Brimstone Marketplace has always been a pretty underground organization. It was initially created to help under privileged families, refugees and homeless individuals get food and anything else they needed. You can find almost anything here; medication, light sources, food, dairy, car parts, sometimes even furniture. The only thing you can’t find here would probably be weaponry. At least that’s how it was before the Awakening, I’m not sure how it works now.
The best part about this place though is that money isn’t an option for payment. Everything is done through trades, whether that be other items or favors. Some people rack up a whole bunch of debt and depending on who it’s with are usually clear until they can pay back in some way.
I’ve only heard of maybe two times when a dealer got mad at their costumer for debt. The dealers know what they are getting into when they sell here so most all of them are kind and forgiving with plenty to spare.
Me and Katie used to bring our old shoes and coats here to trade for fun stuff. We would get board games, notebooks, candy, one time we even scored some car parts that Katies dad needed for his ford truck. We had told him at the time we used our babysitting money to get it for him, since we weren’t allowed to step foot in here.
I recognize a few of the dealers from all those trips we took so long ago. They all still have their large sheets and canopy’s over each wheeled-up table, made specifically for a quick escape. This place isn’t exactly legal so a quick escape is essential to being open.
From what I remember, Asher, Nat and me should be heading towards the medicine side of the market. Even when they change locations the layout stays the same. Meds has always been on the east side.
“What are we trying to get?” I whisper to Nat, knowing full well I could find it quick if I knew.
“We need first aid kit supplies. Gaz, bandages, disinfectant and pain killers. Barry still owes me for the iPhone I gave him last time so we shouldn’t have to trade anything.” Nat whispers back, grabbing a distracted Asher from a kiosk full of sunglasses.
“I remember Barry, he used to give out free suckers to any kids that passed by. Me and Ka- “I stop myself. “That was a long time ago though.”
“He still does when he has them. Apparently, candy is a lot harder to get nowadays.” She says then pauses and looks at me. “You used to come here?”
“Yeah, maybe once a month with one of my old friends.”
“Hmm, I had no idea this kind of thing existed until I became a guardian.”
Asher butts into our conversation before I can respond. “None of us did. Were you poor or something?”
Nat gasps and hits his arm, almost sending him flying towards a table. “You can’t ask that type of thing, Ash. What is wrong with you?”
“It’s alright Nat, I can handle myself.” I say and pat her arm before turning to the smirking idiot rubbing his arm. “My family wasn’t rich, no, but we had everything we needed. The only reason I knew about this place is because me and Katie stumbled upon it one day while exploring. Nothing more, nothing less. Now let’s get what we need and get back to meet Cala before she rips off one of our heads.” I put my hand on Nat’s back and begin to lead her towards Barry’s area.
He’s sitting behind his table with his feet up in the table and a Mets cap over his face. A dark blue polo sits over his bear belly and I can hear his snores getting louder the closer we get. Nat pulls out of my embrace and rings the bell that lays just in front of him. He doesn’t jump like I expect and instead lifts a hand to peek under his cap. At first it doesn’t look like he can see us but slowly his eyes focus and a smile gradually forms on his face.
“I expected Morgan today, but Lark this is certainly a surprise.” He says cheerfully, his voice hardy with scruff.
“Morgan?” I mumble to Nat in confusion.
“You didn’t think I’d tell him my real name, did you?” She mumbles back then grins back at Barry. “It’s nice to see you, Mr. B.”
“Old and new faces are always to be expected here, you know that old man.” I say to him reeling up
“Oof hit me right in the gut why dont’cha?” he says clutching his stomach. “Now what can I get for you lovely ladies, eh? I just got a whole new stock of merchandise from a dear friend of mine. I got most anything. You need Advil -I got it- morphine -sure- I even got birth control if that’s what you ladies are-.”
“We only need bandages and pain meds, Barry!” I blurt out as quick as I can.
“Are you sure? I can get you-“
“Listen mister,” Ashers annoying voice pounds out. “We don’t have any time for chit chat. Just give us what we need so we can get out of this junk yard.”
I glare daggers into the side of his head before turning back with a smile to our lovely sales man. “What this doofus to the left of me means, is that were a bit sensitive when it comes to time. Could you help us out a bit?” I say as sweetly as possible.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Asher about to speak again, so I quickly lift my foot and slam it down onto his shoe. Eliciting nothing other than a hurtful groan.
“Ah I see… I owe Morgan here so you can have up to ten items of whatever you need.” He says smiling at us and side eyeing the said doofus.
“I have a list!” Nat says excitedly and pulls a small notepad size piece paper.
I grin at her as she begins to list off items to him and he scurries to keep up with her.
The hair on the back of my neck stands high and I feel a gust of something cold run down my back. I turn around and scout out the bustling crowd. My chest constricts as a very bad feeling sets in and the room dims. Nobody other than me seems to notice the change. Everyone just goes about their business as if something terrible isn’t about to happen. My body freezes but as soon as the first sign of a whisper enters my ear I flip around and grab onto Nat’s arm.
“We need to go. Now.”
“Cala isn’t expecting us for another three minutes.” She blows me off, piling more stuff into a plastic bag Barry must have given her.
“No Nat, now. Something is seriously wrong.”
Nat finally looks up at me and sees the panic on my face. She nods and says a quick thank you to Barry before grabbing a bored looking Asher to follow us.
My steps are quick and as long as I can make them. The two behind me struggle to keep up but I don’t care. We have to get out.
A scent enters my nose and I stop dead in my tracks, causing a bit of commotion behind me.
“What is it?” Asher whispers quickly. “Why’d you stop?”
I sniff one more time to make sure. “Gas.”
My feet begin moving again, faster than they were before. I search frantically for the top of platinum hair through the crowd. My breathing is now erratic and my grip on Nat’s arm must be painful.
Finally, I see her – the angel- standing near the spot we came in. She’s leaning against a banister talking with the rest of the group.
Good they’re all together.
I waste no time and shout out her name, not caring about the stares around the room or the glare she gives me.
When we reach her, she pays no attention to the fear on our faces.
“What the hell is wrong with you? You can’t just go around screaming out my name you idio- “she spits at me but I interrupt her.
“There’s no time, we have to get out right now.”
“What on earth are you talking about?”
“I don’t know how I know but this place is going to blow any second now. You have to trust me.”
She studies me for a long second, probably expecting me to back down, but I don’t.
“Fine, we’re done here anyway.”
I nod my head and watch as the group makes their way to the door. Just as I’m about to follow I hear the sound of laughter behind me. I turn to see two familiar young girls running from table to table, broad smiles on their faces.
“Wait!” I yell to Cala.
“Ugh! What now?” I can tell she’s officially annoyed.
“Everyone else. We can’t just leave here without warning them.”
Cala blows out a breath and stalks towards me. “The only reason we can come out and get this stuff is because we keep a low profile. You warning people will practically announce our presence to the world. There could be an undercover SIF’er out there and you would be getting us all caught.”
“But they’ll die, we can’t just- “
“This isn’t a discussion, we’re leaving.” She flips around and obviously expects me to just listen to her without a fuss.
Obviously, she doesn’t know anything about me.
I turn the other way and walk over to an empty table on the side. Picking it up with ease I put it in the middle of the room and stand on it. Only then does Cala notice me.
“Oh god, this is terrifying.” I whisper to myself before screaming at the top of my lungs. “Everyone get out! This place is seconds away from exploding!” Some people turn and acknowledge me but most just mind their business, barely glancing my way. “There is a gas leak! Everyone needs to run to safety!”
A few more people look my way and I see some frightened faces but still no action. Before I can try again, a voice yells out from the opposite side of the room.
“Dark soul! Freeze!” a man in regular clothes with a baton begins to run towards me. I look to Cala and see a little smirk on her face, as if saying a big “I told you so”.
I don’t know what to do, I’m frozen to the spot as he gradually gets closer to me.
He’s maybe ten feet away from capturing me when the ground below begins to tremor. Some people scream and grab onto each while others just try to keep their balance. A huge explosion goes off behind me on the west side. Immediately my hands come up to my head and I jump to the ground for cover.
After the first wave of debris falls over my head, I feel a pair of hands grasp my shoulders. When I look up, I’m surprised to see Cala is the one pulling me up.
We run as fast as our legs can carry us as another two explosions go off in the building. Screams of both terror and agony reach my ears and it scares me how familiar they sound. The ceiling above is crumbling and narrowly misses us. I can tell that others aren’t so lucky.
When we reach the group, Candace is holding some sort of force field around everyone in protection.
“Let’s get out of here!” Cala yells and we one by one squeeze through a newly created crack in the wall.
I watch as everyone goes before me, then take one last look back at the chaos. My eyes focus in on one specific woman splayed out on the ground. Blood is smeared over her body, her sketchered feet trapped under a large piece of the ceiling, the look of terror on her face remains the same as every time I had seen it before. Her limp hand points directly towards me and worst of all, I can tell she was looking right at me as the life left her eyes.