I just woke up from the craziest dream. A friend and I were in Kohl’s trying on shirts and this girl our age came out of the fitting room in a pretty dress, and I told her she looked great. The girl looked surprised but pleased, and we started talking. The girl was like, “Sometimes I come into places like this with lots of mirrors so I don’t forget how I awesome I look."
So my friend, the girl, and I walk through the store together, talking about random things, looking at jewelry (the girl found a pair of Vera Wang earrings and wistfully commented that they looked like dying stars and that her brother would love them) and socks.
Meanwhile, we start to notice people around us are glued to their phones. One lady has her hand over her mouth in horror, tears streaming down her face. Kohl’s seems an awfully lot more empty than it had been. The girl brightly suggests we look in homewares.
We go to the back of the store and start smelling all the Yankee Candles, and the girl is like, "People can be so creative. Vanilla lime? Genius! I’m going to miss this.” My friend asks if she’s going on a trip and the girl is nonchalant, like, “Things will be changing for me real soon and I’m not going to be able to enjoy things like candles anymore.” My friend wishes her all the best with whatever and I say we’ll buy her the candle so she has something to remember us by, and the girl is all, “You both are very kind. I won’t forget that, I promise."
So we go to check out, but no one’s there. So we wait and wait, and then the girl shrugs, takes the candle and the Vera Wang earrings, and goes to leave. My friend and I are mortified, crying that she has to pay for them, and the girl is like, "I doubt they’ll mind,” as she leaves. Then my friend notices the store is completely empty and takes out her phone, which is blinking with dozens of missed calls, texts, and alerts.
She opens one of the alerts and it takes her to a breaking news video. All over the world, there is chaos. Horrifying things are devouring people and destroying cities. A giant cube of sand with teeth and weird proboscises on every side is sucking up people in Rio, and a slow-moving slender titan made of clouds is walking through San Fransisco and leaving nothing in its wake. Off the coast of Japan, something is rising from the ocean but the video cuts out.
Terrified, we run out of Kohl’s and find the girl standing at the curb. She’s staring at the sky over Route 1 as a giant, shifting mass of black mist descends. The girl turns to us, smiles, and says, “That’s my brother. Thank you for a lovely day of shopping. I’ll never forget it."
Then the skin of her face and neck begins to crack and flake away, revealing fault lines of indescribable things underneath. My friend starts to weep. I manage to get out through chattering teeth that I hope her brother likes the earrings, and the girl–barely human now–smiles with the remnants of a million devoured suns and says, "You know, if everyone had been as nice as you two, we wouldn’t have come to this."
And then she squared herself exponentially and swallowed everything up.
It was awful.