“So the sign says going out of business, everything must go. Does that include the rack of video games?”

“Dunno.” The cashier, Shelly, was even more disaffected than usual. A member of the working dead, she was desperately trying to get a job elsewhere in town— which meant that, as far as Dex’s Grocery was concerned, she had completely checked out. Maybe the library would appreciate that attitude, if they were hiring. “If you wanna know, go buy one, you’ll find out when it rings up.”

“Good point,” Heath said. “What about the cash register? It’s everything. Can I buy it?” He paused a moment. “How would I even buy it? Would you have to write a receipt, or could you check me out on that other register? And then how do you sell the last register?”

Shelly sighed. “The fixtures aren’t gonna be sold ‘til the last day of business.” Then, giving Heath a sideways glare: “What would a kid like you need a cash register for, anyway?”

“Probably lots of fun stuff in there.” Heath shrugged. “And I think a POS system could really help grow my small business.”

Shelly snorted, thinking of how every other opening of the cash drawer needed to be coaxed along with a little percussive maintenance. “It’s a POS all right,” she said. “Look, kid, go bug one of the stockers, will you? Come back if you’re gonna buy something.”

At the back of the store, near the rack of Nintendo Wii shovelware, Heath found a familiar veiled shadow.

“Here too?” he said, shocked.

“Here too. The Margrave was surprised at the boy’s question. What had he thought would happen, next?”

Heath bit his lip. “This store is closing in a week,” he said. “There’s no reason to destroy it when it’s destroying itself just fine, right?”

The woman seemed to glower darkly from her shadows. “The Margrave reminded the boy that there is no justice in an act of self-destruction. This mildewy mart cannot expect to use its own bedsheet noose to cheat the hangman.”

“Look, I was fine with the statue,” said Heath. “That other stuff. It needed to go, it was bad. But not everything needs justice, right? Justice for what? There’s some stuff that isn’t so bad.”

“The Margrave spoke slowly, and with a tone of ice so that the boy might know her intentions. There is nothing worth saving in this wretched town, in this or any world.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!