SeeNashWrite: The Best of the Shorts - Seller's Market
Category: Drabble; Vignette; Behind-the-scenes canon compliant [with an ever-so-slight twist]
Rating: Teen & Up
Character(s): Dealer's choice and/or you'll know [wink]
Author's Note(s): Post-story
Overall Summary: A demon answers a classified ad.
He was well aware of the many worlds, the ones riding parallel tracks. Nothing first-hand, of course. Just well-honed logic, overheard whispers of high-magic dabblers, a few peeks through shimmering cracks.
The peeks were indirect - he wasn't stupid. And he'd seen enough to weigh the pros and cons of one world in particular, the one most like his own. Seemed something from one of the more futuristic tales, both the terminology and the stories behind them. Talk of men in rockets who'd walked the moon, satellites in the stars, computers that fit in pockets, the ability to connect with others across the globe - maybe even further - in the proverbial blink of an eye.
They could keep it.
He liked his books and the rabbit-eared television, though the theater would always feel like home, hence the current headquarters. The queen had taken his suggestion, using it as an avant-garde palace, and it suited her flair. She borrowed his books often, stole a turn-of-phrase from one, and took to calling him "the Queen's hand", the others shortly following in kind.
It pleased him, his position. He'd never envied all the punishment and paperwork that came her way, but she kept a level head, no coups in years, no warring factions. They laid low, collected their souls, and most nights he climbed into her bed and slept soundly.
She could get irritable, more so than he, and left the networking to him - another angle he liked about his world. Little things made the job fit The Hand like a glove, for instance the curled cords attached to phones that he could fiddle with on the longer, more threatening calls, to keep his tone even. Though he preferred quill and ink for contracts over ballpoint pens, he'd confess telegrams were more covert, more efficient for ordering hits.
And then there were the newspapers, bits of coded espionage hidden amongst articles when they had reporters on the inside - now that was downright fun. Acquiring supplies for their in-house coven could be dicey, require additional subtlety. Occasionally they'd have items shipped, but most often a reply to a seller and a nighttime meet-up would do the trick.
After all, there were plenty of artifacts and ingredients in his world. Lack of science and technological advancement served his needs well. Humans took the mythical more seriously, their belief systems strengthened, but it made them cautious. They were reticent to bury crossroad trinkets, summon up favors, and business could taper - both the cash and the souls. So it was the profits came traditionally, buying low, selling high, trading… well, mostly. He was good for snitching the occasional soul when encountering ones just the right sort of crooked.
Then one day, a minion bolted through the doors, excited, waving a paper, and he shooed them away before he sat to read the classified ad in question. Almost immediately he'd risen, placed the phone call. The seller was brusque, no-nonsense, and he liked them immediately.
Beyond the initial conversation, they'd only communicate by letter - wise, he thought - and in the last, there were multiple discreet locales listed, all in Kansas. Very wise. No one would bother camping all of them 24/7. Besides, the price was steep, but right - no cause for bloodshed.
An underling would be sent to each, carrying equal parts of the payment. All would be buried, and in one location would be the key to a p.o. box. Easy as pie.
He couldn't explain it, but the ad stirred something in him, a tiny flutter in the deepest recesses of his brain and, wonder of wonders, in his heart - a good feeling that, for once, something in the universe was just as it should be.
And he read the print in the small box, that six word line, one final time before folding the paper and tossing it into the trash.
First Blade. Guaranteed authentic. Never used.
Feedback is fuel! Let me know if you enjoyed. -Nash
A/N: "Seller's Market" is inspired by a thing you might've heard of, telling a story in six words. It supposedly started with Hemingway taking someone up on a bet, but this apparently can't be verified. Anyway, the rumor goes that he won with the set-up of a classified ad, which read: "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn." Give it a try, it's a great way to get your brain crankin' & scare away writer's block.