* Chapter 14: Shopping for Weapons (Kind Of) *
The group walked into the grocery store in Armlock. "Let's
split the list, shall we?" Claude said. "It'll go
faster that way." They did so, and soon the list was in
four relatively equal parts.
"I've got the meat and dairy products," Claude said.
"I have fruits, vegetables, and breads," Rena said.
"Non-perishables here," Chisato said.
"I have toiletries and..." Noel gulped, "feminine
products..." Laughter echoed throughout the store.
* * *
Claude walked down the store aisles, his basket about half
full of meats and dairy products. "Hmm, Cottage Cheese,"
he said to himself, looking at the list. "Excuse me,"
he asked a passing worker. "Do you know where the cottage
"Aisle 7," he said, and went back to work. Claude
walked through the store until he came to aisle seven, above
which hung a sign listing the products in that aisle.
"That's odd..." Claude thought before heading into
the aisle. "All it says is 'Cottage Cheese'. " When
he entered, his curiosity found an answer. Cottage cheese of
all sizes, flavors, and fat contents lined the refrigerated
shelves of the aisle.
* * *
Rena waited patiently in the fresh produce section of the store,
standing behind an elderly woman who was carefully inspecting
each piece of fruit she saw, picking them up, squeezing them,
smelling them, and occasionally looking at them in the lights.
She sighed impatiently as the woman scrutinized the fifteenth
apple in as many minutes.
"Dammit, will you just grab an apple and move?" Rena
"Now, now, now..." the lady said in a calm, orderly
fashion that, considering the situation, would make most people
want to rip her throat out. "You have to be very careful
when selecting your fruit, if you want to get the best you can.
They have to be ripe, you know..."
"I'm sure several of these pieces of fruit have ripened
sufficiently..." Rena said. "Besides, it'll all be
the same in a few hours."
"That's the exact same attitude that nearly lost us the
war, you know..."
"You know, the war."
"I highly doubt an entire war hinged on fruit selection."
"That's exactly what's wrong with today's youth! They
have no clue about how history really happened!"
"Listen, just continue looking for an apple, and save
me the preaching..." Rena said, exasperated.
* * *
Chisato walked down the canned food aisle of the store, happily
munching on an opened bag of chocolate cookies.
"Excuse me, miss," a worker said. "Please refrain
from eating the merchandise until you've paid for it."
"I already have," Chisato said.
"Ah. Sorry to bother you, then."
Chisato giggled to herself. "He believed me," she
said in a voice so quiet only she could hear it.
* * *
Noel walked down the women's hygiene product aisle, his face
as red as a beet. "Listen," he said. "I'm embarrassed
enough as is. You don't need to go flaunting my discomfort to
Author's note: Oh. Sorry about that.
"No problem," Noel said.
* * *
Chisato wandered into aisle seven, her list almost entirely
finished. "Hey Claude," she said. "What're you
"Cottage cheese," Claude replied.
"And why don't you grab some?" Chisato asked. "There's
an entire shelf of it right there."
"That's the problem!" Claude shouted. "There's
an entire shelf of it!"
"Look," Claude started to explain. "There are
different consistencies, different curd sizes, different tub
sizes, flavored cottage cheese, cottage cheese with pieces of
fruit in it, and to add insult to injury..." Claude sighed
heavily, "Low-Fat versions of every kind! The list just
says 'Cottage Cheese!'"
"Well," Chisato said, grabbing a random tub of cottage
cheese, "Mirage will just have to settle for Creamy, Small-Curd,
Plain, Low-Fat Cottage Cheese with Peaches, in a large tub."
"That won't do," Claude said.
"It's past the expiration date..."
* * *
Noel walked out of the women's hygiene aisle with two paper
bags on his person. One was holding the items he selected, the
other covering his head out of embarrassment. He made his way
to the produce aisle, where he found Rena carefully examining
pieces of fruit.
"Why so choosy?" Noel said, taking off the brown
paper mask. "Just grab some fruit and let's go."
"Listen," Rena growled. "I've just spent an
entire hour just waiting to select. You damn well better be
sure I'm going to get the best fruit I can lay my hands on!"
"Okay..." Noel said, backing off. "Just...don't
* * *
Once all four lists had been checked off, the group went to
the front of the store to check out. Claude eyed the Express
Lane for a moment, but quickly shrugged it off. "We've
done the fruit selection joke, the man in the women's aisle
joke, the 'I've already paid for it' joke, and the way-too-many-choices-for-a-simple-item
joke. We are not doing the too many items in the express lane
joke," he said.
"Who are you talking to?" Rena asked.
"Well, let's just pay for this stuff and go," Chisato
said. "I'm almost out of cookies." They entered the
shortest line they could find, and soon were at the checkout
stand. The cashier checked all the items, and then turned to
"Your total comes to 3109.62 Fol, sir," she said
in a pleasant tone.
"Right," Claude said, reaching for his wallet. "Umm..."
he said, as he realized that it wasn't in his pocket. "You
guys have any money on you?" The other three shook their
heads in unison. "Well...uh...Chisato, you want to run
to Mirage's house and get some money from her? I...kinda...lost
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