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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)

TITLE: End of the World
By Leah Nichols
08/22/12


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Bleep. Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

Angie smiles, makes light conversation, laughs appropriately when someone says something funny.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

Most times the items are normal grocery items. Bread. Eggs. Milk. Chicken.

Bleep. Bleep.

Sometimes the customer looks away as Angie scans the item. Tampons. Foot fungus cream. Gas-X.

Bleep.

"Can I see your I.D.?" Angie does not bother guessing if someone is over twenty-one. The sign says they card anyone appearing under forty. Most women love it. "Oh, do I really look that young?" They hand over the card proudly.

Bleep. Bleep.

"Mommy, can we get this?" Angie wishes parents would leave their children at home. Kids cause the most disruptions at the cash register, except for the crazy coupon ladies. Angie wishes they would leave their coupons at home.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

"Earth to Angie."

Angie shakes her head. "Sorry, Bruce. I was thinking of sleeping all night without a single 'bleep' in my dreams." She laughs nervously. She should appreciate her job.

Bruce pushes up his coke-bottle glasses. "You dream of 'bleeps'?"

"I've got to get out of this place. I can't stand the monotony." Angie frowns. "You've been here forever, Bruce. How do you stay sane?"

"Dude. I can't work anywhere else. I wouldn't want to, either."

Angie folds her arms and faces him directly. "Why?"

"End of the world." Bruce grins. "Got the safest place when it happens. I'm here like every night, working, so I'm ready anytime."

"What are you talking about?" Angie laughs.

Bruce gestures toward the back of the store. "We've got everything here. Food, water, flashlights, iPods. When it happens we'll be able to bunk down and ration it all out."

"Until the people riot, break into the store and kill you for batteries." Angie rolls her eyes. "Why you so concerned about the end of the world anyways? That's so 1950s."

"Like you would know, Miss I-Was-A-Baby-In-The-Nineties." Bruce scoots back behind his register as two customers approach.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

"Mommy, can we go home yet?" Angie tightens her lips as the mother shoves a banana into the preschooler's hand. The child grips her blanket and stares up at Angie's curls.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

Angie wonders why parents bring their children shopping after midnight. The cart fills with bags of flour, beans, rice.

Bleep. Bleep.

"They get it."

"What?" Angie stares at Bruce as the family heads toward the door.

Bruce leans closer. "End of the world, Angie. End of the world. Except they won't get murdered over batteries. They probably have guns in their house anyways to guard their supplies."

Angie rolls her eyes again and turns away. "Whatever, Bruce. Buy up your emergency kit. I don't need much."

She thinks of the bag in her locker. One item, purchased quickly, with her looking away and not at the cashier. She did not buy it at Thrifty's.

Bleep.

"Can I see your I.D.?" He holds it out, and Angie glances at the date on the card.

The finely dressed young man takes his 12-pack case of beer and wanders away.

"He's ready too," Bruce says, and snickers. "He may not have all the right supplies, but he'll be happy."

"Beer doesn't make you happy. It only makes you stupid," Angie retorts.

"Speaking from experience?"

Angie turns away. Speaking from experience. What else can a girl do for fun on her night off?

Bleep. Bleep.

Angie welcomes the break from the conversation. Chips, salsa, cookies. Snack foods.

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

"Do you like your job?" Carly, the night nurse at the nursing home across the street, makes light conversation.

Angie smiles. "I'm sure it's not as interesting as yours."

Carly laughs. "Sometimes I think I'd welcome a mundane task."

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

"Enjoy the rest of your night," Angie says. She wishes she could escape the monotony, but perhaps she never will.

On her break she opens her locker. Stares at the sealed package. With a sigh, she takes it to the bathroom.

"Please, God, if you're there..."

Angie rarely prays.

* * * * *

Bleep. Bleep. Bleep.

"Earth to Angie."

Angie shakes her head again. "Sorry, Bruce. Daydreaming again."

"Thinking about the end of the world?" Bruce snickers.

Bleep. Bleep.

Angie thinks about the two pink lines in the bathroom.

Bleep.

"Yeah, the end of the world."


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This article has been read 339 times
Member Comments
Member Date
CD Swanson 08/24/12
This was a very clever and interesting entry...great imagination! I really enjoyed it.

God bless~
Danielle King 08/25/12
Well this is certainly different. I like the way you added the beep, beep, beeps. I was with the poor girl sitting at the checkout bored out of her head. It moved along well to the dreaded testing kit, but I'd never guessed what the package was until the last line. And she didn't seem over keen on other people's kids so yup, everything tied in well. Great job!
Allison Egley 08/25/12
Oh, I like this. I kept wondering what she had in her bag.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/26/12
I love this story. Having read most of them this week, I really appreciate the POV from the clerk. Many stories are about the unpleasant job of shopping not clerking. My heart lunged for the MC. I remember discovering I was pregnant at 18 and thought it was the end of the world too. Now I know it was just the beginning of the most wonderful life ever- being a mom. :)
Myrna Noyes08/26/12
Very interesting, clever, and well-written! I really felt for the poor checker at the end.
lynn gipson 08/26/12
WoW! This is really good, I could read on,like the beginning of a very good book. Loved it...thanks

God Bless