John went to the grocery store, just like any other day. Well, almost. He grabbed the shopping list off the fridge, the only part of the shopping his wife, Mary, ever did. John was the writer, the one who worked from home. Mary figured the least he could do was pick up the groceries. After all, she spent all day at work while he fiddled around on his computer keyboard sitting at home listening to the stereo all day. To her, his writing was a hobby not a job, even if it did help pay the bills.
On his way to the grocery, John noticed there was a new store open on his route. He always drove the same way to the grocery store- he was a man of little change. He hadn’t noticed them doing any building in what was just an empty lot a few days ago, but now there was a building there with a running store inside celebrating their “Grand Opening.” He decided to stop there first and see what it was all about. Even if he didn’t do much in the change department, he still was curious about things, like this new place. He pulled into the parking lot, which was nearly full. He casually walked up to the doors of the building, below a flowing “Grand Opening” sign, and saw no indication of what the store was. There was no sign on the building, no writing on the doors. He looked back to the road for a moment and noticed there was also no sign out at the road. He thought this was very odd, but figured they were in a hurry to start recouping money and would put up their signs later. An oddity was no reason to avoid checking out a new place, especially when it was closer than the normal grocery store.
When he entered the building he noticed it was full of people, which made sense with the densely packed parking lot. He also noticed that it was very white, from the bright lights to the shelves, and the floor to the items on said shelves. Everything was white. No one greeted him when he walked in. He looked around and saw people by check-out stations dressed in white, which he figured must be the employees. He decided to just go have a look at what was available. Each shelf was lined with generic items. He remembered back to his early childhood when the generic food brands were all in the white boxes with the simple black lettering. That is what all of these items looked like. There were clothing aisles, food aisles, housewares, and even electronics.
He wanted to be home before Mary got home from work, so he figured he better check out the food aisles for his grocery list and come back some other time to see what else they had. He was happy to have a short list and hoped Mary wouldn’t be too upset about him purchasing generic foods. She always preferred specific brands, but John couldn’t help but be curious about the stuff at this new mysterious store. Hey, what else could he call it? It’s not like they were doing anything to advertise their name!
He grabbed the items he needed, passing other shoppers that strangely seemed possessed or something. They were all walking around like Stepford people. No one said “hello” and no one was even taking items off the shelves. They were all ambling about and staring. John approached the check-out stations with his cart of milk, butter, burger, chicken, and rice. He chuckled at the fact that even the meat had that generic packaging as he loaded his stuff onto the conveyor belt that would move his food up to the cashier. The cashier, a young woman with a name tag that simply read “employee” greeted him with a “Greetings” and no smile to be seen. John smiled nonetheless, and said “hello.” She continued with “Welcome to The Cloud. Did you find everything you were looking for?” John said “yes” and asked the cashier when the store opened. She didn’t answer. And as he thought about it, and she rang him up, he realized when she did speak her lips didn’t even move.
John paid for his purchases and as he stepped out the door of the store he was nearly blinded by his grocery bags, startling him out of his deep thoughts on the weird cashier. He sat them down and picked through to the glowing one, it was his milk. As he pulled it out it burnt his hand and he dropped it. When it splashed open a bright light emitted from it, taking on the form of a man. “I am God, John. You have found our store because you nearly died on the way here. Because you purchased the Milk of the Gods, we are inviting you to become our newest employee here at The Cloud. Your wife will be fully compensated for your employment, but you will never be able to return to being one of the living.”
John was in shock. He couldn’t speak. Was he dead? How had this happened? As if hearing his thoughts, God spoke. “A drunk driver crashed into you, head on, on your drive to the grocery store. Our store appeared to you because you have always been a good man, and now you can be a great cashier.” John wasn’t sure what to think at first. This was all so sudden, and strange. However, the more he thought about it, the more he was sure the answer was simple. John opted to stay at the store, since God said his other option was to lay in a coma for a few years until his wife had them pull the plug, at which time he would go to a place in Heaven where he would basically sit around and do nothing all day, for eternity. John hated to be bored.