Ray Bradbury 52 SS 52 W Week 11 Attention Shoppers

Happy October folks! I’m sorry this is so late time management wasn’t on my side this month. But a spooky story to start us off on the spookiest month of all.

Strange mix of musty gasoline smells hangs in the air as I stroll past light poles across blocks as a cream color flier with loud red lettering catches my eyes.  

Attention Shoppers! Fiery Sales Event Extravaganza! 

Beginning now, prices are so low it’s a hot steal. Come and spend an eternity with us, I promise, we won’t regret it! 

Of course, the smaller print catches me more.   

Dear Rosemary Kats, 

You’ve got the job! Congratulations! You’ll be starting tonight. Come at midnight. 

The flier reads as it reveals an address to a street that looks like a wasteland with the dumpsters nearby to an empty loitered parking lot. Strange scents float through the air as I approach a dilapidated, grayish-white, peeling paint building.  

Extra large letters in red no less glowing against the backdrop of a midnight blue dotted the starry sky. As I bundle up my coat against my body tight, a rush of heat suffocates as I approach the glass doors. 

A knot began lodging in my throat as I stepped one foot across the threshold. I look inside with fear and curiosity.  

Arriving at the edge of the middle aisle, seeing an endless aisle from front to back of everything you can conceive from the vermillion floor up to a cherry-red ceiling. The knot in my throat gets worse by the minute as my pulse races as if it’d a group of greyhounds. With shooting fire beginning to twirly every which way in front and back of every aisle. A tall middle-aged gentleman steps out of a crimson-colored leather door coming in my direction. The man’s eyes flashed emeralds. This isn’t right, I whisper to myself as I turn toward the glass doors when they open with one foot outside, preparing to bolt away. 

Hello Rosemary, going somewhere? Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mr. Carmine and only Mr. Carmine. He said.

  Mr. Carmine grabs my arm as I turn to meet the gaze of his emerald eyes reflecting fire from the light of the store. If you will miss Rosemary, your shifts are just about to begin. 

Mr. Carmine’s black-red jacket stretches as their right arm passes the first cash register toward the back of the store. A claustrophobic feeling overwhelms me as I’m stumbling, trying to keep up with him. Beading sweat trickles from my frightened face, taking me over now. 

As I see fire crawling up to the ceiling and across a long grocery conveyor belt. I try to pace myself in the slowest manner possible as if I can stall for time.  

Can I ask you a few questions?  

Who’s your interior designer? I-I’d love to hire them as a decorator for my house. Hey now is that an Armani suit? Sure are delicate threads, Mr. Carmine. What is it like being a manager of the store? I mean, it must be so tedious day after day for years dealing with the stresses of the everyday employee jobs. 

My questions become more outrageous by the moment, though it doesn’t seem to phase him as Mr. Carmine never answers. We stop in front of a pepper red colored checkout booth with see through red glass surrounding it. 

My nervousness amps up even more as I start chattering incoherently about more questions. When I blurted out one question, I’d end up regretting asking.   

Um, I’m curious. Why did the previous person leave?

Leave? He uttered. 

My dear Rosemary, once I hire anyone to work here. You are here forevermore. Mr. Carmine said as his dark eyebrow raised in an almost maniacal way.  

So, my dear, dear, Rosemary, no one’s left. Because I’m sure you can understand, no one can leave here. Ever! 

I swallow hard, glancing all around me, trying to figure out a way to get out of here. When a strap wraps around my waist like a bungee cord. Now, Rosemary, if you’ll excuse me… you have work to do. 

The strap around my waist feels like fire against the polyester uniform and you guessed it. It’s red along with everything in this crazy, uneven house from, well… you know. Every time I try to get the strap to loosen, my fingers are burned and it just reappears again and again as I struggle. Something odd and sharp appears in front of me out of nowhere as I hear tapping sounds nearby. 

One worker just ahead of me to my left. It’s a magical dagger I stole from his office one day when I had been called. She said,  

Apparently, she discovered he’s easily distractible in the way of nitpicking over his appearance if you say you notice something out of place. I thought, can I do the same and maybe get out of here? 

I, however, decided against this once I discovered Mr. Carmine is right behind me. Judging by the surrounding looks, he isn’t happy. I casually turned around on the charm I had gone to when he first started. 

You know, Mr. Carmine, you never did he fill me in on where you get those nice threads. I said, smooth and coy in the hopes he’d take the bait. 

To my surprise, not only did he, but strangely enough, he decided to let me go. Fire me! Just after two hours felt more like a real eternity. Only one problem: I’m not getting thrown out the front door. There’s a funhouse trap door just underfoot. A brass lever with a skull and bones on the tip of it appears on the side of the beam that holds a red telephone. I drop down to the level below where a strange jack-in-the-box sits upon a golden table as a note lay beside it. I read the letter and before I can react to it. The jack-in-the-box pops up when no one moved the handle to it. I drop again, even lower this time. No jack-in-the-box. However, another note lies on top of a chair which teeters on top precariously on top of another chair. When a voice says, go ahead do it! Stand on it if you want to. You’ll surely stay then.  

I quickly resist with every fiber of my being as I claw my way back up the walls, three feet up and out of the trapdoor hole.  

He’s standing there above the doorway as I make my way up and extends a hand. He then leads me through the store to the front. That is now a blaze like a wild portal. I’ve decided you are no longer required. Goodbye Ms you will not be seeing us again. You, of course, can’t count on that. He gives me a sudden good hard shove through the door where I land on my butt dazed and confused. As the building glows wild colors and phases in and out of time. Disappears completely after a few minutes. 

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