BLACK FRIDAY

My twisted new science fiction novel, BLACK FRIDAY is out now in paperback and Ebook. I’ve included the opening chapter in this post.

Best,

– Michael

Patricia Sundstrom wanted it. No, she didn’t want it, she needed it. All the coupon sites were pointing her to the SaveRite waffle iron. She maneuvered through the slog of webpages with purpose, her breath quickening as she glanced over each deal. QuikCoupon.com. Zoot.com. GroupSplurge.com. ThickWallet.com. Hordes of online shoppers posted in sales threads on the forums, exclamation! points! after! every! word! Her favorite social media sites pinged her with sales updates. Sweat peppered her upper lip and forehead as she clicked away. Her Altec Lansing computer speakers she nabbed last spring from Quick Steal at fifty percent off beeped. Fresh email. She clicked the message, delighted to see it was from her friend Nancy. Even more special was the subject line: SALE! SALE!
Nancy was a great bargain hunter. In a way, Patricia was envious because Nancy had a knack for finding local deals—ones they could drive to, unlike the online experience. She could find all sorts of goodies at garage sales, and even managed to rouse deals from stingy shop owners.

The email was exactly what Patricia had been hoping for. Nancy had found the SaveRite waffle iron on sale at Bridgefield Mall for two dollars. Two freaking dollars. Black Friday, baby! She grabbed her smartphone. Scoops such as this merited real conversation. Soon, they’d be on their way in Patricia’s Ford Expedition, racing through the suburbs to the biggest mall in Chicagoland.
She thanked Nancy, and told her to meet at Tagalio’s in the Bridgefield Mall food court at five. Patricia bookmarked the coupon websites and shut down her computer. She smiled as she set aside her Prune-Tech Sparkle Mouse which she’d gotten for seventy percent off two months ago at Sling.com. The plushy mouse pad was an even better deal. She’d gotten it for free by signing up for a newsletter at Scrounge.com.
Patricia scratched out a note on the kitchen counter for her young family, hands trembling. The waffle iron was the perfect gift for her mother. Excellent time to be a shopper. Every year, the Black Friday sales got better and better.
Cold air filled her lungs and emerged warm. She filled the Expedition’s tank with the gas card she’d won at a GroupSplurge.com. The pump’s LCD screen asked if she wanted a car wash, and she furrowed her brow. It was insulting to pay retail for anything, car wash or not. Soon, Bridgefield Mall appeared on the horizon, a giant beige box connected to other beige boxes, windowless, impressive, oppressive. In many ways, Bridgefield Mall was the dominant landscape feature of Wheatland, towering over the endless flat lands of northern Illinois. At one time, the area was all wheat fields, and even in the eighties there was a sense of country to the place. But that had long since been snuffed out. Now Bridgefield Mall towered over a sea of dark shingles, chimney smoke, and asphalt. The farms were devoured and now existed at the periphery of development, waiting for new developments and always accommodating.
Her smart phone beeped. Nancy. Patricia read the text and pulled the massive Ford Expedition to the shoulder. Patricia re-read the text, not sure if her original interpretation was correct. Unfortunately, it was. She felt her face flush with heat, and knew without looking it was also turning red. How could Nancy do this? They were a team, always had been, through their kids sporting events, PTA meetings, the school lunch program, infidelity, and all the ups and downs that suburban life offered. The text was plain and simple enough. Too much. I’m getting help. Sorry.
Help? For shopping? Crazy. Patricia texted her back, red-painted fingernails making light taps on the tiny smart phone keys: Is this a joke?
She waited for a response, the big Ford idling, exhaust fumes curling in the rearview. When it became clear Nancy wasn’t going to respond, Patricia put the SUV in gear. There was a sale to be had, and have it she will.

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