Chapter 21:

The Mermaid Princess Makes A Splash

It’s My First Time Working Late Nights at a Convenience Store, and If I Keep Getting Demon Lords, Kappa and Other Oddballs as Customers, I’m Giving My Two-Weeks’ Notice


This is my twenty-seventh convenience store graveyard shift.Bookmark here

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Ding-a-ling-a-ling...Bookmark here

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“Welcome, irasshaim-... Ah! Irasshaimase!”Bookmark here

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Startled, I can’t help but call out the greeting a second time.Bookmark here


You want to know why? Because a real, live, regular human being has finally walked through those doors.Bookmark here

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“My goodness! The door opens all on its own! Why, it’s just like magic!”Bookmark here


An absolutely gorgeous young woman rolls into the store, sitting in a wheelchair. Her pink hair flows out in waves from the white, floppy, wide-brimmed hat that compliments the floor-length white dress that obscures her feet. I swear, she could be a movie star.Bookmark here

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...Most people don’t make such a big deal of the automatic door, though. Still, she seems human enough.Bookmark here

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Who cares? The evening that I get an actual person as a paying customer has arrived!!Bookmark here

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The gentleman pushing the wheelchair is wearing a black suit with sunglasses. Is she famous or something? And he’s like, her bodyguard?Bookmark here


The young woman claps her hands together excitedly as she bathes in her surroundings.Bookmark here

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“Oh! Oh my, my, my! So, this is a human convenience store! How splendid!”Bookmark here


Okay, that line makes me do a double take. I squint, staring a little harder at the new arrivals. Bookmark here


Now that I’m really looking at her, I can see what looks like gills poking out from beneath her ears. Hang on, and isn’t the guy behind her kind of...shiny? I mean, no one’s face glistens that much.Bookmark here


Don’t tell me... Tonight’s guests aren’t my long awaited first human customers, are they?Bookmark here

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“Well, now! You must be this store’s overseer. We shall be in your care this evening.”Bookmark here

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The young woman gives me a graceful bow, while her bodyguard offers a deep, respectful nod. I can’t help but reply to their elegant manners with a...Bookmark here

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“Oh, uh, the pleasure’s all mine.”Bookmark here

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Coupled with a decently polite bob of my head.Bookmark here


...What’s gotten into me?! “The pleasure’s all mine”?! I’ve NEVER said anything that flowery before!!Bookmark here


“Goodness, there’s so much to see here! It’s thrilling, isn’t it, Umibozu? Hurry, let’s do a lap!”Bookmark here

“Right away, Miss Mermaid Princess!”Bookmark here

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Uh, “mermaid princess”?! ...Like the one from that super-famous fairy tale? ...She was a princess, right? And she bothered to come up on land to visit a convenience store?! Nah. No way. That can’t be possible. ...Can it?Bookmark here

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With an energetic pump of their fists in the air, the fishy-looking pair start their grand tour. They’re so into it that I can’t help but smile.Bookmark here

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“Umibozu, what do you think this might be?”Bookmark here

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Wait, did I hear that right? Did she just call him “Umibozu”?Bookmark here

Isn’t that the name of some kind of legendary sea monster?!Bookmark here

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“Hm, let’s see... This is... I’m not certain. I’ll ask the gentleman behind the counter.”Bookmark here


Umibozu inches a little closer to the register, as he tentatively calls out to me.Bookmark here

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“Excuse me, sir? There’s something we were hoping to ask you about.”Bookmark here

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“Sure, what seems to be the trouble?”Bookmark here

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With a polite grin, I leisurely make my way over to the bubbly duo.Bookmark here


It’s what the mermaid princess is holding, though, that stops me dead in my tracks.Bookmark here

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“Something the matter?”Bookmark here

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I wobble, my vision swimming, which prompts the concerned question from the bodyguard.Bookmark here

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“Oh. Um. I’m fine. It’s just, uh...”Bookmark here

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“My! That was fast! Mr. Human, what might this be? Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to want to open.”Bookmark here

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That’s because what she’s holding is porn. Ignoring the mermaid princess’ attempts to remove the plastic ties protecting the lewd magazine from prying eyes, I focus every fiber of my being into figuring out how to explain porn to the two innocent customers. Actually, wouldn’t it be better if they stayed blissfully ignorant of the subject material? Should I just...come up with some kind of white lie?... Oh, hell! How should I know?!Bookmark here


“Uh...! It’s, um, y’know. THAT. It’s only meant for adults. Unless the book recognizes that you’re, uh, a certain age, that band around it won’t even budge.”Bookmark here

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“You don’t say! And after all that fuss I went through to get the Sea Witch to turn me into a human! ...Then again, I suppose that doesn’t make me a proper human adult. Well! It must be aware that I’m not the genuine article.”Bookmark here

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The mermaid princess slumps slightly in defeat, so Umibozu offers his assistance.Bookmark here

“Miss, allow me. It might acknowledge me as a human adult.”Bookmark here

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He takes the sealed magazine in his hands, turning it this way and that, inspecting it from every possible angle. As I watch him tug on the plastic band, I feel a twinge of guilt.Bookmark here

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“No, it’s no use. Then again, that’s no surprise. I was, after all, one of the massive black monsters of the depths... That is, until I became a being of flesh and blood, thanks to the Sea Witch’s powers. This is quite the impressive artifact, if it can discern that neither one of us is a fully human adult.”Bookmark here

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It’s...really not that all-knowing. I’m so sorry. It’s just your everyday, run-of-the-mill, R-rated magazine.Bookmark here


“Are you feeling well, sir? You’ve hidden your face in your hands.”Bookmark here


“No, it’s... Never mind, it’s nothing.”Bookmark here

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I don’t know what to say anymore.Bookmark here

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Still, I wasn’t going to be the one to introduce these two naïve convenience store newbies to the seedy world of adult entertainment.Bookmark here


“Thank you for your assistance. Should we have any other inquiries, we shall be sure to ask! Tee hee!”Bookmark here


Grinning from gill to gill, the princess and her bodyguard restart their circuit with the same vibrant energy as before.Bookmark here

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Meanwhile, I drift back to the register, still keeping an eye on them.Bookmark here


“Could it be?! Are these...the instant noodles that I’ve heard so much about?! Oh, my word...! They’re so very light! And listen to the sound they make when you shake them!”Bookmark here

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“Miss, they even have extra-large ones!”Bookmark here


I watch as the mermaid princess excitedly inspects the instant noodle cups one by one. Sure, there are a few people who’ve never set foot in a convenience store before, but I doubt any of them would race around with such unbridled glee.Bookmark here


I know I should probably warn them about manhandling the merchandise, but I’ve never seen anyone have that much fun with a container of cheap noodles. So, I let it slide.Bookmark here

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“Goodness me! Look at all of the sweets! This must be what they call ‘penny candy’! Oh, these ones only cost ten yen a piece!”Bookmark here

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“Now miss, don’t go opening any items before you pay for them.”Bookmark here


“Oh, you silly! Even I know that much! But, isn’t this convenience store just the most amusing little place? It’s like something from a dream!”Bookmark here

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Clasping her hands together in a kind of awed reverence, they turn down the last aisle, towards the ready-made food section.Bookmark here


“Umibozu! Look! It even tells you to ‘please enjoy warm.’ Isn’t that thoughtful? And it’s been so thoroughly sealed, too!”Bookmark here

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“It’s quite something. Since we’ve come all this way, why don’t we dine on one of these warm meals?”Bookmark here


After some discussion, the pair settle on the seafood pasta and bring it up to the register.Bookmark here


“Can I heat these up for you?”Bookmark here


The mermaid princess’ eyes are sparkling in anticipation, and I wonder why I even bothered to ask.Bookmark here

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“Yes, please! That’s what that box behind you is for, is it not?”Bookmark here


“That’s right.”Bookmark here


While the microwave works its magic, she gets distracted by the food in the display case on the counter.Bookmark here


“Now, what might those round, white objects be?”Bookmark here

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“These? They’re meat buns. It’s basically bread stuffed with meat.”Bookmark here


That’s a pretty lame description, but it’s all I’ve got.Bookmark here

There’s no way that explanation would compel anyone to eat one, but...Bookmark here

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“Well, isn’t that clever! Shall we try some of these as well, Umibozu? In honor of the occasion.”Bookmark here


“Certainly, miss. I’m interested in them, myself.”Bookmark here

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Their eagerness to try pretty much everything — despite my crummy explanations — makes me feel a little better.Bookmark here


“Two meat buns, coming right up.” Bookmark here

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We’ve got a few different flavors here, but our best seller is the classic pork bun.Bookmark here


I didn’t really get into it, but we’ve got buns stuffed with sweet red bean paste, buns stuffed with cheese — there’s all kinds. But, I figure it’s best to just keep things simple and sell them one of the meat-filled ones that I’d mentioned.Bookmark here


I add in the cost of the extra snacks, and they actually pay in actual money. Since his hands are currently occupied, I place Umibozu’s share in the plastic bag that I hand over to the mermaid princess.Bookmark here


“Oh! It’s warm! See! They’re so soft and fluffy! How lovely!”Bookmark here

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The mermaid princess presses her hands to her cheeks as she gushes over the meat buns.Bookmark here

I’ve never seen anyone be so moved by these basic balls of bread. But, I kind of get it.Bookmark here


When their pasta finishes warming up, I put it in a bag with a couple of disposable forks, which I pass to the excited pair.Bookmark here

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“Thank you for everything, Mr. Human. This was a most enjoyable outing!”Bookmark here


“Your assistance was greatly appreciated.”Bookmark here

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Wow, they even bothered to compliment the service.  Bookmark here


...I think I might cry. I haven’t gotten customers as kind-hearted as these guys before.Bookmark here


But, when they go to leave the store...Bookmark here


“Oh, wait! I simply must take a closer look at this!” Bookmark here

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The mermaid princess pauses, captivated by the coffee maker that we have sitting near the entrance.Bookmark here

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“Excuse me! What manner of machine might this be?”Bookmark here

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“It’s a coffee maker. It makes drinks like, uh...coffee.”Bookmark here

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Oh my god, could I be failing any harder at describing stuff today?! Seriously, though — I don’t know what else to say about the thing! Gah, I wasted too many brain cells on whether or not to tell them what porn was!Bookmark here


“An object such as this makes beverages? Why, I never would have guessed! It doesn’t appear to be attached to any sort of faucet, either... Umibozu, let’s try this as well!”Bookmark here

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“I’m also intrigued by it. Should we purchase one?”Bookmark here


I get the feeling that this guy’s packing a fair bit of cash on him. And he’s got a swanky wallet, to boot.Bookmark here


But, I’m a little concerned. They don’t actually want to buy the whole thing, do they? I wouldn’t put it past them. I could tell them it’s ten thousand yen a drink and they’d probably believe me.Bookmark here

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“Oh, right. I should explain. I called it a coffee maker, but you’ve got a few options. If you’re not big on bitter things, you might want to try the matcha au lait instead.”Bookmark here

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They pay for two drinks, carefully placing the empty cups on the little pedestal before pushing the button. The machine gurgles, then a pale green liquid starts to stream from the nozzle as the soothing scent of matcha au lait fills the air.Bookmark here


The mermaid princess is completely enthralled by the entire process, unable to tear her glittering eyes away from the paper cup.Bookmark here

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“...Oh, look! It’s working! What a fantastic piece of equipment! It must have been designed by the gods! It’s simply divine!”Bookmark here

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Umibozu nods in agreement, offering further praise for convenience stores.Bookmark here

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“With a machine like this, you would be able to have whatever drink you desired, at any hour of the day. Isn’t that something! Convenience stores must be held in high regard, to be entrusted with such futuristic technology.”Bookmark here

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Then, when they finally get around to actually drinking their matcha au lait...Bookmark here

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“Oh my goodness! I’ve never had a beverage as tasty at this before!”Bookmark here


“It’s marvelous that such a delicious treat appears at the simple push of a button! If we hadn’t ventured out of the ocean, then I never would have known that such a spectacular item exists!”Bookmark here


It’s so nice to listen to them heartily appreciating their drinks.Bookmark here

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“Once again, you have our thanks, Mr. Human. To tell the truth... I happen to be a mermaid princess, while my companion is a sea monster. We were both desperate to get a glimpse of this world, so we asked the Sea Witch to grant us these forms. Although, if we do not return before the sun rises, the terms of our agreement state that we will be turned into sea foam.”Bookmark here


Those are...some decently high stakes.Bookmark here

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“We’ll only be human from midnight through to when the sun rises. Though sadly, there aren’t many establishments you can visit during those hours. We were introduced to convenience stores in a book about stores that are open all night long, so we rushed straight over! It’s such a wonderfully thrilling place! Thank you so much for having us.”Bookmark here


“Thank you, good sir. We only have a short time to spend here, but every moment has been enjoyable. You’ve made our princess’ evening. I trust that you will continue to watch over this precious establishment with the same care and dedication that you have shown here tonight.”Bookmark here

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With big waves and even bigger smiles, the two ocean dwellers take their leave.Bookmark here


Those two were such a joy to have in the store that I’m genuinely sad to see them go. I really do hope they come back again sometime.Bookmark here


I’ll bet they’d love the piping hot oden that we offer in the wintertime. Just thinking about their potential reactions makes me chuckle. Bookmark here

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