Wandering around the supermarket, encountering a pack of bacon stuffed onto the cereal shelf, or a loaf of bread precariously balanced amongst the lemons. I presume the miscreant shopper was so overcome by the special offer in question that they had no time to return the former object of their affections to its proper place. They clearly don’t understand the difference between leaving meat in a refrigerated and non-refrigerated aisle!
Frozen peas. Fish. Cheese. Milk. Cereal.
He was the Supermarket Terminator, sweeping the aisles for discounts and select items. A swift dash and grab past the chocolates before temptation sets in. A deft spin of the trolley and hip-nudge to propel it around the bend. On through snacks and foreign foods, grabbing a pack of noodles and can of coconut milk with either hand. Doubling back past the discount aisle to check for any further price reductions before spiralling out to apprehend some yoghurt. A quick 180 degree trolley spin whilst reaching for a top shelf loaf of bread. Charging down the canned veg aisle and…
Jake stopped, agape. There, back of the bottom shelf, in between chopped tomatoes and plum tomatoes, was a pot noodle. Aside from the fact that the pot noodles were down the other end of the store, Jake was more struck by the serendipity of finding his favourite flavour so conveniently at hand. Who knows how long this treasure had been lurking there in the darkness of the shelf, shielded from the prying eyes of daily shoppers and gathering the dust of decades of obscurity. Jake reached in, and retrieved the prize, half expecting a spray of poison darts or some similarly nefarious counterweighted trap to trigger. Nope. Nothing.
Back in the fluorescence of the aisle, Jake examined the pot noodle. Beef and Tomato. No – wait a second. On closer inspection, it was Beet and Potato. Beet? Jake blinked and looked again. The text was sort of… shifting. And for that matter, the foil top was swelling out as if filled with some sort of gas. The words no longer made any sense. What kind of flavour was Peter Beattie anyway? Jake tipped the container to inspect the sell-by date, and at that motion the top burst open.
A group of bright blue strands projected out like jellyfish stingers, light and feathery, and engulfed Jake’s face. His muffled shriek was hardly audible over the standard supermarket pop offerings. He staggered sideways into the trolley, sending it spinning, then collapsed to his knees. About five seconds later his hands stopped twitching and fell limply to his sides. He knelt on the floor, pot noodle swaying pendulously like some kind of nose bag at the end of the blue spray of tendrils. Then, just as abruptly, the blue retracted into the container; the foil top popping perfectly back into place and rolling sideways in a semi circle into the base of the shelving unit. Jake remained still for a couple of seconds, face flushed and pocked with little marks. His eyes stared blankly into space.
He blinked. A faint smile warmed his face. He lifted his hands up and looked at them. His eyes grew wide, as did the smile. Suddenly, like a convict caught in the spotlights, his demeanour changed. A crafty look stole across his face and he glanced about. He stood up and dusted himself down. He reached into his jacket, produced his wallet and quickly leafed through the various cards within. Silently his lips mouthed the name ‘Jacob Richards’, before returning the wallet to his jacket. Finally, his eyes lingered on the pot noodle. He reached out a foot and nudged it. It rolled slightly. He reached out to pick it up, hesitated, then shoved it right back into the darkness of the shelving unit. After that he took his trolley and strolled away.
5 minutes later a supermarket staff member walked past, and with a bored expression restacked the cans at the front of the shelving. A wall of tomatoes stood between the pot noodle and the world.
Inside the pot noodle, Jake eventually stopped screaming, and started crying instead. After that he swore for a while – vile imprecations against someone called Peter Beattie. Then came the waiting.
So much waiting.
Time passed very slowly within the pot.
One thing was sure, when he got his chance, there would be no mercy. None at all.