2012 NaNoWriMo Excerpt #2

by johannespunkt

Another excerpt can be found here: /2012/11/12/nanowrimo-excerpt-1/

(This takes place before that one.) Comments appreciated.

~

The Information Market bustled. The woman used to take the way through it home because it was quicker.

The ceiling here speckled with stars, also had tiny disclaimers about ‘accurate representation’.

“Young lady!” screamed the man in the hat. He wore a garish reflecting suit and he bought and sold information for a living. He grabbed at the young woman’s neck with his hooked cane and eventually dragged her to his dais, where he knelt with one arm on his knee and looked into her eyes. “You can’t fool me. I know you were there, I saw the incident report with my own eyes. How’s about we make a deal?”

She wriggled loose from his cane (the only way to do this was unfortunately to move forward just a bit, and then duck; the Garish man smiled at her when they were this close) and rubbed her shoulderblades. “How about no, leave me alone.”

“You’re never gonna get a deal as good as this, I promise you. I have some bona fide ancient information, it arrived here from the Divers just a moment ago – I swear, this is the hot stuff! Tell you what, free of charge I’m gonna tell you the first bit, if you just will tell me your name, pretty one.”

He had now grabbed her by the face and made her mouth go fishlike. “Pro’vis Nok. They call me Rovy,” she said, with some difficulty. She grabbed his wrist to wrench it away from her face but his arm ghosted except for the gloved part.

“Excellent!” he shouted. A small semi-circle of people had formed around him. “People, this woman won’t tell us what she saw at crash site number one despite being there! Information wants to be free and all information has a price, right!?” A murmur of agreement; the semi-circle dissipating as the onlookers turned their attention to a recently unfurled screen in the middle of the Information Market.

“L’ go of my f’se,” Rovy said, clawing at the seven fingers of the glove around her mouth.

Garish absent-mindedly let her go and the gloved hand fell to the floor. The screen showed a map of Human City and the 43 confirmed crash sites. A big red text blinked, declaring this to be ‘FREE INFORMATION’ over and over again. The man cursed.

Every crash site had little red borders around them and people – both journalists and the curious – started milling out with copies of the map inside their heads, making to run toward certain crash sites. It was a game of futures; the information that most sought out would be least valuable but also most hard-guessed. The more experienced just random-number-generated it, some newlysprungs tried to analyze their way to it. The ones that didn’t think about it, or didn’t care about the value of the info, just headed for the closest sites available.

Garish stepped down from his dais with long, striped legs, striding toward the round and friendly-looking man talking in front of the map. “You know the market of information is still up and running,” he said, when he arrived.

“This is free information,” the friendly-looking man answered. “As I was saying, the sky machines are working on enclosing the areas, so I’d estimate there only being a window of about thirty minutes more to go until they’re all mirror-domed off.”

“This is misleading information. They take that sort of stuff very seriously and you lost me a whole crowd.”

Another crash site was added to the map, explosively. “Excuse me,” said the rotund, friendly man. He split himself in two and one of them continued talking about the map. The other one dragged Garish off the podium with him and shoved him up against a nearby wall. This new version of the man – his nametag said Portentous and his features were all darker – flickered but was mostly there. “I’m not selling it, I’m just distributing it.”

“Last I checked, the market for misleading information was closed for all forms of distribution, free or otherwise.” Garish sneered so hard it turned into a grimace.

Portentous produced a tiny sky-machine and put it in one of the garish suit’s pockets. “Check again,” he said, before ghosting entirely, leaving Garish out of breath and leaning against the wall. His face was contorted as he picked up the sky-machine.

It was a tiny, grey robot shaped mostly like a butterfly. It had many names, including President, Director, Governor, Tyrant, Tsar, Honcho, etc. “There is one new message for Garish Vuiddeliken,” said the machine.

“Go on then.”

“It is our pleasure to announce that the misleading information market, after 54 years of closure, has been opened up – with limitations – once again. Happy market fluctuations.” The Tyrant fluttered away. Garish’s mouth hung open until his eyes fixed on the young woman named Rovy still staring at him.

“What?”

“I gave you my name. We had a deal.”

“Oh, we did, yes.”

“You said you’d tell me the hot stuff. The ancient stuff.” She almost copied his diction, but  it fell short. “Directly from the Divers of Port Origine, no?”

“I never said which Divers, but yes. You can have it all. Here.” He tossed her a small metal ball stuffed with information. “I need to reconsider my business strategy.” And so he disappeared through the wall, having never been flesh in the first place.

Rovy stared at her palm. The ball was about as heavy as she would expect.

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