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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.

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“A Restoration of Faith” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2002. First published on

“Vignette” copyright © Jim Butcher, 2002. First published on

“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.


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