The front door of the gas station had been sealed shut by a large piece of rotting plywood, but the rusty side door was ajar. The boys could easily duck under the remaining piece of wood that had once served as a barrier to entry. Little bits of glass crunched underneath the boys' feet as they picked up and examined old, nondescript cans of goods and barely legible bags of candy and snacks. Most of what the store once carried had long been picked over by the neighborhood kids and transients. A couple of the shelves had been overturned by vandals, and the ceiling sagged inwardly with visible signs of water damage.
Tommy picked up a few loose pages of newspaper and pamphlets lying strewn on the floor, most of which dated from the 1970s. There were stained and torn posters on the walls advertising automotive parts and local businesses that haven't existed for several decades. The overhead fluorescent lights buzzed loudly and flickered, startling the boys.
Brian stood closest to the light switch and raised his hands defensively. "I didn't touch nothing," he swore.
Jacob went behind the grimy counter and peered inside the open cash drawer. He pushed it back into place, randomly poking at the register's keys. Growing tired of that exercise, he rummaged under the counter looking for secret stashes of cash or weapons. "This is kind of like Fallout for real," he suggested.
"Find any stimpacks back there?" Kevin asked.
Disappointed, Jacob shook his head, turning to the smashed glass cabinet behind the counter that once housed cigarettes and other materials usually forbidden to minors. As he stepped out from behind the counter, the overhead lights once again flickered and the cash drawer popped out from the register with a loud metallic ding. He grabbed his chest. "Jesus H. Christ!" he exclaimed, stepping away from the counter in disbelief.
"What did you do?" Carlos admonished.
"I didn't do anything!" Jacob stammered, retreating to a position behind Carlos, his eyes darting around the room nervously. Carlos massaged his shoulders slightly.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish