Prompt 39-Twice the Cost

Write about something you would still buy if it costs twice as much as it costs today.

Lara waded through the stalls of the makeshift bazaar in the satellite town on the outskirts of her native Dome. Odd, to think she would need to make the distinction, but she and Midge had traveled far and seen another just like it. Structurally, anyway. It had no people like the one she grew up in.

Merchants cried their wares, mostly contraband thrown out of Athens by the Keepers who had deemed the items obsolete or otherwise unnecessary to life in the Dome, but some had legitimate supplies for scavengers who did not wish to enter the confined city. Lara sought them out first. Midge would handle the black market armorers.

“Hey Hank,” she waved to a lanky bearded fellow who was leaning on his stall with his chin in his hand and drooping eyes that fluttered to life at the sight of her.

“Lara!” He straightened and came around front to greet her.

She patted his back as he bent over to wrap his arms around her in a musty embrace. The familiarity he showed every time he saw her still startled her, but she remembered him from her childhood. He had always been kind to her mother when they had lived in the Warrens. It still surprised her to find him Outside selling supplies and sometimes contraband, but he was happier out here. Her mother’s death had been a shock to the whole community, and Hank had taken it harder than most.

“So, what brings you back so soon?” he asked, releasing her and sweeping an arm behind him that took in his whole metal storefront. “Got a fresh supply of travel rations this morning, and a couple crates of apples.”

“Really?” Lara hadn’t had a fresh apple since venturing out several months ago.

Hank nodded, though a grim expression shadowed his eyes. “They’re harder to come by now. The Keepers are afraid we’re gonna plant em out here and grow em for ourselves.” He grunted his opinion on that. “As if we could grow em out here without the machines.”

“Has anyone tried to plant out here?” she asked. “The soil doesn’t seem to be that bad. There’s even new growth further out.”

Hank shrugged. “If they have, they’re keepin it a secret.”

“Well I’ll take a few weeks’ worth of rations if you’ve got them, and a couple apples too.” Her mouth almost watered thinking about the sweet juices trickling down her throat.

He sighed and placed his hands on his hips. “I can give you three weeks’ at the usual price, but the apples are gonna be an extra hundred credits each.”

Lara was sure her eyes were popping out of her head. “That’s twice what they were the last time I bought them from you!”

“I know,” he said, sounding genuinely sorry. “Cost me near an entire month’s haul to get them though, and what I just offered you is even less than what I’m telling everyone else.”

She bit her lip in contemplation. That would pretty much wipe out her remaining credits, but she really wanted those apples. Midge would get a good price on the hardware they’d nicked from the unfinished Dome, that would surely cover the expense.

“Course, I’d accept that ring of yours for a whole crate,” Hank grinned.

Lara stopped spinning it on her finger and hastily covered it with her other hand. “Sorry,” she stammered. “That’s not an option.”

He chuckled. “I thought not. So, what’ll it be?”

“Three weeks of rations and a couple apples,” she answered, fishing out her handheld to transfer the money to Hank. Their transaction complete, he packed up her purchases in a burlap sack. She kept one of the apples out of the bag, and gleefully tossed it in her palm. Hank waved after her as she headed off to find Midge.

Notes: I keep learning more about this world with each new short story, though there are some continuity issues as I work out how travel between the Dome and the Outside actually works. I liked the idea of an open air market on the Outside for scavengers to sell their hauls. A satellite town would also be much less of a burden on Lara’s burgeoning telepathy. Fewer minds, even if they’re still densely populated.

What sorts of things would you be willing to pay double the price on? Necessities obviously can’t be avoided, though you at least have options with varying price ranges. The more expensive the item, the more exorbitant the doubling. I went small with this story, though it certainly wasn’t insignificant.

Friday’s prompt: What do you think is the most important thing for today’s kids to learn in school?

I’m pretty sure everyone has an opinion on this, but I’m going to try to avoid those and just write a fun story. Whew, this week is almost over. The weekend really can’t get here soon enough for me. See you tomorrow!

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