So you’re driving home through suburbia, on one of those sunny Friday afternoons. You’ve skipped your last class, you’re looking forward to the weekend; life is good.
When you see it – and you slam on the brakes. It’s a garage sale. Sure, there may just be a bunch of junk, but you never know. You have to make sure. You park across the street, and walk up the driveway, eyeing the tables of junk.
It’s immediately clear that something is not quite right about this particular garage sale. Mixed in with the children’s toys and used CDs, are some more… unusual items.
You notice a can of peanuts on a table. Who sells peanuts at a garage sale? They’re not American peanuts either. They’re some brand you’ve never heard of. You pick them up and read the label. “WARNING: MANUFACTURED ON EQUIPMENT ALSO USED TO MAKE PANTS. MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF PANTS.”
You put them down, shaking your head. Focus, focus. You scan the tables. Let’s see… a Rubik’s Revenge… Amazing Fantasy #15… some Weebles… a Gutenberg Bible… some bits of string… a one-penny magenta stamp… a lunchbox with pictures of R2-D2 and C-3P0… these aren’t what you’re looking for. And then you see it. A long, narrow cardboard box. It could only hold Magic cards. This is it, the holy grail of garage sales. It’s the moment you’ve been dreaming of, ever since that peacock gave you 3 wishes and you blew them all. This is your chance to buy valuable Magic cards for next to nothing.
You make a bee-line for the box. You can feel a man watching you; it’s the guy running the sale. He’s smiling. Like he’s in on something that you aren’t. Well whatever; you’re on the verge of screwing him over big-time, there’s no time for trading smiles. You flip open the box, eager to see the Magic cards that you know must be in it.
And the box does have Magic cards. It does. But they’re wrong, horribly wrong.
You look up, to see the man standing beside you, still smiling.
“How much for this card,” you ask, not sure you even want it.
“It’s free,” the man says, “but there’s still a price you pay.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s a dollar. A quarter. Make me an offer.”
“What set is this from? I don’t recognize the expansion symbol.”
“It’s rare,” the man says. “Very rare.”
“Do you mean that it’s a rare card, or… that it’s rare.”
The man looks at you.
“It’s good,” the man says at last. “Con-struc-ted wor-thy.” Like he learned the words from a phrasebook.
You stare at it. “How does it work?”
“Animate Artifact. 23/23.” The man waggles his eyebrows.
“But I mean, if I just have it in my deck it’ll be in play?”
“You don’t need it in your deck.”
That doesn’t sound right. You smile weakly and turn away from the card. “Hey, how much for the one-penny magenta?”
But the man will hear none of it. He presses the card into your hands, firmly. “You are here for the card.” It is undeniable. “Now go.”
Well, what harm can come of it, you think, as you drive away. It’s just a game. If you can’t make the card work for you, you can always trade it away to some kid. Just the thought of it cheers you up, and you drive the last few blocks home in a blissful daze. You turn left on Illuminati, then right on Illuminati. You park in front of the Illuminati, lock the Illuminati, and stroll up the Illuminati.
To where your Illuminati is waiting for you.