Hunting Midnight • Ep 6 • Part 22: Contract 🦞

This is Episode 6-22 of a serial urban fantasy & paranormal story.

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Part 6-22: Contract

She wants forty percent, a non-meat menu, and my high speed industrial blender. In exchange, any and all financing for basic operational needs, my notebook ideas, and/or professional consulting. Oh, and apparently the missing piece to the muffin formula. She insists that it’s the most valuable part of the deal. My skepticism is muted by the distracting weight of the big decision.

Knowing the attempted robbery buzz cannot last forever, I take a week or so to prepare my pride for the admission that I may need some help and that lobster bisque would no longer be my flagship product. I see and saw, I rationalize one way, then another. I text too many friends over it and visit too many bars. The scattered advice is meaningless, and the hangovers are a needless tax on my stress levels. Through the grapevine, an ex of the good-riddance caliber interprets my vulnerable state as an excuse to strike up a dialogue on a few social channels.

It is a wasteful week.

She has some kind of industry conference for most of this, so after seven days go by, I almost manage to convince myself that none of it is real.

The damn news article serves to foil this line of thinking, as do the occasional patrons who ask about the incident.

Deluxe returns to my shop on the eighth day, walking a standard issue golden retriever. She’s tying the dog up outside when I push open the door.

“What’re you doing?” I ask.

She hesitates, looks at Lobster, smiles, and detangles the leash from a bike rack. Dog and woman follow me in. The two customers inside barely bat an eye at the health violation—Lobster is a pretty golden. We sit at our usual table.

“Let’s do it,” I say.

“I’ve the paperwork with me,” she says, and digs into her pocket. Something silver and flashing flips off the end of her thumb. I catch a small steel box, about the same shape and size as a USB stick.

“Paperwork, huh.” I examine the little thing.

“A colloquial term. Depress the rubber area.”

I pinch it, squishing a black circle on one side. It clicks, and a green laser pointer blooms out of one end.

“And point it counterward,” She instructs.

When I do, rows of green glowing words materialize on the flat surface in front of me. The customers do not seem to notice. I peer at the lines. It is legalese.

“Take your time with it, of course,” says Deluxe. “It’s all in order, but never sign anything without full examination, at least that’s my rule. Swipe anywhere within the sensor field to nav.”

“Swipe, huh?” I flick my free hand under the light, and the words of the contract flit upwards. “Does this thing take a blood sample for the signature?” I hope I am only joking.

“I thought about it, but the safety and contamination concerns likely outweigh the legal conveniences. Fingerprint, retina, or classic digital signature will suffice.”

“Can we work in retina scans for soup ordering?” I muse, as I play with the magic swipe-responsive laser pointer contract projector.

“Cost prohibitive—but not impossible. Maybe if we can bolster margins by a significant factor over a five or six quarter horizon.”

And that is how Deluxe becomes co-owner of Bisk By Bisque. Sadly, we never get around to retina scan menus or anything cool like that. We’re only a month into our joint venture when things go oh so very wrong.

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Continued in Part 6-23

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Thank you for reading. I own the license for all images in this post. Episode 6 cover art was made with a Canvo Pro license & a Midjourney AI art prompt. Follow me or the #huntingmidnight tag so you don't miss new parts! I can also @ tag folks to alert you, just ask in the comments to join the readlist.

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