Author : Lindsey McLeod

When the doorbell beeped, Henry didn’t bother looking up from the Independent Galactic Dispatch. It would beep again in a few moments, once the customer had glanced around the shop and decided that there was nothing they wished to peruse further. Even a potential purchaser, as unlikely as that idea was, could wait. Henry’s knowledge of the debate on legal rights for robotic cup holders was shabby at best, and the Indy was currently helping to rectify this.

A shadow fell across the page. Henry swallowed a sigh. “Can I help you?”

The woman was studying the dusty radio on the counter with a hint of disdain. “Yah, yah. I’m just looking.”

She didn’t immediately slide away from the counter though, so he was forced to politely endure her umbral encroachment with a thin smile. He watched her in annoyance, unable to fully devote himself to the grand pursuit of wisdom as she meandered about the room, picking up various objects with increasing ennui. One listless tentacle caressed a withered photograph of some twentieth century President Nobody. Prime Minister Something or Other. He wondered whether he could pass the coffee stain off as blood. A bit of tangible history.

The same tentacle fondled the engraving on an open silver locket with a gesture which was, if not a sibling then definitely a first cousin, of complete boredom. Her shoes made syncopated clicking noises.

Henry returned his focus to the Indy, drawing his sprkker-weave cardigan closer around him. The Courts versus V-Type Holder 1138775 could wait until later. The advice column this week was about introverts. Interesting. Perhaps it had some useful information he could use. The subheadings read: Try reaching a new goal; Interact with people; Choose your own boundaries. The shadow fell again. He took a calming breath. If only interacting with people didn’t actually involve interacting with people. There was a whole galaxy out there and he’d be quite happy if it stayed that way instead of repeatedly barging into his little shop. “Can. I. Help. You?”

“These fortune telling cards,” the woman said, brandishing said item. “Have you tried them?”

Henry squinted at her. “Fortune telling is entirely outwith the realm of science.”

“That wasn’t my question.”

He felt hopelessly adrift. “Then no.”

She opened the pack and started shuffling them one by one. “Pick a card, any card,” the woman drawled.

Most of her eyes were a deep, lustrous brown. Challenging. He looked down at the Indy. Then back at her. He drew a card and glanced down. She eyed him impatiently. “Was it the Lovers?”

“Does it matter?”

“That wasn’t my question.”

He smiled in spite of himself. “Then yes.”

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