Well. Things have been getting delayed a bit this week. As it is #Thanksgiving, it means tomorrow is #BlackFriday. I don't like that holiday.
I associate it with Mammon. The greedy demon? Yeah, that one.
So two years ago I wrote this short story, inspired by my low opinion of holiday shopping. It's about a young white witch, Sophia Clas, trying to find her sister Lucy who supposed to be working Black Friday at a dark and foreboding big box store known as Gen Mart.
This is a revision and a bit of a repost of the first part of the story. If you enjoyed it, please let me know, or better yet, share it with others who might like it too. I plan to revise the rest of the original story, at least to make satisfy me.
Enjoy! And remember, Mammon's Day but comes once a year...
Sophia Clas tugged her coat tighter against the cold November rain. It felt like cold knives against
Sophia never had been the tallest girl. She still didn't flinch in the face of the cold rain- nor did she let it deter her. Her white coat outlined her in the darkness of the cold November night. It matched her snow white hair. That and her pale skin almost made her into a walking white shadow. She clutched tight to a pair of knives under her coat. Sophia felt certain that she wouldn't have to use them. At least, not against anyone human.
The knives weren't meant for attacking. Most would-be muggers wouldn't expect to see them from someone like her. Black paint and arcane glyphs covered each knife. Fetishes hung from their handles. Each was a glass vial containing a tablespoon of rattlesnake venom. Sophia was certain either each had could scare any would-be attackers. Magical or physical.
The magic of the venom's spell would induce that fear of snakes. Who isn't little scared of poison? But it was a one-time trick. She couldn't rely on the spell working more than once for each knife.
"Assholes." Sophia murmured aloud.
I shouldn't expect something so bad here, Sophia thought. But mainstreet looked like a bad place to be. At night the old brick buildings that squatted over the sidewalks leaned in too far. Cracks grew into frightening lears. Eyes came out of every corner. Light seemed unable to reveal what the shadows hid. Shadows that looked like long claws.
It been years since any of the businesses on main street had recovered. Almost all stores had closed down. GenMart had killed them. First it drove out all the old business out. Then people started to move away. Or they became underpaid employees of the green-vested monolith.
Sophia sniffed. "Lucy. Lucy. Lucy. The things I do for Lucy..."
Only hours before, Sophia had looked down at her cellphone. She had been preparing materials, reading over some books and more or less waiting for Lucy to get home. Then her cell phone buzzed, causing the bells tied onto it to ring.
A text from Lucy.
And that was all it said. Nothing else. Now Sophia found herself going to Lucy, at the last place Sophia thought to see her. At Lucy's job at GenMart. Lucy always refused to accept Sophia's help. She wanted her own money, not money that Sophia had made from her own work.
I can't blame her. Who doesn't want to make it their own way? Who wants to be a leech?
Sophia shivered at the thought of going into that place, on this night of all nights. Late at night, right before Thanksgiving night was going to shift into friday morning. Black Friday.
Even here, in this town, people went insane on Black Friday. And Sophia disliked being around people already. It plagued her ever since she had been a little girl.
Sophia knew the words. She could repeat them, make herself see people. Smell and hear their auras, their emotions, their true selves. Sophia could unlock people, and she hated that. It was like putting your eyeball into the flame of a candle. Except that the candle was a person. Worse, they got to look right back at you.
After crossing the last street, Sophia walked past the small bank and Taco Bell. Those gave forewarning of the GenMart. She paused for a moment, in the parking lot of the closed Taco Bell. Then she continued on, steeling herself for the madness before her.
She stared at the crowded parking lot of the GenMart, filled with cars, tents, RVs and people. A crowd so vibrant with emotions that Sophia could feel it pressing onto her inner senses. Without having to opening them, she could feel the impulses throbbing around her. Greed. Want. Hunger.
It smelled like rotten fish and gold. That obscene stench that both entices and makes one want to walk away. A guilty sin that some people know they couldn't refuse. But they still make the choice, to wallow in that stench.
"Lucy, Lucy, Lucy. The things I do for Lucy." And with that, the white witch walked into a maw of hell.
Sophia steeled herself. Then she took up a quick pace. She entered the encampment of Black Friday shoppers, most of whom, at first, paid her no mind.
The people in tents crowded around propane-powered ovens. Others just stood there, their eyes glazed over. Some looked tired. Others stared back at Sophia, with empty eyes.
She sped up her pace a bit. This many people, in this place. It wasn't her ideal environment. The white witch found this many people noxious.
Ugh. Thanksgiving is just five minutes over and you people have been waiting here for how long? Sophia thought, disgusted at the sight of most of them. And for what? Cheap Chinese plastic?
As she moved toward the front of the GenMart, more and more eyes shifted to her. Sophia closed her eyes. She tried to keep focus, to keep her hidden senses closed. She didn't want to see all the things that a Black Friday crowd at GenMart had stuck to them.
"Hey!?" One person called.
"What makes you think you can cut in line?" A old woman screamed at her.
Sophia tried to ignore them. Then the pair of voices turned into a chorus yelling at her. Sophia blinked, now standing five feet from the front doors of GenMart.
The chorus then turned into a tirade. People got out of their chairs. Others stood up and pointed. Screaming. Sophia watched an older man get thrown down, knocked over by the mob. Everyone was getting up and moving forward, screaming at her.
Her heartbeat started to thrum hard in her chest. She pulled one of her knives out of her coat, unsure of what was going on.
She looked at the GenMart front glass doors. There stood a GenMart employee, wearing the ugly green and red GenMart vest. They looked confused at her, and Sophia tried to call out to the employee. He didn't hear her.
Sophia tried to ask about Lucy, yelling as loud as she could. But she couldn't even hear her own voice anymore.
The mob got louder and louder, barreling down at her. Sophia looked around, realizing she stood before a stampede. White hungry eyes and the mad shuffle of feet rushed headlong at her.
Sophia moved to the fallen old man, pulling out her knife. Mark with icons of her own power, consecrated by her magic beforehand. She covered the old man with her body. Then she held the knife high in the air.
She muttered a word that only she could hear, just as the mob started to flood over her.
"Aurora." The cold fear contained in the knife released. It went into the crowd, the raw emotion pushing people away. Away from her and the old man.
The front glass doors of the GenMart shattered. The mob dove into the GenMart. They started to trample over Sophia. Then, they stepped away. Each black friday shopper stepped around the aura of fear Sophia had made for them. The magical energy buzzed into her mind.
Sophia's eyes stung as she tried to stand up. She couldn't quite see. All her magical senses had opened. Sophia could see and feel everything going on around them. The raw emotions and spirits of the people and Genmart. The stench of opulent greed and rage overwhelmed her.
"I... can't... see." Sophia couldn't focus her vision.
She crawled forward, her gloved hands now covered with glass shards. Her eyes could only see the clean, straight, and artificial tiles of the GenMart floor. People's shoes and boots and bare feet covered the floor.
And coins. Between each watery eye blink, Sophia saw golden coins clutter to the GenMart floor. Coins the size of her palm. Each had a demonic grin, filled with sharp teeth and a pair of sunken eyes. Etched on each coin read the words: "In Mammon We Trust."