“Can I get a discount on this?” The customer shoved the item across the counter. “It has a stain right here.”
I looked at the indicated spot. The slight discoloration was probably not a set in stain and dabbing it with a wet cloth would most likely remove it. Not worth a discount in my eyes but store policy was more lenient.
“I can discount it by five percent,” I said.
“Is that all? I can’t get it half off.”
“No, five percent is all I’m allowed to do.”
“The other woman always gives me half off.” A blatant lie. No one except the managers could approve a fifty percent markdown and they rarely work the registers. I bit back on calling her on the lie.
“I’m sorry, it’s story policy,” I said.
“I’d like to speak to the manager.”
My hand reached for the button on my headset that would broadcast my voice to my co-workers and manager. As I depressed it, I felt a slight wiggle to the button. The switches and buttons on the sonic cannon I had handled the other day had been rock steady with smooth, crisp action. I looked around at the smirking customer, the other cashiers sneaking pity looks at me, the waiting customers in the queue and released the button without saying anything. I took off my walkie talkie.
“I quit,” I said to the customer.
“I quit. I refuse to serve people like you who think you can just bully people like me to get whatever you want. I quit.” I grabbed the lanyard around my neck and yanked it straight down snapping the strap. The strap was made to snap apart to keep employees from accidentally being strangled by their lanyard but the effect was still dramatic. One of the other cashiers was speaking into her walkie no doubt informing every other employee of my actions.
I walked through the store to the break room where I retrieved my purse and left the store not physically for the last time, because I would have to return for my last check, but in spirit for the last time. From an inside pocket of my purse, I pulled out the receipt with an address and phone number on it and dialed the number.
It rang twice and the Doctor of Death answered, “Hello.”
“Do you have a workspace I can use or should I find something?”
“I can find you some space.” I could hear the grin in his voice. “Come by tomorrow. Glad to have you back.”
“I’m not back. I’m just working tech.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I hung up before he could say anything else.
The next day, I returned to the office suite the Doctor of Death was using as his current front of operations. The waiting room was exactly the same including Susie the receptionist. I had hoped she would not be here since the last time we saw each other I had shot her with a sonic cannon.
She smiled, “Ms. Parks. So nice to see you again.” Was that a genuine smile or a shark smile.
“Hello Susie. I just wanted to say I’m sorry about shooting you the other day.”
Her smile tightened into something like a grimace. “Of course, mistakes were made on both sides.”
“I’m glad you see it that way.” Or at least you’re willing to pretend you do, I thought.
“I hope you will be as forgiving.” She pulled out the sonic cannon from behind her desk and fired it at me. The edge of my personal force field flared white as it absorbed the energy from the sonic pulse.
“Glad to see my paranoia wasn’t totally off base. If you could buzz me in, that would be great.” She glared at me but pressed the button to allow me entrance to the back. “Thank you.” I paused at the door and said, “For what it’s worth, I really am sorry I shot you.”
“Dr. Ford is expecting you,” she said through gritted teeth. Her eyes locked with mine in a challenge. Never leave an enemy at your back, especially not one willing to attack you from the back.
“Do you know who I am?” I asked casually.
“You’re some tech genius The Doctor wants to work for him.” She was almost sneering.
I walked closer to her desk. “Technically true. I’m also The Scientist of Death.”
“The Scientist of Death is dead.”
“No, just retired.”
“And he was a man.”
“Things change.” She began looking over my face and body for those telltale features. I watched for the moment when she realized I might be telling the truth. “Before I left the supervillain life I would have killed you instantly after you tried shooting me.” I stepped closer into her personal space. “That was five years ago. Today I’m letting you have that one shot but only that one shot. Try anything else and I will end this petty “feud” between the two of us permanently.” I reached out and snatched the sonic cannon from her hands.
To her credit she didn’t flinch or back away. She simply said, “Understood.”
“Good. You have a nice day,” I said and walked into the back.