I remember journeying into the darkness, away from the aisles, trying to forget and not remember the past, Michelle and Miranda. I remember Lucy stumbling across something. She shoved it towards me, causing me to jump. “What is this?” asked Lucy. She was holding an odd looking box, rectangular in shape, with blue and golden letters written on it. The lettering was difficult to understand, but I tried his best to interpret it. “Oh, I see now,” I whispered. “Damn Lucy, it’s a sign, not a box. See this lettering, it says… Save money. Live Better… It’s just the slogan of the place, no food this time.” Lucy was disappointed. The last time she had any food was several hours ago and her stomach was beginning to rumble. “I know you’re hungry Lucy, but just wait a few more minutes. We’ll find something soon. By the way…I forgot to check in the time with you.” I looked down at my watch and said, “It’s 12:30am. Mark that in your notebook now, Lucy.” Lucy pulled out her notebook from her purple oversized backpack she was carrying on top of her pink tank top. Lucy found the notebook in the school supplies section while scavenging the store, but most of the papers were torn. It was slim and dry but held enough paper to make notes. I couldn’t stand that notebook, because every time Lucy took it out, a foul older of rot and mold rose from her backpack; the smell of cow manure and soil. Lucy flipped through her notebook and stopped at a page filled with several tallies. She pulled out her pink pen and drew a line on the paper next to another line. “That’s 220… and uh… six,” said Lucy. I remember sitting down and grinning, “So… it’s been that long… 220 days… and six minutes… that’s seven months Lucy… Hmph… and three weeks since we left the aisles.” Lucy sat down next to me. She let out a big sigh and looked around. “Ya’know Lucy… We’re getting outta here. Don’t worry,” as I tried to reassure Lucy. For seven months, Lucy and I were stuck in the rotting store. The white walls were tearing apart, the dark tiled floors were moldy, and the brown shelves were rotting. We were only able to venture around the first floor, as the second floor was blocked off and dangerous. And even on the first floor, navigating through the store proved to be difficult in the darkness. Every turn we made felt as if we were circling around the store. I attempted to talk to Lucy, but she was distracted by something in the distant and didn’t bother listening.
“What’s wrong,” I asked.
“Nutin,” said Lucy.
“Well don’t look at the darkness like that. You’re giving me the willies. You know how easily I get freaked out.”
“Sorry. I was just remembering the time mom and dad were with us at this store. I was never here without them before.”
I smiled and lifted my hands and grabbed onto Lucy’s chin, “Toughen up Lucy, we’re going to see Mom and Dad again.”
I remember our journey into various sections of the store. I remember walking down the hallways, but we couldn’t see any further unless we kept moving. Our only source of light was the dimming lights from the top of the store. Our cell phones and flash lights died months ago, and the ones in the store were broken into pieces. We relied on the rotting shelves, decaying metal racks, and other objects in the store to guide us through the darkness. There was silence everywhere, no word, nor a peep, only the sound from our nervous breathing, and the dripping of water. We came across the clothing section of the store. “Stop,” I said. “Your jeans are ripping apart, let’s get you new ones.” Lucy’s skinny jeans were ripping apart from the knee down; she had worn them since arriving at the store. She was reluctant to let them go, but knew a new pair of jeans wouldn’t hurt. The clothing section was a mess. Shirts, pants, and undergarments were tossed around on the floor. The clothes were collecting dust and were home to many growing fungi. The smell was awful; the section smelled like wet towel and rotting corpses. I picked up a pair of jeans and felt the silky fabric and wanted to give it to Lucy but realized mold was growing on the side. I picked up another pair of blue jeans and found Lucy’s size, size zero, and nodded. They were long, dusty, had a bell bottom design at the end and a flowery design on the back pockets. “Yuck!” said Lucy. “I can’t wear those. It’s not my style.” I the pair of jeans up and flung it back down to shake off the dust. I handed the jeans to Lucy and said: “Cmon… don’t be a brat, wear it for me.” I tried to be as calm as possible, but Lucy was making the situation difficult. I saw her making a pouty face, but complied and changed into the new jeans immediately.
After changing, we decided to continue through the store, trying our best not to remember our past; trying our best not to remember home, our mom, our dad, Miranda, or Michelle. We walked through the darkened hallways, but then Lucy tugged onto my shirt. “Diiid you hear that?” asked a terrified Lucy. “I…I… I think I saw some…something, a Shadow… be…hind that rack…” I looked down at Lucy and rolled my eyes; I didn’t want to play along with Lucy’s imaginations. “Don’t mess around like that. If you’re not remembering, they won’t come, and I assume you’re not trying to remember, right?” I asked. Lucy nodded her head, but I was too guilty to tell Lucy that I was trying my best not to remember, but parts of the night I killed Miranda began to creep into my mind. I shook my head and continued through the hallway with Lucy.
I remember continuing down that hallway for several minutes before we came to a path. The front of the path was blocked off by closets, shelves, and racks and was too heavy to push, pull or lift. The smell of rotting wood, mold, and feces came from the shelves. Regardless of the smell, I knew we couldn’t turn around and go back. I looked to the right and saw a path. The path was drenched in a pool of water, with clothes and crates floating across the water, and the metal racks sticking out from under the water. I thought the pool of water probably came from the fallen and leaking pipes. There were bags, possibly sandbags, lined up hugging against the water, holding it from overflowing into the rest of the hallway I knew we couldn’t go in that direction unless we wanted to be submerged. I looked to the left, and the area was dry. There crates and clothes on the floor, but no water. I remember walking towards the left, but as soon as I stepped on a tile, it led out a loud creeeeeeeeaaaak. I stepped back, and while distracted Lucy decided to play in the pool of water. I turned around and saw her step into the water and immediately her feet was snagged. I remember her yelling out to me, “Robert! Robert! A fishing line, it’s caught me! My foot it’s stuck, someone’s pulling me! Robert!” I ran to her and stuck my hands into the water and felt around her feet. Her foot was stuck, not snagged, on one of the metal racks which must have fallen and didn’t float back up. I picked her up and shook my head. I noticed Lucy’s new jeans were drenched with water, and I clenched my teeth, trying to hold back my frustration and anger; I could hear my own teeth crackle as they touched one another, my jaw felt like it was going to snap. I realized we had no other choice but to go down the left path, and we needed to avoid any of the faulty tiles in order to prevent any loud creaks. I didn’t want the creak to scare Lucy into remembering a happier and more comfortable place, or else the Shadows would come. But I looked over to Lucy and noticed her playing hopscotch on the tiles, and I began to get frustrated again. This was a serious matter, but Lucy wasn’t taking it seriously. I tried my best to not remember a happier place, but I couldn’t stop.
I began to remember how I was back at home, playing my video games right now, laying on my bed, with my mother bringing in chocolate chip cookies. Those times were amazing; the smell of warm, delicious chocolate, oozing from the kitchen into my room. My mother’s cooking was the best. I began to shake my head, trying to stop myself from remembering those feelings. Creeeeeeeaaaaaak! I was finally able to stop remember, but Lucy had stepped on a tile, creating an echoing sound throughout the store. I looked over to Lucy, “Uhh… woops?” she said. I felt my ears perk up as I began to hear whispers and chatters. I turned my head around, perched my neck up as my eyes widened. I couldn’t understand the whispers or chatters, but I knew something was going to happen. My reminiscing created the Shadows, it was too late for me stop them from coming alive. I grabbed onto Lucy’s hand and ran. “Let’s go! We need to move Lucy!” I shouted. I remember bolting through the hallway, stepping on each loud tile after another. Creak, creak, and creak, splat, splat, splat were the only sounds being made. The creaks coming from the floor, while the splats came from Lucy’s drenched pants hitting the floor as she ran. We zigzagged left and right, seeing several torn clothes, broken toys, and rusting metal before approaching a giant deteriorating shelf. We hid behind it. I could feel the oozing and slippery moss dripping from the shelf onto my skin. The rough rotting shelf with several small wooden spiked stuck out, pricking me as I leaned against it. I began to grab parts of the growing moss from the shelf and placed parts of the green slimy substance onto Lucy to conceal her from the Shadows. I did the same thing to myself. I could feel the living and growing moss, multiplying, encasing me like a spider-web. I saw Lucy close her eyes, tears running from her eyes down her cheek. I closed my eyes, grabbed onto Lucy’s warm trembling hands, and prayed. We prayed and waited for destiny. I remember muttering to myself to stop remembering, “Dammit Robert, stop remembering… stop remembering… stop it… stop it…”