Chapter 4: Desperate Measures

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It was maybe a week later when everything first began to go terribly and irrevocably wrong.

The day started just like any other.

Seth clocked into work as he always did and went about his usual routine. He rang up purchases. He restocked shelves. He listened to Nathan drone on about boring and mundane topics the he himself didn't care about in the slightest.

Their manager, Andrea, was leaning against a shelf near where Seth and Nathan were talking. The registers had been left unattended, since only one woman was shopping around and she appeared nowhere near finished.

Andrea was definitely the most relaxed and friendly of their managers. She really only had the position because she was related to the owner, which really just meant that she had a free pass to run things however she pleased. When the store was slow, instead of coming up with meaningless tasks to keep the employees working like the other managers would, she tended to get caught up in conversation.

"So that girl talked to me in class again today," Nathan said.

"The one with the purple hair?" Andrea asked.

"Yeah, her."

"I thought you were into the girl with the glasses," Seth said to seem like he was paying attention.

"I mean, I am, but the girl with the purple hair, her name is Rebecca, is cute too. And I think she likes me. I'm pretty sure I've got a shot."

"You should go for it," Andrea advised.

"I don't know though. What if I'm reading it wrong and she turns me down?"

"You'll get over it," Seth said.

It was nearing the end of his shift on a slow day and the conversation made it feel even slower. Two employees had just clocked out, and two more were supposed to show up within the next hour, which left the three of them the only workers in the store in the meantime.

"It would still be awful," Nathan insisted.

"You guys figure it out," Seth said and nodded to the woman roaming the aisles," I'm going to go see if I can help her with something."

He figured that it might give him something to do, or at the very least allow him to momentarily escape from his chatty coworkers.

As Andrea set to trying to build up Nathan's confidence, the bell above the shop door rang. Seth smiled and went to greet the customer who had entered like he would any other, but the words died on his lips.

The man was significantly larger than Seth. Tall and broad shouldered. Caucasian. If he had to guess, he'd say mid thirties.

But none of that was what caught Seth's attention. It was that he had a gun.

"This is a robbery!"

That much, Seth thought, was blatantly apparent. He chose not to voice his criticism.

"Hey," Seth said, hands up to show that he was harmless as he approached the man," put the gun down."

"Shut up! Don't take another step or I'll shoot!"

Seth froze and sighed. He wasn't so much afraid as he was cursing internally for ending up in such a stupid position. Supervillains weren't the targets in these situations, they were the ones that caused them.

"You! Give me everything in the registers and safe, but keep your hands where I can see them," he ordered Andrea.

He waved the gun around like a child. As though he didn't know what to do with his hands now that it was there. As though he didn't know if he'd use it, but wanted everyone to know that he could, Seth thought.

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