“Thanks that made a lot of sense and cured my depression”
-Everyone who reads this comic
Writing this outside on smoke break, at 7:35.
Today’s shift was morning, 6:00 AM, so I had to get up at 4:45, or at least set my alarm for 4:45, when I actually got out of bed was something like 5:25, the biggest delay getting to work was waiting for coffee pod to finish brewing. Did you know they sell those coffee cups with the lids at the store? I just re-use the ones I get from the store until they’re too disgusting to use or break apart when I wash them in the sink. When I got to the store, Marvin was arguing with Oliver about trading days off, since it’s such an imposition on Marvin to work during the day. Marvin is a vampire, and as it’s well-known that being outside in the daylight gives vampires horrible social anxiety.
OLIVER: Look, all I want is three days off in a row, it’d be real nice, I think.
MARVIN: Man, come on, you LIVE IN THE STORE, you’re going to be here most of the time whether you’re working or not!
OLIVER: I want to go to town in whenever I want! One thing you’ll learn as you grow older is that you need to value experiences more than possessions.
MARVIN: What experience will you be getting, exactly? Going to a different store to buy canned sardines and sodas? Having someone else make you a hamburger?
OLIVER: No! I’ll be getting the experience of having the privilege of leaving whenever I want for three days, it doesn’t really matter what I do, just as long as I ‘get out of the house’ whenever I feel like it.
MARVIN: If I recall correctly, you can enter books like Gumby, so why don’t you just write a book about having three days off from work and go inside of it?
OLIVER: I can’t do that, it has to be a magic book, anyone can go inside of a magic book, even on accident. Especially on accident, actually, since that’s how they feed.
MARVIN: OK, I do think you have the right to want to have three days off in a row, but, it comes at the expense of my two days off in a row, your days off are split by one day, and that sucks, but I really want my two days off. Look, Oliver, I’m sorry, but I’m not going to budge on this, it’s been too long since I had two nights off in a row, I am going to take them. Just get the cactus to cover for you.
OLIVER: I already asked cactus, and, while they didn’t really say it out loud, they didn’t really seem open to the idea.
note: cactus is a literal cactus
So, Oliver was in a slightly bad mood on account of his split days off. His big smile, instead of being quietly and earnestly menacing, seemed fake. We had some “tough” customers today, which is what I mean when people from the Territory come to the store with the intention of killing and/or eating us. This time: rock guys. We keep a couple sledgehammers for these types. They were incredibly hard to take down the first time they appeared, bullets were less than worthless and actually actively harmful to me, nearly got caught by a few ricochets although fear kept me shooting until I emptied the cylinder. Luckily Oliver was there and had no problem crushing them apart with his hands and teeth. Today was no different, he must have been working out some anger because he didn’t even bother with the hammer, just went straight for them unarmed. It’s hard for me to say I feel sorry for them, especially since we’re not sure if they’re sentient, but, I was sweeping gravel and dust off the floor and parking lot and dumping it in the grass by the road for a while.
During the fight with the rock creatures, Oliver was shouting/mumbling a lot of words in a language unknown to me, probably from one of an uncountable number of lost civilizations he’s lived in. I think they were all cuss words and not magic spells, since he doesn’t really have any trouble killing anything.
Around 11 or so, I had Muenstar energy drink and a pint of Homemade Vanilla Below Belt ice cream for lunch. I guess I should probably mention here that a few months ago our universe received a cease and desist from a coalition of inter-universal brands, and everyone was forced to change their company names and trademarks to things that are similar, but which have a goofy spin on them.
During the last few hours of my shift, ending at 3:30, dark clouds crawled out from the Territory, whether they were actual clouds or a swarm of something, impossible to tell with them so high up. There was a 2 for 5 on Muenstars, so I bought two, wrapped the receipt around one and stowed it in the cooler, and took the other home for the night. I said goodbye to Ollie, and he told me to have a good night. The wind was pushing hard from the Territory, surprisingly cold, maybe even a little icy. It could have been my imagination, but it seemed like there were more trees further out towards the Territory, it could be tree-people, or wandering trees, or just fast-growing trees. I’m not too worried about it. Drive home uneventful except for hairless pale deer feeding on roadkill, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen one during the daytime, so it must have been some A+ premium roadkill to draw them out early. Flare at refinery was going real strong, it’s interesting to look at. I might even be able to see it from my home at night.
I couldn’t see the top of the flame or anything, but there’s definitely a distinct glow in the sky in the direction of the flare.
I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, or “National Novel Writing Month,” where people try to write a bunch of words for a novel in November. I have a very hard time creating structure or even being able to imagine it, so my writing style is to look at a story that already exists and rewrite it piece by piece into a different story. Sometimes word-for-word, but eventually sentence-by-sentence, then paragraph-by-paragraph, and eventually chapter by chapter. The idea is to have it be the story be completely different but have the same, I don’t know, skeleton, because I can’t conceive of that. This time, it’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I do not intend to have as many words or even sentences as the original Dracula, a story I have not read before and refuse to read until the moment I need to rewrite it. You may notice that it breaks down very quickly, where I just try to take the gist of a paragraph like, “something foreboding is happening.” Well, I can write a sentence like that! Is it any good? Probably not! But authorship isn’t about being the best, it’s about making deadlines.
I’m doing “NaNoWriMo” because normally November is the busiest time of year for retail where I usually work, and I’m not really working right now, so I might as well write. It’s got it’s own subdomain and everything at blog.outercitylimits.com
I’ve decided to start a journal, they say it can help you feel better. I’d like to be able to feel better. Maybe seeing things written down on a screen can help me process things better, or put the thoughts to bed. They don’t have to be in my head if they’re on a blog! Private only posts, obviously.
Had evening shift at 3:30 P. M., did not arrive at work on time, but car had a dead battery and had to get a jump-start from my neighbor, whose name is Fart Brother. Sometimes the drive to the station can be absolutely pleasant, the grass rarely fully loses its green here in southeast Texas, the temperature is finally not burning hot, and not freezing cold. A pleasant 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I rolled into work about 30 minutes late, Oliver was there, of course. I got the impression that the work day had been strenuous, he was making a lake of orange soda under the fountain into a river, pushing it out the door with the big squeegee. Perhaps it was more of a tsunami.
I asked him what happened.
“The directional man came in and made a mess.” Oliver smiled.
The directional man, actual name unknown since he never bought anything we’d have to ID him for, was a guy who was pointed fully in one direction – but, wow, could he focus. His eyes, ears, mouth, they were arranged into sort of… tubes, pointing straight forward. A could pick up all sorts of non-standard light spectrum stuff, see through walls, see sound waves, that kind of thing, but the fact that he could only be focused one direction made him pretty clumsy.
I used the hose to push the extracted soda off the sidewalk and harmlessly into the parking lot. It would be easiest to just mop the whole store, since it’s something that needs to be done anyway. Luckily there were few customers at this time, and by the time night started to fall everything was back to normal.
I settled in behind the counter with my phone, as Oliver went into the cooler to restock. I decided to check up on whether or not Google Maps had successfully mapped the surrounding area yet, as a mile or so past the station things tend to get a little non-euclidean. I like to call it the Dumpsville Unorthodox Territory. Space folds in and shifts around itself, even light from above gets shifted around, so the further you go down the road, the darker it becomes. The spatial shifts are pretty slow, taking over a year to fully slide, so I think it would be possible to map them year after year, surely there could be some kind of overlay for Google maps that would make this possible. When viewed from above, it’s a sort of irregularly shaped 5-square mile blob over mostly empty highway, becoming darker and darker until it’s completely black, or possibly just unmappable even from space. Gasarillo #318 is the most concrete landmark before the highway drives into the Territory. It’s hard to come out the other side, because the blob is bigger on the inside than the outside, what with some spaces slipping into areas that are definitely not on This Earth. If you can come out the other side of the highway, there’s really no towns or anything for a long while.
The types of people that emerge from the Territory are near-endless, from skinless wobbling blood globs to high-powered electric executives making a pitstop on their way to an important meeting. They almost always have legal U.S. currency to spend. Obviously, the surrounding trailer parks and homesteads are populated with people originating from the Territory as well as those not. It’s unknown how long the area has been this way. The way things are, it could have not existed until a few years ago or even until this morning, but history is warped to accommodate it’s existence throughout all time. Despite it’s incredible properties that as far as I know do not exist anywhere else, the area seems to be treated as little more than a strange roadside attraction.
I’ve worked in this station for the last 8 years, having gotten the job on a recommendation from Oliver. Previously I had tried to make money for a few years as a local bounty hunter, a popular choice of employment for 20-something year old college dropouts. I did get to know Oliver from that time in my life, as he assisted me on the few bounties I was actually able to claim. I think Oliver has worked for Gasarillo for 15 years? He didn’t always work at this station, he used to work in town, where he actually lived in a real house! In fact, I even rented a room in the same house as him at one time. Now he lives and works here at the store. I’m not sure why he chose to transfer here. Despite all signs pointing otherwise, from his powerful and terrifying anatomy to his lack of understanding of the value of life, Oliver is not from the Territory. He says he came from somewhere else a long time ago.
At 8:00, it was time for my break, I had a microwave burrito, the kind we get from one of the Territory vendors, says on the wrapper it’s “beef from exceptionally intelligent cows,” but it just tastes like normal beef and bean. Things seem to pick up for business once night falls, although business is almost always slow. We had the usual type of assortment: night shift workers going into town getting energy drinks and cigarettes, dayshift workers coming back to the Territory buying cold beer and cigarettes. There are a couple of regulars, who are robots, that almost always buy Chef Arduous canned pasta. It seem rude for me to ask what they buy it for, it’s definitely possible that they need to eat, or they could be buying it for someone else. The robots are always wearing giant cowboy hats and always pay with cash. Their big metal claws are shockingly dexterous, not at all like the old sci-fi movies with robots in them.
By midnight my shift was up, a pretty easy night! I drove home in the darkness, passing after some time all the chemical plants and fabrication shops before finally getting home. I met my wife Diane on the couch, we kissed and watched Impractical Jokers reruns in each other’s arms, trying to console each other from the awful reality of Impractical Jokers.