My life has always been pretty boring. I live in a small town and nothing super crazy ever happens. I remember the year that the prom queen came out of the closet being the hardest this place has ever been rocked. Pretty fucking boring around here.
My father owns a gas station/mechanic shop combo and ever since I was old enough I have been working the cash register. It is nice enough and it allows me to buy my own video games and comic books. It’s a very laid back gig, unless a family traveling through has a sick kid. I do not treasure mopping up vomit. It has happened at least once a summer in the last couple years.
Last week I was working the closing shift, same as usual. I had the small television behind the counter playing the news as I flipped through the latest issue of Detective Comics. I heard a breaking news update about a shooting and immediately dropped my comic book. This kind of thing never happens here. Ever.
The woman continued to tell a story about a grocery store across town that had been the victim of multiple shootings. The entire shopping center was roped off and they weren’t letting anyone in as it was an active crime scene. The news reporter stood across the street with the sign for the grocery store in the background.
“We know at least 3 are dead and several more injured.” She said matter-of-factly.
I immediately grabbed at my pocket and pulled my cell phone out. My mother had been talking about going over there today for some farmers market thing. I touched on her contact and tried to keep myself calm.
“Mom! I just saw the news and I was worried you were at that grocery store. Thank God, I was so scared for a minute.”
“I’m fine honey. Gotta go”
I was so relieved that I didn’t spend any time thinking about why she was being so short with me. I sat there wondering over who might have been hurt there. I knew some girls from my old school had worked there or they used to, we hadn’t really kept in touch. Other than that I struggled to think if anyone I knew would have been anywhere near that.
My best friends all lived on this side of town anyways and weren’t really the Farmers market type. We played a lot of tabletop games and argued about comic books and we loved hanging out at the pizza shop across the street.
My mind started to wander then and I had a customer walk in. I straightened up and turned the volume back down on the T.V.
“Did you hear bout what happened with the shootin?” An older gentleman asked as he browsed the beer selection.
“Yeah, I can’t believe it. I hope they got the guy.”
“In this town? Nobody seen anything this big in a long time, son.”
I had no response for him, he was right. I rang him up and wished him well. I stood at attention at the counter for a few more minutes before reaching for my comic book. Before I could even open it another customer walked in.
A girl. A girl I think i know actually.
“Can I have $30 on pump 4?” She placed the cash on the counter without looking up.
“Sure.” I started to notice how disheveled she looked.
“Everything alright?” I asked hesitantly.
She looked at me then, her eyes were red and her face was streaked with tears. She looked at me for a long moment.
“Connor? Is that you?”
“Yeah, Scarlet right? We had Calculus together.” That’s right. I knew her from school. It had been a few years but she looked just the same.
“Can I ask you a favor without you thinking I’m crazy?” She looked desperate. I was worried at this point, something had obviously happened to this girl.
“Of course, what’s up?”
“Conner, something happened today at the grocery store and I will tell you all about it later but I need a nap. Can you.. Watch me sleep?” She hesitated and then stared at the counter.
“I’m scared.” she whimpered.
“Easy enough. I’m out of here in about 10 minutes.” I tried to sound comforting but honestly I was a little spooked.
“I will go fill up and then wait for you outside.” She tried to crack a smile but it looked forced.
The last couple minutes were easy, I had already cleaned up and counted the drawer down. It is literally never busy here so I always got out on time. I grabbed my stuff and headed for the door. Scarlet had just put the gas cap back on and was getting back in her car.
I crossed the parking lot and looked through her window, she motioned me inside. I opened the door and sat in her passenger seat.
“Can you just keep driving me around for a little while?” She didn’t take her eyes off the steering wheel.
“Sure, I mean you could rest at my apartment for a bit it would probably be more comfortable.” She started audibly sobbing. “Or not, I can just drive you around.”
“He killed Edna and my boss and I don’t know what happened to Rey or Liz and my mom is part of it now and she called him my father! I don’t know what the fuck is happening! I just need some rest so I can figure this out!” The tears were rolling down her cheeks and off her face now.
“Hey, hey.. It’s alright. I will drive. Take as long as you need.” I was horrified. What had happened to her? I got out of the car and waited until she got into the passenger seat to walk around the car.
She was asleep before I finished adjusting the mirrors in her car. I have been driving her around for a few hours now and I just woke her up so I could use the bathroom. I don’t know what is going on but I have a feeling I have gotten myself into something serious. I am hoping to get the full story when I get back to the car but I am starting to get scared, nothing like this ever happens here.