Groceries For Brunch

“Ok, I need ham, eggs, bread, milk and bell peppers.” I mumbled to myself.

I was scrolling through my grocery app looking for the items I would need for Sunday brunch. I was responsible for the biscuits but I was going to bring a casserole as well. I was missing some key ingredients mainly all of them. Speaking out loud helped me concentrate so I could remember the items I need. I could have gone to the store but with my day being as busy as it is I just don’t have the time or the energy.

“I already have the flour and butter but do I have the strawberry jam?” I close my eyes and try to remember the contents of my pantry. In my mental picture I can see honey but jam of any flavor is not coming to mind.

“Well, I guess you can never have too much jam.” I say to myself as I select the strawberry jam in my app. I set the delivery time for after I get home from work and place the order with a few taps.

I continue on with my workday putting out the fires that inevitably crop up but nothing really out of the ordinary happens. I have a good paying job but not a job I am passionate about. I gave up passion in my 20s for stability. It was the safer choice some say the boring choice. I found passion left my wallet and stomach empty. My stomach being the more important of the two. I would rather be boring and full instead of passionate and starving. Bohemia, I found, was not the lifestyle for me.

My workday ends at 5 o’clock in the evening. I drive home in rush hour traffic, the 20 min drive stretching out to 2 hours due to a wreck along my regular route. It always seems to go that way. I need to do something after work but events seem to always work against me.

I get home a little before 7 o’clock and see that the groceries I ordered are sitting by my apartment door. I see two paper bags which is odd since I didn’t order enough groceries to fit into more than one. I grab both bags and they seem heavier than they I thought they should. They are stapled shut so I can’t see the contents, I just hope the driver got some of my order correct.

I enter my one bedroom apartment and take off my shoes. I set the bags on the breakfast bar in the kitchen. It’s a small but adequate affair. The stove and the sink are situated by each other and there is more storage space than what I need for my single lifestyle.

Before I open the bags I go into the bedroom and get out of my work clothes. Suits and ties are nice but not really something you can relax in. I put on my gray sweats and my favorite T-shirt from an 80s cartoon about a group of colorful super hero teddy bears. Since I lived alone there was no one to judge my questionable taste in lounge wear.

I go back into the kitchen to put away the groceries. I open the first bag and almost immediately know that my order is wrong. It was the smell coming from the bag. I could smell raw meat and blood. I looked inside the bag and I saw butcher paper and a plastic container full of a thick liquid with darker chunks of something floating in it. I open the container and find it is actually blood and the darker chunks are liver.

Seeing what was in the container, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to find out what was in the butcher paper but curiosity got the better of me. I reached in and pulled out an item that was much larger than I expected. I pulled the brown paper back and saw a pair of eyes looking back at me. I dropped the paper immediately and scurried away as fast and as far as I could in the small apartment kitchen.

Initially my brain couldn’t process what I saw. I thought it was human eyes looking back at me but that obviously had to be wrong. The bags came from a grocery store for god’s sake. Steeling myself I opened the paper again and could see that the eyes are staring at me from some animals skinned head. The muscles and sinew exposed and the mouth looking like it was stuck in a perpetual grin. I unfortunately recognize the head as one from a goat. I had spent Christmas with my now ex and his Latino family. One of their traditions was to bake a goats head and the patriarch of the family got to eat the eyes. Being raised in a typical middle class family this disturbed me more than a little. But as they say to each their own and it was an experience I was not likely to ever forget.

Laughing at myself for my overactive imagination I looked at the bottom of the first bag and could see nothing else. I rewrapped the animal head and put it back in the bag. I made sure the lid was securely put on the plastic container of blood and liver and placed it in the bag as well.

A little more nervous than I was initially I opened the next bag hoping it contained my order. I had a sinking feeling that the driver accidentally gave me someone else’s order but I wouldn’t know until I looked. Taking a deep breath I looked inside the second bag and as I opened it I let out my breath slowly when I saw the innocuous items inside.

“ That was anti climatic.” I mumble to myself. The bag contained a couple of bottles of sun block 100 SPF, an extra large dog collar and 1 tube of toothpaste and a various cleaning supplies.

“What in the world?” I mumbled to myself.

My thoughts try to find any discernible reason for this mish mash of items. The cleaning supplies and toothpaste are easily explained away. They probably just ran out. The dog collar and sun screen were a little more of an enigma. For one it was the middle of Fall so sunscreen isn’t what one would call a must have item. Maybe they were using the sun block as moisturizer. Who doesn’t like to smell like a tropical drink in the middle of Fall?

I don’t know what emergency would require a dog collar to have to be bought from a grocery store. Who even knew that grocery stores carried dog collars let along extra large ones. A pet store probably sold them cheaper so it must have been some weird kind of emergency. Maybe it is a sex thing.

An emergency sex thing. Probably not.

I obviously I had the wrong order. Hopefully I could get this rectified. Brunch wouldn’t be ruined. It was just Thursday so I had plenty of time to get what I needed but it would have been nice to get grocery shopping off my mind.

I pulled up the delivery app on my phone and called customer service. They confirmed I got the wrong order. Luckily my order was given to someone else in my building. The customer service rep said that the driver could come back out and correct the delivery or they could give my contact info to the customer with my order and we could arrange the exchange our selves. I opted for choice two just so I could get this done and over with.

A couple of minutes later I get a phone call and hear a young and deep voice on the other end.

He says “Hello, I am Clive I believe I have your groceries. ”

I respond “Hello Clive, I am Oliver and I sure hope you have my order. I don’t think I can make Sunday brunch from what is in your bags.”

The silence on the other end was a little too long. It was broken by a quiet chuckle. “Well we can’t have Sunday brunch ruined. What do you say we switch our orders back?”, he said with a tinge of humor in his voice.

I immediately respond in the affirmative and give him my apartment number. I put Clive’s groceries back in the second bag and tried to pack them as nicely as I could. Even though Clive knew I looked inside the bags already, I didn’t want it to look like I had.

10 mins later my doorbell rang. I go to the door and look through the peephole. I see a young man in his 20s with tousled blond hair and an athletic build. He was holding a brown paper bag on his hip. I open the door and smile. It could only be Clive.

After I opened the door, I greet the young man. “Clive I presume. It’s nice to meet you.” I smile warmly.

“Hello Oliver, nice to meet you as well. Turns out I am your neighbor in the apartment below you.” he says in a friendly tone.

I see his eyes quickly glance down at my shirt and he smirks slightly. That’s when I remembered what tshirt I was wearing. Slightly embarrassed I pretend I don’t notice the smirk and internally berate myself for not changing. Then I berate myself again, it wasn’t like this was a date.

Clive smiles and hands me the bag he is holding. I turn around and head to the kitchen. I look over my shoulder and Clive is standing at the door a little unsure.

“Please come in Clive. Your bags are in the kitchen.”I say as I turn back around.

I go into the kitchen and set my groceries down. I hear Clive come down the hallway. I grab his bags and before I turn around I felt a sharp pain on my head. My legs crumble and I lose consciousness before my head hits the ground.

When I wake up I am not sure how much time has passed. I am sitting in a chair in the middle of a warehouse. I am in naked and my hands are tied behind my back. My legs were chained to the ground, cuffs snuggly secured around my ankles. On my neck I can feel a collar. More specifically an extra large dog collar. It was attached to the chair with a dog leash wrapped around the back of the chair.

I look around the warehouse the best I can. There is little light mainly coming from the windows at the top of the building. Some of those windows were broken all of them were dirty. All the light really did was make the amorphous shadows bigger and the corners of the interior pitch black.

The panic I was feeling starts to escalate and I say out loud, “Please let this be a weird sex thing. Please be a pervert and not a serial killer.”

I hear a door open behind me and can hear a chair being dragged behind me. I am bound in such a way that turning my head to look behind me is impossible. The scrape of the chair sounds like nails on a chalkboard which just makes my already frayed nerves more unbearable.

The person comes into my view and of course it is Clive. He young face is set into a somber visage. He sets the chair in front of me and takes a seat.

He looks at me impassively, I can smell the artificial coconut that a lot of sunscreens smell like. The sweet smell is out of place in the sinister situation and my brain tries to make sense if it. Irrationally I say to myself “I guess he uses it as moisturizer.” and I giggle a little out loud.

This breaks the blank look on Clive’s face and he looks at me with curiosity now. In his deep voice he asks, “Does this situation amuse you?” He continues, “Most people in your situation would be losing their minds.”

I take a deep breath and respond, “I am terrified. My brain just made a connection that was funny in this situation. The giggling was just my nerves being shot and releasing some tension.”

Clive’s face goes back to being impassive. He tilts his head a little to the side. It looks like he is observing a rat in a cage that is about to do something interesting.

He asks in a quiet voice “Do you want to know why you are hear?”

The quiet words send a jolt through me. Did I want to know? Would knowing make it better or worse? My voice shaky I ask, “Will I get to live if you tell me?”

Clive takes a slow breath and let’s it out. His blank face shows just a small flicker of sadness before turning blank again.

He speaks again this time he sounded tired, “No, you are going to die tonight but sometimes people want to know why.

“So, you have done this before. How many before me?” Clive doesn’t say anything just continues to look at me.

My mind racing I try to come up with some escape plan. I am tightly bound and naked. I can see no weapon or anything that could get me free. The situation is hopeless. Maybe if I was some sort of spy or MacGyver my hopeless situation would be a little less hopeless.

The dread I feel starts to overwhelm me. I don’t have a lot of people in my life, mainly people from work and my brunch buddies. I am not super close to any of them. My flakiness keeps a lot of people from getting closer.

My family is in a different state and I talk to them rarely now. Mainly just holidays and birthdays. No one would miss me for a very long time.

I say to Clive, In a voice on the verge of tears, “Ok, tell me why this is happening.”

Clive nods and says In monotone voice, “I am a lot older than I look. How old doesn’t really matter. I am old enough to wonder why people are going back to thinking the world is flat.” He continues on his voice becoming a little more weary, “I made a deal with an entity for eternal life and youth. The price of that deal is my soul and I have to provide two fresh bodies a year for their amusement and for sustenance. To answer your question you are not the first and you will not be the last. You see I have no intention of going to hell and being this entities plaything. That is why you are here.”

At first I think he is joking and then I realize he is not. He has to be crazy, right? Clive gets up and pushes the chair he was sitting in away.

“I am going to leave now. I get no pleasure from watching what is about to happen. I am glad you have no one close to you, it makes things a lot easier for me.”

The last sentence brings some clarity back to my mind. Clive had been watching me. I wonder for how long. I had never seen him before until tonight. I start to muse about how long he had been following me when I hear some movement behind me. The fear comes back with a vengeance and I start to cry. All I can hear is a low growl and the smell of something burning. I feel hot breath on the back of my neck and scream.

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