(A note from the author:)
Twenty-two hours after I originally posted this short story, I received a request to have it optioned for publication. Given this arrangement, I feel that it would be disadvantageous to the publisher if this work was still available online. I have therefore removed it from availability.
I take this moment to apologize to anyone who expected something to read here, and I fully intend to make up for it with further works. In the meantime, I thank everyone who managed to catch the story during its brief stint online.