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"It's a big responsibility," I told the little girl as we watched the little balls of fur and feathers tear at the jerky I had passed over. "If you don't train them right, I'll have to come back and take care of it. I wouldn't want to, but it's my job. People deserve to be safe."

"I promise!" Evie replied with eyes nearly brimming with tears.

Things had been quiet for nearly two months after the flare of magic and the near destruction of Atlanta by the Irish sea demons. Magic had faded, leaving technology dominate around the clock. Cars worked, radios played, and TV stations were actually able to broadcast for more than a few hours. Heck, two nights ago they even played Terminator 2, proving that things really could be worse than the world we lived in. Then a magic wave hit and things were back to normal…well, what amounts to normal in this post-shift world. The first 18 hours after the return of magic waves, things were chaotic and so the Order was in high gear; cleaning up after all the magic left behind. I was kept in the armory, handing out weapons and ammo to the knights who were out making a real difference in the world.

Now it was the day after the first magic wave and the Knight-Protector, my boss, decided I could finally go home. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? Okay, I do love my jobif I would be allowed to do itit's just my boss I could do without.

Anyway, on my way home, I came across the residents of an apartment complex searching for a little girl who had disappeared a few hours ago. Funny how when the world goes to shit, we're back to the village raising, caring, and protecting the child. Yes, there were still assholes in the world but there were also a lot of good people and good communities.

I, being a decent person and a knight of the Order, immediately joined in the hunt and even managed to find the girl. She had found a gryphon nest with two nestlings and their mother shot. At least the nestlings were old enough to tear off and chew their own meat. The knight in me knew this was a bad idea. Gryphons are classified as dangerous but then again so were pitt bull terriers, once, and everyone knows it's how you raise them that defines if they become a danger or not. So I decided to give the girl and the gryphons a chance.

"OK, and I'll help you when I can. I live just down the street anyway, so I'll be checking on you. Got it?"

"I got it," she replied in a tone that sent the nestlings squealing as she leap up and hugged my legs. I froze, both in surprise and uncertainty, before I rubbed her head. That's what you do when kids hug you right?


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Andrea Maria Nash

August 2014


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