Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
When I was younger, I decided to earn some quick cash to pay off my vehicle since my parents are the type that think, ‘hey, we don’t need to baby you, go wild’. So, thinking of something easy, an available position at a nearby family-owned grocery store was my best bet. If anybody reading this has worked in stock, you’ll pretty much relate automatically. But if you have no clue, I’ll give a rundown: put new stuff behind the old stuff. Rinse and repeat. That was it. Nothing special.
My boss was a dick, if I can be that blunt. Always screeching out orders whenever he came by the store, finding the smallest of mistakes to correct. I think everybody’s had a boss like this; it’s even worse if they’re always in the building with you. For several hours throughout the day, but me still being in high-school, I worked part time. Excluding the weekends, my normal hours were usually just a measly three hours. Those three hours being the main part of the day where the boss ACTUALLY stayed.
He was a busy guy and I respected his work-ethic. Probably the only good thing I can say about him. One of the rules in the store, usually given once to new people, was to never question what he was up to. During my interview, I blew this off as a temper issue. He didn’t have to talk to me, nor did he have to associate with my curiosities. The most contact we’d have with each other was the occasional awkward bit of eye-contact. Safe to say, I was thoroughly creeped out by the guy. Short, stocky, one lazy eye that never really shut. Most of us would avoid him. Probably for good reason.
One day, though. It was different. I had already been clocked in for about an hour, mostly filling up empty shelves and working on checking up on our soda every so often. My co-workers and I usually divided the work evenly, so we could have mostly everything done by closing time. A good, peaceful three hours if we stuck to ourselves. I had noticed right as I clocked in that one of our guys was either off or out of the store. Not a big deal, I’d take the liberty of handling his duties. So that I could save myself from one more awkward encounter.
I checked up on my work, moving some cases of Pepsi from one end of the store to the other. While sliding in the last case into the shelf, one of my higher-ups, a guy that had been working longer than me, approached and struck up a conversation. Off-topic stuff, like school and that kind of stuff. I didn’t think much of it. One thing I realized though when my head finally turned to face him was that his hands were in his pockets the whole time. Never moving. Just completely stationary. Not even in the gentle movement of fingertips.
“Hey, man.. we- uh, have a problem.” He eventually stuttered out.
“Yeah, what’s up?”
“Boss wants you to deal with meat today. Y’know, because ol’ buddy didn’t want to come in, apparently.”
Weird. Usually, our meat market was always stocked. Never saw anybody in there, but somehow it never ran low. I wanted to make sure he didn’t mistake it for another one of our departments, so I walked over to investigate. My feet stopped slowly once I saw that, yeah, the whole stock was empty.
“Jesus. He’s not in the store, is he? He’d flip his shit if he saw this.”
“Nah. He’s somewhere up town, dealing with our produce people.” A breath of fresh air. Good. I can get it done with no problems. Not to gloat, but I worked quickly. I’d get this done quick.
“Okay. That’s fine. I just need to move some more th-“
“No, dude. Do it now.” I looked and his back was already turned, walking away with an unusual pep in his step. I didn’t want to risk the chance of him snitching on me, so I complied with no questions.
I approached the door to where our meat people usually worked in the daytime. A room full of scales, tables, and trays. A big bit of space, but.. so cold. My head glanced around and caught sight of our meat cooler. A large metal door with an even bigger handle to the right of it. With enough strength, I managed to open it to where I could push it the rest of the way open.
All I was met with was darkness, a small cloud of icy air pooling out into the room behind me. If I didn’t want to freeze my ass off, I’d have to make this quick. But first, I’d have to actually see where I was going. The confusion entered my mind again as I stepped into the cooler air, realizing firmly: I’d never done this before. How were they expecting me to get all this out before close?
My hands did the work for me, slamming into random points of the wall looking for a switch. My patience began to dwindle as I never did find it, eyes struggling to adapt to the surrounding areas. I felt like an idiot when I realized that I had my phone the entire time; the bright color of the flashlight shining in my mind.
My finger slid up and unlocked the home-screen, feet moving myself forward as a little bit of the space was finally revealed.
That’s when I tripped.
On something. Large. Wet. All I felt was the stinging sensation in my leg, my teeth clenching together to make a dull hiss. The cold and a source of pain didn’t add up well together. My phone fell the whole way down with me, laying firmly on its front. Light shined upwards, showing off one of those pulling chains you’d find on a ceiling fan.
A quick tug of it and my entire world rocked for a good five minutes.
I had tripped over my co-worker’s rotting carcass, laying in the middle of the floor. Torn open, intestines pouring out.
It was hard to focus on after seeing a stocky figure in the corner, holding onto a large butcher knife. Dripping with blood.
“Our little secret.” The only words my boss has said to me.
I realized where our meat comes from.
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