We rolled into the Connellsville Walmart Supercenter parking lot around 4:30am, exhausted after our first night of driving, which took far longer than we had anticipated. Delirium hung from our eyelids. Four of us finally decided to check out the store briefly. Spyder, Aaron, Dorkys and I joked about being the zombie invasion arrived via RV as we put one foot in front of the other.
Music played to a hollow auditorium and we were the only life stirring in the valley between frozen foods and girl's clothing. Three of us reached the back of the store, with Dorkys casually strolling behind. When Spyder and Aaron decided to head across the store, I turned to Dorkys and saw her walking back to the front. Casually, I followed, walking no faster than she was, hoping to catch up to her when she stopped to look at whatever she was looking for.
The hard fluorescent light flooded my sleepy eyes, creating a surreal feeling of detached alertness. Ahead of me, Dorkys turned into a bank of clothing racks and I craned my neck to find the top of her head, still maintaining my distance. From where I was, I couldn't hear her footsteps and the soft rock on the overhead sound system seemed to be so far away.
I caught a glimpse of Dorkys as she emerged from the clothing, only to turn straight into an empty checkout aisle. My curiosity grew as I padded after her. I wondered if she was going for some candy or if there was a display in the front of the store that caught her eye. When I reached what I thought was the checkout aisle she had gone through, I was met with the empty gaze of a young lady in a blue apron, waiting to ring up nobody. Dorkys was nowhere in sight.
I stood at the front of the store and looked in every direction, my eyes primed in search of her puffy, curly ponytail. To my mind's best deduction, she had vanished into thin air. I peered into the dark arcade, but I knew she would never walk into such a creepy place on her own volition, tired or not. I laughed to myself, knowing that there had to be a better explanation than my girlfriend phasing into another dimension. Was I hallucinating? Had I merely imagined that I entered Walmart with three companions? I sought out Spyder back within the store to be sure.
When I saw Spyder approaching me from the produce section, I blinked and stared and paid extra attention to make sure she was real. When she was finally close enough, I told her my situation; my girlfriend had just exited this plane of reality and I was completely baffled. Her amused response reassured me that I wasn't having some waking dream, so I left her in pursuit of a rational explanation.
Turning back to the front, I retraced my steps. This time, I lifted my eyes a bit, looking for more than just a 4'9" Latina. And that's how I noticed it. The sign. For the restrooms. Right where Dorkys had disappeared.