- Watching the Clock
“Excuse me miss?” asked the frilly clad customer, “I’m sorry but I have a question can you please answer me!?” Octavia glared daggers at the angry Barbie wannabe screaming at her while she attempted to continue her conversation with the customer she was helping before she was so rudely interrupted. Her customer seemed uncomfortable but Octavia continued, politely ignoring the Barbie doll.
“I’m sorry,” said Octavia, “let me show you what we have for sound systems, we should be able to find one that will work for your grandpa with his hearing problem.” The woman smiled and as she allowed herself to be lead towards the speaker section and away from the rude doll like creature scowling at her.
Unfortunately, they didn’t make it far as Octavia was whipped around by a hand with overly manicured nails. “Excuse me, MISS! I’m a customer and I have a question!”
Octavia smiled politely as she replied, “Congratulations ma’am, I really thought that with all that makeup and attitude you were joking before.” The Barbie’s eyes widened in horror as she registered she had been insulted. “Oh my gosh,” Octavia said feigning concern, “you should be more careful. A question is one thing but it looks like you’re having a full blown thought, which seems dangerous given your obvious mental hindrances.”
“How Dare YOU!” screeched the mannequin, “Do You Know Who I AM!”
Octavia smiled, “Of course I do!” she reassured her, “You’re the dimwit with a rectally impacted cranium harassing the other patrons who are actually worth our time.” Before the raging fashionista could retaliate Octavia returned to the woman she had been helping. “Forgive the interruption,” she said to her original customer who was clearly trying not to laugh; “some people just need to be reminded that they’re human. Now let’s get back to helping you find what you need.” Octavia knew she would get in trouble for that encounter but honestly at this point she didn’t care. She was twenty-seven and working in sales. Everyday she considered burning the place to the ground or rubbing melted chocolate all over the changing rooms.
She hated the huge ‘one-size-fits-all’ vest that hung off her, she hated the stupid name tag that kept getting caught on her long brown braid and the steel toe shoes that hurt her feet and tore up the bottoms of her jeans.
She finally got her fifteen-minute break and went outside to get away from the drudgery and tedium that enveloped even the break room. She rubbed her green eyes as she sighed, “Why the hell am I still here?” she hadn’t expected an answer as she spoke but wasn’t surprised when one came anyway.
“Because you’re trying to blend into a world ruled by deluded apes blind to the truth around them.” The response came from a red lizard that had crawled up the wall beside Octavia.
“Hey Tinder, come to cheer me up or kick me when I’m down?” Octavia gently stroked the lizard’s back as he flicked his tongue affectionately at her.
“Oh, don’t be a sad sack,” Tinder replied, “I’m here to help remember?” It was technically true, he was her guide after all. Though most days she wished she could be like everyone else, she wished she didn’t have to constantly worry about what horror was going to mess up her day next.
“Thanks Tinder, but I doubt today is going to end well” just as the words had left her mouth she heard her manager scream.
“Octopus! Where are you!?” screeched a whiny masculine voice. Octavia sighed as she heard the footsteps approach the door beside her.
She turned to Tinder only to find him scurrying up the side of the building, “Traitor” she muttered under her breath as the door flung open revealing a four-foot-tall goblin like creature in a beige suit glaring at her. His mustache expanding and contracting as he fumed silently for a moment.
“What are you doing out here?” he snapped, “And why am I getting complaints about you ignoring and being rude to customers?”
“Sorry Mr. Grout, Octavia is off today, I’m Melanie.” She said in a higher than normal tone as she pointed at the nametag.
Mr. Grout squinted at the nametag, then blushed slightly, “Oh, I’m sorry Melanie I thought you were someone else.” Then he turned and shuffled back into the store screaming her name. He even took the time to lecture a few other peons to let him know immediately if they see her.
She sighed and checked her watch grudgingly accepting that it was time to return to work. She turned and walked back inside, being careful to avoid the management and their team of underperforming minions who would snitch simply to get a moment of attention from a deluded authority figure. She almost made it back to her department full of tall shelves, technical gadgets and convenient hiding places. Unfortunately, she knew she was spotted by the shrill “There she is Mr. Grout!”
Octavia quickly tucked her hair up and switched out her nametag for her real one as Grout and his minion stormed towards her. She turned slowly to meet them raising an eyebrow as she feigned confusion. “Do you need something boss?”
“I’ve been looking all over for you! How dare you treat our customers so poorly! I’ve had four complaints about you today alone!” he shouted. “Now explain yourself!”
“I’m over here,” She said, directing Grout’s attention away from the rack of clothing that he was currently berating. “As for the complaints, I was simply following procedure and dealing with one customer at a time in an understaffed area, dealing with the most complex array of problems of any department in this store.”
Grout’s “That is no excuse for your behavior and I will be formally writing you up for each and every…”
“I’m sorry but no.” Octavia chuckled
“Excuse me?” Grout hissed angrily.
“Well, considering that there is no physical evidence to support any of the complaints and given the fact that you just broke the law by bringing all this up in front of another staff member thereby harassing me and humiliating me in the workplace I suspect that none of those write ups,” Grout turned and glared at Lindsay who had been standing with a gloating grin until that moment. She blushed as she realized that her noisiness had just allowed Octavia a free pass for her antics. Grout whipped his attention back to Octavia; he was about to tear into her again but was cut off as she continued “So if everything is done here I’ll get back to work.”
Grout fumed at her silently for a few moments then turned on his heel and marched back towards his office as he screeched “Get Back to Work!” at anyone in ear shot.
Lindsay marched over to Octavia as soon as Grout was gone and spat, “Your tricks won’t always save you!” she stared in what she most likely thought was an intimidating fashion.
Octavia smiled and leaned in as she whispered “And when they don’t, that’s what I have you for Lindsay!” Lindsay’s face glowed red as she growled in response and stormed away.
Octavia returned to her department and hid in labyrinth of electronics, for the rest of her shift. She really did hate it here and wanted nothing more than to quit and get back to doing some real work.
“I know that look” Tinder’s reptilian voice made her jump as she was ripped out of her angry day dreams. “You’re debating putting up with this place, again aren’t you?”
“You make it sound like I ever stopped debating” she chuckled. “But don’t worry I know I’m stuck here until I complete my mission.”
The lizard made a noise that was a cross between a cough and a hiss as he laughed, “Well I don’t know if I’d call it a mission but on that note, we have a job to take care of right now.” Octavia smiled devilishly as she threw her vest behind one of the stereos. “Don’t worry,” he continued, “I’ve prepared a distraction so we can escape this pit of mediocracy and get to work.”
“Really?” asked Octavia as she pulled a round metal object from her back pocket and attached it to a nearby cupboard when no one was looking and turned it three times to the right at varying rotations until a light on the object glowed purple. She grabbed a bag and a red coat from within cupboard reclaiming the glowing disk as she closed it again. “What kind of distraction did you…” before she could finish her sentence the fire alarmed blared as smoke came from the bathrooms and one of the isles. Her eyes went wide as she looked at Tinder. “You didn’t? Not again?”
Before Tinder could answer she heard someone yell “Why Is the Toilet Paper on Fire!” as other vested employees scrambled aimlessly in a panicked attempt to deal with the flaming rolls of butt tissue.
“Old tricks are the best tricks,” Tinder mused “and besides we have a Waheela to track down before it devours the innocent or some other garbage sales pitch warning I probably should have paid more attention to.”
They made their way out of one of the emergency exits now that they needn’t worry about setting off the already blaring alarm and headed to the rear of the building where Octavia had parked her jeep. “Great! Beats putting out sales tags or listening to the tedious gossip of my coworkers. What is a Waheela anyway?” She asked as her jeep roared to life and they peeled out of the parking lot.
“From what I understand it’s an eight-foot-tall, webbed-footed, zombie-wolf that eats peoples heads whole.” Tinder educated as he hung from the passenger’s side visor. “Sounded like fun wouldn’t you agree?”
“Danm right!” said Octavia as she turned up the rock and roll, and followed a small blinking compass glued to her dashboard. It was time for another adventure.
To Be Continued…
Thanks for Reading, stay tuned for more next week as we explore deeper into a questionable reality.
- S. Figment
***Dedicating this first part to a lizard named “Skimp” and their owner for the advice*