It was a small town, with few businesses. As Claire navigated, she noticed that the whole town seemed plain and unassuming. There was, as promised, a gas station on 12th street. The gas station was itself plain and unassuming. There were no cars parked near it. Claire, who was currently driving, parked the car. Kelvin got out. The others stayed in the car, but Charles used his phone to set a timer.
As the minutes passed, there was no noise from inside the station. Claire wondered how Kelvin fared inside. He was doing fine, surely. That was how he was doing. Definitely.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud jangling noise. After a moment’s confusion, she realized that it was Charles’s timer. The owner of the timer then spoke.
“Well, let’s go in and see what happens.”
They got out of the car, and slowly approached the building, looking in every direction, trying to see if something was amiss. Everything seemed normal. Charles lead the way into the store.
The bell rang as the pushed open the door. The inside of the store was filled with shelves selling candy, and overpriced junk. The shelves were pushed as close together as they could go, leaving just enough room for a person to walk between them. It smelled faintly unpleasant, but the source or type of the smell was difficult to place. On one side of the room there was a counter, with an elderly cashier sitting behind it, bent over. He was thin, with pale dry-looking wrinkled skin, and a few wisps of white hair. Occasionally, he moved his hands, and a page could be seen above the counter.
Claire walked over to the counter. The cashier looked up. He was wearing a name tag that informed the world that his name was Olson.
“May I help you?” he quavered.
“Yes, I was wondering if you had a map of Mount Tobin.”
“Oh, yes. I most certainly do. I’ve got it somewhere in here.”
He rooted around under the counter for a few seconds, and triumphantly produced a folded piece of paper from under the counter.
“Ha! I knew it was here somewhere. That’ll be four dollars and… forty nine cents!”
Claire handed him the money, and took the map.
“Have a nice day, valued customer.”
As the three of them walked out of the store, the cashier added, “You can tell your friend to stop skulking over in the shelves, we won’t hurt you.”
Claire answered over her shoulder, “Okay. Can you tell me any more about yourselves?”
There was no answer. He had returned to reading.