Chapter 47:

A Gremlin Gobbles Up Some Snacks

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 night number seventy-one at work.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Welcome, ira-...”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...Or not? Nobody’s there.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I could’ve sworn I heard the door, though. Ugh, don’t tell me that we’re getting ghosts and stuff dropping by now? I’d really rather steer clear of the occult.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Working the graveyard shift alone is eerie enough. I don’t need that extra creep factor.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Huh.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I glance down to see some kind of toy on the floor. So, I pick it up.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“...What IS this?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

It’s a green-skinned figure of a pretty sinister-looking lizardman. ...Man, the detail on this is really impressive. The golden eyes glimmer in the light — and so do the sharp, pointy teeth. Even this guy’s scales feel like the real deal.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Wait, is THIS the customer?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Nah, no way. Couldn’t be.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“I mean, how would a toy this tiny manage to walk all the way here? Someone must’ve dropped it.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I shake my head. Best not to think about it too much.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Same goes for most things that happen here. It’s all way above my paygrade. I squeeze the slightly scary figure in my hand.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Grik.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Hm?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...Man, I’m hearing all kinds of random sounds tonight. I glance around, but the store’s just as empty as it was ten seconds ago.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I shrug, clutching the toy a little tighter.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Grik.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Whoa! Is THIS thing making that weird noise?!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Huh, a serious amount of tech has gone into this guy. There’s no way the rightful owner isn’t going to be frantically looking for it.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

But as soon as I’ve had that thought, I feel a sharp, stabbing pain in my finger.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“OW!! Hey! What the hell?!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

To my surprise, there’s a visible bite mark on my right hand.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I’d say it’s, oh, about the size of this plastic monster’s mouth.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“...Hold on. Don’t tell me. You’re...NOT a hyper-realistic action figure?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The little gremlin opens its mouth wide, and my jaw just drops.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...Oh my god, it’s alive.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

He starts to nuzzle my hands and roll around my palms. ...Y’know, he’s actually kind of cute.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Anyways, I figure the best thing I can do is set him up on the counter for now. He totters up to the register itself, plunking himself down on the edge.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The creature looks up at me with big, round eyes, opening and closing his mouth.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Are you hungry, buddy?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

He tilts his head to the side, as if to say that he doesn’t understand. Still, I get the feeling that he has a general idea of what I’m asking. Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Maybe...I could get you some coke?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I mean, thinking about most monster movies, you pretty much never see them drinking water, right?Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

It’s not the most outrageous idea ever.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

And, hey — it seems to work for Masaru. Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I grab a bottle of coke from the fridge, paying for it with the spare change I keep in my pocket for moments like these. I twist off the cap and pour a little of the liquid into it for the gremlin.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

He drinks it in careful sips, clearly trying not to spill any.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Yep. Totally adorable.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Well. Up until he suddenly starts twitching and shivering.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Whoa! What’s happening?! Is something wrong?!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The previously portable gremlin goes from pocket-sized to decently hefty in an instant.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

He’s too heavy to roll around in my hands now, that’s for sure.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Does coke, like...make you grow or something?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The now-somewhat-larger creature makes a grab for the bottle of coke, and I pull it away.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Whoa, nope! I’m not so sure you should be drinking this after all.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

He reaches out as far as his arms will go, desperately trying to get his claws on the coke. Huh. If he’s that into it, then maybe he’d also like to pair it with some snacks?Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Nah. But, would he? Well, then again, maybe not.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Here, you might as well have some chips, too.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

His eyes light up in expectation. So cute.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I pass the monster one (salted) potato chip. He takes his time, savoring the smell. ...That said, if another customer walked in, I’d have a LOT of explaining to do.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The gremlin breaks out into a big grin as he chows down on the chip. I thought it was a bit cringey when my manager had full-on conversations with our flowers...but now I’m chatting to monsters, so I guess I’m not one to talk.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I prop my elbows on the edge of the counter, as I watch the little guy nibble his way through the crunchy treat.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...What am I doing? I really shouldn’t be feeding strange creatures snacks.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Case in point — he’s growing again. ...Huh, he won’t fit in the palm of my hands now. Looks a lot heavier, too. He’s about the size of a hair dryer, I guess?Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

But man, he’s seriously enjoying this stuff. Ooh, I bet he’d get a kick out of French fries.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...Okay, we don’t actually have any, but we DO sell hash browns. But, just as I’m about to pull one from the fried food case...Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Crap.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I reach out and grab the monster, hiding him behind my back.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The second I do, a team of people dressed in skin-tight sentai suits file in order — red, blue, green, yellow and pink. You know, the same as those mighty-something whatever-rangers.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...You’ve GOT to be kidding me.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“We’re the local sentai heroes. Surely, you pretended to be one of us as a child?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Proclaims the red one, striking a practiced pose.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Ugh, spare me.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Sorry, I was more a fan of the masked rider series.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I shrug, saying this as apologetically as I can, but the team glares at me.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“...I see you’ve been brainwashed by the enemy. That’s nothing my patented ‘Red Chop’ won’t fix!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

That’s an awfully peppy way of phrasing something pretty terrible. What, so people who’re into the competing franchise need to be cut down?Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“What?! Aren’t you guys supposed to be friends?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“More importantly... Citizen. Have you seen a monster roaming around these parts?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Could you...be more specific?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I quickly glance down at the creature by my feet, hoping that he stays silent and out of sight.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“A clone escaped from our enemies’ lab. We must find the threat and neutralize it. We know that it ran towards this area. If you spot it, give us a shout.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Uh, sure.”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“Well, then! ...We’ll overlook it this time, but be sure to take your tasks seriously while you’re on the clock!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

With a sharp, energetic salute, the five-person team takes their leave.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

What’d they mean by “take your tasks seriously”? ...Oh. Right. The open bag of chips and the bottle of coke that I left on the counter. Yeah, that would look pretty unprofessional.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Ding-a-ling-a-ling...  Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“...Welcome, irasshaimase!”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

A long-haired man wearing a black jacket walks in. I quickly shove the chips and coke under the counter, pushing the scaly creature further out of sight. Having him under there means that I have to hover awkwardly over the register, though.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Coincidentally, the new arrival buys a coke and a bag of chips, leaving without a single word. Yep. Another decently mysterious dude.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“...Huh?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

When I look back under the counter, the gremlin is gone.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

...When did that happen?Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

Wait, did he follow that last customer out?!Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I dash through the automatic doors, in time to hear a motorcycle peel out of the parking lot.Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

“...Or was that all just my imagination?”Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

The red ranger made a good point. Everyone wants to play the hero at least once in their lives. Still...Bookmark here

 Bookmark here

I scratch the back of my neck, staring at the leftover snacks sitting under the register. Bookmark here

Bookmarked
You can resume reading from this paragraph.