The first short story collection in the #1 New York Times bestselling series-including a brand-new Harry Dresden novella!
Here, together for the first time, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher-a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time. The tales range from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious. Also included is a new, never-before-published novella that takes place after the cliff-hanger ending of the new April 2010 hardcover, Changes. This is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan as well as a perfect introduction for readers ready to meet Chicago's only professional wizard.
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A martial arts enthusiast whose resume includes a long list of skills rendered obsolete at least two hundred years ago, Jim Butcher turned to writing as a career because anything else probably would have driven him insane. He lives with his wife, his son and a ferocious guard dog.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Table of Contents
A RESTORATION OF FAITH - Takes place before Storm Front
VIGNETTE - Takes place between Death Masks and Blood Rites
IT’S MY BIRTHDAY, TOO
ALSO BY JIM BUTCHER
THE DRESDEN FILES
THE CODEX ALERA
FURIES OF CALDERON
FIRST LORD’S FURY
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First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, November 2010
For additional copyright information, refer to p. 419 All rights reserved
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:
Butcher, Jim, 1971-
Side jobs: stories from the Dresden files/Jim Butcher.
1. Dresden, Harry (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Wizards—Fiction.
3. Chicago (Ill.)—Fiction. I. Title.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
“A Restoration of Faith” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2002. First published on www.jim-butcher.com.
“Vignette” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2002. First published on www.jim-butcher.com.
“Something Borrowed” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2006. First published in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, edited by P. N. Elrod (St. Martin’s Griffin).
“It’s My Birthday, Too” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2007. First published in Many Bloody Returns, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner (Ace Books).
“Heorot” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2007. First published in My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, edited by P. N. Elrod (St. Martin’s Griffin).
“Day Off” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2008. First published in Blood Lite, edited by Kevin J. A nderson (Pocket/Simon & Schuster).
The Warrior copyright © Jim Butcher, 2009. First published in Mean Streets (Roc).
“Last Call” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2009. First published in Strange Brew, edited by P. N. Elrod (St. Martin’s Griffin).
“Love Hurts” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2010. First published in Songs of Love and Death, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Gallery/Simon & Schuster).
Aftermath copyright © Jim Butcher, 2010. Published here for the first time in any form by permission of the author.
A RESTORATION OF FAITH
Takes place before Storm Front
This is the first of the Dresden Files stories, chronologically, and it was the first time I tried to write short fiction for the professional market. I originally put it together as a class assignment at the University of Oklahoma’s Professional Writing program, more than two years before Storm Front found a home at Roc.
This one won’t win any awards, because it is, quite frankly, a novice effort. It was perhaps the third or fourth short story I’d ever written, if you include projects in grade school. I had barely learned to keep my feet under me as a writer, and to some degree that shows in this piece. Certainly, the editors to whom I submitted this story seemed to think it wasn’t up to par for professional publication, and I think that was a perfectly fair assessment.
Read this story for what it is—an anxious beginner’s first effort, meant to be simple, straightforward fun.
I struggled to hold on to the yowling child while fumbling a quarter into the pay phone and jamming down the buttons to dial Nick’s mobile.
“Ragged Angel Investigations,” Nick answered. His voice was tense, I thought, anxious.
“It’s Harry,” I said. “You can relax, man. I found her.”
“You did?” Nick asked. He let out a long exhalation. “Oh, Jesus, Harry.”
The kid lifted up one of her oxford shoes and mule-kicked her leg back at my shin. She connected, hard enough to make me jump. She looked like a parent’s dream at eight or nine years old, with her dimples and dark pigtails—even in her street-stained schoolgirl’s uniform. And she had strong legs.
I got a better hold on the girl and lifted her up off the ground again while she twisted and wriggled. “Ow. Hold still.”
“Let me go, beanpole,” she responded, turning to glower back at me before starting to kick again.
“Listen to me, Harry,” Nick said. “You’ve got to let the kid go right this minute and walk away.”
“What?” I said. “Nick, the Astors are going to give us twenty-five grand to return her before nine p.m.”
“I got some bad news, Harry. They aren’t going to pay us the money.”
I winced. “Ouch. Maybe I should just drop her off at the nearest precinct house, then.”
“The news gets worse. The parents reported the girl kidnapped. The police band is sending two descriptions around town to Chicago PD, and they match guess who.”
“Mickey and Donald?”
“Heh,” Nick said. I heard him flick his Bic and take a drag. “We should be so lucky.”
“I guess it’s more embarrassing for Mr. and Mrs. High-and-Mighty to have their kid run away than it is to have her kidnapped.”
“Hell. Kidnapped girl gives them something to talk about at their parties for months. Makes them look richer and more famous than their friends, too. Of course, we’ll be in jail, but what the hell?”
“They came to us,” I protested.
“That won’t be the way they tell it.”
“Dammit,” I said.
“If you get caught with her, it could be trouble for both of us. The Astors got connections. Ditch the girl and get back home. You were there all night.”
“No, Nick,” I said. “I can’t do that.”
“Let the boys in blue bring her in. That’ll clear you and me both.”
“I’m up on North Avenue, and it’s after dark. I’m not leaving a nine-year-old girl out here by herself.”
“Ten,” shouted the girl, furious. “I’m ten, you insensitive jerk!” She started kicking again, and I kept myself more or less out of the way of her feet.
“She sounds so cute. Just let her run, Harry, and let the criminal types beware.”
“Aw, hell, Harry. You’re getting moral on me again.”
I smiled, but it felt tight on my mouth, and my stomach churned with anger. “Look, we’ll think of something. Just get down here and pick us up.”
“What happened to your car?”
“Broke down this afternoon.”
“Again? What about the El?”
“I’m broke. Nick, I need a ride. I can’t walk back to the office with her, and I don’t want to stand here in a public booth fighting her, either. So get down here and get us.”
“I don’t want to spend time in jail because you can’t salve your conscience, Harry.”
“What about your conscience?” I shot back. Nick was all bluster. When it came down to the wire, he couldn’t have left the girl alone in that part of town, either.
Nick growled out something that sounded vaguely obscene, then said, “Fine, whatever. But I can’t get across the river very easy, so I’ll be on the far side of the bridge. All you have to do is cross the bridge with her and stay out of sight. Police patrols in the area will be looking for you. Half an hour. If you’re not there, I’m not waiting. Bad neighborhood.”
“Have faith, man. I’ll be there.”
We hung up without saying good-bye.
“All right, kid,” I said. “Stop kicking me and let’s talk.”
“To hell with you, mister,” she shouted. “Let me go before I break your leg.”
I winced at the shrill note her voice hit and stepped away from the phone, half dragging and half carrying her with me while I looked around nervously. The last thing I needed was a bunch of good citizens running to the kid’s aid.
The streets were empty, the gathering dark rushing in quickly to fill the spaces left by the broken streetlights. There were lights in the windows, but no one came out in response to the girl’s shouting. It was the sort of neighborhood where people looked the other way and let live.
Ah, Chicago. You just gotta love big, sprawling American cities. Ain’t modern living grand? I could have been a real sicko, rather than just looking like one, and no one would have done anything.
It made me feel a little nauseated. “Look. I know you’re angry right now, but believe me, I’m doing what’s best for you.”
She stopped kicking and glared up at me. “How should you know what’s best for me?”
“I’m older than you. Wiser.”
“Then why are you wearing that coat?”
I looked down at my big black duster, with its heavy mantle and long canvas folds flapping around my rather spare frame. “What’s wrong with it?”
“It belongs on the set of El Dorado,” she snapped. “Who are you supposed to be, Ichabod Crane or the Marlboro Man?”
I snorted. “I’m a wizard.”
She gave me a look of skepticism you can really only get from children who have recently gone through the sobering trauma of discovering there is no Santa Claus. (Ironically, there is, but he can’t operate on the sort of scale that used to make everyone believe in him.)
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said.
“I found you, didn’t I?”
She frowned at me. “How did you find me? I thought that spot was perfect.”
I continued walking toward the bridge. “It would have been, for another ten minutes or so. Then that Dumpster would have been full of rats looking for something to eat.”
The girl’s expression turned faintly green. “Rats?”
I nodded. With luck, maybe I could win the kid over. “Good thing your mother had your brush in her purse. I was able to get a couple of hairs from it.”
I sighed. “So, I used a little thaumaturgy, and it led me straight to you. I had to walk most of the way, but straight to you.”
Questions were better than kicks any day. I kept answering them. Heck, I like to answer questions about magic. Professional pride, maybe. “Thaumaturgy. It’s ritual magic. You draw symbolic links between actual persons, places, or events, and representative models. Then you invest a little energy to make something happen on the small scale, and something happens on the large scale as well—”
The second I was distracted with answering her question, the kid bent her head and bit my hand.
I yelled something I probably shouldn’t have around a kid and jerked my hand away. The kid dropped to the ground, agile as a monkey, and took off toward the bridge. I shook my hand, growled at myself, and took off after her. She was fast, her pigtails flying out behind her, her shoes and stained kneesocks flashing.
She got to the bridge first. It was an ancient, two-lane affair that arched over the Chicago River. She hurled herself out onto it.
“Wait!” I shouted after her. “Don’t!” She didn’t know this town like I did.
“Sucker,” she called back, her voice merry. She kept on running.
That is, until a great rubbery, hairy arm slithered out from beneath a manhole cover at the apex of the bridge and wrapped its greasy fingers around one of her ankles. The kid screamed in sudden terror, pitching forward onto the asphalt and raking the skin from both knees. She turned and twisted, kicking at her attacker. Blood was a dark stain on her socks in the glow of the few functioning streetlights.
I cursed beneath my breath and raced toward her along the bridge, my lungs laboring. The hand tightened its grip and started dragging her toward the manhole. I could hear deep, growling laughter coming from the darkness in the hole that led down to the understructure of the bridge.
She screamed, “What is it? What is it? Make it let go!”
“Kid!” I shouted. I ran toward the manhole, jumped, and came down as hard as I could on the hairy arm, right at the wrist, the heels of both hiking boots thumping down onto the grimy flesh.
A bellow erupted from the manhole, and the fingers loosened. The girl twisted her leg, and though it cost her one of her expensive oxfords and one kneesock, she dragged herself free of its grasp, sobbing. I gathered her up and backpedaled away, turning so that I wasn’t leaving my back to the manhole.
The troll shouldn’t have been able to squeeze his way out of a hole that small, but he d...
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