Chapter 3: Tales From the Night Shift

Salt Shakers and Strange Bedfellows

The judgement of the dead for admission into the Underworld was previously a complex and mysterious process. Now, we just let in the sims we like.
– The Book of the Dead, Revised Edition

Alice sighed and looked at the clock one more time. How was it only 10:30 at night? It felt like she had been at work for a thousand hours. 

“Well of course it hasn’t been a thousand hours. While I, a god of impossible power, do view time in a different way, I have a linear sense of its movement. You arrived at work at 9:30 p.m. and thus, it’s only been 60 minutes,” Ben provided helpfully. 

“Thank you Ben, for explaining the obvious—”

“Well if it was obvious, why did you ask?” Ben challenged.

“What? I didn’t ask! It’s a saying, Ben. I was being facetious,” Alice tried to explain.

“Well if you were purposefully making a dramatic statement, why didn’t you just say so?”

“Because then it wouldn’t be facetious!” Alice threw up her hands. “Why am I even having this conversation with you?” 

The bell by the door jingled, signaling that a customer was coming in. It was an elderly woman who was, for reasons that Alice did not understand, wearing a very expensive evening gown with fur trim in the middle of the desert. 

Alice’s eyes nearly bulged out of her head. What the heck? 

The woman swooped down the aisles, staring intently at the price tags and gesturing wildly at the items on the shelf. And…was she…talking to herself? It looked an awful lot like she was talking to herself. 

“I guess I’m getting a glimpse of my future self,” Alice murmured.

It attracted precisely two types of sims: criminals and weirdos.

This was not the craziest thing she’d had ever seen working the night shift. Not by a long shot. The Route 309 Convenience Store sat on a desolate strip of highway about 15 miles from the base. It attracted precisely two types of sims: criminals and weirdos.

…which suited Alice just fine.

The woman turned towards her and held up a spray bottle. “Is this Clean it All cleaner on sale? The sign doesn’t say.”

Alice sighed. Of course the sign didn’t say it was sale. A store only marked items that were actually discounted, the default was that they were regular price.

“No ma’am, I’m sorry, it’s not.”

“Well, how can you know that for sure?” the woman asked.

Because I fucking work here? Alice thought. “Because I just checked it myself a few moments before you came in,” she said instead.

“Oh that makes sense. Oops! Says this has noxious elderberry in it! I’m allergic. Nevermind.”

Alice gave her a tight smile and then scrubbed her hands over her face when the woman turned back around. 

“Is this what we must suffer through every other evening?” Ben asked, his tone bored. 

“Yes, Ben,” Alice whispered, her hands still over her face.

“Did you say something?” the woman asked.

Alice dropped her hands, “Just that the wipes in aisle 5 are on sale.”

“Why are we even toying with these ridiculous mortals? They always ask the same questions!”

Alice ignored him. She may have an ancient god stuck in her head, but as far as she could tell, she was a regular ole “ridiculous” mortal herself. Besides, she had chosen the Route 309 Convenience Store as a job in high school because she didn’t want to run into any of her classmates. It was already hard enough being a total outcast because she talked to herself—

“But you were talking to me!”

Hung out in cemeteries—

“But how else would you raise the dead?”

And had uncontrollable outbursts—

“Charming displays of power!”

Alice bit her lip, trying hard not to respond to Ben’s corrections. It would only encourage him. 

Her parents thought she was nuts when she begged to get this job, but they didn’t stop her. And for the most part, her plan worked. She almost never saw another soul she went to high school with and the store was basically deserted so she got plenty of homework done. Now, she mostly filled the silent hours arguing with Ben, reading, and occasionally watching the old television behind the counter. 

Now, she mostly filled the silent hours arguing with Ben, reading, and occasionally watching the old television behind the counter. 

She didn’t really answer to anyone. The owner, Mr. Cahill, was somewhat of an outcast himself. He lived in a broken down plane next to the trailer park. Word was he used to be a pilot back in the 70s. She once asked him why even kept the store open and he made some cryptic statement about sightlines and supplies and then instructed her to stay out of the basement.

“I know what’s in the basement,” Ben said, waggling his eyebrows.

“I do not need any more comments from the peanut gallery!” Alice snapped.

“Well, I’m sorry if I disturbed you. I just need to talk to myself to make my list,” the old woman said.

Alice turned, surprised that she was at the counter already. She gave Alice an apologetic shrug and began setting out her purchases.

The first item was detergent.

“She pours that on her neighbor’s flowers. Still hasn’t forgiven them for taking first place in the Oasis Springs Flower Show back in ‘63,” Ben intoned.

Alice did a double take but tried to cover it by pretending to examine the bottle.

“Uh…yep…looks like the price is right on this one,” she rambled.

The woman placed a few bags of dog food on the counter. 

“Not for her. She doesn’t have a dog. What she does have an ex-boyfriend who just moved into the same senior community and she’s planning to bake him some welcome cookies out of dog treats.”

“How could you possibly?” Alice began, but clamped her mouth shut when the woman placed butter and sugar on the counter.

“Oookay then!” Alice said with fake cheer.

Next, she rang up a set of salt and pepper shakers.

“Spells,” Ben said knowingly.

Alice made an annoyed grunt and tried to focus on the cash register but when the woman put a bottle of sunscreen on the counter, Ben began to laugh. 

Alice waved a hand in the air, her face creased in annoyance. “Oh what? I suppose next you’re going to tell me that this is for greasing up rings that she steals of the fingers of people at funeral homes!”

“What? No. That would be absurd. It’s just lovely to see someone actually concerned about skin care these days,” Ben replied.

The woman giggled, her shoulders shaking as she reached into her purse. Even though she was clearly nuts, Alice still felt embarrassed.

“I uh…wasn’t talking to you…” Alice stammered.

“Of course you weren’t dear, I knew that.” She gave Alice a conspiratorial wink, grabbed her groceries and left. 

“Well, I must say, I like her!”

  • Dolly Llama
    Oct 13, 2019

    Hold up—so Ben can hear and respond to her thoughts as she’s thinking them? I weep for this woman’s sex life.

    Chances of seeing fur-and-bleach lady again clocking in at 1 million percent, boss

    • feroshgirl
      Oct 14, 2019

      LOL YES EXACTLY. When I say they share a mind, I mean they really share a mind. Will that be a problem in the future? Absolutely. Does it make Ben literally the worst? Up for debate!

      Thank you for loving fur-and-bleach lady as much as I do. I think you all will be pleased to see how she returns 🙂

      • Dolly Llama
        Oct 14, 2019

        If Ben realized how little agency he has in this situation, maybe he wouldn’t be so annoying. Maybe the God of Death can handle the sketchiest corners of the internet, but I bet Alice could get him back by developing a love for the dry and dense. Like memorizing molecular bio terminology! Or reading Henry James.

        Granted, it *will* cause her to go bonkers faster.

  • feroshgirl
    Oct 14, 2019

    oh that idea makes me cackle! I think, if you don’t mind, I’d like to use it in a future chapter (and shout you out) because of all the ways I thought about Alice getting the jump on Ben, that never crossed my mind!

    In general though, Alice VASTLY underestimates how powerful she really is…

  • Dolly Llama
    Oct 14, 2019

    DO IT

    I mean, I’m not saying having to learn the function, name, and alternate names of every protein in the Fanconi Anemia pathway is a fate worse than death, but—yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

  • Kymber
    Oct 19, 2019

    LOL I love this! I was giggling again through the whole thing. Ben is killing me; I wonder how it will be if he’s quiet though? He’s been around a long time.

  • finelines
    Mar 9, 2020

    I like alices personality, she is funny even when she toalks to herself!

    • feroshgirl
      Mar 9, 2020

      Thank you! Sometimes I have a hard time with banter or I worry a joke won’t land or that I’m only funny in my head. I really wanted her to be snarky without being annoying!

  • theplumbob
    Jul 1, 2020

    Lol I’m so enjoying their back and forth, it’s class! I doubt Ben will manage to stay quiet for long.

    The lady who enjoys talking to herself and killing her neighbour’s plant beds sure has friend potential.

    • feroshgirl
      Jul 2, 2020

      Nope! Quiet is not in Ben’s nature.

      Ugh I always meant to bring this woman back but my game crashed and I haven’t been able to recreate her so I had to change that part of the story 😩

  • Yimiki
    Dec 17, 2020

    Ooooh, either that woman is completely bat-shit crazy on top of being a spellcaster, or she could hear Ben’s ramblings as well. Which would be very very interesting. Hmmmmmm.

    Lol, I wonder how long Ben will stay gone for. He does not seem like the type to have any patience to shut up for longer than a few minutes.

    • feroshgirl
      Dec 17, 2020

      Oh man, its hard to reply without spoilers. One day, I’m going remind you of this comment!

      Yeah, patience is not Ben’s strong suit. Weirdly, being around for thousands of years has not taught him any of that. All powerful dieties and supernatural creatures: they’re just like us!

  • Ninja Pink Sex
    Aug 24, 2022

    If I were the god of death er bouncer to THE underground… I would *so* be like um, sorry, you’re not on the list. Okay, go enjoy purgatory. Maybe Charon will cruise you around The Styx some more. Oh, don’t have the fare? Not my prob. Buh-bye! I love how you started the chapter with that side of snide. It made my bitter heart curdle <3

    Ooof. Alice's CSR job brought back some memories. Not pleasant ones. Why must customers be 110% annoying and ask THE DUMBEST questions?  I totally felt that whole scene where Alice was trying (and actually succeeding, so go Alice!) her best at humoring a woman who seemed like an unbalanced load of laundry. Hahaha that woman MADE this chapter. Her fur-lined dress (in the f'in heat) her bazar questions and ramblings to herself. I love how Alice stares at the woman and just shrugs saying how that is her future. LOL. I mean, she's not wrong. It's kinda her present more or less (the ramblings to herself part at least). I also admired how Alice caved and said that it was possible the old woman had a god living inside her head. You never know what another person is going through, and that statement was very empathetic of Alice. I still see this story as a tribute to mental illness and the struggles (let's just go with schizophrenics') people suffer — from how they are perceived by their peers (Alice mentions she has to work at this specific place  since HS so her classmates wouldn't run into her) to how they manage the world around them (Alice has to consciously control her outbursts but is often unsuccessful, especially when provoked by Ben).

    Okay, and now we have come to the part where I scratch my head and just say, "I don't get it." I don't get how Alice isn't giddy hearing all this GOSSIP. Good Lord, Ben is THE original Gossip Girl. Like fuuuuuuuck. Fetish, I swear you need to do BBD teens but as Gossip Girl. Pweese and thanks? Yeah, here's Pink saying, DO MORE, FEROSH, DO MORE! You know I only say these things b/c I love your work, but will preface this by saying, do whatever YOU want to do. I just want to ignite a fire within you ;D
    Aheeeeeeem, going back to what I don't understand…. Like my gawd in heaven I would love to hear ALL THE DIRT of rando sims. And Ben is only telling THE GOOD STUFF. Like the most fucked up bazar shit. I mean, I know Alice says he rambles about other stuff as well, and hey what's the saying "you gotta take the good with the bad" (or something), like okay, find tell me their hopes and dreams but also tell me that they do weirod shit like suck the lint from their toe-webs or have Tik Toks of them pooping and then show the poop post-poop. Ugh, Ben… USE ME.

    But, even though I say I don't get it, I do understand how intrusive it would be to have someone else constantly in your head with no way to manage/turn off the voice. And for Alice, she's had to deal with that voice for several years (decade[s]) with no real way to manage or even tell others THE TRUTH. Like I can't imagine how maddening and alone she feels to endure THAT. Ben is basically her only friend and enemy and she's stuck with him and his non-consensual god-ass. Okay white men, I see you and I middle finger salute you.

    PS. Ben, WHAT is in the basement???
    I'm sure I'll find out but you know me and patience. Just doesn't mix. 

  • sirianasims
    Sep 26, 2022

    “Well if you were purposefully making a dramatic statement, why didn’t you just say so?”
    “Because then it wouldn’t be facetious!”

    Is… is Ben autistic? Or am I also a god of impossible power and don’t know it yet? 😂

    Criminals and weirdos, a Venn diagram with Alice in the middle. Check.

    Love the old lady in the store, I hope we’ll figure out if she can hear Ben or not (and what the fuck is in her basement. Spells?!)

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