Jewel — Clean up in aisle 24

3 min readMay 3, 2019


Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

Every item she had to lift hurt like hell. Why did all these people have to buy this much? She saw the next six-pack come up on the belt and could not supress a groan. The guy on the other side looked up. Looked at her. Slightly surprised. Slightly disgusted. Annoyed for having been brought back to earth. For having his automated shopping experience disrupted. Through emotion moreover. She gave him an equally automated smile, pulled the six-pack past the scanner and ignored the scream in her wrist.

Last night she had jumped off the roof to disturb a mugging she had seen from her vantage point. Higher than she had thought. No time to take the fire escape or the poor guy would have taken a hit. She jumped, came to her feet and gave the mugger the scare of his life. In the adrenaline rush of the fight she had not noticed, but at home her wrist had started to play up.

She had no idea if the powers showed up in any physical way in her body. She avoided doctors just the same. Just to be on the safe side. But without doctor there’d be no certificate, no way to get out of work. She could not afford to lose another job. Her case manager had made it very clear that her benefits would be cut if she threw another job.

So, after a night of fitful sleep she sat at the till, doing the only thing she really should not do. Stretching her wrist, again and again, every parcel of nappies, after every yoghurt, after every bottle of wine…

Sometimes it was hard for her not to laugh at all the superheroes on the telly. Their wounds always needed a round of stitching, always endured through gritted teeth. Or, alternately a hospital stay. At least a week, but always cut short because the call of duty was so strong. She would not mind a week lying down to be honest. But, she — knock on touch — had still to be shot at, knifed, caught by an arrow or anything else heroic.

No, she ended up with a twisted wrist that would hurt for a day or two before it got better. Not that she was complaining. But it was one of the things that made her doubt herself. Sure, she was super, super-strong at least, better regeneration than most, — even though it did not feel this way — but she was not super super.

At times she wondered if there were others like her out there. Others with powers. What would they use them for? What would she do if she met someone else?

‘Clean up in aisle 24’. The announcement over the tannoy brought her back to the here and now. “That’s 12,25”, she said to the teenie in front of her, mind in auto-pilot. Looking down the belt she noticed the large bag of cat litter and sighed.




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