Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Black Market: Part One

            Abner Mitchell bent his knees for the landing and tucked into a roll on impact. He was instantly back on his feet and running. Something was lodged in his left boot and was digging into his instep, but he continued forward through the pain. At least it pretty much balanced out the pain of the laser burn across his right shoulder.
            Today was not a good day for him or his ship, the Safe Haven. The signs were in abundance, but he had ignored them. When he woke up and flipped on the lights only to have them flare briefly and burn out, he should have rolled over and went back to sleep. As perseverant (a.k.a. stubborn) as he was, he should have taken the signal when his breakfast burned, but he didn't. Then he ripped a giant hole in the seat of his pants when he was entering the ship's land vehicle, a standard skiff. He went to change, but found that all of his laundry was dirty. He ended up going out with dirty pants. If only he had remembered his mother saying when he was young, "Abner, you should always wear clean pants when you go out in public. Nothing good ever came of people wearing dirty pants in public." But he hadn't remembered and he had continued with the day's schedule, oblivious to the warnings the universe had tried to give him.
            "How many of them are there?" Kyle Letson, the Safe Haven's Chief Mechanic called. He was a tall, skinny man with no beard who ironically bore the nickname Santa.
            "If you want to know so bad, you can turn around a count!" Jacob "Killjoy" Simmons yelled back. He was the Safe Haven's Chief of Security and had come along on this expedition to relieve the monotony of working security on the ship. Now he was regretting the decision. "Oh, and tell me the number when you figure it out. I'd love to know too!"
            "Now that is an acceptable use of sarcasm," Abner said as he dodged around a vendor's cart.
            "It was?" Killjoy responded. "That's great. I'll have to remember that next time I'm not being shot at!"
            "Well, look at the bright side," Santa said. "At least this day can't get any worse."
            "Don't say that!" Killjoy shouted. "You're going to jinx us."
            "Shut up, you two," Abner said. "Do you want to make it any easier for them to chase us?" Momentarily distracted as he was, he ran face first into the wooden upright support of a market stall. Killjoy and Santa hauled him to his feet, and they continued to run.
            "Do you suppose that counted?" Santa asked after a short time.
            "Captain face planting into that stall?" Killjoy asked. "Count as what?"
            "Knocking on wood," Santa answered.
            "Not sure it counts as knocking if you use your face," Abner retorted. Blood was running out of his nose, and he could feel a bruise forming under his eye. He slid around another stall, pushed through a knot of people, and headed for an alley. Killjoy and Santa followed his lead into the small avenue. Abner ducked into a doorway and waited. Surely the goons chasing them would enter the alley any moment now, and they would have to fight their way out. Killjoy already had his blaster out, ready to spill some blood, but that was not what destiny held for them. The men pursuing them ran past the alley, still looking in the main avenues for the three fugitives.

            Abner gave a sigh of relief and slumped back against the door. This was all a product of his failure to wear clean pants. Everything starting with them leaving the Safe Haven until now was the fates punishing him for his blunder.

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