He tossed left and right until he could find a comfortable spot on his bed. He was tired and felt sleep beckoning but each time he closed his eyes, he would find himself with his eyes open. He wanted to try taking sleeping pills but was worried he might suffer some sort of side effect later in life. Finally giving up, he sat up in his bed.
He looked at his night table where his alarm clock sat. In bright neon green, it read: ‘2.45AM’. He sighed thinking about what he could do to fall back asleep. He could run around his apartment and tire himself out. Or he could do the cliche thing of closing his eyes and counting sheep. As he was just about to get out of bed to Google ‘ways to fall asleep’, he felt his stomach growl. Realizing that the reason behind him not being able to sleep could do with his hunger, he swung his legs off his bed and got up.
He padded over in the dark towards his kitchen and put his hand on the refridgerator door, pulling it open. The light from the fridge illuminated the near surroundings. He leaned down a little to get a good look at what’s inside. Expecting to find some cheese or ham lying around, he felt disappointed seeing only a milk carton sitting in his rather empty fridge. Sighing, he picked up the carton and drank it. Tasting the sourness of the milk on his tongue, he immediately rushed to the sink to spit out the milk. Glancing at the expiry date on the milk carton with the light from the fridge, he felt stupid for thinking it was fresh milk. Having been busy for the past week, he never had enough time to get to the supermarket to restock his kitchen. Annoyed, he threw the carton in the bin and was just about to close his fridge when he spotted a flyer stuck on his fridge. Pulling the edge of the flyer, it got loose from underneath the magnet that was holding it up.
Using the light from the fridge, he got a good look at the flyer which read: ‘No time to shop for groceries during the day or after work? Or did you just realize there is nothing in your fridge? Come on down to the new 24-hour Supermart! We do things fresh and you’ll never leave here unsatisfied!’
A 24-hour Supermart sounded like an answer to his current problem. Motivated by the prospect of groceries in his kitchen, he closed the door to his fridge and padded over to the front door. He picked up his keys from the bowl and took his hoodie that hung from the rack positioned by the door. In exchange with his bedroom slippers, he slipped into a pair of comfy TOMS and headed out.
~ * ~
From the address he memorized from the flyer, the 24-hour Supermart wasn’t far away. In fact, it was just three blocks down from where his apartment was. As soon as he was out of his apartment building, he hurriedly put on the jacket hood to prevent his face from icing off when the cold wind blew. It wasn’t Winter yet but when the night came, it almost felt like Winter wanted the night shift until its rightful turn.
The walk to the 24-hour Supermart was fairly quiet and the more he walked, the more tired he felt. This might just prove to be an effective method to fall asleep. But just as he seemed to find a solution to one problem, another one started. His hunger grew a little more and he cursed himself for choosing to take the healthier option. Salad-schmalad. So much for trying to stay lean and healthy. Those few pieces of chicken in his salad clearly didn’t provide the much needed weight to keep his stomach happy.
After an internal rant with himself, he looked up to see the 24-hour Supermart directly opposite him. He smiled from relief; happy that he could finally get his late-night snack and get out of the cold loneliness from his walk. He crossed the street walking twice as fast and reached the entrance of the 24-hour Supermart. He picked up a basket from the mountain of baskets by the entrance before walking in.
As he passed, he spotted a couple of cashiers sitting by their cash registers – 3 to be exact. One had his earbuds plugged in and was apparently catching a wink while the other 2 cashiers; one male and one female seem to be in very deep conversation with one another. Figuring that’s probably what they do every night (since there wasn’t much of a crowd), he headed straight for the biscuit aisle.
~ * ~
Brand after brand of biscuits lined the shelves, making it hard to choose. He had never seen a collection that big before. He was surprised that the Supermart didn’t have more people since they seemed to have a large variety. Feeling kind of special that he was the only one, he took his time, walking up and down the biscuits aisle, picking up different boxes to read their contents. He eventually settled on his favorite brand… Deciding that he wasn’t feeling that adventurous.
He was just about to leave the aisle when a young woman with platinum blond hair stopped him. Looking at her, he noticed that she looked rather bright and cheerful for a time like this. It was about 3 in the morning but she looked like it was 10 in the morning and sunlight replaced the darkness outside. He gave her a small smile and was about to bypass her when she spoke.
“Hi there!” She said. “Welcome to the 24-hour Supermart! My name is Kayley.”
He gave her a polite smile as a reply since he really just wanted to get the items he need and head out.
“I see you’ve got a couple of biscuits you’ve selected from our wide variety. I just have a few questions to ask you.” She said.
Realizing he didn’t have much of a choice, he replied. “Yeah… You’ve got a wide variety here.. But I kinda just want to get the rest of the items on my list and head home. It’s pretty late.”
“I understand. But these questions will only take you a minute or two.”
Feeling slightly annoyed, since he was feeling tired – the kind that could effectively give him a good night’s sleep, he decided to answer the questions to get her off his back.
“Fine.” He muttered.
She smiled widely. “Great! Are you satisfied with the Supermart on a whole?”
“Yeah… It’s pretty big.”
“Are you satisfied with the services rendered by the staff?”
“Uh.. I’m not sure how that applies?”
“Are you satisfied with the selection we have?”
Looking at Kayley, he realized that she was just asking the questions but not noting down his responses.
“Yes.. Um… Kayley, right? Look… I’ve got an early morning tomorrow and I just wanna purchase my items and head home. Maybe I’ll do your survey some other time, ok?”
Not waiting another second for Kayley to respond, he hurriedly walked past her towards the dairy products. He pulled out a carton of milk and turned around to see Kayley right behind him. Surprised, he dropped the carton of milk and it fell to the floor, spilling open as it lay on its side.
“Shit! You scared me!” He said. “I told you that I don’t have time for your surveys!”
“I just had one more question.” She said. “Are you satisfied?”
Frowning, he shouted. “No! No! I’m not satisfied!”
Kayley straightened and smiled. “Thank you for your comments.”
Feeling pissed off, he put his basket down and was just about to leave when he realized the Supermart had gone quiet. He looked back at Kayley who was still smiling creepily at him.
“I’m afraid you can’t live until you’re satisfied.”
~ * ~
“Morning! Welcome to the 24-hour Supermart! We’ve got some fresh meat that just came in a few hours ago and somemore new male apparel. Trust me when I say you’re never going to leave here unsatisfied!”
She smiled widely at the morning crowd entering the Supermart and followed after them. As she walked past a mirror, she noticed a drop of blood on the top of her eyebrow. Worried, she wiped it away with her thumb before putting a wide smile back on her face as she headed to approach a housewife.