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Spencer entered the curio shop expecting to find nice things; instead, he found the ultimate in battery operated evil.
Mounted over the front door was a large black sign that advertised to all who saw that nice things awaited them inside. Spencer found himself transfixed by the sign and felt ripples of ice surging down his spine. It took him a moment to realize what had created the sensation, the sign itself. The person who chose the font intended those who read the sign to feel at ease with the little curio shop but there was an adverse side effect; the letters were so big and friendly they reminded Spencer of a politician trying to get elected to office.
Spencer shuddered as his mind's eye visualized the words going down the street with a phony and toothy grin, making promises about what it would do if elected to office and then failing to keep its word once it got the necessary votes to get into office. The bright and cheerful red was a tad too bright and excessively cheerful for his taste. The person who picked out the color had intended those who read the words to feel optimistic and at ease enough to shell out serious cash for nice things, alas that too had an adverse side effect.
The color reminded Spencer of a young boy in desperate need of medication that would induce a coma-like state to counter-balance the overwhelming hyperactivity. Spencer gave another shudder as he visualized the hyperactive color screaming at the top of its lungs in a relentless fit of avarice and then proceeding to throw a temper tantrum when told no. The largeness of the sign reminded Spencer of a vulture looming overhead, sizing up its prey and he hoped it would swoop down and dispose of the butt-kissing politician and the hyperactive child.
Splashed across the sign were the faded remnants of graffiti. The combined forces of the child, politician and vulture apparently scared off the phantom message, which contained a very rude sentence describing an act that would put a contortionist in intensive care. He looked around and saw the message had relocated itself to the sign in front of the nearby law firm where the act seemed more appropriate.
Spencer decided to step inside and have a look around. He pushed on the door and was surprised to find it gave resistance. He gave the door a stronger push and found the resistance came from the neglected hinges. For a brief moment, Spencer thought he stepped on a parrot but soon realized the sound came from the hinges.
"Good afternoon." A soft-spoken but raspy voice called out. "Sorry about the hinges but I'm too old to bend down and oil them." Spencer turned towards the counter and saw an elderly man, cloaked in shadows, leaning upon a cane. "I hired a young man to help me fix up the place but he screamed like a young girl at one of them boy band concerts when he pushed on the door and took off running, screaming that he was a parrot murderer."
Spencer gave a single dip of his head to let the proprietor know he understood and opted to give the contents of the store a quick glance. His right eyebrow arched up and he could feel the onset of an ocular twitch.
"So," He turned back towards the proprietor who was now hobbling forward on a gnarled cane fashioned from an unidentifiable tree, "Where are the nice things?"
The proprietor stopped several feet away and Spencer realized the man was much older than he suspected. The hair was non-existent save for the thick gray hedges mounted over his eyes and the creeping vines which had long ago sprouted from his nostrils and ears; the wrinkles upon his face had formed themselves into intricate grids reminiscent of road maps to any major city and the discolored spots upon his face, neck and arms reminded Spencer of a tragic medical experiment which had gone askew.
The elderly man's clothing gave new meaning to the term: full-scale war. The button-up shirt was an obscene shade of mint green; the tie was electric red with hot pink polka dots and the jacket was a plaid train wreck of purple, yellow and butterscotch. The pants were of a color that could not decide whether it was blue or yellow and had opted for a suffusion of green no respectable crayon company would touch. Spencer noticed the pant cuffs have shied several inches from the brown loafers that were the unfortunate hosts of metallic orange argyle socks.
"Err," The proprietor started as Spencer tried to keep his brain from shutting down from the overwhelming chaos that was the man's clothing choice, "I, err, don't actually have nice things."
Spencer winced as his vision switched over to black-and-white to prevent his brain from suffering a massive existence failure syndrome but did nothing to save his eyes from suffering moderate damage that would require laser surgery to correct.
"Err," Spencer started as his brain rebooted, "Uh, then why call the place Nice Things if you carry none?"
"Well, I originally called the place Needful Things but that fell through." He leaned forward enough for Spencer to get a blast of unhealthy body odor. Spencer's stomach performed a gold medal winning gymnastic routine, tried to evacuate the body via the throat but found the way blocked. Instead, it opted to seek sanctuary between the intestines. "First was the novel by Stephen King and, well, more importantly, I didn't carry anything needed."
Spencer gave another nod but felt his right eyebrow rising and falling as though massaging the underlying muscles to prevent the telltale sign of twitching. The proprietor failed to notice but his eyebrows did not and started to rise and fall as though they were at a baseball game and felt the need to participate in the Wave. Spencer opted to ignore that.
"Still, if you don't carry nice things then why call the place Nice Things?"
"To attract customers." He leaned in another few inches; Spencer took a step back. Spencer was a people person and his territorial bubble was small but he did feel threatened by the man's nasal hair, which was acting like a party favor with each breath drawn in and released. "Can't very well call the place Useless Crap and expect the mass to come flooding in."
"Yes," Spencer admitted, "Very true."
"Well," The proprietor continued, "Perhaps there may be something here for you. One never knows when a piece of useless crap will become a nice thing."
"Uh," Spencer started, "Nah."
"Aw, come on." The proprietor coaxed. "At least give me a chance."
"Fine." He cleared his throat. "I'll humor you."
The proprietor smiled, exposing teeth that would send even the most stalwart dentist to a state hospital.
"Let's start by finding out what type of person you are and I'll see if I can match you with something nice."
"Well," Spencer hesitated, "I guess I'm the type of guy who had a dream of taking over the world and ruling all but lacks the drive and ambition to go out and do it."
The proprietor nodded, turned and went to the shelf furthest away from the entrance door. Spencer watches as the man vanished from sight, drew in a deep breath and gagged on the lingering breath that would make a vampire burst into flame. The man returned a moment later with arms behind his back.
"Well, I found the perfect thing." He cleared his throat. "This item also wants world domination but lacks drive and ambition." He moved the item into view and Spence recoiled at the sight of the six-inch tall electronic toy that was bird-like in design, covered in white fur marred only by a tuft of red shaped like a heart, had a yellow bill and eyes that were closed. "I take it you're familiar with this nice thing?"
"My mother gave that thing to me for my last birthday." The proprietor nodded. "It was fun at first until I let it hang around with her three." He shuddered as the long repressed memory lurked closer, leapt forward with an ululating battle cry and seized control of his mind's eye. "Hers was evil and often spoke in tongues, mine did too after I brought it back home."
"It's just a battery operated toy." The proprietor remarked.
"Ri-ight. Tell that to my television and stereo it kept turning on."
"Nothing that has happened is impossible.” Spencer pointed at the toy. "I removed its batteries, placed it in my closet and two weeks later it spoke." He gave another shudder as though the icy fingers of death had latched onto his spine. "It said it saw me."
"Ah." The proprietor replied.
"I gave it to a friend who said the same thing happened. He gave it away and it circulated between fifteen people before it reappeared upon my front porch." He shuddered again. "I took an axe to it, burnt the pieces and scattered the ashes twenty miles east of town."
"Don't you want it?" Spencer shook his head. "Why not?" Spencer made to reply but fell silent when the toy's eyes opened. He gulped as the ethereal blue eyes pulsed red followed by its bill opening to unleash a maniacal laugh. Spencer turned, pulled the door open and took off running down the street. "Well, thanks a lot." He snapped at the toy, which cackled again. "That's another customer you scared away."
"No worries." The toy replied in an ominous voice. "I know where he lives."
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|Shadows Dance Chapter 1||PK Chapter 2: The Hallway|
|PK Chapter 1: In One Hour||PK Chapter 3: Lies|
|PK Chapter 4: Bread Crumbs|