Flash Friday 10/07/2015: Just The Ticket
Michael Weybridge wasn’t sure what to expect when he turned around. A swarm of scimitars pointing at him wasn’t one of the options.
The owners were all pirates. A larger male, with an arm around his presumed loved one stood in the middle of a real motley crew, each and every one of them giving Michael glaring eyes. Or eye, in some cases.
The larger male pirate sneered. “Not sure what game you’re trying to play here, but we’re having none of it.”
Michael blinked. He dressed like what a jester would wear if he were to sit beside the king during a royal banquet; colourful, yet dignified. “I’m not sure what you mean,” he said with a smile.
“You know exactly what I mean,” the large pirate said. Michael had begun to walk towards one of the shelves in the store, the cloud of swords following him as he walked, parting to let him pass. “We bought a treasure map off of you a few months ago. You said it was legitimate.”
Michael took a stuffed bear off of the shelf, dusting it off. “I did, yes.”
“Well, we found your stupid chest of yours. Lads, how about you show him what we found?”
A pair of pirates cut through the crowd, carrying a chest between them. They placed it down and flipped open the lid, revealing the treasure within.
“What do you expect us to do with this then, eh?” the captain said, digging his hand into the mound of tickets in the chest and running them through his fingers. “How are we expect to get rich off of this?”
Michael tittered. “You don’t use the tickets, you silly fool.”
The scimitars closed in.
“So, what are we supposed to do with them?”
“Why, you bring them here to me, and you can exchange them for prizes. And you’ve just done the first part, so all that’s left is the latter. Would you like this stuffed bear? Ten tickets.”
The captain opened his mouth to object, but before words could come out, one of this crew had stepped forwards and taken it. The new owner slinked back into the crowd sheepishly.
“Now now, don’t be shy,” Michael said. “There’s plenty of prizes to go around. Anyone want a little fox toy? Oh, how about this? An eyepatch with some gems in it! Isn’t that nice? Now now, don’t push and shove, you’ll all get your turn–”
“Hold it!” The captain bellowed.
The crew surrounding Michael froze at once.
“I don’t know about my crew, but I’m not going to be swayed by some cheap tat. I set out with my men to chase down treasures beyond my wildest dreams. Are you going to tell me that these tickets can buy me those dreams, or am I going to have to strip this place for what it’s worth?”
“Someone with an eye for luxury, I see.” Michael crossed the store behind a counter, ducking behind it. “I can respect that. After all, you accrued such a huge amount of tickets, nothing below the best would be suited for you. That’s why I would like to offer you…” he appeared again, placing a three foot tall stuffed elephant on the counter. “The best prize in the house.”
“Now, listen here,” the captain said, leaning over the counter and getting a little too close to Michael than someone would like. Michael, however, maintained his child-like smile. “I’m not sure what pit they raised you in, but up here on solid earth, there’s these people called pirates, see? That’s us. And what we do, we go around and loot people’s stuff for all their worth. Gold, ale, women, you name it. So if you honestly think you can impress pirates with this tat, then you–”
The captain’s lady took the elephant off of the counter and gave it a hug.
The captain took a deep breath. “Okay,” he said, in a much lower and more defeated tone. “Please tell me you have something good, so I don’t go insane and find a new crew that won’t take this stuff as ‘treasure’.”
Michael’s face turned bitter. “You mean none of this is to your liking? What’s wrong with you? Did your inner child die the day you set sail?” A disgusted noise. “Alright then. If you want, I can just go ahead and ruin the surprise by rattling off the prize list.” Michael began to count on his fingers. “A kazoo. A pirate’s flag with a smiling Jolly Roger on it. Colouring book. With crayons, by the way. Can’t have the tykes left with a book and nothing to use it on. T-Shirt that reads ‘I Sailed The Seven Seas And All I Got Was This Lousy Shirt’. Map detailing the location of Captain Blackbeard’s legendary treasure. Pirate dog toy–”
“Wait a second,” the captain said breathlessly. “What was that last one?”
“Oh, this?” Michael placed it on the counter. “It squeaks when bitten.”
“Not that! The map!”
Michael sneered. “You mean this?” He grabbed the map from behind him, rolling it out on the counter. “Can’t see why you’d want this. It’s one of the lowest prizes we have. All it is is a piece of dog-eared paper with an X on it. I doubt the treasure has any tokens in it at all.”
“How many tokens is it?” the pirate sputtered in desperation.
“This?” Michael picked it up between fingers like a used diaper. “To be honest, I should be giving you tokens for it. But if you pay me, say, five of them, then I’ll gladly–”
Five tokens slammed on the counter. The map snatched from Michael’s hand. The captain giving a laugh of victory as he stampeded out of the store, the rest of his crew following. Before long, all that was left was a swinging door and a slightly dirtied floor.
Michael shrugged. “I can never keep tabs on the popular toys of today.”