In the parking lot, they gathered. The young nautili, the admirals and ambassadors. Octopodes and squid pods. Skreekagogs and zimpahpahs. The battle-worn, the Colorodian evicted and the fresh recruits straight off the ship.
This is it, they whispered.
This is Wal-Mart.
It was not as grand as they expected. Pop tents and FEMA trailers abounded. Wood pilings and aluminum scraps, warped and pitted from years of neglect cluttered the “Please Return Your Cart” stalls. Doors had fallen off their hinges, doors had fallen away from their hinges, and the hinges themselves filed single file to march themselves to the beach. Even the lone security guard, making his rounds in the camo-colored golf cart maintained an air of disdainful ennui.
This is Wal-Mart?
Undaunted they pushed through the doors to find young blondes in blue bibs.
“Welcome,” the greeters said in unison. “Welcome to the Wal-Mart. Can we help you find anything in the Wal-Mart? Is this your first time? Some may find the Wal-Mart overwhelming but we are here to make sure your experience is a joyous one. Welcome,” they said again. “Welcome to the Wal-Mart.”
“Where are your nuclear vessels?” the Admiral asked.
“Welcome,” the girl on the left said. “Aisle six?” said the one on the right.
“Do you have pop-tarts?” a young nautilus asked.
“Aisle six?” the girl on the left said. “Chocolate is my favorite,” said the one on the right.
The aliens split into groups. Each with his or her or its own list of items and sundries, camping supplies and foul weather gear. One family became hopelessly distracted by the $1 to $5 dollar aisle, filling each of their baskets with cowboy stickers and princess mirrors.
“Who is your favorite Disney princess?” the girl on the left said.
“Bambi!” said the one on the right.
All night the aliens wandered: they tried on snuggies and hopped on bouncy balls. They rearranged the books by publishing house, the Blu-Rays by color, and the music CDs they left completely and utterly alone.
They paid cash for some items, in trade for others. One Wal-Mart checker ended his shift with enough Skreekagog eggs to feed and/or terrorize a small city in Alaska.
“When do you close?” the Admiral asked.
“Welcome to the Wal-Mart” the girl on the left said. “Welcome to the Wal-Mart,” said the one on the right.
The aliens gathered in a loose circle.
“You must close.” The Admiral said. “When is that?”
“Welcome to the Wal-Mart,” the girls said. “Can we help you locate the Wal-Mart?”
I’ve heard of this, the aliens whispered. It’s syndrome. It has a name. Watch this:
“Take us to your leader,” an alien demanded.
“You are here,” the girl on the left said. “This is the freezer section,” said the one on the right.
I think I saw a South Park episode about this, they whispered.
“The South Park was wise,” the girl on the left said.
The aliens laughed and tossed them grapes. They pointed and chuckled their alien laughs. They are so addled, so confused.
“When should we leave?” the Admiral tried again. “We can’t shop indefinitely.”
Some aliens disagreed, rattling their baskets in chorus.
“Welcome to the Wal-Mart” the girl on the left said. “Months ago,” said the one on the right.
“Months ago,” said the one on the left.