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Fair trade

The meat counter was staffed by a tall, lean man with an aquiline nose. He put the nose down on the bloodied board and leaned forward anxiously.

"You don't wanna go there", he warned.

He was the third to react oddly to Sandra's inquiry about frozen paninis. The baker had turned ashen and denied any knowledge, while an aproned Politics student restocking the chutneys pointed a shaking finger, mumbled "meat" and edged away, toppling backwards into a trolley and crushing an account executive’s free range eggs.

What is wrong with these people? read Sandra’s thought bubble, filtering the striplight to form dull shapes on the stockroom door.

"Where?" she demanded, jostling her half-empty steel basket menacingly.

The butcher stroked the handle of his chopping knife and winced at her like a driver in his wing mirror after a bump.

"Opposite the fish" he conceded, "But.."

Sandra was gone, ice-bathed hake in her sights. Entranced shopbots thrust their trolleys in her way but with some graceful footwork she was swiftly eyeballing half a trout, gaping in an eternal scream. The frozen goods at last.

The aisle was empty and Sandra smiled. She inspected the length of the frozen cabinet, peas to pizza, for the familiar packaging. There they were!

As Sandra reached down, she was struck. Her hand quivered, her eyes dilated, the brain crashed. Beneath transparent plastic at the cabinet’s edge, a square red sticker had caught her and run her through. One for the price of two!

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submitted at 4:28pm

28 November 2007