Hidden Shop

Alex eyed the guns displayed in the window and grinned to himself. The weapons all appeared to be over-designed sci-fi props with tons of buttons and flashing LEDs. He looked deeper into the shop and saw a flaming sword suspended in a display case.

This is perfect!” He entered the store and a small bell over his head informed the shopkeeper of a customer. A short man with a brown mop of hair and a black t-shirt with a golden star on it stepped out of an opening behind the counter.

“Hello! I’m Caesar, what can I help you find tonight?” He smiled at Alex. Alex approached the glass counter. He took note of several mundane items in locked cases inside the glass counter. An umbrella, a pitcher, and a bonnet all heavily secured.

“Hi,” Alex shared a handshake with Caesar. “I’ve got a costume party at work tomorrow, and I don’t have a costume,” Alex looked around the store. “But I think I can put something together from your props.”

“Props?” Caesar asked. His eyes narrowed and he looked at Alex up and down. “You shouldn’t have been able to see the shop,” Caesar said. He walked out from behind the counter and took Alex’s arm to lead him to the door. “Sorry for the misunderstanding. We’re closed now.” Alex planted his feet and stood firm.

“Wait! What do you mean? Why are you rushing me out?” Caesar sighed and released his grip on Alex’s arm.

“This is real. Everything in here is real and powerful. Usually only certain types of people can see us,” Caesar shrugged. “But somehow you got in.” Alex grinned.

“You’re kidding!” He burst into laughter. “Everything here is powerful huh? What about that pink bonnet?” he pointed at the glass counter. A pink bonnet floated inside a locked glass case. Caesar moved behind the counter and unlocked it. Then he reached in and pulled out the smaller case holding the bonnet and unlocked it.

“#13, El Gorrito,” he said. He reached into the case and pulled the bonnet out. A black mannequin’s head appeared in the box when he removed it. “Invisibility variant.” He put the bonnet back on the head in the box and it disappeared again.

“No way…” Alex stared silently at the floating bonnet for several seconds. “That’s amazing…” He stepped back and looked over the whole store. “It’s real!” he yelped like a giddy child. “I have to buy something. Anything. What’s cheap?” He imagined other-worldly weapons would be expensive.

“Well, you’re here. No harm in selling to you, I guess.” Caesar walked to another counter and waved at Alex to join him. He reached inside and pulled out an frilly pink parasol.

“What’s that?” Alex pointed at a small box with a small, rectangular piece of glass in it. Alex thought it looked like a futuristic cell-phone.

“That’s a node. Those aren’t cheap.” Caesar opened the pink umbrella and held it up while spinning the handle. “This is the cheapest I’ve got. Five thousand dollars.”

“That better be some special umbrella,” Alex complained. Caesar nodded at a bowl of candy on the counter.

“Throw one at me,” he said. Alex smiled and was happy to comply. He picked up a fun-sized chocolate bar and tossed it at Caesar’s head. It bounced off an invisible force field and fell to the ground.

“Whoa!” Alex picked up another hand full of candy and tossed them at Caesar to watch them bounce off the shield. “That’s awesome. I’ll take it. Out of curiosity, how much is the node?”

“Ten million.”

“Right. Just the umbrella then.”

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