The FossilCo convenience store (a division of GesteCo) was one of the larger ones in town, full of people at all hours. Mostly people passing through town on I-313 or students at the university across the way buying food to satiate their stoner cravings. I expected to find the usual half-dozen customers inside, shakily recovering from the massive blast of sound I had inadvertently released from GesteCo (as an “experiment”). I was stunned to speechlessness instead.

The interior of the FossilCo convenience store was painted a very bright, cheery yellow. Was shocking in and of itself? No. But it accented the shocking sights I saw within.

Someone was tearing through the stores of snack foods near the window, ceaselessly shoving them down a maw that was already discolored with food additives and leftovers. They tore at the packaging with their teeth, shoveling the quasi-food matter in with both hands despite the pile of wrappers that had already accumulated about their ankles and a noticeable distension of their stomach. Another person was engaged in the same, pounding at an oven at the counter to get the pizza within. Both of them looked terribly…well, jaundiced, would probably be the best word. There was a definite sallow and yellow cast to their skin that all but matched the FossilCo walls.

A bang from behind the counter startled me; I looked over to see someone pounding at the cash register with the same manic energy. It gave way as I watched, and the sallow customer threw themselves on the scattered quarters and dollar bills, shrieking in delight as they shoved low-value coinage into their pockets. The register couldn’t have had more than $20 total in it, but they were howling like they’d won the lottery. Just visible beyond them were a pair of customers, one store employee and one long-haul trucker, both making out furiously. The level of PDA was shocking; I had to turn away as the bile rose in my throat.

Customers seemed to have simply sat down to busy themselves with staring at the imitation linoleum floor, too. They gaped with blank looks on their faces as the others pirouetted about them in their madness. I saw one come up and violently rip a purse from one of their hands, meeting no resistance, only to discard it a moment later in favor of trying to pry a bag of Pork Cracklins from one of the frenzied eaters. When they did so, the customer immediately lost all interest in the item and let it fall, fixing their jaundiced gaze on something else one of their insane fellows held.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going in.

“Were you looking at my car?” I jumped at the sound. A customer who had been outside filling up had come up behind me, beaming from his bizarrely discolored face. “Yes, I can see why. She’s a beaut, best vehicle this site of the state capitol.”

I looked at the rustbucket she was indicating. “Ah…sure?”

“Only the best for thebesttodriveIalwayssayandI’mthebest!” her babbling boasting increased to such a pitch that the words were slurred together.

But it was the other driver who had been filling up that posed the real problem. He charged at me, screaming like a banshee and wielding a tire iron in once jaundiced hand.

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