Walmart Xmas Ornament Kills

The Walmart plastic bag of red hair chalk her thirteen year old daughter begged for crinkled as it settled into the passenger seat. She slid into car and remembered the conversation which brought her to Walmart echoed in her head as she put the key in the ignition.

“Mom, please. I need it for my Halloween costume.”

“I haven’t been in Walmart in two years and I don’t want to break that streak.”

“I would have ordered it if you had decided what you needed a week ago.”
“It’s not my fault we live..”
“I’m on my way,” she said as she grabbed her purse, keys, and forgot her reusable canvas bag she rarely left behind on a shopping trip.

What I won't lower myself into doing for that kid, she thought. Waiting for the car to warm up in hopes of it not stalling for the hundredth time since the temperature dropped below freezing, she pops out one cd to replaced it with a hastily picked up Queen cd she spotted while waiting in line to check out. Queen was her favorite driving music. She couldn't believe she had purchased her third copy of the Greatest Hits. It always seemed to go missing and at three dollars, she couldn’t pass it up. The last copy, she suspected, had been stolen by one of her daughter’s friends she had dropped off at camp this summer.

The radio automatically filled the silence when the cd was ejected. It blared out a hiss and two tones beeped indicating an the emergency broadcast system warning announcement. As she reached for the volume control to turn it down, the announcement started. She expected to hear the same old this-is-a-test speel but instead heard:

Warning all Walmart stores are being closed immediately. Do not enter Walmart under any circumstances.

The beep beep signal started again and then the same warning repeated.

She shut off the radio and grabbed her phone. Clicking on the Huffington Post app, the 64 point font headline said; Christmas Ornament Kills. Her mind flashed to the quick stroll through the fully stocked Christmas section of Walmart. Previously, it had been a guilty pleasure of hers when she shopped regularly in Walmart. She liked the magical feeling of being surrounded by Christmas stuff even months before December. Since it would likely be another two years before she might have to enter the cursed store again, she indulged.

Clicking on the headline, she scanned the article. The words that stood out were - Christmas Ornament…. off gassing… disease… instant...plague…

She looked up from her phone at the parking lot and a large crowd exited the store. To her right was a blue truck, she saw hair smooched against the window and droplets of red trickle down the window. Her hand went to her head, and she combed through her hair with her fingers. She coughed...and again… and again into her elbow. Moisture in her elbow started to move along the crook, she looked and gasped at the sight of blood dripping from her elbow to her pants.

The car across from her started up and she looked into the face of her neighbor. Instead of a wave of recognition crossing her friends face, she saw terror. She coughed and looked up seeing her friend cough. Another coughed. Sirens blared. Her body slumped against the window and blood trickled out of her ears.

prompt -

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