174-The Dead Shop

Places are in many ways like people. Like people, they can leave ghosts. Like people, they have personalities. And like people, they can die. Rarely do dead places persist. Mostly they shrivel up and blow away like leaves on the wind, or get demolished to make way for something new. Rarely, however, these buildings persist in some form or another. Undead, they render all attempts to foster any kind of life or vitality or commerce within them moot. Storefronts where nothing lasts, tenements full of dead-eyed people, these are dead buildings.

There is a dead shop in the city, although its location varies from account to account. The facts that are universally agreed upon are simple: It is a small grocery owned by a man of southern European extraction, most usually described as a Greek. His store sells fetos and olives and all manner of other imported goods, but strangely carries no oil. The store’s source of funds is unknown, as the building’s existential weight should crush any business out of existence. The most prominent theory is that it exists for the sake of storage.

The store has a small deli counter, although most of what is behind it is inevitably a week past due. The sole exception is a bucket of some kind of imported fish that’s packed in ice. The owner insists in his languid, half-dead tone that it’s herring, but herring doesn’t have that many teeth, nor are they so sharp. Purchase one and leave the store. Eat it raw. Do not eat it in the shop itself, as it lacks the strength to hold up to the existential onslaught that is to come. A moment after the fish has passed your lips, you will feel your head getting light.

When you regain consciousness, you will find yourself someplace dusky and dark: an Iberian city choked with seaweed and politics and death. The whole city is dead, and so nothing ever grows or changes. So it’s safe.

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