Salt Lake Monster

Chapter 2

I woke up the next morning in my own bed, my head throbbing. My mom ran in and excitedly explained “Seth brought you home after the earthquake, I’m so glad you are ok, I’ll bring you some ibuprofen and …” but I stopped listening. “Earthquake..?”, I said, confused. “Yes, there was an earthquake last night at the concert and you hit your head.” I got up and went into the living room, the news was on with a helicopter feed showing the destroyed Saltair. The newspaper headline read “Earthquake Rocks Rock Concert”. How stupid, it was an Ellie Goulding concert, very obviously not Rock. I flipped through the paper and didn’t see anything about a monster at all.

Was it all a weird dream? I texted Seth, asking what happened last night—no response. It all seemed so real. The monster coming out of the Great Salt Lake and ripping the Saltair to pieces. Of course I didn’t say anything about it to my mom, I didn’t want to sound like a freak. After eating breakfast, I went up to my room to play video games for a while. Still no response from Seth. Must have been a crazy night for him too.

I couldn’t really concentrate on the video games so I decided to put my ‘blades on and go roll around outside. It’s a good stress reliever to get out, breathe fresh air, and feel the wind blow against your skin as you cruise around the neighborhood. It was a nice day, not too much traffic (I can’t stop in rollerblades, nobody can), and the shade of the trees felt good as I rolled past. Behind me, I heard a car start to get close so I moved over. It slowed down next to me, and someone yelled out “sick blades!”. I looked over, it was my friends, Phil and Bri. “Want to hang out?” Of course I wanted to hang out. They stopped the car, I awkwardly bumped into it to stop, and got in. It was a little awkward being in the back seat with rollerblades on instead of shoes.

“So what’s up guys?” I asked. Phil said “We’re going to Target to get corn dogs and a birthday present.” “Awesome, I could always use a corn-dog”, I thought. On the way, I asked if they’d heard anything about the concert the night before, but they had only heard it was ruined by the earthquake. As we pulled up to Target, I realized I didn’t have any normal shoes, just my rollerblades. “Just go barefoot” Bri said, but as we drove past the entrance, we passed a sign:

“No shoes, no shirt, NO SERVICE”

Crap. I started to panic. We were a few miles from home now, so I was stuck here. “It’ll be fine, just wear your rollerblades” Phil said, laughing at my predicament. Fine, I decided to go for it. We got out of the car, I very slowly glided along with Phil and Bri, not trying to draw any attention to myself. “Maybe they’ll think I’m just a really tall, smooth walking guy” I thought. Up ahead, an employee was getting carts. My first test. As we passed, he looked at us. He clearly saw my rollerblades, looked at me again, and sighed. Clearly he didn’t get paid enough to care about this, so he just kept going, ignoring us as we entered the store. We got hit with that familiar smell of Target-food, and went over to a booth.

“So why did you guys want Target?”, I asked, “we could have made corn dogs at home.” “We’re actually here to pick up a birthday present for Nathaniel, do you remember him from school?” How could I forget? Nathaniel was the made-up alter ego of our weird classmate, Elliot. About half the time he was Nathaniel, the other half Elliot, but both Elliot and Nathaniel were weird 100% of the time. “Our moms are making us go” Phil quickly said. “Do you want to come with us? The party is at Pizza Hut.” It was a tough choice, on the one hand, “Nathaniel” was nuts, but Pizza Hut did sound like a good plan. “Sure, what the heck. What gift are you getting him?” “He wants Magic: The Gathering cards” Just then, we heard the security alarm go off. We looked over, a confused old lady stopped, while we heard a loud “HALT” as an overweight security guard sprinted over to her. He looked like one of those “tacticool” guys. His utility belt was loaded with all sorts of weird, black, gadgets. Batman would have been jealous. He aggressively grabbed the lady’s cart and loudly started berating her about theft. It was kind of sad, and quite the commotion! A manager went over and yelled “Mike! How many times do I have to tell you? Leave the customers alone.” Then he took the lady back to the register and helped her find what set the alarms off. The security weirdo skulked off, speaking into one of his gadgets “Code 422 averted, Mike out”.

We decided to go find the Magic cards. As I stood up, I realized I still had my ‘blades on. Very carefully, I glided away from the cafe to the toy area. The store was not easy to be in, the smooth floor made it really hard to stop, and I kept bumping into stuff. To make matters worse, the Magic cards were difficult to find, and we went up and down each toy aisle, not finding them. Towards the last toy aisle, I got going a little too fast and ran into a big container of balls, knocking some of them out. As they started bouncing, we heard the same voice from before- “HALT!”. I looked over, and the security guy was zooming towards me, this time on a segway. I panicked, and turned to skate away. I went down an aisle and the guard followed, but he hit the edge of the ball cage too, knocking it over. He fell off his segway as balls tumbled to the floor. I could hear Bri and Phil laughing hysterically, but the guy got up and started running towards me!

Again, I skated away, awkwardly avoiding the edges of the aisles. He continued chasing yelling into his gadget “Mike in pursuit!”, and yelling at me. As I turned a corner at high-speed, I ran into a lady with a cart. I knocked her and her cart over and the guard caught me. He pulled a radio off his belt and said “We have a major loss prevention situation here” into it. He took my arm and guided me to an office. I could still hear Bri and Phil laughing their heads off a few aisles over.

In the office, Mike had me sit in a chair. He turned off the light and shined a small desk-light in my face, like some interrogation scene from a movie. He started laughing, putting his feet up on his desk, saying “Well, well, well, thought you could cause a scene in my Target? Maybe in the other stores, but not mine. I’m actually going to try out for the police academy again soon.” “…ok” is what I was thinking, “what a weirdo.” Then the door of the office bursts open. It was that same manager from earlier. “MIKE!” he yelled “that was your last chance! Get out!” “Sir, the loss prevention-“ “Get out!” the manager yelled again. “You’ve made a huge scene, don’t come back”. Mike angrily left, the manager said, “You can go” and let me leave too.

I awkwardly skated out of the store, Bri and Phil were waiting outside, still laughing. They had evidently found the Magic cards and were ready to go. As we walked back to the car, we saw Mike the security guy getting into a giant, impractically lifted truck. He gave us a death glare, and angrily drove toward us, spewing black smoke all over the place. It was disgusting, and I started coughing, but it was also hilarious. It was the first time I’d ever seen anyone get fired. As he drove off, I thought what a weird day it had been.

As we pulled the car up to the Pizza Hut, I began to worry about wearing roller blades inside again. But there were balloons all over the parking lot, I realized this wasn’t a typical Pizza-Hut birthday party. I skated inside, and saw it was pretty crowded, Elliot’s mom had balloons on every chair. She was probably the reason Elliot was so crazy. There was a banner hanging above the table— “Happy Birthday Nathaniel!”. I skated over to an empty chair on the edge of the table. I wasn’t technically invited so I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself. Lots of weird kids from my high school class were there.

Later on, Elliot walked over to my side of the table. Bri and Phil handed him the Magic cards. I said “Happy birthday Elliot, good to see you”. Big mistake. Everyone went silent. Elliot AKA “Nathaniel” loudly said “My NAME is NATHANIEL”. His mom glared at me. I muttered that I was sorry and skated over to the arcade area to let things cool down. What a strange party. This birthday is for a made up person, the day he was created. There was a temporary tattoo dispenser by the arcade, I decided to get one for “Nathaniel” as a peace offering/birthday gift. I brought it over and said “Happy birthday Nathaniel!” and handed him the tattoo. His mom nodded approvingly at her weird son as he said “Thanks”. The real question, is “Nathaniel” even technically her son? He’s made up, his mom might as well be a space alien from Jupiter. I decided not to ask though, and let the party go on.

The pizza was good, and it was good hanging out on the side of the table with Bri and Phil. Seth finally texted me back saying “Last night was CRAZY”. Very helpful. Nothing about what happened. But then, I overheard some non-birthday-party people at a nearby booth mention “concert”. I started listening. “I’m telling you, it wasn’t an earthquake, it was something else!” a guy was saying. “What was it then? A tornado? Come on man, it was just an earthquake. Maybe you breathed in a little too much from the smoke machine” and they started laughing. “I’m serious guys, it was like a monster or something.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I stood up and skated to their booth. I said “I saw the monster too!”. The guy looked at me while the others at his table burst out laughing again. “I really did see something last night, I said, I believe you.” Phil and Bri were headed toward the door to leave, so I told the guy we could talk later and gave the guy my phone number.