The night was late and the day had been the busiest the store had seen in ages. Lisa sat in the back office at her desk counting down the cash drawers. Tomorrow was the big day, Ralph was coming to inspect the store and evaluate her for the management position that was open. If things went well, she’d finally be on salary in stead of getting a lousy $6.50 an hour.
She watched Chris on the security monitor and cursed the little punk as he struggled to shelve the day’s returns. She guessed it had never occurred to him that wo rking in video store would be so much work. His face was contorted in pain as he carried stack after stack of videos back to their shelves. He suffered from a rare spine disease that made the work difficult for him and that would one day kill him as his malformed spine caused his kidneys to shut down.
She watched as he tossed aside the stack he carried stormed back towards the office door. He threw it open and stood before, face red and eyes filled with anger like her own. “I’m going home,” he said.
“Did I g ive you permission to clock out?” Lisa snarled.
“No, but I told my parents I would be home by midnight, it’s nearly 3 AM. I’m l eaving.” Chris turned his back on her and headed out of the office, his time card in his hand.
Lisa leapt up from her chair and grabbed him, shoving him so hard he fell to the floor. He looked up at her with hatred. “What the hell’s your problem bitch?”
“What did you call me?” Lisa raged. She dropped on top him straddling his struggling form. “You little bastard, I’ll teach you to talk back to me!” she wailed as something snapped inside of her. She grabbed a roll of pennies from a nearby drawer and rammed it into his mouth, shoving it around like a bar of soap. Chris gagged and tried to knock her off but she was too strong and he was exhausted. His back hurt and his arms had little strength left. His teeth bit into the roll as fought to breath. The spit soaked paper shredded and the roll broke open spilling its contents down his throat like a rain of metal. The coins slide down inside of him closing off his airway. His eyes burned with tears as the pennies cut into the insides of his throat. Thinking his increased struggling was against her, Lisa pounded him with her fists until they came away soaked in blood. Only when Chris lay still his eyes bulging and his skin blue, did Lisa realized what had happened. She felt sick and vomited onto his corpse as it grew cold under her. Through tears of her own, it sunk in that now she’d never get the promotion. Her sobs grew heavier as she leaned over and buried her head against his unmoving chest.
Copyright © 2002 by Eric S. Brown and Bewildering Stories.