Long ago, in a land full of televisions and shopping carts, the natives of the retail village huddled close and stared at each other. The fluorescent lights turned the whites of their eyes blue. Outside, it was dark.
It was 4:55am.
They were gathered in a cathedral of consumerism, a football-field’s distance from the great sliding doors at the front. Its walls were filled with computers and washers and dryers and most things that could plug into a wall.
A group of natives, inhabitants of the stereo and camera realm, had gathered near the back of the store in front of the televisions. A silence spread among them and washed across acres of real marble floor. They straightened their ties.
“First time?” asked a man with a stooped white dress shirt and a collar the color of eggs. He leered at the circle of faces around him, each one round and flat and bloodlessly half-awake. The granite crags of his cheeks formed a wicked smile. His eyes were a cave of ancient sorrow.
The floor began to rumble.
“It’s an earthquake!” a young man broke from the group and dove into the flickering darkness of television displays.
As the marble beneath their feet began to throb, panic spread. Some hid behind towering stacks of subwoofer boxes.
Many of the young men unconsciously formed ranks, joining their shoulders and forcing their feet flat into the smooth glossy stone.
The hand of the camera-girl shot to the arm of the camera-boy beside her.
The camera manager stepped in front of a large metal cage. This cage was where DSLRs and slimline waterproofs were imprisoned side-by-side. His young manager’s face showed the determination of a hard grape, sour and smooth and small and unready. He stood in front of the display’s central cell door, arms skewed straight and anxious. One miniscule fist attempted to spare a finger from its grip, to caress a large bundle of keys.
The floor continued to pulse, the thrum of its oscillations growing. A sound, deep and vast as the ocean, emanated from the distance. All faces turned toward the source of the burgeoning thunder. All eyes looked down the football-field of marble toward the front of the store.
“It’s five…” came a whisper from somewhere.
The thunder became a roar. The floor moved left and right, exactly the way a floor should never move. A young man broke rank and ran broadside for the breakroom.
The roaring sound grew. It filled the skull and took everything. It was thunder and shriek, from a baritone growl of thousands of feet pounding stone, to an undifferentiated cacophony of screams and the exploding rattle of shopping carts shredding marble. The sound shook the soul and pierced the mind. Another pair of slacks went sprinting in retreat.
As the source of the sound became visible, eyes widened in awe and terror. Two more ran for the rear exit near the loading dock. The whiteout sleeves of their flailing fresh shirts faded grey and charcoal into the dark.
The remaining natives who held their ground, stood shocked and staring and helpless in the path of the roiling chaos. The tidal wave was coming.
Crimson sleeves and navy winter coats formed kaleidoscopic frenzy at the top of the wave as the colors whirled and shot. Grabbing hands poked out of its crest and tumbled forward. Feet poured in all directions and stomped at the base of the hungry rolling wall. The wave devoured displays. Engulfed endcaps. Steel carts skittered out from it and filled and flipped as the wave crashed into them.
Thousands of mouths shrieked in desperate hunger. The eyes flashed! So many eyes howling for shrinkwrapped sustenance!
When the wave hit them, many of the natives were swept away like styrofoam peanuts. Some were caught beneath it. The camera manager was crushed against the steel cage, and had to go to the doctor.
The location did over a million dollars in revenue that day.
To our fallen brothers, I dedicate this memory. To the men and women who continue to sacrifice their life’s breath for a livelihood, as a nation worships at the altar of a Gross and disfigured Domestic Product, I dedicate these words.
May this hunger we know feeds our economy, somehow evolve into a hunger that feeds our humanity.