Josh’s Work Diary, Continued
N.B.: I meant to have this up by Halloween, but it wasn’t a great writing week for me. Sorry it’s late!
Cindy, the woman who does the late shift – the one before my overnight hell shift – came back at this absurd time, because she forgot her phone. Normally this type of thing wouldn’t bother me – except how do you forget your phone, right? But the thing was, while she was telling me this story that I honestly didn’t care about, a zombie came in. It wasn’t a really gnarly one with bits falling off, it was a pretty fresh one, but still, clearly a zombie. To start with, zombies are always vaguely bluish, grayish, or a sort of ashy brown, depending on their original skin color. Their lips are whitish, grayish, or black, their eyes are filmy – if intact – and they move like the Romero type zombies they are, dragging limbs that don’t quite work or they don’t exactly have anymore. Often their clothes are dirty and torn, and sometimes they have insects quite obviously on them, as clearly zombies don’t feel a damn thing, not even when bugs are clearing their flesh off their bones. (Don’t ask me how they eat or move around then – it’s magic bullshit, and I don’t understand it.) This zombie was bluish-gray, with a few maggots in her shoulder length brown hair. Her scalp looked mostly intact, so that was lucky.
Cindy didn’t look, she kept talking, which at least meant she didn’t see her right away. But what was I going to do? As far as I could remember, the only human who had seen proof of the supernatural and survived was Doug, which made all sorts of sense. He might be straight, but he’s all right, and super chill, even when he isn’t stoned. But otherwise, regular people and the supernatural didn’t mix well.
As soon as the zombie disappeared, in that snug place where the ends of the aisles threatened to meet the cold case, I tried to figure out how to rush her out of here. I told her I had to get to restocking, as Mr. Kwan had told me to pull some expired stock off the shelves – not true, but it sounded plausible – and that could be long and tedious. But she wasn’t taking the obvious hint to leave. At least zombies were slow, so there was a little wiggle room.
Finally I got her moving towards the door, but the zombie was making her way towards the counter at that point. I thought we had made it through, but at the last second, Cindy turned, and got a full, unobstructed view of zombie lady, holding her frozen burrito like a baton in a relay race. I was still struggling to think of what I could say to excuse this, hoping she didn’t scream, but Cindy just smiled and said, “What an awesome costume! Love the method acting too.” The zombie didn’t react to this – they rarely reacted to anything – but Cindy didn’t stick around for a reply. Damn, it’s so nice to be this close to Halloween. I don’t know what I’ll do if this happens during June. At least I have time to think about it.
Despite the zombie scare – so to speak – it had been a really quiet night, and I got some reading done, if reading a whole bunch of celebrity mags counts as reading. I mean, technically yeah, but all you learn is celebrities are kind of weird. Not buying frozen burritos weird, but … odd. I realize there’s no comparing anything in the outside world to this place, but you can’t help it sometimes.
I was testing my phone to see if the wi-fi was working, although even if it was, I’d be lucky to have it a full minute with the dimensional portal active, when Colin stuck his head in the door. I was glad my boyfriend was early, but he had this stern, troubled look on his face, which probably would have been sexy even without the vampire charm. I was about to compliment him on being early when he said, “We have a problem,” and quickly ducked out again. Damn it. Can’t I have normal sexy time with my undead boyfriend?
When I came outside, I didn’t see anything for a minute. Colin’s eyes were amber and his fangs were out, so I figured he was seeing something in night vision that I couldn’t.
That changed when I felt the ground tremble.
It took me a minute to find it, as the flickering sodium lights around the store and the gloom beyond sort of fucked up my vision. But I saw movement in the air, and thought for a second it was fast moving fog. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It was a twenty foot monster.
Now when I say monster, I mean it. It took me about two minutes for me to truly grasp what I was looking at. There were huge cloven feet that led up densely furry legs with backward bent knees – which is disturbing enough in small scale – and above that was a furry naked torso leading to an almost human like face, save fir the horizontal pupils and yellow irises, with two jagged, branching antlers on his head that seemed to reach up and touch the sky. Please note that I skipped over the fact that this thing had a massive barbed dong between its legs, almost dropping to its backwards knees. I found myself almost unable to look past it. It must have been as big as a tractor trailer rig, and that was before you brought the black barbs into things. It was terrifying now – erect, it must have made you instantly mad with fear. Colin had stepped in front of me, shoulders hunched, growling like a dog, which wasn’t a thing I thought vampires did. The Medusa bracelet on my arm was starting to heat up too, which it had never done before, but I was going to assume it was a bad sign. I got a sense of mojo too, and a smell like wet leather and Tylenol.
“Umm … what the fuck is this? A dick monster?” I wondered. Medusa’s batty sisters have thrown some weird ass stuff at me, including a giant rampaging mustache, but this was either a new high or low, depending on how you looked at it.
“I don’t know,” Colin said, still growling. Made him sound like he was putting himself through a weird ass voice filter. “It ain’t good.”
The dick monster stepped one of its hooves into the parking lot, which was thankfully devoid of cars and werewolves to crush. (The wolves must have smelled it coming and scattered for the hills.) He looked down, and seemed to squint at us. “Hey, little parasite, what’s got you ruffled?” He had a voice like James Earl Jones’s voice and a rumble of thunder had a baby. You could feel it vibrate bones in your chest.
“I am not a parasite,” Colin said, still growling. A moment ago it had been impressive, but right now it sounded sad next to this guy.
Those gigantic yellow eyes were now focused on me. It was an uncomfortable feeling. “Hey, gatekeeper, ‘sup?”
“Uh, hi. Who are you?”
“Um, shit. I think, last time I was here, you called me Herne the Hunter or some bullshit like that. Wasn’t this place, though. That place was green.”
“Oh.” Could he have wandered into the wrong dimension? The portal behind the store opened in Dev, which was a kind of hell dimension full of monsters. But the fact that Dev and Earth existed suggested there were more dimensions out there. I asked Medusa about that once, how many dimensions there were, and she only said I wouldn’t believe her if she told me. Which was unfair, as I totally would have. I’m learning to accept a lot of weird shit.
Colin stopped growling, and straightened up. “Herne was benevolent, I think.”
“So we’re not dead?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Dudes, chill, I just came up for a look see,” Herne said. He looked around at the asphalt ribbon of road and the strip mall way down from here. Not usually visible, but if you were as high up as he was, you could probably see into the next state. To say this area wasn’t scenic was like saying Donald Trump was a festering pile of rat turds – a major understatement. “Huh. Kinda sucks.”
“Green places are nicer,” I admitted, even though going into the woods always made me think of horror movies, and how there’s a maniac with a machete behind every bush. I can’t handle the woods. “You’re not gonna, uh, fuck us to death or anything, right?”
Herne looked down at us again. “No, of course not. I don’t wanna get on Medusa’s bad side, now do I?”
“But you’re so much bigger than her,” I said. Probably shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help it. It just sort of came out.
Herne looked startled. I think. Or constipated. Maybe both. It was hard to read such a big face. “No I’m not.”
“Gods can change their dimensions in other dimensions,” Colin told me quietly.
“Since when?” This was news to me. But what I understood about all this ship could fit in a Twinkies wrapper.
Herne sighed, which caused a minor windstorm, but thankfully we were beyond it. A billboard fell over half a mile away. “Yeah, I think I’m good for another couple centuries. Call me when you get back into plants again.” He turned and started walking off, humongous dong swinging like the world’s most obscene pendulum. I’m really glad we didn’t have to fight him, because that would have been ugly. Uglier.
After he was back behind the store again, I noticed he left a huge, hoof shaped divot in the parking lot. Mr. Kwan was going to be so pissed. At least it wasn’t my fault this time.