By Charles Gillingham
Hunger is the motivation for most actions, I understood this best while the family, the wife and the daughter and I, were racing together towards our salvation. We had decided together to defeat that most ancient of enemies, together. My self-appointed task in this collective endeavor was the tallying of necessities. The wife's was to direct the assessments of need. The daughter's was not to wander off during this whole procedure.
I was given the general outline of our plan. We were to purchase bread and cheese. I was tasked to supply sums of the needed capital in order to enact the plan. I made preliminary inquiries by actuating my electro mathematical and intercomunicative processive contraptionavalary. An automated hierarchical reductive process analyzed the entirety of human historically generated knowledge. By editing variables the search was narrowed to only the information required for our current outing. This automated process also, without my consent or foreknowledge, cross referenced financial figures against those supplied by other outlets located in this incorporated area. After studying the charts and figures, the only possible conclusion I could reveal is that, in the final analysis, the sum total of our expedition would be two dollars and fourteen cents.
The agreement was finalized at almost the precise second that we arrived at our destination. The enormous and cruel artifice of the grocery stood before us, commanding, a gross testament to the power of the carbon bond. How long it had been there few could say, it seemed to have always been there, a tumor growing from the landscape, it's genesis long forgotten by all those that might know of it. It's beckoning neon glow reaching out towards the furthest possible reaches of photons, grasping, calling any wretched human insect that was misfortunate enough to venture close enough. We frequented it because it offered cheap fried chicken on Mondays.
We marched forward through a lackadaisical fog, through a cavern of glass and steel, surrounded by the fuming rabble, our fellow shoppers. And like us many pulled along burdens, their imperfect replicantes, screaming and fighting to get at the candy aisle. Our own prodigy fought tooth and nail, attempting to make deep rents in my arm, to no avail.
Soon it was to pass that we had transversed enough of that den of commerce that the cheese department was in sight. Long we awaited this moment. Though, as I was soon to discover, all our hopes were dashed, like lost sailors on craggy and brackish rocks. Not a breath after we entered the proximity of cheese, did I spot him, there standing clear as night, at the end of the aisle.
My oppressor. Long had I wasted the seconds of my life under his yoke. Twisting my body hauling all manner of stone and brick, according to his direction. The hot sun rending from me enough sweat to fill oceans, cracking my skin and drying out my flesh; the burning cold draining the life from my limbs, so ultimately I would be as a mosquito in amber, or like a dog that had fallen into a tar pit. The love of my family driving me forward through the dredged mud. But that was not enough. I freed myself from that compensated servitude.
Many times he would tell me a tale, of his brother, how his brother purchased a certain truck, one that according to this tyrant had been too large. Long would he speculate of how this increased mass would, over it's life, consume too much fuel. Ever the prolific raconteur, he would beset this tale upon me a few times a week, til my mind because a thick ooze of madness. For the sake of self preservation I would seek out exotic intoxicates and foreign liquors to try to destroy that cursed ghoul that my memories had become. Perhaps this is why I can not now remember my mother's face.
Luck would have it that the monster did not yet notice me. Few that were damned to exist within his range could escape his wraith. Many a mail carrier or passing craftsmen had I seen be caught in his web. The poison would first take form as inquires about present vocation or natal location. Soon it would transform into a sticky malaise, freedom only for those of the strongest of wills, those weaker of heart would be consumed, the bones of their mind ground to dust by an idiotic grist stone. Those poor souls sapped of so much energy even the release of self-induced death was not possible. For what could any of us do?
My tongue was held by this middle-aged terror. I wanted to tell the wife to make haste, the retreat from this doomed supermarket was of the highest expediency. But just as in dreams of paralysis, my limbs and lips were caught as if in a snare. I could but look at the world, as if I had died and my phantom floated above me, watching the filthy cogs of the universe spin without my capability of stopping them. The wife was reasoning over a selection of goudas and limburgers, each worth greater species than which we agreed on during the locomotion that brought us here. She was oblivious to the Hell that I found myself in. As oblivious was our ward, who orbited around us like a derelict being sucked into a whirlpool. Her pleas for candy had long ago abated.
During all this that creature was coming closer to us. Thankfully he hadn't noticed me, for he would have shot towards me as a bubble through water.
Finally, my chocking reverie calmed itself, and I could plead with my wife to hurry her decisive choice. But my persistence was for not, nothing persuaded her. Any request for quickness would only result in the counteraction. And every moment that troll came ever close, his senses unable of noticing me no matter how close he came. I begged her to settle on the cheapest brie, though with every step the antagonist came closer my voice dropped lower, I wouldn't risk him hearing my voice. For then he would start in on telling me about which was his favorite race car driver, or an opinion about such and such banal building material, or a prognostication of the weather, or the contents of his over cluttered garage, or the progress of his child's recreation, or the million other subjects that I nor anyone of this world would have any interest in.
Everything became a buzzing haze, melting away into my wife's voiced considerations related to congealed milk, the lamentations of our daughter, and the dread sound of tiny feet coming ever and ever closer.
Only by the first rays of the sun could I have escaped this nightmare. I blinked a few times at the blinding light, rolled over, and awaited whatever new terror lurked in my synapses.