At a Bakersfield Arco station, 11:55 pm

            Mark Petulak waited for his shift relief. Twiddled fingers and late night programming did nothing to assuage his anxiety about his seemingly late coworker. The desert could be creepy at night, but it could be maddening to a person left alone in a small glass box in the middle of nowhere; especially as the days changed. The old folks in the Victorian Age believed that things…magical things became, somehow, more powerful when the days shifted.

The days had their own spirits or, more precisely, the days were spirits. We, as people, gave them names since the time when we were able to name anything. The current names that we use are a mixture of Nordic and Roman Mythology. Thursday, for example, could be said as "Thor's day"; and Saturday is actually "Saturn's Day". These names are likely a result of the divided heritage of the British. But I digress… The time of day when the most supernatural energy is present is when the changing of the guard (to put it into hackneyed terms) occurs, like when Saturn hands the reigns of the earth over to the Sun. Demons were thought to absorb the residual energy left over from the gods' presences. Pagan rituals, such as sacrifices, were often performed at midnight. While Mark was completely ignorant to these ideas, he knew instinctually, as we all do, that at midnight he should be in the safety of his home.

He tapped his fingers nervously on the counter top. He checked his watch: 12:08 am. Jack's officially late…Fucker, he thought to himself. He sighed forcefully and contemplated what to do. Should he wait till 12:30 am to call the manager and tell him the situation or should he just do it now?

While Mark and Jack were not exactly friends (Jack was sort of an oddball and much younger than Mark) they did share that sort of employee vs. management camaraderie that was very hard to betray, and he didn't want to get Jack fired just yet. He decided to wait.

A shrill howl oozed in through the thick (bulletproof? hopefully…) glass. Mark began to whistle. It's the desert…I'm supposed to hear a lot of animal noises, he thought to himself. He flipped channels. Jay Leno was sitting down interviewing Sarah Jessica Parker in his cheesy, boring, big-chinned, head nodding, I'm so great, Jay Leno style.




Cops: In Las Vegas

            Mark checked his watch again. 12:15 am. Jack wasn't coming. Fuck it. Mark picked up the phone. As if he had sensed Mark's thoughts, Jack appeared out of the darkness. As he walked towards the booth, Mark was alarmed to discover that he could hear nothing. No sounds any where.

            Jack tapped on the glass. He looked tired and cold but his eyes said that he was ok. Mark opened the door for him.

"Jesus man! It's about time. I was about to call Bendani," Mark said.

"Sorry about that…My car…broke down. I had to walk here."

            He shivered a little as he said this. Mark looked at him. He did look like he had been walking for a while. But why didn't he call anyone to give him a ride? Mark decided he didn't care to investigate any further. He wanted to get home and fast. Something wasn't right in the desert. You could smell it in the air. He suddenly had the strange thought that the sky was just a curtain covering up the true nature of the Universe. Mark, never being interested in metaphysics, decided that he was in desperate need of sleep.

"Sorry to hear that, man…I'll see you around," Mark said as he grabbed his coat.

"No worries. See ya later."

            Mark went to his car and drove home.

            Jack sat alone in the booth and began to wonder, How many more?