The Supermarket Experience
by Cameron Barrett
A man in an ice cream suit and red bow tie walked down the street swinging his arms and whistling an evil tune. Above him, in the ratty apartment in the dirty building there was a couple. They were not an exceptional couple, but they made do with what they had. What they had was not much; he was an out-of-work carpenter and she was from a well-off family. Too proud to ask for money and too poor to have nice clothes, they lived each day to its fullest, smiling when God brought the sun up in the morning. What kept them alive was love; the love they shared they shared with God, exclaiming his name out loud in the passionate nights. They lived off each other, asking for nothing more than to be together. It was a beautiful kind of love. Not much has ever been said about how they met, and one can see why after the true has been told. Strange stories are almost always the best kind, and the truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.
I was just doing his shopping when it started. It was an an ordinary day and I was feeling a little down. I threw a bag of dried pasta into my cart and rounded the corner. I almost ran smack into an old guy pushing a cart down the aisle. What struck me as odd was his cart was full of pickled pigs feet and deviled ham. He must have nearly cleaned them out, I thought. I started to apologize but he was gone before I could say a word. I saw him go down a couple aisles and he was whistling a funny tune. One of those weird little ones you make up in the shower by splicing bits of TV theme songs together. I stopped what I was doing and watched him pass by this girl. I stopped watching him and kept my eyes on her. She was gorgeous. Her long brown hair fell down her back as she reached up for a box of frozen dinner entrees. She put them in her cart and looked back up at the hole she had created in the shelf. Her eyes opened wide and I saw her faint and fall to the floor. I rushed over to help but was immediately frozen in my tracks by what I saw. Behind the boxes of pot pies and the bags of frozen vegetables was the most remarkable thing I have ever seen. Protruding from a rough layer of green skin and yellowish forehead was a large, white eye. I stared at it and my jaw dropped. It stared back and blinked. By now several people had gathered and helped the brown-haired girl to her feet. It didn't take long before the crowd started to rip apart the shelves looking for the rest of the lost world. What they found was the equivalent of Atlantis, only that death and decay had set in and the creatures of our past had expired. It was called the find of the century and was in all of the newspapers and on all of the news stations for weeks. Scientists from all of the top universities came and tore down Ray's Food Market, excavating the remains of our ancestors' world. What a find they said. Truly a marvelous find all would exclaim. I left the store that day with the girl who had discovered Atlantis. We dated a few times and fell in love. Hard. So hard that it hurt. We named our first child Atlantis and our second Utopia. Five years later something else happened that changed our lives forever.
We were camping out at the lake last summer. You know, the one out near the old Indian burial grounds. It was me and my girlfriend and two of our friends. We were having a great time; drinking, laughing, toasting marshmallows, drinking some more… I went to bed early because I was feeling tired from all of the days activities, not to mention my nymphomaniac girlfriend. Four times today, four! I drifted off to sleep listening to the cackle of the fire and the sound of my best friend trying to seduce my girlfriend. I woke up screaming with a terrible pounding in my ear. I could feel an itching inside my head and a scratching sound that seemed to come from the inside of my ear. Instinctively, I stuck a finger in my ear and tried to remove whatever it was that had crawled in. Something inside my head made a dull thud. I heard ringing and a high pitched tone that was deafening. I covered my ears with my hands and screamed for help. At the hospital, the doctors and the nurses strapped my head to the table. All I could see was a nurse in a green uniform handing the doctor tools. She handed him a very long pair of tweezers with flexible grips. With these he extracted what would be called the find of the century. As he pulled the object free and held it up to the light, all I saw was the nurse's eyes go big and fall to the floor. What the doctor removed from my ear that day was…well, how do I describe it? A cross between an earwig and a tiny little human. A new breed of insect. An insect with limbs and intelligence. The scientists went out to out campsite and tore up the ground. What they found was a whole colony of these miniature creatures. After weeks of study they determined that these insects lived off of brain matter, mostly that of dead animals. What I felt that night was one scout extracting a sample of my brain tissue for analysis. The scientists said that the colony was very old and may be alien in nature. Probably one million years. I left the hospital in a wheelchair. Standard practice they said, just sit still. Often now, I tug at my ear to rid myself of that tickling feeling.
I threw another bag of frozen carrots into my cart and closed the distance between me and the girl with the beautiful brown hair. I reached for the same box of vegetable pasta at exactly the same time she did. I pulled back and she gave me a smile. I smiled back and the rest is history. We left Ray's Food Market together passing an old man in an ice cream suit and red bow tie whistling an evil tune.