Gee, I sure do love these low, low prices, I thought to myself as I perused the aisles of my local Super Mega Mart Ultrastore. Not many are lucky enough to get to see the look of the man as he finds out that a dozen farm fresh organic eggs are only $2 or the rapturous release of tension that the poor college student feels as she realizes that she shaved $54.87 off of her grocery bill by using her Mega Perks Reward Card or the faint twinkling of hope in the eye of the small child who realizes that, if there exists a place like this, where the blessed ichor of value oozes from every corner of the store and flows through the hearts and minds of every man and woman who wears a Super Mega Mart uniform, that maybe, just maybe, the world isn’t such a cold and horrific place after all. Even fewer have the immense responsibility and pleasure of managing such an establishment.
“Good morning, Franklin,” I said with a tip of my Super Mega Mart visor.
“Morning, Mr. S!” replied the kindly old butcher, peeling away the cellophane wrap from a slow cured Marty’s Club honey baked ham. His nostrils flared as a fleeting look of serenity graced his face, the cacophonous scent of the sweet and salty slab of meat elevating him to a higher plane of understanding.
“Are you having,” I snapped my fingers, making little guns with my hands (my pointer finger being the barrel, my middle through pinkie fingers being the grip, and my thumb being the hammer), and shot a couple of friendly pew pews at Franklin, “a Super Mega Day?”
“You bet, bossman,” Franklin replied before continuing to toil away with his meats. It warmed my heart to see another member of the Super Mega Family that was (almost) as passionate about Super Mega Mart as I was.
I turned around and made my way down the seemingly endless corridor of refrigerated chests, each filled with a veritable treasure trove of meats, both raw and cooked, cheese, butter, and just about every other dairy product you could possibly imagine. Next, I went for a brisk saunter through each of our many, and may I say robustly stocked, canned food aisles, turning the label of each nutrient and value packed can to face outward so that shoppers feel like royalty, parading themselves down a crowded street full of high quality, non-perishable subjects who are sold at a simply unbeatable price. Finally, the last leg of my routine morning stroll; venturing through the untamed wilds of the produce section. We have it all, such as apples, oranges, lettuce, onions, and, for those feeling a little exotic, even bananas and pears. Yes sir, this sure is a wonderful place. There was literally nothing that could burst this Super Mega bubble of mine.
“Sorry to burst your bubble, folks,” said a man with a gun, hopping on top of the 15 items or less lane (aka the Super Mega Turbo Lane) as a hush crept through the aisles, “but me and my associates are taking over this store.” The man motioned to a dozen or so of his goons, all armed with weapons of a deadly persuasion. They all wore long black trench coats, black cargo pants, and black combat boots to match their eerily similar slicked black hair. They obviously shopped at a military surplus store or worse; F-Mart. I should’ve known something was up the second these guys stepped in the door, since real Super Mega Mart customers are much more fashionable.
Stacy, the Super Turbo Mega Lane attendant looked on at the man with a glassy stare of fear and reverence, in awe of his godlike power to bring the mighty SMMUS to its knees. I dropped to the floor and rolled to the paper products aisle to my left, quickly crafting a makeshift watchpost from packs of triple layered toilet paper to keep myself out of view, as I had rehearsed dozens of times before. It seems like nobody else was following procedure; Phyllis was cowering behind a Marty’s Club cola fridge instead of fashioning some spears and halberds in home and garden, Gary was nowhere to be seen, although you can only pray that he was trying to get a hold of the president, and James sure as heck wasn’t offering himself as a hostage in exchange for sparing the store and her patrons. I guess it was up to Bartholomew T. Skarsgard, store manager, to save the day.
“We aren’t here to hurt you or to rob you,” the man said as returned to ground level, tiptoeing over the shivering bodies of the defenseless shoppers, “we are here to liberate you from the insatiable corporate pigs that run this hellhole. This Mecca of The Man’s greed.” His posse followed in formation behind him, two columns in constant pursuit as their leader snaked through the store. I stayed as close as I could, hiding behind the buy 2 get 1 free towers of Kraft mac and cheese (now in fun Fant4stic shapes like the Thing, the Human Torch, and an exploding head), camouflaging myself inside a large synthetic ficus, and hopping from one circular t-shirt rack to the next.
As the man went along he committed unspeakable atrocities. Toppling the pyramids of cans that the stockers spent all night erecting. Moving the stickers that fittingly read “What A Great Price” from the on sale items to the (still reasonably priced) items that were not marked down. He even set his goons loose on the free sample area, where they each took well over the widely agreed upon limit of one sample per person. It was madness. While a little bit of my soul died with each heinous act, nothing could prepare me for what would happen next.
“Look at this old timer,” said the man as he approached the picture of the man himself, Super Mega Mart’s founder Marty Wilson, that hung in the customer service area in the store’s rear. “What a filthy capitalist pig.” The customer service representatives, who under normal circumstances greet every guest with a smile, were taken aback by such language. He looked to his right and one of his servants gave him a permanent marker, which he proceeded to use to vandalize the photo of darling, sweet Marty. Each swipe of the marker rended my heart to shreds. Each line of ink stained my soul black. I couldn’t just stand there while this vandalous Picasso turned poor Marty into a piece of modern “art”.
“Throw that sharpie on the ground and step away from the picture,” I demanded in the most managerial voice I could muster. “Your days of terrorizing the people and defacing the good name of this store are over.”
“Well look what we have here,” the man said. I could see blood coming from his eyes and from his… whatever. “I take it you’re the bossman?”
“Why do you think my nametag says manager on it, doofus?” I said, laying down the sick burns to hide my unbridled rage. “Now, put that marker away.”
“Oh, you mean this this?” the man held up the marker and pointed at it. “Just let me finish up my project, first.”
He stepped to the side and that’s when I first saw the full extent of his destruction. Marty was in shambles. There were dozens of swastikas surrounding him with a large upside down cross made out of what appeared to be penises. The gap between his eyebrows was colored in, a small square mustache was added to his upper lip, and an eye-patch now covered his left eye. All of this made my stomach churn, but his final addition was the worst of all. The man took the marker and… and… the bastard changed the M in Marty’s name to an F.
“That is the final straw, bucko. I’m bringing you down.”
“Is that so? Boys,” the man snapped two times and his underlings pointed their weapons at me. “Fire whenever, just get rid of this clown.”
Before they could fire I leaped back and ducked behind the thin margin of the doorway. Clouds of plaster and paint whipped up as bullets flew past my face. I had to think fast, but luckily we were having a sale on Marty’s Club brand riot shields and stacks of them were sitting in a display across from me. The second there was a pause in the fire I rolled across the door way and grabbed a shield, diving into the resuming fire. The shield was pock marked with webs of cracking, stressed plastic. I jumped at the goon closest to me, tackling him to the ground. The man stood off to the side grinning smugly as his firing squad stood in a line, spitting out hundreds of rounds. The shield wouldn’t last another round of fire. The second they stopped to reload I took the only logical course of action; I threw the shield, ricocheting it off of the wall and knocking the gunmen down like dominoes. The leader stood, mouth agape as I walked toward him. He tried to reach for his gun but I swatted it away as he fumbled around with it, bouncing it between his hands.
“Now, you tell me who the heck you are, or so help me I will bar you from ever shopping at this Super Mega Mart or any others in the tri-state area.”
“I ain’t sayin’ nothin’ to you, pig,” he spat at me.
I grabbed him by the coat and tore it open. “I should’ve guessed…”
Underneath the trench coat was a bright red polo shirt, emblazoned with the F-Mart logo. A small name tag was clipped sloppily to the breast of it, and it read-
“Melvin Fleishman, CEO of F-Mart. Only someone as perverse and craven as you could’ve defaced the good name of Super Mega Mart and the memory of our illustrious founder, whom we owe our lives and eternal gratitude to. You make me sick.”
“Like you’re any better! Your precious Marty is the reason why my father is dead, why I had to spend my childhood scrounging for scraps of food from under the fridge! Nobody shops at F-Mart anymore, nobody will ever shop at F-Mart as long as you’re around!”
“I’ve heard enough of this baloney,” I said, grabbing Melvin by the collar and made my way toward the front of the store. “People of Super Mega Mart! You have nothing more to fear! This usurper has been silenced, and will stop the dauntless flow of value delivered by a friendly face nevermore. Stand tall, my friends. Stand proud. We will never be broken. We will never bend. As long as I breathe, as long as the spirit of unity, faith, and unbeatable savings courses through me, Super Mega Mart will forever endure,” I paraded Melvin through the crowded aisles, the once cowering shoppers now hissing and tossing all manner of projectiles at the snake. “Be calm, friends. This fiend will face the ultimate punishment for his crimes in the great beyond. Here, on this mortal coil, the greatest punishment he can face is to be excluded from the Super Mega Family. While you and I will get exclusive deals on the first and third Fridays of every month, he will see from the outside, his face pressed against the moist glass. While you experience the everyday low prices that I and my colleagues so willingly pass on to you, he will be dying in the filth and squalor of the streets. Begone, interloper!”
Finally we reached the front door. I turned my key in the lock and the automatic door let out a whine, sliding open. Outside was President Barack Obama. James has pulled through after all.
“We’ll, take it from here, son,” Obama said as two of his secret service agents took Melvin from my custody.
“Th-thank you, Mr. President, sir!” I stiffened up and snapped into what I hoped was a suitable salute. “I, and Super Mega Mart, owe you a debt of gratitude.”
“At ease, soldier. It’s I who should be thanking you,” Obama put a hand on my shoulder. “You and everyone else who devotes their life to Super Mega Mart are the real heroes. You men and women are text book examples of bonafide patriots by helping millions achieve the American Dream; buying groceries, as well as non-food items ranging from medicine to toiletries to electronics, at an unbeatable low price. And you went the extra mile, saving the people from this crazed extremist. Had you not been there who knows what this mad man would’ve done to those innocent people. You remind me of myself at your age.”
“Thank you so much, Barry,” I dabbed the moisture from my eyes with my Marty’s Club hanky. “You can count on me for anything, from passing on the savings to… to you name it.”
“I know, Barty, I know,” Obama turned away and walked toward Marine 1. The agents followed him, holding Melvin between them. “I’ll be in touch.”
And with that he was gone. I let out another salute and, shortly after, returned to my post. It isn’t always easy, managing the 18th largest and most busy Super Mega Mart in the whole Midwestern United States, but I don’t think I could see myself doing anything else. I- I just about think I was born ready for this job. While not every day I get to foil the plot of a deranged corporate terrorist, I will be ever vigilant, making sure the people of my store are safe and that they get the most bang for their buck, whether it be through coupons, daily deals and promotions, or buying a store brand that they can trust to be just as good as the big names but at a fraction of a price. But really, don’t we all?