Wings Made of Wax
The concoction of sirens, shouting, and chug-a-chug of steam powered engines drowned out any sense of awareness, ‘Thank the stars I grabbed those pills,’ she thought as a headache from hell knocked on the backdoor of her mind. She realized too late the rattletrap she absconded with had no brakes. In the heat of the moment her only concern had been to put space between her and the rapidly closing footfalls of the coppers. Had she been wearing shoes, hell even flip-flops, she might have attempted to brake using her feet, and for a split-second Misty thought about using them anyway… she quickly threw that idea out the window as she imagined her feet disintegrating like rust under sand paper on the hard road. She had to think fast however, in a matter of moments she would reach a precarious six lane intersection bustling with traffic, not that she could see her approaching death through the perpetual mist, no she knew this road, knew every crack and ditch on it.
In the city of Eberatrics the year is unknown, so is the month, so is the day. In the late Victorian era a great depression fell upon the beguiling city; death, famine, and jobless millions only scratched the surface of the resulting effects. Technological advances ceased shortly after the steam powered engine had been introduced, no one saw a need for any improvements. It was as if scientific creativity had all dried up. People learned to get by like they always did, and after a while they just stopped caring that the excessive amount of carbon dioxide being pumped into the air by all the steam engines was killing the atmosphere.
One day someone figured out how to attach a steam engine to an empty horse cart, the result of a man gazing longingly at his horse cart the day after he was forced to eat his mare. Trains whistled and billowed smoke in the distance and an idea crashed into the man’s head. The idea of coal powered cars took nearly half a century to catch on, Eberatrics was a city made up of one percenters -as in one percent of the population had more wealth than they could spend in a lifetime while the other ninety-nine percent fought for table scraps. Coal powered cars held no interest for those just trying to gather enough food to make it through the day, but just as surely as a child will grow so too did the coal car industry.
Each car needed two men to operate, one to drive and one to shovel coal into the insatiable furnace. The result on the atmosphere was catastrophic (and some say it was planned), Eberatrics as it stood now was in perpetual mist. Grey haze distorted everything beyond a few feet, the very sun was blotted from the sky. Green grass, flowers, fresh fruits all became a distant memory along with the animals who either became dinner or died of starvation. With no new trees or food, wood and canned goods became the cities currency. At first fishing seemed a last resort, the fish had stuck around for a few years in the heavy mist but then one day, like a father popping out to buy smokes, they left and never came back. Were they all dead or only hiding at the bottom of the ocean? No one knew, no one cared.
Our fiery jewel thief began her career -quite by accident- in relieving the wealthy of their heavy burdens at the tender age of eight. Misty’s mother had died giving birth to her and all that she knew about her mother came from the wonderful stories her father would tell Misty each night when he tucked her into bed. She was very close with her father, a scraggly looking man in filthy rags, who would take her into the bustling city center with him as he scrounged and begged for food.
The electrifying life of aristocracy shamelessly going about shopping sprees between confectioners, boutiques, jewelers, haberdasheries and more held an inalienable desire in Misty like a reckless heart drawn to danger. From the very first moment she had been awestruck by their fusion of posh Abe Lincoln meets ragged Sid Vicious. Browns, greys, and blacks predominated the blend of outlandish attire mixed with just a splash of iridescent coloring. Misty would sit in her frumpy dungarees watching the women walk past in frilly corset and mini skirt combinations sporting knee high leather combat boots, jazzy shrugs over camisoles and black leather pants, studded denim jackets and knickerbockers, she watched it all with big wonder filled eyes. One day a woman with short blonde hair wearing a white ballgown, aviator goggles, black bandanna and spiked boots walked up to Misty and gave her a raspberry flavored ice cream, the woman smiled at the red-haired little girl and walked away. Misty had never eaten one of the cold treats before, the taste in a word, Heaven. She knew right there in that moment as she licked her raspberry ice cream she was going to be one of these women. As Misty looked after the blonde princess she noticed a big pearl earring come tumbling down behind her, she ran to pick it up, intent on giving it back, but as she held it in her grubby hand a sparkle of an idea glinted in her eyes.
As the years passed by Misty Evans became a master pick pocket who could outwit any copper however, no matter how many pockets she picked it was never enough. In the early morning hours when she felt most alone Misty would look out her window from down in the dumps up towards the sixteenth century manors where all the kings and queens lived worry free, she could make out the vague light coloring the clouds coming off the extravagant homes and she would ache with a hunger to be up with them.
By the age of twenty-two Misty was the most notorious thief in Eberatrics, everyone in the lower district knew about the emerald eyed beauty with vixen colored hair. Any thief worth their salt answered to her, to be chosen as a crew member for one of her heists was considered the highest honor. For these thieves who were looked at by the world as low life, vermin, filthy rats, becoming part of Misty’s guild meant finally having a place to call home, a place they belonged.
With her wanted poster stapled to every pole in Eberatrics Misty was forced to become a master of disguise giving each heist its own panache. She had every disguise you could imagine, from a sliver haired mistress roaming vast art gallery halls, to an elderly man mopping the floors of a jewel store. Her latest and greatest disguise had been Shakespeare’s lead character Hamlet in a play catering only for the highest of high society. Men in penguin tale suits bearing monocle’s to tie off the crazy mohawks, shaved heads and dreadlocks strode in with puffed chests and stern faces.
The set up was brilliant, the entire cast and catering staff were all Misty’s henchmen. As fur coats and snake skin jackets where checked in the front they were immediately checked out the back. Light fingered servants picked pockets, lifted watches and the best even managed a necklace or two, all hoping to win Misty’s approval.
The excitement of the play mixed with the thrill of her master plan sent a brilliant energy through Misty which she channeled into Hamlet,
“If they wilts need marry, marry a fool, for wise men know well enough what monsters you make of them. To a nunnery go and quickly to.”
She had the audience eating out the palm of her hand as a weeping Ophelia ran off center stage. What the audience loved most about the play was how the characters would pour into the isles and use every available space for their performance constantly bringing in the wealthiest patrons as part of the act while simultaneously stripping them of their wallets and jewelry. At the end of the play the cast took a bow to roaring applause. The lights slowly dimmed out, and it was a good ten minutes of sitting in the dark before the first aristocrat noticed they had been robbed.
The next day a jubilant Misty went skipping down the road dreaming of how her bedroom was going to look in her big ole house up the hill when a strange sound caught her ear from over at the local orphanage. Some philanthropist had donated one of Eberatrics’ rarest treasures to the orphans… a puppy. Misty couldn’t believe her eyes as she peered over the fence at the bustling bundle of fur playing joyfully with the children in the yard, nuns watching on with rare smiles on their otherwise dour faces.
‘I Must have that puppy.’
And so began the decision that would be the ultimate downfall of our great jewel thief who like Icarus flew too close to the sun. Excitement at the idea of the easiest job she would ever pull caused Misty to underestimate two things: the love a child feels for their puppy, and how deft children become at sneaking past sleeping nuns into the forbidden cookie jar housing the sacred delight.
It was during one of their midnight cookie expeditions when Peter and Zeth spotted their new best friend being carried off by our protagonist. The two adventurers followed the pooch-napper all the way to her hideout with a prowess she would have admired. Having no clue what to do from there, Zeth and Peter returned to the orphanage knowing full well they were going to catch the beating of their lives but not caring, they loved Porkchop -that’s right their puppy's name was Porkchop- enough to endure their punishment. They told the nuns what they saw and what they did. The nuns told the coppers who were then led to Misty’s hideout by the pair of cookie bandits. To Peter and Zeth’s amazement they were not belted seven shades of black and blue, but rather made honorary policemen for the day, both receiving bravery badges and a scrumptious cookie.
Misty was playing with her puppy (she hadn’t figured out what to name him yet, he needed a strong noble name) she had been deep in thought trying to figure out what name best suited him when she sensed something wrong. The air had grown still, an unnatural silence engulfed her hideout sending an alarming shrill down her spine. Misty reacted on instinct, she shot up spinning on her heels and bolted for the trap door at the back of her hideout. She snatched up a bottle of headache pills from her kitchen counter without thinking about the decisions she was making. As Misty reached the concealed exit the front door burst open, a swarm of coppers poured in all eager for the bust of Eberatrics most notorious thief. She ducked through the exit but not before she was spotted.
The rest of the chase had been a blur, coppers littered the streets in every direction, luckily someone had left a bicycle unchained outside the building -well at least she saw it as luck at the time. Now however, flying towards the six-lane death trap she knew lay at the bottom, she had only two choices; jump off the bike or put her life in fates hands. Yeah… after the cards fate had dealt her so far she decided to jump blindly from the rocketing bicycle. To her amazement she landed unharmed smack bang in a heap of garbage bags. Tires screeched to a halt, policemen screamed, “Don’t move, put your hands in the air!” Well which is it don’t move or put my hands up? A little boy with a mop of black hair was shouting, “That’s her, that is the lady that stole Porkchop.” As Misty uncorked the bottle of pills the only thought she had was, What kind of name is Porkchop?