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.
...Or not? Nobody’s there.
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.
Working the graveyard shift alone is eerie enough. I don’t need that extra creep factor.
I glance down to see some kind of toy on the floor. So, I pick it up.
“...What IS this?”
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.
“Wait, is THIS the customer?”
Nah, no way. Couldn’t be.
“I mean, how would a toy this tiny manage to walk all the way here? Someone must’ve dropped it.”
I shake my head. Best not to think about it too much.
Same goes for most things that happen here. It’s all way above my paygrade. I squeeze the slightly scary figure in my hand.
...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.
I shrug, clutching the toy a little tighter.
“Whoa! Is THIS thing making that weird noise?!”
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.
But as soon as I’ve had that thought, I feel a sharp, stabbing pain in my finger.
“OW!! Hey! What the hell?!”
To my surprise, there’s a visible bite mark on my right hand.
I’d say it’s, oh, about the size of this plastic monster’s mouth.
“...Hold on. Don’t tell me. You’re...NOT a hyper-realistic action figure?”
The little gremlin opens its mouth wide, and my jaw just drops.
...Oh my god, it’s alive.
He starts to nuzzle my hands and roll around my palms. ...Y’know, he’s actually kind of cute.
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.
The creature looks up at me with big, round eyes, opening and closing his mouth.
“Are you hungry, buddy?”
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.
“Maybe...I could get you some coke?”
I mean, thinking about most monster movies, you pretty much never see them drinking water, right?
It’s not the most outrageous idea ever.
And, hey — it seems to work for Masaru.
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.
He drinks it in careful sips, clearly trying not to spill any.
Yep. Totally adorable.
Well. Up until he suddenly starts twitching and shivering.
“Whoa! What’s happening?! Is something wrong?!”
The previously portable gremlin goes from pocket-sized to decently hefty in an instant.
He’s too heavy to roll around in my hands now, that’s for sure.
“Does coke, like...make you grow or something?”
The now-somewhat-larger creature makes a grab for the bottle of coke, and I pull it away.
“Whoa, nope! I’m not so sure you should be drinking this after all.”
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?
Nah. But, would he? Well, then again, maybe not.
“Here, you might as well have some chips, too.”
His eyes light up in expectation. So cute.
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.
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.
I prop my elbows on the edge of the counter, as I watch the little guy nibble his way through the crunchy treat.
...What am I doing? I really shouldn’t be feeding strange creatures snacks.
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?
But man, he’s seriously enjoying this stuff. Ooh, I bet he’d get a kick out of French fries.
...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...
I reach out and grab the monster, hiding him behind my back.
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.
...You’ve GOT to be kidding me.
“We’re the local sentai heroes. Surely, you pretended to be one of us as a child?”
Proclaims the red one, striking a practiced pose.
Ugh, spare me.
“Sorry, I was more a fan of the masked rider series.”
I shrug, saying this as apologetically as I can, but the team glares at me.
“...I see you’ve been brainwashed by the enemy. That’s nothing my patented ‘Red Chop’ won’t fix!”
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?
“What?! Aren’t you guys supposed to be friends?”
“More importantly... Citizen. Have you seen a monster roaming around these parts?”
“Could you...be more specific?”
I quickly glance down at the creature by my feet, hoping that he stays silent and out of sight.
“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.”
“Well, then! ...We’ll overlook it this time, but be sure to take your tasks seriously while you’re on the clock!”
With a sharp, energetic salute, the five-person team takes their leave.
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.
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.
Coincidentally, the new arrival buys a coke and a bag of chips, leaving without a single word. Yep. Another decently mysterious dude.
When I look back under the counter, the gremlin is gone.
...When did that happen?
Wait, did he follow that last customer out?!
I dash through the automatic doors, in time to hear a motorcycle peel out of the parking lot.
“...Or was that all just my imagination?”
The red ranger made a good point. Everyone wants to play the hero at least once in their lives. Still...
I scratch the back of my neck, staring at the leftover snacks sitting under the register.