Magical Scribe Eleanor Slam versus The New Grind

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Today I learned something crucial. It’s that, if you’ve overslept from exhaustion due to overexertion, the solution is to come in late and accept your boss grilling you on whether or not you’re really you, as opposed to somebody posing as you. I can understand Jael’s paranoia about… Everything, as I’m still convinced the other shoe is going to drop one of these days, but come on. It’s a fucking general store. The worst thing you have to worry about is shoplifters.

Well, I didn’t do that. I did what I was not supposed to do : I tried to parkour my way to my job. Don’t do that, unless you’re sure your legs can stop shaking long enough to clear the distance between the rooftops. Because otherwise you’re going to get yourself hurt. I blame Fuckface for that stupid idea. That was the kind of thing she’d do, and her retarded influence must have rubbed off on me.

…God, my limbs feel like pain-filled jelly. ”Light workout” my ass. How can they call it that with a straight face? One hundred push-ups, one hundred sit-ups, one-hundred squats, and ten kilometers of running is not a light workout unless you’re a freak. And they want me to do at least that much every single fucking day? Fuck. I’m still hurting in places I didn’t know I had.

Well, it’s a few minutes before I need to clock in. At least I’ve gotten here early enough to patch myself up and catch my breath. Other than the torturous workout routine, Kai gave me a first aid kit and a portable barbecue pit, saying that everyone in the Sixth gets those. No fucking idea how to use the latter. So right now I’m just washing the blood off my elbows and applying the disinfectant – ow ow ow, that stings like a motherfucker – so I can put on the bandages. Maybe pop some analgesics.

…They have little cartoon cat faces on the bandages. Is this somebody’s idea of a joke? I bet it’s Spiderbutt’s fault. Treating me like a goddamn kid.

…Hehe. They’re smiling kitties. Cute.

Oh, don't forget the painkillers. You're supposed to smile for customers, Eleanor, not wince at them. Hope I get the dosage right - it's usually two pills, isn't it?

With my injuries wrapped up, I can slip on the black and orange apron that passes for a uniform. Or struggle a bit with it - damn this bulky- there it goes. There's a tag on the front with my name on it, or at least I hope it's my name and I didn't grab someone else's by mistake. That was really embarrassing...

At least signing in doesn't mean actually signing in. It means swiping a card into a slot and hoping that whatever's flashing on the nearby screen indicates success. And I haven't forgotten mine yet - rather proud of that, to be honest.

The little beeping sound it's making probably indicates success, so yay!

And the painkillers have reduced my aches to a dull throb, which means I probably only have to worry about headaches now. Also yay!

...Though there doesn't seem to be anybody else here yet. I'm not early, I don't think - analog watch says I'm on time - so what happened? A flu breakout or something like that?

...Now I'm getting myself worried about people whose names I don't even know. Hope they're all okay, anyway. If nothing else, I don't want to deal with customers all by myself. I don't think I can safely operate a cash register.

But it's better than paperwork, so I'm okay with it. And I get to actually help people! People that aren't batshit insane!

Well, they usually aren't. They can be rowdy sometimes, but they kind of shut up and apologize after a while when I ask them to stop, which is better than things normally are when I ask people to stop doing things.

...Point is things are better. Yeah, definitely better. They could be better than better, but they're not horrible. It's the difference between getting your cheek pinched and being set on fire. A minor annoyance versus something that makes you wish you were dead already. So that's good, right?

Push the cart this way, push the cart that way. Stack this, stack that. Stack things on shelves, stack things in displays, stack things on top of each other, being helpful hmm hmm hmm~. It'd be nice if I could read the labels, but I think I've gotten pretty good at this in spite of everything.

Oh, and the other people working here made it here okay. That's quite a relief, because I don't think I can run this place on my own! I can't even ring things up without triggering a trance, or, at best, a migraine – I’m probably going to have to explain why I stopped working the register.

I should learn their names at some point.

And now my favorite part: putting stuff up in the candy aisle. Colorful packages dot the shelves as I push the cart full of merchandise down said aisle. There's a lingering smell of chocolate and sugar, despite everything being packaged in boxes or wrapping. Maybe somebody vandalized the displays? I know I did that a few times when I was little, until I got caught. I may need to check for that later. Hopefully I can get it done fast enough that I'm not accused of lingering.

I still don't recognize half the things here, but maybe it's just different packaging. Or it's just been a really long time since I've seen American confections. Starting to get a bit nostalgic and homesick-

Stop that, Eleanor. You're not thinking about that right now, no way. This is a happy place. Stay positive and stop frowning, or customers are going to complain. Just put the stuff where it goes and match colors with like colors.

Speaking of customers, I hear the slightly off-rhythm squeaking of sneakers coming closer, like someone unsure on their feet. I turn towards the source and beam, giving my best enthusiastic greeting while still continuing to put things where I think they belong. "Hello, Marina!" I exclaim, "can I help you with anything today?"

She's a frequent shopper from what I've seen. Really nice lady, even if she is a little off. I don't think she's slow, so much as... Dreamy?

I keep my eyes trained on her while waiting for her to respond. I've found it takes her a few seconds to notice you. There's a little clinking sound from her fiddling with her necklace, which she does when she's spacing out.

Finally she turns toward me, side ponytail swaying a bit, and smiles. "...Good morning, Eleanor," Marina replies. As per usual, she sounds relaxed. Maybe a little sleepy. "I was just picking up some more chocolates. Are any of them on sale?"

"Yes, actually!" I say excitedly, beaming as I lead her toward a brightly colored display. Hee, she must've missed it earlier. "We got these new ones in that are going at two for a dollar!"

Marina picks up one of the boxes I indicated and scrutinizes it slowly and lazily. "...How do they taste?" she inquires.

"I haven't had the chance to try them yet," I answer honestly. "I was considering picking up a couple boxes for myself if people came back to buy more." Which is probably not something you want to say to a customer, but I'm not good at lying about this stuff.

She considers this and tugs at her necklace again - oh, those are shark teeth, aren't they? Neat! Then she... opens one of the boxes and pops one of the candies in her mouth.

I try to say something, but before I do, Marina looks back at me and murmurs, "Say 'aah'."


I didn't know she could move that fast. She shoves one of the wafers in my mouth before I even finished talking. I can taste a little bit of-

Fudge and coconut sprinkles! Yum!

Then she picks up a few more boxes. "You've convinced me," she says, which, along with swallowing the tasty snack, makes my cheeks flush with pride. It makes everything hurt less for a little bit.

Marina smiles back at me before leaving, and I wave goodbye before I resume sorting things. I'm definitely getting a few boxes of those later.

Really wish I had a more normal-looking arm here. People just keep staring at it, and it’s making me real self-conscious. I… I hope I’m not driving people away by being here. It doesn’t look like business is slowing down, but maybe it’s just been this way ever since I came in.

No no no, snap out of it, Eleanor. Fuck. You’re better than this, don’t let it get to you. Just… Find something to do. You only have an hour until your shift is up, so make it count. Then you have lunch, and then the Eversor training starts again.

I’m so absorbed in my thoughts that I nearly bump into somebody. I make to apologize, but-

“…Marina?” Sure enough, it’s her, pushing around a cart full of those items from the promotional display.

Marina slowly turns to look at me with a sleepy smile. “…Oh, it’s you. Hello again, Eleanor.”

“Um, hi,” I murmur, then cough before I speak up. “Do you need help with anything?”

She shakes her head at me, making her necklace clink on its own. “Oh, no, thank you,” she assures me, “I’m back to purchase more of those chocolates.”

I just kind of stare at her blankly, and then glance at her cart. Then I turn to look at the display, which is now empty. Then back to the cart, where several of the boxes appear to be empty. And finally back to her. "Marina?” I venture, “Have you been standing around the store all morning buying chocolate?"

She nods, and actually seems a tiny bit bashful when she tells me why: "...I kept running out..."

…I shouldn’t laugh. I’d probably do the same if given the chance. But still, her comment had me in stitches. I’m bent double, gasping for breath as I try to stifle my laughter. Marina’s giving me a bemused look, which makes me laugh even harder.

I at least –try- to be professional. “Don’t…” I snort, “Don’t forget to – hee hee - pay for those, okay?”

“Of course…” Marina answers, pushing her cart along towards the register. “Have a nice day, Eleanor.”

I remove a hand from my mouth to give a shaky wave to her.

Okay… Okay… The thing to do now is… Is stop laughing. Stop laughing, and restock the display. Yeah.

I push my empty cart through the double doors at the back of the store and enter the warehouse in back. Well, not quite. There's big crossroads where the path splits to the left and to the right, and the one on the right is for the big stuff. Like the bouncy castles. The normal store stock is on the left, so that's where I go. Not sure what's straight ahead, other than more double doors, but somebody needs to clean that hall up. It's scuffed up real badly.

They probably keep kangaroos or something back there. I dunno. Not my problem. It gives me the creeps, anyway.

Nnnng... Why do they have to label everything back here? You're killing me here. At least I know where the things I'm looking for are at, though. Stuff that's new and on sale goes near the front of the warehouse! So it's right over... There! I carefully load three dozen boxes into the cart and head on back the way I came.

...Hee... I really shouldn't do this, but...

Putting my right foot on the little shelf on the bottom, I grab the handle and dangle myself off. Then I just kick off the ground with my left foot and ZOOM! The cart rattles loudly as I propel it forward, kicking the ground harder and faster and making a sharp turn at the intersection. Man, it's been too long since I've done this!

I think I've heard people call them trolleys before, and trolleys are something you ride on, right? So now that I've built up speed, I stand up on the basket and just ride it out the doors. I must be quite a sight, like something out of a bad commercial, but I really don't care right now. I've got a clean record, so even if I get in trouble it's only a first strike. I can get away with this much, right?

...Eh, maybe I shouldn't push my luck.

I come to a stop in front of the display from earlier and stack and stack and stack all the boxes up so that they're facing outward. Can't look like I'm slacking off, 'cause I'm not!

I didn't think I'd enjoy doing, you know, work, but compared to everything else I've been through? When life gives you lemons, you make lemon tart out of it! Hee!

I wonder if Fu- nah, I'm in a good mood - if Crunch is having as much fun with whatever she's doing. I hope so. I really do.