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Catching Shooting Stars – Part 3

By mid morning, snow was falling steadily, and Petra had made her way to the east side of the city. She peeked inside the Gangplank Public House, and spied Martin Malus sipping at hot coffee from a bar stool as he instructed Milo on the various minutiae of running a bar. Content that Miss Junie was not present, the eleven year old girl kicked the bar door open. “Hey pinhead!” she bellowed.

The Squire groaned and set his cup of coffee down. “Well if it isn’t the Junkyard Princess,” he said. “Find anything spectacular to sell to suckers lately?”

“Junk Queen.” she corrected. “And as a matter of fact, yes, dumb-dumb. Feast yer eyes on this!” Petra revealed a small wooden box splattered in various shades of paint.

Malus viewed the box blandly. “You can get ten of those for a mark down at the waterfront.” he took a sip of his coffee. “Without the mess of paint.” he added.

“Anything inside?” asked Milo.

Petra noticed the new guy for the first time. “Jeez, someone with some spaghetti in his head. Miss Junie oughter promote ya!” Milo stood up a little straighter and did his best to stifle a foolish grin.

“Don’t get your hopes up.” Malus sneered to Milo. “There’s likely a frozen frog inside that box.”

“Frogs take weeks to freeze.” Petra said with impatience, then popped the box open with a whining creak. The green glow flooded the room in an instant. The two former brothers both leaned forward.

“What is it?” asked Milo.

“It’s a star.” said Petra, most of her usual bravado tempered by awe for her tiny green prisoner. 

“It’s so small.” said Milo.

“It is not a star.” said Malus. 

“Sure it is, ya dope.” Petra snarled.

“Is not.” he maintained.

“Is so!”

“Is n-” Malus stopped himself and wiped a hand down his face. “It’s a chunk of meteorite.”

Petra looked down into the box. “A… what? Meatier? Meatier than what?”

“A piece of rock from space.” said Milo.

“There’s no rocks in space! Cripes, what does that church teach you lunkheads?”

Malus leaned forward again. “Was there a point in you bringing that rock here?”

“Jes showin it to ya before I sell it to some curio collector. Glow like that should bring a mark or two.”

“Fat chance.” Malus sneered. “It’s broken. Nobody will pay a cent for that thing. Good thing you own a junkyard.”

“They will too pay a cent!”

“Not even.”

“Will too!”

“Will not!” Malus bellowed. Milo set a hand on his shoulder and Malus straightened up. “Look, if you know some dumb fool who will pay for a broken rock, best of luck.”

Petra looked down into the box. She looked back up at Malus. “Are you interested in the rock?”

“No!” he exclaimed. “What would make you think that?”

“Well, you’re the dumbest feller I know, so I thought you might be interested is all.”

Malus chased Petra halfway to the Port.

Later that afternoon, Petra was standing near the south end of the Ragg & Bone Junkyard, looking at the two pieces of glowing green stone, wondering what to do with them. As she stared down at the pieces of rock, they seemed to stare back at the girl. “Eyes!” she exclaimed, and immediately began rolling the newly fallen packing snow into various sized balls. When she had three reasonably sized snow spheres, she used the junkyard crane to assemble them atop each other.  

She smiled at the massive snow sculpture and began to assemble the pieces to decorate. An old broken comb for a mustache, a cork for a nose, and a hat the Emperor dropped to top its head. Petra stepped atop a barrel to finish the snowman with its glowing green eyes. She stuck the pieces of broken meteorite into the face, then leaned back to take in the whole picture. 

“Kill” said the snowman.

Petra raised an eyebrow. “What’s that now?” she asked. 

“KILL!” shrieked the snowman.

To be continued…

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