The Merry Merchant
The Merry Merchant
Published by Romulo Fernandez at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Romulo Fernandez
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.
Table of Contents
A young girl takes interest in a mysterious merchant, who escapes when imperial guards close in on him. Intrigue and concern compel the girl to seek him out before the empire does, and doing so will place her in the middle of a conflict unbeknownst to her.
The alley was dark. Florescence blurred its way through a plume of steam from a fractured pipe. This short walk – before it opened into the Free Fall market – was her favorite part. She’d close her eyes and let her mother guide her by hand. There was a distinct silence there. Not absolute silence; a distant, hollow ambience. It reminded her of a cave. The sense of a gaping presence in an apparent void.
The hollers of barters cut through her moment of peace.
Light and sound inhabited every square inch within her radius. This drastic transition always made her lightheaded. An ailment she’s learned to desist. Then, with the rub of an eye, she’d explore her immediate surroundings as her mother gathered their weekly supplies.
She always made a visual record of items to save up for. A prompt, confirming each recording, rendered onto her contact lens. Her wish list was ambitious, even with the recent influx of credits from her birthday last week.
Her mother approached a vegetable stand and before letting go, cast a look down to the girl to stay close. A mere nod is all her mother needed to know it was understood.
Out of all the radiance calling for attention, a dim booth stood out to her. She cautiously approached the display table full of stasis tubes. Inside each clear, cylindrical casing was a unique creature – each more peculiar than the next. Some had two legs. Some four, some eight. However all were in an indefinite sleep; as young as the day they were caught.
The girl turned her gaze at a towering figure arranging tubes. His tattered coat dragged, and back turned to her, he said:
“The Merry Merchant gathers relics
Inanimate and live
Though when’d he purchase, past or present
The answer may surprise”
The comment went mostly unheard due to the commotion around them, and her naive inattention. She did find irony in this self-proclaimed “Merry Merchant” and his somber attire. She held up a tube to the funereal man, “What do you call this one?”
He swept his long coat aside and looked down to her from the shadow cast by his brim. He outstretched his lanky arms to the tube and flipped it to its underside. There was an etching. It read:
The girl turned it upright and examined the creature frozen in time. Her elation triggered the lens to record this moment. It’s skin slick and green, its underbelly yellow. Its eyes protruding over a fleshy bill. Serene, like it was in its own silent alley.
The merchant snatched the stasis tube, his gaze fixated through the crowd. He reached under his coat and retrieved a sharp object. The crowd waned beside them and she saw imperial armor approaching. Briskly, he swung the sharp object upward and across. Its tip radiated in heat and cut through the air. The night before her ruffled like hug drapes, and beyond the fissure was the light of day. He took the booth by a front handle and sprinted towards the slit.
“Fire,” ordered one of the guards. The air crackled as electricity branched its way to the merchant. Halfway through the tear in the night, the merchant grunted through grit teeth as he collapsed through with his booth, eluding danger as the tear repaired itself.
The guards paid no mind to the shaken girl and began combing the area. The girl caught a reflection at her feet. It was the sharp object. The air blade. She was suddenly yanked away by her panicked mother. The girl gave enough of an opposing tug to reach the object, then off she was dragged.
In her room, she played the moment over under the covers. She felt concern, if not a responsibility to ensure the merchant’s well being. It was late, past the city’s ordained curfew. Aware of the risk, she opted to sneak her way to the Free Fall market.
Every system of detection evaded, the girl reached her alley. After hours, it lacked its familiar silence. Each ambience blended. She pulled a hoodie over her head and weaved about the empty booths.
She peaked around the vegetable booth and scanned the vacant section where the merchant had vanished. On her lens an image of the merchant escaping overlapped the area, and the girl took the air blade from her pocket. She mimicked the merchant, swinging her arm, trying to slice through air.
Gravel grated under heavy imperial boots. The girl fleeted away and hopped behind a booth. The guards were visible through a crack. They set up a device over the vacant area and it began to hum. Threads of energy arched and dug into the air where their ends met.
One of the guards stirred the barrel of his rifle into the ground. His face trailed upward in the girl’s direction. Her body heat left a path, and the guard’s visors made it visible. He gripped his gun and followed.
The girl covered her mouth, unable to escape unperceived. She saw him inch closer, then stopped and examined a glow at his feet. The girl’s pocket illuminated as well and she gripped the object to remain unnoticed.
The glow suddenly swiped through the guards visors, and like from behind some secret curtain, the merchant leaped out over his head. And before the guard fell, the merchant had sliced again and escaped behind the night.
Taking a defensive formation, the guards surrounded the device. Within seconds the merchant moved in and out of space like the needle of a seamstress. Constantly escaping behind the crevices of reality. Each spacial incision repairing itself almost instantly.
After the dust had settled to the ground, a pile of collapsed armor squirmed and moaned; the device contorted beside them. The girl did not hesitate. She rolled over the edge of the booth and stumbled her way towards to the alley and through it. No mind about her favorite place was given. A spark popped at the end of the alley wall and she was pulled through.
The girl opened her eyes and was among trees. The merchant stared off into the horizon, said:
“Of worlds alike,
Though distant and queer,
We’re all of light,
Both vivid and smeared.
“Each fissure a scar,
A wound to repair,
The splinters are carved,
And groomed from the air.”
Strips sizzled in mid-air and fell as ash to the ground. The sight exceeded her sense of wonderment. The merchant spoke:
“There’re sights to behold,
No brick can obstruct,
Be enlightened and bold,
An exit you’ll pluck.”
With that, he swung his tattered coat over her and leapt.
Her familiar silence surrounded her once more. She turned and the brick wall of the alley gave a slight distortions. A mostly imperceptible sliver. Dawn slid into the sky, and she knew she had to get back before morning. At her foot was a stasis tube. The etching read:
Life was fresh. It shivered under her skin. She smiled behind a tuft of hair and ran home.
Thank you for reading my book. If you enjoyed it, won’t you please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer?
About the author:
By day, I am the Database Supervisor at Telemundo Studios located in Miami, Florida. My nights and weekends are when I retreat into my creative space and write stories.
I am currently earning a Bachelor of Fine Art’s degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. As an avid fan of science fiction, my goals lie in attempting to establish myself in the same light as those I admire, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Harlan Ellison, and Issac Asimov.