The Traveler was tall and dusty. Golden particles swirled around him. Time moved slowly in his presence. His left leg dragged on the floor as he walked into the empty saloon; stiff as a broomstick. The bartender was struggling to interpret the Traveler’s facial expression. He had seen many faces but few that betrayed so little of what went on behind the surface. The eyes were young but the skin was dry and tough. Deep wrinkles ran across the Traveler’s forehead and from both sides of his nose down to his square, beardless jaw. They looked like they had been cut into his face with a blunt knife.
The Traveler nodded. “Rum. Dark.”
The bartender’s hand shook as he poured two fingers worth of the best they had. He had a habit to shove the glass over to the customers across the sticky bar but something stopped him this time. Instead, he simply nodded to the Traveler who was in no hurry to reach out.
“You’ve come far?”
The Traveler’s stare was cold; hostile.
“You’re looking for a story, mate?”
The bartender was lost for words. He didn’t know whether he should agree or apologize. Neither seemed safe.
“Life’s not exciting enough in here, mate?”
The bartender retreated from the bar. With his back against the wall, he stared at the Traveler with wide, open eyes. He still couldn’t speak.
“Alright, then. Let’s tell a story, mate.”
The Traveler reached into one of the many pockets that were sewn into his tattered coat. The bartender was surprised to see that instead of a gun or knife he pulled out a titanium compass. It looked heavy and was large enough to fill the Traveler’s palm. Golden particles seemed to emanate from the compass.
“Once upon a time, a young man yearned for an adventure. He was warned of dangers…but…he didn’t listen.”
The needle of the compass began to spin, picking up maddening speed and humming like a swarm of bumblebees.
“He wanted power. The power that comes from seeing the world. He didn’t know it then but there is no power in travel…just slavery. Time is a cruel master. Can’t manipulate it. Only a one-way street. But you’ll know it soon enough, mate. You’ll see. You’ll feel it soon.”
An impossible wind was blowing around the two men. The bartender thought about crouching down on the floor but he couldn’t move. He was pinned to the wall behind him. The golden particles formed a small tornado around the compass. Then, they started to move towards the bartender.
“You’ll feel it soon.”
The particles surrounded the bartender. They swirled around his head. The bartender tried to scream but his throat was too dry. He could only stare in horror as the particles forced their way through his nostrils and windpipe. He could feel them buzzing within his aching lungs. The Traveler watched emotionlessly as the bartender combusted into a cloud of gold particles. Then, he finally reached for the rum.
“Have a good trip, mate.” he mumbled.
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See ya next time 😉
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