Expiring (new story idea)

Posted: October 15, 2009 in City, Crime, Culture, Dark, Death, Drama, Dystopia, Expiration, Fiction, Future, Life, Love, Ugly, Urban

Fourteen days left.

Peter shoves hard on the glass door, hearing a small bell jangle above him as he steps over the threshold. The young clerk glances up from the small television screen, startled by the sudden noise. He stands up quickly, offering a manufactured smile to the new customer.
The news report, background noise: “Tonight, our subject: early expiration.”
Peter ignores the clerk, prowling to the back of the convenience store. He searches the store intensely, as if some hidden item had been eluding him for years. He stomps past the Twinkies and Snowballs and alcohol, past Cheetos and condoms and Slim Jims to get to the soda rack.
“In an effort to curb population growth after an American victory in Vietnam, legislation enacted by former president Richard Nixon in 1973 made the tattooing of expiration dates onto all children born post-1975 a federal mandate.”
The clerk glances reflexively down at his hand; the tattoo reads DEC 31 2061. He smiles. At the back of the store, Peter pushes sodas back violently, his eyes darting back and forth as he searches for a particular label.
“Recent studies, however, have revealed that those marked with early expiration dates– people marked to expire in their teens to mid-thirties due to statistics determining their worth to society– experience severe depression, suicide, and– more frequently– homicidal tendencies.”
“FUCK!” screams Peter in the back, punching a row of Coke bottles into the back. One of them falls to the floor, hissing and spitting brown foam onto the dirty tile. The clerk, taken aback by the sudden outburst, inches his hand towards the aluminum baseball bat concealed under the counter.
“This has prompted a movement to abolish the Expiration Date Act of ‘73. A bill has been put forth to Congress–”
Peter storms back up the aisle, eyes locked onto the clerk. The clerk is shaking, drawing the bat up and holding it loosely, eyes wide. He can’t be more than eighteen.
“–but it is expected to fail despite mass protests staged outside of the Capitol Building over the last few weeks. The bill, if passed, would only affect children born after its success. Those already bearing an expiration date would still be required to adhere to their own date of death.”
Peter slows, not intimidated by the bat but amused, a small, grim smile on his face as he stares the clerk down. He places his hands on the table, exposing the tattooed characters on his own hand to the clerk’s terrified eyes: OCT 23 2009.
“In the meantime, the county sheriff wishes to relay information to the public about a dangerous local gang that is recruiting those with early expiration dates and organizing them into a destructive and disruptive influence. The gang’s members call themselves the Living Dead, which is often abbreviated to L. D.”
Beneath Peter’s date, the carefully stenciled initials proclaim “L. D.”; the periods are small skulls. The clerk swallows hard.
“I’m sorry,” he murmurs.
Peter laughs, a short, harsh bark. He leans forward, blue eyes watching the clerk’s own brown ones with a frightening intensity.
“You got any Cactus Cooler?” he growls. The clerk blinks.
“What?”
Peter lunges forward, grabbing the bat from the clerk’s hands and jerking back, nearly pulling the clerk over the his side. He smashes the metal bat into the cash register, prompting a loud plastic crunch as the clerk cowers back, holding his head in his hands.
“Do you fucking have it or not?!” he yells. The clerk shakes his head violently.
“No, no! It’s d-discontinued!”
“Shit!” Peter swears, turning around and rearing back, throwing the bat as hard he can through the glass shopfront. He stomps back out the doorway and the clerk is alone again.
“If you encounter one of these gang members,” the newscast drones on, “your life could be in serious danger.”
The clerk is shaking slightly, clutching onto the counter for support. As he reaches for the phone to call the police, his eyes flick to the date on the calendar: October 9th, 2009.
His head sways from side to side in pity. The crazy guy that had just destroyed the store was eighteen as well.

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Comments
  1. carole cromwell paddock says:

    what a concept, kinda like the date on meat. except that stuff is already dead. I love that cactus cooler gets discontinued. that’s so real.

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