The cigara was spicy.
"No.” – she said, licking her dry lips. "No spicy cigaras for me. I’m just recovering from my previous shattering.”
The Tiny Shop owner examined her bright, transparent face with millions of hair-thin blood vessels running below the overused skin. Blue blood, he thought, this is a bad one. But her eyes were still dark.
"Where did you get your last cigara?” – he asked cautiously. He did not know if the shattering was extinguished entirely.
"In Cluj”, - she smiled wryly.
The shop went dead silent. Two half-gorillas waiting behind her in the line pricked up their ears.
"In Cluj?” – repeated the shop owner, observing her more closely.
"Just came back yesterday”, - she said. "It’s what they say. The greatest cigaras ever made. I gave them all my gold for a single one. Now all I need is an extinguisher.”
The half-gorillas gasped and stepped away from the girl. The air was crispy with crystals and the girl’s eyes were turning milky white. One way or another she will explode, he thought and pushed the red button below his desk.
"Listen to me carefully, you poor girl”, - he said, trying to avoid her gaze. "You have tried the most powerful cigaras on the planet without proper instructions. First of all, you should have bought the extinguisher there. Ours are too weak for such a powerful product. Secondly, you shouldn’t have travelled shortly after. Now you’re caught in a limbo in the middle of the shattering. This. Is. Not. Good.”
The half-gorillas had left the shop. The crystals were clinging on her skin and the shop owner heard her breathing heavier. The girl laughed and clouds of bright blue smoke popped out of her nose.
"I know”, - she said in a deeper voice. " I didn’t have any more gold, but they told me that should I be able to find someone who had tried their cigaras and drink their blood…”
The shop owner froze. He was thankful he had pushed the pulse regulator button before. He felt his blood slowing down and the crystals already clinging on his skin.
"Those people are very rare around here, dear,” – he said. "And you know what it means if you are not properly extinguished. It’s a very big risk for you and the other creature. What happened during the last shattering?”
He felt her gaze on his neck but did not look into her eyes.
"I could finally go back to 2020. I killed him. I killed the person who tortured my soul.”
"All by yourself?”
"Yes! I faced him like a gladiator and he winced like they did back in the days. I’m clean now. I can be me.”
"You killed him yourself,” – said the shop owner in a metallic voice, feeling the crystals building an armour around his body. "You didn’t use a Proxy? This is against the Time Tunnel Law.”
"I didn’t use a Proxy. They gave me a knife in Cluj.”
The room swayed in the thick atmosphere.
"They gave me a knife!” – shouted the girl in a triumphal voice. "And told me to keep it after I had killed my torturer. That’s why I didn’t end the shattering.”
"Are you out of your mind?” – cried the shop owner and the Tiny Shop shook under their feet. "It’s called the Catharsis Game for a reason. It’s a game! You’re not supposed to…Oh.”
He straightened his back and looked into her eyes. They were glistening black again and the girl was wearing a sharp smile.
"You found a Releaser.” – he mumbled, feeling the crystals pinch his thin skin.
Mirrored in the crystalline air, her face was like a herd of wasps, buzzing around only to return and build a surface again, like one of those frescos he had seen in the Forbidden Books.
"They found me, you monster! They knew I was the best and that I had passed every level multiple times. Enslaved in the game. By you!”
"I’m just the shop owner,” – he shouted back at the enraged girl. "You are making a mistake. You don’t know what could happen if you used a real knife! Other creatures will be stuck in the game. You will die. For real!”
The girl took out the knife. It was a perfect ancient Persian knife, its handle covered by sapphires.
"Game over.” – she said and jumped.
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