A figure emerged from under a mountain of towels, rising up like a wave. It plucked a Ben 10 towel off its head and threw it to the ground. The figure arched its shoulders back and twisted its slender form. Its silicone face glared in a scowl. The figure’s gnarled nose stuck out sharply and lengthy brown hair flew down the back of its head. Twinkling green eyes glared behind the holes in the figure’s face.
“Jesus, I think I’ve got cramp.” A sharp female voice came from the figure.
A pile of linen lay undisturbed a few metres away. Suddenly the pile burst up skyward. A second figure jumped out of the pile while the sheets rose in the gush of air, eventually landing and covering the floor in all directions.
The new figure’s face was even more horrifying than the one before it. Its voice was gruff.
“The store closed an hour ago Maureen. What were you waiting for?”
Maureen carefully stepped out of the pile of towels. “The cleaners, John.” she said mockingly. “But maybe they come in the morning.”
“So we’re good to go then? You hit the jewellery, while I take on the electronics,” John pulled at the ends of his black gloves.
“Oh really, I get jewellery ‘cos I’m the girl?” Maureen began to prance around daintily.
“Shut up, you know you love your goddamn earrings,” John barked. He was growing agitated.
Maureen walked off in the direction of the jewellery section muttering to herself. “Loud-mouthed.. mother..fu..”
John marched over the strewn sheets and towels leaving light boot prints in their wake.
Maureen made it to the other side of the store and double checked the big red sign that hung from the expansive ceiling; JEWELLERY.
“Yip, that’s the one.”
A row of glass cabinets lay before her. Maureen saw a pair of sparkling diamond earrings blinking at her from under the glass. Still staring at the earrings as if they might scatter with any sudden movement, Maureen carefully pulled a crowbar from under her shirt, tucked into her jeans. Gloved fingers sealed their grip around the hilt of the crowbar. Maureen slowly raised it above her head, shielding her masked face with her left arm as she brought the crowbar crashing down into the cabinet. Most of the glass simply fell down into the cabinet, showering the jewellery in reflective shards of various sizes.
"You’re mine now my pretties,” Maureen cooed. Switching the crowbar into her other hand, Maureen reached into the cabinet and clasped onto the open earring box. She brought it up to her face, right up close, and simply smiled underneath the scowl of the mask, admiring the way they sparkled.
Maureen sharply recoiled as she heard a metal clang not too far from her position.
“John, is that you?” Maureen said knowingly. “You come to apologise?” She looked around her for the origin of the noise.
“Why don’t you come out and stop trying to scare me?”
The noise happened again, and then several more in quick succession.
Maureen feels a cold hand at her shoulder. She shakes it off and jumps back.
“John? You bastard.” Maureen gasped in shock, breathing shallowly.
“What, did I scare you?” John smirked.
“How were you making that noise?”
“You know what I mean. The clanging of metal.”
The noise sounded off again in the distance.
“Yes, that one.” Maureen said relieved, until the pair realised that the noise wasn’t anywhere near them.
“You did hear that right?” Maureen tried to wipe away the sweat from her brow.
“Don’t take off the mask, the cameras will identify you.” John barked.
“I wasn’t going to. What is making that noise?”
“It’s probably just a rat or something.”
“A rat? Making that sound? What, are its feet made out of nails?” Maureen teased.
“You heard it, it’s definitely coming from somewhere in the store, ground level.”
John pulled out a handgun tucked into the back of his jeans.
“You’re not going to shoot it are you?” Maureen was taken aback.
“Relax, if there is someone in here with us we need to make sure it won’t go ringing any po-lice.”
“It’s called coercion”.
John walked off in search of the noise. “Stay behind me,” John half barked, half whispered.
“Don’t need to tell me twice, I’m not going in front of you when you’re packing.”
John and Maureen walked carefully through the store, passing by the racks of men’s shirts and trousers.
The noise sounded again. It was closer this time.
John held the gun with two hands, pointing it down every aisle they came across.
A rustling sounded from the next aisle. John shrunk up to the corner and froze. He stuck his head around the corner and peered down the darkened aisle. A mess of random bits and pieces lay on the floor down the far end. The clanging happened again and John could see that the noise was coming from a dark space in the shelf right next to the pile of junk.
“You come out now or I shoot,” John shouted down the narrow space, trying to keep his composure.
The clanging stopped. But nothing emerged.
Maureen had poked her head around the corner now too. John made his way around the corner and down the aisle. His gun pointed at the darkened space.
“I’m warning you,” John spat.
Something came flying from out of the shelf hitting John in the leg. Instinctively he fired the gun several times into the opening.
“John! What the fuck!?” Maureen screamed, sprinting down the aisle.
John looked down at his feet to see an opened jar of salsa that had splashed down his leg.
He reached into the shelf and pulled out a limp body. The body of a boy, no older than ten.
Maureen gasped and John stumbled backwards when he noticed the victim of his gunshots. A bullet had entered the boy’s chest, and blood was now soaking up his shirt. The boy’s fingers and lower face were covered in corn chip residue and salsa. His eyes slowly closed.
“Jesus. What have you done?” Maureen dropped her crowbar to the floor.
“I… I…” John ripped off his mask and looked up to the camera at the end of the aisle.
Inside a security room on one of the small televisions was the pale face of a man floating among the wreckage of the food aisle. Its deep brown eyes sparkled full of tears. This new face was even more horrifying than the one before it.