McLafferty sat hunched over his 'refurbished' desk. His old, worn leather notebook sat as a centerpiece to the sea of parchment cluttering the old mahogany work surface. Puffing irritably upon his pipe, the shopkeep read and reread the poorly scrawled notes before him in a manner of the utmost intensity and perplex-ion. Baron, for his part, sat idly in the corner with his fangs embedded in a half desiccated deer carcass.
'Jus don't add up... it don't.' McLafferty mused aloud. 'By my estimates, we should have at least a 40% green growth on our profits by this point. Wut's givin' us a runaround here tha's so different than other towns?'
Baron looked up from his meal and clacked his mandibles quizzically.
'Wut's the problem? The spider says like he knows the greenbacks from the brick-layers!' McLafferty muttered in agitation. 'The problem here Baron, me fuzzy friend, is that we've only seen a 35% green growth... 35! Positively unacceptable it is... Shameful work if ever I've seen it...'
The over-sized spider gave what passed for a shrug from a two ton arachnid and returned to its mushy meal. McLafferty, on the other hand, continued arguing with himself while he crunched the numbers for the fourth time in the past ten minutes.
'... Up the price of the...?... No, then we'd have to offset the spike with a decrease in... No, because we're only just making enough to stay afloat there...' The surly Scottish slurring continued unabated. 'T'would be true easier to think if'n I had some o' me old business partners around... Shame they all inconsiderately died on me... I remember the parties we had... The storage room all full up with friends and guests and drinks and... and...'
McLafferty's reminiscing halted mid sentence as an idea dawned on his befuddled mind. Looking about the rather vacant back room of the Flogging Molly, the off kilter kilted keep had a spark of inspiration.
'... We should have parties... Private parties... Rent out the back room... make use of what little inhabitable space this town has left! Give people a place to get in out o' the weather while they stuff their malnourished faces!... But charge them a twinkling ton o' tabs fer it!' McLafferty shot up from his seat so quickly that Baron started, accidentally tearing his meal in two. The excited shopkeep ignored the bladed look in his friend's six eyes as he darted about the room, his excited mutterings bordering on mania.
'Baron! I amaze myself with me own brilliance! The Flogging Molly Private Party Room is now officially open fer business!' McLafferty exclaimed with barely suppressed joy, before finally noticing the deer carcass mess splayed out in front of Baron. 'Eh... right after you clean up your mess... Honestly Baron, 'ave some self control... No need to get over excited about things, ya fuzzy git.'
McLafferty's excitement as he rushed out of the room blinded him to the disquieted clacking of his eight legged friend as Baron attempted to sop up the semi-liquefied deer entrails soaking into the floorboards.
McLafferty staggered into the hideout, half covered in a mixture of blood and pancake batter. With a hollow look in his eye and without a word, he shuffled past Baron and collapsed in a heap on his pilfered bed. It was there he sat, staring at the wall in silence, for several long minutes. All the while Baron, sat in awkward silence, nervously staring at its silent companion.
'... wut? D'ja say something, Baron?'
*More low chittering*
'Whose blood? As in who in particular? Haven't the foggiest... Why do ya ask?'
'Right, so this place has changed so much since last time we were here... Thar be like... So many different groups all fightin' fer the same land... Like... Whoa!... But more on that in a moment... Right, so the little sun hanger started off right an' proper... Despite everyone gettin' vimmed up fer some solid brittle-snaps. But the brick-a-brack didn't start until after some poncy murky-rakers stumbled on some screamin' jennings what be capable o' poppin' bunny breads or twisted-genies... Right? People started flippin' conkers at that... It get's better. So, all the king's horsemen be runnin' to and fro like red-boys without their fancy hats... an' there's some groups all like 'AH! gotta douse the flicker-wicks!' an' other groups like 'AH! gotta pop the screamin' jennings and put the other tossers down!'... An' there were even some other groups runnin' around all dodgers like 'Muckle damred culti' 'air eh namblies be keepin' me wee lassies!'... I know... I know... It get's better... So the screamers go off, people drop like baguettes in a volley-runner... I pop a happy spike, give some grey-sods the good touch... Watch the Legion blokes pop up an' let the fur fly... I haven't the slightest on whose who and wuts wut... Madness an' chaos flicker dancin' everywhere... I get shot at... I pop an anti-seed or two their way, get the collywobbles, an' bail out just in time to see Romero's dreams come true... Also, some cheeky git pissed on Molly... wasn't very neighborly of him, was it?... Anyway, the whole lot o' them be madder than a cat at a water park... Dodgy business, the lot of it... So... How was your day?'
'... Right! How did I do?'
McLafferty pulled a pouch out of his pack, turning it upside down. A stream of orange flowed to the floor, eliciting a low clacking of Baron's mandibles and an all too wide grin from McLafferty as the tabs clattered musically on the stonework.
'Baron, me boy... I think we've found our new home.'
'T'ish a right inconvenience is all I'm sayin'
*Deep mandible clacking noises*
'Wut? The disappearances... you daft git!... "What's an inconvenience? Murmurmur!"... Zoggin' hopeless you are!'
*Rapid irritated chittering*
'Quit yer belly achin'... Sick o' hearin' ya whine... where was I? Right! Green to green... red to red... Anyway... The whole o' Greyfell seems right spooked... Like they haven't dealt with this before... Zoggin' short lives... Am I right, Baron?'
'BARON!! You eight legged fuzzy bastard! If I had a tab for every time you zoned out on me, we wouldn't be stuck selling food in dead end towns for a living!'
*Disgruntled mandible clicking noises*
'Nah, I'm jus' messin' wit ya... You know you're my best friend... And my oldest friend... And if the other zoggin' idiots hadn't run off an' gotten themselves killed off, ya wouldn't be my only friend... Would you?'
'... I miss them too, buddy... I miss them too... Let's hope this gig works out... I'm tired of travelin'... and tired of burying friends...'
'I'm not crying, ya big furry git! It's dusty down here and I... ah, who am I kiddin'?... Yeah, I got teary eyed there... what do you want me to do? Sign your zoggin' yearbook?'
*High pitched chittering*
'Stop laughing at me... I remember you gettin' all water-boggled at the end of 'Charlotte's Web'... you have no room to talk.'
*Low offended chittering*
'Shuddup wit yer explanations... You were cryin'... end of story... Wait... and... *Zzzap*... Sonuva... Well... who needs extra digits anyway?'
*High pitched chittering*
'Yes... laugh it up, fuzzy... I'm fine by the way... Even better now that we have... *Mock drumroll*... Power! Yeah!! I'm kinda the best!'
'I see ya rollin' yer eyes at me... sod off, will ya? I'm havin' a moment here.'
McLafferty looked up at the flickering overhead light in the rundown old shack. An ear to ear grin splitting his lips. He looked around the building and chuckled to himself. Speaking to no one in particular, he filled the silence that his eight legged friend chose not to occupy.
'Ladies and gentlemen. Mutants and evolvers. Blood Symbiotes and Rampagers... The Flogging Molly is now open for business.'
(Later that morning.)
'Baron, ya fuzzy git! You were supposed to set the alarm!!'
'Yes we overslept! Dammit all!!! This is such a terrible start to the Flogging Molly's first day! To the shop, ya eight legged taxi! To the shop!!'