hwango (hwango) wrote,

fiction - ljidol week 22 - turn back or forge ahead?

676 words

I fear that all is lost. I record these words with little hope that anyone will read them. Should they somehow fall under friendly eyes, they may serve as a warning. If not, then at least they will serve as my confession.

We numbered five when we set out, and I am the last. Those who were lost along the way were victims of my hubris as much as they were victims of this nightmare into which I led us. What madness possessed me to embark on this doomed venture?

The solitude is oppressive. I feel as if it has been days since I have spoken to another person.

"Can I help you, sir?"

Another of the cruel apparitions that stalk this living hell! They wear the facade of humanity, yet they are naught but soulless husks. How else could they serve this evil place? Still, in my desperation, I tell it of my quest.

"That's in aisle thirty-seven," it says.

Thirty-seven! What need has such a place for thirty-seven aisles! Worse, they number far greater than that. I feel that I am in an endless maze. The whole building is but a cunning trap. Like a spider's web, it ensnares the unwary and holds them fast until the life can be drained from them.

"Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

I am beyond help. Beyond redemption.

"Well, have a nice day then!"

My strength is fading. As I stumble through this labyrinth of madness I catch glimpses of the most bizarre artifacts. Clear plastic barrels half the height of a man filled with cheese puffs. Televisions of unthinkable size. A twenty-five gallon drum of salad dressing. Before I realize what I'm doing, I have placed one of these drums into my cart. What am I thinking? How many salads would I need to consume to make full use of this much ranch dressing? But it is such a bargain compared to buying two hundred regular bottles that I cannot resist. It will be several minutes before I remember that I don't even like ranch.

I drift next to the displays of gardening materials, including a vast array of ceramic gnomes. Their dead, glassy eyes mock me. Over the hum of the air conditioning I can almost hear them whispering "turn back." But surely it is too late to turn back.

I think again of my companions. Gone so long now I can barely remember their faces, their names, but I remember the final words each of them spoke to me just before they were lost forever. "I'll meet you by the energy drinks," or "I think I see a bathroom over there," and even “Ooh, free samples!” One stayed by my side for so long, only to forsake me at last, saying "This place is ridiculous, I'm going to go wait in the car." Did she find her way out, I wonder? I hope so. I can not blame her for abandoning me.

I cannot go on much longer. How many souls does this place claim per day? What do they do with our corpses, I wonder? Lurking down aisle fifty are there crates of human skulls value-priced for buying in bulk? I see one of the store's minions, and I ask it where the skulls are.

"Craft supplies are in aisle fourteen," it says.

Fourteen! I have finally made it to the low thirties - it is too far to go back. Wait, do I even need two dozen human skulls? What is happening to me?

Then I see it. A blood-colored door, inscribed with the mystical glyphs "Emergency Exit." I could be free. I could step away from my trove of baubles and escape. But then I would leave empty-handed, and what purpose would there have been in the sacrifice of my compatriots? Plus, I've already paid for a three month membership, and they'll totally void that if I use the fire exit when there isn't a fire.

I press onward.

It’s probably not even a real door.
Tags: fiction, ljidol
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