Negotiate

Kara Brown

 

There are two sayings at war in your mind—the first involves gifts and horses and mouths; the second is about strangers and candy.

In every transaction, two things are required: desire and possession. If he is coming to you, it is because you have something worth having. And there's a saying about that, too, about beggars and choosers.

You go on the attack. "If what I have is worth that much to you," you tell the stranger, who distressingly reminds you of the things you see when you're falling asleep and the room is dark and strange, while ambiguous and threatening shapes slurry around you, "then I think you have a moment to talk to me."

The stranger takes out a pocket watch and examines the face. The watch has no numbers, no markers, only six hands, and some of them are moving backwards. The watch is ticking, but the ticks are consistent in either measure or sound. You become concerned with what, exactly, is being monitored. The watch face glows a soft and gentle blue, but the light does not illuminate the strangely shadowed face. It almost seems like the stranger is listening to something. After a moment, the watch sharply clicks shut with a noise reminiscent of breaking glass. "One," it says, holding up a single finger. "Ask me one question. On the house, as it were." You still cannot see the stranger's expression, but you have the sense that it is a smile. An unpleasant one.

You ignore the adage about the house always winning, and weigh what you want to do next—do you want to question the stranger on who he is, or ask him what the price is? Or something else entirely?

 

A. Question the stranger

 

OR

 

B. Ask the price

 

OR

 

C. Wild Card

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790