Feeling Of Malaise – Part 1

It’s the midnight shift at Save a’ Lot. Lindsay and Hazel begin to unload huge crates of yogurt into the diary section.

Bon Jovi plays over the radio. They’d played this song all day. Livin’ On A Prayer, she knows the song. Its tinny sound makes her clench her teeth.

The flavors are unappealing to Lindsay. Unwanted and abandoned experiments from Chobani and Yoplait taken into their care, for half the price. The remnants of slimy fruit carcasses mashed at the bottom of a curdled, vanilla ocean. Chocolate and mint and banana peddled by a dead-eyed cartoon monkey. He’s hanging upside down from an unseen tree.

Tennis shoes squeak across the freshly waxed tile, as freshly waxed as Save a’ Lots go. They are the only two there. The store is supposed to be open for another two hours. But there’s a consensus between them; it’s time to stock the diary section.

“Why do we need so much goddamn yogurt anyway?” Hazel says, “No one who shops here is looking for perishables.”

The refrigerated units hum in agreement. Hazel grunts, takes another chilled box from the dolly, and starts to unpack it. Star Drizzle, Blue Alien Sludge, Intergalactic Sunrise. No clue to the flavor. Lindsay grimaces. The things they peddled to kids these days.

These days.

Hazel looks at her, bloodshot brown eyes scanning her face. Her skin smells like cigarettes. Lindsay knows she’s waiting for a response.

“Yeah, it’s stupid.” The words seem to satisfy her. Her coworker smiles stiffly and starts to work again.

It could be the lights. Fluorescent lights, that flickered seemingly every time she blinked. It could be Bon Jovi’s voice, after hearing it nearly every hour on the hour. It could be Hazel, standing straight when Lindsay knew she’d had back problems that caused her to slouch.

But something is wrong. Something feels off.