Horror in the Grocery Store

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 17, 2019

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Submitted: October 17, 2019

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HORROR IN THE GROCERY STORE













 

By

Riley Blatzheim

 

 

 

 

It appeared to be just like any other day: pitch dark and foggy. The air filled with a hint of humidity, but most times it was dry. If it weren't for the crickets, the night would have been in complete silence. Frank was used to it. 

It was easy to read that he was in a rut based off of his reaction as he swung closed his door, while simultaneously putting on his blue work shirt—Hardley’s. He also wore jeans. He had a bagel in between his teeth and a cup of coffee in his left hand, along with the keys in the other. He slowly rotated his wrist to read his watch. It was 10:52. Perfect. I’ll be in time to get a Pepsi, he said to himself unenthusiastically. His eyes were narrowed and heavy, showing no motive for anything. Sometimes they would only be blue instead of purple. However, today was not that day. He finished turning the key sideways and locking the door and then turned his gaze to his vehicle.

Wonder if I can call in sick last minute without getting points. They probably wouldn’t even notice. His eyes widened for a second as something occurred to him. Oh… Nevermind. Dave works tonight. Right! How could I forget it’s Monday?! He yelled to himself. Well, I better book it if I want to fly through that bump before the cop gets there at 10:55. 

You can picture him in the rearview mirror, as he drove with one finger. His grubby face matched the style of hair he was going for, not even trying. It was brown and unkempt, spiking out in every direction. He was at least grateful to being noticed on the street, despite his not-so-handsome looks.

“Ah, man!” He shouted out loud as he rubbed his hand against his jawline, not even paying attention to his driving in the center of the road. “That stupid sleep mask tore a patch of whiskers!” He heard a sudden echo from a horn. He shifted his eyes downward, seeing two vivid dots. He quickly managed his hands on the wheel and jerked back into his lane. He then raced back into thought, Huh… He missed.

A couple-minutes later, he parked directly over the orange lane… it was not an accident. Since he was hired 2 years ago, the influence from his co-workers took a strong grip on him. Whatever they did, he did also. Except the time when Dylan decided to throw a brick at the window and see if it would bounce… It didn’t. Frank was relieved he didn’t involve himself in that destruction, including the front page of the local paper: “MYSTERIOUS BRICK FLIES THROUGH WINDOW! Witnesses said it got dark.”

Frank had to admit that was funny in the long run. Since then, Dylan had gladly put aside his pranks. Except for Dave.

Frank peered into the doorway as it slid sideways. “Franky!” A familiar voice hit the ceiling. Some would argue that they could hear him from across the street.

“I told you not to call me Franky!”

“Oh, c’mon! Lighten up, will ya? Tomorrow’s payday.” He said excitedly.

“Tomorrow's Tuesday, Dylan.” Frank corrected him.

“Oh, really? I could’ve sworn it was payday. Dang! Looks like I’ll have to get a loan from mom ‘n pop, again.”

“Didn’t you just ask for one last month?” He asked as he turned his eyes to him.

Dylan was the sort of character you could picture in a football suit. But he wouldn’t play. He’d sit down all day drinking beer. Aside from that, he looked and acted exactly like a redneck with bright blue jeans and a belt, but without the accent, which was considered tolerable in Frank’s book. He always thought it was annoying when Dave popped up out of nowhere.

“Howdy, ya’ll!”

Frank was within seven-seconds from quitting if he said anything more cliche. Dave was what people would call eccentric. He stood out with his beer belly and curly red hair. His white shirt was stretched out poorly, bulging out of his jeans slightly. Sometimes, all it took was a poke and he’d explode.

“So there I was,” he said as if he had this amazing horror story prepared. Dylan broadened his eyes in excitement and rested his jaw on his clenched hand, “driving on my way to work. The road was staggered in potholes, characterized by shrubs and cacti. As I was reaching for town, there it came out of the pitch dark open space.” Dave suddenly turned on a flashlight and put it under his bearded neck to put a contrast of shadow under his eyes.

“What was it?” Dylan asked eagerly.

“The cat!”

“No way!”

“Yes, way! It just popped up outta nowhere on the road. There it was, but I couldn’t stop! I had already hit thirty-five.”

“No!”

“Yes! I pounded my horn. The creature moved to the side, but I couldn’t control my wheel!”

“Did you die?!” Dylan asked, genuinely into the story.

“NO! — Well, a part of me did. But then it happened!” Dave raced back into his story-telling voice. “The wheel, it just had a mind of its own. I couldn’t control it.”

Dylan opened his mouth almost drooling over excitement as he waited for the climactic ending. The assistant manager secretly came into the scene. His reaction was just like Frank’s.

“I RAN IT OVER!” Dylan gasped, along with the female cashier who was also invested. “YES! I ran it over. My wheels were stuck so I had to put it into reverse, but I forgot it was dark out and I can’t drive when it’s dark out. So I tried turning, but I ran it over again. So I reverse a second time and went straight. I heard all kinds of crack ‘n, snappin’ sounds. So that’s when I knew it was just a bunch of twigs and branches.”

“Wow! You’re a hero! If you didn’t carefully go over it, that cat would’ve died,” Dylan remarked while clapping.

“I know, I know. I’m a genius,” Dave finished, putting away the flashlight. 

“Says the man who has 12 points,” the manager pointed out. “Dave, where’s your work shirt?”

“The wind stole it.”

“That’s the same excuse you used last time.”

“Well, uh, I, uh — she said yes. You can date my sister. She’s on board.”

“I never asked to date your sister.”

“Dang it!— That card usually works on single guys.”

“Get to work, Dave.”

“ Yes, sir!” He strode to the wall by the safe and pressed his finger onto a clock-machine. The others filed a rugged line, awaiting their turn. 

Eventually, another employee,  Adan, came in last second before the manager said, “Goodnight,” and locked the door.

“Don’t you just feel safe with that door locked?” Dylan asked with his gaze shifting from one to the other. Frank shook his head, while Adan ignored them completely. However, Dave began to ramble rapidly in reply.

Frank turned his head to Adan, intending for the words to project to him exclusively. “Another day, another battle. Am I right, Adan?”

Adan nodded in agreement. Followed by a hint of laughter. 

Adan was the type that walked in and just worked. He didn’t talk unless he had to. He wore jeans along with his Hardley’s shirt. He had black hair, and carried a shorter frame than everyone else. However, he worked there a lot longer than anyone and thus had more experience.

Eventually, about 30 minutes into the job, the group was placing down boxes and piling them up into organized sections. The idea was to down-stack the palettes and then carry them to where they belonged using a two-wheeler.

The retail store was characterized by fourteen aisles. A front-half and a back-half. It was considered big: if no one could find what they were looking for, they eventually quit and never came back.

Figures strode back and forth from lifting boxes to slamming them on the floor. It got cramped in that particular area in the center of the store as they slowly created a box-forest.

Dylan and Dave laughed at the plain sight of it.

“What’s wrong with these idiots?”

 “We do this every night,”Frank said, puzzled. 

He hastily rotated his head, when he felt a gentle poke to his shoulder. Adan gestured his hand for him to use a two-wheeler. The team then started to carry the boxes to their places in the aisles that they belonged. This is all too familiar, Frank admitted. He was in a rut and needed to get his mind off of work-related things. He met Adan half-way down the main aisle that basically served as a highway, and gestured his hand a ‘hello.’ He halted while carrying a two-wheeler along with his other hand on the stack of boxes to keep it steady. He was in the work-zone.

Frank opened his lips in an attempt to start a conversation, but the moment was unfitting. He cleared his throat and threw some words out there, but they weren’t actual words. “Never mind,” he bowed his head low and resumed his course.

 Next, they began working every aisle upwards, Dave and Dylan on one half, and the other two on the front-half. Adan and Frank ripped open boxes and began placing them on the shelf. It wasn’t rocket science nor was it the gym, but by the time he reached aisle four he was ready to take a nap. 

In the corner of his eye he noticed a figure approach him. “Something happened.” Adan suddenly said. That statement alone peaked his interest. 

“What do you mean?”

Adan’s eyes were filled with wonder, as if something terrible has happened. He was never this serious. “When I was listening to the radio, they said to call 911 emergency when you see a suspicious creature.”

“Really?”

“The day before that announcement there was a research facility that was blown up.”

Blown up! Words he never thought would be heard in a small town.

“Crazy, huh?” he finished.

‘Crazy,’ wasn’t the word he’d use. He couldn’t use words to speak. It was almost shocking to him.

“That’s really something. What does that have to do with a ‘suspicious creature’ though?” 

Suddenly, a loud smack echoed behind his ear, making him jolt and scream. He turned around with his eyes widened to learn it was a box that plummeted from Dave’s hands.

“Oh my goodness! You totally fell for it!” He continued laughing with his buck teeth bulging out. Frank glanced toward Adan, and he remained serious. It wasn’t like him to pair with somebody to pull a prank. So, that wasn’t a distraction. He was really telling a story.

“Seriously, Dave?” Frank said in an agitated tone.

“Admit it! You scream like a girl.”

“I do not scream like a girl!”

“Whatever man. I saw it with my own two eyes.” He reversed his steps backwards and then rotated his frame, followed by more laughter.

Eventually, they progressed to the next aisle. Something was off about the atmosphere in the building. Frank couldn’t quite figure it out. Something’s different about tonight, he thought as he gently stocked the shelf with colorful boxes. Even Dylan and Dave were quieter than usual. There’d be music playing in the background and it played loud enough that he couldn’t hear what they were saying.

“Who turned off the music?!” Dylan shouted to no one in particular.

Then Dave added, “Probably some rats bumpin’ the wires. Besides who listens to that stuff anymore? The ones that do are dead.”

“No kiddin’!”

Frank had to agree with that statement. However, it was still odd.

“Alright everyone!” Dave shouted, grabbing everyone’s attention. “I’ve gotta use it.”

“The one by the office or upstairs?” Dylan asked, preparing for a joke.

“The upstairs.”

“Well, okay. Just make sure not to get eaten by those rats. Nutty lil’ things love human-meat!”

“Thank you for the concern. However, I think it’s safe to say the fat guy in movies always lives.” Their burst of overlapped, laughter traveled the whole store.

Dave began marching away. “We miss you already,” Dylan said with semi-concern. 

Twenty-minutes passed. Frank slipped his fingers under a box and carried it to the next aisle. 

You guys should know by now that the cookies go in aisle eleven. Right as he thought that, it occurred to him that Dave hadn't come back. It didn’t surprise anyone that he was a slacker. But, he always came back and jumped back into the job after fifteen minutes at most. 

He turned his gaze down the aisle and saw Dylan alone. He shifted his head back toward him and said, “Hey, you’ve seen Dave anywhere?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Maybe you should check on him.”

A couple minutes afterward. “Maybe you should check on him,Frank mocked in a giggly voice. It irritated him enough to the point of shoving a towel down Dave’s throat.

He was on his way to the break room, which was upstairs where the employee bathrooms were. No one maintained the place. There was always pieces of dried up food piled up in some corner, layered with tons of dust. Sticky stains covered the stairs as he lead his feet on each step. The atmosphere was silent, which was odd enough, seeing that wherever Dave went was chaotic.

He reached the entrance to the break room and slightly peered through, only for there to be an explosion of fright. He puffed up with adrenaline, instantly screamed, and nearly fell over.

“Oh, my goodness! You will fall for anything. All I had to do was sit here, wait ‘till you came up then—BOO!”

“Dude! That wasn’t cool! What if I had a heart-attack?”

“You didn’t though. So that’s that’s why it’s so funny,” he raced off into laughter. This time he had to remind himself how to breathe. Frank stood there, irritated that he pulled that card on him. He was so frightened that he felt a shiver down his spine and his hands shake.

“Boo,” he jokingly whispered, than resumed his laughter.

“You are unbel—”

Suddenly at that second, an unfamiliar shape burst out of the dark and slung into action. Dave’s body was violently pulled into the room, followed by screams of terror.

Frank bolted down the stairs, tempted to leap all of it together. Echoes of his shouts traveled downstairs, beating into his ears, shocked at the max level. He was close to bending his knees and learning how to pray on the spot. He rammed through the plastic side-doors and ran toward the others. This is actually happening! I can’t believe this happening.

He halted his feet; skidding toward a figure he barely understood. It was as if the terror had snapped his vision.

“We have to get out of here immediately!” He shouted alarmingly. Both characters came into the picture.

“I’m totally with you on that, Frank. But, can we do that after payday?” Dylan jokingly said.

Adan raised his eyebrow in puzzlement. He didn’t understand, but he knew it was serious, “Frank, what happened?!”

“I-it’s Dave! This t-thing—it got him!” he mumbled.

Dylan opened his lips, “Speak up, man. Where did you bury him?”

Frank snapped. He grabbed a strong grip of Dylan’s shirt and jerked toward him. “I’m not playing games here Dylan! You listen to me! There’s a monster in the break room and it got Dave.”

Dylan broadened his eyes, like goosebumps traveled in his skin. It was easy to see Adan’s reaction, too. He seemed more puzzled than frightened, though.

Without saying anything, Adan started to march toward the entrance to upstairs.

Dylan’s eyes followed his figure, “Wait! Adan, we must call the cops.”

His continuing to stride suggested he didn’t care. 

“Frank… I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but if this is a big deal, we need to see.”

Not too long afterward, all three characters met at the stairs. Frank remained behind. Dylan took the lead with the first step, making a squeaky wood sound. He quickly shifted his gaze to Adan and whispered, “Let’s walk very quietly.”

They both took one step at a time, having to hold their breath and exhale silently as their feet landed. They took their time, but sure enough got to the entrance and both peered around the corner. Dylan went first, his heart-pulsing quicker than ever. He shifted his eyes left and right and didn’t see anything that stood out in the dark room. Adan, who was behind him, flipped a switch.

Instantly, that second, both eyes caught sight of the unimaginable. Even Adan’s eyes broke into horror at the view of the catastrophe. It looked like Dave was turned inside out. 

Without saying anything, they both hastily ran downstairs to meet Frank.

“Anything? Or am I going crazy?”

Both figures were paralyzed to the point of forgetting how to speak. But, after a long pause, they finished processing their thoughts.

Dylan spoke up, “We didn’t see the monster.”

“Dave?” Frank asked gravely. They both shook their heads. “We need to call the cops.”

All three figures patted themselves down to feel for a device.

Dylan opened his lips, “Sorry guys, I left mine in the car since they opened up that new store policy.”

Adan shook his head, followed by Frank opening his mouth excitedly, “The phones over by the cashier booths!” Right when he said that they all lead their feet toward the cash registers, which was parallel to the exit. Frank was still hyped up from what he had seen. The clip was downloaded into his brain and replayed over and over. He sensed a similar thing happening to his two coworkers.

They jogged down the last aisle. Immediately a strange shape swooshed into the next aisle over. It was a flash of something. They halted their steps and tried to peer around the corner. Dylan lightly tapped his shoulder and gestured with his head to pull back. He knew in his face that something was telling his gut 'Bad idea!’ If they so much as slightly bobbed their head into sight, that thing would come into action. It was a trap. Whatever they were dealing with, it was smart. The phones and exit door were eighty feet away which was too dangerous. Judging by the speed that thing carried, they knew it wasn’t an option. They needed to get to the backroom and use the exit door.

Frank lit with an idea. He turned his head to his coworkers and whispered, “You two quietly walk to the backroom. I’ll be right behind you. I’m gonna distract it.” They both listened. In fact, he couldn’t even hear their steps.

Then he turned his eyes to the shelf and scanned for something dense, an item he could pitch really far. He scanned through the dog food. A can! As his hands extended to grab it, the object was set off balance and fell to the back, echoing a metal clunk. He thought fast. Hastily he grabbed a can and targeted toward the register area, throwing with full force. The can bounced against the window and clapped onto the floor.

Right out of the corner of his eye, in between the sight of the aisle and the registers, he spotted a creature swoop toward the commotion—it was fast!

So was Frank. He booked it when he got a glimpse. He didn’t see much, but it was enough to tell him that it wasn’t like anything he’s ever seen. It was robust and big, with fur of a Puma, but beige in color. It was textured with black stripes. The face wasn’t seen.

In no time at all, he met with the group in the back. Judging by their faces, something wasn’t good.

Dylan opened his mouth, “It’s locked!” Immediately, overlapped shush's came out. “Sorry— sorry. But, what do we do? The exit door is locked, no phones, and there’s an ugly beast that wants to slaughter us. Anyone got an idea?”

They stood in silence, staring at their shoes, sighing while replaying in their mind what happened. 

Two minutes passed by and then Adan finally cut the mood, “What if we killed it?”

“What?” Dylan bobbed his head like a chicken in disbelief.

“Yes. Killed it. If we don’t, it will kill everyone outside of this town. It’s not about us.”

“Um, sorry to bust your moment Adan, but I have a life—” right when he said that he refrained from finishing. The three characters turned their eyes to each other, left and right. Then looped a couple times over. 

Frank narrowed his eyes in a disappointing realization. Adan and Dylan did too. They were all thinking it.

Dylan broke the silence in a gravely tone, “Well guys, it has been a pleasure working with the both of you… Including Dave. So here’s to Dave,” He extended out his clenched hand in mid-air, initializing a team bro-fist, then turned his saddened eyes to Adan.

“I must say, I’m somewhat glad to say I get to die with my favorite acquaintances. But, in all my years of working here, this is by far the worst!”

Dylan cut in, “Okay, seriously, Adan, open up here. We’re about to risk our lives and die together for no stupid reason! Do us a favor and act like a sensitive mother for thirty seconds, will ya?”

“Open up?” Adan said puzzled.

“Yes, open up. You know it's when you feel something and... never mind! Never mind.” He turned his gaze to Frank, “You’re up, buttercup.”

“Ditto,” Frank extended out his fist to meet theirs.

“OH. MY. GOD!” Dylan yelled in mild anger. “You guys suck!”

Afterward, the group agreed to the plan given by Frank. It was going to be scary and very close. However, they agreed it would work. The scene took place with Adan coming out of the entrance of the backroom. They agreed that Adan was less likely to make noise and scream in panic. Face full of confidence, eyes full of determination, and a heart full of dead meat. He positioned himself by the dog food aisle. Slyly he stuck out his head to catch a glimpse. He tried to spot for anything moving. 

Suddenly, he heard a loud slurp, followed by a crunch. The commotion got heavier as Adan drew each step. He knew it was just around the corner of aisle thirteen, but it was absolutely vital to the plan that he was sure. Without the beast in full sight for Dylan to know, it would be that much more impossible to feel safe.

Adan very cautiously peered around the corner. His eye caught what looked like a human corpse. He saw a hand move lifelessly. The creature was feeding onto it. He looked off into the distance, closed his eyes, and took what he considered a final breath. He waited a couple seconds more and jerked his head out briefly. He caught view of a bizarre head, covered with eyes of a spider and a flat head carrying serrated teeth of a shark, but dozens of layers of them. He also caught a glimpse of its rat-like tail wag back and forth. It was eating a human with heavy-duty black clothing on. It looked like a cop. That aside, he knew now for sure. Aisle thirteen.

He attempted to turn around and go down aisle fourteen, but he was leaned back so closely, his shirt collar pulled and knocked over a pile of gift cards. They plummeted and slid onto the floor, interrupting the bone-crunching. All sounds stopped. He thought fast. It was now or never.

He whispered into his radio, “Thirteen. Aisle thirteen!” He couldn’t help but raise his voice louder than he should have. If he ran, he would be chased, and he was told by Frank that there was no way of outrunning the creature from a close distance.

He squeezed his eyes shut and gnashed his teeth. Any second now, he hoped. The creature peaked its head out slightly with its massive jaws creeping out. It was too close. All of the sudden, loud banging echoed down the aisles and traveled into the ears of the creature. It hastily refrained out of Adan’s view. He let out a sigh.

You can picture Dylan at the very end of aisle thirteen making a big commotion. He was singing an outlandish country song at the top of his lungs. At the same time, he was pretending to ride a horse with a cowboy hat in hand, while using the other hand to slap his rear-side, agitatedly. He could see in the distance that the creature took the bait and bolted like a cheetah. It was already entering the back-half by the time Dylan ran. He nimbly hopped over and around the set of towering boxes. Right away he busted out the side-doors with a single kick and continued running. It was all about timing. He could hear a wreckage take place around the boxes. They planted them earlier to slow it down.

He reached toward the end of the backroom. It was characterized with an eighty foot freezer, back against the wall to the right. It had two entrances, one to the far left and the other on the right. The door was wide open and welcoming. It also staggered in trash and boxes of all different shapes. In front of the freezer was a bailer, backed up against the wall on the left.

Judging by the loud panting slash growling, it was gaining on him. The stomps from its running feet caused Dylan’s heart to beat even faster, legs fully extended and arms in perfect form. He ran through the entrance and slid over a palette of ice. He leaped through that slight opening, slammed it shut with a clunk, and then hastily shouted, “CLOSE IT!” Frank, who was behind the other door, slammed it closed. The creature was locked in the freezer.

Frank came toward him with a wide grin on his face. His lungs filled with excitement that they caught the perpetrator. Dylan invited his arms out for a rejoicing hug. They patted each other on the back and turned their eyes to the freezer door.

“What a loser!” Dylan spat with a smile. His yellow teeth were revealed.

“Yeah! What the!” Frank jerked his head back at the sight of the door budging. His eyes drew toward the handle when he saw it pull sideways. The door had been opened with the button. Immediately the air filled with horror, eyes burning, gut swelling up in knots. In their heads, it was over.

Frank scrambled for ideas. It was almost as if the world went into slow motion. He snapped his head left and right. He glanced to his left and at the corner of his eye, he lit up with an idea. 

“GO! Dylan— RUN!” He gripped his shoulder and shoved him to book it. The door blew open. Frank positioned himself inside the empty and exposed bailer. The action was intense and quick. The creature’s eyes flickered at the target. It stalked for a second and then leaped powerfully.

Frank gripped against the metal upwards and lifted his whole body, then tucked in his legs. The creature smashed its face and body against the dense metal, conked out for several seconds.

Time was slim. He hopped out, hastily closed the door, and pulled down the gate. It sounded off with an overlapping clank. He then pressed and held the green button. A high pitched hiss sounded off and the hammer-like crusher began to slowly travel downwards. 

He could imagine the creature recovering and finding a powerful shadow cast down its spine. He locked sight on the gate, almost expecting the beast to suddenly bust the whole machine open.

A couple seconds later, the metal hand reached the bottom. He heard a faint yelp followed by a scream. It was short lasting and was interrupted when he heard a series of crunches, then the sound of guts bursting out. The bailer delivered a final hiss and began returning to its place.

He knew for sure that he didn’t feel the need to see anything more graphic than what was already fed to him. He shifted his neck sideways and cringed his eyes closed. The metal hand reached the top with a gallon of bright red, dripping off the side and trickling down in a puddle. The creature got what it deserved in the end. With a force capable of terrorizing the town, Frank felt good pitching in for this destruction.

Afterwards, the scene outside was drastically different from earlier. Red and blue flickering lights cast against the employees’ paralyzed faces. They skidded for refuge. The three workers met in an almost-huddled group. They turned their eyes back and forth to each other. 

Dylan aggressively patted Frank’s shoulder, “I still can't believe you crushed it with the bailer. That is so wicked!” he beamed.

Adan smiled, “Looks like we survived after all.”

“Yes, we did,” Frank added. “I think it’s also safe to say we don’t have to go back to clock out.” Both figures let out a laugh.

Dylan played his team bro-fist voice once more. “Here’s to Hardley’s,” extending his fist. “The greatest grocery store to ever brave out a walking science project! We set as paragons for all retail-acquaintances. To everyone wanting to raise their head in full boldness: a heart of gold! We stand together as one heroes who will continue to serve our customers no matter what happe—”

“I quit!” Adan interrupts. “Yeah, they don’t deserve two-weeks notice. I’m done with this crap-hole!”

Dylan broadened his eyes in surprise and then turned his gaze to Frank. “How ‘bout you bud?”

“Ditto.”

 


© Copyright 2020 Riley Blatzheim. All rights reserved.

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