Parker Wallace woke to find his alarm clock blinking 12:00 a.m. repeatedly. He quickly reached for the watch he had lying on a milk-crate that also doubled as his nightstand. His watch read 8:20 a.m.
“Oh crap.” He said as he scrambled out of bed. “I’m gonna be late!”
He quickly dressed in his casual clothing, which consisted of a pair of blue jeans and a gray t-shirt then tossed his security uniform into a duffel bag. After checking his small apartment for anything he might have forgotten he headed for the door.
“Keys!” He reminded himself.
He walked back to the counter in the small space that was the kitchen to search for his keys. The apartment Parker lived in was a small studio. He lived on his own aside from his dog, a brown Labrador pit-Mix named Butch, so he didn’t exactly require a lot of space.
The apartment was cheap, which is why he moved into it in the first place. He didn’t make an enormous amount of money, but it was enough to support himself and his dog. Parker grabbed his keys from under a pizza box he had left on the counter overnight. He grabbed one of the four slices still left in the box and tossed it into the dog bowl. Butch who had been following Parker back and forth through the apartment whimpered as he sniffed the leftover slice that now occupied his doggy dish.
“Sorry buddy, I don’t have time to make breakfast.” Parker said as he knelt down to Butch and patted him on the head. “I promise you later on, steak and some scrambled eggs. How does that sound?”
Butch replied by wagging his tail and licking Parkers’ face.
“Oh, that’s nasty.” He said laughing. “Okay good boy, I’ve gotta go.”
After leaving the apartment Parker jogged down the two flights of stairs to the parking lot where his truck was. The truck was the only other thing Parker devoted his paycheck to. It was an old pick up he had managed to acquire only a few months prior. It wasn’t the most impressive truck, but it beat taking the bus to work every day like he’d done in the past couple of years.
The weather had been somewhat rainy, so Parker quickly climbed into the truck and after a few attempts he managed to switch on the ignition. The radio immediately came on and broadcasted the weather.
“…Rain was unexpected and baffled local meteorologists who were unable to predict the bizarre occurrence at such short notice. It is still unknown at this time how this weather pattern formed so quickly but we advise all drivers to be extremely cautious, as this strange storm is showing signs it could intensify throughout the day.”
Parker switched off the radio as he backed out of his parking space and began his trip to work. After a short ride through the pouring rain he pulled into the parking lot of the local mall. He grabbed his duffel bag and jogged into the building headed for the nearest bathroom where he quickly changed into his security uniform. He stepped over the nearest sink and washed his face while taking a glance at his own reflection in the mirror. He simply brushed off his feelings of self-pity and made his way to the bathroom exit.
“Another day in paradise.” He thought to himself.
Minutes later Parker entered the security booth to find his boss Jim Lloyd and a female guard waiting with an unpleasant look on both of their faces. He placed his duffel bag containing his casual clothing in a locker before he could muster up the courage to make eye contact with either of them.
“Our shift starts at 9:00 a.m. sharp.” Lloyd spoke. “It’s 9:15.”
“I’m sorry sir.” Parker responded. “The power must have gone out last night. It knocked out my alarm and…”
“I didn’t ask for one of your sorry excuses.” Lloyd said in irritation.
“It was a mistake; it won’t happen again Sir.”
“Honestly, I could care less if you’re here or not, but since you decided to show up today why don’t you just get to work. I’ll have a write up ready before you leave this afternoon.”
Lloyd exited the security room leaving Parker standing in front of the monitors displaying images of the shops inside the mall. The female guard moved over to stand beside him.
“It must be a gift.” She said.
“Being able to make someone so angry that easy.”
“It’s not hard to do actually.” Parker replied. “He hasn’t liked me since the day I was hired. Still not even sure how that happened.”
“Just be on your guard around him. He’s looking for a reason to get rid of you, so try a little harder at not giving him one.”
“I appreciate your vast words of wisdom.”
“You’d better honey.” She said with a smile.
Kate was a middle aged African American woman with a big heart, and just about the only person Parker worked with he could honestly call a friend. She was the one who trained him when he first started. Anytime he had a problem he went to her. She had a somewhat gentle way about her, but she took her job seriously. During the first month on the job Parker had seen a large man trying to make off with a customers’ wallet, but Kate spear tackled the guy before he could get down the escalator. She was an incredibly nice woman, the kind that baked cookies for fellow employees and volunteered at little league games as an umpire, but if someone negatively crossed her path, she could put the fear of God in them. Parker always joked she could be a bouncer at a nightclub if her security job ever went south.
“I’m off to do my rounds.” Kate said. “I’ll see you after while. Try to stay out of the crosshairs while I’m gone.”
“I’ll do my best.” Parker said as he sat down in the computer chair parked by the monitors. Kate walked out of the room leaving Parker to his job. He only had seven more hours until his shift ended. He silently prayed for the rest of the day to go smoother.
“This is only the beginning of better things to come.” He assured himself.