It was a beautiful summer day and the plan was to buy some new swimwear for my girls at the local giant box store. I decided to leave the girls at home and make a fast trip. The plan was, in out and back home before they even noticed. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed it was fuller than is usual at this time of year. It was summer and the town usually is empty. Not thinking too much I drove around a little then found a spot. It was curious that I did not see anyone leaving the store. All I saw were people entering. It was a little eerie, but I needed the swimwear for our trip to the YMCA pool.
The sun was shining in all its wonderful summer glory and the heat was oppressive. I dashed into the store and was hit with an Arctic front. I felt as if my nose and fingers were about to freeze. I complained to myself as my usual. The store was unnecessarily cold. I pulled my hat down over my ears, flipped up my hood and pulled the zipper all the way up. It was not a great improvement. I continued on my way. I took the direct route to the toddler section and proceeded to seek out my target apparel. The search was frustrating. There were just too many options. I just needed a purple and a blue swimsuit in toddler sizes. Why are there twenty different colors and shapes. I finally narrowed it down to two of each, then noticed how quiet the store became. I took a sip of my Rockstar and looked around and noticed that the shoppers around me seemed to be in dazed. They seemed to be looking into empty space. I called to the lady that had suggested the swimsuits I finally settled on. She seemed not to notice me, although she was standing two feet away from me. This was frightening. I reached out and grabbed her arm but she still did not respond. I became terrified. I pinched myself, it was painful. I checked for my pistol and it was in place. All the shoppers in my area were in the same daze. I continued deeper into the store and it was the same everywhere. Suddenly, the store started to warm up. It felt as if a bonfire had been lit.
I made eye contract with an older gentleman. He did not have that same dazed look, but he was hiding under a display and beckoned me over. Reluctantly I walked over and joined him under the display. In hushed tones he started to explain to me what was happening. “Have you ever wondered why the stores in town are so cold in the summertime?” He did not give me a chance to answer. I suspected he knew more than I did. He continued, “because it is harvest time.” He noticed the puzzled look on my face. “It is a long story.” He started to moved and I just followed his lead. He was crawling on all fours and I followed. He hid under another display then started to point to the back left corner of the store. For the first time I noticed that the ceiling of the store had a tract system. In the corner a small panel opened and what looked like a four-armed claw device was suspended from the tracts. It started to moving followed by another. I lost count. In a few minutes the claws were lowered to floor level and then hoisted people to the ceiling and routed them to the right back corner of the store. The roof opened and they disappeared. I was confused since no one was struggling. “The cold is for preservation. We are dinner.” I heard but was too stunned to react. It was over before I could compose myself . The lady beside the display looked down and said, “did you lose something.”
I looked around and the man was gone. She asked again and I was still too confused to answer. She walked away and I just sat there. “What just happened.” I looked at my watch and it had only been twenty minutes since I left the house. I was in the store for twelve minutes. I saw the bruise on my arm from me pinching myself. I had swimsuits in hand. This was not a dream. I walked to the cashier and paid. He did not seem concerned or frightened. I walked out of the store. What just happened?