him here.
Kit paused. He had to be very sure. He knew how many steps to take. He had checked in daylight. But it had not been so muddy then. His count would be off. But no, there was the broken bottle, it gleamed with dull malice at the water's edge. Here he could turn toward the city and the firmer ground. His deep footprints would be gone by morning, but his feet were soaked and muddy.
And here, just as it should be, the rock. An uninteresting rock, dull as a broken bottle, dull as mud. It was heavy. He was forced to put his knee down, to get the power to lever it up. Now his knee was wet. And now, at the end a sudden burst of fright. Maybe the documents had fallen from his pocket-- he groped. No, still there. It was easy to take the one under the rock, and put his own down in place. The ones he took he stuffed down the front of his jerkin. They poked him, and they smelled of mud.
Done. He stood. He had not been seen. But still, in the first breaths after, he felt his skin crawl. The fine hair stood up, from his neck, all down his spine. He forced himself to walk slowly. Nothing, nothing. . It was done. Put it away. Think about words. Think about hot cider, and a warm bed. Kyd and the puppy innocent of this, innocent of everything. He scrambled up to the street, walking briskly now, he turned for home.