Vibrant Night - Chapter 4

Chapter 4

The automatic doors opened with a haunting laugh booming from the walls surrounding Lacie, "Testing, testing, is this on..  Okay.  Hahahahaa!"

Lacie looked around, clutching her pink hats in nervousness.

Small hands from outside painted the glass doors with dark blue, the world behind swirling into darkness with the laughter of children.  The young woman decided not to open the door to see what exactly was on the other side.

Lacie crossed her arms shivering, she could see her breath each time she exhaled.  There were huge snowdrifts all around the foyer to the extent that they leaned against benches, pop-deposit machines, and a few random carts.  The Ladies Restroom had the doorway rotated ninety degrees as though the entrance was laying down.  The Men's Room was blocked off by a flickering soda machine with a puddle underneath it that looked like urine.  What was even worse, "Nobody Was Here" was written in large print on the floor tiles, with what appeared to be blood.

The bench nearest to Lacie was covered in snow.  There was a plaque above the seating that read, "Bench Reserved For Odis."

The bench next to that bench had a sleeping older black man hidden behind the snowdrift; he looked like an old Blues player with swimming goggles on his foreheard, slip-on shoes that showed his brown socks, and a white cotton dress-shirt with tiny polka dots.  The wooden sign above this bench was more make-shift and read, "Odis's Vacation Bench."

Lacie decided it would be best, before entering the store, to wake this man and ask where to find Herbert.  Anyone wearing polka dots and swimming goggles should be friendly, Lacie thought.  But first, Lacie had to go to the restroom very badly.

So Lacie crawled through the rectangular doorway near the floor trying not to touch the floor with her hands which it turned out was sticky from soda recycling residue.  She found the room quite normal if not a bit dim-litted, where the temperature had went back to the warmth of the outside night.  There was even a couch.. but with two more uglier couches on top of it.  As she went to open one of the two stalls and she came across a fishbowl full of water with a comical-looking skeletal fish centered inside of it.

The skeletal fish spoke, "I am the last remaining, mystical repository of knowledge in the vicinity of your un-kept toilet.."

“What the fuck!?” Lacie backed up as the fish spoke.

Then the fish jumped into the toilet which flushed immediately.  After this.. event, Lacie decided to use the other stall.  When the young woman was finished with her business she found that instead of hot water the sink pumped out hot chocolate, so she washed her hands with it.. and then inconspicuously tried some of it.

Lacie crawled back through the doorway finding that the store temperature immediately dropped again.

Lacie was now ready to wake the old man sleeping on his bench.  She adjusted her glasses and ventured towards him, "Excuse me sir."

The man just continued snoring.

"Sir!" Lacie screeched.

"You wake me up again I'll steal your shoes!" The ancient man caused Lacie to jump back, losing both her hats and almost causing her glasses to fall off.

The young woman readjusted her glasses and left the hats on the ground, collecting herself.

"But I'm wearing boots." She mused.

The old man's eyes jutted open, "BOOTS!?  Who the hell around here wears boots?  Are you on drugs?"

"I thought I was off them.  But now I don't even know how to process all of this." Lacie replied.

"Well what do you want?" The old man corrected his posture.

"I need to find someone named Herbert."

"HERBERT!?" The old man's velocity made it seem like he was straining his throat.  Lacie was becoming physically annoyed by the old man's shouting.  She could tell he thoroughly enjoyed it as a mode of cheap vengeance for having been woke.

"I don't know anyone named Herbert except that chain-smoking, drunken animal in aisle three.  You can't see him until you go to the Technology Department to get feed for the technacles..  Oh.. if you find a man named Victor tell him he owes me cheese.  Now if you'll ex-cuuuse.. me!"

"But--" Lacie whined.

Odis quickly shut his eyes and tilted his head into an “asleep” position.

Finding that anymore conversation with Odis would be futile, Lacie picked up her pink sombrero and newsgirl hat.  She left the foyer through the second set of automatic doors which had already been painted over in swirls of blue.

Growling bass poured out as the second set of automatic doors opened to a well-lighted store in utter disarray.  Lights flickered different colors and exchanged dishes of food with seemingly invisible limbs-- two bulbs in particular were somehow conversing over Japanese customs.  A couple jump-ropes hung from the ceiling, one straight while the other was in a noose.  Strangely-colored tumble-weeds flew at high speeds over the aisles, some of them venturing in dark brown or blue hats.  Most of the aisles were crooked and full of curious collections of things.  There were a couple huge, dangerous-looking sink holes in the floor some distance ahead.

A muscular young guy around Lacie's age stood next to the automatic doors, with a cooler full of beer, and a stereo system currently blasting hip-hop music.  He was dressed head to toe in pink with star-shaped sunglasses.  His shirt had white-letters saying, "Fo' the chicks."

The shelves to the right of Lacie were mostly full of cobwebs, sand buckets, bouncy balls and miscellaneous products.  A rough-looking man rested on one of the bottom shelves with his back turned.  He was fearfully mumbling to himself about multi-colored talking cats and unions.

The young man in pink offered Lacie a beer, "Welcome to Null-Mart, you will never find a more wretched closeout of scum and villainy.

“Thanks, I guess.” Lacie replied.

“Nice hats, care if I have that sombrero as your ticket in?"

Lacie reluctantly gave the young man in pink that hat and reclined the booze.  The unofficial greeter promptly put the hat on and beamed a huge smile.

"So.. from your angle, how sexy is the hat?  Would it look better with stunna shades?"

"Uh.. its fine..  What's going on here?" Lacie asked.

"Its a party up in here till the whole place comes crashing down!" The man in pink gestured with both hands.

"Null-mart?  Crashing down?"

The greeter cocked his head up looking over the store like security.  He cracked open the beer in his hand and took a sip, still grinning, "Inside, we call it Null-Mart.  It's all comin' down tonight though, soon as the time comes and the Technology Department empties, the technacles are gonna rip the foundations down..  Might as well get plastered for the show!"

In the distance there was a young man in all black, including a trenchcoat and circular shades, but he did not have a marble head and was human.  He sat on a reclined, beach chair atop shelving between aisles and seemed quite drunk.  Some sort of large, black, dog-like creature flew some ways behind him from the ceiling and into an aisle-way.  The stranger raised his non-beer hand in devil-horns with a black magic marker grasped in his fist.

"Hey, could you put your hands on your head?" The greeter asked.

"Why?" Lacie inquired.

"I want to smell chocolate-covered strawberries."

Lacie looked off to the side for a second afraid that she might blushing.

An older individual emerged from a nearby aisle in a shimmery blue, rayon suit covered with flashing blue LED lights.  He also had glittery, blue hair matching blue eyes, and a short, white beard with a dyed tip of similar surreal color.

The theatrical man grabbed a brew, and joined Lacie and the man in pink proving to possess a deep, Scottish accent, "That 'Nobody Was Here' outside-- half of that was done with the blood of Red Squad, the other half with Russian salad dressing.  Trouble is, there may not be a difference.  Ha ha ha ha!"

"Damn." The Man In Pink shook his head smiling.

Lacie decided to pretend that the Scotsman wasn't being serious.

The Scotsman took a gulp of beer which had turned a similar glimmer of blue as the tip of his pointed beard-- though you couldn't see it through the brown glass.  He shook hands with Lacie who appeared speechless, "Hello young lady.  You may call me Cuithbeart Cobalt.  The youthful renegades of The Midnight Brigade have been painting all the door windows in sways and swirls!  But forgive me, what is your name?"

"Its Lacie and why are they painti--"

"Lacie!  I don't really care for that, I think I'll call you Four-Eyes McPhee." Cuithbeart had the matter settled upon himself.

"That's kind of offensive." Lacie remarked.

Cuithbeart raised his thick eyebrows, "Well at least its not defensive.  Ha ha ha ha!"

"I need to find someone named Herbert." The girl inquired.

The Man In Pink scratched his dirty-dish blond hair, "Yeah, Aisle 3.  Hope you got some DVD's or something."

Cuithbeart pulled out an action movie from his suit pocket.

"Well, I suppose I'll take you to the furry bastard.  No true scotsman would call him anything else!" Cuithbeart laughed.

"Furry?"

Cuithbeart’s face went sly, "You'll see.  Oh.. so furry."

"Okay.. thank you." Lacie expired.

Cuithbeart picked up another bottle of beer and put it in his pocket.  With a deep, grizzly resonance of his Scottish accent, "..one for the road.."

As the Scotsman spoke, the light reflecting from the floor seemed to reflect just slightly brighter, if only for a second or two.

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