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The Little Things (Short Story)

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The Little Things

The Little Things is a (very) short story by Sandy Mitchell in the Ciaphas Cain (Novel Series). It was printed inside the program for Black Library's 2012 Weekender event on November 3-4, 2012. It was republished online in December 2012 as part of the Black Library Advent Calendar (2012).

Summary

Ciaphas Cain arrives at Amberley Vail's hotel suite for a rendezvous; sometimes these meetings are preludes to "bowel-clenching terror," but she has told him this one is purely a social occasion. While waiting for her to finish her shower, he opens the door to a room-service waiter - or rather, a thug trying to pass as one and failing badly. Cain cheerfully announces that he's seen through the disguise, and the "waiter" comes charging into the room with two other thugs to support him. Cain disables two of them with his laspistol, but the third has him dead in his sights - until Amberley, emerging from the shower, spoils his aim with the only weapon available: her towel. Cain knocks the third thug unconscious, but is disappointed not to have enough time to appreciate the view before Amberley replaces the towel.

While she sifts the thugs' pockets for clues, Cain takes the liberty of laying out their dinner with the same care as he did when selecting the flowers he brought to the suite, and scrutinizing the "waiter"'s clothes - reflecting internally that, whether you're on the battlefield or trying to romance a woman, it's the little details that make all the difference.