AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece was written for Three Word Wednesday and is cross-posted at Alice Audrey's Serialists. Although it is set in the same world as Steal Tomorrow it is part of a new series of stories centered around new characters. The "Extras" section of the sidebar has been updated to reflect this. Be sure to drop by Three Word Wednesday and The Serialists for more fun.
The teenage boy crossed his long legs and gave Petra a steady look that was impossible to read. “We don’t need to advertise.”
Her friend Jamail had warned her this would happen, but Petra was nothing if not determined. She forced a bright smile. “Of course you don’t need to advertise your actual products, but don’t you want your customers to know about your holiday specials?”
The boy’s features remained immobile, except for a slightly raised eyebrow.
“Oh, come on. Christmas sales are an American tradition.”
The boy leaned forward, his voice a deadly growl. “We’re the most powerful gang in the city. Pharms don’t follow traditions and we lower our prices for no one.”
Petra sucked in her breath. The Pharm leader’s proximity frightened her, but it wouldn’t serve her purpose to let him know his intimidation techniques were succeeding. “Well, I just thought—”
“Don’t.” He sat up straight and glared, daring her to continue.
Her mind racing, Petra scrambled for a comeback that would be both snappy and convincing. Sure the Pharms were thugs, hoarding the drugs that other kids needed in order to survive, but that didn’t mean they had no Christmas spirit at all, did it? Had the trauma of the pandemic left them with no other sentiments beyond greed?
She affected a sigh and closed her notebook. “Okay, then.” Her hand trembled as she clipped the pen to the outside cover. “The Zoo Tribe is advertising special discounts on duck eggs because it’s good publicity. Some kids think they’re dangerous and are afraid to trade with them, so doing the whole Merry Christmas thing will help their reputation. Pharms don’t have to worry about anything like that, though.” She stood up. “Thanks for your time.”
Petra was nearly to the door when the Pharm leader called after her. “What’d you say your rates were?”
She turned around slowly, suppressing a smile. “As you say, you’re the most powerful gang in the city. You get a special price.”
While the Pharm leader fidgeted in his seat, Petra returned to hers with a polite smile and retribution on her mind. She’d give this guy a special price, all right. And with any luck, he’d fall victim to the pandemic virus without ever having had a chance to discover that City News was charging the Pharms twenty percent more.
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