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The Rag and Bone Shop


Jeromy Henry

So the exterior looks a bit dingy.  The owners have a religious taboo against cleaning it more than once a month.  No one's painted the walls in years, and when they did they chose a very odd shade of orange.  The silhouettes half-glimpsed through the dust-covered windows catch your eye, but you aren't sure you should push open the door and go in.  Maybe they bury the bodies in the dirt alley that runs out back.  It looks like that kind of place.

But even at a disreputable dive like this one, sometimes you'll find a real bargain.  So you hesitate, then push open the door and hear the jingle bells jingle.  And you spot something promising on a shelf, next to a faded pinochle deck and a slightly naughty tapestry full of moth holes.  The statuette has a face only an Italian master could chisel.  The dirty marble feels cold beneath your fingers as you pick it up and heft the stone.  It's a real work of art, not an imitation.

When you pull a sword from a broken leather sheath, the blade gleams.  You could shave with the edge.  A king might have worn that purple cloak, and the threadbare spot on the hem isn't that noticeable.  Is the clasp real gold and emerald?  You flip through the pages of a dusty book and see the scrawl of a sorcerer's mad ramblings, a spiderweb that tries to catch at your mind and draw you in.  You fight against the unseen pressure on the inside of your skull and slam the cover closed.  A mushroom cloud of dust explodes and nearly reaches the ceiling.

After your coughing fit, the gap-toothed tender at the counter glances at the item you picked out and tells you to take it for free and get the hell out of his shop.  Now that's customer service.  You hurry out onto the boulevard, wipe off the grime, and marvel again at the unexpected treasure you bought, of even better quality than you thought when you first saw its outline through the glass.  And hey, you bought it for a total of zero dollars.

Push open the door and come in to Quantum Muse.  Damn, the bell stopped working again.  OK, imagine it.  And take a look around.  Every object d'art in our collection is on sale... for absolutely nothing.  Whether you're digging in the dusty archives or examining the wares in the window, there's some great stuff here that you'll find nowhere else.

We existed near the start of the webzine resolution.  A lot of other shiny new zines have come along since QM first opened its virtual doors.  The explosion of webzines across the net has given authors even more places than ever to send their stories.  And that's a good thing, for both authors and readers.  Google Analytics tells us we still get a fair clientele despite the competition.

So take a look around the shop.  We're still open for business.  And, yeah, we'll dust the place eventually.

2011-12-14 05:53:03
Ironspider - Well, dusty it may be, but the staff are welcoming and it's a pleasant place to browse.

2011-12-01 19:59:56
kerochan - awesome sauce!

2011-12-01 06:53:48
Loved your imagery here...and it is oh so true. As a relatively regular reader I find the wares more than worth sampling time after time. Thanks for all you do.

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