Shop Smart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A girl works in a store. A mysterious man enters. Stuff happens.

It's kind of funny, but kind of not. I tried writing something completely new to me. This is my attempt.

Submitted: January 02, 2012

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Submitted: January 02, 2012

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Shop Smart

Is there a better way to spend summer than sitting in a giant corporate machine, drudging through the day to make a minimum-wage paycheck? Probably not, Betty thought, standing there at her aisle 1 register, the lonely, blue-coated number above her glowing, the only lane open. Her blonde, shoulder-length hair all frizzy from a hard days work of swiping various items from socks to shampoo over that horrid red scanner thing that puts a very-much jacked-up price on the screen. People pay gobs for this crap, and most of it was off brand.

 

Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart.

 

Betty turned towards the door when she heard the ding-dong enter noise that always happens when people decide to actually venture into this over-priced world of disappointment. She took a look at the man and, for a second, felt this chill run down her spine. It made her feel like not wanting to greet the man, but run away in complete and utter fear. She needed the paycheck, though, so begrudgingly, minus the smile and cheer, she announced “Shop smart, shop smart. I mean. Shop S-Mart.”

 

The Man stopped dead in his tracks the moment she opened her mouth and forced those unenthusiastic sound waves at her. He turned slowly, his neatly polished wingtips shimmering, as were his pleated pants and trenchcoat, as if he could be wearing anything else. He looked to be early fifties, maybe sixties if he's been working out and tanning. The edges of his hair had just started to become that really bright, old-gray, while the rest of his high-top fade haircut was that dark “look at me I'm super sophisticated” gray. The odd thing about him, though, were his eyes. They were a piercing blue, so blue that it seemed like he could do nothing wrong. Or maybe do everything wrong, but nobody would ever call him on it.

“Aw, miss, I'd expect a little more passion from you! Being in this place all day's gotta bolster one's spirit, huh? Hah.” His voiced seemed playful, not at all upset or annoyed like Betty was expecting. It was actually a delightful change of pace, especially since the store was almost closed. Most of the late nighters seemed either to be in a rush (usually teenage boys buying condoms) or just really, really mad at the world. Really mad. So a nice later-middle aged man was, well, neat.

 

“O-oh, sorry sir! I meant...'Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart!'” Look at that enthusiasm. “Anything I can help you with?” she continued, trying to fulfill her corporate drone duties.

 

“Nah, I've got it. Just uh. Just gunna browse for a while, maybe I'll come back and visit you when I'm done, eh? Does that sound like a plan, Betty?”

 

Weird, he must have really good eyesight, because Betty's nametag was faded and actually pretty difficult to read even when you were right in front of her. And before she could even answer, he nodded. “Good. Stay right there, kiddo. I'll be back.” His teeth were even whiter than Jon's. The Man smiled big at Betty, the smile slowly, devilishly curling its way around the edge of his lips. After that, he disappeared into the endless abyss that was S-Mart.

 

She huffed, blowing a few strands of that dull blonde hair out of her eyes, only to have them fall right back down. If she wanted to, she could just start cursing up a storm. Nobody was in the fifty-billion square foot store. Nobody except her, that cute boy in shipping/re-stocking, and that awful manager of hers. Well, they weren't in sight, at least. Heck, the manager probably ditched out early, as he was prone to do. Just as she was thinking that, however, some suave-looking businessman walked into the store. His face conveyed the expression of “oh-god-what-am-i-doing-here-i-dont-want-to-be-here,” but maybe she was just reading his face wrong. She was tired, after all. The businessman gave her a glace, to which she put on her worksmile and gleefully announced “Welcome to S-Mart! Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart!” only to immediately turn around and bite her own tongue. Nope, this wasn't a nightmare. She was definitely awake. As she turned around, the businessman had disappeared into the foray that was S-Mart.

 

“Thirty minutes until close” the feminine-yet-robotic voice announced over the speaker system, interrupting a muzak cover of Celine Deon's “My Heart Will Go On.” With a hint of hope, she turned to look at the clock: 9:30pm right on the dot. Fantastic, she thought. Having not taken a break all day, she took a turn and left her mini-cubicle, the rubber mat underneath her catching her likewise rubber-soled work shoes causing her to trip and fall on the dusty tile floor. What a klutz, huh? “So fucking awesome,” she announced to, well, herself. Never one to be defeated while attempting to take a break, she lazily picked herself up, dusted off the threadbare blue vest she was wearing, and hobbled over to the break room.

 

Surprise surprise! The only thing left in the food machine was some gross off-shoot fruit snacks that were probably harder than understanding how Jennifer Anniston still gets work. And as for drinks, they had the fruit punch that tasted more like fruit piss, if fruits could piss. Also, its not like the break room had any other stimulation that could fend off her hunger or thirst; they had the government mandated “THIS IS THE MINIMUM WAGE AND YOU BETTER LIKE IT” poster, all laminated and hoisted up where the TV use to be. Yeah, they had a TV, and it got taken away because, well, some smartypants decided to watch something naughty during his break. And there was also that generic “Hang In There!” poster with the kitten about to plummet to its death. If you think about it, it really wasn't that inspiring. To Betty, though, it struck out as words to live by. Ever since Brady died...

 

“Betty!” Jon announced triumphantly, knocking on the door frame lightly. Betty jumped, startled, biting down on her bottom lip so hard as to draw a little blood. “What're you doing in here?”

 

Betty turned and give him a stern look, only to change her mind upon remembering just how gosh-darn hot this boy was. Tall, slim, and with an obvious six-pack, well, what girl could resist?

 

“Oh, h-hey, Jon. Sorry. You started me and I mean I bit my lip and I dunno I was just trying to take a break but the vending machines are out of food and drinks and I dunno what to do just yet I mean.” Wow. Betty cut herself off with a nice, sharp inhale as she gently touched her bleeding lip. “And yikes. I uh. I bit my lip. E-excuse me.”

 

Betty turned away and walked over to the one thing that was actually stocked in the room: the drinking fountain.

 

Jon was amused by how nervous this girl always seemed talking to him. Was it because he was hot? Most definitely, he always thought to himself. Jon got a kick out of seeing this girl squirm in his presence, but not in that way, no sir. Betty was too plain. She had no ass, she was a little too tall for his liking (5'9” to his 6'2”, which was too tall for him, he needed a 5'5” and under), wasn't that busty, and that hair seemed worn down, like it had the color beaten out of it over the years. Yeah, she was nice and all, sure, but what Jon wants Jon gets. And he did not want her.

 

Betty had always hoped that Jon might've actually been into her. He was always so nice to her, and always seemed to flirt with her. Maybe it wasn't flirting. Maybe she was just bad at reading social cues. Maybe she was just dumb. Maybe he did like her. Oh gosh, so many maybes. But as the blood ran from her lip down the drain with the water, making it's own distinct path in the dihydrogen oxide, she turned back to Jon, sucking on her bottom lip to suck up any blood that might still come gushing out. Jon grinned at her, flashing her his pearly whites before approaching her. “So, Betty, are you alright? It'd sure be a shame for those lips of yours to get all hurt and damaged.” He placed a reassuring arm on her shoulder. He liked making them feel secure.

 

“O-oh, this?” She blushed and looked down, catching a glimpse of his nice new basketball shoes. Ohh, he must play up at school, she thought. What a dreamboat, huh? “It's nothing. Just, when you scared me, I, y'know, accidentally bit my lip. I mean. It's nothing major.”

 

“I always have to check, just in case.” Jon, being the smooth character he was, picked up her chin with one finger, turning her head to look at him. Another big smile, and he gave her cheek a 50s era soft nudge with his fist. What a tease. What a dick. How hot could this guy possibly be? “Well, duty calls. Seeya around, B.” And with that, Jon disappeared back into the labyrinth that was S-Mart.

 

She could've fainted right there. This had to be a dream. Jon almost kissed me, she thought. He pulled my head up with the finger and did that classy thing. She was still blushing. Hard. One word to describe her face at the moment: pink. More so than a pomegranate. She covered her cheeks, even though nobody was watching (except maybe Ted in his office but nobody ever looked at the cameras because nobody was ever in the store).

 

After Betty had gathered herself once more and stopped swooning over that boy like a horny schoolgirl, she went back to her aisle to not-too eagerly await the last two customers to leave the store, unable to be any more bored.

 

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The businessman had been poking around the toy aisle for the past few minutes, unsure of what to buy his son for his upcoming (or maybe already past?) birthday. It's not like he's really had time to sit down and plan out his life, with the company going under, the divorce being finalized, and the custody hearings. Lucky for him the custody was split 50/50, but in the process the kid had mentioned his birthday a few times. None of the calendars had anything marked down; that was usually the wife's forte.

 

“What the hell,” the businessman talked aloud to himself, picking up some new-fangled action figure. It was this beefed out beefcake cyborg thing, holding two pistols, while also packing some kind of machine gun on his back and two sword-filled sheaths at his side. The businessman remembered when he was his son's age that the toys they had were pretty low key, and definitely not violent. Or maybe they were. Maybe he didn't actually remember his childhood toys. It was like forty plus years ago.

 

His slick-backed hair and general demeanor screamed late-80s yuppiedom, back when that sort of thing was in its prime. Just like Christian Bale in “American Psycho.” Lucky for the kids, the businessman didn't do cocaine like all the other, cooler yuppies did. Then again, even if he wanted to, he definitely couldn't afford it. It's just the darn economy wasn't exactly helping his profit margin at all. Nor was the fact that he, well, embezzled some of that cash. Quite a bit actually. Divorce lawyers are literally money drains. As soon as they get the money, it disappears. Much like the wife he was so desperate to forget about at this point.

 

“Fine. Whatever.” His decision was made firm to himself with that statement aloud, for no reason in particular otherwise than to just hear it be said. He had decided: this mutilating maiming man-machine thing would be an excellent present for the kid. He was turning...seven? Eight? Whatever, he was close thought as he took the obnoxious plastic hook off the obnoxious metal hanger and turned back towards the register. Only, as soon as he turned, there was The Man standing at the end of the aisle, staring him down. He was blocking his path. When he turned to try and walk away from this creepy trenchcoat guy, the other exit had been blocked by what appeared to be a brand-new rack of toys. He was backed against the wall.

 

“H-hey! Who are you? What do you want?” asked the businessman. He was visibly shaken (not as badly as his last business transaction, but close enough). The Man had the slightest smile carved into his face, his brow furrowed, forehead wrinkled. His head was tilted downward (for the effect). Silently, he extended his arms outward and pointed them downwards diagonally, his palms open wide as he glided the length of the aisle to the businessman. It was creepy, that’s for sure. The businessman was trembling, his grip tightening on the toy's package, the plastic crinkling under the weight.

 

The Man stopped a few feet in front of the businessman, planting his feet firmly on the ground. A chuckle escaped his mouth. “So, Mr. White Collar, how are you doing today, hm?” He paused and waited for an answer. He put his hand against his ear. “Ahem. Speak up sonny, these ears are crusty and tired. Get it? Because I look old.”

The Man lowered his hand to his side, now looking annoyed.

 

“Well, if you aren't gonna talk, how can I ever figure out what's wrong with you.” Another chuckle.

 

“Who are you? What do you want?” The businessman repeated, albeit in a timid, scared little voice.

 

“Oh, you know. I'm a little of this, a little of that. Sugar, spice, everything nice.” The Man grinned as big as his mouth would let him, the pearly whites shining away in the florescent glow. “Also, I'm just pretty happy to see you, Mr. Mister.” At that, The Man snaps his fingers and smoke billows out from the bottoms of the shelves, covering the floor in a thick shroud. The Man's wingtips disappear under the fog. “You'll have to forgive me,” he continues. “I blew most of my budget on effects.”

 

The Man takes a step closer to the businessman.

 

The businessman presses himself back against the shelf, trying to make himself one with the wall. “S-stay away! I. I just came to get my son a gift. I. I don't know what this is. Just, please. Let me go!” He stops, his breathing getting quicker, shallower. He takes a look at the toy before dropping itinto the fog. Does it even exist anymore?

 

“Oh? A gift, hm?” The Man says. “Ah, right, your son. He's turning ten, right?” The Man tilts his head slightly to the side, smiling ever-so gently.

 

“I. Yeah,” is all the businessman can muster. He isn't even sure if that's right.

 

The Man contorts his face as if in agony. “Ah, shucks kiddo!” Over the loudspeaker system comes blaring the generic 'BZZT' buzzer that's in every game show ever. “Tsk tsk tsk. I expected better than that from you. Now comes your punishment.” The Man snaps and in his hand appears a foam sword. Some off-brand piece of junk. “C'mere and take your lumps, Sonny.”

 

The businessman doesn't move. He barely breaths.

 

“Aw, poor sport? You're no fun. Well fine. I'll make you come over here.” The Man tosses the foam sword at the businessman, and as it flies across the gap between them, it becomes real. The businessman catches it, taking a hold of the hilt with both of his hands, shooting The Man a very afraid look before charging at him, screaming a desperate scream. The Man can't help but break out into a giggle fit as the sword pieces his torso. Not a drop of blood. “Nice try. My turn.”

 

With that, the businessman attempts to run by The Man. “I never did anything to anyone!” he yells at the top of his lungs as he tries to escape his death. The Man takes the sword out of his belly, snaps it over his knee just as easily as one might snap a twig. He pauses to smirk at the businessman, tossing the broken sword into the fog. He snaps his fingers once more, closing off the exit the businessman was so close to reaching, shelves turning to seal the two of them in a small, narrow box. The businessman hits the new shelf hard, falling on his knees into the fog. The only thing is, what body parts fall into the fog aren't coming back up. All the businessman has left is the top half of his body, with his hands being lost.

 

The Man takes a step towards the businessman. “Ah ah ah! Don't be a liar, now, sir. I know what you've been doing. I know what you've done. I'm not the only one, either.” The Man smiles knowingly.

 

“O-okay, I'll admit it! I've been stealing money from the company! Okay!? Just let me out of here, please!” The businessman pleads.

 

The Man takes another step. “It's not that easy, pal. You've ruined your employee's lives. You've ruined your wife's life. You ruined your son's life. And you can't even remember how gosh darn old he is? And you want to be let out. If that's a joke, my ol' chum, it ain't that funny.” Another step. So close now.

 

“See you in Hell.” The Man says, smiling as he takes his hand and tips the businessman over into the fog. As soon as he falls, the businessman is gone. Satisfied, The Man waves his hand in a shoo-ing manner and the new shelves disappear, as does the fog, which flows back into the shelves. The dusty linoleum appears unscathed, no evidence of the businessman ever having been there. Or existing, even. The toy which the businessman had planned to buy lay there, crumpled. The Man picks it up and places it back on the obnoxious metal hook, adjusting it until perfect. The Man licks his index finger and combs his hair back. “Fantastic. Lookin' sharp, you!” he says to his reflection in the plastic wrap of the toy. He finger-guns the reflection and gives himself a winning smile as he strolls out of the aisle and rounds the corner, disappearing into the ever-changing puzzle that was S-Mart.

 

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“Man, this job blows,” Jon so intelligently announced as he waltzed around the big shipping and receiving area. Where the wall wasn't a dark, industrial grey, there were numerous safety and hazard signs saying to be safe, how to properly work with forklifts (which was actually fairly difficult), and other stuff that consumers wouldn't be interested in. Since Jon was basically only there to empty giant cardboard boxes with various products in them, none of that stuff really mattered. His last task of the night was to deliver some sweatshop assembled sneakers to the shoe department so some poor family could get suckered into buying some low-quality knockoffs. And then, after that, party city for Jon.

 

There wasn't a whole lot longer in his shift, and he knew Ted (the manager, remember?) wouldn't leave his office up front for anything except maybe a fire. And that was still a maybe. Smoke if you got 'em, the expression went, so Jon pulled out a cigarette, lighting it with a certain elegance only achieved once one's been smoking for years. With the cigarette still in his lips, he moseyed on over to the cardboard box and cut it open with his boxcutters, tearing the tape off of the cardboard, peeling some off in the process. So all in all, it was a 3x3 box, three feet tall. If the math was done, that would equal a whole 'lotta shoes. Jon scoffed, but nonetheless picked up a few boxes and very expertly stacked them three tall on both of his arms, starting towards the intimidating swinging doors that led back into the main part of the store, still puffing on his cigarette like a champ.

 

While doing closing actives like this, Jon liked to think to himself a bit. Nothing major, just about girls, mostly. That Betty girl. Jon knew she was totally into him, but as previously stated, she was too plain for the guy. Jon liked the girls who knew how to make themselves hot. Or, whatever was currently considered “hot” by the general populous. Right now, Jon was big into fake tans and ridiculous hair. He was also really into sluts, because when a girl will literally fuck a guy just for the sake of saying she's fucked eight boys instead of seven, that just radiates hotness. At least it does to Jon.

 

Maybe if Betty blew me I'd like her more, he thought as he placed the boxes on the shoe shelf where they belonged. Jon looked up at the loudspeakers as the song changed to an instrumental remix of “Reflection” from that one “Mulan” movie from forever ago. Surprised at himself, Jon starts muttering the chorus (“who is that girl I see staring straight back at me”) under his breath as he returned to the back room, extra pumped now to unpack more shoes, his singing becoming louder and less shy as he retreated to his sanctuary.

 

The Man was there, standing in the big open area. The Man looked extraordinarily happy to see the young man. Jon stopped in his tracks, quickly tossing his cigarette aside, trying to play it off like nothing happened. “Oh, uh, good evening sir. Uhm. So, the store is actually out there, so would I be able to ask you to, uh, head back out there? Sorry.” This was the first time Jon had seen a customer wander to the back room. Usually the scary swinging metal doors was a dead giveaway that this wasn't part of the store. But this guy looked old, so Jon gave him the benefit of the doubt.

 

The Man clasped his hands together in glee, the clap seeming extra loud, echoing throughout the room. He then proceeded to rub his hands together, as if trying to start a fire in the palm of his hands. “Oh but my kind sir, what I want is back here!” With a bounce in his step, he happily approached Jon. Jon wanted to take a step away from his creepy trenchcoat-wearing man, he wanted to put his arms up as a warning to back off, but for some reason, he just couldn't. His body was physically unable to keep up with his mind's commands. Talk about freaky, huh?

 

The Man draped his arm around Jon, pulling him in close, father-son like. “Hey sport. How are you?”

 

“Well. I can't complain, I guess. I'm done pretty quick, so that's nice.” Jon said, fairly confused.

 

“Aw well that's always good to hear, kiddo.” The Man takes a gander at the young man and smiles. “So, what've you been up to? Besides wasting your life in this trash heap, which I'm sure you don't enjoy.” The Man strolled along slowly, pulling the helpless Jon along.

 

“Well. Besides here? Just hangin' out with my friends I don't get to see at school. Nothing too exciting,” Jon says, letting out a sort of nervous chuckle.

 

The Man stops abruptly, turning to look at Jon. “Oh come on. Don't talk about yourself like that, Jon.” That caught Jon off guard; he wasn't wearing his nametag today. Ted had already yelled at him for it. “I mean look at'cha! You're fit, tall, gosh. The girls must go crazy over you, huh?” The Man nudged Jon in the side playfully, stepping back from Jon. “I remember myself when I was your age. Looked just like you, it's odd. But anyway, girls would be riding me day in and day out. How about you, champ? Been with any lovely ladies lately?” The Man looked eager to hear about his exploits.

 

Jon, on the other hand, wasn't as eager to give up his personal details, especially his sex life. That was Jon's private, only-Jon-can-hear-about-this kinda stuff. “Uh. I don't really know you, sir. I don't feel like that's appropri-”

 

“Oh, enough with this horsepatooey 'be nice to me because I'm a customer' garbage,” The Man says in a mocking sort of tone. The Man sighed gently, taking off his trenchcoat and tossing it on a nearby workbench, revealing nothing on under but a rugged-looking barrel chest. The hairs, as curly as chest hair could get, were the same old-gray as the top of his head. “Ah, that's better, huh? It's a little stuffy in here. Are we in some kind of warehouse? Oh, wait, yeah, we are.” A big chuckle followed as a visibly disturbed Jon regained some control over his body, taking slow, cautious steps backward from the demented old man.

 

“Oh, hey, where're you going, huh?” The Man looked at Jon with a sort of intensity that Jon just couldn't handle. He knew something was up with this weird old guy, and he had to leave now. The young man turned and bolted towards those always-intimidating metal doors and, much to his surprise, they wouldn't budge. It appeared as though the doors had extended themselves into the floor, essentially creating another wall, just with some windows plopped on for good measure. He could see the rest of S-Mart, but couldn't reach it. He tried to call out to Betty or Ted, but his cries bounced right back at him thanks to the awful acoustics a warehouse provides.

 

“Hey man! Just, I don't know what your deal is, but just, please, let me outta here. Besides, Ted'll be back here at some point! Then you'll really be in trouble!” Jon tried to sound tough, but The Man saw right through his thinly-veiled attempt to hide his fear, which was growing at an exponential rate.

 

“Oh gosh, you might be right kiddo. I surely wouldn't wanna duke it out with your manager. He seems pretty scary.” The Man slumps his shoulders, appearing both disappointed and defeated. “Alright, you win, just gimme a second.” He trudges back over to the workbench where he'd thrown his trenchcoat earlier, and puts it on. As soon as he does, he starts checking his pockets, patting down the exterior of his coat with a sort of demented fervor. “Hey now, where did I put it?” The Man seems panicked, much to the dismay of Jon, who only wanted to leave.

 

The Man, while still patting his pockets, waved a hand at Jon. For some reason, Jon started to walk back towards The Man, his legs not under his control. “H-hey! How are you...I mean...stop it!” As much as he struggled, Jon couldn't break free from whatever sorcery this was. Any toughness the young man thought he had just leaked out of him. Jon was scared. And Jon didn't like that.

 

“Ah, right. Here it is.” The Man grins again, showing off his clean chompers to the young man as he pulls out a single condom from his inner coat pocket. “Oh, yikes. This may seem strange but...do you remember last weekend?”

 

Jon didn't actually remember much of last weekend. There was booze involved, despite Jon being underage. What lunacy, people under twenty-one drinking. But Jon did despite the law, and doing so, became very inebriated. So inebriated, actually, that he 'blacked out' as people like to call it these days. His friends had told him of his antics (such as puking in a potted plant, dancing with some fat chicks or something, and pissing in the dishwasher. And sink. And the other potted plant.), and Jon was satisfied with everything except the chicks. That wasn't really his game, but he could blame it on the al-al-alcohol, or at least that's what the song suggested.

 

“Uh, actually, not exactly. I got a little schwasted with some pals at a party in town. Why?” He was surprised that in such a tense situation that he still said 'schwasted.' But Jon was legitimately curious as to why this guy wanted to know about his last weekend. And why did he have a condom?

 

“Oh, well that's pretty convenient for you, isn't it?” The Man moved his feet so he was standing shoulder-width apart, a strong stance for strong words. “I'm sure she remembers it perfectly.”

 

“She? She who?” Jon asks, growing more fearful every second.

 

The Man dodges the question. “Do the words 'No, please don't!' or 'Jon gets what Jon wants' mean anything to you?” Besides Jon being afraid of The Man's knowledge of that phrase, The Man also perfectly imitated both his own and a girls voice perfectly when quoting. The girls' voice sounded familiar, but only vaguely.

 

“N-no.” Jon lied. “Why?”

 

The Man gripped the condom in his fist, clenching it tight. “Well...” The Man threw the condom at Jon to humiliate him. “'What Jon wants Jon gets' is exactly the viewpoint you took at that party last weekend, superstar. One of those so-called 'fat chicks' you were dancing with? Well, you took a particular fancy to one of 'em, which is weird right? You only want the hottest of the hot. Right? Oh, the American dream: lots of money with a hot chick wrapped tight around your pulsing biceps.” The Man paused to catch his breath.

 

“You started to get friendly with her. Remember now?” Jon tried, but couldn't recall that particular happening. “Hm. Well, lets keep going, shall we?” Jon tried to run, but couldn't. “You guys moved to one of the rooms upstairs. 'It'll be alright, it'll be fun,' you kept repeating in your impeccable fashion. She said no, didn't she, Jon? She said no. But that just wouldn't stand with you, would it?” The Man glared down his nose at the young man. “Would it?” The Man stepped closer to Jon, who was stuck to the floor. He couldn't move. “So you decided to take matters into your own hands, despite hers trying to push you off.” The Man took another step. So close now.

 

“You went ahead and had your way with her. While she was crying. While she was fighting to get you off of her!” The Man lashed out and actually slapped Jon, leaving a burn mark across the young man's face as he screeched in pain. Jon heard his own skin sizzle. “You are one of the most despicable kids I've observed in quite some time, Jon.” The Man calmed himself down and re-adjusted his trenchcoat, blowing on the top of his fingers, like how he might blow on food to cool it down.

 

The Man took a step away from Jon, turning his back.“H-hey, please...sir. I'm. I'm sorry. I don't know what I was doing. I can't remember! I wouldn't have done it! I really wouldn't have!”

 

To this, The Man turned around, again with a condom in his hand. “It was only a matter of time, Jon. I can see you doing it to some poor, hot little number. I could see you ruining countless girls' lives. You already tease Betty, getting that poor gal's hopes up? And you get off on this kinda stuff, don't you?Well, I'm going to put an end to it.” The Man opened the condom wrapper and took the actual thing out, danging it and wiggling it in front of Jon, helplessly watching his fate come closer.

 

“Any last words? No? Fantastic.” The Man started to stretch the condom out into man-size proportions. Jon watched in horror as The Man slid the giant contraceptive over his head, the screams drowned out by thick plastic. “Ah, quit squirming. Also, since when did condoms get sticky before use? Not like the good ol' days.” Once he'd completely engulfed Jon in rubber, The Man clapped his hands together and rubbed again, fire actually spouting from his fingertips as he took a hold of the man-condom Jon had become. “See you in Hell.” The Man grasped the Jondom and shrunk it down back to its normal size and held the young, shrunk man in his firey palm and giggled. He then let the fire engulf the Jondom, the burning kid disappearing in a poof of smoke from The Man's hand.

 

The Man blew the fire out, patting his hand on his trenchcoat as steam emanated from his slightly charred palm. “I'm getting more clever every day!” The Man couldn't help but hopscotch out of the warehouse room, kicking open the flapping metal doors and disappearing into the hodgepodge of consumerism that was S-Mart.

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Betty sat at her lonely station, leaning her head on her hands, resting her elbows on the stationary conveyor belt. S-Mart couldn't be more boring, especially this close to closing time. In fact, that was only a few minutes away now. But it's not really like Betty had anything else to look forward to. Sitting in her room, alone, listening to whatever shuffle put on, looking at various funny pictures on the internet, maybe making a comment on someone's picture on Facebook. Maybe she'd creep on Jon all night. Again.

By the way, where was that guy? Betty stood up, squinting towards the back of the store, getting up on her tip-toes and attempting to look for a sign of, well, anybody. Those two other guys never came back up front, either. It hadn't struck Betty until now, but that was kind of weird. What else was weird is that she swore a little while ago she had smelled something burning, akin to a freshly lit match or an exploded firework. There wasn't any smoke (that she could see at least) and the alarms never went off. But still.

“The store will be closing momentarily,” came on the robotic voice, tuning out the Kenny G saxophone that had been blowing away through the PA system. “Please gather all of your items and bring them to your nearest check-out counter.”

Duty calls, Betty thought to herself as she straightened out her blue smock of a uniform and stood tall, awaiting the two customers to come to her bright blue beacon of salvation that was aisle one. After a few moments, those two didn't emerge from the woodwork carrying various sweatshop-produced goods. And they weren't in the bathroom, she knew this much, since those were located up front. She certainly would have seen them. Betty was actually growing nervous now, as the ever-looming sense of dread had started to hit her hard.

It only intensified when The Man appeared, carrying absolutely nothing. He looked exactly the same as before, except this time he was grinning even more, like he was proud of himself or something. With a very distinct, determined stride, The Man rapidly approached the nervous worker, who, in an attempt to distance herself from the possible creep, pressed her average frame back against the flimsy wood propped up to make her cubicle. She tried to do this as subtly as she could, but it was pretty obvious that she wasn't exactly feeling comfortable.

When The Man finally reached the counter, his grin faded. He looked upset, actually. His brow furrowed, his lips curled downward into a St. Louis Arch of disappointment. “Aw, shucks kiddo. There's no need to be afraid! All I want is..hm.” The Man paused to take a look at the various refreshments scattered about the check-out area. Loads of gum, sugary sweets, and teeth-rotting drinks. The Man perks up a bit, his smile coming back as he grabs a pack of extra-super-minty gum, holding the small pack like it was a recently-used needle, like something that could hurt him. “It's hard to chill where I'm from.” Oh, and how he chuckled at that pun, placing the gum on the conveyor. Betty timidly reached her hand out and flipped the switch, the gum coming towards her and the scanner.

“A-Anything else, sir?” Betty asked shyly, swiping the gum across the register. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but it seemed like the closer that guy got to her, the more afraid she felt. Its almost like this man wasn't quite...human. He emanated dread and fear. It was almost like he had an aura about him, except it was wholly negative. And that smile of his...

“Haha, oh, well, I mean, I suppose.” The Man eagerly reaches into the cooler behind him and snags an iced tea. “Ah, Ambrosia brand? I haven't had this is ages! I'm surprise they started making that again. It's like if Pepsi brought back Crystal Pepsi, huh? Oh, good times, good times.” The Man grinned as he twisted the cap off of the tea and took a big swig, closing his eyes shut tight and turning his head away, almost like he was struggling to swallow it. He did, though, and let out a gigantic sigh of relief, which seemed to echo across the entire, deserted store. “Now that's some good tea. Bit cold for my liking, but I guess I'm just not use to it.” After closing the bottle once again, he places it on the conveyor. Betty had wanted to say he couldn't drink until after he had paid, but she couldn't really say much of anything at this point.

She did swipe the bottle, and brought up The Man's total. He calmly reaches into one of the pockets on the trenchcoat. After not finding it, he, in a frenzy, pats all the pockets he could possibly have, giving up after a moment.“Ah golly gee, it seems as though I left my wallet back home! You don't mind if I just give you an I.O.U., would ya? Splendid.” He paused for a split second before snapping his fingers and, lo and behold, in the palm of his hand appeared a specially made I.O.U. For the gum and tea. It was dated indefinitely.

Betty's eyes widened, shocked at what she saw. She could write it off as some cheap parlor trick any other time, but coming from this guy, it had to be real, which scared the hell out of the poor corporate slave.

“Oh, yeah, by the way. Remember that time you kinda-sorta killed your little brother? What was it...” The Man beckoned Betty over with his index finger, and she was inclined to step closer. He was definitely nobody to disagree with. She left her cubicle and joined him in the aisle, standing beside him, looking up, the fear still present in her expression. She was curious, though. Only slightly.

“Ah, yes.” The Man placed a hand on her shoulder and looked at her, smiling only slightly. “It was your turn to make dinner that night. You were in a rush, and you thought 'oh hey nothing bad'll happen.' So you decided to use normal flour when you made the cookies for desert. Oh he loved the chicken. Mm-mm good, right? He ate it up, then you offered some of those tantalizing treats to him, and he ate it up. Oh how he ate it up. How many did he have? Three? Four? You didn't care. You were just happy that he liked them. But as you were cleaning up his dishes for him, he collapsed. He started convulsing. You and your parents panicked. You tried to call 911, but by the time they got there, there was nothing they could do. He suffocated on those cookies because his throat closed up because he was allergic to flour. Is that how it went?”

Betty hadn't left his side. She had started crying, though, all of the guilt and shame hitting her like a brick wall. She had been trying to forget that. Betty didn't want her brother to die. She missed him every day, but she hid all of her feelings. Nobody wanted to be friends with the perpetually sad girl who may or may have not killed her brother on accident. Everybody knew, though. That's why she spent every night alone for the past three years.

Betty looked up towards the man again, nodding slowly, the tears tripping down her cheeks and down to her smock, wet stains abundantly placed all over. The Man, in a rare moment of tenderness, reached out to caress her tear-streak stained cheeks, the tears wiped away at the expense of some pain from The Man. He winced slightly, the tears literally burning into his flesh, his fingers steaming. “There's something super important I gotta tell you, kiddo.” The Man paused and lightly took hold of Betty's shoulders, turning her towards him, holding her there, arms extended. “Everybody knows you didn't do it on purpose and are judging you as such. So no worries. When you die, you'll be okay...for now at least.” The Man followed that up with his award-winning chuckle. “So, as long as you stay good, Santa won't come and kick your ass. Nor will I have to come find you, unlike those other two.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the Jondom, grinning wide once more. “Y'see? This is Jon.” Jon's face was prominently displayed on the packaging, his face contorted to a state of excruciating pain. “This was a very, very bad boy. Sure he was hot as hell, and I know you wanted to screw his brains out, but please Betty. Don't fall for the hot guy tricks. He probably would've raped you too if he had the chance.” With that, The Man turned away from Betty and started walking towards the exit.

“The store will now be closing. Thank you very much, and have a wonderful evening.” The robotic voice signified the store was closing in just a minute. The lights at the very back of the store started shutting off, one by one, growing closer to the registers. The Man paused as the automatic doors opened for him, looking back at the worker.

“See you around, Betty.” With that, The Man left, walking into the unknown that was the outside world.

Betty slumped down in the aisle, leaning back against her cubicle, completely numb. She sat there until the lights all shut off, not moving. Her sobs echoed through the loneliness that was S-Mart.

Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart.


© Copyright 2017 NickDipples. All rights reserved.

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