Dale pushed the door leading out of George’s office to the floor, the army of Dales had all but knocked it off the hinges. “C’mon!” he shouted as he waved Alton and Sam through.
The building around them shook violently. A large stack of wooden pallets toppled forward crushing the produce preparation table flat.
“My phone,” Sam said forlornly.
“Forget da phone. I buy you a new one!” Alton yelled as he bolted past Sam.
The emergency lights still flickered making the small trek from George’s office to the store floor a dangerous one. Banana boxes and stock carts littered the ground.
They burst through the flaps and found that the state of the building was far worse out on the main floor than it had been in the back room. Shelves swayed spilling waves of product everywhere. Above, the blackened lights swung so hard that several had broken partially loose and now hung like condemned criminals from the gallows.
Alton had taken up the lead, he made for the quickest way out of the building which was aisle one. The lane was a nightmare to navigate, canned goods lay scattered across the floor. In his rush to escape, Alton stepped awkwardly on a can of beans and went down in a heap. Even over the din of the store coming apart at the seams, Dale could clearly hear the sound of the Jamaican’s ankle snap.
Alton screamed as he clutched for his foot. Dale and Sam came up short behind him. The incident—as bad as it was—actually saved their lives. No sooner had they stopped running than a massive quake rocked the store and the entire front end of aisle one collapsed into a massive sink hole.
“Shit! That was close,” Sam said as she stared wide-eyed at the chasm before them.
“Grab Alton! We can go through meat and produce and out the entrance,” Dale instructed.
Making their way back up aisle one was a much slower process than it had been going down it. Alton—with a healthy dose of shock in his system—moved as fast as he could, Sam and Dale each supported one arm.
They had just rounded the corner—adjacent from the flaps, when a huge shape burst out from the backroom.
Dale didn’t see what hit him, due to the speed of the thing and the limited lighting, but he sure felt it. The impact was that of a car crash and Dale felt himself soaring through the air. He smashed into a metal rack holding small tubs of grated parmesan cheese.
Even with the wind knocked out of him, Dale managed to scramble to his feet. He could see that Sam had also been taken out by the impact, she had fared better than he had though by landing in a bunker loaded with lunch meat. He twisted around looking for Alton, he had already decided that they had been hit by a piece of debris when his eyes fell across something so horrible his brain almost refused to accept it.
Alton screamed and kicked as he was hoisted up nearly a dozen feet into the air by an enormous clone of Dale. Unlike the miniature versions though, this one was not an exact replica, this Über Dale was a monster straight out of a person’s worst nightmares. Its face was a mess of jagged teeth and gnarly lumps. The hair on its head was a tangle of greasy black curls. Worst of all, Über Dale was completely naked.
Dale was struck dumb at the sight before him. All he could do was watch as his hideous doppelganger held Alton high above its head before opening its massive mouth and dropping the Jamaican in.
As bad as the visual was, the sound of Alton being eaten was much worse. With each chomp of the Über Dale’s jaw a crescendo of crunches, pops and squeals would split the air.
Around him, Fresh Choppers continued its death throes, but no matter the peril, Dale was frozen in place. He just watched as the monster before him licked its teeth, dislodging Alton chunks as it did so. Then it turned its murderous gaze towards Dale. He was vaguely aware of Sam screaming for him to move in the background but it was not enough to unstick him from his spot.
The Über Dale stalked towards Dale slowly, deliberately. The monster seemed to recognize that Dale wasn’t going anywhere and was relishing the moment. As the monster reached out a hand to grab Dale a frozen octopus bounced off the creatures face.
The sight of a frozen octopus thudding against the Über Dale’s forehead was enough to snap Dale from his trance. He spun around in time to see Nick emerge from a bunker full of frozen seafood.
“Why don’t you pick on somebody your own size!” Nick shouted as he lobbed another frozen octopus at the Über Dale.
“Nick?!” Dale couldn’t believe that his friend was still alive. “Where have you been?”
Nick continued his assault as he climbed free of the bunker. “I barely got away from the little Dales, I jumped into this bunker to hide…I must have blacked out—I just woke up!”
Nick grabbed up a handful of frozen octopuses to launch at the monster but before he could the entire building erupted into violent quakes.
Dale felt his footing give, he tumbled to the floor. The tremor wracked the store for nearly thirty seconds before calming enough for Dale to look around. He saw that several massive rifts had appeared along the tiled floor. To his horror, the biggest gorge had opened under the bunker Nick had been standing in front of moments before; now it, along with Nick and a sizeable section of the meat department was gone into the abyss.
“Nick…?” Dale muttered.
He did not have long to mourn his friend (again) as his hand was suddenly clenched in Sam’s and they were running.
Sam led them towards the produce department—and towards freedom—when, with an epic crash the ceiling separating the two departments came crumbling down. The debris piled all the way to the ceiling, leaving just a small opening near the top. They were not going to be getting out that way.
“Damn it!” Sam yelled desperately. “That’s it! We’re done for.”
Dale’s mind raced as his eyes danced around looking for something, anything, which might help them. His sights settled on the narrow choke-point separating the meat department from the rest of the store and the ragged hole in the ceiling above it. Rivers of rain water were cascading down from the opening. He had an idea.
Dale grabbed Sam by the shoulders and quickly ran down his plan. Sam’s eyes widened, but the plan was no crazier than anything else which had befallen them that day, so she went with it.
Dale and Sam took off running, the sudden movement caught the Über Dale by surprise and before the beast could react the twosome had already skirted around the monster and were headed towards the dairy department. Once there, Sam continued moving along the back of the store while Dale ducked behind a bunker stacked with bricks of cheese.
As he had hoped, the monster had missed Dale’s hiding spot and instead continued on at a scary pace after Sam. Once both Sam and the Über Dale disappeared around the corner of aisle five, Dale jumped to his feet and got to work.
Sam ran as fast as her legs could go, she could hear the giant Dale closing fast behind her. She wasn’t completely confident in Dale’s plan, then again, the alternative was to get eaten by the monster chasing her. She didn’t know how much time Dale would need but she did know that she would not be able to outrun the Über Dale for long, a challenge made all the more difficult by the steady shaking of the store around her.
She nearly wiped out rounding the corner at the end of aisle five. She was going to start back up six but quickly realized that all of aisle six and most of seven had become a black hole sinking into the earth. With no other options she dashed down aisle eight, the last aisle in the store and prayed to god that the floor would be intact all the way down.
Sam made her way back towards the meat department, back to the store’s choke point. Even in the dim light she could see that a lot of water was rushing in through the hole in the ceiling. Behind her the Über Dale roared, it was done playing games.
Dale watched from behind the flaps leading into the backroom, he would need to time this just right. He saw Sam go streaking by and knew that his monstrous twin would be close behind. With a final breath, Dale tightened his grip on the cart he was holding and with a grunt shoved it out through the flaps as hard as he could.
The cart of boxed mashed potatoes, now all torn open, slid out directly in front of the Über Dale. The impact was tremendous, a massive cloud of sodium-rich flakes engulfed the Über Dale. The flakes quickly congealed into instant potatoes and covered the creature. The Über Dale bellowed and began to climb to its feet but only made it half way; the potatoes had acted like a gummy paste holding the Über Dale fast.
“Oh my god! I can’t believe that worked!” Sam ran over and wrapped her arms around Dale.
“I don’t know how long it’ll hold, we should get the hell out of here.”
Dale quickly realized that escape was not going to be an easy task. The Über Dale was trapped in the section between the meat department and the grocery department, while the stretch leading into produce was nearly completely blocked off by the debris from the ceiling.
“We need to get out through that hole,” Sam said as she pointed to a small opening in the debris wall.
Dale didn’t like the look of the obstacle, it could come crashing down at any moment and if they were climbing it, they would be crushed under its weight. “No…it’s too dangerous.”
“Dale, we don’t have time to dick around, if we don’t get out of here soon, we’re going down with this shit hole!”
As if to drive her point home, the entire store began to shudder violently. A wide crack zig-zagged across the floor towards them.
“Sam! Look out!” Dale screamed.
It was too late, the tile under her feet crumbled and Sam slipped into the darkness. At the last moment she managed to grab the ledge.
Dale tried to reach her but had to jump back as another rift split the ground in front of him, effectively leaving Sam clinging to a small island of flooring.
“Dale, you need to go! Get through that hole!”
Dale felt a wave of grief hit him as he realized there was no way to save Sam.
“Get out of here, Dale,” Sam yelled from over the edge of the hole.
“I can’t leave you!” Dale screamed.
“It’s…it’s too late for me.” Sam spoke through clenched teeth as her grip loosened. “Besides, I wouldn’t have been able to make it through that hole before this place comes down.”
“What makes you think I can?!”
“You have to jump, Dale. Only Danger Dale could make a leap like that.”
Dale turned back and looked at the hole. It was really high but if he ran fast enough he might be able to clear it.
“Go now Dale.” Sam’s fingers began to slip free. “One more thing Dale…I’ve—I’ve always loved you!” With that Sam’s grip failed her and she slipped into the blackness.
Dale was stunned but he didn’t have time to think about Sam’s confession, she had been right, he needed to go. He turned and ran for the debris wall, all around him the store crumbled in on itself. Just as the entire meat department broke apart and joined Sam in the oblivion, he leaped through the air.
He cleared the hole with less than an inch on either side.
Dale hit the ground, rolled, and continued moving. He burst through the front door of Fresh Choppers and continued halfway across the parking lot before slipping on the wet pavement and crashing into a row of shopping carts. He was already soaking wet as the rain continued to rage but he barely felt the water. Instead he twisted around and watched as the store shook itself to pieces. All that remained of Fresh Choppers was a large hole in the ground. Dale couldn’t help but think it was an improvement.
Something at the lip of the hole caught Dale’s eye. A large, gnarled hand reached over the jagged edge. Dale couldn’t believe what he was seeing; the Über Dale had somehow survived the destruction of the store and was now pulling itself free from the pit.
Dale’s first reaction was to run, he climbed to his feet and beat it across the parking lot. As he neared his mom’s minivan though, his fear was overrun by a new emotion: anger. Dale thought of all the people who had died that day, people he cared for. Instead of the driver’s side door, he headed for the trailer attached to the back, the trailer housing his go-cart.
Über Dale was in rough shape. The monster’s body was a mess of tears and cuts. A piece of the building’s shell had nearly sheared off the Über Dale’s right arm. With an unsteady step, the beast began to move away from the hole in the ground which had almost been its grave. It moved only a few feet through before a loud whine drew monster’s attention.
Dale revved the go-kart, he let the tires spin for several seconds before taking off like a shot towards the giant. Moving at a blistering speed Dale felt himself become overwhelmed with emotions. “Adrienne! Alex! Danny! Alton! Nick! Saaaaaaaaaam!”
Dale dove free of the go-cart at the last second, he rolled along the ground but still managed to keep his eyes on the Über Dale. The go-cart hit the monster like a missile. The front end of the go-cart acted like a sickle and sliced right through the Über Dale’s ankles. The beast roared but it was cut short as the back end of the cart flipped up and collided with the monster’s head. With a sickening crunch the Über Dale’s face collapsed inwards. The momentum of the crash sent both the go-cart and the destroyed Über Dale tumbling backwards into the void.
Dale laid on the ground for a while. He felt so utterly drained that he doubted he could have moved even if he wanted to. Finally, with great effort, Dale worked his way back to his feet and headed for the minivan. He knew he would have a lot to answer for but he would deal with that when it came. For now, he needed to go home and sleep for at least a year.
Shawn stood at the river front. He always made a point of going out rainbow hunting after a good storm and the one which had ripped through the city that morning had been a doozy. As he searched the sky for one of those multi-coloured arches that he loved, he was once again glad that he had decide to ditch work for the day. The walk to Fresh Choppers was lousy enough when the weather was good, but in a downpour it was miserable. He would have some explaining to do with George tomorrow but he was pretty sure he could come up with something.
“Oh there’s a pretty one,” He said as he directed his camera towards a rainbow stretching above the water. “That one’s going into my rainbow diary.”
Yes sir, Shawn had no regrets about playing hooky that day.
In the water, something began to stir.
He watched Shawn through the gritty waves and was hit with an insatiable hunger. Memories played through a confused mind. Images of frozen octopuses and giant Dales, visions of falling into blackness, ending up in a sewer pipe, choking on foul water…dying. He could remember finding a book of spells floating by, he recalled reading one to save his life. But something went wrong, he had merged with the frozen octopuses. Now he was wracked with an insatiable hunger.
Shawn’s attention shifted from the sky to the water. He noticed bubbles frothing along the surface. He leaned over the rail to get a better look when a trio of tentacles exploded out of the waves and ensnared him. The slimy appendages yanked Shawn off his feet and held him above the water. Shawn watched in horror as a nightmarish creature emerged.
“…eek,” was the last sound to leave Shawn’s mouth before he was devoured.
With his appetite satiated for the time being, he returned to the depths. He hated what he had become and he was starting to think that he knew who was responsible. None of this would have happened if Dale did not exist. Yes, it was all Dale’s fault and he would pay. First Dale, then the world. All would feel the wrath of the NICKTOPUS!