Chapter 1 - Exploding Plates

Chapter 1 - Exploding Plates

A Chapter by Jordan Williams
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The Gun Salesman Chapter 1

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Qulie stared at the object. Unlike anything she had ever seen before, it had a peculiar shine. It was raised high in the stranger's hand, the glint in the young man's eyes reflecting something other than the sun. The presentation of the item had barely begun, but already everyone was captivated. For all in attendance, that captivation was more out of fear than curiosity. All except young Qulie, who just wanted to know more about the invention. She waited breathlessly as the presentation continued.

“This,” the salesman resumed, “is a gun.”

He paused for effect, the effect being a few barely audible gasps and slight stirrings of surprised whispers. Still, the pride in his voice did not falter as he continued.

“'What does it do?' you may ask. Well, to put it simply, this little guy makes your life a lot easier. Allow me to demonstrate.”

The showman worked quickly, pocketing his item in the inside of his jacket, then turned around and opened up the back gates to his carriage. Several crates and boxes filled the bed, mostly covered with random bits of blankets and covers. Humming a cheerful tune, he grabbed the nearest crate, cracked it open, and withdrew four small plates barely bigger than his hands.

Immediately, Qulie thought this man was a chef, his tool was for cooking, and he was about to whip up something delicious to eat. Other villagers thought the same thing as they once again whispered to each other, sharing their opinions and observations. The most amusing response, Qulie thought though, came from Nina, who was regarded as the town's most gifted baker. Nina was most displeased, her crossed arms and sculpted frown painting the very definition of irritation upon her thick frame. Qulie allowed herself an amused grin as she turned her attention back to the visitor's display just as he was closing the wagon door.

“Now I must warn you, this might be a little loud,” he said with a smile. He held the four plates in his left hand, showing them to the audience without a word. Withdrawing the mysterious object from inside his pocket with his free hand, he repeated a similar showing, again without a word. Turning to his left, he took a few giant steps, no longer in front of his wagon, causing the crowd to shift with him only slightly.

Pulling back a small lever on his item with a little click, he allowed himself a question of buildup to anticipate the nearing action just once more. “Everyone ready?” Qulie knew she was. This better be worth the wait.

For a couple heartbeats, everyone was silent. Then with an abrupt motion that shocked everyone, the demonstration really began. One fluid movement of an arm and a wrist working together sent the four plates flying in the air. Together they sailed in perfect formation until, one by one, they shattered, each burst accompanied by a sound much louder than any plate could ever make.

It was a moment of luck that kept Qulie from blinking, because if she had, she would have missed everything, as the whole display barely lasted longer than one second. Her somewhat widened eyes traveled from where she last saw the plates in the air back down to where they had been thrown from. The salesman stood still, his outstretched arm leading to the pointed item in his right hand. Though the silver had lost none of its shine, the “gun” as it was called, was releasing a steady stream of smoke into the otherwise clear air.

Now everyone's whispers were no longer whispers, but cautious rumblings wondering what kind of invention could destroy four items so efficiently. If the showman noticed the disapproval, he didn't show it. His expression of stern focused returned to the same smug grin he had before. He was bound to impress everyone as much as he himself felt proud before the day was done.

He finally turned back around to address the assembly before him. “So, what exactly happened here? Well, I won't bore you with all the mathematical details of how it works, but I will give you the simple explanation. This gun fires bullets, little pieces of lead that shoot out, hitting the designated target within the blink of an eye. Now, I know destroying breakable plates is not all that impressive, but think of other useful applications, such as hunting.”

The crowd stirred. While they maintained some amount of courtesy towards their visitor, the villagers of Ibe could not completely mask their offense at his suggestion. Hunting? Actually killing a living animal? None of them would have it, especially Qulie's grandmother. Now Qulie was actually relieved her guardian had decided to stay at home and miss this spectacle. She could only imagine the elder lady's reaction.

Before anyone could take real offense and cause a scene, Mossua, the unofficial village leader, stepped forward to quell the tension that threatened to rise. Though he hobbled with the help of a cane nearly as tall as himself, Mossua was anything but feeble. The strength and wisdom of his character seemed to permeate the air itself and influence anyone around him. Qulie noticed that just by making his presence known, Mossua already began to set the villagers at ease.

“Well, this certainly was a remarkable demonstration, Mr....?”

“Argun,” the young man interjected. “Arthur Rinaldo Argun.”

“Mr. Argun, but we unfortunately have no need for such weapons. We must politely decline your offer. I do hope you take no offense.”

Arthur discreetly pocketed the gun once more and smiled back at the older man. “Oh, no, of course not. It is I who should apologize for offending your welcoming town.” As he spoke, he turned towards the crowd, his polite sincerity completely lifting the veil of tension that hung in the air only moments before.

Mossua met the visitor's kindness in response. “No apology necessary, young man. In fact, why don't you stay this evening as a guest in our village?”

Not expecting such an invitation, the traveler stumbled over his words as he closed the doors to his wagon. “Oh, well....I-”

“I insist,” Mossua persisted. “You must see the festival.”

The festival. Qulie almost forgot about the festival.

Arthur quickly regained from his momentary lapse of perfect cordiality with his answer. “Of course. I would be honored.”

“Good man!” Mossua reached for Arthur's hand and shook it excitedly. “Well, that's all for now, everyone. We'll see you at the festival.”

The presentation concluded with warm yet not entirely enthusiastic applause. Mossua put his hand on Arthur's shoulder, leading him away from the villagers. Qulie clapped with everyone else, slowing down to an eventual halt as the two gentlemen began to clean up the scattered bits of shattered plates.

Standing still for a moment, Qulie overheard a few comments from the dispersing crowd, some more innocent and curious, some disapproving of the events entirely. Belonging to the former, Qulie knew that her grandmother would agree with the latter. Still, having never seen a visitor before, Qulie's mind flooded with curiosity, her heart's excitement propelling her feet quicker and quicker with each step as she raced home to tell her grandmother of the day's events.



© 2015 Jordan Williams


Author's Note

Jordan Williams
this is a work in progress obviously, all comments welcome, thanks

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Added on May 4, 2014
Last Updated on December 13, 2015
Tags: the, gun, salesman, cliches, i, say, fantasy, magic, technology, fiction, start, beginning, exploding, plates, visitor, village


Author

Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams

Chattanooga, TN



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