Toward the centre of the shifting market there was a happening of old fashioned, medieval tents lit ominously with the flutter of gas rag torch fire. A loud and thunderous throb of helicopter blades hummed above them somewhere in the fog. Talli imagined the market must look like huge heaving slums from above; dirty tents, makeshift stalls, open fires and the chaotic insectile movements of bodies writhing in amongst the merchandise. ‘Witness the human circus’ she thought.
In amongst the tents it was quieter than between the stalls; they were further from the noise now, and the old canvas tents dampened the sound slightly. Jayce swore under his breath intermittently as he caught his large, clumsy feet on the guide ropes that criss-crossed in the shadows.
A large, purple tent stood amidst the brighter colours of the stalls and pavilions around it. Only dampened sound from the market permeated this area, the voices inside were louder; the dark tent must have been right at the centre of the makeshift mercantile metropolis. Talli and Jayce circled the tent looking for an opening. Voices inside laughed heartily.
At the entrance Talli glanced back at Jayce who nodded and she peered in. Cautiously she stepped inside. The tent had been erected over the top of one of the ramps that vehicles would have used to reach the rooftop. Talli had almost forgotten they were on top of a car park. The descending floor within the tent gave the impression of walking into a much larger space.
They were ignored as they entered by several men that played cards around a table. Down the ramp there were more tables and more men. Talli started down the ramp. At the bottom the tables were arranged in a semi-circle around another oil drum, there was a chair at each table sat opposite a dealer. Two chairs were occupied, one by a girl that was smiling, wide eyed, the other by a big hairy man who seemed unconscious. Both were attended to by normal looking men.
‘Can I help you?’ one man asked gently.
‘I’m looking for some Sandman.’
‘Right. Ben.’ He called across the empty lot.
Ben was a short, pale man with long colourless hair dressed in an ostentatious cloak. His features were tired looking. He stepped out of the shadows and revealed just how pale he was.
‘You’re the Dreamsmith?’ Jayce questioned.
‘No. I work for the Dreamsmith. What do you want?’
‘I’m looking for some Sandman.’ Talli stepped forward.
‘I heard it helps you sleep.’
‘…and dream.’ Ben smiled. ‘Is it for you?’
‘Other organic ain’t working. She won’t touch non-organic.’
‘Right.’ Ben began to fumble beneath the table. ‘Do you love your sister?’
‘Does it matter?’
‘She’s a pain in the arse. Yea.’
‘What have you got for me?’
‘Heard you wanted these.’ Talli produced a bag full of medicinal Xylose bars from her back pack. They had been made prescription only earlier that year, under new legislation.