Procurement on Poison Road
Murkeijin Street is full of empty. The only sound is from the sorrowful screech of the Festrec line just below the city’s skin about to come up for air for the journey across the mouth of the Shafir. There was little light to give the shy shadows more life. This gloom is on purpose.
Murkeijin Street, more commonly called “Poison Road”, is dark and quiet, even during the rare sunny days of the Moist Season. The stout buildings are covered in a slick black from decades of water rot and mold from the incessant rains and fogs from the nearby river and bay. Each house sags in toward the street blocking out any light that may expose the hidden business of the street. Pedestrian shadows walk this street for a reason. It is not a street just to stroll down to get to somewhere else. Repeat clients know to bring an umbrella even when it is not raining. The waterlogged houses constantly weep onto the street below in a never-ending war with the insidious wetness.
The street was populated with the quasi-legal businesses of the Mushjrahi; experts in “chemical intakes” as they prefer to call themselves. A Mushjrah can make a rather decent living as a purveyor of chemical intakes for curing the common mid-Moist Season virus or for chemically influencing a client’s lover. However, for the Mushjrahi of Murkeijin Street a more deadly use of their chemicals is the real source of their sometimes more than comfortable incomes. Poisons are a popular and surprising mostly legal form of revenge in Gwij. Officially, it is illegal for a Mushjrah to sell such harmful “chemical intakes”. Unofficially, however, big business and the Confederation itself are the Murkeijin Mushjrahi’s biggest clients. The blind eye is the only law followed on the moldy sidewalks of Poison Road.
Sinnon was putting away a chemical-green vile of one of her best-selling intakes when an all-to-familiar cloaked customer silently came in. The client’s head was completely covered with the local Drefan jrekori. Why don’t they use some imagination and hide themselves with a more exotic cultural garb, thought Sinnon. She knew this person hiding under the jrekori was not Drefan; they never were.
“Welcome,” Sinnon said knowing there would be no response from the voluminous brown-gauzed head. “What are you interested in this evening, my friend?”
The silent customer took out a small piece of expensive glossy paper and slid it just as silently across the counter towards Sinnon. Her profession was a quiet one.
“Ahh, good choice,” she said, mainly for her own benefit. Nushet will be a quick solution to your ‘problem’. She bent down to grab the viscous grey liquid from under her counter in a drawer labeled “quick deaths”. The quick deaths were the most popular type of intakes she and her fellow Mushjrahi carried. She took a sad comfort in the fact that people had at least the humanity to not force long suffering on their victims.
“I hope your competitor, lover, or lover’s lover will enjoy his or her last hours,” Sinnon said, still below the counter pouring the dull liquid into a “take-away” vile. She always said this to try to extract some kind of clue as to the purpose of her exiting intakes. “Or not, I guess, depending on how you look at it.”
“Just hurry up with the vile, Mushjrah,” the black and brown form finally said.
I finally made him talk. I knew I would get to him. “Yes, almost finished. Have to be careful with nushet. It is also quite caustic on the skin.”
Doesn’t seem to have a Drefan accent. No surprise there. The way he said my profession is an indictor though. That disdain could only be Confederation. Assassination. Better be careful with this one.
Sinnon finally stood up and put the tiny vile of quick death on the counter. She took off her protective gloves. “Be careful with this. I sealed it with bessen wax for extra precaution.”
“This is not my first time, Mushjrah.”
That disdain again. He must be high level. No thuggish lackey this one. “That will be 850.”
“Ridiculous,” the assassin said while handing over a 1,000 ser note.
“Taking another’s life is expensive, my friend.” She gave her customer his change.
He carefully put the vile in the string pouch hanging from his jrekori and walked out the door. Without turning around he answered, “Much cheaper than if they live.”
Sinnon immediately turned her metrocomm on and requested her guild to send over a couple of big Crusa to guard her store for a week or so. She knew after years on this street and the countless times she was beaten to secure her silence that she would need the protection of the guild’s bodyguards after this sale.