A day in the life story following a skilled thief on the Red Planet whose bloodline has been cursed/blessed to be easily forgotten. 

“Put those back!”

“Sorry, but these belong to your ex,” I explained without making eye contact as I stuffed the last book in my backpack. “Maybe don’t cheat on her next time.”

The sasquatch huffed and marched to his kitchen. Despite the apartment’s open concept, going to the kitchen was enough to put me out of sasquatch’s sight. The moment he stepped on the white granite floor, the sound of his footsteps softened–no longer in a hurry to get a knife, I presumed.

I stood up and slung the backpack on. My standing caught the sasquatch’s attention.

“Hey, how did you get in?” he asked, confused.

“You let me in to get me some water,” I reassured with a lie. The truth was I had knocked and barraged my way inside for the books. “Are you feeling okay?”

“I don’t recall letting you in,” he accused in a weak tone, questioning both himself and me.

“You should go lay down,” I continued. “Don’t worry about the water. I’ll just see myself out.”

Playing my movements calm and casual, I walked over to the front door. That was a mistake. I should’ve kept my eyes on him because then I would’ve been able to dodge the knife he threw at me. I put one hand over the wound the blade made on my arm while I flung open the door and rushed out. I channeled some serious willpower not to slam the door close, but I knew if I left discreetly as possible, the curse made people forget me easier. At least my blood was the same color as my crimson skin—no unwanted attention from bleeding all over myself.

Though I was outside the apartment, I wasn’t truly outside. Though, one could forget they were in one of the Red Planet’s underground cities with all the plants and artificial lights. Still, I preferred the clean, bright underground cities to my planet’s dusty, dark surface.

What could I say about Amber Hallows? This was my home. The whole city was fundamentally a giant building. I practically knew every path, every slide, and every blind spot of the city’s ten levels. Except for the first level, which was well-maintained with shops and tourist attractions, the deeper one went, the newer and more beautiful the level. Currently, I was strolling around the third floor, which was an older, more rustic section with mostly homes mixed with restaurants and grocery stores. Little to none in terms of art to cheer people. 

I took a slide down to the fifth level. Level 5 was my level, right in the center of the city. Upon standing up from the slide, a giant wrapping mural of random shapes warmly greeted me. A short walk later, I was in front of the door to my place. The door automatically slid open for me.

“Greetings, Ronvo,” Ibx welcomed as I stepped inside. “Was the retrieval a success?”

Ibx was the only one who could remember me—not counting my mother, Kira, of course. The anthropomorphic mechanical was explicitly programmed to remember us. According to the story passed down onto my mother, many generations ago, one of our arrogant ancestors was cursed by a god to be easily forgettable. This curse also included fading away from photos and recordings. Instead of being doomed, our ancestors embraced the imprecation, becoming assassins and thieves throughout time. My mother decided to make a pivot for good and only take jobs like retrieving stolen items. Ibx was our liaison for clients since people would forget they hired us.

“I got the books,” I answered as I dropped the backpack on the floor, revealing my wound at the same time.

“I see you’re injured,” Ibx pulled out the medical spray from the first-aid kit on the wall. “Have a seat.”

I sat down on the barstool in front of our kitchen counter. All the dishes had been cleaned and put away. My mother instilled a sense of cleanliness in me because a clean home was easier to tell if an intruder visited. Ibx spayed the treatment on the wound, cleaning and healing the cut with a gentle tingle. Seeing a doctor was hard, for whenever they left the room to get something, they would forget that they had a patient.

“Thank you, Ibx. Is my mother here?”

“No, Kira is currently out on another assignment.”

“Figures. Where do I deliver these books?”

“The client is located on Level 7. I’ll send the coordinates to your networker.”

“Fancy. I wonder what she was doing hooking up with someone on the third level.”

“She confided in me that she was curious.”

I stood up. “If I’m going to Level 7, I bet switch into something a bit trendier.”

“I would support that motion.”

After a quick wardrobe change into a stylish suit, I took a slide down to the seventh level. White and gold was a common motif in the art and architecture of the area. I preferred the more colorful artwork on the fifth level the best, but I liked this area’s cohesiveness.

I found the client, a female sasquatch in a white sundress, waiting on a park bench under a sprawling golden leaf tree. I stopped in front of her, with the books extended out to her.

“I believe these belong to you,” I introduced.

Her face lit up. “Thank you so much! I thought I would never get my books back.” She took the books and flipped through the pages, like revisiting with an old friend. She looked up at me. “Hi, there. Are you looking for someone?”

“Oh, no. I was just curious what you were reading,” I lied.

“Some old books of mine that my ex kept because he’s a cling. I just found them on this bench.”

I smiled. “Lucky you.”

Another happy client.

A Forgettable Retrieval - art by Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle

This week’s short story was inspired by this writing prompt: “A vain, self-absorbed ancestor pissed off a god and was cursed to have his bloodline fall into obscurity. Where ever you go people will forget you, images that capture you will fade, and your name dies on the tip of the tongue. A curse for most but a boon for a thief or assassin.”

For this story, I went on a sci-fi route and wrote about one of the underground cities of the Red Planet, which is part of the Five Following Planets. If I were to flesh this out into a book or write another story, I would revise the backstory to include the line, “My mother did warn that on the rare chance I encountered someone who could remember me to stay away because they would bring nothing but trouble.” I didn’t want to include this trait in the story because you might expect Ronvo to encounter such a person.

Thank you to Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle for bringing this scene to life!

Thank you for reading!