When I was younger, my mother and I would always go to this bargain store known as “Russ’s”. This was where we would do our normal grocery shopping, as we were having financial issues at the time. We never thought much of it; the vegetables we bought were in good condition, other than a few dents in the canning and labeless. The junk food we bought was fine, though the chips always seemed to be a bit stale. Other than these minor issues, there was seemingly nothing wrong with the place.
I remember always going with my younger brother to the meats isle, where we would press our fingers against the packaging and watch the carcasses squish against the seram wrap. We must have gotten some entertainment from that, since television was a rarity in our home. And every time our mother stopped us, as she found it unsanitary, we’d just giggle and pick up the meat she requested with a final push against the flimsy plastic wrapping. She told us to choose the cheapest we could find, and bring it to her. And normally, we never thought anything of it.
I didn’t exactly like the look of the cuts, since the blood surrounding it seemed a little too red, like it had gone bad or something. I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was just something about it that seemed a bit strange. Though childish thoughts would cram into my mind about the meat every time I held it in my hands, I told myself it was only a dead cow or pig. But some how I still hadn’t gotten that through my head, not all the way at least.
One day, as we drove to the store with our rickety, old Saturn, I watched as raindrops just began to fall from the greying clouds and the familiar sound of thunder filled our ears. I smiled, being particularly fond of thunderstorms, and sat back in my car seat, waiting for my mother to make the turn into Russ’s parking lot. As we did so, I noticed it was empty, the only things in the clearing were leaves and gravel, and that was blowing hauntingly around the tan building. The neon sign that was poorly made flickered as the wind blew and sharp drops of water flew across the world around them. I couldn’t really put my finger on what was so suspicious about it, but it was a Sunday and I hoped it wasn’t closed. I wanted my little snack from the Kids’ Club ran by the workers. So I didn’t question it further and waited for my mother to find a parking spot.
Once inside, I let my child-like eyes float across my surroundings. The lighting was dimmer than I remembered, and the atmosphere was a little unnerving. I looked to my mother and brother, who seemed to be a little surprised also. They looked pale in the lighting.
“Come on, guys.” My mother pressed on, grabbing our hands and dragging us along. I didn’t want to go in any further than the door.
We zipped through the isles; my mother seemed to be in as much a hurry to get out of this place as we were. Except, Brendan and me were only children. We deserved to be a little creeped out. She picked canned veggies, a few bargain brand bags of cereal, some cheese and some milk that was to spoil here in a few days.
The whole time we were walking through the isles, I had the strangest feeling that some one was waiting, watching us from behind. But this vibe was never really much, not enough for us to look back and question if some one had been there. But one seemed to have it’s own atmosphere, as if people were in the store with us like normal.
I looked back, half expecting to see some one standing behind us grocery shopping, but the entryway into the isle was empty. I stopped for a moment, still feeling that something was there, and my mother tugged at my arm. I shook my head, and then looked to the wiped tiles. The floor was covered in a single, straight line of red. It looked as if something was dragged across the floor.
“Momma…” I warned, my brows knitting together at the sight of the blood.
She turned, annoyed with me now, but upon further inspection, she saw it too. With a gasp, she pulled me across the floor, dropping the basket of groceries and trying to run. I think I remember her screaming.
As we ran across this isle, scared out of our minds, a group of people stopped us in our tracks, cutting us off. They seemed to be guarding something as they marched forward, and they acted like the three of us weren’t even there. I could hear the sound of something wet squeaking across the floor. I looked between their legs, halfway afraid of what I could be seeing.
To this day I wasn’t sure if it was a pig or human. All I know is that its arms were cut off and it was bleeding all over the place. I didn’t see any legs, but attached at the stubs of where legs should have been, I saw a pair of feet in a state of decay.
That was the last time we ever shopped for meat at Russ’s again.