Occupational Hazard

by: Huggies20 | Complete Story | Last updated Jan 2, 2009

Chapter 2
A Winter Chill

Chapter Description: Christina learns that problem customers don't always go away once the sale is made.

“He just wasn’t in a good mood,” Christina said, sitting in a blue-cushioned chair with wooden handles in front of the desk in the manager’s office. Gary hadn’t even bothered to put out his name plate, instead leaving it stashed in the drawer with the three other managers’ plates.

“I know, Christina. No one’s blaming you. The guy said it himself; everyone gets a little stressed out at this time of year...meaning him, not you.”

“I told him exactly what you did, that we had tens and fives, but not a fifteen. He made his little comment about fifteen being an increment of both five and ten and wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell him it would need to be split between two cards. He just wanted to complain to you and me about something neither of us have control over. Next time, I’ll give him corporate’s number, and he can complain to whoever in New York is responsible for deciding what increments our gift cards come in.”

“It happened more than two hours ago. It’s over now, and your shift’s over. Go home and relax. Only two more days until people quit looking for gifts for people they don’t really like in the first place and don’t know what to buy for them, and then we can go back to our regular fifty customers a day...not counting the ones who come in just to order coffee and use us as a free library, of course.”

“Are you kidding? Those are the ones who keep us in business.”

“See you tomorrow, Christina.”

Christina picked up her purse and walked out of the office. She could already feel the cool air blowing in from the back exit. She always had thought she was lucky working at one of the mall’s major stores...the ones furnished with back doors...instead of a kiosk or one of the smaller boutique shops. Easy in, easy out. There was always something about the employees who had to walk through the actual mall go get to and from their stores. They seemed almost like second-class citizens... though in reality, Christina knew they were no different than her. Everyone was just trying to make ends meet.

She pushed on the long metal safety bar, and the door creaked open. The wind hit her hard, the chill making her glad her car was only a few feet away. Her eyes teared from the arctic blast.

“Hello, Christina. Fancy meeting you here.”

She wanted to run, but she froze, if only for a moment. Her body was paralyzed from the waist down, but her vocal chords weren’t.

“Get away!” She heard the industrial back door echo shut. Too late to turn back. She reached for her keys and made two leaping steps toward the white Honda Accord, the car’s lights now flashing and horn blaring. She felt fingers tighten around her upper right arm as she jerked to a stop with a primal scream.

“It’s OK, sweetie. I’m here to help you.”

Her tears were no longer from the wind. “Get off me you fucking asshole! Please get off of me!”

“Shhh, let’s just go back inside.”

Christina tried to pull away, but his grip...now with two hands...was too strong.

“Don’t try to fight it, Christina. I’m taking control now.” Her body went rigid, then limp, but only for a moment. When she appeared to have regained her strength, they began walking. She was still crying.

“What are you making me do? I don’t want to go with you!”

“It’s OK, Christina, really it is. You work in a bookstore, so none of this should come as a surprise to you.”

“None of what?”

“Surely you’ve heard of Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling has done more to advance the popularity of our kind than anyone since Sir Thomas Malory told the story of Merlin. I’m sure you don’t believe me, but then, you’re walking with me. Against your will, I assume. And being quite calm about it. So there must be some truth to the rumor, no?”

“What are you going to make me do?”

“What do you think I’m going to make you do?”

Christina remained silent.

“It’s OK. I know what you think I’m going to make you do. But you’re wrong. I don’t use my powers that way. You may think I’m an asshole...in fact, you had no problem telling me that in the store, did you?...but I’m really not a bad guy. Certainly not a rapist. I even gave you a little present by not telling your manager what you called me. You still have your job, I assume?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“Bold. I like that. My dear, dear Christina, we’re going to do something fun.”

The skin under her eyes was still puffy and her cheeks red as she watched him, still waiting for her answer.

“We’re going to see Santa Claus.”



End Chapter 2

Occupational Hazard

by: Huggies20 | Complete Story | Last updated Jan 2, 2009


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