THE DARK KRAFT #5
“The Darkest Friday”
It was 11:50pm on Thanksgiving night, ten minutes before the electronic store Major Purchase opened their doors for Black Friday. The staff sat in the small break room listening to their store manager, Chace, list the sales goals for the Good Buy Sale. Expectations were high. Chace wanted $200,000 in the first hour. The staff murmured their disbelief at the goal, but Chace assured them good customer service would serve them well.
During the meeting, E.G. sat anxiously in his chair, staring at the red numbers written on the dry erase board. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt there was something sinister about those numbers: 667. Maybe because it was one more than the number of the beast, or simply because they were in red, it unnerved him. He waited for Chace to address them, but he never did. At 11:55pm, everyone filed out onto the sales floor to take their positions.
Chace followed E.G. to his cashier station and tapped him on the shoulder. “Hey, Egge. I was going to have Kelly and Stacy on cashier duty tonight.”
E.G.’s relief could not be overstated. He was not looking forward to having to deal with the customers in that capacity. “Then what am I doing?”
Chace handed him a tally counter clicker and smiled. “Corporate wants to know how many people walk through those doors.”
E.G. noticed something dark in Chace’s eyes that made him shiver. He couldn’t figure out what he was feeling or what he thought he was noticing. It made his stomach churn, or maybe that was all the stuffing he ate earlier. It was what Chace said next that cemented his feeling of unease.
“Let me know when we hit 667, alright?” Chace winked at him as he walked away.
What was the significance of 667? He wanted to believe maybe the 667th customer would get a free prize or something, but deep down he knew there was something worse in store for that person.
At 12:00am, the floodgates opened and the people poured inside, pushing and shoving each other aside to be the first to get the shiny things they craved. E.G. struggled to accurately count them, but he managed.
This was E.G.’s first experience working retail on Black Friday, so it was haunting to see what he had only seen on Facebook and YouTube in person. People were arguing and fighting each other for electronics that would soon be obsolete the second they walked out the door. He stared wide-eyed as the greed of people who were so thankful mere hours ago compelled them to almost kill each other. He made a mental note to be sure to quit before next year’s Black Friday.
By 12:30, there were excruciatingly long lines to check out. E.G. observed that Kelly and Stacy were the only cashiers posted. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, except this was Black Friday. He expected Chace would have assigned at least two more cashiers. Alex and Steven weren’t doing anything, so they could definitely help break down the congestion. Alas, he was not the manager, therefore, it was not his call.
At 12:35, the 667th person walked through the door. E.G. alerted Chace of this via his walkie talkie. A moment later, red lights began flashing and a loud siren sounded, startling everyone. E.G.’s stomach churned more aggressively. Whatever he was dreading was about to begin.
An unseasonably warm breeze blew through the doors as they suddenly closed, and locked. The anti-theft gate lowered on its own and latched into the floor. The windows got the same treatment. Customers began to murmur their concerns about a fire drill. E.G. knew this wasn’t a fire drill. Far from it. He just didn’t know what it was instead.
Chace emerged from his back office carrying an old leather bound book, which emitted an eerie green glow. He read from it aloud in a language E.G. knew wasn’t English. Then the chanting began. His coworkers joined in repeating a singular phrase with more intensity with each iteration.
“What the fuck is going on?” E.G. shouted over the deafening chorus. “Stop it! Stop it now!”
He ran to the gate and tried to unlock it, but it didn’t budge. The same eerie green glow seeped from the gate, threatening to engulf him in it. He stepped back in horror as the realization that dark magic truly existed.
“Zigoroth, we summon thee! Demon of Envy, Demon of Greed, we call to thee to collect your bounty.” Chace shouted enthusiastically. “See the crop of greed we have harvested for you! Please accept our tribute.”
Stacy and Kelly repeated “Please accept our tribute,” while Steven and Alex continued to chant the spell.
E.G. wanted to do something to stop this, but he was out of his element. How could he go up against his coworkers who had dark powers? What could he even do?
The floor quaked beneath their feet as if something was tunneling its way up. E.G. could feel its hot energy getting closer. It was huge, whatever it was.
The cell phone section of the sales floor suddenly exploded and scattered all over. Concrete and cheap cellular plans rained down on everyone. People screamed and ran every which way, but it didn’t matter, there was nowhere to hide.
A gaping hole stood where the phone kiosks once stood, emitting immense plumes of smoke and heat from it. Out of it rose a large green monster which hovered above them. It had large pointed ears, glowing red eyes, a mouth full of jagged teeth, claws that would make Wolverine jealous, and the torso of an Austrian bodybuilder.
He stretched his arms out wide and groaned. “I have come and I accept your tribute!” Zigoroth licked his lips and drool escaped his maw. “Your greed has doomed you all, you pitiful, filthy creatures.” He inhaled deeply through his nose, his nostrils flaired as the scent of greed filled him.
The customers stared up at the demon with terror, still clutching their prospective purchases, as it loomed over them. They knew it was all over for them and they deserved what was coming.
Zigoroth snapped his fingers and the entire floor short of the cashiers and the front entrance fell away, taking everyone but the employees down to the depths of Hell. The demon cackled as the screams of the damned rose to meet him.
“NO!” E.G. cried out, not believing what he had just witnessed. “How could you?” He turned to Chace and glared at him intensely. “You’re a monster! You’re all monsters! You should be in Hell, not them.”
Zigoroth cleared his throat. “And that brings us to the next item of business.”
Chace nodded his head. “That it does.”
“What business is that?” E.G. asked, afraid to know the answer.
“For the continued success of our store, we must offer a sacrifice,” Chace replied darkly.
E.G. didn’t like the way Chace was looking at him. He didn’t have long to object. With a snap of the demon’s fingers, the floor beneath E.G. fell away, plummeting him into the hellscape below. His screams were music to Zigoroth’s ears.
“It is done,” Zigoroth said. “I’ll see you again next year.”
The air pulsed with heat as Zigoroth descended below. When he was gone, the floor rematerialized like nothing had ever happened.
Chace shut the book and sighed. He gazed proudly at his staff and smiled. “Job well done, team! Another successful Good Buy Sale. Let’s tidy up and go the fuck home. Take tomorrow off!” The team went about their work joyfully, thankful to have survived another Black Friday.