09 December, 2010

On the New Frontier...Who Said Shopping Wasn't Fun?

(This story combines some fact {From my experiences, as well as those of others.} and fiction from the holiday shopping season.)    



     "So it is completely fried?"
     A distracted nod from the computer engineer confirmed my statement.  I groaned, adding this to the small list of disasters for the day.  The engineer muddled about in silence, only chewing up my patience further.  Huffing, I said finally, "Solutions to this little disaster?"
     Staring for a count, he finally said thoughtfully, "The main processing unit has to be replaced.  The main logic circuits have fused, causing the system to lock in a loop. "
     Nodding, I mulled this over.  Knowing just how important the system was to operations, I frowned at it being down.  The company had a backup, but the system was older than it needed to be.  Knowing engineers as I did, I shuddered at how long this fix might take.
     "Is this a component I can run out and buy, then have you install today?"
     "Yes it is, "the engineer turned to me.  "I just thought of that.  Give me a moment to get you the information and switch you over to the backup."
     Minutes later, armed with precise details of what to buy, I set off.  I puzzled over the look given to me by my secretary Torli.  When I told her that I was running out to buy a piece of hardware, she merely nodded, her scales shading a crimson color.  I laughed it off, walking briskly in the fall air to the nearly shopping outlet.
     Upon reaching the parking area, I noted in dismay the place appeared to be packed.  Crossing through, I attempted to reason why the place sported more shoppers than normal.  Surprise flared through me as I walked, seeing the signs of people camping out.  My surprise ended, as realization of the date caught up to me.
     The day after Thanksgiving in the United States region of Earth.
     The traditional start of the Christmas holiday season recognized by a multitude of people on Earth.
     Black Friday!
     I calmed my racing thoughts, assuring myself it could not be all that bad.  I regained my calmness and sense of purpose as I reached the nearest entrance.  Surely, I told myself, in this day and age of technology, not everyone would be that silly.
     That thought lasted long enough for me to walk inside the outlet.  A moan of contempt escaped me unbidden, as my eyes and ears confirmed the worst.  The place was filled with beings of all kinds.  My plan of a quick run in and out faced the need for serious revision.  Gritting my teeth, I set off for the first store.
     Weaving through people, I only managed a couple of collisions.  I quickly lost my bearing, as the shopping area looked totally different.  I attempted to to flag down a passerby to no avail.  Shrugging, I set off in search of my objective, by any means available.
     After a protracted struggle past two large sales and the throngs attracted to them, I paused at a bench.  Sitting down, I yanked off first one shoe, then the other to rub my feet.  I knew the computer parts store was near, but I saw more sales ahead.  My mind wandered off, contemplating turning back and giving up.
     "What do you believe is the miracle of Christmas young man?"
     I turned to the right, startled at the question.  Standing beside me was a man dressed as Santa Claus.  Looking up at him, he stared back into my eyes.  My mind raced, strangely considering a serious answer to the question.  I never bothered celebrating the holiday, let alone think about it.  After several moments, I said as no answer formed in my mind, "I simply have no idea."
     To my utmost surprise, the character beside me merely nodded and departed.  Staring at the spot he occupied, I frowned at this random encounter.  I jumped up, moving off in the direction of the computer parts store.  I set my focus to maximum for the trip.
     A sudden bump and shove caused me to pause.  Grabbing the individual responsible, I smiled at them.  Holding out my hand, I snapped my fingers.  The girl in my grasp eyes widened, realization coming home.  She ruefully handed over my credit and identi cards.  I let go, giving her a meaningful shove in a different direction. 
     I continued on my journey, managing to reach my target minus (Much) more insanity.  Managing to side step a wrestling pair of customers fighting over some item, I leaped to the counter.  Reading off what I was looking for, a sales clerk returned with it.  Grumbling at the price, I forked over the necessary credits, departing lest a fight erupt.
     Passing a toy store, I doubled back.  My inner child surfaced at the worst of times always, but I relented and entered.  Surprisingly, the place seemed quieter than the rest of the shopping outlet.  I meandered my way through the store, grateful for a bit of quiet before attempting to escape.  I picked over the toys, some of them reminding me of days past.
     I picked up a transforming robot, smiling as it reminded me of my youth.  Turning over the package, I read over it with some amusement.  A slight smile surfaced, lasting until a mass hit me.  Turning, the toy also managed to disappear from my hands.  A female Eloisan glared at me, holding the toy I formerly had.  Looking up, she said defiantly, "You had this long enough.  Now it is mine."  And with that she marched out of view.
     Stunned, I quickly exited the toy store.  Walking slowly, I attempted to avoid contact with any being.  Christmas music blared over the roar of people, making a sound I never wanted to hear again.  I contemplated the total insanity of this holiday shopping thing I found myself in.  As I did, I bumped into a group of Santas.  As they moved off, I chuckled at my earlier random encounter.
      A small child appeared before me, causing me to crash into a (Inconveniently placed for me.) column.  Looking down, I prepared a full tirade for the child.  I stopped short, noting the ragged clothing.  I frowned, bending down to look the kid in the eyes.  I looked into void black eyes, as I handed her a mess of credit tokens.  I tried to decipher her expression, but she departed rapidly.  I watched her disappear in the middle of a large mass of shoppers, sighing.
     Shaking my head, I returned to my original purpose.  Just then a commotion of noise and light grabbed my attention.  Turning left, my curiosity caught me and sent me to the location.  Judging by the crowd, something truly entertaining had to be occurring.  I maneuvered for a clear view, finding a spot at the front of the crowd.
     A laugh overtook me at the sight presenting itself.  A magician, top hat and all, performed random magic tricks.  Some of them I knew, once having a friend who was a stage magician show me the inner secrets.  I laughed anyway, memories surfacing.
     Just then my eye caught movement at a corner of the small stage.  Looking closely, I noted both the ragged little girl and the Santa that asked me the question.  Both seemed, to my eye, to be just watching everything and everyone.  Keeping a figurative eye on them, I paid attention to the magician as well.  Laughing at a trick, I lost sight of those two figures.  Shrugging, I moved off before the performance ended and I found myself stampeded.
     As I deftly sidestepped a singing performance, a hand touched me.  Turning, I found myself face to face with a blue skinned Palatini.  Surprised, I opened my mouth to say something, but stopped.  Uncertain moments passed, then the Palatini let go and departed.  I stared at its retreating form (Members of the Palatini transcended traditional gender classification.) until I forced myself to locate a bench.
     Sitting, my mind worked into overdrive.  I knew from previous experiences that holiday shopping did weird things.  Nothing in those experiences accounted for what seemed to be happening around me now. I realized that I had wanted to leave the shopping outlet for sometime, but kept finding ways to stick around.
     A thought nagged at me.  Something about this felt vaguely familiar, as if I had seen it somewhere. I fought my rushing thoughts, eyes searching for something out of place.  On a whim I flicked out my scanner, dialing it to search for everything under the sun.  When the scan and my eyes returned a negative result, I huffed.  Perhaps, I mused in contempt of myself, I am getting too jittery in my advancing age.
     Rising from my seat, I calculated the distance to the exit.  Drawing a breath, I steeled myself for the dash to it.  Clutching my package close to me, I walked briskly.  I managed to dodge several large knots of shoppers, minus running into anything.  The exit appeared in my visual range, prompting a slight smile.
     I stopped in my tracks.  An odd sensation gripped me, the nagging feeling resurfacing.  Everything I saw and did replayed through my mind in one flash.  Turning, I spotted the Santa Claus, the little ragged girl, and the Palatini.  All three of them stood, looking intently at me.  I returned the regard, mind running for all it could. 
     The three of them wavered before my eyes, showing me nothing but a snowy landscape and a house.  My mouth shot open, as they returned to being three different beings.  The ragged little girl moved to me, holding out a small, bound book.  Mystified, I took it, looking at her.  She backed away, then all three disappeared from view.
     I turned, looking at everything going on in the shopping outlet.  Suddenly, I saw beyond the chaos of the shoppers.  I actually saw the people of all races, from all places.  My hand gripped the book tightly.  I looked down and ran a finger over the cover as I read what it was.
     A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
     I strode out of the outlet.  Just then my commphone beeped.  "Yes Torli, I am still alive."
     "Good Mr. Kaden, "Torli rasped.  "Galactic Charities is here.  Shall I send them off as usual?"
     Smiling, I said, "Not necessary.  I am on my way back to the office.  Please have them wait."
     The moment's hesitation before Torli answered provided all the answer of her thoughts on my sanity.  "Of course Mr. Kaden."
     I laughed as I rang off.  I too would question my sanity, excepting the fact of the book I held in my hand.

1 comment:

  1. Wow ... Nothing more need be said !

    ReplyDelete