Entirely grateful for the sale, but not for needing the credits, I wiped the dust from my hands on the trailings of my shawl, entirely grateful to still have such a garment, impacts of climate change and absence of human skill for resourcing and production as they were.
From my client’s gloved and out-stretched hand I accepted his receipt verification unit and declined his offer to help place my token to the beast’s fangs with my gnarling left hand, shaking not with age but the chill. As per procedure I gripped the sensor firmly between right thumb and fore-finger, took a slow breath, emptied my mind and closed my eyes. It only took a moment that way and was both least draining and most efficient.
“Times have changed” I said, passing back the unit to slip of a young man before me.
“I have no way of knowing”, he replied, “which was why I’ve risked travelling so far to buy this”, coughing as his delighted vigorous wave sent thick dust into the air just in time to breathe it. Again I was glad of my shawl, and still with some sprite in my limbs I covered my mouth and nose.
Of all the things I’d saved in my long years, I wished I’d save more pens or pencils, and paper and could have taken the two minutes to issue a traditional receipt having placed the customer’s item into a bag of one kind or another, wiping it dust-free first as a matter of courtesy – but traditions prohibited and resources scarce and the Law being an ass in as many ways as ever and some things never change I thought. At least this way made for a quick transaction with no losses, no obligation to accept a return, no buyer compromising the facts of the deal with mistruth and no potential for misunderstanding.
I didn’t expect a thank you as he left the antique store, even though I’d had to walk for three weeks to arrive here to authorise the verify the sale. “Some things are never what you might expect of the future, nor of the past”, I said just as the door closed behind him.
I was surprised he turned to face me and tippe his hat – taking such a risk in the outside presence was a rarity this day and age. But he grinned, and strode out into the evening, to reach home safely I hoped.
Now I could plan my long journey home a lot easier than arranging my arrival and reaching my destination.
Taking my token from my left hand with my right, I placed it into the store’s communicator. The automated voice took me by surprise, our settlement no longer had a workable version and had to rely on a screen display and good memory – human that is. Our people had reverted to scoring into stone or solid object to generate a record for their personal use. It had been a longwinded battle but as it had no longer been a tradition or considered valid skill to hand carve, our defense was undeniable.
“Your token is credited with fifty thousand values” said the voice. “Accepted authenticated receipt states Buyer Beware, dust outside and in. Clogged. Installed operating system refuses to defragment the disk-drive. The words “four” “mat” and “see” must never be stated while the unit is activated, nor any such word of similarity or significant loss of data will occur and the unit will be inoperable. This hard-drive has a will (and it seemed, also, a life) of it’s own. Human interaction time to access and analyse the archived files process the data will exceed three lifetime’s at forecast solar energy potentials. A wind-up device is an unlikely find. No liability accepted. Your transport arrives in forty minutes, a cup of tea and a sandwich have been provided by your satisfied customer to compensate for your arduous journey here. You will be home within the hour. Your token retains the esential information and discards your perks. Thank you for verifying your sale with Co-Curios, trading since 1709, you may depend on our service.
I sat back with my sandwich and the luxury of tea in a rather large mug in the safety of swift travel in good time for suppering, now financially secure for the rest of my life. Whatever that might mean.
Note to self: proving I can’t write a story and should go back to school and get more practice! Written in personalised response to random-generated Daily Prompt:Buyer, Beware. The year is 2243, and your computer’s dusty hard drive has just resurfaced at an antique the store. Write a note to the curious buyer explaining what he or she will find there. (Alternate version stuck in the mud!)