She put her hand on the pavement. There it was. It was pulsing, churning like a sick stomach. Hoping it was a jackhammer or some out-of-state/imaginary subway she waited. Waited. Still waiting.
"Clear the area right now! I want a 3 block radius shut down. WE HAVE A RISER! I REPEAT, WE HAVE A RISER!"
It felt like the "Munchkin Mess" of 1985. The one that got her started....
He was hunched over, looking for the marker as the school had recently updated to whiteboards. There it was; the slit. A coin slot, man hole, plumber's crack, etc. Asha-le looked at the nook on her desk chair where she was encouraged to keep her pencils. She considered the cost/benefit analysis of what she wanted to do very maturely, but still came to the childish conclusion to drop her pencil in her substitute teacher's pants.
I'm going for it
Asha-le hoped no one would tattle her out and ruin the surprise. She liked surprises back then. She leaned in and dropped it. He did not notice.
"I'll find ol' Bluey in a second kids, just sit tight"
He did not hear the snickers and giggles. This was the greatest health class she ever had. She hoped her peers would recognize that it was she who deftly inserted the pencil into the sub's buttcrack.
A nervous chill went down her spine. It prowled her stomach, making her edgy and uncomfortable.
The room caught her chill. Everyone felt the desks shake and the shades rattle. The radiator sputtered.
"What's going on?"
The substitute teacher stood up and as something slid down his right pants leg.
"Okay, relax. And who dropped a pencil down my pants? I lost a lot of weight recently and its hard to find things in my closet that fit my...."
Just like that, the floor beneath the sub sunk in. He was gone. The children began to scream. They began to panic rushing the door. Asha-le froze. She was waiting for something to
The children slid and fell atop one another before disappearing like their substitute. Just like that. Though young, she knew they would be dead the next time she saw them, should she ever get the opportunity. Pawtucket is a hard city to grow up in. Once those mills shut down it took everyone's will to live with it.
She sat in her desk chair. Asha-le sniffed a few times. It was an attempt to hold in her tears. She did not want to let them out until her mother was there to catch them. They trickled out a little bit as she frowned. She clenched her fists and sucked in the dusty air.
Springing out of her chair, she remembered her cousin Byron. She dashed over to the hole. It looked like a popped zit; violently unfolded with sick jagged edges. There was a small patch of floor between where the substitute fell and the hole near the door. She hopped onto it and then peered down at the larger opening near it.
It was odd looking at her school from the top down. She had seen a blueprint of Goff Community Middle School before, so nothing really surprised her. She still gasped, unprepared for it to be this unstable. Girders and beams burrowed through walls that shouldn't be. She got on her knees and leaned a little forward.
Grabbing onto the edge as she slipped, she hung there facing forward with her arms behind her back. She looked for something close enough to fall on, took a risk, and went for it. The sound of her landing shook her more than the impact but she felt okay enough to hop down from the cafeteria landing.
The floor was covered in coffee. She sought the faint moaning curling around her ears.
Before it really hit her, she buffered her feelings; observing to delay that Byron's blood wasn't really changing the color of the Dark Roast very much.
The official term became "Unplanned franchise eruption" as it was officially referred to by the worried experts who ran domesticated, benign locations, would prove to be far less destructive. At least on the surface. There was the great likelihood of hundreds of thousands in damages to sewers, street, and the aging grid. This was Pawtucket after all and sometimes its hard to gauge the freshness of local ruin.
Most flee a rising to at least a 500 foot radial distance but not her. She knew this intuitively at first. Over time it was developed with specific studies in physics, architecture, and probability. Despite all this, Asha-le was always the first one in during a recently metastasized specimen.
The pavement cracked with a dull roar as the medium sized franchise rose. Dust flew up into the air and rocks fell to the ground. Power lines tipped over as this building completed itself. A light gray granite sludge rose and dried beneath it, providing support.
Beyond the suddenness and the naked impossibility of buildings violently constructing themselves, Asha-le was unnerved by its completeness. As soon as a wild, unplanned Dunkin Donuts settled, its products manifested. Muffins, coffee, donuts, biscuits, liquid egg mix, sugar and Sweet & Low packets, sometimes even pipping hot espresso (in wealthier neighborhoods somehow it "knew"). This did not stop her from grabbing a low fat Blue Berry muffin and eating it. Thousands of hours of analysis had proven the food to be no more toxic than domesticated products from control group franchises.
Something always brings me back to you/it never takes too long
She grabbed a napkin and wiped her face. While her hand was reaching her eyes stopped at a round metal container full of plastic knives. She took one and snapped it in half, keeping both carefully pieces.
She closed her eyes and reached out. Somewhere between hearing and feeling there it was. Pulsing, it was what gave this plastic/metal/granite tumor a sort of wheezing life. It felt her as as she felt it. Both became screamingly aware of one another. Her head hurt. She helped herself to a large black Turbo ice before seeking its dark heart. She descended to the immaculate basement, stepping over bags of beans and boxes of frozen dough templates.
It seemed to float as if supported by its own improbability. Flowing charts and consumer spending trends made its veins. They were stitched together in a semi-real sinew filled with fleshy chords. All working in an impossible harmony that brought this "idea" to life. Its chambers were lined with red anti-money, lies so powerful you could spend them. It had no mouth to scream, so it shook.
She held up half of the plastic knife. These things could be more easily killed when done with its own phantom materials. Stabbed with its own bones. She kept it still with her left hand and pressed the shard to it. Still it struggled, gently tugging her hand with all its might. She hesitated.
"I'm not angry, you know?"
She blinked. Snapping out of something.
"Angry at what, Byron?"
She turned around and saw that he had wheeled himself right next to her. Once in a while she caught herself being freshly saddened by her cousin's condition. It had been a while since the fall.
"The riser. The one that hurt me. I'm not mad at it"
She turned around and went back to her graphs.
"Of course you aren't. How could anyone be mad at them?"
"Are you sure you really believe that? You can be mad at anything. It doesn't have to make sense,"
Asha-le could not not remember when she had that conversation. She could remember it being the last time she really listened to Byron in quite a while. She loved him but he was a burden, her generous salary and benefits not withstanding. Sometimes we forget that the people who need help can help us too. That in all their need and helplessness, they might have something to say.
She focused on the task in her hand, the dark heart of this wild newborn store. She looked at it. She looked at it some more. She stopped looking and felt it beyond skins.
You just want to live
In your own twisted way
She dropped the knife shard. It laid there for a moment before being absorbed into the floor, forever cutting nothing.
"Welcome to the Rhode Island Border Sanctioned Dunkin Donuts Runoff Distribution Center. How many I direct your Public Domain Naturally Manifesting Food/Beverage Product Allotment?"
"I know I came here before today, but I was hoping I could get an extra biscuit and a Extra Extra 'Great One'"
"I will see what I can do"
Due to the low volume time of day, human services worker A. Gonsulao was able to get an extra free treat after a particularity tough day at work. Dunkin Donuts containment policy had changed after Asha-le's change of heart. The products, equipment, sometimes even the building materials themselves were harvested periodically and given out to the community free of charge. Planned commercial franchises were converted into Subways and Papa Gino's depending on the local sandwich/pizza ratios.
Public hunger dropped drastically. People now had significantly more disposable income to pump back into the economy. The distribution was performed at a controlled pace that allowed it all to grow back, though no one seemed able to witness the event. Despite cameras and many eyes they just seemed to manifest ex nilo the moment anything glanced elsewhere.
Riser policy changed throughout Rhode Island. The rate of new risers decreased drastically by simply leaving most of them be. Some states were a little less progressive with their Dunkin Donuts containment methods and continued with their destruction. This ironically insured that the rate of wild buildings would steadily increase in certain parts of the country while remaining flat it places like Rhode Island.
Asha-le would continue her work, pruning tumors that would occasionally rise in structurally intolerable locations and providing early warnings to all involved. It became very organized and predictable. Asha-le showed America how to properly run on Dunkin and we were all the better for it.