Updated: Mar 24, 2020
There are times when this world drifts so close to the fabric of reality that I can hear something calling me from beyond that veil. Sometimes when I get too close, I can feel that thing on the other side tugging at the corners of my mind.
I’m worried about Carlos. He doesn’t seem to be taking this so well.
In case you don’t know, I work at the shitty gas station at the edge of our small town, and weird things have been happening for as long as I’ve been here. I’ve finally started to tell some of my stories:
When I returned to work after my post yesterday, I was delighted to find a stack of receipt papers sitting neatly on the register counter with notes written in my own shaky hand-writing. I don’t remember writing all of these notes, but then again, I don’t remember a lot of things. It is possible that I’m working too hard. Or maybe the fumes coming from beneath the gas station are playing tricks on me. Or perhaps it’s just another side effect of my condition. At any rate, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Or any other animal in any other orifice, for that matter.
Admittedly, my handwriting isn’t the best. And at times, the scratches on the receipt paper become nearly illegible. So if anything herein seems unbelievable, it’s probably because I copied it wrong. With that in mind, this is my best effort at a transcription:
7:00 – It’s getting dark earlier these days.
7:30 – Farmer Junior came into the gas station tonight, asking about the hand plants. I told him that they weren’t there anymore. He left his phone number scribbled on the back of a coupon for fifteen-percent off bulk pig feed from an online retailer. I think he’s trying to send me a message.
9:00 – I think maybe some kids are playing a prank on me. I found a lawn gnome behind the pork rinds. I didn’t think much about it, and put him in a box behind the counter. But then I found another matching lawn gnome in the soda case. I added this one to the box as well. It wasn’t until I noticed the third and fourth lawn gnomes that I started to suspect something.
I had taken out the garbage and found the gnomes perched atop the branch of a tree next to the dumpster, staring down at me like gargoyles. I used a chair and broom to knock them down, and I put them in the box with the other three.
When I got back to my desk, I found a note on my chair written in red ink. It says simply, “I’m in the walls.”
I don’t know who wrote it, but the paper smells like oranges and plumeria.
10:00 – There is a strange scratching noise coming from the tiles above the cash register. I fear Rocco and his brood may have infiltrated the building again.
11:00 – Farmer Junior called the store. He asked about the hand plants. I assured him that they weren’t there anymore and if they ever showed up again, I would call him. I think he’s beginning to suspect that I’m lying.
12:00 – One of the cultist recruits wandered in from the community in the woods. (They hate it when I call them cultists.) I know the recruits aren’t supposed to interact with the outside world, but from time to time they will sneak into town, never any further than this gas station, and buy cigarettes. They aren’t supposed to try and recruit new members until they graduate to the honorable senior cultist status, but this one isn’t a very good cultist. I know they aren’t supposed to have names, but I’m going to call this one Marlboro. I’ll let you guess why.
Marlboro stayed in the store for at least half an hour, trying to convince me to go back to the compound with him. (They hate it when I call their home a compound.) He tried to appeal to my logical side, but I let him know politely but firmly that I was not interested in logic. I can’t remember when he left.
2:00 – I found myself digging again. Sometimes, on slow nights, I let myself drift. My mind goes somewhere and when I come to, I wonder: where was I just now? Who was that controlling my body while I was gone?
My body did those things I’ve done so many times before that I guess it’s learned how to do them without me. My body restocked the cigarettes, my body rotated the frozen drink machine, my body scraped the mold off the bottoms of the ice buckets, my body emptied the rat traps, and somewhere along the way, my body found a shovel, went out back, and started digging a hole.
Actually, I shouldn’t say my body “started” digging. I have been, or rather “my body” has been digging this hole, off and on for the last few months. Usually, I come to after a few shovel-fulls. This time, I added another foot deep before I snapped back to reality and asked myself, “what the hell am I doing?”
3:30 – I just noticed a door at the end of the hallway past the walk-in cooler. How long have I worked here and never noticed that door before? It seems disappointingly ordinary as far as doors go, except for the fact that it’s warm to the touch and feels like it’s vibrating. I tried the handle, but it’s locked.
When I got back to my register, I noticed a man in a trench coat standing outside beyond the gas pumps, just outside the reach of our lights, dangerously close to the road. I can’t tell if he’s looking at me, or if he’s looking past the building at the woods on the other side. I wish he wouldn’t stand there like that, stoic and still, with his arms reaching down past his knees.
The scratching against the tiles in the ceiling over the counter is getting louder.
3:45 – A man came into the store, rolling a large white ice chest behind him. He had sunken blue eyes, wiry hair coming from his nose and ears, long boney fingers, and paper-thin skin revealing every blue and green vein beneath the translucent dermis. He wore a bowler cap and smelled like milk. I had definitely never seen him around before. He asked if we would be interested in partnering up with him. He sold ground meat at discount prices, but I told him that our store doesn’t do well with the “fresh foods” category, recommending he try his hand at making jerky. Before he left, he scooped about a pound or so of raw ground meat from the ice chest onto a piece of parchment paper and gave it to me as a “sample.” Once he had left, I took the meat into the cooler, where I found another lawn gnome waiting for me. I put the gnome into the box with the other seven.
4:00 – Carlos just told me something very strange about Kieffer.
4:30 – There was a kid named Spencer Middleton who went to the same high school as me and Kieffer. Spencer was just a year ahead of me, but looked much older and acted much younger. I live in a small town, and small