After all the fun we had bringing you scares from Prospero all October long, we couldn't resist concocting this series of festive flash fics of fear.
So check back with us throughout the season for fresh, bite-sized of holiday horrors!
By F.J.R. Titchenell
We’re getting ready to open. Steve did his speech reminding us to be thankful (isn’t he so damn clever) for the restful morning and start getting excited to help make other people’s holidays happy. Yeah, that’s totally why we’re manning cash registers and not soup kitchen ladles today.
Enjoy dinner, Carl. I mean it. When we’re rich and famous and out of school, we’ll be together whenever we want. I’ll update you when I can.
People are lined up all the way across the parking lot.
Well, they’re not technically lined up. More like crowded up. There’s some definite pushing to be in the row close enough to push their faces against the glass. It’s like being in a zombie movie. Soon they’ll breach the perimeter.
Taking my first cigarette break. Thinking about you. Well, you and my dad, but he doesn’t text. Taunt me. Does dinner smell amazing yet? Say hi to your parents for me. Tell them I wish Dad and I could have joined.
Tide’s ebbing a bit while most of the customers start taking their turkey breaks at home, but I’m not sure if that’s better, because it distills the crazy.
Spent twenty minutes explaining to one woman that those new tablets have been on backorder since they were released and that I’ve never even seen one in person. I explained the same thing to her yesterday. Apparently her cousin’s boyfriend told him they’d be in for Black Friday, so of course it MUST be true.
There’s a guy buying three turkeys out of the freezer section. I hope he doesn’t think he can cook them by tonight. Okay, I kind of hope he does.
Steve’s making me take my pizza break before the rush comes back. The pizza guy looks like he probably poisoned it, but it’s hot and it’s free.
There’s a little girl on the floor screaming about how much she needs a new dress. She’s unbuttoned her jeans to prove that they don’t fit. Her mom is yelling at her to sit still. The mom is also doing some painful-looking math with dollars-to-inches ratios in the TV aisle and hasn’t figured out that the kid is already in women’s fashion.
Women’s, not girls’. That ball gown is a circus tent on her.
The kid’s pants are completely missing now, and the dress came off like snakeskin when she took off running again. She just slid between a security guard’s legs like Indiana Jones. I don’t think the guard is even trying.
That stupid time clock still says “out for break” every time someone punches out. It’s only supposed to say “out” when it’s the second punch out of a full shift, but no one’s ever seen it happen. They keep saying they’re going to fix the rest of its glitches too. Like the randomly deleted overtime. Right.
Think I’m going to take the clock’s advice this time and crash in the breakroom. I’m on again at five. Sleep well, Carl.
Harvey’s commandeered the breakroom. He’s watching some cop show on the old TV and crying. Can’t stay there or he’ll expect me to ask why and then stay awake to hear the answer.
Found a spot in stockroom on a pallet of diapers.
Cheryl’s all pissed that I wouldn’t help her re-stock the diaper aisle since I was in the way anyway.
Hitting the next wave of bodies flowing in. Thought it might distract Steve, but wouldn’t let me clock back in until I bought a toothbrush and toothpaste and used them.
My conveyor belt has developed a mouth again.
Half of the stuff people are bringing to the front is making it into their bags, maybe less. The belt likes blue and green things best, though I can’t imagine it tastes them much, the way it swallows them whole.
Please answer me, Carl. I know it’s not the same, and I promise, we’ll get together and do a real meet-the-parents night when things settle down. We’ll have time for the families after the holidays are over. For now, I just need to know that you’re thinking about me.
I just noticed the pm on the clock. It should be daytime.
I think the parking lot is gone.
I’m standing on the little bit of raised concrete surrounding the store, and there’s nothing. No cars, no concrete, no sky. There’s nothing but black and the places in the black where the bodies come and go from.
They keep trampling in, and when their heavy meals and lost sleep and the effort of scrabbling over each other catches up with them, they stagger back out carrying the stuff away, but there is always more stuff.
Maybe it’s the same stuff, cycling back into the stockrooms when it touches the black, because there can’t be anywhere else for the bodies to carry it to.
This store is all there is and I am always here. I am ALWAYS here. Even when I’m with you, I’m here. I’m here or I’m going here or I’m coming from here and going back here before my break runs out, because that’s all it is when I step outside. A break.
I am always here I am always here I am always here I am always here
Are you there, Carl? Are you sleeping or doing dishes or are you finally gone too?
I’m thinking about stepping through the black to see where I end up.
Have to test it later. My break is over.