3:43 at 5th And Cherry Street

Gemi Ranney catches her bus at 3:43 on the Corner of 5thand Cherry Street Mondaythrough Friday.

You could set your watch by Gemi.

She shows up at her stop at exactly 3:38 and five minutes her bus, the 408 shows arrives and then Gemi gets on and she’s home a half and hour later.

Nothing surprising ever happens to Gemi on that short walk she takes to her bus stop after work.

She sees the same people withthe same expressions on their faces- sometimes they smile and sometimes they don’t and sometimes they say hello- but one day Gemi noticed  it truly was always the same.

Gemi started to wonder how they could do that- how they could smile the same, sound the same when they said hello and even wave the same way to the same people they passed on the street every single day.

Gemi couldn’t stick to any sort of routine, she never wore her hair the same way, she never signed her name the same way, she never made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the same way and she only ever used three ingredients when she did that. 

So one day, because she was early, Gemi took a another route that was a little longer and as she walked towards 5th she ended up walking behind one man she always saw at the Cherry Street bus stop.

He always said ” hey there you ” with a little wink and a click of his tongue against his teeth.

As she walked by she said hello and he turned his head and looked down at her and as he did Gemi saw a little bug run from his ear into his nose.

” I think something… ” Gemi pointed to the side of his head and as she did he said,

” Hey there you ” with a little wink and a click of his tongue the way he always did but this time he said something different.

This time he said, ” Mrs Grayford did this to me. ” and then he took his same place at the bus stop and he pulled a newspaper out of his backpack and Gemi had the feeling it was the same paper he looked at every single day as he waited on the corner of 5th and Cherry.

After the bug in the nose incident Gemi started to walk different roads to her bus stop and every once and awhile she would see some of the people from her stop going through their usual routines.

But now Gemi started to see not only the sameness in what they did every single day she noticed that they were wearing the same clothes and carrying the same books and sometimes from the smell she was sure they were carrying the same lunches and coffee cups too.

And sometimes they would stop and say to her, with dust in their hair and dust in their slightly frosty looking non-blinking eyes and the occasional  bug running across their foreheads or out of their mouths, a little desperately before their eyes frosted over again

” Mrs Grayford did this to me.”

Eventually, of course, Gemi did begin to wonder who Mrs. Grayford was. And when she thought about it too much she realized that doing that probably wasn’t a very good idea until that day at her office.

Gemi worked in an office supply store that sold pens and pencils and old fashioned things like erasers and they even sold business cards that were printed on a printing press and not a laser jet printer.

Gemi’s job was back in the warehouse and sometimes she had to work up in the office processing paperwork- which she didn’t mind because it was a break in the routine that was her work day.

So true to her nature after about 15 minutes of filing and initialing of order forms Gemi switched screens on her computer and typed in Mrs. Grayford and she put in Dearden, Washington.

She learned one thing, there was only one person named Grayford who lived in Dearden and exactly three months ago she opened a Funeral Home just 4 blocks up from Cherry Street.

” Well that’s just creepy. ” Gemi said to Rochelle who worked in Accounts Receivable- and Gemi only started talking because Rochelle was into her numbers and paperwork and wasn’t going to pay attention to anything you said unless it involved an invoice.

So as a rule, Rochelle didn’t talk to anyone at the office, and that especially included the human tumbleweed that was Gemi Ranney.

Now the beauty of this situation for Gemi was that she could say out loud this idea that was giving her nightmares. And the thought was crazy sounding but the person who was about to hear it wasn’t going to be listening to a word she said, let alone care what she had to say.

This brief and short conversation with Rochelle was Gemi’s way of dragging a vampire out into the sunlight and killng it. 

” You know what Rochelle? I think that someone is making Zombies at that new Funeral Home up the street…mindless Zombies that do the same thing over and over again until they fall apart. I’m hoping that I never run into the person that asked for this to be done. I’d rather stab myself in my own ear with a pencil then to be anywhere near a person like that.

 That’s what I think.”

Rochelle didn’t look up at Gemi just like Gemi new she wouldn’t and Rochelle continued to fill in numbers and mark pages that needed to have the date hand written into one box and  her initials written into another and then she started all over again on another form and then Rochelle slid something across her desk towards Gemi and Gemi saw what it was.

It was a pencil.

And then from her ink and paper filled hell Rochelle said said to Gemi

” Mrs Grayford did this for me. ” 

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