Last night I had to the pleasure of visiting Turriff, a small town and civil parish here in Aberdeenshire where I met up with some of the less ‘bitey’ residents for a wee business meeting. And despite all the warning signs and danger notices that litter the road on either side of the approach to the the town, (the usual things, ‘Keep your windows closed at all times’, ‘don’t feed the locals nor look them directly in the eye’, ‘don’t get them wet after midnight’, etc.) It seemed a rather beautiful wee place to live, as long as you’ve have had the full spectrum of rabies and ‘Black Plague’ vaccinations.
In fact, it put me in mind of the town Wick, situated a mere 20 miles from my hometown of Thurso in the far north of Scotland. Certainly nice to look at from afar, but were you to drive through it late at night with those fancy new UV headlights that all the modern cars seem to be sporting, you’d burn the flesh of the Nosferatu looking locals as they crawl around the town looking for souls to ravage, or cheap bottles of gut rot cider to sink their sharpened teeth into.
I pulled into the local supermarket where I met my hosts, who swiftly bundled me into their car before some of the nearby townsfolk had the chance to hog tie me and pack me into the boot of their rust-riddled Ford Fiestas, and we set off out into the wilds to the pre-arranged meeting.
After an hour and a bit of me doing my best to convince the people at this meeting that I was a delightfully charismatic hunk of eloquence and poise, I provisionally got the ‘gig’ before then being led into the back of a pitch black lorry trailer. Thankfully I saw neither a pile of claw-hammered teeth nor a banjo playing dude in dungarees as we navigated through the stacked up equipment within, until finally we found the equipment we were looking for and emerged back out into the fading daylight.
Once we’d exchanged a few handshakes, (I checked my hand afterward to see if the buggers had made off with my wedding ring) I was once more bundled back into the car and driven back to the supermarket, where I half expected to find my own car torn apart like I’d driven it through the rabies infested monkey enclosure of a safari park.
Amazingly enough, my lackluster Ford Focus seemed no more stressed than it normally does, having to haul my sizeable badonkadonk around the shire. Bolstered by confidence that maybe the place wasn’t ‘that’ bad, I decided to quickly pop into the supermarket to pick up a couple of essentials. I also hoped as I walked through the large glass doors that they had moved away from the barter system of trade in here, and hopefully would accept contactless transactions instead, as I was clean out of chickens or virgin lambs.
I quickly moved around the shop filling my basket, only being hissed at once by an angry pensioner as I picked up a ‘Whoops’ ticketed cream bun that had taken her fancy, and made my way to the till points. I noticed that out of the three tills operating, two of them sported relatively long queues whilst the third seemed completely empty. I waited for a few seconds to see if anyone else would spot this and move across to it, but after a short while I decided to take the risk of being called a queue jumper and went straight to the empty checkout, where I was greeted by the most miserable faced man I’ve ever seen in my life.
I could feel his aura of abject depression wash over me as he turned his attention toward my basket of items, slowly picking up my loaf of bread before taking longer than is socially comfortable to examine it as he turned toward me.
“Have you had a busy day sir?” He didn’t even say it whilst in the motion of scanning the bread through the till point, like it was something automatic you would say to any customer who happened to be standing in front of you sweating in fear. Instead, he held my loaf in a death grip while he stared a hole through me, time freezing as he awaited a suitably engaging response.
“Um, yeah?” I scrambled for something to say to fill the uncomfortable silence that fell between us, my bread unmoving from the clammy embrace that held it;
“I uh, had a cheese toastie earlier that spilled on my t-shirt.”
As usual, my primitive brain had taken over and just spurted out random words to fill the air, making me look like a mouth-breathing imbecile as I cowered under the glare of the bread hostage negotiator in front of me.
“Well, that’s nice.. Sounds like a far better day than I’VE had.”
He finally scanned my bread as I quickly considered the trap in front of me. At least I only had two more items needing to be scanned before I could escape, and this was clearly a leading reply he’d just presented me with as he looked at me expectantly, hoping I’d ask what on earth was troubling the poor fellow. My pack of Coke Zero hovered in the air before the scanner, held at ransom just out of range until I carried on the conversation.
“So.. Uh, What’s been bad about your day sir?”
Christ, he flung his head back with such dramatic flair I thought he was either having some kind of aneurysm, or he was auditioning for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in a remake of ‘Gone With The Wind’. I nearly commando rolled over the till desk to give him CPR before he turned back toward me and once again stared into my very soul;
“What’s NOT wrong with me would be a shorter list, let me tell you!”
‘Please don’t’, I thought, ‘Just please beep my stuff so I can run away to my car and hide from the terrifying steely blue gaze of the Night King, who it seems in his spare time from attacking the north with an army of the undead, also worked the checkout in a small northeast town.
*BEEP*. Finally the cola was through and I only had the chocolate bar to go. I could have left it at that and made my escape, but I’m fat and at no time will I leave a Kit Kat Chunky unmolested at a checkout.
“I’m full of the cold,” said the Night King, “There’s not a single part of me that doesn’t ache-” I knew no sympathy as he held my chocolate in his hand. I wasn’t worried about it melting under his grip, as no heat seemed to radiate from the cold, dead flesh that sat under the blue supermarket branded sweater. But I was now wanting to climb into my car and race south so I could warn the other clan chiefs to gather at Winterfell.
“-But NOBODY around here seems to care!” I Looked around as he bellowed, noticing that every other member of staff I could see who wasn’t busy doing something took a sudden fascination in the composition and alignment of the roof tiles.
“Right.. Uh.. Not a bad night outside though eh? Uh, I’ve got a long drive ahead of me too.” I was in desperation mode here. I needed to escape, and my primitive brain was taking over again and just making noises. I’m pretty sure I squeaked a couple of times too as he finally beeped the chocolate bar, handed me my receipt and stared at me as I turned to leave.
Waaait sir” Oh god, I froze in place as he called after me. I turned slowly to see if I was about to be turned into a common cold carrying member of his dark army, to see him brandishing a red coin toward me.
“You forgot your token.”
I thanked him as I took the token by fingertips, and scurried out the door holding it in front of me like some kind of mystical talisman whilst looking for wherever the hell I needed to put it. I stopped and looked around the exit to find the charity box thing that accepts them, but as I turned I caught the Night King glaring at me.
I scurried out to the car and fled south, watching the skies for undead dragons as I sunk the foot back toward Oldmeldrum, where the coin was placed into quarantine in case the Destroyer got a hold of it and ended up running around with glowing blue eyes and biting things.
Which come to think of it, isn’t a real change from normality.