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Black Friday

Michael Adam Robson is an engineer and artist based in Vancouver, BC. His short fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Nature Magazine.

There was a banging on the service door behind me, and I fumbled for my shotgun.
Laughter grated. "First time, kid?" Leaning on the door was a smirking soldier in body armor, shotgun hanging in one hand. It was Big Ben, head of security for the ground floor. Ben was a hardened veteran, but even he seemed on edge. The smile on his scarred face didn't touch his cold eyes.
The polished white corridors of the mall burned with harsh fluorescent light. Walls and windows were plastered with advertising, bold black letters on angry red and acid yellow: 75% OFF ALL MERCHANDISE! 80% OFF TODAY ONLY!! 90% DOORCRASHER!!!
"It's almost time, isn't it?" I asked, raising my voice over the rattling gates and muffled shouts outside. The animals were hungry.
Smile fading, Ben looked around at the men posted in front of every store, glanced up at the snipers on the upper levels. "Yeah, it's time. Get ready." He turned and touched his earbud. "Open it up."
The squad at the main entrance unslung their weapons and fanned out on either side of the doors. Their leader punched the red button. Sirens wailed and flashed, and the steel cages rolled slowly up.
And the crowd boiled in, squeezing under the gates as they opened, shouting, pushing, trampling, rushing in every direction. I braced myself and gripped the reassuring weight of my weapon.
"Just protect your store, and stay out of their way!" Ben yelled, and then he waded off through the rising tide of rabid shoppers.
Good advice. I stepped aside for the herd as they crushed screaming through the narrow entrance of my assigned store. Through the windows I could see them fighting over computers, cameras, phones. Snatching boxes off the shelves, out of each other's hands, trying to take and to hold what they already had, laughing and angry at the same time.
There was a squeal at my feet, I looked down and saw a woman getting trampled. I pulled her up and onto her feet.
"Thanks," the lady said with a weak smile. Disheveled and bloody, she turned and pushed her way back into the mob.
"How you doing, kid?" Ben shouted over the riot, shoving people aside and stepping over broken bodies as he made his way back over.
"Is it always this bad?" I yelled back. "Why do they even have these sales?"
"Just a way to get rid of all the garbage," Ben grunted when he was close enough.
I frowned and looked through the window again. Pressed against the cracked glass, two men wrestled over a TV; one clenched broken, bloody teeth. "Garbage? Most of this stuff is brand new."
A teenager with a torn face squeezed out of the store, a crumpled box clutched jealously in his arms. The security system blared, lights flashing red. Whatever he had, he hadn't paid for it.
Without hesitation, Ben slammed the butt of his weapon down on the kid's skull, dropping him and his stolen prize to the ground with a crunch of bone and glass. "Wasn't talking about the merchandise," he said with his cold smirk.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Author Comments

This satirical story was inspired by a recent holiday shopping trip. I like to think it takes place in the same world as my first story for Daily Science Fiction, "The Merger."

- Michael Adam Robson
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