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2. Ketchup

October 16th, 2006 | Posted by pftq in Possibility | #
   The next day, I forgot all about the aurora.  I drove down to the nearby store to buy more food.  I had run out of milk, juice, eggs, bread, meat, and ketchup five days ago, but all this time I had been procrastinating, thinking I could last just a little bit longer, until the ketchup ran out.  That I cannot live without.  Let the milk run out.  I don’t care.  Let the juice run out.  I don’t care.  Let there be drought and the water run out.  I do care, but not that much.  Let the ketchup run out.  No.  One must have a good diet of fruits and vegetables everyday in order to live a healthy life!
   There I was gathering things into my cart at the store.  I was a tad furious for having my breakfast ruined like so.  I passed by the dairy aisle and looked for a carton of eggs.  There were numerous three packs for the price of a dozen, but no dozens.  I asked a nearby employee what had happened.
   “Oh we don’t sell eggs at a dozen anymore,” he declared proudly.  “We do not see a reason to.  Do you realize how valuable one egg can actually be? It is only now that you shall all learn to take eggs more seriously.  Besides, all the stores are doing it.”
   I didn’t feel like arguing, so I just grabbed a few three-packs and went on.  My day had gone off to a rather horrible start.  It just might be that this would be one of the most memorable days in my memory for years to come.  First the ketchup, then breakfast can’t be had, then eggs are sold four times more expensive…
   I sank so deep into my thoughts, I didn’t see in front of me, the guy in a green suit walking toward me, wearing three caps on his head, each one pointing in a different direction, each one a different color of red, blue, and yellow.  I did not see him suddenly act sly and suspicious and sneak behind me.  It took me a several minutes to realize the man was behind me shouting random words for all he was worth.
   “Goddamn it, can’t you hear me . . . BLAH!”
   It was Sam Pete, a friend of mine I had known for only about a year and he was already starting to freak me out.  I figure in this world, there are a number of ways people can be weird.  Some people are mildly and acceptably weird – the kind of weird that makes everyone unique.  Some people are so weird, they aren’t even human anymore.  Others purposely do weird things to make the world more interesting, a good kind of weird.  Sam was none of these.
   I turned around and stared at him for a second.  “You sound like an idiot.  What do you want?”
   “I wouldn’t be sounding like one if you would turn around! What are you deaf?” he muttered.  “I had been yelling right into your ear for two minutes!”
   “You look like an idiot as well,” I grumbled.
   I wasn’t kidding either.  How often did you see a man in a bright green suit, wearing three caps of red, blue, and yellow? His shoes were pink with orange shoelaces.  Over one hand, he had on a purple glove; the other wore a disposable pale-yellow glove.  To top it off, he wore a pair of shiny white sunglasses . . . in the store.  Even for Sam Pete, this was pretty bizarre.
   “Really? That’s very good!” he exclaimed, as if he had been worrying whether or not he looked retarded enough.  “Listen, meet me at the library at one o’ clock.  This is very serious!”
   “What’s so important?”
   “I can’t tell you right now,” he murmured.  “Just make sure you come!”
   “Okay sure,” I replied, grabbing my cart to continue my search for ketchup.
   Sensing I wasn’t taking him seriously, Sam grabbed a nearby beer bottle and shattered it on the back of his head.  “Come tonight or someone is going to die! And you don’t want that on your conscience for the rest of your life!”
   He held the broken bottle threateningly across his bleeding forehead.  He was shaking rather too nervously.
   “Fine! I’ll come! Just fix yourself up a bit,” I said.  I wasn’t sure what to make of this, but I seriously did not want to be the reason for someone’s suicide.
   A feeble smile forced itself upon Sam’s face.  He grabbed my hand and stuffed something hard, cold, and round into it.
   “Keep this with you at all times,” he stammered, the smile still forcibly latched onto his face. “Trust me you’ll need it.”
   With that, he spun around and hurried away.  I glanced down to see what he had given me.  It was a slightly faded-green, egg-shaped object with the most peculiar, shiny teal latch stuck sloppily atop of it.  Sam had given me a home-made grenade.
   Not wanting to be caught in a store, hand outstretched with a possibly dangerous explosive device, right in the middle of a busy aisle, I quickly stuffed it into my coat pocket.  Several people gazed suspiciously at me.  An old woman took off as fast as she could toward the front of the store when I glanced at her.
   I should probably get moving, I thought to myself and hurried toward the front of the store as well, keeping my gaze down to avoid eye contact with anyone.  I must have looked like I was pursuing the old woman or something, for she let out a horrifying scream.  I stopped immediately to see what was going on, and the next thing I knew, someone threw a giant potato at me.  It knocked me square in the face, and before I could regain myself, one of the employees ran me over with a shopping cart.  Are they trying to get the grenade to explode?
   I was sure how I was going to get out of that situation.  They grabbed my hair, my ear, and someone pulled at my nose and yanked me down to the floor.  A man helped tear off my jacket and reached into the pocket I had stuffed Sam’s grenade in.
   “Oh my god! It’s a bomb!” he cried out, as if he wasn’t expecting anything dangerous, after I had been hit in the head by a potato, run over by a shopping cart, and yanked down by the nose.  He literally tossed it to one of the employees, who eyed it carefully for a moment.
   “False alarm people!” he exclaimed.  “It’s just a toy!”
   There were various sighs and curses (Were they hoping for a bomb?) throughout the store.  The employee helped me up and handed me the grenade back.  I finally noticed the exterior was one of the plastic toy grenades with the brand name still attached to it.
   “Don’t bring these next time,” the employee warned.
   I looked about for the man who had taken my coat, but he had gone.  All I had was the stupid, toy grenade Sam had given me and my groceries which lay scattered about the floor.  I stuffed the grenade into my pocket and headed for the cashier.  They offered to give me my groceries free of charge, which was not bad I suppose, had I not received a flattened nose, a stolen coat, and a fractured ribcage.
   When I got home later that afternoon, I was starving.  I immediately took out of my bag 2 cartons of milk, a loaf of bread, a pack of eggs, and a slice of ham.  I stared at it for a few moments.  Something didn’t look quite right.
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