The woman working checkout in Staples has a sales pitch trapping overtrained zeal beneath a blanket of heavy prescription tranquilisers. She won't stop fielding offers in our general and specific direction – there's 15% off the printer inks for any ink we buy two of, there's a discount on the paper supplies – do we need any paper? If we take out a Staples discount card we can also get a further 5%, she can do it right away, it won't only take a minute, so do we want her to do that for us? It's exhausting just saying no to all this stuff but while the content is a slide for slide parroting of some in-house powerpoint training routine the tone is strictly lobotomised. Florescent backwash on everything. Muzak in the aisles. No eyes in the deep sockets. No touch in the fingers jabbing the till, the air or the calculator. Look, we'd save 23.98, or even 47.92. Each sentence has neither peaks nor troughs, but each drags you down on a frightening spiral. By the end you're on your knees. Each word a dead song of suffering. Did we find everything we were looking for today? sounds like the last words before coma takes hold. Yes. We found everything. Are we aware of the offers on the printer inks? Yes, we know. Do we need some paper today? Numb question summons dead chills, as a muted calling, from just beyond the grave. Gray skin. Tremble fingers.