It wouldn’t be fair to say that Ang detested her job, but she didn’t want to be there.
Her mother suggested that she find a way to make herself some money. Well actually what she had said was “Get off your bone-lazy ass and earn your own pocket money!”
She looked around and found the easiest job she could find – the night shift at Gay’s Grocery Store. She had to be at work from 9pm to 1am, lock up and go home and it was right down the street. The pay wasn’t bad and she didn’t have to do stocktake or pack shelves or anything like the day staff had to. It seemed perfect.
Ang should have taken the time to catch up with her reading or studying but she spent most of the time snoozing or bitching about her mother to her friends on her phone.
“Bitch probably just wants “alone” time with Scott her boyfriend” she would complain. It was soooo boring she would say but never tried to make it any better. Her mother was glad to have her out of the house because she knew how lazy Ang actually was and this could be an opportunity for her.
It always slowed down after midnight and the last hour was the longest. Ang groaned, wishing the time away. She had just laid down her head on her arms to snooze when she heard the gate buzzer. The owner had put it in for security two months before. Ang buzzed in a good-looking teenager dressed in workout clothes and another guy dressed all in black. He had his hoodie up, but Ang didn’t think anything of it. Apart from the cigarettes there was very little cash and very little of value in the shop and they had never had any trouble before.
The teenager bought some cooldrinks, crisps and a packet of cigarettes. Ang supposed she should have asked for I.D., but he was cute and she didn’t care. He left and she waited for the other guy to get finished.
“What the hell was keeping him?” she wondered looking up from her phone.
“Hey, you done?” she questioned, not receiving an answer. The store felt completely abandoned and Ang felt a shiver go up her spine. Getting up she walked along the back of the counter looking down all 3 rows, nothing.
“Hello?’ she shouted now irritated, walking back again. “Are you done? I need to finish up before the manager comes to lock up for the night” she lied. Still nothing.
“What an ass! He must be hiding at the end of the rows” it was the only place she couldn’t see from the counter. Now she had to get up and go and chase him which irritated the hell out of her.
With the shops panic button in her hand, she slowly walked down the aisle towards the back. Ang was too arrogant to be scared, no one would be stupid enough to try and rob this shithole she thought to herself. Getting to the end of the aisle, she stepped around quickly ready to push the button, but he wasn’t there. It was empty. She ran around the store up and down each aisle, nothing.
Wondering back to the counter she wondered if he had left with the other guy, they came in together. “What the hell” she muttered to herself picking up her phone again. She was using the shops Wi-Fi to watch a video about stupid cats falling into the bath when she felt a breath on the back of her neck. Looking into the reflective metal at the top of the cigarette stand, she saw someone standing behind her.
In that instant she realized several things.
First, that she was completely alone with some creep who hid well.
Second that she had left the panic button at the end of the counter.
Third that he was between her and the way out, she had nowhere to go.
Little did she know that she wasn’t going to get away that easy. Taking a deep breath to scream, she felt icy hands close around her neck. She grabbed at them trying to bend back the little fingers which her dad told her to do as a little girl, if this ever happened. The scream was cut off and all that came out was a squeak. Trying to kick him she threw herself around, but he was too strong and lifted her off her feet by the neck. The world slowly went black from the outside in, until there was only a pinprick of light, it disappeared, and she floated gratefully into unconsciousness.
Ang felt someone slapping her face and woke up screaming.
“It’s me, it’s me Ang” the owner grabbed her shoulders to stop her from hitting him. Taking a breath and focusing she realized that he was there along with the police.
“What happened?” she asked and quickly regretted speaking, her throat was on fire.
“We don’t know – you tell us” confusion showed on his face.
Gesturing with his head he said “Those people wanted to buy something but when they looked in the window, you were lying on the floor. Luckily, they phoned the emergency number and I got here in 7 minutes. What happened?”
Ang tried to sit up swallowing painfully again.
“I was attacked by some guy behind the counter, he tried to strangle me.” The owner paled.
“Let’s check the cameras” Ang suddenly shouted. “They will definitely have caught him, especially behind the counter”. The camera was aimed right at the till which is where Ang was standing. Looking down Ang realized that the till wasn’t open.
“What did he take?” she asked looking around.
“Nothing. I can’t find a thing missing.” Ang stared at him in disbelief. Who attacks someone and takes nothing? Her face showed her confusion.
It was the owner’s turn to say “Let’s check those cameras”.
“Go back to midnight, that’s when they came in.”
“They?” the policeman asked jotting something down on his pad. Ang proceeded to describe both men, although her description of the one in black was lacking in detail.
“Not to worry” she said “the cameras will show us”. She showed the owner to start the tape with a flick of her hand.
The owner rewound back to midnight. At first all they could see was Ang who had the decency to blush when she laid her head down to sleep.
“There” she shouted with great excitement as the first man walked in. The gate and door closed behind him as Ang stared at the screen with anticipation.
“Where is the 2nd guy?” the policeman asked, Ang shook her head totally at a loss.
Leaning forward she wondered if he had come in later but he didn’t. The teenager in white got his stuff, paid and left. Ang conveniently ignored the owner when he looked at her sharply for not asking for his I.D. She now wished she had.
Still confused she continued to watch. She saw herself on the phone, then look up and talk. Unfortunately there was no audio. Ang got up and walked down the aisles, you could see the concern on her face and the panic button in her hand. They watched as she went through the store, talking to herself and eventually went back to the counter. She looked bewildered and turned her back to the camera.
“OK look for him now, he was sneaking around the store. Somehow the cameras didn’t pick him up but they must do here.” They all leaned in, sure that they would see something.
What they saw no one could explain not even Ang. She felt her blood run cold.
Ang was standing behind the counter watching something on her phone. Suddenly she stops, dropping it and clutches at her neck. They can’t see anyone else. Only Ang, struggling with her hands around her neck! Pulling and wriggling. They were all thinking the same thing. But when she lifts off the floor they all gasp and step back. Up to that point everyone doubted her story, but she could not have lifted herself like that. She lifts higher and higher struggling with the invisible hands around her neck, kicking and fighting for her life. The men try to reason what they are seeing. But they can’t and no-one knows how to proceed.
Ang stares horrified watching herself drop unconscious to the floor and lay there. Nothing moves, no one leaves, its dead quiet. She stares and stares but there is nothing until the owner comes in and runs to check if she’s ok.
From that point on Ang changes her perspective. She never steps foot in the shop again and takes up Judo becoming a black belt in record time.
For her mom it was win-win as she got rid of lazy Ang.
For Ang she never spoke of it again and the memory eventually faded. She never again worked the night shift.
For the Owner – he was convinced it was his deceased wife and only ever employed males to work in his shop from then on. It never happened again.