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Of Men and Movement

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Story Time with Taslion!

Right now the title of the story is "Of Men and Movement", though that's open to change.

I should be updating this wiki along with posting the segments on B8.



4/30/08:

My first realization was that I had grown complacent with my life. My second was that I didn’t care.

Three years have passed since I first took this job as a worker for a privately owned pharmacy. I remember when I first started I was clumsy and shy around my boss, an older man in his late sixties. As time passed by I forgot about how life was before, and slowly I learned how to live with the meager lifestyle I had earned. Surprisingly I even came to like that old man, even if he never gave me time off.

Luckily work remained between the two of us, he would cover the prescriptions while I would run the register and stock merchandise before open hours. Even if we sometimes found the work to be overwhelming he never found it necessary to hire other workers. Maybe he was as introverted as I was.

And so the time passed and I forgot about my past and neglected the future. I was happy, if not ignorant, with my everyday schedule. I could afford little, but I never wanted more than I needed. So long as I could eat, sleep, and occasionally read life was as good as I could ever want it.

In reality, however, life is a fickle thing. There is no smooth path through it, though some stretches may be without qualm. I suppose I need little more foreshadowing to say that soon enough I would run into more problems and I would be forced to remember what I am:

Abnormal.

Shelves are always an annoyance. Most people who have never worked in merchandising take for granted the effort it requires to make a shelf fully stocked and tidy. Each and every day a customer will inevitably come down an aisle, pick up a product, and hastily return it in a messy fashion. This isn’t the customers fault, however. They are not there to keep clean a line of products, but only to inspect and perhaps purchase one.

So, of course, it falls down to me to reorganize. This means I have to go down every aisle and inspect every shelf in order to straight, restock, and overall beautify the products. Now, if this was only as simple as that I wouldn’t care so much, but when you realize that you have only an hour before your store opens and about half before it closes to make these adjustments… every little bit counts.

For this reason we make tools to aid us. Such is the ability of mankind, to interact with life with tools. In this case I make used of a flat metal rod. Using the flat of it I can push a row of product till it’s straight, or I can push it against multiple rows to align each.

Ok, so maybe I’ve lost your interest already. Who cares about tools and aligning shelves? Well, the only problem is... I don’t need a tool. Well now you might think, “Oh congratulations you can use your hands! Want a cookie?” Except I don’t need my hands either. Actually, I don’t need anything.

Using a little logic you may have figured it out by now. I can move things with my mind. Yes, I basically have telepathy. I’m a little like a comic book hero. Well, it’s not as convenient as that, actually. In reality it’s a very picky ability. I can’t just move whatever I want. First, I have to be able to see the object. That means I can’t stop bullets and I can’t move anything I’m not looking at. Second, my ability consumes energy. Since humans aren’t really useful as electric conduits, the energy ends up coming from me. Essentially, moving things makes me just about as tired as if I had done it physically.

Now, the next thing one might assume is that I can use this ability all the time and that it’s especially useful. Not really. Can you imagine the reaction of people if you just made random things move or float about in front of them? God only knows what people would do if they found out my ability. It might be as tame as being scrutinized by the media, or as terrible as being subjected to testing by the military. Mine is not an ability that I can reveal.

So, in most cases my ability is more of a hassle. It’s like the same as having to pretend you can’t use one of your arms. So, I’ve spent most of my life hiding it, with a few exceptions.

“Hey Em, it’s ten minutes to open and the shelves are still messy. Clean it up already.”

“Em” is, of course, referring to me. Since my full name is “Emmerich” he just shortens it to “Em” to save breath.

The boss always gives me this grimace when telling me to do something. I don’t know if it’s because he needs to keep some semblance of authority over me or if he just hates having to tell me what to do, but he never fails to make the “boss face” each and every time.

I instinctively turn my head to the wall clock situated over the pharmacy, “Ten minutes? There’s not enough time to straighten things out, I need to get started with the sodas and the register.”

The old man then pops his head out of the pharmacy, giving me the boss face again. Two strikes.

“Yeah I’m on it.”

Even if there’s no way to normally get this done, I still have a way. It’s just a hassle. Making sure that the boss is busy with the pharmacy; I take out the flat organizing rod for show and begin my work.

Limitations become apparent when working with multiple objects. Obviously I can’t focus on an entire shelf, so I need to limit myself to sections. Beyond that, the more objects I try to move the less accurately I can control them. In the end I find that going by two or three rows at a time I keep enough focus.

Running the tool along each row for show, I quickly glance and move them. I need nothing more than see and imagine the movement of each object and the task becomes complete.

I do a quick job of it and admire my work for no more than a couple seconds.

“Is this good?”

The old man once again sticks his head out of the pharmacy, “It’s perfect, go finish up everything else and open shop.”

His head quickly disappearing, I turn to the front of the store where I’ve left the un-stocked sodas and a turned-off register. After opening the days always pass by quickly, occasionally someone strange will come in or someone will request something we don’t have, but for the most part the work is slow and relaxing. The day ends with a smaller repeat of the morning ritual with us tidying up the store and doing minor restocking, and then we both leave and lock the doors.

Rarely, and only if the boss is in a good mood, we’ll sit in the back room amidst all the un-stocked merchandise and open a beer or two. Usually nothing is said between us, but sometimes the old man is talkative. Today, it seems, would be the latter example.

“You did some good work today. I’ve never seen the shelves organized so quickly by anyone else. You even managed to get those cameras sold that we bought ages ago.”

I stare the half-empty bottle of beer in my hands and watch the cold water drip off as he talks.

“It’s nothing. I’ve always been fast at the shelves. As for the cameras, they were becoming an eyesore, right? It’s a pain having old merchandise lying around.”

The old man stares around him at the various boxes and unfilled prescription bottles before replying, “You ever think you should do something more than this? I mean, don’t you think you’re wasting your time here? You must have some dreams right?” He finishes by staring at me.

I don’t think I ever remember him asking me about my life. Never, not even when I first applied, has he asked or shown any interest in what I do outside of work. I would be surprised, but I’ve understood my answer for a long time.

“No, not really.”

“Nothing, huh…” The old man finishes his beer with one long swig, “Maybe you should stop and think for awhile. I enjoy the company but young men like you should be dreaming, not wasting their lives working for little more than minimum wage.”

I remained silent. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because my answer wouldn’t be acceptable. Maybe I once had a dream, but I’d long since given up on it. I wasn’t angry at the world, nor did I care that I ended up where I did. I just didn’t care anymore. I was happy.

We didn’t speak another word that night beyond our goodbyes. Besides what he had said nothing was different from any other day, and we treated it just the same.

But, for once in those three long years, I began to reminisce on my past. Despite the distaste old memories always brought, his words forced me to remember. It was then, walking to my nearby apartment and quite lost in thought, that I saw something. Rather someone, a little girl to be precise, sitting on the sidewalk and crying.

Now it’s worth mentioning that my neighborhood isn’t particularly high class. Obviously the apartment I live in couldn’t cost much since I work on close to minimum wage. So it’s not particularly surprising to see crimes and poverty around this area of town. That’s also why, on any other day, I would just keep on walking.

But the old man’s words have softened me. Maybe in this crying girl’s face I saw a reflection of myself. Who would want to see the mistakes of the past being repeated?

Stooping down I put my face about level with hers, “Hey, you ok?”

She doesn’t stop crying.

“Are you lost or something? I can help you find your parents.”

Still crying.

“… Are you hungry?”

And suddenly the waterworks are ceased. Looking up at me with her tear-stained face she nods while choking back any more tears that she still has in reserve.

I proceed to sigh, “I guess no one ever told you not to accept something from a stranger.” She backs away a little in fear. Noticing the obvious mistake I quickly recover, “Well, I’m not all that dangerous so I suppose you lucked out.”

In return I’m given the brightest smile I’ve ever seen. It didn’t matter if there was tearstains or dirt mixed in. The sincerity of that smile was so powerful I doubt even the most hard-hearted of us could not feel overwhelmed by it.

Smiling back I quickly access the situation, “I wonder what’s in the fridge?”

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