Andrew Langton sighed and bit into his Snickers. Flakes of chocolate and peanut crumbled and fell onto his faded (and extremely tight-fitting) A.L.F. T-shirt, and he absent-mindedly smeared them across the face of the titular alien, a look of boredom set on his face.
The so-called 'sci-fi convention' was not going well for Andrew. Stuck for hours in a huge disused warehouse with no air conditioning, his bulky frame was protesting strenuously and the prospect of several more hours before he was supposed to meet his friends for the long drive home hardly made him tingle with anticipation. Thus far the guests on offer had been a disappointment, ranging from an ageing former Cylon with a shoddy grasp of English to a tempramental Wookie who had stormed off stage after being offered a dog biscuit by a joker in the audience.
Of marginally less interest were the various stalls selling items of detritus from the last 30 years of geekdom. A water damaged A-Team annual for £40? A complete set of original Turtles figures (Leonardo missing one arm) for a tenner? A signed photo of Colin Baker for 15 pounds? Who the hell was Colin Baker to command those prices? He'd only ever had a cameo in Blakes 7 for fuck's sake.
But right then, something caught our man's eye. Over in the corner, almost invisible amongst the bustling throng, stood a small, nondescript stall staffed by a whippet-thin man a pinstripe suit and emo glasses, and a busty girl a few years younger. Andrew hadn't spoken to a genuine girl for a long time, but it was not her that had caught his eye - it was a long, metallic looking cardboard box sitting prominantly on the stall. Dropping the Snickers in his excitement, Andrew barged a path through the crowds until he was almost within touching distance of the box and it's contents. His initial feeling had been correct. He was looking at a boxed, complete Generation 1 Optimus Prime, first made in 1984. he looked up at the thin man who regarded him with what looked like amusement. He asked the price. Seventy, came the reply.
This exchange did not fill Andrew with confidence. In this kind of condition the item was worth £200 all day long. He looked at it again. Was it a later reissue? It showed none of the signs. An unofficial remould? If it was, it was the best he had ever seen. It HAD to be genuine. And yet... the condition. He asked the man where it had come from, said it looked like it had only been bought yesterday. At this the man and the girl shared a look. He grinned at her, and she rolled her eyes and turned away. The man said he could not reveal his source, but seventy pounds was the asking price.
Almost hyperventilating with excitement, Andrew reached into his wallet and pulled out a bundle of notes, counting them onto the table. Then he adjusted his glasses, ran a hand through his lank, greasy hair and grabbed his purchase before the stallholder could change his mind. The man watched him until he had quite disappeared amongst the crowd. Then he reached under the table and produced an identical toy, replacing it exactly where the previous one had been. His companion rounded on him, asking him how he had the balls to rip people off like that. What? he said. That thing was worth at least twice what he paid for it. That's not the point, came the retort. You only paid £20 for it yesterday. But not HIS yesterday, the man yelled, perplexed. It did not work. The girl turned around and indignantly began leafing through a selection of Green Lantern comics clutering up the next stall.
What, thought the man, was her problem? He had to make an income, and this wasn't hurting anyone was it? He made a tidy profit and these people got a bargain. The fifty quid he had made on that stupid toy robot would convert to 83,756,651,910,588,294,082 Plargs on the planet Deminios, which was almost the average monthly wage there and twice the price of a loaf of bread. And it wasn't as if he enjoyed hanging around these kind of places. He was doing it for her as much as himself.
Suddenly his eye was caught by a group of middle aged men dressed in Jedi robes and brandishing lightsabres. With a quick motion, he pulled a sheet from a selection of original, boxed Kenner Star Wars figures. They were of course absolutely pristine, with their price tags indicating that they had cost £1.75 apiece. Bidding started at £10 each. As the enthralled group headed his way, he surpressed a smile. This might just turn out to be a great day after all.