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1. Altered Fates

Altered Fates

on 2005-03-22 23:56:03

70705 hits, 1180 views, 8 upvotes.

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Susan set down the final box, filling the last of the twenty or so small tables occupying
her lawn. Walking to the road and adjusting the 'YARD SALE - TODAY!' sign to make it level,
she surveyed the scene. The biggest clear-out in the history of the Dewhurst family! No more
clutter, and room in the attic for Alan's new study, so he could work from home.

She smiled, feeling a sense of achievement. Of course, there was still one big problem -
she'd need plenty of customers to shift all this merchandise. She hoped all the ads in the
local paper and posters around town would do the trick. Susan made one last pass along
the aisles to check everything was priced properly, then went to find her husband.

Alan was already up in the newly-cleared attic measuring up. "It's gonna be great up here,
honey. There's plenty of room for my desk and filing cabinets. This working from home
idea is the best you've ever had! No more miserable commute for me!"

Susan smiled and gave him a quick hug. "Well, it'll be good to have you around the house
more, certainly. Everything's set up outside--we're just waiting for our first buyers. I'd
better go out and watch, okay?"

"Sure. Get Scott off his behind as well and get him to help you--he's only slobbing around
watching TV."

Susan went back downstairs and out into the sunshine. They'd lucked out, and the weather was
perfect. She decided to let her son enjoy his weekend a while longer--there was no
need for him to be out here with no customers yet. Heaven forbid he might get some fresh
air, she thought to herself with a chuckle.

By 10:30, Susan, staring at a deserted garden, was starting to get a bit worried, but at
last people started to arrive.

What a relief! A few trickled in at first, but soon numbers were picking up and there were a
good twenty people milling around the tables examining all the Dewhursts' old stuff.

A young couple hunted for bargains while their two small children raced around between the
tables. A middle-aged woman searched through boxes, obviously with something specific in
mind. A group of college boys milled around chatting, half-looking through the stuff for
anything of interest. It wasn't long before Susan started making sales.

Charles Wittman watched the people wandering around the yard sale from across the street.
He'd been watching all morning, waiting for it to get busy enough that he wouldn't stand
out in the crowd. Deciding it was time, he took the small box out of his pocket and examined
the contents once more.

The Medallion of Zulo wasn't attractive - a rather dull ugly bronze with a poorly-etched
figure on it. "So long, old friend," he said to it with a wry smile. "You've served me

Indeed, two years ago Charlie Wittman had been down-and-out, middle-aged, fat, balding and
going nowhere. Now he was young, strong, successful and happy, and it was all down to
the unimpressive piece of costume jewellery nestling in the small case in his hand.

Being thorough, he took the small piece of folded paper from the box and read it over once
more for any inaccuracies. He'd decided that it was only fair to provide instructions with
the medallion; it could, after all, be dangerous if misused, and he'd had a fair amount of
experience with its capabilities over the last few months.

Satisfied, he closed the medallion and the directions back up in the small black case, and
crossed over to join the sale. It only took a moment to slip into the crowd, and
instantly he was just another bargain hunter. He found a quiet table and gently slipped the
box in among the other items for sale--and as a finishing touch, took the price label from
an adjacent item and stuck it on the interloper.

With a final glance and a smile, he moved on, feigned interest in some bric-a-brac at the
next table for a moment, and then walked off down the street, leaving the instrument of his
new fate to be found by some other lucky soul.

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