Closed Until Further Notice

Closed until further notice’ said the sign on the door. It had caused quite a stir among the regular customers. The shop was on a small parade in a run-down corner of the city.

Frank had been running the bakery for such a long time. No one could ever remember him taking holidays. Let alone just closing and disappearing.

Every morning while the city slept Frank was baking his bread. It was so fresh, not just bread though. Cakes, pastries and biscuits. The food from the ‘Floury Baker’ was legendary. No one quite knew how he managed to keep the standard up year after year.

Tuesday had started like any other. At two in the morning, Frank woke in the flat above the shop. He dressed and put on his baker’s whites before going downstairs to work in his small hot kitchen.

Two more years and he could retire. Move to his caravan at the coast. Fifty years of work, he was ready for the rest. He hadn’t always been a baker. No one though was quite sure what it was he had done before he arrived at the shop twenty years ago.

“Morning Lucy”, said Frank to his assistant who arrived at ad.

“Can you start filling the shelves, I’ll go put the kettle on”.

The regular morning routine began unfolding. Bread and wonderful cakes that this happy and popular baker had spent half the night creating began appearing in the shop.

The morning passed and as always early afternoon arrived before the couple knew it.

“How’s trade”, asked Frank.

“Things have eased off, I’ve started clearing away”’ said Lucy.

“You get off I’ll finish cleaning, I don’t think there will be much more business today. I’m ready for a couple of pints at the pub, dinner and bed”, said Frank.

The working day was nearly over as Frank cleared and prepared his bakery for another night. He didn’t notice the car parked outside. He didn’t own one and never had. No need really, most of what he needed was available in his own or nearby shops. The pub was just around the corner.

The black Audi R8 coupe was not the sort of car his customers normally came to the shop in, most of the locals walked. Vehicles that pulled up were mainly tradesmen wanting sandwiches.

‘Maybe it’s a sales rep late for lunch’ he thought.

The driver’s door opened, and a tall muscular man got out. Maybe ten to fifteen years younger than Frank, well over six feet tall. Dressed immaculately in black shoes, jeans and an open necked shirt. He had a dark swarthy complexion and his head was shaved.

Frank recognised him instantly. He wished so much that he hadn’t come. The man in black opened his boot and took out a large canvas bag. He turned and walked slowly toward the shop surveying all around him.

The door opened, and the little bell tinkled as it did for everyone entering the shop. It didn’t seem right for the imposing figure who just walked into the shop. Frank just stood there, what else could he do?

The two men faced each other in the empty shop. Frank tired, weary and overweight. Looking every inch his sixty-three years.

“Good afternoon Francis, I’m sorry to disturb you but we need your help”, said the man.

Frank just stood there, he always knew this day would come. His simple life, the only one he had wanted would come to an end. What he possessed would always prevent him from living the life he wanted. The man in black spoke once more.

“Times have changed, dark forces are at work in the world. Life as we know it could soon be destroyed forever. Your wish to live a normal life will be meaningless. We have left you, humoured you because in the past your work for us was valuable. We need your help and we need it now, your powers are still great.”

The man lifted the bag and placed and placed it on the glass counter. Both knew what was inside. He then removed six swords and placed them on the counter, beautiful, polished incredibly sharp steel. Each sword was different with gold and silver handles, encrusted with many different kinds of jewels. Five swords for five wizards. Only one of whom was still alive, the sixth sword was for the bearer of the swords.

What a strange sight should anyone have entered the shop that afternoon. Draxalor the wizard’s armourer returning Francis of Arrachon’s trusted sword after twenty years.

“I’m sorry Francis, our enemy is powerful and close at hand. This may be your last battle, the last for both of us. We must go now, quickly”, said Draxalor.

Frank rushed around turning off lights and equipment. Pouring out milk from the fridge and scribbling a note. He placed it behind his glass shop door as he left the shop. A strange sight indeed, a tall man in black carrying five ancient priceless swords to the boot of his car. Followed by a baker dressed all in white carrying a sixth sword, the most beautiful of them all.

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