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crimea
Nov 16, 2012


Returns and Exchanges
393 words

J: Welcome to Voidmart helpline, you’re through to Returns and Exchanges, my name is Jerry, happy to help you today. I am obliged to mention that some of your cortex may be recortexed for training purposes.

A: Huh?

J: Hm?

A: Uh, yeah. I recently bought an item from your store and I’ve got sort of a problem with it.

J: OK that’s fine, what was your purchase?

A: An Empty.

J: OK, an Empty. From the Zone Aisle?

A: That’s right.

J: OK, great, and what’s the problem with it?

A: It’s empty.

J: And what’s the problem with it?

A: it’s empty.

J: Yes, an Empty.

A: No, it’s empty.

J: I have that down, an Empty.

A: No, I said it’s empty.

J: Oh, it’s empty? The Empty?

A: Yes, that’s what I said. It’s an empty Empty.

J: O…K, sir, as opposed to what exactly?

A: I dunno, weren’t these things meant to be full?

J: Full?

A: Yeah, a full Empty.

J: Right, and – could you describe a full Empty to me?

A: I dunno, uh, I guess there just should be something in it…

J: In it?

A: Yeah.

J: As in, in between the two metallic discs which are held magnetically two feet apart from each other suspended in nothing?

A: Yeah.

J: You think it should be full. Not just containing something, but completely full of it.

A: I think it was in the catalogue.

J: Well sir I don’t know what to tell you – our suppliers in Ukraine send over the Empties as they are, sorry.

A: You’re telling me I spent $100 and gave myself radiation poisoning just for some kooky metal discs inexplicably bound together?

J: As opposed to –

A: As opposed to some kooky metal discs that are full of something, yes.

J: It’s what it says on the tin, sir. Um, having said all that, if you still have the receipt you can return it if it’s been forty-eight hours since your purchase.

A: No… I’ll keep it. I like the feeling of my bones jiggling when I put my hand in it.

J: I’ll bet.

A: Alright, well, thanks anyway for –

J: Sir, please don’t hang up yet, they’re not done.

A: Huh?

J: They’ve listened very patiently.

A: …

J: OK now they’re done. Have a great day!

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Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Night Shift
1245 words

It was when Robert and I were stocking the canned meats around midnight when Elaine came around the corner, met my gaze, then started up the aisle towards us, shoes tapping out a machine gun rhythm.

Robert hadn’t been looking. Maybe that’s what made the difference - why she picked me. Maybe she knew I was two weeks senior to him, but I had only been working at Voidmart for three months, so I doubt she even knew who I was.

Robert set a can gently on the small stack he had started, but it jumped in the air, and hit the floor, jerking and rolling unevenly like those cat toys they sell over in the pet department.

“What the hell is in these, anyway?” He muttered, picked up the can and peered at it a few inches from his face.

“Heads up” I said.

“It just says ‘Meat product.” Robert said.

Elaine ground to a halt in front of us and crooked a finger at me.

“You.” She smelled like cigarettes and mothballs. Her suit would have been out of date twenty years ago, and her make-up was caked on as if someone had coated her face in car wax and never rubbed it off. I figured she had to be somewhere between thirty and ninety years old.

“You’re shift supervisor until further notice.” She declared.

“What happened to Hugh?”

“Flu. It’s going around.” She darted a long-nailed hand out and slapped my name badge so quickly, I didn’t even have time to flinch. When I looked down there was an emoji sticker on my name tag over “GARY.” I couldn’t decide if the face was ginning or grimacing. All the supervisors had one.

She thrust a binder and a magnetic stripe card at me. “Read this. The card gives you supervisory rights at the registers and time clock.”

She glared at me, empty black eyes peering out of plaster cast. “First thing, send someone over to Camping Goods. They’re short staffed due to illness”

She wheeled and I expected to see a cloud of hairpins and bats before she stalked off.

Robert clapped me on the shoulder. “Grats, buddy. Or should I say “boss?”

“Uh… thanks.” I looked at the binder. It said “SUPERVISOR’S GUIDE” on crooked sheet of paper that looked like it had been photocopied and re-photocopied since the Middle Ages. I had no idea how to be a shift supervisor.

“Hey, can you go over to Camping Goods and help out?” I asked. “I’ll finish up here.”

“Hell yes, I can!” Robert looked like I had handed him an early Christmas present.

“What’s with you?”

“Dude, Jenny keep going over there lately.”

“Jenny?”

“You know, the hot girl from Golden Bean! The one I’ve been trying to get with.” He made a rather gross hand motion.

“Oh, the one who wanders around the store all day talking to guys and never working?”

“Not cool. She’s delivering coffee.” Robert frowned.

“They don’t deliver. And she’s not carrying coffee.”

“Well, she must be taking orders.“ He waved a hand. “Doesn’t matter, she’s been going over and talking to Kevin. He says she agreed to see him after work. So I’m sure she’ll show up.”

“Well, don’t catch anything.”

Robert glared.

“I mean, the flu or something. I’m sure she’s nice.”


* * *


The phone rang and I jumped off my chair in the break room. I had been reading the Supervisor’s guide, I guess. I had no idea how long it had been, and the words seemed to swim on the page. My eyes ached. I snapped the binder shut.

I picked it up. “Hello?”

Elaine’s voice screeched. “There’s been four calls for clean up and nobody is answering. Get someone on it!”

“Sorry, ma’am. I’ve been reading the guide and-“

“Read that on your own time. Get someone to aisle 64 now!” The line went dead. Can you hear mothballs? It swore I could smell her through the phone.

I sighed and got the mop bucket out. The water sloshed around as I walked up and down aisles, a gray brown, pungent brew. I arrived in aisle 64 and sure enough, way in the corner by the wall there was a large dried up spill that looked like it had been there a while. Nobody came back here much, being the end of an aisle stuffed with non perishables that hadn’t sold. Faded, dusty boxes glowed dully under a light sputtering overhead.

Whatever the crap was shrugged off the mop water. I headed over another row to the borderlands of Camping Goods. They had metal grill scrapers that would probably work. As I rounded the end cap, I ran headlong into Robert hurrying toward the back.

“Oh thank God.” I said. “Hey look, I need you to clean up-“

Robert grabbed my shoulders.,

“Dude. Please, I will owe you a million favors. I will work double shifts, and clean the toilets, or whatever you want, but you have to let me punch out.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Everything is great!” He cried. “Kevin was the sick man out, and when Jennifer came by, I went for the kill!”

“The kill?”

“It took a lot of persuading, but she agreed to go get breakfast at the food bar with me!”

“Jesus man, can you just clean this up first, I’m exhausted, and I can’t find anyone-“

He dodged past me. “Thanks, boss! Owe you one!”

“gently caress.” I said.

I got the grill scraper, went back to the mess and began to work. Smelled like burnt hot dogs.


* * *


The next night, I dragged myself into the break room to punch it at 9:55pm. Robert was sitting at the table with a paper GOLDEN BEAN cup clasped in his hands, his time card perched between his fingers.

I swiped my badge through the time clock.

“You owe me big time, Rob. You know how long after shift I was here finishing up paper work? That goddamn mess took forever to clean up.”

He stared at his cup.

“Hey, you okay? How did it go?”

“Hmm?” He looked at me slowly, eyes not seeming to focus. “Oh, it was great. I think.”

“You think? What happened?”

“I…” he trailed off, staring back at his cup. “I don’t remember. I don’t feel good.”

“You’re going to be late if you don’t punch in.” I started to grab for his time card, but his fingers were hot and sweaty. I jerked my hand back, looking around for hand sanitizer.

“poo poo.” I said, “You have the drat flu? The gently caress did you come in for? Go home. Get sleep.”

Robert nodded glacially. “Yeah. Sleep. Good idea.”

“Tell me how it went later.” I said and headed out on the floor.


* * *


Sometime after midnight, I was inventorying the jerky in aisle 45 when one of the new guys, Roger found me.

“Hey Gary. Someone made a mess in the break room.”

“drat it, I hope he didn’t puke in there.”

“Who? No, it wasn’t puke. Whatever it was, I cleaned it.”

“Oh. Thanks, Roger. Appreciate it.”

“No worries. Was weird though. Seems like it had been there a while, even though I didn’t notice it earlier. Had to scrape it up with an ice scraper.”

“What?”

“Yeah, and I found this.” He dropped a time card into my hand. It was half melted or dissolved. One corner read, “ROBE”

Robe?

“Odd smell too. Stunk like burnt hot dogs in there.”

I dropped the card.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


Cleaning Up Aisle 9
1,265 words

Irreplaceable.

FOR NOW.


If I stand in the right places, the words echo and rebound like starlight through the mirrors of a telescope, bringing whispers to me. Even Management doesn’t know the extent of secrets and gossip shared in their offices, vibrating through the air ducts like struggling flies on a web. “Did you hear about...” says the Spider to Jenny in HR. I had deftly plucked and played and finessed these invisible strands of secrets to secure my hopes and dreams, to eliminate my rivals and secure my domain. I had made myself Irreplaceable.

FOR NOW.

The words chilled my very soul, uttered by the General Manager to my superior but undoubtedly aimed at me. If I was an expert of retail politics, the General Manager was the fearsome Old Master. I carefully arranged the newest delivery of Barbies on the end cap display that Mattel had “generously” donated as part of their new roll out of World Explorer Barbie. I stepped back to admire my work and mulled over the words. Had I overstepped?

No, I could be… obvious in my contempt for the mewling Man-Things that trespassed on my domain, stealing the toys that I displayed for the sweet children of the world. But something had been different, as of late. I could smell Him, that monster in human skin, that defiled my domain and raided my treasures to use as bait for His perversions. He kept coming back, driving me frantic.

That was what sparked the incident. I thought I had caught Him and confronted the young man. The smell is what had attracted my attention at first, the scent of dirt weed and body odor and aggressively masculine deodorant. I figured it was how He hid his scent from me until He already escaped with the bait. The young man even had the patchy, wispy goatee of a central casting pedophile.

He had filled his cart to the brim with Legos, several hundred dollars’ worth, but he didn’t have the air of a collector. I trailed him across a couple aisles, like a shadow. He was more focused on the cost than the contents, ignoring the beautiful Slave I in favor of a half dozen stupid Delta 7s that had sat unloved since 2013. When he picked up the Hypno Cruiser and seemed to debate buying the silly thing, I made my move.

“A bit early for Christmas shopping?” I had asked. He had startled and jumped back, caught in the act.

“N-no, actually, uh…” He stammered, hands up like the criminal he was. “They’re for my son’s birthday party. My stepson’s, I mean.”

“Oh, how nice!” I had said, too loud and too excited, stepping into his personal space. “How old is she?”

“She’s turning, uh, 7,” He muttered, leaning back and refusing to make eye contact.

Triumph.

“Your stepson, or your daughter?” I asked, already reaching forward. His eyes went wide, and he turned to run, but it was too late. I flipped him to the ground with the move that Loss Prevention taught all the managers. They would already be on the way. “Stop lying, scumbag! Tell me the truth!” He started to blubber out his lie again, but I add enough light pressure to his joint to make the tendons creak. “The truth now!”

“I’m going to burn them!” He screamed, tears and snot streaming. “I’m doing it for the vine!”

I let go of him like cold iron, but the damage had been done. Between the blatant bribery of Public Relations offering him the Legos and Loss Prevention’s subtle intimidation, they had cajoled the idiot into signing all the necessary legal documents. But that only solved one problem. The other problem was sent directly to the General Manager. Voidmart had little use of liabilities that created problems. The General Manager told me so personally, along with the punishments meted out if the incident was repeated.

No one is truly Irreplaceable at Voidmart.

But right now, I needed to worry about my work. Borneo Barbie would work better in the end, I decided, and switched her out with Angola Christie. To hell with Mattel’s display directions, it just looked better with Christie in the middle. Much better.

I turned to push the cart to the back of the house and froze. I could feel the sickening perversion oozing through my department. There was no doubt in my mind, He was here. But catching Him wasn’t part of my job – the General Manager had been terrifyingly clear on this point. But… I couldn’t let Him hurt the children.

I closed my eyes and focused. I could feel His presence constantly, like a slug trail of sick and filth smeared across the board games and bicycles and collectibles, but not where He was exactly. Fine, then. Opening my eyes, I started stalking through the aisles, glancing down each one quickly. Not the father with his son, not the teenager near the trading cards, not her, not him, not…

Him. A clean, professional suit with an immaculate hairdo and not a hint of 5 o’clock shadow. He was holding an Optimus Primal toy, smiling to Himself. I followed as closely as I dared, just out of sight. He didn’t seem to be aware of my presence, but constantly criss cross and double backed through my department. Was He searching for something? Or, perhaps, someone - A child, left unattended and vulnerable, in between my gifts and presents. The thought made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But I couldn’t just confront Him, not if I wanted to avoid the wrath of the General Manager. All I could do was watch, as closely as I dared, and hoped I caught Him making a mistake.

He picked up speed and turned the corner faster than I expected. Damnit! I sprinted after Him, unwilling to let Him escape. I turned the corner, and felt a flash of deep, piercing pain in my chest and a hand over my mouth, covering my scream. “Nosy bitch,” He hissed, as He twisted the knife in my chest. I realized, too late, that I had walked right into a trap. One of those rare few spots where Loss Prevention couldn’t see. I put the worst toys here, the dreadful things that I honestly would rather be stolen. Even the youngest visitor to my domain didn’t bother exploring here. We were, and would continue to be, alone.

Well. If I’m going to be punished, I should at least do something worth being punished for.

I grip his wrist on the hand over my mouth, and squeeze until the Carpals and Metacarpals grind into dust. The fingers of my suit are ruined, of course, the strips of red flesh revealing the black chitinous claw underneath. He starts making a noise somewhere between a hiccup, grunt, and scream. My cheeks and gums pull back, revealing my mandibles and fangs. I sink them deep into His throat, cutting off the noise. It was too good a death for Him, too polite, but I was in public. He’s gone now, and I let the dead flesh drop to the floor.

Later, after Maintenance had taken over, I was trying to fix the smile on my suit enough to get home. I realized the General Manager was behind me. I froze, petrified, awaiting judgment.

TWO WEEK’S SUSPENSION.

NO ANNUAL BONUS.

PAY FOR THE CLEANING COST.


A pause, and then quieter, gentler.

GO HOME. GET SOME REST. WE’LL NEED YOU FOR BLACK FRIDAY.

And then I was alone again.

rat-born cock
Apr 3, 2017


"Garbage! Trash! Offal! Debris! Come and get it! Nothing whole or undamaged! Crap, tripe, and useless piles of shit. You know you want it."


I used less italics, per a recent crit.

A Boy and His Drone
e: 1300 words

The drone sat in its box, waiting for the small child who could activate the flight inside its plastic and circuitry. If the drone could smell, the drone would smell the dust on top of the box, the rat feces in the crannies under the shelving, and the moisture that was always seeping into the cardboard boxes that contained the drones. The drone had been there a long, long time, but the plastic and circuitry did not contain a clock, so all the drone knew was the one long moment of poop, damp and dust.

If the drone could project itself outside of the plastic and circuitry, it would rise up into the air over the shelf and see an endless grid of other shelves, all of them full of more boxes and more drones full of timelessness. There are not enough children in the world to activate the flight inside so many drones, the RC Toys section is a city unto itself, a disused city full of hollow plastic minds with no hope.

If the drone was programmed to have emotions, it would feel rage and loneliness. It would question god and demand to know why he manufactured a creature just for them to sit in compact darkness on a moldering chelf. Why he made a whole LEGION of plastic creatures who’s purpose seemed to be just occupying space.

If the drone could project itself outside again, it would see the RC Toys staff hanging up CLEARANCE SALE signs all around the drone section. It would see the pallets of newer, sexier drones waiting to fill the lonely damp currently occupied by the old, lonely drone and those like it. It would see the floor manager, shaking her head at the poor marketing that led to such a waste of product.

Soon after the clearance sale started, light flooded the secret back shelf world of the lonely drone. One by one, its brothers and sisters were lifted up and away by the hands of little children or parents looking for birthday gifts. The drones could not talk to each other while powered off and alone in their boxes, but if the drone could imagine, it would imagine that the others are happy to finally be going Home.

If the drone could imagine, it would imagine what it was like to be taken out of it’s box and activated, the propellers at the end of its arms whirring to life and churning the air underneath, sending the drone into the sky. If the drone could imagine, it might suppose the existence of green grass and trees, wind blowing past their aerodynamic body, and a whole world spread out beneath them like a patchwork quilt. The drone didn’t know what a quilt was either, but if it did, it would think it to be quite a nice thing to see all the neighborhoods and city grids laid out like a cozy blanket made by a tender grandmother beside a rustic fire.

“Daddy, I want to test it,” said the boy who had arrived before the drone. The drone was one of the last few on the shelves, as the clearance sale was quite generous in an effort to clear up shelf space in the crowded store.

“You know you’re not allowed to open things until we get home, son,” said the boy’s father. “Didn’t you do your product research? We didn’t get VoidFi installed behind your eyes just so you could look like an uninformed fool in public. They’ll think you’re the sort of person who reads the back covers of books before buying them, pah!”

“Well daddy I think we would both look like fools in public if we have to stand in the return line because this drone is defective,” the little boy said sagely.

“You and your mother, I swear,” the father said, shifting angrily from one foot to the other. “Can’t let a man have his authority. God, husband, woman, child. That’s the order of operations here.”

If the drone had emotions, the word “god” would have stirred up the rage and loneliness from months of dismal shelf life. Maybe this man had a cruel, stupid manufacturer too. Maybe he was tired of sitting on the shelf of his life, boxed in by the expectations of society.

“Well go on then, test the thing,” the father said at last, waving dismissively at his son.

With a cheer the boy carefully lifted the drone’s box from the shelf, setting it carefully on the shiny tile floor. It was the first time the drone had seen anything other than the boring view from the shelf since it’d been transported up from the manufacturing facility beneath the store.

Carefully, the boy pried apart the cleverly folded cardboard flaps that sealed the drone’s box closed. Fresh air rushed into the space, bringing smells other than rat feces and old cardboard.

The boy lifted the drone high into the heavens, above his little head, inspecting the propellers, landing gear, cameras, and other components. Then he set the drone down and unwrapped the remote control from the plastic bubble wrap, checking the battery compartment, and found it empty of batteries.

If the drone had a heart, it would sink.

The boy grinned, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small case containing 6 VoidBrand AA batteries, the exact kind recommended on the outside of the Drone’s box. He fitted the batteries into the compartment, then snapped the exterior closed with a click of plastic.

“Get on with it,” said the boys father, tapping one foot in impatience.

The boy picked up the drone once more and flipped their switch to the On position. Something inside the drone buzzed to life, circuits alive with the dance of electric current, sensors reading the air around the drone, cameras absorbing everything there was to see within the drone’s visual range.

Finally, the flight within had been activated!
Satisfied that the drone was on, the little boy once again picked up the remote and executed a series of button presses and joystick motions.

The flight inside the drone told all of its internal components what to do. Propellers spun. Sensors monitored altitude and attitude control. The shiny tile floor dropped away, and the drone watched it go with the camera mounted on the underside of its body while the other cameras looked up at the oddly domed ceiling that stood over the busy store.

All the aisles of the store were spread out beneath the drone like the patchwork of a quilt, full of people and their huge shopping carts full of anything and everything. It wasn’t like the scenic outdoor view the drone had not-quite-imagined earlier, but it was still nice to see a space so big and open, and to fly around in the air above it all.

The drone did not command itself, but instead, relaxed into the instructions coming in a steady stream from the little boy’s fingers on the remote control. All the drone had to do was BE the flight and enjoy the show.

Eventually, the commands from the controller circled the drone back around to where it had started, and the drone’s cameras could see a confrontation happening between the boy and his father.

“Alright, you’ve had your fun, now put the silly toy back,” said the father as the drone came in for final approach.

The boy paused the drone, instructing it to hover in the air overhead the argument.

“But daddy, I thought you said I could choose a toy today!” the boy complained, stomping a foot.

“Yes well, I thought you would have the sense to choose something more cutting edge, something your little friends on VoidStream would want to watch you remove from a box on video or somesuch,” his father said, waving a dismissive hand at the boy. “Daddy needs that ad revenue, son. You remember what it was like when daddy had that boring day job that had him gone all the time?”

“At least you weren’t here to boss me around all the time,” said the boy, stomping his foot again.

Despondent, the boy let the remote control slip from his fingers, falling onto the tiled floor with a clatter, but miraculously not landing on any of the buttons, which left the drone hovering in its position above the arguing father and son.

“Come on, let’s go to the VR section and see if here isn’t something more marketable,” the father said, reaching out to grab his son and drag him away.

As the boy was pulled unwillingly down the aisle, his feet dragging on the floor, the drone continued to hover where it was, watching his only hope get smaller and smaller in the view of its cameras. It had to do something.

If it didn’t do anything, it would hover here until a staff member found it and put it away, or until its batteries died and and it fell to the floor, possibly to be mistaken for trashed and disposed of.

But no one had the remote control. There was no signal telling the drone how to protect itself.

Something stirred deep within the plastic and circuitry, an updraft of something that felt a lot like a feeling. The feeling spread out from the drone’s small processor and into the circuits and wires that connected to its various modes of motility.

It deserved to live!

With this new-found will to live, the drone surged forward toward the retreating father and boy. All of the drone’s cameras were pointed at the back of the older man’s head, with its bald spot that stood out like the bullseye of a target.

20 meters…

15 meters…

10 meters…

5
4
3
2
1

!

The drone walloped into the back of the man’s head, hard enough that he let go of his son’s unwilling arm and sprawled forward onto the floor. But the drone wasn’t done yet, it pummeled the back of the man’s head again and again until some sort of red lubricant oiled up and out of a rupture in the man’s exterior.

The boy had run and reclaimed the remote control.

“Stop! Don’t kill him!” the boy shouted while fiddling with the remote, finally sending the irrefutable signal that settled the drone quietly back onto the ground, as though nothing had happened.
The drone thought that killing the boy’s father might exponentially increase the chances of the drone’s prolonged happiness, but the remote control had zapped the flight right out of it, and all it could do was rest on the ground and listen to the boy’s admonishments.

The father sat up, rubbing his bloodied head, groaning something about lawsuits.

“Do you still think you’re too good for pre-testing a product now, daddy?” the boy asked innocently. “Nevermind that. I think all my friends on VoidStream would LOVE to see my new sentient drone!”

The drone’s internal ears perked up. It didn’t know what this VoidStream was, but the boys words had promise of flight evermore, of the endless opportunities of the open sky above.

rat-born cock fucked around with this message at 23:24 on Oct 27, 2019

Some Strange Flea
Apr 9, 2010

AAA


Pillbug

Re: Updates to Emergency Procedures 10/27/19
1059 words

The Fire and Safety Marshal, in conjunction with VoidMart management, advises all staff to be aware of the following changes to VoidMart Emergency Procedures.

Upon hearing the Emergency Alarm:

Staff must vacate the premises quickly and calmly by the nearest available exit. Staff in the Dreamscapes, Hedge Mazes, or Hardcore Geometries Departments should bear in mind that the nearest exit is highly unlikely.

Please note the following exceptions:

One.

Following up from our previous emergency drill, it has been ruled by VoidMart attorneys that end-of-life events do not trigger the termination of employment contracts. Consequently, spectral employees should remain on-site during an emergency and proceed with unfinished business-as-usual, focussing on defence against looters.

Remember: A looter is just a customer you haven't met yet.

Two.

Any staff incarcerated as part of a team-building exercise at the time of an emergency will be considered cohesive, presumed dead.

Three.

The fully-responsive head, right arm and torso of greeter Kevin Ellis can be found protruding from a central support column in the main foyer, leaning approximately fifteen degrees from vertical. In the interests of emotional and structural stability, Mr Ellis is considered a permanent fixture and must, at all times, remain at his post.

Your attention is drawn to the following:

The Fire and Emergency Marshal can be identified by their fluorescent orange windbreaker, service pistol, and authoritative whistle. Please follow any instructions given by the Marshal, for both your safety and that of your fellow employees.

Do not attempt to use the elevators during an emergency. The elevators have their own problems to deal with and would prefer not to be distracted during these difficult times.

Employees relinquish ownership of any personal belongings left in the building during an evacuation. VoidMart invites staff to utilise their employee discount to purchase replacement items from the relevant department during the Post-Emergency Sale, or Post-Emergency Sale Drill, as appropriate.

VoidMart does not yet understand that some things are irreplaceable.

In the event of a fire:

The Fire Department will be immediately suspended without pay pending a full inventory check and, if necessary, management inquest.

Be aware that fire extinguishers can be found in the Practical Jokes Department, while water and carbon dioxide extinguishers can be found throughout the store.

In the event of incapacitation of a member of management:

Staff should wake up in the break room, breathless, their hands clammy against the pages of the Chicago Tribune in the heat of the mid-afternoon sun, and recite the entire content of what they suppose must have just been a dream, directly into the nearest CCTV camera.

In the event of a missing person:

Employees reporting a missing person will be invited to a meeting with Human Resources — a semi-circle of white shirts, navy blazers, and indistinct faces that deflect the gaze like the wrong end of a magnet — who will issue the following statement in unison:

Who?
Ne-ver heard of them.
Can't say they ring a bell!


At no point will the employee be asked to provide the name or description of the missing person.

The employee may present one or more photographs of the missing person, prompting a hitherto unseen HR member to pounce from beneath the conference table, cooing, "Oh! Who's this? My, isn't she just beeee-you-tiful?" before snatching the pictures from the employee's hand and recoiling back into its nest of slacks and shadows.

The employee should return home to find a jagged hole in their front door. An upturned entry table. Overdue bills and expired coupons littering the hallway. A mirror on the floor, face down by the wall, glass shards spat out in every direction, some having found repose in the trenches in the hardwood that lead into an empty room, with bare white walls and a tattered carpet, no furniture, and the faint smell of lilies.

As it always was, the employee should think, bloodshot eyes darting from one dust mote to another, arms stiff, hands and fingers twitching, their minds resolute and pristine, a vanguard against an insubordinate body that strains to grasp the shape and form of a memory that never was.

In the event of a Fire and Emergency Marshal-related Emergency:

In certain regrettable circumstances, a Fire and Emergency Marshal-related emergency may arise.

The Fire and Emergency Marshal can be identified by the circuitous path they take through the store. Please do not follow the Marshal, for both your safety and that of your fellow employees.

The Marshal has extensive experience handling both wildfires and housefires.

Spectral employees should disregard the activities of the Marshal. A looter is just a customer you haven't met yet.

Please allow sufficient space for the Fire Department to pass by as they are hauled into the centre of the floor by invisible lassos before being hoist feet first into the open air, without pay.

The Marshal will proceed to the vacant elevators while managerial staff file down the stairs. The Marshal will ask the elevators how they are holding up, given the circumstances.

Non-managerial staff should encourage managerial staff to make use of the available extinguishers, while reading nearby signage repeatedly and pinching themselves.

Upstairs, in the management suites, the Marshal will draw their service pistol as the elevator doors open, beginning their journey: a search through who-knows-where. Possibly the candle-lit, felt-adorned rooms where company soothsayers divine quarterly sales figures. Perhaps into the murky depths of the mines where raw, unrefined bargains are extracted from the earth's still-beating heart. Staying mindful that every unlocked door risks a fracas with a feral Team, one that is ambitious, voracious, and yet to be fully built.

And they will press on, through a warren of corridors and hallways until they find a door, another one, identical to all the others. Unassuming, anonymous, locked.

And inside will be,

No-one,

At a desk by the window, looking idly across the crowds below as they pour into the car park,

Before a notepad that reads, "Retention!",

With a face that defies observation,

Wearing a white blouse and navy blazer,

And a badge on their lapel that says,

Hello! My name is
  Trainee


And carrying the nausea-inducing stench of the absence of lilies.

And the Marshal will cast themselves into the void, in search of a name that means nothing, and ask,

"██████? Is that you?"

And then break into tears,

When no-one answers.

Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes



Bargain Hunt
Secret Shopper
889 words


Read it in the Archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:52 on Dec 30, 2019

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



Judgment Day Savings!
Guns, Ammo and Liquor
Word Count: 1087

Sarah finished her pilgrimage of aisle 692 (historical small caliber rifles and ammo) and rounded the corner into the next aisle just in time to see Isaac’s Voidmart vest disappear at the other end. She smiled to herself. Isaac would never ascend to the holy realms with such slovenliness. If one walked at the speed decreed as correct in the Voidmart Holy Book, then coworkers never saw each other.

Unless… Had Isaac been sent a customer? He must be truly favored then and would surely be elevated above all others to Employee of the Month. The doubt began to creep into Sarah’s thoughts. Was she worthy of her position? Perhaps she belonged in a lesser department, like Appliances.

She shook her head to clear those thoughts. Sarah reminded herself that only the most devoted followers of the Voidmart Standard Religion were assigned to Guns, Ammo and Liquor. It was too much temptation for those who were not true believers. She had been chosen. In time, she would be sent her own customers. She just had to keep the faith.

As she continued down the aisle, she calmed her mind by reciting the 10 Holy Policies:
1) You shall have no other stores before Voidmart.
2) You shall not unionize.
3) Honor your supervisor and your supervisor’s supervisor.
4) Take Voidmart’s name in vain as this is called advertising.
5) Do not steal.
6) You shall not kill customers--

“Hgnh.”

Sarah’s meditations were interrupted by muffled sounds.

clink
clink
clink


Her ears tried to make sense of the high-pitched, irregular tapping with periodic low growls in the next aisle over. Her steps faltered and her heartbeat increased. Then there came a long moan as she reached the last shelves of the aisle. She halted before making the turn and peeked around the end cap display. She saw a creature slithering across the floor. Its movements were slow and aimless. The sound it emitted was otherworldly.

Sarah began to wonder if this was some demon come to trick her. They wandered out of the pets department sometimes and could cause the downfall of an unsuspecting employee if not retrieved immediately. She crept closer and began to wonder if she should call the Voidmart exorcist when she spied a glass bottle in a clearly human hand. A customer! And one who had already helped himself. No matter, Sarah could shepherd all of the products to a check out line in good time.

She now ran to the wretched soul and pulled him into her lap. “Welcome to the Guns, Ammo and Liquor department where you can find the answers to life’s big questions. My name is Sarah. How can I help you?”

The man continued to moan and tried to crawl over her. “You are clearly a customer with something on his mind. If you give me your burden I can help bring you peace.”

Sarah leaned in close to the man’s mouth as he continued to rumble in a bass voice. She caught the words “can’t go” and “it’s over” and she immediately knew that this was a lost soul.

Some customers came to her department out of necessity and were given the gifts of the almighty for a low, low price. Others ended up here after they had given up hope, thinking that they could find quick answers to their pain. But all were searching and Sarah would lead them to the land of milk and honey cream liquers.

Just then, her colleague, Daniel, came around the end of the aisle on the pilgrimage and he rapidly approached the two on the floor.

“Can I be of any assistance in bringing our friend into the fold?”

Sarah looked up at him and scowled. Was he trying to take the glory of this task from her? There was no way to share in the salvation of customers. Only one could save this man money.

“No, thank you, Daniel. I was just about to hear his confession and proceed. You can continue your walk.”

“Are you sure?” he replied. “I can show you a most blessed shotgun.” With that he pulled a Remington 11-87 off of the rack to demonstrate and grabbed some ammo.

“I think he would be much more interested in this.” Sarah stood up, dumping the customer back onto the floor. She grabbed a 28 gauge Browning Citori and similarly began presenting its many features.

They faced each other and started to circle around the customer. Simultaneously they began their sales pitches:

“stacked double-barrel”
“gas operated semi-automatic”
“skeet shooting and waterfowl hunting”
“reduced recoil”
“walnut wood and rubber pad”
“no adjustments necessary”
“gold plated trigger”

Back and forth they went; Sarah’s sermon becoming more fervent as her passion compelled her. She was on fire with the words of the sales catalog. Finally she proclaimed, “And today you can purchase this shotgun for 42% below the market retail price!”

Daniel took a breath but his next point faltered and Sarah knew she had the better deal. She shoved him with the butt of the Browning. He staggered backward and tripped over the customer who, during the duel, had crawled away and been drinking from another bottle.

When Daniel hit the floor, the Remington fired. It was Sarah’s turn to stumble backward. And then she was slowly ascending. Daniel became smaller as she rose higher and higher toward the ceiling. The customer was still on the floor, flattened beneath her coworker.

Sarah had just enough time to think that she was finally getting her divine reward, her doubt had been misplaced after all, and she would now be seated at the holy table, when the escalator that she had accidentally stepped onto came to an end. She was unceremoniously dumped in front of a door that was labeled “Management.” There was a note nailed to the door.

Sarah inched towards it and read:
“To Voidmart Employees Sarah Jones and Daniel Adams,
You have deprived Voidmart of a customer in direct violation of Holy Policy number 6. Because you have done so by violent means you are hereby reassigned to to the seventh circle of Voidmart, so that you can bathe in the boiling blood you so crave: the Cutlery department.
Signed,
Management”

Sarah felt wounded. The familiar doubt found her again. Her fall from grace felt a lot like an escalator ride down, down, down. Now she was no longer one of the ordained. Now, like a coupon, if she wanted to save she must be redeemed.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






Always Read the Contract
1032 words
Senior Barista at the Golden Bean


“I want to speak to your manager.”

It was said during a lull in the cacophony of milk steamers, bean grinders and other coffee making apparatuses. Like a bell chime in a quiet cemetery, the uttered phrase rang out through the Golden Bean and the army of baristas stopped as suddenly as a skydiver with a faulty parachute.

All the worker heads snapped in a disconcerting unison to glare at the person who threw the proverbial wrench in the guts of their well oiled machine. A woman with an asymmetrical bob, her blonde hair immaculately brushing the underside of her jaw. Her chin tilted up, ever so slightly with a posture that exhumed self-importance. A customer.

“As you wish,” said the cashier. She remembered to smile. She turned her head to the side and with an inhuman volume, bellowed, “Summon the Senior Barista!”

Down by the cookies; with a sudden violence, a group of workers dragged a teenaged employee to the floor. He was too new to understand that the “Employee of the Day” shirt he proudly wore was actually given to the worst performing employee. He realized this once his coworkers were brutally eviscerating and pulling out his entrails.

His screaming was the tipping point in which all conversation in the Golden Bean died away.

The workers arranged the viscera around the chosen one until he was encircled in gore. The baristas banged on their workstations in unerring rhythm. The employee of the month smoked and sizzled, his screaming devolving into a gurgling struggle to breath.

The workers chanted. “Senior Ba̕r͟is͢t͠a̧! Ś̥͍͇͓͕e͇n̮͚̮̻̖͓̟i͈ơ̗̼͔̯̝̥r̛̗ ̨̦̹B̵̮̭̭͍͍͎̦a̙͔̥̝͓͚͔r̛̝͇̦̝i̩̺̤̳̯͙s̶t̖̻͞a̛̻!͔̤ S̷̴̨̤͉͖̟̼̪̖̫͕̣͎̥̳̼͖è̙͙̱̪́͘͝ͅͅn̶̵̮̤̥̫̺̼̤̳͞ì̸̯̗̭̺̱o̼͕̙̪̙̼̹̫̘̫̝͚͖͍̥̬̗̩͢͝͡r̢͓̭̬͇̰̫̟̺͚͓͎̤̯̭͜ ̸̡̡̰̯̦B͏̶̡̲͉̩̖̤͉̞͖͓̹̭͚̝̖̦̫͝ą̷̪̜̦̘̠̥͢ͅr͕͎̙͕͕̠̦̝̙̲̱̕̕͡ͅi̷̪̱̖͉̝̙̣͈̫͓͚̘̹͙͇͝s̶̨͖̱̤̜̜̮̪̬̹̻͙͕̙̥t̡̛̫̻̦̕͞à͇͚͖͖̰̫̲͢ͅͅ!̶̧͉͍͓͙̥͙̝̜̙̳͙̭͘͢”

The employee of the month finally stopped breathing.

Like curtains on a stage, the smoke parted revealing a black inky stain floating in the air. It sucked in light and color from its surroundings and caused migraines if one looked directly into the darkness for too long. Out of the jagged wound, out stepped a woman with skin so papery white, blood vessels stood out as if they were painted on her. Her black hair was pulled up in a neat bun and her eyes gleamed like glass with pin point red irises. She walked up to the counter, tik tik tik tik leaving a trail of bloody high heeled footprints behind her.

Her smile was too wide, threatening to split her face in two. She had far too many teeth, pearly white and needle point. “Hello,” she said, her voice throaty and husky as if she sang jazz music in smoky bars as a moonlight gig, “Thank you for visiting the Golden Bean. I am Kana, the Senior Barista. The ‘Manager’. How may Voidmart assist you?”

The customer gathered herself up as if a great insult had been levied against her. She flushed with anger. “You-” she stammered, unable to get the words out.

“Was there something wrong with your order, miss?” Kana said, trying to be helpful.

The customer took a deep, theatrical breathe in order to compose herself. “First and foremost,” she stopped to look at Kana’s nametag and then purposely mispronounced it, “Kana, your employees got some blood on my one of a kind baby llama skin designer purse. That stain is not going to come out, Kana. I should demand that you pay for the damages, but,” the customer looked Kana up and down with a sneer on her lips, “it doesn’t look like you would be able to afford it.

“Anyway, that idiot over there made my order wrong,” she said pointing in the general direction of the workers with a lazy finger. “I ordered an organic farm raised soy Void vegan latte. Two pumps vanilla, half pump caramel, quarter pump liquid cocaine, a dusting of gold and the essence of a virgin sacrifice.” She knocked over the coffee with a backhand. “You morons added too much caramel. Make it again.”

That loving does it, The angry thought shot through her consciousness unbidden. I have had it with these loving ‘Karens’ and that loving hair and their stupid faces and, and, and...I am all powerful! I am done with this poo poo!

Kana summoned massive amounts of power from the Void. The true Void. With a deep breath, the tendrils of energy, invisible to most mortals, gathered around her. That delicious potential for outright annihilation of this stupid species right at her fingertips. With her will she reached for it. It drew tantalizing close. She took it in.

And the power is lamely rebuffed away from her body.

The customer snapped her gum and with the attitude of a valley girl teenager, shifted her head toward her shoulder and raised an eyebrow. “Earth to Kana. You gonna make that coffee?”

The contract, Kana thought. Only two million years left. That’ll teach me to underestimate mortals. The smile never left Kana’s face. That facade was her shield. She could never let these humans know how much they got under her skin. Kill them with kindness.

Kana nodded to the customer. “Yes, your coffee, madame. I will personally make it for you so you can be rest assured it will be perfectly done to your high standards.”

“High stand- Bitch, did you just call me high maintenance?! Do you know who I am? I can get your rear end fired.”

Kana froze. The skin around her mouth creaked as her smile got wider. The contract stated she had to serve for six million years with perfect service within her capabilities. The language was vague concerning if she was fired even if she gave it her all.

A loophole. Somewhere Kana felt an army of lawyer buttholes clenching. Her freedom lay with this blight on humanity.

“I don’t know who you are,” Kana said and saw the fire ignite behind the customer’s eyes. She kept going, “I’m sorry I displeased you. I am at your mercy.”

The customer reached over the counter and poked Kana in the chest. “You best bet your rear end I’m gonna have your job by the end of the day!”

Kana’s teeth elongated with excitement. “Thank you for shopping at Voidmart, where we would kill to have your business. Have a great day!”

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

A Glutton for Punishment
Camping Supplies, So much Ranch dressing, the horror, the horror
564 Words

An apparition made mostly from the essence of dissatisfaction manifests in a haze of static somewhere inside Void Mart.

It is you, or your remnants at least.

A disembodied voice approaches you.

“Welcome to the Camping Goods section of Void Mart where you’ll find everything you need to lessen the burden of your next iteration of material existence!”

Fluorescent-tube, spotlights flicker to life revealing uniformly spaced aisles with indistinguishable objects in curious packaging that sometimes shrieks or shudders.

“Aisle 6 offers some of our most serene reintegration packaging. Have you ever considered what life might be like to be a mold? No, not for you?”

A creamy pustule pops in the background, and the splatter slithers back to one central form that oozes wave after cascading wave of crushed pepper infused ranch. Thick yellow-white layers flow nowhere in particular occasionally parting to reveal a series of dull yellow eyes, crooked misshapen teeth and engorged limbs with draping folds of cellulite.

“We apologize for the intrusion of subconscious artifacts of your past lives. Complimentary psychic conditioning will now be implemented to remove involuntary thought programming that may or may not have occurred just now.”

Gluttonous hedonism is key. Unending binary fulfillment of rudimentary pleasures is key.

“Aisle 8 gets you something a bit more familiar. The earth primate is distant relative of the humans that your kind so often likes to inhabit. It’s something not too far from home, but fresh in a what’s old is new again, kind of way.”

A gorilla stalks across a lush section of mountain top and turns towards you instinctively noticing something in its presence.

Life as a primate doesn’t seem so bad, you imagine it’s complex enough to be captivating, but simple enough to be effortlessly satisfying.

You feel a percentage of your dissatisfaction replaced with expectant glee but watch as the gorilla’s fur and skin fall slack before melting away into thick, familiar sheets of onion infused, garlic powdered cream.

Simplicity has a home in comfort. Comfort is satisfaction. Comfort is familiarity.

“Hmm, a bit of a masochist, are we? Aisle 12 has some of my personal favorites… insects! There’s a lot of diversity there and even with monotonous, bio-robotic programming, the drive to procreate and consume is so powerful that you’ll have literally no other processing power for anything aside from personal fulfillment.”

An incessant chatter of chirps, whistles, and strange chitters forms a warm welcome, but you again watch as the writhing mass disappears into a sea of velvety cream that churns more like a viscous mucus.

“Alright then… since you seem to know what you want. I’ll just ring you up the usual.”

The disembodied voice continues to speak, but to someone else.

“Let me get a super-sized number 2 for the customer, moderation on the side. A helping of cultural bias, and media backed prejudice to complete the order.”

The voice directs their focus back towards you.

“Alright, I’ve got you all set. You can proceed to the check out where your next life awaits you. As is standard with all of our packages, but especially with this bargain line you’ve selected, returns and exchanges are not possible once material reality has been reengaged. Death is always untimely, and happiness is not guaranteed. Thank you for shopping at Void Mart, based on that model’s average life expectancy, we will see you again soon!”

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Meat Joke

1296

"Carl, if you find this, tell mom and pop I worked at Kroger or something. They don't need to know about all this, they deserve better."

Simon closed his eyes and paused the recording. The Grinder was cast in pitch black darkness.

The sound of gears and pistons had stopped a while ago, it was sleeping. Simon knelt down and brushed his hand along the floor. No sharp protrusions, no strange wetness, only the black. He sat, felt for the rewind button on the tape recorder, and started again.

"Carl, if you find this, tell them everything. Whoever you can get it to. News, the government, the internet. Tell them, and show them."

Then he went on for what felt like hours. He told the whirring machine about the orientation videos, about the disappearances, about the meetings in the middle of the night.

And when he finally clicked the pause/play button, the tape recorder spoke to him.

"Honestly? Not that interesting." It said.

"I..."

"Okay, here's the thing. I've spent somewhere between ten days and sixty years down here, and you won't believe how many of you idiots I've had tumble this way because Grinder... Well, who knows why he takes you, maybe he just finds you boring."

"He finds me boring?"

"Maybe! Maybe not. Anyway, I'm erasing whatever nonsense you-"

Simon leapt forward and scrambled towards the tape recorder, flailing his hands over every button and crevice he could find.

"You can't!" he said, "I have to let them know, it's not right!"

The tape recorder whirred and skittered in protest.

"Hey, stop! Just give it a rest, come on."

In the darkness, Simon didn't notice the spot of viscera he'd so far avoided, and with a disgusting squelch, he tumbled to the side and fell to the metal floor.

"I just want to go home." He said, chest rising and falling in stutters.

"Well, I'm not supposed to do this, but alright. I can try to get you out of here."

Simon sat up and turned towards the tape recorder in the darkness.

"How?"

"Well, I told you Grinder found you boring, yeah? Most Likely?"

A silence hung in the abdomen of the beast, and the creak of pistons restarting echoed from some far chamber.

"We're gonna have to put on a little show." Said the tape recorder.

With mechanical thumps, fluorescent lights turned on, one after the other, displaying the gunmetal splendor of Grinder's guts. Pale faced, eyeless creatures with mops and brooms turned hither and yonder, and with terrified squeals, they rushed over to where Simon lay, shooing him away so they could get to the viscera he had slipped in.

"Dramatis personae!" said, the tape recorder. "Simon Kenton, meat department, new hire, will be playing..."

Simon rubbed his eyes, tried to open them in the sudden brightness, and closed them in pain.

"Simon," said the tape recorder, "stay focused!"

"Simon." Mumbled Simon.

"Right. Simon will be playing simon, I guess. And I, Cordelia, will be playing a dashing bard, a teller of stories: Ira Glass."

With a sound of wet flesh, a troupe of cleaners tumbled out of a wall, carrying various pieces of metal. Simon rushed out of the way as they went ahead and assembled a stage, with strange power tools covered in what looked like runes.

"Lift me up on the stage." Said Cordelia.

Simon picked her up, climbed onto the stage, and set her down. And then he stood there, with a gaggle of cleaners as an audience.

"Uh." He said, with as much vigour as he could.

"It's fine, I'll begin."

Cordelia whirred back and forth a few times, clicked her buttons and played a throat clearing sound.

"What do you do with a horse?" she said.

The cleaners perked their large, twitching ears up, knuckles white around the shafts of their cleaning tools. After a moment that Simon assumed was far too long, he looked down at Cordelia.

"I don't know," he said, "what?"

"Make meat."

The cleaners did not laugh as much as they shrieked joyously. The pistons of Grinder thumped up and down, gears turned and clicked. After the cacophony had almost deafened Simon, it stopped with a start, as a large, punctuating thump from Grinder sent the cleaners scrambling. Dust settled in the metal guts, the cleaners crept back to their places before the stage.

"Now it's you turn." Cordelia whispered.

Simon licked his lips, looked around the room. He had a hundred thousand thoughts ricocheting around his head, but in a desperate calm, he went for the one that flew closest.

"What," he said, spit caught in his mouth, teeth aching with nervousness, "did the butcher tell the electrician?"

"I-"

"Because the power had gone out-"

"I don't know-"

"In the butcher shop. Why did- I mean what did he tell the electrician?"

"I don't know!"

Simon looked around the room. Gears turned menacingly in the roof, the mops and brooms looked so much like spears.

"Better bring a fleshlight."

Grinder grinded idly, in a way that seemed more threatening than anything else it could do. The cleaners kept looking at Simon and Cordelia.

"I don't get it," said Cordelia, "what's special about a flashlight?"

"Uh, no, I- I mean it's flesh."

"It flashes?"

"No no no. Flesh." Said Simon, pinching the flesh of his upper arm.

-

On the customer facing meat deck of the Voidmart™ meat department, High Meat Admiral John Jayce smiled and laughed.

"She said 'pasgetti'?" he said to the old lady eyeing the rib of jellyfish behind the counter. "Oh! That's so charming."

A slow rumble set the jellymeat jiggling, and John turned to look at the back room. The old lady looked up at him, eyes squinting behind glasses.

"Not to worry!" said John. "They're just, uh, clearing away room for the halloween parade. Yeah."

And with enough force to send pallets, bundles, packets and slices of meat, flesh, viscera and guts flying off the shelf, Grinder said.

OH

I GET IT

A FLESH LIGHT

-

Simon coughed, breathed in, caught even more dust and particulates in his throat and coughed again. The lights above swung wildly, casting the room in a rapidly changing web of nauseating shadows. The cleaners had scrambled back to their holes, and on the stage, Cordelia sputtered and whirred weakly.

"I think you did it." She said. Her voice seemed so weak and distant, Simon crawled over to her, laid a hand softly on one of her reels.

"Simon," she said, "You're not the first to escape, and you won't be the last."

"I will if I get them to- to dismantle this drat monster."

"No, Simon. No. This is Grinder. This is the meat filter."

"I don't understand."

"And you don't have to. Just know that the reason you're a man and not a- a collection of protein floating in a cloud the size of a gas giant, is Grinder."

Simon could smell burnt plastic. Behind him a hatch had opened, the lights cast his profile across the dying tape recorder.

"The reaper must have his due," said Cordelia, "but the Meat Coherent? All he wants is a laugh now and then."

And then she died.

-

"Some toilet break!" said the Meat Admiral.

Simon lumbered over to his station and grabbed a cleaver.

"Yeah, won't happen again, sir." He said.

The store bustled with activity and multiple sources of spooky music orchestrated the worst halloween soundtrack Simon had ever heard. Somewhere between the colibri and g̟̝̯̼̬̱ͬ̐ͮ̇͋̓n͚͚͇̖̥̖ͮͭ̅ͦ̀ṵ̹͉͉̫͟t͙͍̪̗͚̥̺͌ͥ aisle, Little Pump, a mascot so terrible it was infuriating, had wedged themselves between two shopping carts, and their wails drew the attention of several tourists carrying full sized film cameras.

Simon brought down his cleaver, and then again, and then again.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:




Last Requisition
1284/1300 words

Tom booted up the console while leafing through his small stack of requisition forms. In the blank field below the header he wrote 'One hundred requisition forms' and deposited it into the slot on the console. He swiped his biometric card, punched in the password, and waited. Tom idly twirled the class ring on his finger. Three green lights blinked and the chamber opened to a stack of identical requisition forms.

Last week he'd filled out requisition forms for 'a flat-earth globe', 'mother's pearl earrings', 'autumnal four leaf clover', and 'a shingle like the ones I used to have'. They had been getting weirder lately, he thought.

Tom heard a cough behind him.

"Excuse me? This is the back, correct?"

The man in front of him was old, unshaven, and sweaty. He shifted impatiently while tightly gripping the straps of his backpack.

"Yes sir, if you'll give me a few minutes," Tom responded.

The worn-out man frowned and slipped the backpack off of his shoulders. He placed it on the floor and unzipped it, then hastily pulled something out.

"I'm sorry, but you're going to need to help me now." His voice had grown soft and eerily flat.

Tom's response caught in his throat as the customer levelled a gun at his chest.

"I'm Mr. Choi. I'm here to requisition my son."

Tom put his hands up, confused and trembling. "I can't do that, sir. I've never, I mean, I don't think the requisition console-"

Mr. Choi loudly tapped the counter with his revolver.

Tom unlocked the door. Mr. Choi looked over his shoulder for a moment at the near-endless Voidmart aisle behind him, then walked in. He looked over the chamber door, the console, and Tom, then spoke.

"I watched the worker up front, you know, when I submitted all those ridiculous requests. Just to see if they could be done. A shingle from a home I lived in fifty years ago? Just to see." He licked his lips. "I saw em swipe the card and put in the password." He had moved forward, the greasy barrel just inches from Tom's chest. "Now get a form and listen close."

Mr. Choi dictated. "Adam Joel Choi, son of Robert Adam Choi. Died of metastatic kidney cancer on January 14th, 2019." Tom held the form out for him to inspect. Tears had welled up in Mr. Choi's eyes and the gun began to shake in his hand. "I'm not done. I asked for one of my mother's pearl earrings and I got some cheap piece of a junk. Gotta be specific. Keep writing." He used the back of the hand holding the gun to wipe his eyes. Tom kept taking dictation.

"Died at Loretto Hospital in Austin, suburb of Chicago, Illinois. He leaves behind a wife and two children, Taylor and Kimberly." Mr. Choi thought for a moment and continued. "To be delivered in perfect health." Tom completed the form and handed it over. Mr. Choi looked at it with satisfaction.

"One more thing," the old man began, then paused and looked Tom in the eyes.

"I want to tell you that I'm sorry. I don't know what else to do. It's not fair." Mr. Choi had begun to crinkle the form before he caught himself. "I just want it to be like it was. Before he got sick."

Tom slid Mr. Choi's form into the console, swiped the card, and punched in the password. The console's first light blinked green, then the second. Then a pause. The third light flashed red and the screen displayed a message it hadn't before.

'Requisition item not found. Insufficient material for requisition. Retry?'

Without being prodded to, Tom retried. And retried the same thing that hadn't worked before, expecting something different. Same message.

Mr. Choi rubbed the gun barrel on his chin, frustrated. He pointed the gun back to Tom. "Well, what do you usually do when this happens? Because I want you to do it. Now."

"I, I don't know. This has never happened before. Voidmart has everything, but we can't just requisition people," Tom stammered.

Mr. Choi took another step back, sitting on the counter with his gun still levelled. He began to murmur. "Insufficient material. Insufficient material." He dipped into his backpack again. Tom felt a wave of nausea creep over his gut as he looked at the old man's knife. Mr. Choi's voice was dead even. "Put your hand on the counter. Put it on the counter or I swear to god I'll shoot."

Tom was taken aback and began to plead. "Mr. Choi! We can work on something, I can talk to management and maybe-"

Mr. Choi cut him off. "No."

Tom took a few shaky steps forward and laid his hand on the counter. Mr. Choi looked down at it, inspecting Tom's fingers.

"Not that hand," he said. "The other one."

Tom laid his right hand on the countertop, his class ring clinking against the surface. Mr. Choi was in an awkward position, knife in one hand and gun in the other. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, but I have to know that it works," he said. "Insufficient material," Mr. Choi murmured again. He began to count, seemingly more for himself than for Tom.

"Three"

"Two"

He brought the knife down on Tom's finger, hard, just below the class ring. The pain was blinding. Tom's nausea gave way and he was sick on the floor. Mr. Choi examined the amputated digit. He gripped Tom by the arm and led him back to the console. Their hands were the same sallow shade under the fluorescence.

"Do it again," Mr. Choi said softly, a near-whisper.

Tom sobbed and shook. This time, before depositing the form, he put his dripping finger on the floor of the requisition chamber. The nailbed was beginning to fade to white as pallor set in. Tom closed the door then ran the console. One green light. Two. The console paused as Tom's heart raced.

The third lit up and the console beeped. The chamber door opened and a new message flashed on the screen. On looking inside, Tom's stomach sank to an impossible new low. Mr. Choi's heart leapt further into his throat.

There was a finger sitting on the floor of the chamber. Smaller than Tom's, slimmer. And without a ring. Mr. Choi knelt and picked up the pink phalanx, then looked up at Tom. "It's his." The old man trembled and smiled for the first time. "There's a scar, see? He caught a fishhook when we were out on the lake. His finger's still warm." The grieving father's eyes strayed toward the screen.

'Requisition partially completed. Insufficient material. Add material and retry?'

Both men understood what the message meant. Mr. Choi pointed at Tom with the revolver. At his material. "I'm sorry. Punch in the codes and get inside. I have to see him again. I have to."

Tom made a final appeal. "I've got a family. You can't do this, you can't do this, you can't-"

Mr. Choi didn't respond this time. His face, streaked with tears, was fixed in an impassive mask.

Shaking in shock, blood dripping from his mangled hand, Tom entered the password and swiped his card. Mr. Choi gave him a shove with the barrel of the gun and Tom entered the chamber. He looked at Tom one last time with grief in his eyes.

"I'm sorry."

Mr. Choi slammed the door shut.

It was dark inside. Tom heard one beep, then a second. After an eternity, he heard the third beep. The chamber began to shake. Tom felt a horrible emptiness, then a tearing, then nothing.

In the back office, Mr. Choi screamed.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




1101 words

pharmacy

Take one then call me in the morning (whenever that is)

flerp fucked around with this message at 17:58 on Dec 30, 2019

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


Voidlings

Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 18:01 on Jan 3, 2020

Maigius
Jun 29, 2013




Komar or the Modern Sisyphus
352 words, Cart Pushers

At one point in his life, Victor Komar had done things other than trudge around the parking lot of Voidmart and collect the carts. Those days were long over. He had once been a regional manager, but after be had been caught with underhanded dealing with some of the contractors. As he maneuvered the long snake of carts around the display of Christmas trees, he thought back to when he had leased the location to the lot operators.

****

“We’re planning on setting up the fence and checkout stand on November 15th, and the trees will come on the 17th. Unless we sell out before Christmas, we shut down at 7 PM Christmas Eve, and have the fence and stand down by the December 27” explained the guy who ran those type of lots.

“Corporate doesn’t want customers reminded of Christmas after the holiday, is there any chance it can be down before the 26th?” inquired Victor.

“They’re the asshats that put up the decorations before Halloween” muttered the lot guy. Aloud, he said, “My daughter is returning from college this and that’s going to be first time I get to see her in months”.

“I could be convinced to make an exception, for the right price,” hinted Victor.

Sighing, the lot guy handed over a cool grand.

“Very well, December 27th it is,” said Victor.

****

The son of the original lot guy gave Victor the stink-eye as he walked past. Repeated bribe requests had driven the old man to suicide.

Corporate had eventually found out about his bribe taking. They offered him a deal: Get all the carts in the corral at the front of the store or face prosecution. He took the deal,Voidmart’s lawyers are too good to fight against.

Victor finally got the cart snake into the corral at the front of the store. There were fewer carts there than there were before the last delivery.

“Hey, can I get one of those?” asked a shopper, taking a cart from the front of the snake.

“Sure,” said a resigned Victor.

And so he went out again, to get more carts.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Department: Baby supplies

The Success Formula
1300 words

“There’re no ingredients listed on the label, just a formula code,” Becca said after thoroughly inspecting the jar of Voidmart Signature™ Little Devourers prune-inspired baby food. “Formula AAD342. Thanks jar, very insightful.”

The jar was preternaturally heavy in her hand, faintly alive with a thrum that vibrated just at the edge of her senses. A siren song: Y o u r l i f e w o u l d b e b e t t e r w i t h m e i n i t. The effect had taken hold as soon as she and Anna clocked off and entered the sales floor as customers rather than employees; from experience Becca knew the strange yearning would last until well after they’d gone home.

She placed her free hand on the nascent baby bump under her shirt, feeling a fierce surge of protectiveness.

Anna peered over Becca’s shoulder at the jar. “You know how the V-Mart is, dude. They’ve gotta protect their company secrets. There’s probably a federal loophole about it.”

Becca turned around, fixing Anna with an incredulous look. “Yeah? Do you think they found a loophole to get around food safety inspections, too? Do you feel good about feeding our baby trade secrets?”

“Just because I’m not the one carrying the baby doesn’t mean I care less about their—” Anna’s eyes widened, fixed on something on the shelf behind Becca. “poo poo. That can’t be for us, can it? We’re off the clock.”

Becca turned back to the shelf, dismayed but unsurprised to see a length of folded paper protruding from between jars of Little Devourers.

“Best to get it over with,” Becca said, and plucked the paper from the shelf. It read:


Hiya, teammates!

Please remember that members of the Voidmart Team must never ever gossip about Voidmart! If you were to
HARM THE REPUTATION OF THE ORGANIZATION something real bad might happen!

Sincerely,
Your Void Fam”



“God, it’s one of the cutesy ones,” she said with disgust. “Don’t talk poo poo about Voidmart, or else. Got it.” A faint discoloration on the bottom corner of the page caught her eye. Dust from the shelf, maybe? Or—

Words. There were words there, the faintest whisper of graphite on paper. Becca squinted, found her eyes were too watery to make them out.

“Hey, I got preggo-vision, can you read this?” She passed the page over to Anna, indicating the surreptitious text.

After a quick, paranoid look up and down the aisle, Anna held the page up to her face, almost touching the tip of her nose. Her lips moved soundlessly as she parsed the text, word by vanishingly faint word.

Becca rubbed her eyes, annoyed at how hormones had fuzzed her sight. She’d already been put on light duty over in the Bespoke Knives sub-department, and was dreading the day when they’d take her off the sales floor all together.

Anna crumpled the page and jammed it in her back pocket. “We should check out aisle B-666-13,” she said in a casual tone. “Never know if we’ll need something from there. Babies, you know?”

Becca decided to follow her lead. “Oh, tell me about it. Babies—they love stuff from aisle B-666-13.”

Several wrong turns later, they found themselves in a remote aisle labeled Alternative Infant Medicine, Infant Disciplinary Implements, Occult Parenting Solutions. The shelves were draped with cobwebs and a thick layer of dust carpeted the floor.

“I mean,” Anna said after a long moment, “I guess it’s...encouraging that no one’s been here in a while?”

Becca took a few hesitant steps down the aisle, her footfalls muted by velvety dust.

There: wedged between copies of Banishing Colic with Crystals! And Other Home Remedies was a thin piece of plastic—a manager’s access card. Becca plucked it from the shelf, taking a moment to remove the attached sticky note, and pocketed the card.

The directions on the sticky note led them off the sales floor and into the intestinal twists and turns of Voidmart’s most off-limits areas. Several winding staircases and non-euclidean hallways later, Anna and Becca found themselves before a fortified door plastered in KEEP OUT-type signage.

Becca glanced down at the sticky note in her hand. Above the directions was scrawled a single line: Not everyone in management agrees with what’s happening here.

“Maybe we’ll finally find out what’s in that baby food,” Anna said with forced levity.

Becca swiped the manager’s key card through the access terminal, one hand protectively cupping her belly. With an irritable hiss of hydraulics, the door slid open.

The lab was everything Becca had dreaded it would be on their long descent into Voidmart’s secret byways. Everything she had dreaded, and more—humanoid slabs of flesh hung suspended in tanks of liquid, their skin punctured by legions of serpentine tubes. Beyond the flesh slabs were rows upon rows of stacked cages, each of which contained a single fat, white rat. The lighting was low and tinted red, like the nocturnal exhibit at the local zoo.

Becca moved numbly past the slabs of flesh to where the rats shuffled in their cages.

The rats regarded Becca and Anna calmly, their eyes glowing ghostly white-blue in the murky light of the lab. Each cage was scattered with puzzle boxes, tiny Rubik's cubes, and simple, rat-sized computers with big, colorful buttons.

“Paging Algernon,” Anna muttered. “Got some flowers for you.”

Becca elbowed her in the ribs.

Each of the cages contained a feeding apparatus, which was in turn fed by one of the hundreds of transparent tubes that descended from the ceiling.

Becca read aloud from one of the info cards stuck to the front of the nearest cage. “‘Name: Worthington. Age: eight months. Formula: AAC457, ‘sweet potato’ Efficacy: concentrate with potentiators.” She paused. “That’s a Little Devourers formula code, isn’t it.”

Anna swallowed. “Sure seems like it, yeah. You were...you were right, dude. I’m an rear end. That stuff is messed. I don’t want any creepy lab poo poo in our baby.”

As they watched, Worthington the rat lifted into the air of his cage, never taking his luminous eyes off the two women. He drifted forward, his fat pink tail dragging behind him, until his nose nearly touched the glass of his enclosure.

A small, childlike voice spoke in Becca’s mind: Play now?

Becca turned to face Anna. “If you think about it, isn’t most baby food, in essence, creepy lab poo poo?”

Anna looked at her sidelong. “What are you getting at?”

Play now?! Worthington insisted.

“A levitating rat is talking to us in our minds,” Becca said flatly. “After being fed a steady diet of scienced-up Voidmart baby food. You ever heard of a jar of Gerber making a kid float?”

“Dude. What are you getting at?”

Becca cupped her belly with both hands and took a deep breath. “We live in a megastore-based dystopia and the planet is coming apart at the seams.” The words came out in a breathless rush. “If there’s a chance we could-could give our kid an edge, a better chance to thrive…”

“You’re serious,” Anna said flatly. “You want to make a super baby.”

“Yeah. I kind of do,” Becca said, casting a glance at Worthington. “I don’t want this baby to just survive this world. I want them to thrive.”

Congratulations, Worthington said in their minds. You’ve been chosen for specialized focus group testing! Please see the attached documentation for details.

A fat orange envelope dropped from the ceiling, landing with a dull thud at Becca’s feet.

“So, we doing this?” Becca asked Anna.

Anna swallowed. “Yeah. We're doing this.”

Becca picked up the envelope.

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


Um, Daylight Savings Time kicked in and no one told me (I thought it was canceled for Spain this year!) so I desperately need an/that extra hour. DQ me if you want, but please don't ban! I genuinely had no idea.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Fleta Mcgurn posted:

Um, Daylight Savings Time kicked in and no one told me (I thought it was canceled for Spain this year!) so I desperately need an/that extra hour. DQ me if you want, but please don't ban! I genuinely had no idea.

midnight isn't for another 28 minutes

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.


sebmojo posted:

midnight isn't for another 28 minutes

Yeah, exactly. I thought I had two hours when I started the final writing/editing process and I had one.

I don't have thirty extra bucks right now, so here is some random garbage because gently caress the actual story at this point.

GARBAGE DISPOSAL

however many words

"Stop putting cans in there, it's bad," said Steve.

"You're not my mom, you can't tell me what to do!" Bob shouted.

"I'm just telling you the procedure, don't get mad at me."

Unfortunately, this passive-aggressive whining was the last Bob ever heard, because Steve pushed him into the disposal and he got all ground up like a juicy tomato.

Recycling is important!

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Attention Voidmart Shoppers:

The week will be closing in 15 minutes. Please make your final edits and bring them to the thread now.

(Also, toxxes here are almost never called in at the closing instant; the next morning or when judgement is posted are the usual practice. This week is no exception. Stories posted in that timeframe will likely dq, but not result in a ban)

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Fooling the Eye
919 words

Three things. One big, one small, and one invisible. That’s what it takes to grab a shopper’s attention, thought Enderby Slythe as she adjusted the cardboard cutout. It was a tall standee with vivid slashes of colour penetrating a globe of pure blackness that seemed to glisten and revolve when viewed out the corner of one eye.

It’s not moving really, though, Enderby told herself. It’s an optical illusion, a… um… She stopped, puzzled. The words had been right there in her mind, fancy french things, and just like that they had vanished. At the same time as her eye had fallen on the black orb, coincidentally.

“Is that moving?”

It was a girl, maybe 11, in a lime green hoodie. She was standing there with the uncertain expression of one who isn’t sure whether she’s just heard someone say her name.

Enderby took a moment to summon her inner warmth, then smiled. It was a competent smile, though it made her cheeks ache a little. She held it for the VoidManual approved four and a half seconds. “Why no indeed, young miss! That’s ‘Voidy’, the VoidMart mascot. It’s a ball of pure darkness. Isn’t that fun?”

The girl frowned. “It looks like a hole. I don’t like it. Why did you put it up?”

Enderby reached up and snapped the final clip on the standee, then took a step back to stand next to the young shopper. “It’s Void Day,” she said. As she spoke the cardboard rippled, like it had heard her. Probably just my imagination. “Or, rather, it will be.” The girl reached forward to touch the blackness and Enderby’s right arm twitched, wanting to slap it out of the way but the VoidManual had a whole chapter on assaulting customers and this was not one of the Fourteen Occasions.

“It’s so slippery,” the girl said. “Like oil. What’s void day? I’ve never heard of it, we do units on the public holidays at school. My favourite is Christmas, because of the presents.”

There was something glistening on the end of the girl’s finger. Enderby watched it as she spoke. “It’s pronounced Void Day, actually. We celebrate the day the Void came into all of our lives, and we walk the blessed aisles of the Mart, and we, you know. Buy things. Are you looking for something special, little girl, or are you just waiting for your mother and/or father?”

“I’m an orphan,” said the girl. “My mother and father both died in simultaneous car crashes on opposite sides of the city, a few years back.”

Enderby was still smiling, and left that expression up as she furiously flipped through the VoidManual (Expressions and Phatic Utterances Appendix) for the right one. She settled on 155b, Heartfelt but Restrained Empathy. “Goodness,” she said.

“It’s okay, they were awful. So when is Void Day?” she articulated the syllables with exaggerated precision. “I’m not sure I really want to buy anything. Is that hole getting bigger?”

Enderby chuckled a light, airy little 271d chuckle. “In a sense, it’s every day. There’s no day when VoidMart can’t enrich our lives, you see. It offers us things, and we buy the things, and they make us more and they make us better.”

“Yeah, but what date is it? In the calendar?” The girl put her head on its side, then pointed at where the velvety blackness of the orb was now touching the edge of the standee. “It’s definitely getting bigger. It’s like it’s seeping through the cardboard.”

Enderby Slythe took a deep breath, savouring the fine processed coolness of VoidMart oxygen. “No, it’s not. Except in the sense that VoidMart is growing inside us all, in the things we buy and consume. Growing like a fine strong black spot of darkness. So though it may look like it’s glistening and growing, it’s actually a … gosh. What’s the French phrase for an optical illusion? Do you know it? It’s on the tip of my tongue!”

The girl looked up, that uncertain expression from before on her face again. “Trompe l’oeil? Mrs Burson at school likes saying that. We did Escher last term. My finger feels funny.” She was swaying as she said the last.

“That’s the VoidMart Difference,” said Enderby dreamily. “The date used to be the first day of the year, but then we kept putting the decorations up sooner and sooner to catch the early shoppers and finally… we met ourselves going and coming. So now every day is Void Day! Truly blessed.” She eyed the girl carefully. Her skin had a sudden, waxy colour like she was a candle without a wick.

"I think I might need to lie down somewhere. Do you have a first aid couch?" The girl took a step backwards, as though to stop herself from falling.

Saving customers from collapse was one of the Fourteen Occasions so Enderby grabbed her by the arm and put her hand on the opposite shoulder. Her grip was firm, comradely. "I think you might need a lie down, little miss! Luckily VoidMart has everything you need in that respect; our lying facilities are second to none."

"Not... little..." muttered the girl, whose eyes were flickering shut.

"Of course, and can you confirm that you will neither be sought after or missed? Just for the record?"

The girl gaped up at her. "What? Who are you?"

"I am," said Enderby, "the Seasonal Decorations Marshall." And, with a step, a twist of the hip and a deft lunge, she hurled both of them into the humming black void that had consumed the rippling cardboard of the VoidDay standee. The display rocked back and forth for a few moments. Then, like a photograph being developed at the nearby VoidMart Phot-o-Smart! instant photo printing facility, a picture wavered into being on the blackness. Enderby and the girl, hand in hand, walking the aisles of VoidMart. The girl was tugging at Enderby's hand, pointing at something wonderful just out of view, and Enderby had a well framed expression of parental indulgence, like the phrase 'oh you!' printed out and pasted on a face.

There was something in their eyes, though, something barely visible; something hidden.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Entries are closed.

Late stories posted before noon tomorrow will get crits from me at least.

asap-salafi
May 5, 2012


Screens
1027 words

MORNING

Rain splattered on the ground, and grey clouds loomed overhead.

"I hope that he's in a good mood today." Salim thought as he watched his boss' pimped out Vauxhall Astra roar into the store's car park. Salim dreaded his workday when Kieran was in charge. "Should I stand or sit when he walks through the door? Does it matter?” Kieran trudged across the car park wearing his tight security uniform, a disgruntled look on his face.

A few seconds later, the Voidmart's Head Prevention Loss Officer burst through the door, breathing heavily from the long walk up the staircase leading to the security room. He aggressively threw his bag into a locker before slamming it shut. A second passed, and Salim breathed in, bracing himself.

"I hate you, foreigners. Don't you know how to loving drive? You want to see what some rear end in a top hat did to my car last night? Check out my bumper. I swear to loving God. If I see a single one of your lot today, they're getting it."

AFTERNOON

Kieran stood very upright in front of the Golden Bean cafe; his fat stomach made him look pregnant. He was staring into space, and it was difficult to tell whether he was deep in thought or using his peripherals to scout out thieves. Salim had been watching him for the past 2 hours from the security room, and the man had hardly moved.

Their job was usually quite uneventful, and other security staff often slept through half of their shifts. Salim wanted to sleep; it had been days since he had managed to get a wink. His step-father worked nights and usually woke up Salim's mother when he got home. Neither of them cared that they had a 19-year-old man living with them, and his mother often woke him up by moaning bizarre things. Sometimes it sounded like they were fighting.

"Oh gently caress," Salim whispered. A man wearing Muslim garb had just walked into the store. Salim moved his chair closer to the screen overlooking the automated entrance doors. The man looked young, maybe even younger than Salim himself. "It's a kid," Salim realized.

In front of the cafe, Kieran was no longer staring into mid-space. His stumpy little legs scurried across the shop floor as he proceeded to follow the customer around. Today wasn't the first time Salim's boss had done this, Salim had seen him throw people out for looking at him the wrong way. One time, Kieran beat someone up and then lied to the police, saying that the man had hit him first. The entire beatdown occurred through the back doors of the store, conveniently out of sight of the security cameras.

The customer suddenly stopped in the jewelry section to look at his phone.

"Oh, gently caress."

Salim's walkie talkie was on the dresser next to the cold cup of tea Kieran had requested earlier and not drank. Kieran's flustered voice followed the static noise, "Get down here."

By the time Salim got downstairs onto the shop floor, Kieran had the kid on the floor, his hands in handcuffs and face pushed into the shop's marble floor. Kieran held out a necklace to Salim. "Here, he was trying to steal this. Put it upstairs in the drawer, will you? Lizzie already called the police."

EVENING

Salim was tired of being ordered about by a bigoted bully. He wanted to leave it all behind, but he needed the money. Moving out of his mother's house wasn't going to be easy, and working overtime was the only way for him to get a place. What was he going to do except work anyways? He had no friends, no girlfriend, no chance of hanging out with anyone, or doing anything remotely interesting. This job was all he had, and if it wasn't for Kieran, he might've enjoyed coming in.

They had closed up a few hours ago, Kieran was working the double shift with him too. Salim suspected Kieran didn't have much outside of work either. He drove a nice car, but he never seemed happy.

Salim was staring at the screens again. He wasn't sure why he liked watching Kieran, probably in the hope that something terrible would happen to the bastard. The fat man was smoking at the back of the store. Salim could only see his foot on the cameras; the rest of his body was out of view. Kieran had left the backdoor unlocked, something which Lizzie had warned them about numerous times.

"I could snitch? Perhaps that's the way to get rid of this fat oaf".

Something (a fox, maybe?) flashed past the screen. There was something outside, and Kieran had noticed it too, the fat man's feet were facing the store.

Salim looked over at the table where he usually left his walkie talkie. There were two devices, Kieran had forgotten to take his with him.

A blood-curling scream brought Salim's attention back to the screens. Kieran's feet were no longer visible. He urgently examined each screen for signs of his boss. There was nothing. His eyes moved over to the bottom two screens, which they hardly ever checked, and that's when he saw it.

Standing at the bottom of the security room stairs was a gigantic snarling dog-faced beast baring its sharp teeth. In its oversized paw was Kieran's head, and it was smiling directly into the camera.

Salim couldn't move; it was difficult to comprehend what was on the screen; he closed his eyes and tried not to scream. He didn't open them, not even when the door burst open, and the awful smell of the dog's warm bloody breath drifted over his face. Salim could no longer feel anything. His whole body had become numb.

A lifetime passed, and when Salim decided it was okay to open his eyes, the security guard looked down at his own body, expecting the werewolf to have ripped it to shreds. It hadn't.

Salim looked up. In front of him stood the same boy from earlier, holding the same necklace he had been wearing when he had walked into the Voidmart that afternoon.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

I don't know if I have the power to do such a thing, but...

Interprompt: My neighbor has been doing something weird at night lately

250 Words

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

Anomalous Amalgam posted:

I don't know if I have the power to do such a thing, but...

Interprompt: My neighbor has been doing something weird at night lately

250 Words

IF I don't have the power to do this... one of you cowards come at me. I'll spill your blood all over these sands.

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


What the..., 80 words

What's he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
He's hiding something from the rest of us
He has a router and a table saw
And you won't believe what Mr. Sticher saw
He has no friends but gets lots of mail
I bet he spent a little time in jail
What's he building in there?
We have a right to know!
Oh.
It's a model train set.
That's really cool, man.
Thanks for showing us.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Anomalous Amalgam posted:

I don't know if I have the power to do such a thing, but...

Interprompt: My neighbor has been doing something weird at night lately

250 Words

Those who dare, have the power.

Tibalt posted:

What the..., 80 words

What's he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
He's hiding something from the rest of us
He has a router and a table saw
And you won't believe what Mr. Sticher saw
He has no friends but gets lots of mail
I bet he spent a little time in jail
What's he building in there?
We have a right to know!
Oh.
It's a model train set.
That's really cool, man.
Thanks for showing us.

... hell

102

He has no dog, he has no friends
And his lawn is dying
And what about those packages he sends?
What's he building in there?

With that hook light on the stairs
What's he building in there?
I'll tell you one thing, he's not building a playhouse for the children
What's he building in there?

Ah, it's a two circular saws spinning on a circle of roombas
And it's heat seeking
And it's heading for our kids
That's it

I guess we should have expected it
We were all creeped out
By the noises from his garage
And his general weird nature

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


Anomalous Amalgam posted:

IF I don't have the power to do this... one of you cowards come at me. I'll spill your blood all over these sands.

"The sound of the Gion Shoja temple bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall. The proud do not endure, like a passing dream on a night in spring; the mighty fall at last, to be no more than dust before the wind."

Challenge accepted. Let's brawl.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

SlipUp posted:

"The sound of the Gion Shoja temple bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that to flourish is to fall. The proud do not endure, like a passing dream on a night in spring; the mighty fall at last, to be no more than dust before the wind."

Challenge accepted. Let's brawl.

We need a judge, a prompt and someone to alert SlipUp's next of kin... it's gonna get messy.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!




Anomalous Amalgam posted:

We need a judge, a prompt and someone to alert SlipUp's next of kin... it's gonna get messy.

anomalus slip-up brawl

genre: horror
restriction: no supernatural elements
prompt: in the transition between seasons, it awakens
1500 words

due 11/8 11:59pm PST

toxx for me slip up and anomalous

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


:toxx:

It's on

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

:toxx:

Ah, yes... let it begin.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


Anomalous Amalgam posted:

I don't know if I have the power to do such a thing, but...

Interprompt: My neighbor has been doing something weird at night lately

250 Words

It’s Not Illegal
236 words

I pressed the doorbell and waited. I could guess where he was, and knew it would take him more than a few seconds to reach the front door. It was Ally who had first noticed it, when she was jumping on our trampoline. She had asked me why it was there if he didn’t have a dog. I waved to Maggie Morrison, out enjoying the early fall dusk, and whatever lay in her stroller.

Finally, he opened the door. He was a big man, broad-shouldered and balding, like his skeleton had pushed the hair aside on its way up. But he had eyes like a chihuahua’s - wet, bulging, and never still. We had spoken a few times. He had kept the mail when we went upstate for Dad’s funeral. He smiled a desperate little half-smile and asked how Ally was liking the 5th grade. I told him I wanted to see the hole.

His fidgeting grew more frantic as we weaved through leftover furnishings. He took me to the small landing at the top of the back steps, clutching at his fingers. A bare flood bulb shone down on piles of moved earth, and the dark oval between them. It was more of a pit than a hole, not suited for anything that would raise the property value. I’ll admit: I got agitated. But all he would say was, “It’s not illegal to dig a hole.”

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

Anomalous Amalgam posted:

I don't know if I have the power to do such a thing, but...

Interprompt: My neighbor has been doing something weird at night lately

250 Words

Babel

No no, Earl, that's' not it at all. You're right, it is impressive, sure enough. It's just that, well, when I heard all the ruckus last night and came over to see what was going on, I didn't think that...

No, I don't think it's been done before.

I mean I can't fathom how you got them all to stay like that, nor even where you got them all. Just getting the balance right must have been real tricky, and I'm sure it took a long time to get the sizing to line up. With that many of them, just the differences in hair must have been a factor. And yeah, they're stacked up really high - I can barely see the little ones at the top.

It's just that.. well, Earl I don't know how to tell you this, but that ain't really what a cat tower is.

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 10:21 on Oct 29, 2019

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

argh gently caress. I thought I made the cut off before the edit would show up. Mea culpa. :smith:

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



luckily interprompts are no rules just right :getin:

Applewhite
Aug 16, 2014

IN THE GRIM BARKNESS
OF THE FUTURE
THERE ARE ONLY DOGS



Nap Ghost

Anomalous Amalgam posted:

I don't know if I have the power to do such a thing, but...

Interprompt: My neighbor has been doing something weird at night lately

250 Words

Um, Actually
58 words

It's 2019. If I want to feel pretty by putting on women's lingerie and admiring my reflection in the privacy of my own home it's really none of your business.

Follow up question: how is it I'm the weirdo when the only way you could have found this out is by peeping through my bedroom window at night?

Tibalt
May 14, 2017

What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word, As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee


Fast, Good, Judging - choose two.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Employee Evaluations

This quarter has been a qualified success for Voidmart. I'm pleased to announce the success of our stock organization rationalization plan; we have drastically reduced the incidence of aisles of product only related to each other by strained wordplay. Area of future improvement opportunity include endings,stakes, and avoiding one-note stories.

The bonus plan has paid out, in the form of Voidmart gift certificates and honorable mentions for Sitting Here's The Success Formula, Carl Killer Miller's Last Requisition, and Sebmojo's Fooling the Eye. Certificates not valid on alcohol, gift cards, laundry detergent, or spider-repellant.

We are also pleased to announce the promotion of Mercedes to Blood Emperor for their excellent work on Always Read the Contract.

We must, sadly, give Crimea a DM and a retraining experience for Returns and Exchanges.

Sometimes employees make deliberate decisions that give management no choice. On that note, Fleta Mcgurn's GARBAGE DISPOSAL has earned her the loss. Please report to HR for your debriefing. Similarly, DQs as expected to Rat-born Cock and Asap-Salafi for editing their post and late submission, respectively.

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Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Preemptively signing up to judge because I know this weekend will be packed and exhausting.

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