I stood outside of our house, waiting for my husband. He always took a while to actually get out of the house once I tell him ‘I’m ready.’ He’s the kind of guy who thinks he can get ready in a couple minutes, so he puts it off until he’s either late or almost late. Either way, it gave me the chance to smoke before we went grocery shopping.
It was only early afternoon, but the evening fog had set in early today. I could only see about 40 feet away from myself in any direction, but it’d be enough. The grocery store wasn’t too far away.
“Alright, let’s go,” Brett said, walking down our porch stairs to our car.
“Wow, I only smoked half a cigarette this time,” I replied, laughing.
Brett scowled. “You really should quit smoking.”
“I know, I know. I’m working on it. No need to remind me.” I kneeled down rubbed the cigarette out on the ground
“I’ll stop reminding you once you have completely quit,” He replied.
“Not even a rare social smoke?” I asked as I put the cigarette away.
“Not even that.”
Either way,I got into the driver’s seat and drove us to the closest superstore. Really, it was just a Walmart, but I hated admitting I shopped at Walmart.
“You’ve got a list, right sweetheart?” I asked.
“Of course I do, Arthur. Why wouldn’t I?” He replied.
I laughed. “Ah, well, I just like double checking. You know how I am.”
“I know, sweetie. It’s probably a good thing you’re so insistent on keeping me up on things.”
“You’re welcome,” I replied, smugly.
“Oh, I see how it is, Mr. Marlboro,” Arthur laughed.
“Okay, fine. Thanks for pushing me to better myself too.”
“I can live without a shopping list,” he said, “but you aren’t living if you’re missing a lung.”
“I know, I know,” I wave him off. “Gee, you’re worse than my mom.”
“I feel like your mom,” he started to laugh, “Old and crotchety!”
We both laughed, and let the quiet hang in the air afterwards. It was nice.
“Fog’s out early today, huh,” I mentioned.
“We’re probably in the thick of it right now. It should pass in a few days.”
“I hope you’re right. It’s pretty dreary, and we have to drive at 20 miles-per-hour everywhere we go.”
“It could be worse. We could just be not shopping at all.”
“Oh, you know that isn’t really an option. We should have just gone last week,” I piped in.
“Oh well,” he said. He pulled down the sun blocker, so that he could look at himself in the mirror.
Within a few more moments, we arrived at the superstore. We both found a parking spot near the back of the lot– so that we wouldn’t lose our car among other cars– and walked toward the store.
Once we entered, I was relieved to see my breaths stop leaving a huge cloud of steam everywhere I went. I grabbed a shopping cart, and caught up with Arthur. “Alright, where to first?”
“We should left and get cereal first,” he told me.
“The freezer section is closer, though,” I replied.
“We’ll get frozen goods on the way back,” he said.
I started walking toward the dry foods anyway. “You know, this isn’t summertime down in Georgia anymore, Arthy-dear.”
“I lived in Wyoming. Georgia is nowhere near Wyoming.”
“Eh, they’re both just as conservative to me,” I chuckled.
“S’why I left,” Arthur replied. We reached the cereal aisle, and he grabbed some off-brand cheerios. I grabbed a box of Cookie Crisp, and we put them into the cart.
“I can’t believe you can still stand eating that stuff,” Arthur chided me.
“Come on! It’s like desserts, but in the morning! That’s awesome!”
“Whatever, you can have your kid’s cereal,” he said, waving his hand farewell to me as he walked forward.
I followed him. “I will have my children’s breakfast item, thank you very much,” I said.
The rest of our shopping went rather similarly, with Arthur grabbing foods you actually have to cook, while I grabbed pizza rolls and burritos.
At check-out, I ribbed into him a little bit. “I know you have to be incredibly jealous of how I live?”
“And how is that?” He demanded.
“Oh, allI have to do is go to work for a few hours every week, and then I get to come home to a lovely hubby who cooks all my meals for me while I just laze around the house,” I bragged.
“Oh yeah? Well, I can’t help but wonder who enables your lifestyle,” He said, with dignity.
“You know who that is,” I said through a smile. I grabbed him from behind and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
The counter girl laughed. “Get a room, you two.”
I gasped. “Is not a superstore just one giant room?”
She laughed, along with Arthur.
“Your total will be $127.34,” she told us.
I took out my wallet, paid, and we left the store with groceries in tow. The moment we walked out of the door, though, it was incredibly apparent that things weren’t right.
“Where are the cars?”I asked.
“I have got no idea. Did we come through the wrong doors?”
“Even if we did, there should still be cars on the opposite side. What the hell?”
I left the cart on the sidewalk, and I stepped toward the parking lot.
I jumped. “Jesus, I didn’t know you followed me, Arthur. Warn me next time.
“Sorry,” he said.” “Was there was some emergency alert you and I missed?”
“I doubt it. Our phones would have been buzzing and going haywire and shit.”
“Um,” Arthur mumbled. “Hell. I don’t know.”
“Let’s just see if we can find our car, alright?” I reassured Arthur. At least, I thought I was. I didn’t really know how scared Arthur was.
“I was about to suggest that myself.”
The two of us continued to walk into the parking lot. Of course,since we parked so far away from the the store, we lost sight of it due to the fog. Scouring the parking lot yielded no car.
“This is either terrifying or a really good prank.” I reached into my pockets to make sure I still that the keys. I felt them, and pulled them out.
“What do you make of this?” I asked.
Arthur shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe you’re just dreaming. Pinch yourself.”
“Real nice of dream-you to tell me the secret of the dream, don’t you think.” I sighed.
“Maybe we should just head back to the store,” he suggested.
“Sure. Let’s just do that.”
The two of us walked back toward the store.
“Hey, we forgot to grab our cart,” I mentioned.
“I left it on purpose. Not much use dragging a cart around when we don’t even have a car,” he reasoned.
“Yeah, okay, that’s fair,” I said.
I stopped walking. “Does it seem weird to you that we haven’t seen the building yet?” I asked. “Like, we went the right way. All I see is more parking lot all around.”
“I didn’t want to say anything,” Arthur admitted.
“Hell,” I said. “What do we do now?”
“I don’t know,” he sighed. “Like, this is some kind of bullshit you see happening in one of your b-films.”
“Or one of your video games,” I said.
“Yeah, but in the video game you find a way out. There are usually clues or something,” he said.
“Nothing out here but unlit street lamps. It’s still daylight out.”
We both stood still, without saying a word for a few moments. That was when the alarm sounded.
Arthur and I refused to make a sound, instead opting to look about wildly for the source of the sound. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. It hurt my head to think about it.
I grabbed the sides of my head in recoil, trying to block out the sound. It didn’t work.
Then, almost as suddenly as it began, it stopped. It was just over.
I looked up at Arthur. My head was throbbing from the sudden end of the alarms.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
Arthur said nothing, but he pointed past and behind me. I craned my head back to see what he was pointing at.
There were silhouettes in the fog shambling toward us. There were dozens of them.
“Holy shit,” I whispered.
“So you see them too. That’s- that’s good,” Arthur said.
I squinted to try and see them a bit better. “Oh fuck, I think those things have holes instead of faces.”
“Don’t you try telling me those are the goddamned pirori!” Arthur shouted
“I don’t know what the hell that means,” I said, “But you can look for yourself.”
Arthur squinted at the figures, much like I had, and gasped. “Okay, what the hell are we still doing here, Brett?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “We already tried to leave.” I was desperately trying to stay calm, but I wasn’t sure how long my bravado would last me.
“No, I mean right now!” Arthur grabbed my hand, and started to run away from the figures emerging from the mist. Not really able to choose, I kept up with him.
Despite our clear goal being to get as far away from the figures as we could, I couldn’t help but look back at them. Which, of course, is when what was behind became even worse.
Standing far behind the now-miniscule figures was something huge. I looked vaguely like a giant human, but it’s stomach was facing upwards, and it’s back was arched back terribly. It’s limbs didn’t look quite right either, with more than one joint bending in each one, suspending it. I saw its mouth open before it receded into the fog and out of my vision again.
“Arthur, run faster!”
There was a curdling scream. Unlike the alarm, it clearly came from one direction.
Arthur took my advice after hearing that. I only wish he hadn’t looked back.