'The Unexpected Trade' by Nicole J. Simms
While looking in all directions, Travis darted down the street with his baseball bat gripped in his hand. He knew he shouldn’t be out here, but he was tired of living like this; he needed a reminder of how life was before it all ended – a time where you could walk down the street without the fear of someone jumping out at you and trying to devour your flesh.
Travis held his side as he reached the row of shops before him. He checked behind him for any oncoming attackers, and on seeing that he remained alone, he then stepped towards the shop in the middle and stopped. His attention focused on the gold coloured words ‘R Cuts’ that shimmered against the black base of the shop sign. ‘Phew, I’ve made it,’ he said.
He pushed open the shop door. The door creaked – the only sound to alert the occupants of his presence. He stepped inside and observed his surroundings. A solitary hairdressing sink with an accompanying chair was to his left, a single chair in front of a wall mirror was to his right, and a plasterboard barrier divided the room horizontally. ‘Hello, anyone here?’ he called, gripping his baseball bat.
Footsteps stomped towards the partition, and a gap slowly appeared in the barrier revealing a scarlet-haired woman. ‘What do you want?’ said the woman, stepping through the new gap in the partition and slapping a hammer against her hand.
‘I heard you still run your hair salon?’
‘I need a haircut. Can you do it for me, love?’
The scarlet-haired woman threw her hands to her hips. ‘Don’t ‘love’ me, mate, my name’s Ruby.’
‘Sorry, bab, I mean, Ruby. So, the haircut?’ Travis ruffled his ponytail. ‘I’m tired of the Rapunzel look.’
‘What have you got to trade?’
Travis glanced at Ruby’s breasts, which were snugly hugged by her vest top. He smiled, pulled out his empty jeans pockets and shrugged. ‘I’ve got nothing but my body.’ He winked at Ruby. ‘You can have that if you want?’
Ruby rubbed her chin and glanced up at the ceiling. ‘Hmm,’ she said, returning her focus to Travis. ‘I think we have a deal.’
Travis dropped his baseball bat on the floor, ripped off his T-shirt, unbuttoned his jeans and yanked them down.
‘Bob!’ shouted Ruby.
Minutes later, heavy footsteps pounded towards them, and then a bald-headed giant-looking man clutching a bloodstained crowbar walked through the gap in the partition. He stood beside Ruby. ‘What’s up?’ he said, scanning Travis from head to toe before his attention landed on Travis’s once-white boxers.
Travis yanked up his jeans; he wasn’t expecting an audience.
Ruby faced Bob. ‘Here’s another one for you.’