When Mavis woke up and opened the curtains she got a sudden splitting headache from the rays of the bright morning sun. She preferred a more subdued light so she closed the curtains again. However the day promised to be cool as well and she knew that Gertie, her sister, would want to go out shopping.
She called next door for Gertie and they put on their wooly hats and set off for the shops. They liked going to Broadstairs, there was always something happening there. They took the bus to the Broadway and walked down to the supermarket to get their shopping. Going in the shop they each got a trolley, Gertie set off immediately down the first aisle, but Mavis stood sorting out her shopping list and purse when suddenly, she felt the floor underfoot move slightly. She looked down, it looked all right, maybe the last remnants of her headache was making her queasy.
Taking hold of her trolley she set off after her sister, catching up with her at the mushrooms. Gertie was always fussy about her mushrooms and was selecting three of the best packs to put in her trolley just as Mavis caught up with her. Suddenly the floor rocked again and a crack appeared along the middle of the aisle. There was a grinding, ripping, tearing, noise coming from under the floor. It heaved and split, smoke started to come out of the crack. A look of panic appeared on the faces of other customers as the floor heaved again. Everyone except the two sisters left their trolleys and set off as fast as they could for the entrance. Staff followed, shooing the customers through the doors as quickly as they could.
Outside the police, alerted by the staff, arrived, followed by the fire service. They cordoned off the supermarket and began evacuating all the shops in the high street. People craned their necks to see what was happening. When a reporter with a cameraman arrived and began interviewing the witnesses, the police had a harder time getting people to move away, back up the high street.
Soon there were no staff or customers left in the shop except for Mavis and Gertie, hiding behind the end of an aisle. They stayed to see what would happen. The floor continued to wrench itself open and the fissures soon filled all the spaces across the aisles, between the tiers of shelves. Fumes and a smell of brimstone filled the air and a spume of water erupted from one fissure.
Down one aisle something was going on. Strange small creatures were crawling up the sides of the hole, they looked like large black hairy spiders with green monkey faces. Mavis and Gertie stood at the end of the shop watching them, whilst goods, teetering on the edge, fell off the shelves and vanished down the holes.
‘Aaaaaaah what is all this?’ a gravelly voice said, swiveling its head up, round and round, looking at all the goods on sale. More items fell nearby and Xswee grabbed for them with three of his hands whilst the rest of them tightened on the edge of the hole.
Another creature of the same species, Cbexx, pulled himself up and over the edge. Up the shelves he swarmed, attracted by the bottles of liquid. Holding a bottle in two hands he used another to unscrew the top and poured it down his green throat.
Xswee tried to take it off him but Cbexx would not let go, a fight began and Xswee began to bang him over the head with another bottle, Cbexx escaped and fled up the shelves to the top where he started hurling insults down upon Xswee’s head. Xswee climbed up, hand over hand over hand, scattering goods everywhere, vowing eternal vengeance.
Cbexx finished his drink and threw the bottle at Xswee, who howled. Xswee began to wail, it was a fearsome noise, but then he caught sight of other bottles and grabbed one of them. Opening it up he sniffed the contents appreciably and poured the bleach down his throat.
Meanwhile other creatures were coming up to the edge, using the rocks amongst the loose soil to hoist themselves up. Mtbb was next over the top, she ran along one of the shelves to get to the chocolate, grabbing six handfuls she clutched them tightly, threatening with her razor sharp claws any who came near, then she went back down the hole with her haul. Others reached for the shelves where there were packets of biscuits, rolls and bread, cramming them in their mouths and scattering crumbs everywhere. Others came, they feasted on anything they could find, the washing up sponges went down well with the bread rolls.
Mavis and Gertie watched them scamper about the shelves, grabbing anything that took their fancy, smelling it and then dropping it to grab other items. Mavis suggested they make a lot of noise and frighten them. They found some cake tins and trays and bashed them together as loudly as they could. The small creatures ceased their pilfering and looked to see where the noise was coming from. Picking up knives and other kitchen utensils and brandishing them menacingly they began to move towards Mavis and Gertie. Xswee, showing both rows of inner and outer teeth in a grimace, picked up a barbecue fork and led the attack.
Suddenly there was a terrible grinding noise and the great gaping holes in the floor began to close, the creatures started screeching in panic at the tops of their voices and made for the holes, dropping their spoils and flinging themselves down the fissures before the holes closed up and they were left behind. Complaining bitterly all the way down into the depths they disappeared below, back into the deep places where they came from. Over their heads the sides of the holes came grindingly together and all that was left were the ridges of the seams down the middle of the aisles.
The next day Mavis went out to buy the local newspaper. She took it next door to show Gertie. They made tea and then sat and read the stories of the Day of the ‘Great Broadstairs Earthquake’.
‘They are sensationalising it, all it was was a water main bursting and hitting a gas pipe’, Gertie said to Mavis.
Mavis reached across the table for the bowl of raw fungus, and selecting a large juicy mushroom she popped it into her mouth and chewed it thoughtfully, ‘Fortunately the creatures went when they did’ she replied to Gertie, ‘We wouldn’t want their kind in Broadstairs, IT BELONGS TO US’.
In the soft blue light of the bulb she stood up and taking off her coat and wooly hat looked in the mirror over the fireplace. She admired her antennas, moving them each way, independently of each other. Wearing the wooly hats when they went outside crushed them a bit, but needs must.
© 2020 Rosemary Hill
She was born in 1952 in London. At 16 she left school to work as a typist then a secretary in an office. Her loves are two cats & craftwork