~ a short story
“So you aren’t going to sell me this thing, because you don’t like me? Because of my belief system? Because of your own? Is that it?”
The man shouted.
“That is right,” came the response.
“Well, that’s not right!” he boomed back.
“I reserve the right to refuse my business to anyone at all,” the shopkeep responded firmly.
He motioned to a sign conveniently placed at eye-level near his current station; the angry man was not going to be looking at it.
“We’ll see about the motherfucker…” the man clenched his fists, spat onto the ground, and turned himself away from the shopkeep, ready to storm away in the midst of his furor.
The shopkeeper smugly began to smile, happy to see the mad one go.
But the telegraphed maneuver to storm away was quickly halted, and the Mad One dropped down to one knee in a pose of considerable poise. Closing his eyes, mouthing the words of a nigh forgotten incantation, he began to trace some kind of course symbology into the linoleum at his feet. The unseen lines are traced over and over and jumble of strange words spoken with greater and greater ferocity, as the large man remained hunched over his work. After some time, changes begin to take effect in his form and surroundings.
Soon the environment of the shop fractures and bleeds with a red radiance. Beings emerge from the ground and the air itself all around the kneeling man. The little beings run in rounds and scatter themselves into the material space of their new environment; chaos, thievery, and madness are the names of their games.
The befuddled shopkeeper cannot seem to focus on the man who never left his store, instantly faced with his own form of confused rage at the little creatures now tearing his store to pieces. Very small and very active, the red, yellow, and orange men and women sprint around the aisles and shelves of the man’s humble shop, screaming and destroying everything that they come into contact with. Their movements are amplified by their numbers, which seem to grow after every act of mayhem. The speaker-tracer-kneeler continues his work diligently and more spill out, each one more manic, more rage-filled than the last. By the shopkeep’s count, they switch capriciously from working together in an organized efficiency, to violently pushing each other aside, sometimes even ripping each other apart in the dash to get at more of everything available.
Wanting to step in somehow but immobilized by fear and anger and loathing of the things this customer had brought into his life, the shopkeeper remains unmoving as the murder of his goods continues. His own fists clench and sweat, lingering within a particular rage-melded powerlessness. The man’s breath labors and he finds himself helplessly turning to the areas of his shop as of yet untouched, only to see them consumed by the devils shortly after his gaze falls there. He suppresses a scream, until he cannot any longer.
“Why didn’t you just go somewhere else!” he releases from inside of the crimson haze of his business he can no longer see.
A voice of purest, seething animosity returns to the shopkeeper, “You are paying the price yourself now. The price your commercial sins have played upon you. Pay it. PAY IT. The price of me.”
Titian flames rise up around the full circumference of the store, breaking down the walls and driving out the roving little creatures back from wherever they had sourced. The shop is destroyed. All that is left for it to do is burn down. The shop which the keeper had sunk his heart and soul into. The shop where he had spent so much time building, crafting, refining, and steadily working away the best years of his life within. The place where his legacy lied. All of it now became ash.
The fires lick at the shopkeep’s own body. They inflict pain but never quite get to consummating their work upon his form. The room is hot enough so as to prevent the tears in his eyes from fully forming. He keeps them closed as he speaks to the formerly booming man, now standing silently before him, up from his kneel. The lines are gone, and the naked devilry has retreated somewhere else. The spurned customer is a ghastly red figure in a blanket of animus-turned-rain, chaotically shifting in and out of existence in between the cash register and the front door.
“Who the devil are you?” he manages to ask.
“I am the…
“…market is going to hear about this! Let me assure once again, motherfucker! You’re done here. I’ll take my business elsewhere.”
The large and angry boomer walks out of the front door to an awaiting crowd of crimson watchers and listeners, feeding and contemplating upon their own stark conglomerations of consumptive choices. ~