Make the coffee, brew the tea, clean the floors, start breakfast. Every night was the same routine mixed with making nice with customers. Make the coffee, brew the tea, clean the floors, start breakfast, I could handle all of that just fine. Make nice with customers… I wasn’t so good at that.
It’s not that I’m anti-social, at least not just that. It’s mostly the quality of customers. From eleven at night until seven in the morning I make the coffee, brew the tea, clean the floors start breakfast, and refer to the dregs of society as my customers. You don’t have to be a rock star to have a drug dealer on speed dial. Turns out you can also be a clerk at an all night convenience store. I should know, I have five of them. Need to get your rocks off and you aren’t too fussyabout quality, gender, or which venereal disease you might catch, yeah I can help you with that.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to know these people. I just have to make nice with them. Some of them aren’t bad. Most of the drug dealers are personable; one of the people with questionable morals is actually hilarious. Still I think my life would be enriched without them. Sad to say though, those people are some of the highlights of my nights. I get my share of crazies, drunks, meth heads, potheads, and just about other head filled with whatever drug you wish to see. I see welfare abusers, spouse abusers, and child abusers. I’m not positive but I believe I at least have one rapist and one serial killer that I see almost every night.
The best part of my night was when a cop would come in. I’d give them free coffee, never a donut, maybe a free hot dog if I hadn’t cleaned the grill yet and we’d talk while my normal business dropped off a cliff. It seems the various criminals I see nightly don’t like to share the same space as a cop. Too bad for them I guess.
This night was the same as any other. I had made coffee, finished the teas, and was starting on the floors when a customer shuffled in. It was a shuffle I was accustomed to, the one where the person’s brain is barely in remote contact with their feet and legs. This long distance communication results in a walk that is half step, half slide with a pause to make sure they are in fact on stable ground. Sometimes the signal goes astray resulting in a stumble but normally it was just a brainless shuffle that drew an eye roll from me. Just another drunk to interrupt my routine and slow me down.
I don’t actually dislike my job. I like the routine, I like how clean the store looks when I’ve finished and the compliments I receive from the normal that come early in the morning on their way to their normal jobs. Sometimes I wish they would offer me a job so I could leave with them. Instead, I come back night after night and deal with the great unwashed. Like this brainless mass shuffling his way towards me.
His dress is pretty standard fair for those that have given up on life and know they are just waiting to die. Torn jacket supporting the local sports team, unless they have started digging after they hit rock bottom, then it’s whatever jacket they could get from the local shelter. Always dirty, his hands are black and gnarled. His hair is rumpled, I’m sure he was vaguely aware of what a brush was but knew as much about using it as I do about launching a rocket to mars. His previously white shirt is now the varied color of many food stains. I like to call it slob tie dying. A couple of fresh red stains tell me he was recently eating something with ketchup. His eyes are glassy and red, the pupils so large I can’t make out what color they should be. Slowly he shuffles closer his eyes on the cigarettes behind me.
I can hear a sound coming from him; it makes me think of a motor boat trying to blurbleits way through mud. The last time I heard a noise like that I ended up mopping the walls of our bathroom after a drunk performed what had to have been a spectacular Technicolor yawn. I hoped this guy wouldn’t do a repeat performance. If I hurried, he’d get out of the store and I could get back to work.
When I first started, I would’ve tried smiling at him. At this point, I couldn’t even fake the smile and I knew he didn’t really see me yet anyway so why waste the effort. I just stood at my register waiting for this blob to slowly work its way to my counter.
I could smell him long before he reached me. The air around him became at least ninety proof with alcohol breath, his body odor was mixture of salty musk-ox and a strange decaying smell that I normally associated with the meth addicts rotting from the inside out. I had to make a concentrated effort to breathe through my mouth and hope my nose would blink out of existence.
He raised his hand as he got to my counter. His mouth was moving but nothing except the blurbling noise came out. He was pointing at me so I assumed he wanted one of the cigars directly behind me. I turned to start trying to figure out which one my mind wandering back to my routine.
Make the coffee, brew the tea, clean the floors, start breakfast. His fingers dug into my Adam’s apple as he pulled me across the counter. I started flailing against his impossibly strong grip. A warm wetness started flowing from neck and I knew he had drawn blood. My back slammed into the dirty floors, I hadn’t gotten to clean them yet, and the wind was knocked out of me.
This unwashed maniac was on me before I could do draw a breath. His teeth tore into my neck my scream cut off in a bubbling rush of blood. Suddenly I was up at the ceiling watching this drunk eat into my neck. My body was jerking and my blood was spreading out on the tiles of the floor.
Make the coffee, brew the tea, get eaten by a zombie… I guess tonight wasn’t routine after all.
This work was written by Dustyn McCormick as original web-fiction submitted to the Spellhawks Supernatural Horror webfiction contest!
For more of Dustyn’s work visit his facebook page:
Or follow his twitter: