24 Hour Shop. Flash Fiction.

Jeremy looked up from the mop, he didn’t have too much further to go. He dunked the mop head into the dirty water, then went back to lazily swirling it across the floor. When he finished the aisle, he stopped and looked around, leaning against the display. An old woman wearing a large, oversized coat shuffled past, leaning heavily on her shopping cart. Damn it was Mrs. Smith, it was later than he thought. He grabbed the bucket and walked past her, trying not to stare at her neon green hair. She never came into the shop before two a.m. He still had another aisle to mop and then shelf stacking. He went the long way to the final aisle, trying not to make it obvious that he was only passing by to look at Christie. She was sitting behind the till, reading a novel. He took one last look at her, and started on the mopping. He needed to get it done before three, and he wasn’t in the mood to work quickly. He had hoped that it would be a simple once over, but some jackass had trailed mud all through the store, he didn’t understand how they managed it, but they were determined.

When he finished he wheeled the bucket into the storage room. He checked his watch, he probably wouldn’t have time to do all the stacking. Shit. Well, he could get it done afterwards. He checked his phone, still another fifteen minutes to go.

“Any good?”
“Eh. It’s ok I guess. Better than sitting around doing nothing.”
Christie put the book down, not bothering to mark the page.
“What time is it?”
“Almost there, we should probably head into the back.”
Christie nodded and stood, together they moved into the security room, not bothering to lock the doors. The two other employees were already there.
“Cutting it a little close?”
“We’re fine. We’ve got plenty of time.”

They turned and watched the small screens as the man in the suit entered the store. He moved through the aisles, picking up items seemingly at random, after a moment, a hooded figure entered and walked towards the back of the shop without stopping. After twenty minutes six more people had entered the shop, they moved around the aisles, occasionally putting things into their baskets, none of them acknowledged the others. Jeremy checked his phone, feeling antsy, he wanted this to be over, he needed to get back to work. The camera screens went white, then black, purple light shone through the bottom of the door. It flared briefly, then faded, the cameras came back on. They shuffled from the security office and back to their posts. It was over for another night. Jeremy had asked the others what happened to the people when he first started, but no one seemed to know. There was a legend of one of the guys, before his time, that had stayed out and no one had seen him again. Apparently it had been reported to the police, but his family had no memory of him. Jeremy believed it was just an urban legend, but still, he didn’t want to test it. What ever they were up to, it wasn’t normal. Management knew it was happening and they were fine with it.

Jeremy stretched and yawned, finally he was done. He grabbed his bag from the back and slung it over his shoulder, he slowed slightly as he past Christie, she didn’t notice him.
“Have a good day.”
“huh? Uh yeah, you too.”
She never looked up from her book.
He kept walking, hoping she didn’t see his blush. He kept his head down as he stepped outside into the drizzle.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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