Chapter 39:

Mary Mucks Up Her Mission

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

It’s my thirty-ninth evening at work.Bookmark here

Whenever the phone rings, for the most part, it’s going to be for my manager, not one of us lowly peons. Not that I’ve ever had to worry about it. In all my time working the graveyard shift, the store’s phone hasn’t rung once.Bookmark here

Besides, anyone who calls a convenience store at two in the morning either has the wrong number or is a belligerent drunk.Bookmark here

“Holy crap!”Bookmark here

It’s 2:22 AM. On the dot.Bookmark here

And for the first time ever in my history as a cashier, someone’s calling the store.Bookmark here

Okay, chill. I’ve just got to answer the phone, take a few notes, then put them on hold...Bookmark here

Before I can run off screaming for my manager. Yeah. Cool. I’ve got this.Bookmark here

I timidly reach out to grab the receiver, but the stillness of the empty store only makes my heart pound even harder.Bookmark here

“Hi, you’ve reached your local Mawson’s. How may I he-...”Bookmark here

“It’s me, Mary. I’m just outside the clinic.”Bookmark here

“Mary”? Haven’t I heard that name somewhere before?  Bookmark here

Oh, right. She’s supposed to be a doll or something. She keeps calling as she gets closer and closer, until she’s right behind you and... Uh. Bad things happen. Even I know that urban legend.Bookmark here

If she’s talking about a clinic, I’m guessing it’s the area’s Blood Red Cross? That’s kind of far from here, though. What’s she doing all the way over there? Setting the mood?Bookmark here

Nah, couldn’t be. For all the weirdos that we’ve had wander in here, not one of them has been from a horror story.Bookmark here

...Hey! She hung up on me! I didn’t even have any time to put her on hold!Bookmark here

“I guess she might call back, so...maybe I should go mention this to my manager.”Bookmark here

But, when I turn towards the break room door, it suddenly opens.Bookmark here

“Was that the phone just now?”Bookmark here

My manager pops out, already in his uniform.Bookmark here

Whenever he makes an appearance, I always feel so much more at ease.Bookmark here

“Um...yeah. Someone called like, two seconds ago.”Bookmark here

“Do you know what they wanted?”Bookmark here

I’m not at all sure what’s going on, but my manager keeps his tone nice and gentle. That kind consideration of his is s—Bookmark here

Brrrrring...Bookmark here

There it is again. The ringing of the telephone makes a chill run down my spine. It’s Mary. She’s getting closer.Bookmark here

“Hey, um... What if we just...didn’t answer that?”Bookmark here

I grab his arm, but my manager shakes his head.Bookmark here

“No, we can’t do that to our customers. Even the ones with unreasonable complaints deserve to be heard.”Bookmark here

Well, that’s why he’s the manager, I guess.Bookmark here

He picks up the phone, bringing the receiver up to his ear. I lean a little closer, so that I can listen in on the conversation, too.Bookmark here

“Hello, you’ve reached the Inukawa Mawson’s. This is the manag—”Bookmark here

“It’s me, Mary. I... I’m calling from a pay phone in a nearby park, and I was wondering what the best way to get to the convenience store was. ...Not that I’m lost or anything. I just wanted to, um, you know... Make sure that YOU knew how to give half decent directions.”Bookmark here

...Yep. She’s lost.Bookmark here

“By ‘park,’ I presume you mean the Inukawa Park? That’s roughly a ten-minute walk from here.”Bookmark here

That chill, level-headedness is so like him.Bookmark here

“Yeeeek!! What the heck?! A dog with the nastiest face just walked by!! Oooh... That was kinda terrifying. Being alone in a park at night is scary! I started over at the clinic, and that wasn’t too bad. I mean, hospitals and stuff are even freakier in the dark, right? Like, saying that I was close to one at this hour would make people nervous without even having to try. So, I— AAAAH! Oh my gosh!! That dog is LOOKING at me! No, seriously! He’s REALLY staring at me! Nope! No way! I’m super not good with dogs! The last place I lived in had this big ol’ stinky one, and I just can’t handle the slobbering things!”Bookmark here

“Calm down, miss. You’re only a short distance away. From the park, head out onto the main street. Then, turn right at the first set of streetlights. We’re located just past the residential area.”Bookmark here

“O-Okay. Whenever I get sent a text, if I call the number and someone answers, then I HAVE to go see them in person. That’s the rule. So, I...I’ll be on my way. ...Eep! You! Dog! Go on, shoo! Go somewhere else!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

There’s a click, and the line cuts out.Bookmark here

“Maybe I should have gone to pick her up.”Bookmark here

“...Nah, I’m sure she’ll be fine.”Bookmark here

On one hand, I’m glad she’s kind of ruined her whole horror vibe, but... If she’s afraid of dogs and other things that go bump in the night, then I have to wonder how she’s even made it this far in her career as a scary creature.  Bookmark here

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

Whoa, we’ve got a customer?!  Is it...?Bookmark here

“Welcome, Hm? Oh, it’s you! The booze hound!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Hey, kid! Howzit hangin’?”Bookmark here

The middle-aged mutt holds up his hand — sorry, his paw — and salutes the convenience store staff with a goofy grin. Bookmark here

“Pops! It’s been a while!”Bookmark here

My manager’s face lights up, and we’re all genuinely pleased by the impromptu reunion.Bookmark here

The porcelain doll that he’s dragged all the way over here, however, is anything but.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s me. Mary. In the flesh. ...Well, sort of. Ugh, would you look at this? I’m sticky and slimy and covered in spit, my hair’s a disaster, and I STINK. I’ve been to all kinds of places and scared SO many people, but this? I’ve NEVER been so humiliated in my entire LIFE.”Bookmark here

Her voice quivers, like she’s about to burst into tears.Bookmark here

“I saw the lil’ miss havin’ a rough time of things while I was at the park, so I thought I’d lend her a paw.”Bookmark here

Mary finally peels herself off of the convenience store floor. She takes a tentative whiff of the little pink purse at her side, making a face that suggests it smells awful.Bookmark here

Honestly, I feel kind of sorry for the poor girl.Bookmark here

The booze hound is grinning at his good deed, and my manager smiles in turn.Bookmark here

“So, you must be the young lady who called earlier. ...Don’t worry, you still look lovely to me. You did well to help this damsel in distress, Pops.”Bookmark here

“You call THIS helping?! Do you have ANY idea what it feels like to be picked up in someone’s MOUTH and hauled off at high speed?! It’s TERRIFYING! And that’s not all! Look! Look at my favorite purse! It REEKS! All I can smell is your disgusting drool! Ugh, it’s worse than rotting chicken!”Bookmark here

The petite porcelain doll stomps her feet in frustration, her shoes clicking on the convenience store floor.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“A-And you! Don’t you go calling me ‘cute’ or ‘lovely’ or anything like that! It’s not making me feel the LEAST bit better! Well, I guess I should thank you for giving me directions... Except they ended up being completely useless.”Bookmark here

Her fabulously disheveled ferocity is...surprisingly endearing, actually.Bookmark here

“I just...want to go home.”Bookmark here

Mumbling to herself, Mary turns and starts to stagger towards the exit.Bookmark here

“Are you gonna be okay on your own, missy? I can drop’ya off wherever you need t’go.”Bookmark here

The booze hound means this in this nicest way possible, but Mary turns, pointing a sharp finger at him.Bookmark here

“Don’t even THINK about it, you mangy monster!!”Bookmark here

She screeches the warning, glaring at him with all the strength she can muster. Then, she finally totters off to wherever it is she calls home.Bookmark here

I watch her fade into the distance, wobbling like some worn out office worker who’s done one overtime shift too many, while the two drinking buddies chat away. Bookmark here

Between getting lost, wandering around in the dark, then being carted off by a booze hound, this evening’s been nothing but a string of disasters for Mary. I get the feeling she won’t be calling us back any time soon.Bookmark here

Brrrrring...Bookmark here

“Hello?”Bookmark here

“It’s me, Mary. Um... I thought I’d go back to the clinic, but I’m not really sure where that is from here. So, I figured I’d at least try and head to the park but... The whole trip over was a blur, and now I don’t know how to get back there, either. ...Help?”Bookmark here

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