The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 50

The boy agreed, relieved that Zestial was more personable than he’d feared. He held out the amount requested. Zestial scaled down his carriage, taking time to heft his considerable weight.

The merchant inspected the boy’s wooden palm. Zestial wrapped a large scarf around his hand and slapped the boy's wrist to send the money scattering to the dirt. Once it’d settled on the ground, only then did Zestial hurry in collecting it. The boy outstretched his palm again, demanding the promised ensemble, but Zestial shook his head. The merchant stood straight up and folded his arms, puffing out his squat body.

"That wasn’t the amount we agreed to," Zestial said. "You’ve only paid half."

The boy felt angry for being taken for a fool. He called Zestial a thief. The merchant responded by grabbing the boy’s vest and drawing his face in close.

"You should hold your tongue, boy," Zestial said with sour wine hot on his breath. "Your blood won’t protect you from the sort of curses my money can buy."

Although the merchant’s threat dripped with self-assurance, Zestial screamed in terror not long after issuing it. Right where the boy’s heart was pounding, on the border of his two halves, the boy watched his body reach for the fabric merchant’s balled-up fist. A small vine wrapped around Zestial’s wrist while a thick loop of metal simultaneously latched to his thumb like a ring. The boy hadn't thought to do this.

"You've touched me with your curse!" Zestial said, releasing the boy.

The boy felt his iron half bolt forward, throwing its leg out with a wide step. It quickly became a lop-sided sprint, his metal half moving at a speed faster than he could consciously tell it to. The boy fled in a straight line with the carriage’s back wheels in front of his path. He tucked his arm into his chest, becoming as compact as a battering ram, and felt the two wooden wheels shatter around his body as he traveled through. All the commotion spooked Zestial’s horse and it took off, whinnying in panic.