Another Summer Job

“Five minutes, Max.” Ginger is peeking her head through the door of the security room, a salad and Dr. Pepper in her hands. “Make sure to lock up when you’re done with your nightly rounds, kid.” Just like that, I’m left alone in the small room lit only by five computer screens that constantly screen the surveillance footage of Parker’s Gas Station.

“Night,” I call back to Ginger, but she’s already to far to hear me, since old age has pretty much deafened the poor woman. For three years, I’ve sat in this little room— more like closet, if we’re being honest, here— during my summer break, and each day I wonder if she would be back the next day to ring up the few costumers we get. Spoiler alert: she always has, and at this point, probably always will.

I let out a sigh and spin carelessly in the green office chair that’s almost to big for this room. Out of habit, I look up to the clock hanging above the door; it reads 8:37. Finally, I think to myself.

Happily, I hop out of the spinning chair, humming to myself. Like usual, I find myself at the register, using the keys strung around my neck to lock it up, as well as all of the drink fridges. Just as I’m about to walk out the door, I realize that I’ve forgotten my cellphone in the security closet. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I complain to myself, and run back to the closet.

As soon as I enter, I see the phone laying right in front of the monitors. The monitors…

I rub my eyes to make sure I’m not just seeing things. Nope. Ginger is still there, standing in the back alleyway. I walk over to the computers and click zoom in on the live surveillance footage coming from the middle screen. What in the world? Is she…

This can’t be real. Ginger, my ancient coworker, is standing in the middle of the alleyway yelling at… the air? Her hands are making huge gestures, but to who? No one is there.

I grab my phone and run out of the security closet, accidentally hitting my knee on the side of the desk that the monitors sit on. I let out a small groan, but keep running. Ginger is finally going insane, I say to myself. It only took her 98 years.

Quickly, I rush to the back exit and push open the door, finding a screaming Ginger. “Ginger!” I call out from the doorway, but she doesn’t respond. I call out again, but her deafened hearing has won, once again. She just keeps yelling at an invisible subject words that don’t even make sense. “YOU COULD HAVE DONE IT YOURSELF, BUT HERE WE ARE. HE DOESN’T HAVE IT. I KNOW HE DOESN’T. GO AND SEE FOR YOURSELF, YOU IMBECILE.”

I decide that having 911 on speed dial probably isn’t the worst idea. But, as I pull out my phone to punch in the three numbers, she stops. As I look up from my phone, the lights on the sides of the doorway flicker, and my heart rate goes nuts. My attention is immediately drawn to Ginger, who is now absently staring into the air with her mouth wide open.

What the heck is going on.

“Ginger?” I walk down to her and place a hand on her shoulder, gently shaking her. “Uh, hello? You good?”

“Max Denver.” I jump, letting my hand drop from her thin shoulder. Ginger’s voice is no longer Ginger’s, but has been replaced with a deep, rough, man voice. My eyes get wide, and I hastily try to call 911 on my phone, but just as I’m about to hit dial, the screen goes black. The rough voice fills the air all around me, causing the hairs on my arms to stand straight up. “We’ve been expecting you.”

I’m frozen in fear. Either the old woman has gone nuts, or I’ve been playing to many video games and am having a vicious nightmare. But that can’t be it, because when she tackles me to the ground and slams a hand over my mouth, I feel every bit of it. “You have something we want, Max. Give us the Septor, and you can go peacefully.”

I try to yell and say that whatever “they” think I have, I don’t. But before I get the chance, my limbs go numb.

Then, I pass out.

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