This is my take to Octobers monthly flash fiction challenge on the /r/fantasywriters sub Reddit. This month’s challenge was to write a fantasy story based around a curio shop in only 500 words. You should check out some of the other entries it’s amazing what people can come up with in so few words.
The tinkle of the shop bell resounded around the dusty curiosity shop to the accompaniment of much muttering and yawning.
“Here we go again,” Hobbs sighed, stirring from a tatty couch conveniently situated near the only window.
“She’s just sheltering from the rain. She’s not going to buy anything,” said Daphne.
The bedraggled woman closed the door and shook the worst of the rain from her coat. The shopkeeper started from his snooze by the commotion dragged himself out of his chair. “Can I help you, dear, are you looking for something in particular?”
A loud tut came from behind the counter as Thomas interjected. “Wait for it…”
“I’m only browsing,” the woman replied.
“Every time! Every bloody time,” Thomas groaned. “Hell is watching this old fools sales technique.”
The shopkeeper slumped back into his seat as the woman wandered around the shop, picking up items one by one, looking at them and carefully placing them back down. She picked up an old baseball. Hobbs jumped up excitedly.
“She’s not going to buy it,” Daphne said.
“She might. She might have a son,” said Hobbs dancing up to the woman, just as she put the baseball back down.
“Told you,” Daphne mocked. Hobbs threw his hand in the air exasperated, “I hate you! One day you’ll be wrong. One day I’m going to get out of here.”
“Not likely,” hissed Daphne. “She’s the first customer this week. No one is going to buy a rotten baseball. None of us are getting out of here. Least of all you!”
Hobbs threw himself back into the couch in a huff and looked out at the rain. The woman continued her rummaging, turning over this and that absentmindedly. Thomas looked on. “It’s a shame old boy Jones isn’t still running the show. Junior here is bloody hopeless.”
His voice trailed off as the woman leaned behind an umbrella rack and with a tug pulled out a black umbrella. She brushed off the cobwebs, opened and closed it and turned to Jones. “I’ll take this thank you.”
All three ghosts shot to their feet. “Finally, I’m getting out of here,” Thomas screamed, bolting towards the door. “I can’t believe it. I’m getting out. Fifty-eight years I’ve been stuck here bound to that bloody thing.”
The woman handed over the umbrella to Jones who slowly rang up the price on the old till before stammering “Would you like it wrapped?”
A beam of light broke through the clouds, shining brightly through the window and onto the counter.
“I’m finally getting out of this dead-end shop,” cried Thomas. “I hope I never see either of you ever again. It has been utter hell. You people are the worst. You deserve each other for all eternity.”
The woman felt the warm sun on the back of her hand and turned to look back at the sun streaming through the window. She peered straight through Thomas and said. “Actually, don’t worry. It looks like the sun’s coming out.”