You stare for a long time at the price marker below the empty shelf. It reads simply: HRBES TL CLN RF SH 4.59. The space above the cryptic price tag is empty.
You are almost certain HRBES TL CLN RF SH are not what you came into the pharmacy for, but you can’t help trying to puzzle out what the empty shelf above once held.
Herbie’s Tall Clean Roof Shine? Nah, nobody buys Herbie the Love Bug merchandise anymore.
Herbe’s Total Colon Refill Shit? Hmm. Replacement shit is probably not a thing. Well, not store-bought, anyway.
Herpes ‘til Colin Raff Show? Colin Raff doesn’t have shows. There’s no “p” in HRBES anyway.
“Heh. Herpes,” you chuckle to yourself loudly. You happen to glance to your right to see an elderly woman staring you down. You give a friendly wave which she returns with a sour look and a shake of her head. She continues past the aisle you’re standing in, and you’re not entirely unsure you don’t hear her mutter “asshole” under her breath as she leaves.
You turn your attention back to HRBES TL CLN RF SH. What could it mean? After a few minutes of staring you begin to believe the answer is extremely important. Half an hour later you know in your heart of hearts that if you can crack the case of the HRBES TL CLN RF SH there is no challenge you could not overcome.
Soon, you become hypnotized by the mysterious letters. You close your eyes and the pharmacy melts away around you.
You open your eyes again and you are standing in a field of TL grass which sways in the soft breeze. The sound of the wind moving through the TL grass is a soft SH.
You hear a rumble behind you. You spin around to see a wild herd of majestic HRBES making their way across the savannah. It is truly a beautiful sight to see these beasts in their natural habitat.
You notice a line being cut through the TL grass directly towards the wandering herd of HRBES. You know it immediately to be a stalking CLN- the natural enemy of HRBES. The CLN singles out the weakest of the HRBES and takes it down with terrifying force. The HRBE cries out for help: “RF! RF!” but the other HRBES are too busy saving their own skin. After a moment, the cries die out and the only sound you hear is the SH of the wind in the TL grass.
You glance down at your watch. It is 4:59. The time flips to 5:00 and you awaken on the floor in the pharmacy. The old woman from earlier is standing over you, wearing the same sour expression.
“I’m okay,” you tell her. “I figured it out.”
The old woman calls you an asshole to your face and leaves you lying on the ground.