About The Laws of Space
The Laws of Space
Chapter 10 Begins
Chapter 10: Stepp Into My Office
“Come on, then! Step right up and get some! Come on, what are you waiting for, Space? That’ll be the day, no—step right up and get what you can while you can get it. You there, you there, why deny yourself the pleasures of life when they are set before you today? Just a few credits and you can float away. We got booze, and if you’re feeling saucy, we’ve got inhibitors and chemical enhancers that’ll make you feel like Spacer of the Month, even if it’s only a few hours!” The people laughed—as much as Regulars could, anyway.
The sales pitch was coming from the chapped lips of the sometimes vaunted and sometimes hated Mr. Stepp. As evidenced by the throng of Breathers vying for his wares, Mr. Stepp was the greatest purveyor of all things suspect in City Five. He had started his business in the very spot he now stood: It was some kind of bunker, left from the time before, between two Doms and down far enough to evade the always lurking Mechs and Sky Eyes. Mr. Stepp had no idea what it used to be, but now it was his—a way to get rich, a way up the credit chain and into real Space of his own. Mr. Stepp was a true Hoper.
“Where do you get all this stuff?” yelled one of the Breathers in the crowded “store.” Mr. Stepp, separated from his clientele by a slipshod glass counter, cleared his grizzled throat for a retort.
“If I told you that, I’d be out of business. What do you take me for, an idiot?” Stepp hated people the way everybody else did, but having to sell—to feign genial affectations, he’d come to a keener understanding of the dark side of man and the need to get away from it. “Now, you buying or what? Twenty credits. Come on, people waiting.” He eyed the Breather, an insolent rube with a pocked face and freckles, knowing it was a sure thing.
“Okay,” answered the rube, running his hand over the credit scanner. Stepp punched twenty into the keypad beside the square section of the contraption and then scanned his own hand over it. This was the only method for transacting business between Regulars. The machine itself was worth more than the store and everybody in it, save Mr. Stepp. To have a scanner meant you were a power broker in the world of the Regulars; anytime people needed to trade credits or services outside of City Five’s purview, they had to use one. It was why Stepp had it chained to a thirty-pound weight behind the counter. Usually the old were the only ones with enough credits to purchase one of the coveted contraptions; Stepp was no exception, age wise. Everything above his shoulders was monochrome gray, save a bent red nose and failing black teeth that came out during transaction time.
Though he looked like he’d recently climbed out of a sarcophagus, Mr. Stepp was sharp enough to get the best of almost anyone. Besides, his stuff sold itself.