Ten Thousand Dales (Part 1)

Bleep Bleep Bleep

Dale opened his eyes, he hated the sound of his alarm clock but then supposed that that was the point. With a slap he silenced the damned thing. It was nearly 7:00am, he had to shit, shower and shave before he headed off to work. Screw it! He would shower after work, shit while at work (might as well get paid for it) and shave sometime next week—it wasn’t like those three hairs on his chin were going to be getting company anytime soon. He would just rest his eyes for five or ten minutes.

“Dale. Dale, honey, don’t you got work today?”

Dale opened his eyes to find his mom standing over him. “What time is it?” Dale asked as he yawned.

“It’s just after eight.”

“What?!” Dale jumped from his bed; his lord of the rings blanket flying to the floor. “I’m late!”

In a matter of minutes Dale had donned his obnoxiously coloured purple and red uniform complete with shiny gold name-tag dangling from the shirt collar, scarfed a cold pop tart, threw on his shoes, snatched the keys to his mom’s minivan and bolted out the door.

The van still had the trailer holding Dale’s go-cart attached to the back. He had not bothered to unlatch the trailer after returning home from the track two nights ago. He wanted to get back there and do a few more laps tonight after work.

As he blew past other cars on the road, Dale leaned forward and looked out his windshield at the sky stretching before him. A dark sinister ring of storm clouds circled the horizon like a horseshoe nimbus of impending doom.

Great,” Dale said sarcastically. He could see his plans of hitting up the go-cart track after work going down the drain.

Of course, the parking lot was already half full, and why wouldn’t it be, the store had only opened ten minutes ago. It was Wednesday for god sakes, didn’t people have anything better to do with their lives then go grocery shopping first thing in the morning.

Parking at the back of the lot Dale hustled into the store; the large neon sign above the doors spelling out the business’ name for all passing motorists to see: Fresh Choppers.

“Hey bud.”

Dale turned to find six-foot-eight Nick ambling in behind him.

“Hey man. I’m late,” Dale said as rushed through the sliding doors.

The layout of the store was confusing at best, radically incompetent at worst. With the produce and meat departments being sectioned off along the entire first third of the store, the only way a customer could proceed further was to try and navigate a small “choke” point at the beginning and end of the first main aisle, which was no bigger across that a couple of grocery carts.

As Dale scurried through the produce department he waved to the full-time produce clerk Alex.

Pretending to stock some apples (in actuality checking out a couple of university girls that had just wandered in), Alex nodded towards Dale.

“Dale, you’re in shhiiiiiit.” Alex laughed.

“Uh…what? Why?” Dale slowed down.

“Oh no, I’m not gonna ruin the surprise big guy,” Alex said with a wink.

Dale didn’t like the sound of that.

He hurried through the meat department; Nick had already started work (if that’s what you’d call it) and gave Dale a strange look.

“What?” Dale said.

“I just ran into George, he’s acting like a lunatic. He says you forgot-,” was all Nick could say before he was cut off.

“Dale! Go punch-in then come see me by the dairy cooler.” George Morris, the store manager, shouted from between the plastic flaps which separated the backroom from the main floor.

Dale was startled by the man’s tone. He had worked for George for the better part of a year and—other than on the rare occasion—had never heard the man yell so loudly. Looking to Nick, Dale saw that his tall friend had suddenly become very busy with a package of bologna.

At just shy of a run, Dale quickly clocked-in at the digital punch clock located outside the employee lunchroom. He had just a moment to peek into the eating area and was immediately spotted by two of his coworkers; Danny and Sam.

Spider-Dale!” Sam said.

Dale smiled at the name. Several months ago Dale had demonstrated his impressive jumping skills to some of his fellow employees; what followed was a slew of nicknames which included his personal favorites; Danger Dale and Spider-Dale.

“Whoa, Dale, what did you do?” Danny asked with real concern. “George is pissed.”

A ball of nervousness began to grow in the pit of Dale’s stomach; there was something going on that he was not aware of and it was becoming pretty clear that it was somehow his fault.

“I don’t know.” Dale looked at the two for help before adding, “What did you guys hear that I did?”

Sam shook her head and chuckled

“You worked last night right?” Sam asked.

“Yeah…”

Sam and Danny exchanged glances.

What?!” Dale demanded.

“You forgot to put the eggs into the cooler.”

No sooner had the words left Sam’s mouth than the world around Dale began to spin. He had put the eggs away, hadn’t he? He began replaying the events of the previous night in his head. The egg delivery driver had arrived with three skids of eggs an hour before closing (he remembered the driver very clearly because the guy had been really shady). Dale had signed for the eggs and wheeled them into the cooler. Oh…wait, the cooler had been full at the time with crates of chocolate milk; Dale had to work all the chocolate milk into the bunker outside the milk doors before the eggs would fit in to the cooler. It was starting to come together. He had worked the chocolate milk and then began facing the dairy doors and then it was closing time. Oh god! He had forgotten the eggs out overnight.

“…Oh no.”

Sam smiled at Dale before saying, “Yeah…it sucks. It could be worse though.”

“How?” Dale asked.

“It could have been me working dairy last night.” Sam laughed.

Danny was a tad more sympathetic towards Dale’s plight.

“Maybe you won’t get fired.”

Hopeful, Dale asked, “You think so?”

Danny smiled and nodded but Dale knew his co-worker was just being nice; he was clearly a dead Dale walking.

“DALE!” George yelled from somewhere in the bowels of the building.

Numb, Dale quickly ducked out of the lunchroom and made his way across the back of the store. He could see George standing in front of the dairy cooler, but more importantly he could see the three skids of eggs as well.

Deciding to be pre-emptive about the whole situation, Dale launched into a—what he hoped—reasonable explanation.

“G-George, I know that I forgot to-to put these away but you are n-never gonna believe what happened last n-night. I was walking near the front of the…the store and I saw a guy with a…uh, uh, a ski-mask…yeah! Yeah, a guy in a ski-mask! I was sure he was gonna rob-“

George Morris was not buying it though and quickly cut Dale off.

“Do you know how much these eggs cost?!”

Dale didn’t really know but could guess that it was quite substantial.

“…no.”

“A lot! Besides the cost, what are we supposed to tell customers today when they come looking for the eggs in the ad? Huh? What?”

Well, this was it, Dale was about to be fired. A voice in the back of his brain demanded that he go out in a blaze of glory. He could practically see it. He would tell George to take all his stupid eggs and shove them up his ass, then, he would chug a carton of chocolate milk (without paying!), find the nearest female employee and give her the most passionate kiss ever. After that he would hop into his mom’s mini-van, do a couple of donuts in the parking lot and peel out of that bitch with nothing but his middle finger looking back at Fresh Choppers.

Instead of all that however, Dale just said, “…sorry, sir.”

George gave Dale his best angry face, it was an expression which held a close resemblance to a constipated dog, before finally saying, “You’re lucky Dale. Apparently, the driver from last night’s delivery turned out to be a crack addict and he stole the truck after he delivered here. I told the supplier that we had yet to receiver our eggs and so they are going to send a replacement shipment today.”

Dale couldn’t believe it. He had averted complete disaster and it was all thanks to a dirty, crack-head who just happened to choose last night of all nights to lose his shit.

“So…” Dale began.

“So, you’re not fired, but we are still going to be without eggs for the morning and more importantly we need to get rid of all these rotten ones before the new shipment arrives.”

“Yeah, of course, for sure. I’ll do it, what do you want me to do?” Dale asked.

“You’re damn right you’ll do it. You know Dale, I don’t appreciate stuff like this; this kind of stuff costs me money. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I care about you—or any of the staff for that matter—but I do care about this store. Look around Dale, you see these metal shelves, these wooden skids, that amazing concrete floor; that stuff makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, that is the stuff I love. So in the future, if you feel like you can’t give me or my store everything you have than let me know…I can always find more Dales.”

Dale wasn’t really sure how to respond to such a bizarre statement but decided that silence was the best answer he could give and just nodded along in agreement.

“So, I want you to take these eggs out back, crack them open and dump them down the sewer.”

Dale was stunned, that would take him all morning—hell, it could take him all day.

Just then, as a reminder that it was not exactly sunshine and rainbows outside, a crack of thunder shook the building.

“Um…couldn’t I just throw them into the garbage compacter?” Dale asked hopefully.

That constipated dog look returned to George’s face. “No! You want the whole store to smell like rotten eggs?”

“But, it’s gonna start raining…”

“I don’t care if there’s a hurricane, you’re dumping those eggs and then after that you can face the whole store.”

Dale realized that nothing he said was going to get him out of the task at hand; and really, not getting fired was already a win for him anyways so he just smiled and agreed with his boss.

The first order of business was going to be getting the eggs outside the receiving bay door. Luckily for Dale (more specifically his back), George had taken a small amount of pity on him and instructed Nick to give him a hand.

After twenty minutes of egg slugging, all the cartons of eggs had been placed in a circle around the drain grate out behind the building.

Looking up at the black clouds hanging from the sky like giant cancerous polyps, Nick gave Dale a thumbs up and said, “That doesn’t look too bad. Try not to get wet big guy.”

“Hey…aren’t you gonna help me break them?”

“Sorry bud, I have to get back to work.”

With that, the door clanged shut and Dale was left standing surrounded by ten thousand bad eggs. He looked up to the ominous sky.

“Well…at least it hasn’t started raining yet.” No sooner had the words left Dale’s mouth than a drop of water splattered on his forehead. “Crap.”

Dale grabbed the first stack of eggs and positioned it in front of the grate. He opened the top most carton on the stack and pulled out one of the white ovals.

“One down, nine-thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine to go.”

Dale reached out to crack the egg on the metal grate when a jagged bolt of lightning slashed down from the black clouds and hit him.

Dale did not hear the near deafening thunder which accompanied the lightning, he was far too busy being electrocuted.

All in all, the actual lightning strike lasted less than a second but in that small amount of time Dale, and the rotten eggs, were pumped with thirty-thousand volts of electricity. As the current raced through Dale’s body he was hit with a strange sensation; the lightning bolt was not painful but rather it felt like he was caught in a massive vortex. An undeniable feeling of being pulled into thousands of directions blasted through Dale’s mind and body.

As fast as it began it ended. Dale crumpled to the ground in a heap; smoke rising from his curly hair as it started to pour.

Slowly, Dale opened his eyes; he was surprised to find that he was alive enough to do so. It took his zapped brain a moment to register the insane fact that he had just survived a lightning strike. Sitting up he could see that he apparently came through the experience unscathed—and so had the eggs which lay scattered around him everywhere but were otherwise unharmed.

Although he felt okay—just a little dizzy—Dale knew that he should probably head inside and make somebody take him to the hospital. Before he could though he noticed one of the eggs before him began to tremble and roll.

“Whoa…”

The egg settled against his right shoe and abruptly cracked open.

Dale wrote-off what he was seeing as being the result of some sort of shock from surviving such a traumatic event. Because there was no way in hell that a tiny, two-inch tall Dale—fully dressed in a teeny Fresh Choppers uniform—was stumbling from the cracked remains of that egg.

Deciding to play along with the obvious brain damage he must have suffered, Dale leaned over and looked at the miniature version of himself and said, “Hey! Are you…me?!”

Whatever response Dale was expecting it was most likely not the one he got. The little Dale looked Dale right in the eyes and said, “Get him, boys!”

“Uh…what?” Dale asked.

The sudden sound of eggs breaking caused Dale to stand back up and do a three-sixty of his surroundings. Every egg was hatching; surly little Dales emerged. The ground was wet from the rain and Dale lost his footing. He slipped backwards and slammed his head against one of the egg crates, he was knocked completely unconscious.

Above, another angry burst of lightning slashed across the dark sky as the rain continued to fall in a torrential downpour. Below, a storm of a completely different nature was brewing. The receiving area behind the store was teeming with ten thousand Dales.

END PART 1

Be here next month for part 2 of…TEN THOUSAND DALES!!!!!

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