Suggested Audio Candy
Goblin “Dawn of the Dead”
I’m done with bright ideas. Every time I have one of these light bulb moments and plan a little break away it all goes south and I’m left with egg on my sorry face. Texas seemed like a doozy of a plan in theory and I barely made it out of there by the skin of my teeth. It’s time to think a little out of the box, find a stomping ground which doesn’t play host to the dregs of humanity, somewhere I can just kick back. Retail therapy, that’s the answer. I’ve been told that shopping is the best tonic in such situations and it’s been far too long since I’ve treated myself. Therefore I have drawn out a wad of cash and I fully intend on buying myself some short-term happiness.
I’m not a big fan of shopping if truth be known. Ordinarily I do my level best to avoid such places as logic tends to fly out the window when folk are searching for bargains. Let’s not get it twisted, I can spend moolah like the next man but I’m the guy who knows what he wants. I enter any store with tunnel vision, fully intending to grab my purchase, get it bagged and skedaddle before the queues go off the chain. It’s others that are the problem and they fall into three distinct groups: the oblivious family unit, the obnoxious teens and the shufflers. Allow me to elaborate on each in turn.
The oblivious family unit is a fearsome thing. They ordinarily consist of mommy bear, daddy bear and two, maybe three baby bears. Ma and pa have usually been married for a number of years and have run out of common interests. Mommy bear then drags the reluctant daddy bear around the nearest shopping center looking for a new pair of pumps for one of the brats. Daddy bear grumbles consistently and has no interest in getting the kids’ feet measured for the umpteenth time. He just wants to be in the local tavern, knocking back cheap ale and comparing fart patterns with fellow daddy bears who just want a little quiet time away from their respective broods.
Mommy bear has the bit between her teeth, there’s three potential purchases, all of which appear to offer the correct level of ankle support and there’s only three bucks between them in price. Maybe just a few more stores, after all, a child’s footwear is not something to take lightly. What both ma and pa bears don’t appear to grasp is that their little hellions are running amok, riding their tricycles into unsuspecting shoppers ankles and generally tearing shit up. They don’t want to be there, a five-year-old doesn’t give a flying monkey about shoes. Yet their parents are so wrapped up in exchanging daggers and making one another feel guilty that they negate attention while their shitty little spawn cause cataclysm.
The teens are just as bad. All of them are in a state of confusion; hormones are raging, balls dropping, voices breaking, ova plummeting and pustules bursting. They’re a fucking mess, I know as I was one of these vile buggers and I know exactly how their minds work. None of them have got any cash, they don’t have any intention of making a purchase. They’re only there to make a general nuisance of themselves, engage in a little theft and congregate in the nearby food court while they work out how to spark a riot. One way in which this can be achieved is by pestering the elderly. That’s right, geriatrics are their kryptonite and the two groups love nothing more than doing battle in the middle of a bustling center.
It’s a territory thing, the old grizzled war veterans have grown a tad bitter, kidneys are failing, knee replacements faltering and currency changing too fast for them to keep up. They have seen so much, been to so many places and suffered so many heartbreaks that, in their mind, they’re entitled to own the joint. Place them in a crowded mall with a group of adolescents and you’re asking for trouble. Kids have their own concerns, who cares if you took a piece of shrapnel in your kneecap at Dunkirk, the new Katy Perry CD is out today and it’s devilishly catchy. Can you see the dilemma? Pitting these two together is only ever going to yield disaster, it’s like dropping a Nazi war criminal off a bar mitzvah, an utter waste of everyone’s time.
This brings me to the shufflers and I’ve left these nomadic numbskulls until last for a distinct reason. You see, the mall I have chosen for my expedition is chock full of these dick weeds. The shuffler represents everyone in between, those with nothing behind the eyes. Meandering lost souls with no intention, no game plan, no fucking clue. They move their arthritic joints at a rate of knots so depressingly pedestrian that it appears they’re trundling on the spot. Keeper finds himself weaving in and out of these dead heads, attempting to navigate the horde but halted at every turn by another shuffler stopping in front of you to tie their laces without any awareness for the obstruction they cause.
Right now I’m in shuffler central, the place is packed from wall-to-wall with these wastes of oxygen and I’m getting the ache, despite my lengthy fuse. I still have three stores to visit before I can even think about fleeing but everywhere I turn there’s another cadaver slowing me down. I’m finding them a little bitey too, one just lunged at me and sank his teeth into my left arm. It was a good thing it wasn’t my right arm as I like that one a little more but still I am less than amused. No apology, no acknowledgement of my disdain, just blank staring dead eyes which reflect desolation. In other words, just your typical shuffling shoppers.
If that isn’t enough to make a man shed tears of milk then the music pumping out of the tannoy system will have the lactose gushing. I get that the owners of this multifaceted hell hole are trying to create an environment conducive to shopping but they’re going about it all wrong. There’s a good reason why elevator music exists, it’s there for those fleeting moments of discomfort when you share a limited space with folk who you ordinarily wouldn’t mingle with. Flatulent old geezers, pernickety mothers and their badly reared offspring, three good reasons not to want to take the elevator, even for just a few moments. Add to the melting pot audio which is designed only to grate and the escalator suddenly seems far more appealing.
I’m not alone here either, aside from the hundreds upon hundreds of mindless drooling consumers there’s a gang of rowdy bikers also sharing the space. Admittedly they are just as disapproving of the droves as I but they just draw unwanted attention to themselves and me. It’s okay for them, riding about smashing shit up and generally causing a furor, but when they decide to bolt it is Keeper who ends up picking up the pieces. They ride around on their Harleys wrecking havoc without a single care in the world, upsetting the natural order and without any intention of making a purchase. Any attempts to reason with them invariably fall flat but their short stay is over as soon as it begins and once more I am left alone to fend off the crowds.
A handful of the more resourceful shufflers have commandeered shopping trolleys and this, in itself, is hazardous in the extreme. In my most sober state I cannot navigate one of these death chariots but, in the hands of a marauding zombie, they’re just plain lethal. As if I haven’t got enough to worry about with my arm becoming infected, I also have to evade all manner of these misdirected driving school drop-outs as they bid to remove the flesh from my ankles with each sudden jolt. It’s like Shogun Assassin out here, not the relaxing break I had planned by a long chalk.
Maybe I should wake up Bonus Brain, he can be rather short with me when woken abruptly but things are escalating at an alarming pace and I have a pocketful of Best Buy vouchers which ain’t spending themselves. He was up into the early hours last night, playing solo air hockey and blasting out Reggae at a less than hospitable rate of decibels. Whilst I can appreciate that mine is the last face he desires to see first thing in the afternoon, it’s my noggin he resides within rent free and nobody is holding a gun to his head. I’m sure there are other bonces he could use as his personal knocking shop and, if it weren’t for the fact that he squeezes out the occasional nugget of wisdom, I’d have had his bags packed for him months back.
“You wanna get that arm looked at boy. If you don’t then it’s gonna get pretty bad for you, fairly quickly” was his opening retort and he then proceeded to pull the covers back over his head and give me the cold shoulder. I have to admit, since that abrasion began to ooze green pus, I have felt a little peckish myself. Maybe I’ll grab a Nando’s just to fill a gap as shopping on an empty stomach is never the way to go. The problem is, my right leg has locked up with cramp and it’s hard getting about when you’ve got to drag your uncooperative foot up three flights of stairs. Those bikers are starting to look increasingly like meal tickets, most of them have perished but there’s still a few stragglers mincing around in the arcade. I wonder if they’d donate a little of that moreish flesh. It can hardly be considered cannibalism, after all, I only intend to nibble.
No dice. By the time I had shuffled down the escalator it was little more than an exercise in bone-licking. My mother always taught me that sharing is caring but there’s not a spare rib in sight. I’ve had my fill of shopping and the only thing left to do now is to make my way to the heliport and hope somebody gets my distress signal. I should have known better than to come out on the first day of the sales and, one thing is for damned sure, I’ll be doing my shopping online from now on. It pains me to say that as I’m from the old school of thought where the words add to basket have an entirely different meaning but this is getting me nowhere fast.
Bonus Brain is beginning to get a little twitchy. I’ve never seen him like this, normally anything bogus is water from a duck’s back with him but right now he’s locked himself away and won’t come out. Maybe if I call out loud enough he will have a change of heart so here goes. “Braiiins!” Nothing, he’s abandoned me. What a bastard, after all we’ve been through, all the folly we’ve shared, margaritas supped together and wild nights of reckless abandonment necessitated. Now he’s treating me like a leper. Thanks a bunch BB, it’s good to know where your priorities lay. I’ll give him one last chance to redeem himself. “Braiiins!” Just as I thought, he’s a yellow-bellied git that one.
It’s all immaterial anyway. You see, a chopper is hovering above as we speak, ready for evac. I’ll cover my septic arm as I don’t wish to cause a fuss. Just a few more shuffles and I’m on easy street once more. It won’t be long before I’m back in my homestead and, when this occurs, I shall be having some stern words with Bonus Brain let me tell you. Actually it can wait until tomorrow, I’m famished and may just head out for a bite to eat first.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014