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Of course, if I was quick about this, then I wouldn’t need to worry about it.

I held my ground as the mugger pointed a knife at me in the alleyway shortcut I had taken. This was the last place I wanted to be, mostly because I was on my way to a date, and I really didn’t want to be late. That has a tendency to send the wrong impression. Of course, if I was quick about this, then I wouldn’t need to worry about it.

“Wallet and phone,” he said less than a foot away from me. He stood a couple inches taller than I did, but he was slouching, so I could assume he was even taller. Strong muscle structure, though not overly bulk. Probably fast enough to put me on the ground before I could get a syllable out. Cold eyes, not the first time he’s done this, and willing to do what he has to so he could get what he wants.

I nodded and slowly reached back, but I didn’t pull out my wallet. I slipped a knife into the palm of my hand, careful to keep the edge off my skin. “You know, there are better ways to earn a living than taking it from other people.”

“Wallet and phone,” he emphasized, flicking the blade toward me.

I took the opportunity to move to the side, just out of reach of his knife. He lunged at me, and I kept my blade between his fist and my body, his arm catching just enough on the blade to draw blood.

He took a step back and looked at his arm, then at me. He let out a growl of frustration and lunged again, this time leading with his knife. I moved deftly to the side, deflecting his blade without thought or intent. He moved, swinging back around and going for my head. I ducked low and to the side, narrowly avoiding his legs.

Two more slashes appeared on his body. He charged again, clearly not learning anything, and brought up a knee as he grabbed for my head. I bent my body awkwardly, feeling muscles strain slightly as I moved into the attack while avoiding it, and ducked through the opening as quickly as I could, stumbling as I moved away.

He took the opportunity and threw his knife, moving to the side to try and catch me as I dodged. I hit the ground and rolled, coming up a foot and a half away from him. He hit the ground, swinging his legs to try and kick me, but I spun to avoid it, doing everything I could to stay back.

I felt something heavy hit me in the back while I was turned around, and fell forward, rolling to the side in case he tried to tackle me. An impact hit me from the side, and I rolled into a nearby wall. He charged again, leading with a kick and catching my wrist in the process.

He also caught my knife as it dug into the toe of his sneakers and further into his foot with the momentum behind the kick.

He screamed in pain as he staggered back, looking at me in shock as I stood. “You should get that checked out,” I said flatly, motioning at his foot with my free hand. “Getting an infection wouldn’t be good in your line of work.”

He stared at me for a moment in disbelief before trying to run away and only managing a strange stumbling limp.

I pulled out a tissue and wiped the blood off my knife before putting it back in its sheath by my wallet. Pulling out my phone, I started making my way to my date’s house. “Hey,” she said when she picked up the line. “What’s up?”

“Nothing, really,” I said. “Just thought I might want to let you know I’m running a little behind. Got a bit sidetracked on my way over.”

“Well, food’s still in the oven, so there’s no real hurry yet,” she said. “But thanks for letting me know.”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll see you soon.”

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