Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Horror Story :

"Terror at the Mini-Mart"

"Do you take checks?"

"I'm sorry, sir, no checks." He felt a sudden tightness in his chest, the first hints of a panicky fear. Oh please, no.

"Credit Card?"

"No, sir. Cash Only, I'm afraid." The tightness became a vise around his ribs, crushing against his heart. He gulped once, then twice, and with a trembling hand, drew out his wallet and fished out a couple of bills.

"How much was it again?" he asked quietly, dreading the answer.

"$2.35"

The vise slammed shut, and a blackness descended over him. He handed her two "ones". The third remained pinched between his trembling fingers. She tugged, then she pulled, but the last dollar wouldn't come free. "Uhm, sir? I still need 35 more cents."

His breath was coming in short, desperate gasps, and his hand was shaking convulsively. "FINE!" he yelled. "FINE! JUST TAKE IT!!" He threw the dollar bill at her, grabbed the handles of the plastic bag holding his half-gallon of milk, and spun away from the counter, lurching towards the door. He had to escape the voice, had to get away before she said it...said what he knew, just KNEW was coming. He staggered towards the automatic door, the heels of his hands crushed against his ears, the carton of milk still clutched in his fist slamming painfully against his chest with each stumbling step. Don't say it....please dear god don't saaaayyy iiiiiittt!

"Sir!" she called out from behind the counter. "Sir? Your change! You forgot your change!"

There it was. There was no escaping it now. Well, maybe....maybe..."Just keep it! It's fine!" he called back over his shoulder.

"Sir! No, I can't. Here...!" She was coming. Why wouldn't she just let it go? She was out from behind the counter now, pursuing him, relentlessly. The doors! There they were. They slid apart like the gates of Heaven, and he ran through them like a damned soul pardoned from Hell. "Sir!? Wait!"
The huntress after her prey.

The heat from the parking lot slammed into his chest like the fist of an angry god. It was strangely welcome, as it meant he was out of the store, closer to safety. His car was just a few steps away. He fumbled frantically with the keys, cursing in frustration when his shaking, panicky fingers couldn't seem to grab the right one. Then he was there, the car, his haven, his sanctuary. He could hear her footsteps coming closer, faster, the heavy tread of the Grim Reaper. The key skipped across the lock face once, then twice. Damnit! Finally it slid home and he jerked the door open, threw the milk into the passenger seat and nearly leapt behind the wheel, pulling the door shut behind him. "Siiirrr!" She was there, at the car, banging on the window with...with...IT clutched tightly in her fist. Only a thin piece of glass between him and that terrible evil he could never seem to escape . He jammed down on the powerlock button so hard his finger stung, but the reassuring "thunk" of the locks engaging filled him with such relief that he quickly forgot the pain. He stared straight ahead, his hands gripping the steering wheel so hard his knuckles glowed white. Leave me alone leave me alone leave me alone, he muttered over and over in his head.

"Sir, I can't keep this. Here." Her hand was extending, slim and pale, like a claw from some skeletal apparition, the fingers slowly opening like the petals of some poisonous flower. No..no..NOOOOOO!

He felt his head turn as if of its own volition. His eyes locked onto her palm, the horrible sight revelealed there burning into his mind. His eyes filled with tears -- he wouldn't escape this time. Sometimes he did, sometimes there was a tip jar, sometimes he was fast enough to get away, but not this time.

She stood there, staring at him with that concerned yet confused look they so often had. She meant no harm. She didn't know.

Slowly, his left hand relaxed its death grip on the wheel, and moved slowly, hesitantly to the button for the power windows. With a sobbing sigh of resignation, he exerted the small amount of downward pressure that would bring him face to face with his nemesis. With the brokeness of a man facing a firing squad, he extended his own hand next to hers. Tears streamed down his face as she turned her slim, fragile hand upwards and slid the two quarters, a dime, and a nickle into his own clammy palm. They burned against his skin like hot coals, little silver disks of loathing.

"Sir? Sir? What's wrong? What's the matter?" It wasn't her fault. She meant well, she was only doing her job. So kind, yet so unknowingly cruel.

The words came out as whispers, croaked from a parched, aching throat across dry, quivering lips. "Can't...can't you..." He paused, took a breath, and continued. "...can't you t-t-tell?"

Her innoncent young face took on such a puzzled look. "Can't I tell what?" she asked.

He looked into her unworldly blue eyes for an eternal instant, and in a voice heavy with anguish, spat out his terrible, shameful secret. "Can't you tell?" he asked pleadingly, paused, and then, there it was.

"I'm...I'm frightened of change."