“It is the sheer ugliness and banality of everyday life which turns my blood to ice and makes me cringe in terror.” – Jean Lorrain
I saw news footage of scenes from some of the supermarkets on Black Friday and still feel incredulous over what I bore witness to. What can I say? Dawn of the Dead sprang to mind. Only instead of grabbing for the nearest fresh brains to suck on, these frenzied shoppers were snatching for televisions that had a daft thirty quid, or whatever, knocked off.
I mean, I had to wonder, did these people even know what they were buying? Did they actually give a damn about what spec the television was or stop to wonder if Uncle Bob, who might drink the occasional cup of Nescafe now and then, would really appreciate the cut-price coffee maker for Christmas? And how many vacuum cleaners does one household need? The old Dyson model has fifty quid knocked off though, so it’s got to be a bargain, right?
Seemed like frenzied, nonsensical madness to me.
And for a while I actually lost faith in humanity on Friday. Watching on screen as people fought, pushed, swore, (even lost their own shoes!) over obtaining discounted stock, regardless of whether they needed it or not. It seemed that the hype of a ‘bargain’ was an adrenalin fuelled battle that served to give a sense of achievement to all those that took part and succeeded (and better still if you’d trod on someone’s toes in the process – ‘take that you pushy bastard’).
I imagine the supermarkets will receive a barrage of returned goods this week. Now that the battle dust has cleared and adrenalin has waned, people will be looking at their ‘bargains’ thinking “What the fuck do we need another television for? There’s nothing wrong with the one we’ve got.”
Thank goodness for twenty-eight day refund policies eh? As long as you have your receipt, of course. Though for the poor guy who got trampled at the doorway whilst trying to do his weekly grocery shop, there’ll be no remuneration for him.
Can we possibly class ourselves as a civilisation when such a large portion of us would think it acceptable to behave this way – to fight in the aisles of Tesco over non-important household appliances? The footage chilled me to the core because of the sickening way in which people started reacting to the situation as though it was a case of survival of the fittest, stripping away their morals and manners in the style of Lou Ferrigno ripping off his shirt, with an ‘I’m alright, fuck you, mate’ attitude.
Fortunately I quickly reminded myself that not everyone falls within the ‘self: first, last and always’ category and that there are some genuinely nice people out there. People who wouldn’t punch their neighbour in the face for the sake of saving a tenner, people who wouldn’t tackle a granddad to the ground in order to get in queue before him and, indeed, people who wouldn’t sell their own granny for the price of a crate of lager.
I love horror fiction of all kinds, I really do, but Black Friday reminded me that much more than vampires, werewolves, Freddy Krueger and that dude with the hockey mask, the horror that layers the darker side of humanity has to be the worst kind. Ever. That someone you work or drink with, or a complete stranger, might disregard your safety and wellbeing for the sake of them saving a few quid – now that’s true horror right there.
So remember, peace and goodwill to all men and women, folks. And stay safe if you venture out to any sales – it’s a battlefield out there. Apparently.
Oh and here’s another flash fiction piece of mine for you to enjoy…
Metamorphosis of a Monster
I saw you in the park tending to the flowers. A girl in a plain t-shirt, grubby jeans and a pair of Caterpillar boots, kneeling in the dirt. You fluttered your eyelashes – an unpretentious offering I found irresistible. You blushed and said you had something in your eye. I was smitten by your squirming innocence and I saw in you a hidden beauty.
We got together and I nurtured your free-spiritedness with my professional success, allowing you to break free from the restraints that held you back. I enjoyed watching you gradually transform into a stunning, carefree lady.
I gave you everything you could ever need. All I asked for in return was that you love me.
But you never did, did you?
All the flowers in the world couldn’t make you mine. Nor all the gold or green.
With your newfound confidence you’d become a fickle creature, flitting from one group of friends to the next. A social philanderer displaying your colours to all those in awe. And you submitted yourself freely to the net cast out by many a man. Dancing in their hands as you once did in mine.
At night you pretended not to notice the butterfly kisses or the wet warmth of my despair on your cold shoulders. Instead you cocooned yourself in silk sheets and accused me of stifling you. You said I was trying to clip your wings. That I wanted to bottle you up, to keep you from the world so that you could be mine, and mine alone, to look at.
You accused me of sucking the life out of you.
You called me a vampire.
But I’m willing to conform, to remind you of just how accommodating I can be.
For you I’ll become the vampire.
What was that? You’re sorry?
Too late. I’m sorry.
It was your love I wanted not your apologies, but since I can’t have it I’ll make do with something else instead…
See this butterfly needle? I’m going to slowly, slowly drain your life.
And I’m going to make you watch.
Because this time, I promise, you’re going to notice.