May. 18th, 2011

Standing outside his modest factory and workshop, Daniel sighed. He fumbled with the keys to the front door trying to lock it; his rheumatoid arthritis had been acting up, and he felt like he was losing control over his own hands. First his wife, then his business, and now his hands? It was too much.

Daniel got the key – the big bronze one, not the little silver one for the (empty) cash box – into the keyhole and turned it twice, hand over hand. Lucy from the real estate company would be by on Monday to put the lock box on; she had told him he could put the keys in her office dropbox over the weekend if he wanted. That was nice; it would free him up to leave town immediately if he wanted, although Daniel was damned if he knew where he would go or what he would do next.

Daniel caught a reflection in the glass of the door and stiffly turned around. There were three individuals standing at the curb watching him. Daniel knew them well. He sighed again.

"Look, I already told you," he said exasperatedly. "The business is closed. Forever. Kaput." He shuffled back to the door to pull the key out and put the keyring in his pocket. "I'm out of business."

"Just hear us out," said the Hardboiled Detective, his fedora tilted low over his eyes.

"Lunch is on us," added the Superspy in his clipped British accent.

"Come, Daniel Golding," said the Huntress from the Future. "Allow us to make one last appeal." Her shiny battle-suit reflected the neon glow from the factory sign as she and the rest turned to slowly walk up the road.

The sign flickered. It read, simply: 'MacGuffins'.

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