Microfiction #1: Mike

The first microfiction in The Year of Dresden is set between White Night and Small Favor–shortly after the graphic novel Wild Card. Spoiler Level: LOW.


By Jim Butcher

I had to push the Blue Beetle the last thirty feet and into the parking lot of Mad Mike’s Motorcycle and Volkswagen Repair. Then, because it was on a slope, all six-feet and eight or nine inches of me had to jump into the Bug and steer it toward one of the repair bays.

When I hit the brakes they screamed protest.

And the driver-side door fell off.

I staggered out of the car, scowled in drunken exhaustion down at the door and said, “You’re weak. And your line is weak.”

From an office inside the grimy garage came the sound of a flushing toilet, and Mike Atagi appeared, a man who had looked like he was in his mid-fifties by thirty and just stayed that way. He was a lean guy with shaggy grey hair and still-black beard.

“My God,” he said, eyeing the Beetle’s corpse. “What happened this time?”

“Would you believe me if I said I was attacked by a giant owl?” I asked.

“No, man,” Mike said, half of his mouth curling up lazily. “Cause you’re a lunatic. But your money spends fine, right?”

“I’ll take it,” I said, grinning, and shook his hand. “Can you help?”

“Could build a Bug from raw steel if I had to,” Mike said, and started a walkaround of the car.

He paused at the puncture marks in the car’s roof. I mean, they looked exactly like what they were — the evidence of contact with an enormous creature with talons that could shred through steel.

“Seriously,” he said. “Level with me. What happened?”

I’d been being level the whole time. You would not believe how level I’d been.

But what Mike was asking me for wasn’t the same as what he wanted. He didn’t really want to know what had happened to my car. He wanted to know that the world he knew was still there.

“I was doing a stakeout on a case,” I said. “Some mob guys came after me with a backhoe, of all the cockamamie things.”

“Hah,” he said. “Knew it. You’re living an exciting life, kid. Like a bad TV show.” He squinted at the Beetle’s wounds and then at me. “How much do you want to spend?”

“Ideally, I would bake you a plate of cookies,” I said.

He snorted. “The usual deal, then. Cheap, fast, or good, pick two.”

“Cheap and good,” I said.

“Yeah,” Mike said. “That’s you, all right.”