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A first night on the job happens to be... Halloween and there is more going on in the backroom than just stocking... No there is STALKING going on too!
The Night Stocker by Shane...
Support us on Patreon http://patreon.com/IncrediblyHandsome
A first night on the job happens to be... Halloween and there is more going on in the backroom than just stocking... No there is STALKING going on too!
The Night Stocker by Shane Migliavacca
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Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com
Executive Producer Rob Fields
Produced by Daniel Wilder
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The Night Stocker
Millicent Richards (Milly to her friends) sat on the edge of her bed, pulling on her sneakers. She took a deep breath, lost in her thoughts.
Tonight she would begin her first “real” job… on Halloween no less. A lot less fun than trick-or-treating with Annette Wilson and Diane Samuels.
Milly sure as hell didn’t want to go tonight, but she needed the money… and her parents could use the help.
She stood. On the radio, Bobby Brown was singing about calling the Ghostbusters while a muted Night of The Living Dead played on the TV.
She picked up her Bargain Groceries cap and adjusted it on her head. She took a moment to look at herself in the mirror… smartly dressed in her crisp new blue and gold uniform, her light brown hair pulled back into a ponytail.
“Not too bad.”
Switching the TV and radio off, Milly picked up her Walkman and orange book-bag. She turned to leave, but first turned to her poster of Patrick Swayze which hung on her bedroom door.
“Wish me luck.”
She headed downstairs. The staircase railing was decorated with orange pumpkin-shaped lights. Her mother always went all out for the holidays.
“Rise from your grave!” an artificial voice commanded from her brother’s video game in the living room.
“See you later, Russ.”
Without taking his eyes off the TV, Russ waved back.
Milly stepped into the hall, taking her coat from the closet.
“Can we manage Barb?” Milly heard her father in the kitchen.
“We can try. The extra money will help.”
“Is it enough?”
“I-I don’t know.” Her mother answered.
Milly went to the door quietly, and exited the house unnoticed.
Witches, zombies, and skeletons rushed up and down the street, on the hunt for candy or mischief.
She clipped the Walkman to her belt and slid on the headphones.
Retrieving her bicycle from the garage, Milly weaved her way through her mom’s crazy lawn decorations and past a pair of ghosts arguing over who had more candy.
She’d felt a bit self-conscious about going out in her uniform, but it was Halloween night… everybody was dressed up as something. Milly just happened to look like a Bargain Groceries clerk.
Once Milly was on the road, she peddled faster and faster. Scared she’d be late.
“Shit.” She came to a stop. A gaggle of trick-or-treaters and their chaperone were crossing the intersection.
“Damn it.” Milly swore under her breath. “C’mon.C’mon.”
A car roared up alongside her, its engine drowning out her music.
The red Firebird sat, waiting for the procession of kids to cross. Heavy metal cranked to the stereo’s highest volume level blared over the thunder of the engine.
Milly knew the car, she’d seen it several times at school.
Milly felt the two men inside watching her.
“Hey! Troy! Look at this! It’s a working girl! Get off the bike darling, I got something you can ride… it’s a stick shift!”
Milly gulped. “C’mon kids! C’mon!” She tensed up.
After the kids had all crossed, the car mercifully roared away. Milly exhaled and pedaled on
She skidded to a stop by the bike rack outside Bargain Groceries.
The parking lot was fairly dead… only some last minute shoppers left.
Milly quickly chained her bike up.
The sudden sound of heavy metal music made her heart skip a beat. A familiar red Firebird slowly drove past the store. She watched as it passed, turning off on to a side street.
There wasn’t much time to worry about if they were looking for her or not. As Milly was pretty sure she was late for her first night on the job.
The automatic doors swished open.
“Hey!” A young woman called. “Over here OC!”
OC was Milly’s nickname from way back, given to her by her best friend at the time, Samantha Vale.
A cute redhead waved her over to the break-room entrance. She was wearing a uniform like Milly’s but had an eyepatch and a fake mustache on for Halloween.
“Quick! Punch in! You got a minute to go!” The girl held open the break-room door.
Just inside the door of the break-room was a time-clock. Milly pulled out her punchcard and pulled the machine’s lever.
“Just in time.”
“Thanks Sam.” Milly said. Sam had always been a good friend, though high school social status had caused them to drift, they had reconnected and their friendship was stronger than ever.
“Stow your bag and jacket in the locker. I’ll take you to meet John, he’s out back.”
Sam pointed to Milly’s Walkman. “Better stow that too. John’s not into having that shit on the job… he’s not too bad… just has his own way of doing stuff.”
“Hi!” The cashier said as they walked past. Milly noted he was wearing pointy fangs.
“Avast me hearty.” Sam laughed. “This is Brian.”
“Hey, Milly! You're working here now?”
She felt a rush of embarrassment. Brain knew her, but she didn’t recognize him at all.
“Y-yeah…I sure do… ” she struggled.
He looked a little disappointed. “I sat behind you in English. Mr. Kendrick’s class.”
“Oh, sorry. Right!” She still didn’t recognize him. “Good to see you.” she lied. Thankfully Sam led her away.
“John’s a cool boss… can be a little intense sometimes ‘cuz he was in ‘Nam.”
Milly followed Sam to the back of the store, through large double doors. A sign read: ‘Employees Only!’
The back area was stuffed with racks and pallets filled with various products piled high.
In a cramped little corner in the back was a desk. A middle aged man sat, talking on the phone. He had the usual store uniform on, as well as a thick pair of glasses. His dark brown hair was cut in a neat crew cut that matched his neatly trimmed mustache.
“All right, I understand.” He wrote something on a pad. “Special shipment. Got it. We’ll be ready.” He hung up.
“Hi John, I’m not disturbing anything?” Sam asked.
“No, jokers from corporate are sending a special shipment for me to unload tonight.” He took out a metal lighter and cigarette. Lighting up, he turned to Milly. “New girl?”
Behind him was a sign that read: No Smoking. Next to that sign was a picture of John snuggling with a tiger cub wearing a camouflage cap. Both things summed John up perfectly.
“You come very highly recommended.”
“Well.” Sam blushed. “I better get back out there.”
She left, leaving Milly with John.
“So, I’ll lay out some ground rules around here and what you should expect to be doing, work-wise.” He opened the desk drawer, taking out a clip-on holster with a box cutter.
“You’ll need this.” He handed it to her, taking a puff of his cigarette. “Clip it onto your belt or pocket.” He looked at her shirt. “Did they give you an ID badge?”
She reached into her pocket, trying to fish it out.
He stood, crushing his cigarette under his heel.
“Skip it… c’mon, I’ll give you the cheap tour.”
“I have a little test for you.”
She followed him to an aisle of paper products. Paper towels, boxes of facial tissue and toilet paper. He arranged some rolls of toilet paper neatly on the shelf.
“We call this Facing or Blocking. It basically creates the appearance that the shelves are perfectly stocked. You do this by pulling a couple of the products on the shelf to the front. We also pull down anything that’s double stacked.”
He demonstrated for Milly a couple more times. Among some rolls of paper towels he found a jar of peanut-butter, causing him to grumble under his breath.
“See this? We call these returns or re-shops. People are lazy bastards… like to leave stuff they don’t want all over the store. Some do it just to be dicks.” He shook his head.
“You find something like this, return it to its proper place later… unless it’s something like meat, dairy, or frozen. Those are top priority and need to go back a.s.a.p.”
Milly nodded, trying to process all the new information.
“I have a few things to take care of. I want you to get a feel for doing it. Take your time. Do as much as you can. I’ll be back to tell you how much you screwed it up.”
Milly looked at him unsure.
John laughed. “Do your best. I’ll be back in a bit.”
He left, leaving Milly alone in the aisle. She wandered up and down before deciding to start on one end and work her way down. After a few minutes of work, Milly was starting to relax some.
This was kind of like Tetris… neatly arranging the brightly colored boxes together. This brand here, that brand there.
She stepped back to admire her work.
“Hey!” She heard Sam call out from the front of the store.
Peeking around a display of paper towels, Milly saw Sam confronting two girls. Milly recognized them… the MacNab sisters. They’d hung in the preppy crowd.
“I saw you.” Sam said. “You put a couple beers in your purse and tried to walk out.”
“Oh please.” Terri Macnab scoffed. “Do you know who our father is?”
“Yeah ‘Skids’” Kerri Macnab added.
She felt bad for Sam. Skids. That’s what they called anybody from the poorer section of town.
“Why would we steal?” Terri pointed out. “Our father could own you.”
“Yeah ‘Skids’ daddy could bulldoze your little trailer park hovel in a heartbeat.”
Milly knew Sam was holding back… If she didn’t need the job so much, she would have gave both sisters a good ass kicking.
“Pretty good kid.” John said.
Milly jumped. She’d been so wrapped up in her thoughts as she worked, she hadn’t noticed him standing there.
“Although you’ve been adjusting that one roll of paper towels for a good minute or two. Gonna make love to it?”
Milly set it the roll down, embarrassed.
John checked his watch, letting out a whistle. “Almost that time… gotta close up the store. Carry on with what you were doing… just don’t fondle any more paper towels.”
He left her alone again.
After a few minutes John came on the intercom. “The store will be closing in five minutes. Please make your final purchases. Thank you for choosing Bargain Groceries and have a good night.”
A few minutes later the lights dimmed a little.
She continued working. Without the din of shoppers, Milly could hear the store’s muzak.
“Trick-or-Treat OC.” Sam stood at the end of the aisle holding a couple candy bars. Brian stood next to her.
Sam handed Milly a chocolate bar.
Brian looked at Milly confused. “OC?”
“A nickname.” Milly answered. “Ask Sam.”
Brian turned to Sam.
“Maybe I’ll tell you the story sometime.” Sam snapped her bar in two. “If you can guess what it stands for.”
Milly crinkled the candy bar wrapper, sticking it in her pocket. “What are you guys still doing here?”
“We got ‘volunteered’ to help with that special shipment coming in.” Sam explained.
There was an audible click as the intercom came to life. A robotic female voice sounded. “Front end. Front end has a call on line five.”
“Ten to one the truck just got here.” Sam said.
The intercom crackled to life again. This time the automated voice was replaced by John’s. “Sam to the backroom. Repeat, Sam to the backroom.”
Sam started down the aisle. “Duty calls.”
“So what now?” Milly asked.
Brian adjusted his plastic fangs. “I guess we’ll just finish this aisle and then do the next.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Ocean Cruise?” Billy asked, off hand.
“OC. Just taking a guess.”
Milly laughed. “Sorry, no.”
“Damn. I’ll get it sooner or later.”
After a few moments, they finished up and moved on to aisle 2 which had a view of the parking lot.
Milly stopped. The sight of something sitting in the parking lot gave her a chill.
“No… no… no.”
She walked towards the front of the store.
“Hey, what’s up?” Brian asked.
“That.” Milly pointed nervously out the large front window. The Firebird sat there under a light pole.
“What about that car?”
“The assholes in the car harassed me on the way here.”
Brian sighed. “Damn it.” He shook his head. “Those two are always making trouble.”
“You know them?”
“Stay here, I’ll talk to them.”
Milly watched, feeling helpless as Brian left.
She watched Brian walk across the parking lot.
She needed to get John. Running over to the intercom, Milly fumbled with the buttons.
Her first attempt was greeted by earsplitting feedback.
Her second and third attempt went no better.
On the fourth try, her nervous voice boomed throughout the store.
“Hello? Hello? John to front! Repeat. John to front! Hurry!”
The sound of her struggling to hang up the intercom receiver boomed throughout the store.
She waited, expecting John to come rushing .
Instead, nothing happened.
Milly ran back to the front window and peered out. Brian stood by the Firebird, talking to the driver.
Not exactly the tense confrontation she’d expected.
Movement in the reflection of the glass made her turn in surprise.
There was nobody.
Something hit the floor in one of the aisles.
She walked by a display of Halloween candy. A plastic, candy filled skull grinned at her. Maybe this was a Halloween prank. Hazing the new girl ?
Milly turned back to check on how Brian was doing. Only to see the Firebird driving slowly towards the store… Brian nowhere in sight.
She watched as the car drove by the front of the store. The interior was too dark to make out its occupants.
Milly felt her heart beat faster and faster in her chest. She’d have to go out there and look. Brian could be lying, hurt, out of sight somewhere.
There was a first aid kit on the wall next to the intercom. She grabbed it, before heading out.
Pushing the door open, Milly stepped outside, into what felt like a dangerous, alien land.
“Brian?” She called out, her voice cracking and low.
Milly wanted to grab her bike… get home and hide under the covers.
She needed to get John, he’d know what to do.
Milly hurried back inside and locked the door.
Sliding on the high-polished floor, she hurried to the back of the store nearly toppling a display of Halloween themed cereal.
Barreling through the double doors into the back, Milly stopped for a second to catch her breath.
“John?!!” She called between gasps. “Sam?!!”
Silence… except for the constant low-rumble of the overhead heater.
The loading dock was empty.
The overhead door was open letting in the cool Autumn air where it poured in around the semi-truck backed up to the dock.
Milly started to panic… she was completely alone.
Her eyes scanned the dark, cavernous room.
The shadows hid countless possible terrors… but alas so too did the floor as she slipped in a puddle on it’s surface.
Landing hard on her hands and knees, Milly yelped in pain.
There was something wet and sticky on her sore hands. Raising them up, she screamed.They were coated in a crimson… blood!
There was a trail leading out to the semi truck and there seemed to be something hanging in the truck’s trailer.
With pained steps, she cautiously approached the trailer. Her eyes adjusted to the near dark of its interior.
Hanging from chains by his ankles at the trailer’s center was John, his forehead had a bloody gash.
“Oh god!” Milly stammered. “John?” She reached out, stopping short of touching him. “John, who did this?”
She ventured a little further into the trailer, there was no sign of Sam.
Turning around, Milly used the wall to guide her out.
Her eyes scanned the loading dock. They could be lurking anywhere. She had to get help.
On John’s cluttered desk, she’d noticed a phone earlier. Limping over, Milly snatched up the receiver and quickly dialed with bloody hands.
“We’re sorry. Your call cannot be completed at this time.” A robotic female voice informed her.
“Shit! Shit!” Milly slammed down the receiver. She was growing just as frustrated as she was scared.
John’s metal lighter lay on a stack of papers,‘Fuck Communism’ engraved on it’s front. She snatched it up and exited.
Limping along, she leaned on a concrete wall. The block under her hand glowed lightly. Pulling her hand away, a strange symbol pulsated through the concrete.
“What the shit is that?”
The bloody handprint she’d left was absorbed into the block.
Hurrying towards the double doors, Milly stopped. Someone walked past an aisle. A large someone… or thing…
Milly ducked down, she needed to get a better view of what was going on out there. Not far from her was a sliding white metal door.
She slowly unhooked the latch and pushed the door open and slipped into the dairy cooler. She spied into the store between gallon jugs of milk.
Her eyes caught another flash of movement.
There definitely was somebody here.
The intercom loudly crackled to life.
“Come out come out little goblin.” A voice hissed. “Trick-or-treat.”
An involuntary shudder of fear ran through her body. They were looking for her.
Sneaking out of the cooler, Milly made up her mind. She couldn’t leave Sam and Brian... Milly had to fight them… somehow.
There was another set of double doors further down. She used them to slip into the store.
Hiding behind a tank of lobsters, Milly looked up at the signs for each aisle. She was directly across from aisle 2… Housewares and Cleaning.
“Calling all assholes. I’m right here.” Milly called from the intercom as she stood, a broom handle held ready, rags tied to one end.
It wasn’t very long before a man dressed in a black leather jacket emerged from aisle six… a cheap Halloween mask hid his identity.
“Well, looky here. Little goblin girl.”
He strode confidently towards Milly.
Stopping, he looked down as his boot clad foot made a squishing noise. There was a puddle of floor wax in front of him.
“Sneaky… trying to make me slip.”
Milly took out John’s lighter and held it to the rags on the mop handle.
“Where are my friends?” She lit the end of the mop.
“With us. Just like you’ll be.”
She lit the puddle of floor wax. It exploded in a burst of flame, surprising Milly as much as it did the man.
“Fuck!” He recoiled, the tip of his foot on fire.
Another, similarly dressed man rushed down one of the checkout lanes at her as she ran for the door. Milly hurled the flaming mop handle at him like a spear.
Inches from the door, Milly stopped dead in her tracks.
Outside, robed figures stood side by side. Their faces were hidden by hoods.
One of the masked men grabbed her.
He wrapped his arms tightly around Milly. She thrashed and kicked to no avail.
The man with a burnt boot walked up to them.
“Lights out little goblin bitch.”
He pulled a black hood down over Milly’s head, enveloping her in darkness.
Milly felt herself being dragged along. She struggled, but it was no use.
After a few minutes, they roughly forced Milly to her knees. This Halloween wasn’t doing her legs any favors.
Someone yanked the hood from her head. As her eyes adjusted, Milly found she was flanked by Sam and Brian. Next to Brian were the men from the Firebird.
The concrete floor was bitterly cold. They appeared to be in the store’s large freezer. A black sheet covered a mysterious shape underneath.
Across the freezer stood seven robed figures. Behind Milly and the others the two masked men stood.
“This is bullshit!” one of the Firebird men barked, earning him a smack.
“Quiet pup.” The masked man hissed.
The center figure stepped forward.
“We’ve had our little trick-or-treat tonight. And I do enjoy a good treat.” He laughed, lowering his hood.
The older man was vaguely familiar looking. Milly thought as he paced back and forth.
“Tonight is a blessed night.” He said. “And you lucky few are here among us to bear witness and serve a glorious purpose.”
He reached down and pulled the black sheet up in one motion. Underneath, lying on the floor was a large gray-ish body. It was unlike anything Milly had ever seen before. It was similar to one of those diagrams of a person without skin that hung in science class, except this thing was way more muscular and had strange symbols cut into its chest, head and limbs, each one had a strange stone at its center. Milly noticed with a shiver that its limbs and head weren’t attached to the torso but were laying next to it, in an approximation of a human body.
“This is our Lord.” He smiled proudly. “Kul Nux! The Beast King!”
“A corpse!” the driver of the Firebird protested. “You’re fucking nuts!”
This earned him a punch to the jaw from one of the masked men, bloodying his lip!
“Leave him alone!” his friend pleaded. “He’s an idiot!”
“Shut up little bro! Stay out of it.”
‘Brother?’ Milly pondered. She looked at them…there was a resemblance.
“Enough.” The old man ordered. “No more delays.”
Then it came to Milly… this was Nathan Solomon, Founder and CEO of Bargain Groceries… his portrait hung in the back of the store!
“No shit.” She whispered to herself as she made the connection.
One of the robed figures stepped forward, handing Solomon a large, ornate dagger.
“Kul Nux! Betrayed by the Druids and slain by the warrior Aeron, h.. is body was dismembered… bound by Druid magic and scattered, still living. I’ve found him, built an empire for him… constructed this place of power to heal him! He’ll make this world right again!”
Solomon made a sweeping gesture.
“Blood will run in the streets and he’ll feast on his enemies’ bones. The king of a new order. But first the blood of the virgin must flow… ”
Milly felt her heart beat faster as Solomon raised up the dagger, “Virgin? Oh shit.”
“Bring forth the virgin.” He pointed at the driver of the Firebird.
“Me? I ain’t no virgin! I have a girlfriend in Canada! We’ve banged! A lot!”
“Randy no!” his brother cried out.
Two of the robed figures dragged Randy to where Solomon stood.
“Only blood will remove the runes binding our king!” Solomon brought the blade across Randy’s throat in one swift motion.
“No!” Milly heard herself gasp as blood sprayed out of Randy’s sliced throat.
Solomon held Randy’s limp body up as the blood flowed over the strange marks on the body before them. One by one the runes glowed. The severed limbs and head began to mend themselves to the torso of the strange body.
“Bring me another!” Solomon ordered. “Our king is thirsty.”
One of the robed figures grabbed Brian.
“Leave him the fuck alone!”
A battered John stood in the freezer door, a metal chain wrapped around his fist.
“Catch you cultist shitters at a bad time?”
The Night Manager let his fists fly as the robed figures advanced.
Solomon struggled with Brian.
“The king must have his blood!” He slashed madly at Brian, cutting open one of the young man’s hands.
The blood splashed across the body of Kul Nux. The once lifeless gray body shuddered to life. The body sucked air into its ancient lungs.
John decked one of the cult members. “Sam! Get everyone out of here!”
Sam and Milly grabbed Randy’s brother, and the three went for Brian, who was doing his best to fend off Solomon’s wild swings.
“No!” Solomon pleaded. “I must finish! He’s too weak!”
Milly set her jaw and unleashed a powerful strike to the old man sending him flailing desperately before he hit the cold floor.
The others grabbed Brian, and rushed to the freezer door, Milly turned to see John trying to fend off the cultists. At the same time, the monstrous form of Kul Nux began to rise.
“John!” Sam shouted desperately.
“Go!” He ordered.
Randy’s brother turned to Milly and Sam. “I’ll stay, get out of here! For what it’s worth, I’m Troy… sorry we fucked with you earlier.”
Milly nodded stoically.
Milly and Sam dragged Brian out of the freezer.
A hideous roar sounded from inside. Followed by the frantic screams of the damned.
“That thing has gotta be stopped.” Milly took a deep breath. “Get help.”
“What the hell are you gonna do?” Sam asked.
***Milly watched a reluctant Sam help Brian through the double doors. She scanned the room… then she saw it; the forklift!
Kul Nux banged on the freezer door as she made her way to the machine.
Milly climbed up into the cab and studied the controls.
“Oh shit!” She said, confused. There was a key hanging on a hook. ‘Like a car right?’ She turned the key and the forklift rumbled to life.
Okay, she could do this.
There was a loud crash as the freezer door surrendered to Kul Nux’s assault.
Milly scrambled to figure out the forklift controls. Most of the labels had long since worn off. “I can do this.” She repeated to herself.
Milly caught a glance of the beast king advancing.
“Time to die bastard!” She pulled a lever and the forklift jerked forward and stopped.
“What!” She screamed.
Milly pulled another lever. She’d managed to raise the forks up, but no forward momentum.
Milly yanked a second level.
The forklift roared forward. The Beast King seemed slightly perplexed for a moment, but it passed even faster.
Milly tried ramming him with the forks, but Nux was quick and strong enough to grab them. The creature pushed back against the mechanical strength of the machine, causing the wheels to spin out.
Milly swung the forklift around, dragging Nux who still pushed back.
“C’mon you hunk of crap!” Milly pushed the machine as far as it would go, slowly backing her bestial opponent.
Kul Nux roared. Milly found herself screaming back at the monster.
The old forklift lurched forward one final time not without struggle, but it was enough to knock the mighty beast king into the waiting maw of the nearby garbage compacter.
Milly sprang from the lift and slammed down the metal gate, trapping Nux inside.
The metal wouldn’t hold long as the enraged monster hammered it with his large fists.
Milly slammed her palm down on the large green button. The compacter squealed to life. Kul Nux fought back, trying to stave off the crushing grip.
But in the end, the strength of the large machine was too great. Nux’s arms shattered under the strain as he was crushed. Letting out one last pitiful, defiant roar.
They found John and Troy dead in the freezer along with the cultists.
Milly took John’s pack of cigarettes.
The sound of sobbing came from behind a stack of egg cartons. Solomon, curled up in a ball was devastated.
“Our king… Our king… ”
“The king is dead.” Milly informed him.
She lit one of John’s cigarettes and exhaled.
The doors to the store unlocked as the rising sun filled the building with hazy orange light.
Two girls from the dayshift entered the store and caught a glimpse of the mess that was Milly.
“Oh my god.” One stammered. “Are you okay?”
“First night.” Milly answered, the spent butt of the cigarette dangling from her lips.