Evening shift again, which is good, because when you have two evening shifts in a row, it’s sort of like having a normal job. I guess I should talk about something other than work, but I don’t really have a lot going on. What do I even do for fun? I don’t even really like, play video games much anymore, or practice magic as much as I should. I haven’t been able to shoot up a real fireball for a long time. I pretty much just shoot stuff with a gun if I’m in danger. Magic is too messy to use inside the store if I’m attacked, and I’m no longer proficient enough to use it with lethal force on the off chance I’m outside. I used to enjoy using magic, but, I just don’t feel like I have the energy to keep up with pros, or the dedication to have the level of skill necessary to make it look easy. These days the most I’ll do is to levitate for a while. Maybe float down the street to get some exercise, build up a huge sweat within just a half a mile.

OK, now time to talk about work. Something incredible happened: that lonely figure walking down the road at night was in fact a new employee for our store! She transferred from Washington state, but she WALKED here, which is why it took so long for her to show up. Her name is Ann, a middle age lady, Puppet person. She says she got an apartment in the Territory, somehow. Businesses and locations inside the Territory only intermittently show up online, it’s even less likely that she’d have been able to get stable or correct directions there. If she called ahead to find a place there, it must have been at exactly the right time, but I suspect she may have just walked here, walked past the store, and into the Territory to find a place to stay, not knowing any better. She plans to walk to work every day? That’s a terrible arrangement for her, since it’s got to be at least 5 miles of walking each way. That’s a two hour walk! THROUGH THE TERRITORY. I suggested she might get one of those e-bikes, could make things a lot easier for her. Or like, anything other than walking. She seems genuinely unfazed by walking great distances at an extreme cost to time. If nothing else, maybe I can convince her to get a bike for her safety, as she learned on her first day that things aren’t what she’s used to here.

It’s not exactly polite to talk about the Puppetification Wave Event that happened upon Jim Henson’s death. But. Ann is a survivor of that event, originally being from NYC. The whole thing is so steeped in prejudice and scandal. There are Puppet people in the Territory, not that many, but probably a much higher concentration than anywhere else besides NYC. Ann was pretty straightforward with her story, really wanted to “get out ahead of it,” I guess.

Ann and Oliver

Here’s what happened to her: she was at the time a nurse working at the hospital where Jim Henson died. The Puppetification was for her, mercifully instant.* She didn’t lose her job, at least not immediately. She was of course later let go over “safety concerns,” with the hospital claiming that the fabric of her skin held pathogens too well, and that the risk of infection for her patients was too high. All total bullshit: many, many doctor’s and nurse’s work clothes hold just as many pathogens, and as long as she wore sterile gloves when dealing with patients, it’s the same risk as any other person. One could argue that Puppet people would actually reduce infection rates, given that they don’t breathe. Anyway, Ann was out of a career at that point, and ended up moving across the whole goddamned country to Longview, WA. She had an older aunt there she could stay with, and the cost of living was very low. Unfortunately the high cost of moving across country meant that she basically left almost everything she had behind to stretch her dollar as far as it could, but according to her it was for the best. Being a Puppet person, she didn’t age any longer, and continues to have the health of a 49-year-old lady indefinitely, outliving her elderly aunt, who passed away about ten years ago. She worked at a Fuel Beaver there, it’s the same company that owns Gasarillo, but with ALTERNATE REGIONAL BRANDING. She says she just wanted to get away and try living somewhere new, basically choosing the transfer at random from available locations. I can’t imagine she didn’t have roots in a place where she worked for 30 years, but, whatever reason she’s here, I’m glad to have the help.

I had barely had time to explain to her the actual lethal risk of working at the station before we got demon coyotes, 12 this time. The thing about demon coyotes is that they just never leave, they can smell you through the windows and walls, and also they’re a little bit on fire, which is a huge risk for a gas station. Got to take them out. Luckily, Oliver was still hanging around having just finished his morning shift (and in a pretty good mood because of having a new employee). Ann was rightfully pretty terrified of a flaming dog coming after her, so we had her stay inside the store while we went out and got it taken care of. She said she was okay with the danger, she wanted something exciting, but I obviously wouldn’t blame her if she quits or transfers as quickly as possible.

Regarding Oliver: he said that wasn’t him in the dream. He had spent his day off down in Mont Belvieu, watching that Joker movie. He said it was “just okay.” He said he’d apologized to Marvin for getting upset, that it wasn’t really Marvin, but the situation he was mad at, and he was misdirecting his anger. He bought him a Muenstar to make up for it. (He definitely did not need to do that) I offered to drive Ann back to her apartment at the end of the shift, but she insisted on walking, since, apparently, the last mile or so is not road-accessible anyway. She walked off straight into the trees. I hope she comes back tomorrow.

* For some of the other survivors the process took weeks or even months, the rate at which it happens seemed to be completely random, or at least based on something immeasurable to us, the leading popularly-spouted theory is that those who would have the hardest time adapting to being a Puppet person took the longest to change, but, it could easily just be the trauma of their body changing was what made them bitter. Either way, none of them chose to be converted. It was the biggest jump in Puppet person population, and massively changed the demographics of their community, culturally, visually, and geographically, as everyone hit by Henson’s wave took on the appearance of HIS puppets. Most puppets before this were also born as Puppet people, not converted from a non-Puppet.