By Joseph Miles
Copyright (c) 2003
All Rights Reserved
The car horn blasted in the
frigid morning air, but no one seemed to take notice. It was obvious
that its owner wanted the attention of one of the people standing in
front of Keester's, a popular and over-shopped department store chain
that boasted in their ads of becoming the “8th Wonder of the
World.” The car, a sleek, black, late model Buick with
equally black windows, had drifted up to the curb like some primordial
creature in search of prey, and with pale blue smoke billowing from its
tailpipe, it sparkled beneath the lights from the store. Though
everyone turned to look, no one dared step from the line in which they
There was movement as the driver's side door
opened and an Italian man in his thirties appeared over the roof of the
car; an opera singer of the same persuasion blared from the stereo. He
could have brandished an AK-47, but it would have gone unnoticed by the
line of people standing in the pre-dawn hours. Not even an incoming
SCUD missile could budge the surly mob that had begun to assemble
outside the store twelve hours earlier. A robust woman, who was much older than the
gentleman at the curb, began spewing fluent Italian to the driver. She
waved her hands wildly as his verbal barrage overlapped hers.
Exasperated, he disappeared beneath the roof of the car and peeled away
from the store.
Mabel Moxley huffed at the man's insolence and
then returned her attention to the glass doors behind which several
very nervous salespeople talked amongst themselves. It seemed they were
trying to decide who was going to open the doors … and were
drawing straws. A low growl rumbled deep in Mabel's thick chest
as she recalled what the manager told her over the phone yesterday.
The prices in the sales paper were phenomenal,
unreal even. Many thought the advertisements were in error; but after
having filled their guts with a criminal amount of turkey and dressing,
they learned that the prices were authentic. “Yeah, well I bet you don't even have any
of this stuff!” Mabel had yelled into her telephone receiver.
Spit flew from her large, greasy lips. “Probably want to give
me a damn rain check, don't ya!”
She looked at her dining table. It was
overflowing with food. One of her guests, her brother Art, who pushed
the scale well above the 300 pound mark and was only slightly lighter
than herself, had fallen asleep at the table. Cranberries, which had
probably been put there by his own hefty brood, hung like fat ticks in
his hair. His mouth dropped open, dripping giblet gravy onto his
already dirty T-shirt that had a cartoon drawing of a man holding his
crotch and a caption that read: “Baste this!”
“No ma'am,” the male voice
said on the phone, “we were prepared for this day well in
advance and have more than enough merchandise to satisfy our
ad.” But then in an almost sinister way he said something
that would have made the average person shudder in total terror:
“But you'd better come early-y.” His voice went
suggestively higher on the last word. She could've sworn she heard him laughing
manically when she hung up. But it didn't matter; she was going to get some
of those thin, flowery housecoats on sale for five dollars each! What
did her mother call them? “Moo-Moos”?
The salespeople inside began to scatter as the
manager gave the keys to a rather puny-looking man with wire-rimmed
glasses. Cold sweat glistened on his forehead as he searched for the
key that opened the door and the manager ran for cover. As the lights went up inside the massive
department store, the crowd compressed, making the huge panes of glass
bow dangerously inward. Popping and cracking sounds could be heard, and
it was difficult to tell if they were from people's bones or glass
A short, less heftier woman of about 30 pushed
against Mabel and jabbed her rolled up sales ad into her ribs. Mabel
pulled her arm out from between another woman, who was pressed against
her, and planted her elbow in the woman's face. She screamed, went
down, and disappeared.
The ground was no place for anyone.
Wimpy inserted the key into the door and the
crowd became a single, angry entity. It moved forward even though there
was no more forward room in which to move. Screams rang out as did the
sounds of people gasping for air. Women shrieked. Men cursed.
The salesman glanced one last time for his
co-workers, but they were nowhere to be found. He made a pitiful,
whimpering sound and turned the key ever so slowly. The cogs clicked
once and the crowd pushed. He could see their faces smashed against the
glass in a horrendous living montage. Their mouths moved to form words
that he didn't want to know.
The cogs clicked again and, with the exception of
the roaring crowd, it was the last sound he heard. The door imploded,
breaking the man's nose and sending him flying into a nearby end cap.
He probably would have lived had the end cap not been filled with the
season's “hot toy”; the shoppers covered him like
ants would a small, dead animal in a remote part of a South American
Like meat from a hand grinder, they poured
through the one open door. The second, adjacent door had not been
opened and they came through three abreast even though there was barely
enough room for two people to go through together. Some were
horizontal, held aloft by the sheer pressure of the mob. They looked
like canned cheese extruded onto a nonexistent cracker.
The glass in the second door ruptured, sending
several people spilling through. One man wearing a parka that he planned
to fill with merchandise bled profusely from the throat. He lay on the
floor and tried to staunch the bleeding himself by holding his blood
covered hands upon his own wound. But no one noticed. Those that began
pouring through the broken door stepped on him as if he were some
bizarre organic floor mat. His screams were an eerie contrast to the
“Walking In a Winter Wonderland” that played on the
Mabel approached the door. She had prepared for
this moment by raising her arms above the crowd so she could bring her
purse or umbrella down on any “idiot” that got in
her way. As she moved to go through the door, a younger man tried also,
and Mabel pushed her bulk against him. His head became ensnared between
her and the thick, metal door frame and was almost removed as she
squeezed into the store. His right ear sheared off and fell to a floor
that was becoming coated with blood and human body parts. Some were
slipping and falling in the gore, which was just as dangerous; if
anyone fell to the floor, they never got back up. The hundreds of feet
trampled them into unconsciousness.
The sales help had all but disappeared early on,
and the cashiers, frightened by the riot, had left their registers and
ran for safety at the back of the store. One unfortunate saleslady
knelt upon the platform of a display rack. Her torn, shredded clothes
were spotted with blood. She cried and screamed in terror above a sea
of grasping hands, each one wanting to bring her down for reasons
unknown. She screamed wildly and began kicking when one fist found her
ankle. But it was to no avail; another hand assisted the first and
together they snatched her from the platform. The woman clawed the
platform and then went down. Her screams echoed throughout the brightly
lit department store.
Mabel finally saw her quarry: the Moo-Moos. With
her hands still poised above the crowd, she made her way over to the
rack of thin, cotton housecoats, where dozens of women fought. Many
were in need of serious medical attention, but that didn't stop them.
And it didn't stop Mabel. She brought her meaty elbows down upon the
heads of the women surrounding the rack.
“Get the fuck outta my way,
bitch!” she said as she approached the now destroyed rack.
She took the leather straps of her purse in both
hands and pulled them over the head of one woman who immediately
stepped into the spot that Mabel had just cleared for herself. She
pulled back on the straps with all her strength. The woman gagged and
clawed at the tough, leather cords around her neck. Her eyes bulged and
Mabel thought they would shoot from her face like a tiny pair of
bloodshot tennis balls in an automatic server. The woman removed her
hand from her throat just long enough to give Mabel the finger. It
shook and jerked in her face before finally going limp. Mabel released
the woman. She collapsed to the floor of the department store from hell.
Mabel screamed and brought her fists down upon
the rack when she discovered it had already been ransacked.
“Damn it!” she shrieked. “Now they'll
probably want to give me a fucking RAINCHECK!”
She glanced around in hope of finding someone
not guarding their merchandise and found a lady slumped against an end
cap. Her hair was gone in places and she was bleeding from her nose and
mouth. Her legs were bruised to the point of becoming mush.
Mabel didn't care. For in her hands she clutched
five of the ugly housecoats. Mabel looked at her and turned away from
the rack, her expression was both unreasonable and terrifying.
“Please … help
me,” the woman said. She was weak and near death.
Mabel reached down and grabbed the housecoats and
the woman suddenly came to life, reanimated like some ghoul from a 70's
“Take your hands off my stuff, you fat
bitch!” she screamed.
The woman rocked backwards and planted one of her
high heels that she wore strictly for this occasion into Mabel's portly
gut. Mabel screamed as the heel penetrated her abdomen and probed her
intestines, filling her cavity with old chewing gum and filth from a
million parking lots. With one last effort, Mabel brought the point of
her umbrella down into the woman's face, stabbing her in the left eye.
The woman released the housecoats as the tip of the umbrella tapped the
bony back of her eye socket.
Mabel staggered back, still clutching the blessed
Moo-Moos. She bled profusely and felt like she was going to faint.
“Damn," she said weakly, "she was tough. I think I need to
sit down for a second,” she told no one in particular.
The crowd had already begun to thin, but there
were bodies littered everywhere. They would announce later on the
evening news that close to 60 people had died and that hundreds more
were injured, some in critical condition.
Mabel slumped onto a display bench. Her ashen
face was glistening with a coat of sweat. “Next
year,” she panted, “next year … I'm
bringing my gun,” she said. With the housecoats rolled up and
tight against her bleeding gut, Mabel fell over on the bench. Her eyes
Out of nowhere, a girl around the age of 15 ran
past Mabel. In one lightning fast move she snatched the housecoats,
sending Mabel's body to the floor. She landed face-down atop a
gentleman whose face had been nearly torn off. Cheek to bloody cheek,
they seemed to comfort one another in some strange postmortem way.
As “We Wish You a Merry
Christmas” boomed over the PA, the girl thief easily jumped
over dead bodies in a now vacant Keesters and ran through the broken
glass with the housecoats billowing out like huge, floral-patterned
A massive shelf display crashed to the floor just
as the music on the PA stopped long enough for the promotional
recording to play: “Be sure to get you and your family one of
our very own homemade turkey sandwiches at our snack bar for just 99
cents each,” the cheerful female voice said, “and
as always, thank you for eating at our Keesters!”
Deathmas,” by Joseph
Miles, Copyright (c) 2003, All Rights Reserved