The next morning I endured a painful breakfast doting over my son, who, in the absence of his electronic stimuli was rendered mentally invalid, and my wife, who in kind, in the absence of a son to nurture, coddled an espresso machine to her bosom in its stead. I was in a house full of appliances and devices meant to ease life yet there was no life here left to service, no people, only rusted out hulls with no spirit of voyage left to conduct, only the burden of wanted freight left to berth.
I decided to venture into work yet again. I'm not sure why; it would seem most likely that, like at home, there would be nothing left for me at work either. Outside I sighted my neighbour Andy wailing over the burnt out carcass of his new BMW. What a pity I thought and strange that now my facsimile automobile sported the model decal of X4- did I do that?
Main street was a ghost town; the going-out-of-business sale that had spurred the congregations to a ravenous pitch yesterday lay depleted, the façade of that aborted venture was hollowed out like a cadaver picked clean to the bones. The hordes had moved on in search of their next meal and what remained was destruction in their wake and an anemic pallor to the whole cityscape as the life blood drained towards the Supersave. A chilling breeze washed the emptied streets of copious litter, the excrement of all this consumptive waste, and stirred the bodies that rested fallen, chewed upon by feral curs who surfeited themselves to the point of self-imperil. Fires blazed over vacant cars and buildings, cremating the surplus left behind the front lines of the commercial war still ahead to find. The lines that waited for their fancy drinks at starbucks now dispersed, only the corpses of those who did not make it through the cannibalistic melee remained to tell the tale. Through the window as I passed I saw the victims, like cancer patients taking their chemo, strapped to chairs and intravenous fed, the caffeine that interned them like addicts. No hope for them now, I remarked and sped on. No traffic to hold me back, fuck I love this car.
Nearing the supersave, blockades of burning tires littered the way but by the looks of things nothing could really stave, the progression of this nefarious entity of the supersave. The buildings adjacent were morphing from brown to blue, the color of its flag, and roving death squads acting in proxy, besieged the resistors and executed the captured in summary fashion. On a street corner where I incredulously witnessed a coke machine slowly engulfing the Pepsi dispenser coterminous, a band of supersave soldiers outfitted in their blue smocks shot dead three prostrate staples employees right before my eyes just they themselves were delimbed and cut down in a gory bloodbath of withering machine gun fire issuing from a steaming 50 cal machine gun mounting a passing Humvee.
The cannonade shocked me to paralysis and I dived down on the passenger seat letting my vehicle roll to a stop. I peeked over the steering wheel when I recovered my senses and watched as a squad of regular army soldiers poured out of the Humvee and secured the scene. A blur of sandy fatigues flashed by as pair of soldiers advanced upon the steaming pile of masticated meat flowing crimson ooze that congealed in the gutter.
"There down" announced one soldier to an unseen commander who suddenly popped up from the gun turret on the Humvee.
"Get me a perimeter, keep your distance from those bodies I don't want a repeat of what happened to Hernandez" the commander jumped down from the Humvee, flak jacket carelessly open, and helmet, recklessly absent "stay back from those bodies Hanson goddam, how many times do I have to tell you" his stern features reprobated a flighty soldier milling about the pile of corpses.
A soldier approached my vehicle and when he spotted my face he sounded the alarm. All guns became trained on me and my stool loosened to an unsupportable liquidity.
"We've got a live one!" hollered a soldier "get out now! Wanna get shot asshole, get the fuck out."
I stepped out gingerly, hands held high in a show of faith.
"Is it one of them sarg?" the foremost soldier barked nervously.
"What's your name?" asked the commander stepping forward, "Jim" I timidly exhaled.
"Nay, all'em others savies started er'thing wit that supersave motto" the commander gutturally confirmed "but check'em for coupons."
One shaky soldier frisked my pockets and found nothing, "he's clean" he announced.
"Let'em over then" ordered the commander and I sauntered over, confidence renewed.
"What'ya doin' out here son" questioned the commander to which I offered the lame reply, so trivialized given recent events " Just trying to get to work."
"Tryin' to get to work?" the commander scoffed "don't you know there's a war on? Just look at those buildings, look at the way they're changin' to blue, that's the supersave taking over, right now we're just tryin' to contain things but as you can see things are getting' pretty hairy. Got these gotdang supersave rebels doin' an ethnic cleanse on rival factions and things are getting' bloody."
"Sargent, sarg!" a panicked soldier cried out for the commanders attention "it's Hanson, I think they gottem' sir."
The soldier who had been milling about the dead supersave rebels stood entranced by the flyer that had somehow made its way into his hands, "look at all the deals" he mooned. The entire squad pivoted around and leveled their weapons on their bedevilled comrade.
"Hanson, goddamit I told you don't look at anything, don't read anything" the commander raged "put it down, now, Hanson."
"But sarg look at all the deals" said the soldier innocently as stepped towards the group.
"Not one more step" the commander warned to no avail, "he's coming for us!" another fear-stricken soldier screamed followed very succinctly by a symphony of fire as the guns loosed their heinous carnage. The flyer in the young soldiers hand exploded as the gunfire bit into his chest and collapsed him to the ground.
"Clear up and get mobile, were sittin' ducks out here" ordered the commander without an ounce of compassion.
He must have seen the horror contorting my shocked expression as he passed because he offered a retort to a contradiction, on my part, never voiced.
"Don't give me that" he spat "I've seen it before, when they get like that it's over, there's no comin' back, it gets into their heads like a disease and I've got men to protect. If you want to survive you better follow us."
I felt suddenly very self-conscious about the supersave jingle still affecting my sub-conscious and made a deliberate effort to check the urge to hum its contagious tune. Obliging the sarge's offer of escort, I trailed the Humvee to the military cordon surrounding the supersave. A sandbag barrier had been erected in semicircle around the front entrance of the supersave and it bristled with a forest of gun barrels from soldiers, tanks and artillery alike. The Humvee spilled out its cargo of troops who took up their defensive positions behind the sandbags. I swooped in behind the Humvee and hit the ground running, sliding in beside the commander on the frontline, we came under fire immediately. The dissident protesters from the day before had morphed into uppity and scantily clad cheerleaders sounding the banner cry of 'the best way to save is with the supersave' while firing t-shirt canons into our positions. The soldier next to me had the misfortune of catching a t-shirt with the supersave logo emblazoned on the front; he was so ecstatic that he could not resist donning his free gift. "Awesome!" he yelled out just as his head exploded, his empty skull falling into my lap; I saw a soldier a few paces ahead lower his weapon, "I had no choice" he said. The tanks and artillery shelled the cheerleaders into the ground. I struggled away from the corpse in my lap; lying prone, I shielded my ears from the barrage. When I opened my eyes I saw a MacDonald's rapper fluttering in the breeze and when I scanned the quieted scene, to my dismay, the soldiers had all stopped to eat, and Macdonald's no less!
"No!" I screamed, and to the commander with my protests I took "you can't let them eat that crap" I swore.
"What'ya gonna do son? My men have to eat, and it's the only place that's open" was the commanders retort.
Slowly but surely, as the soldiers imbibed that sedating food, their will to fight faded as the grease turned them logy and soon they were too fat even to move and the defenses faltered. I looked back to gauge the commanders response when I noticed that his stern aspect had transformed into the genial façade of a supersave clerk.
"Can I interest you in a supersave rewards card, twice the airmiles" he strangely asked and I recoiled knowing that the army now too was lost.
I darted to my savoir BMW with the commander chasing after, "It's free, just try it" he said as I sped away.
To my workplace I thought, is the place to be, to muster some forces to repeal this supersave victory. Through the windshield I observed, the sign atop my workplace building read 'Supersave insurance'. This can't be right I thought as I stepped inside; all the faces I recognize but none of the names, and the colors too were insane, blue, blue everywhere; the colour of supersave. The receptionist I knew as Linda approached me in the grand foyer, her nametag simply read number 317.
"Jim, we've been waiting for you, just follow me and we'll get you retrained" she said with a sickeningly sweet grin.
"I, fucking, hate, Supersave!" I bellowed as 317 looked on like a curious puppy, "we don't use negatives like that at supersave" she said, her voice robotic and her face twisted in a smile so grotesquely wide that it nearly split her head in two.
I ran from the horror of that conformist factory and made my way homeward bound in a hurry. As I rounded the bend into my neighbourhood I found myself uncharacteristically lost. The insidious infiltration of ubiquitous corporate sprawl had invaded the residential grid with its confounding identical arrangements. One block after the next appeared like a cloned segment of civil engineering endlessly repeated. I passed a Macdonald's, Supersave, Starbucks and then another Macdonald's, Supersave, Starbucks; a sequence of frivolously superfluous saturation designed to confuse and entrap the last stragglers in its intractable commercial web; a device applied over and over again ad infinitum. By some stroke of luck, I managed to blindly navigate the pitfalls of commercial expansion to the refuge of my sheltering home. Across the street, most of the homes had transformed into corporate coffee shops and eateries, with the residents within acting as employees, forever enslaved to serve their own endless hunger. My neighbor had replaced the cheap stucco siding on his house with the same granite stone cladding as mine- fucking asshole, what a guy I thought. Within the corridors of my home I issued the summoning greeting of 'hello' and only silence reverberated to report upon the inner vacancy. No Timmy, no other person who usually makes my food, just a house full of appliances and no one to serve. I rushed from that empty tomb, taking in on my way the sight of my neighbour's house up in flames. Did I do that I wondered? Oh well, good riddance to that copycat riding my coattails. I hopped in my Beemer and shouted my mother-in-law's address to the built-in navigation. Its synthetic voice supplied my coordinates and I listened closely only to realize that this was not the location that I had intended, it was the route to a supersave that my car had delivered. Not you too! I moaned as I leapt from its seats, fucking Nazi car, I'll never drive you again.
I preceded on foot not sure where to begin when a police cruiser lit me up with a strobe of blue and red, the heraldry on the door panels reading 'to protect and save you money." A blinding white light hit me in the face, forcing my eyes to strain and squint. "What is your supersave employee number" a voice boomed over a loud speaker. "I fucking hate supersave" was my polite retort. I heard the crackle of radio chatter followed by the buzz of a Taser; I fell in a heap and awoke some hours later.
My captors interned me in the basement of supersave headquarters in a draconian dungeon where they housed cliché film sets for Hollywood. In the torturous hours that I was entombed, they subjected me to hours of sensory deprivation and non-invasive indoctrination techniques. They fed me nothing but Macdonald's and lattes to drink; pumped into my dank cell an endless loop of the supersave motto from some unseen source. In turns, dark figures appeared before my bleary eyes with rhetorical statements like "if you're not with us you're against us" and "you think you can stop the revolution?"
Just as I felt my spirit waning, another figure materialized in the doorway who I gathered from his potent presence was a leader of sorts. He reticently retreated to a shadowy corner and only chose to reveal himself at the moment I was weakest. Through the tears I saw his beady eyes; that shallow complexion and Cheshire grin that never quit and I shrunk away with a cringe. He wore the blue smock of supersave girt with a bandolier like a picture of Poncho Villa.
"Don't be afraid my brother" he tendered compassionately in a Spanish dialect "why won't chu join your brothers and sisters in the revolution? What are you afraid of?"
"I hate supersave, I'll never be like one of you" I protested.
"Ah, but don't chu you see brother, you already are. That Iphone in your pocket, the Levis, the keys to the Beemer, man, chu are jeest like the rest of us" he suggested.
"No, no" I shook my head as the tears gushed.
"Yes, my friend, embrace it, supersave is the savior to all of us; it is the giver of life"
"No, no" I argued "supersave is a parasite, it sucks the life out of communities like this, ruins small businesses and in the end everyone ends up working there at minimum wage barely able to make a living."
"That's where your wrong amigo, supersave saved your community; those small businesses would have never survived the recession, your little town would have withered and died without the power of supersave on your side, now everyone has jobs, they are working and everyone is equal in the revolution, everyone makes the same humble wage, that is the gift of supersave to you my friend. Come here, I want to show you something." The leader beckoned me to join him on a walk and I reluctantly followed.
The mysterious leader guided me to the main floor of the supersave, the glaring florescent lights burning my retinas as I acclimatized. Around me I viewed the endless rows of merchandise and I remember remarking to myself that it would be no surprise to suggest that the entirety of earth's resources had be collected, processed and packaged for sale on those neatly lined shelves. The aisles were abuzz with shoppers about their daily gathering. People from all walks of life shared the same produce and walked the same lines as equals under the almighty banner of commerce; a rich panoply of color and race united for the single goal of hunting and gathering to be merry with plenty.
"You see" said the leader "look at them all, this is what brings all people together my friend, not politics, not religion, science or technology; it's food, that's it, food and things that make life easier, that's it, that's all there is too it. This is the path to world peace my friend, not diplomacy or some great leader to unite all peoples, it's all right here in these aisles; good commerce at fair prices"
I felt myself increasingly enthralled by his every word as we strafed the aisles, looking down the length of each as we went.
"There is no more universal a thing than the need for stuff to make life possible, easier, better even" he went on "and it only makes sense that one day a place like this would come where all of those things would be available under one roof."
We reached the last aisle and as I peered down its length I saw my wife and son busied perusing its selves. Little Timmy distracted himself with the invigorating divertissement that so sustained him while my wife fretted over a surplus paper towel options. My heart ached to be next to them and with a pleading glance, the leader gestured permissively for me to attend their grazing. As I neared, my family barely took notice while I myself zeroed in on a Blueray DVD set on sale for $59.99.
"You want it don't you" goaded the leader, "it's ok, there's nothing wrong with wanting it."
"But I don't need it" I weakly contended as my will began to dismantle the inhabitations that repressed its true desires.
"Life begins with a choice and every choice is motivated by desire. So, the real question is, will you live?"
Those final encouragements acted as the last pressuring cattle prod needed to break my resistance and send me clutching with full abandon at the object of my consumptive urge and with that I was delivered to live, unabashedly, as the creature that I knew I was all along and that is how civilization ends or begins, whichever you prefer, not at the tip of a skyscraper, but in the aisle of supersave, when it is as wide and long as the whole world round.