The Night Shift, Part II

Part I of The Night Shift is here. Part III will be posted on Friday.

The kid jumped at the sound of her voice. He spun, a neat heel-toe that I never would’ve guessed was in him. Then he hissed at the chef. If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’.  Frickin’ hissed at her. I thought that was super weird.

Things got weirder directly.

“Oh shit,” said the chef.

They ran at each other. At least, that’s what I thought was going on. But the kid, he runs down aisle two at the chef, and the chef runs up and jump-kicks the shelving , like she’s the goddamn Karate Kid. The whole thing tips. The kid skids on a packet of Skittles and bites it just in time for the metal shelving to smash down on top of him in a hail of Snowballs and Corn Nuts.

I thought my brain was going to short-circuit.

“Oh my God!”  I hustled out from the counter. “You all right son?”

“Stay back,” said the chef.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I’m screaming now, and I don’t care. “You think you can just come in here and fuck up my store, kill some kid cause he looked at you funny? You think you’re some kind of fucking gunslinger or something?”

“Nothing is wrong with me, sorry about the mess, he’s not dead-”

“He’s not?”

“-Hell no, and he’s not a kid. And no, I’m not a gunslinger.” She hooked a thumb on the black nylon strap on her shoulder and swung her bag around so I could look at it.

“THE ULTIMATE EDGE,” I read. Okay. She was nuts. As if there was any doubt at this point.  Just gotta keep her calm until the cops get here. “I don’t know that purse brand, but I’m sure it’s a great one.”

“It’s a knife bag.” She squinted. “Ted.”

I rubbed my hand over my name tag. Back and forth.  Back and forth. “Knives, huh? For cooking.  At your job. ‘Cuz you’re a chef.”

The chef turned, set THE ULTIMATE EDGE on the counter.

“You don’t have to show me-” I said as she pulled on the zipper.

“Name’s Teresa. You can call me Reece.”

“Ted.”

“Yeah. I got that.” Reece unpacked THE ULTIMATE EDGE. Knives glittered. Big ones. Small ones. Skinny ones. Mean ones. Reece picked one up.

“Do you mind not doing…that?” I asked. Something rolled against my foot. I looked down at a can of Vienna Sausages. I looked over at the kid, still pinned beneath the metal shelving. His eyes were open. He wiggled. One arm was almost free.

“Hey!” I said. I walked over to the kid on legs shaky with relief. “Anything broken?”

He looked at me, mute.

I bent closer. “I said-“

His hand shot out from under a bag of Fritos and grabbed me by the throat. The pain was instant. I couldn’t breathe. I pulled at his hand with both of mine, but he was strong.  A shadow fell over me.

Reece.

“WHY ARE YOU HERE?” Reece shouted at the kid.

The kid spat at her.

Reece screamed in pain as the kid’s saliva struck her skin.

“You’re 86ed, you dumb mother,” she said, and stabbed the kid in the chest.

Green stuff came out, the exact green of those pine tree shaped car fresheners.

No red. No red at all.

I finally got the kid’s hand off me. “What. The. Hell?” I choked out.

“I told you he wasn’t a kid. They’re Nightwalkers, Ted, and where there’s one, there’s always more.”

I looked at the green puddle spreading across my floor.

“Tina’s gonna kill me.”

“Tina is not who you gotta worry about. Unless-”

“Unless?”

“She the owner?”

“Yup.”

“That would explain it.” Reece sounded almost relieved.

“Explain what?”

Reece looked at me.  “She’s their Queen.”

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