...and sweet Jesus, her head had ballooned to four times its already-ginormous size and was getting bigger by the second! In one hand she held a large book. In the other, a mirror. T'was truly a sight to behold, but thank goodness someone was finally here who had all the answers. Muffy stood there transfixed by the spectacle like a charmed serpent, her jaw wide open and the Monopoly money she'd been counting falling to the floor and disintigrating at her feet.
Francine looked down at Muffy's feet, and suddenly realized something - she wasn't wearing any shoes! Or socks! Or anything at all! Wait a minute...neither was Francine! Neither was anybody else in line! It was a like a nightmare straight out of Arthur's Underwear. The line of people continued to move slowly and mechanically through the Soylent System, depositing any remaining jewelry, hairpins or miscellany into plastic bins. They disappeared through a gray double-door leading back into some kind of stock room and down a long, dark corridor.
The sounds from the overhead speaker and adjacent aisles were becoming louder and more unsettling. A small bird flew overhead that had somehow made its way into the store. Francine looked into Charlotte's beady eyes, stomped her foot, clenched her fists and asserted herself to demand what was going on. But alas, no matter how hard she tried to speak, all that came out was...