4b. Midnight Market - Part II

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Naomi always had a soft spot for the leftover people. Her and Geoff had their first ever fight over whether or not to help a drunk guy. They were on holiday, walking home from a kebab shop to their hotel room. The guy was much more intoxicated than them, half lying, half sitting in the gutter.

He was talking on a mobile phone, which moments later he threw onto the road. It broke, and pieces of it scattered across the bitumen. Naomi wanted to stop and check that he was okay. Geoff was scared that the guy might be violent. You didn't know what kind of man he was.

Naomi didn't care about any of that. She'd been drunk and angry in the gutter before. She'd needed help, and nobody was there. She didn't want anybody else to feel that way. Geoff called Naomi naive. Naomi called Geoff heartless. Neither was true. But Geoff was scared, and Naomi was hurt.


By the time they arrived at Kmart, it seemed like Naomi had finally forgotten about the spider. The automatic glass doors slid open, and Geoff breathed in the cool of the air-conditioning as they stepped into the cavernous white edifice. Naomi elbowed Geoff and nodded in the direction of a big display stand near the cash registers. Three shoppers stood with their back to the door, trying on giant animal head masks.

"Remember when they had them in the Kmart near our house. We always said we were going to get them." Naomi said with a smile of nostalgia.

The three skeletons had all chosen pandas. It was like someone had torn the fluffy white heads off of a den of giant panda teddies and stuffed them over the skulls of the three figures. The black circles around the panda eyes looked more like bruises than cute markings. They didn't have any mouths, just those black circles for eyes.

One of the pandas shoved another of them. From where Geoff was standing it looked like they were playing, roughhousing, but still, the push was strong enough to knock the smaller panda onto the hard, polished concrete floor. Geoff looked away. It wasn't unusual for a 24-hour department store.

 It wasn't unusual for a 24-hour department store

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Naomi headed towards the toy section. Geoff walked towards the kitchenware aisles. They didn't do much cooking anymore at home. Getting fresh produce in the underworld was difficult. Not enough natural light. Most dishes were based on fungus of one sort or another. Geoff had always liked them, but he wasn't a mushroom for breakfast, lunch and dinner kind of guy.

The kitchen section bordered the bathroom area. There were always new towels and bathmats he wanted to take home. But how many towels did you need anyway, especially if you didn't have a shower? There was a new black bathmat on sale with sparkly silver tassels that he knew Naomi would want if she saw it.

He kept moving into the start of the men's clothing area. He picked up a pair of tan trousers and checked the label. They weren't his size. He wasn't wearing any clothes at the moment anyway. He normally didn't. Most people down there didn't wear clothes.

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