There were too many times now to dismiss them to all as accident or coincidence. Gina was getting increasingly nervous, unsure if her day would be normal, or if it would be One of those Days. There were people for whom one of those days was little more than a string of petty inconveniences, but all too often now, Gina had One of those Days. She always saw the phrase in her mind in italics. It deserved the capital letters and the extra emphasis too. If it kept on happening, and happening with this increasing frequency, she could see it soon becoming all uppercase too, possibly with one exclamation mark – but only one. She didn’t regard anything up to and including the sudden catastrophic collapse of the entire universe as deserving more than one exclamation mark.
Gina had a dim view of people who sprinkled exclamation marks across their writing, but at least it wasn’t quite as bad as dotting an i with a little heart. That was a sign of insanity. Or, at least, that was what Gina had thought until she started losing her own grip on reality.
Or was it reality that was losing its grip on her?
She was not sure.
She was pretty sure that a fully armoured knight galloping down the tinned goods aisle of her local Asda was not normal, anyway. Especially when she dare not explain to the helpful assistant, who righted her trolley and replaced her box of shattered eggs, that was what had happened. At least the young teenager had the grace to blush when he caught a glimpse of Gina’s knickers under her short skirt, as she lay spread-eagled and bewildered under a cascade of sweetcorn tins.
‘The floor must be slippy… or something,’ she’d muttered. The cut on her forehead caused the appearance of two Assistant Managers, and the actual Store Manager herself. All were concerned to make sure that she was not too badly injured, or at least not injured enough to start legal proceedings. This despite the fact none of them – or the three assistants charged with clearing up the mess – could find the mysterious slippy patch that Gina claimed had caused ‘the incident’ as they all called it. One of the Assistant Managers had stood very close to her as he examined her cut forehead. ‘I’m the store First Aid officer,’ he said, his breath smelling of peppermint.
Gina wondered why he needed to breathe so deeply as he gently turned her head towards the light to examine the cut. Then she realised he was – discreetly – trying to smell her breath.
Gina wanted to tell him she hadn’t dared have a drink since she had been slipping away from the world, or the world had begun slipping away from her – whichever it was. She didn’t want to turn up in some past or future dimension or whatever it was – or be diagnosed with the brain tumour that was causing all these illusions – while under the influence of half a bottle of red, or even half a pint of weak shandy.
It was the only illusion of control she had now that her entire world was spinning out of her control. Spinning away from her much like her shopping trolley as the armoured knight charged down the aisle right at her and all she could do was scream as she fell into the tinned sweetcorn stack.