This story is a follow-up to the sixth one to my Squish-Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds Prompt Call.
This story is Fae Apoc, BeeKeeper – it is set before the Beekeeper series. The unnamed guy in this story is Amrit, and Roger is the sausage vendor.
There were often strangers at their market.
That was why they’d set it up where they had – the highway might not be quite the hub of traffic it once had, but it was still a broad, easy way for people to move, and they still used it (once Roger and the others had cleared out enough cars to make 2 lanes passible again).
So their market almost always had people they didn’t recognize, people from out of town, people passing through.
Something about this one, though, made Roger watch him carefully. He wasn’t friendly, without being aggressive or mean – he smiled at people but didn’t bother with conversation
Most people traveling the highway wore some basic armor; this guy didn’t. Most of them had a little bit of a sense of the predators lurking in the corners; this guy didn’t. Most of them bargained on prices – this guy did, but it seemed to make him uncomfortable.
At first, Roger thought he might be an old fae just pretending to be a young traveler. They got those, although not very often, someone trying to see what the world was like now, someone tracking prey, someone who considered this their area and wanted to see how the people who ought to be worshiping them were really living.
(That last one, Roger had helped end. They did not need would-be gods. Of all the things they didn’t need, would-be gods were probably top of the list, and with the ruin of the world all around them, there were a lot of things they didn’t need.)
He’d kept track of the guy until he realized, when the man was at Roger’s stall looking at his sausage, that he was just a kid – well, maybe not a kid, but he was no older than Roger and probably younger. Roger couldn’t have said quite what it was that cued him in – the idiom the guy used, the way he reached first for his credit card and then laughed, nervously, the way he talked to Roger like Roger was probably his senior.
He was as young as he looked. He might not be fae at all, might just be a human, and Roger wasn’t going to go out of his way to check on way or the other.
He wrapped up the guy’s packages. “You might want to watch your back,” he murmured. “There’s hunters around these parts, and they like to pick off single strangers. If you don’t want to end up in a cage or worse, be careful where you set up camp, all right?”
The guy hesitated, looking at the man. “Is that what everyone meant?” he muttered. “All the ‘strangers have to be ware?'”
Roger snorted. “Sounds like a bad horror movie set-up, doesn’t it?” he laughed. He could even guess who it was who’d said it that way. Ephila. She probably liked the way the guy looked. He really had to have a talk with them. “It’s not, I mean, any more than anything these days is. Watch your step, though. Not because you might offend some malevolent spirits, though. Just because it’s too easy to disappear.”
“Not sure that’s a lot better.” The guy looked around, took his packages, nodded. “Thanks for the tip. I’ll be careful where I bunk tonight.”
That was all Roger could hope for.
“Good. Here, take this bacon end, too. It won’t last and nobody likes the ends – just be sure to cook it tonight.”
He had a soft spot for the young ones, especially nowadays. And if he could keep one more out of the slaver’s hands, all the better.
Want more? See here first!