Known Hazards of Employment in a Pawn Shop
1052 words long
It wasn't a safe place to work under the best of circumstances. These weren't the best of circumstances.
Notes from the author:
Sometimes there’s really no story to tell about how a story idea came to be. I visited the Writer Igniter and it gave me “pawn shop owner exterminates an infestation” and a photo of a boardwalk or boat launch type setting. It really was that simple. Sorry, I guess?
“I told you not to accept any supernatural items,” said Matron, who was swatting ineffectually at the darting points of light.
“Well, what else was he supposed to do with it?” J’nnu protested. She’d apprenticed to Matron earlier this year, and she was still having a hard go of it. Days like today were especially rough.
“Not my problem. Problem is, you’ve gone and made it my problem. Now we got problems.”
The pawnshop on the Riverwalk was not a safe place to work under the best of circumstances. So many possessions gathered in one place, carrying so much emotional charge, remembrances both fond and less so, so much history and grief and personality—it took special training to hold down that fort and not let it bend your mind into pretzels. And those were just the ordinary items. Add something truly extraordinary to the mix and you got troubles on a whole different level.
Today’s trouble was an infestation of will-o-the-wisps. Which was ridiculous. Think about it. An infestation of will-o-the-wisps. How does that even work? Wisps are solitary beings. They have to be. Their whole modus operandi is predicated on the fact. A lost traveler in the dark encounters a wisp, it leads her astray, you never hear from her again. That’s how it goes. If she encounters a whole swarm, which one is she going to follow? And why should she, anyway? Now she’s got lots of light to see her way by, get un-lost in a hurry. From the wisp’s point of view, this is a sub-ideal outcome.
Why a seven-headed brass candelabra should be infested with wisps was anyone’s guess. They weren’t exactly a convenient substitute for candles, no matter how you felt about wax drippings on the tablecloth. And why they should stay put, all trapped and quiescent, until the candelabra’s first night in the pawn shop’s back room, well, there seemed to be no reason for it other than perversity...
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