Her eyes went down to the can of ReJuv in the drink holder. The bright green can didn’t exactly beckon, however it did promise to wake her up. She picked it up gingerly. The beverage was almost 100% enchanted molecules and horrendously expensive. The club sold it along with Crystal, caviar, some really old whisky, and beer battered truffles to let the high rollers throw around their money. One of the bachelor party drunks had ordered it last night then never opened it.
Jessie had spotted the can when she was cleaning up. She could have tossed it back into the magic charge connected refrigerator. Instead she’d taken it with her. She’d felt a little guilty about that, but she didn’t know if health and safety regulations even allowed food to be put back into storage for another sale. When she’d taken it with her she’d thought she might be able to sell it online for a little extra cash.
Now she realized that wouldn’t be possible, the can had a small magical battery built into its base. As she explained to every customer who purchased one, the liquid required a constant magical charge to exist. The charge indicator on the battery went from blue to red. When it was red, or if you poured it into a glass, you had to drink it within 15 minutes or it would be nothing more than flat soda and trace minerals. The LCD now glowed a deep red-violet; she hadn’t realized the batteries drained so quickly.
She popped the lid and gave it a sniff. Bubbles of carbonation carried little droplets of liquid up to the tip of her nose. The odor was sharp and pungent. The most obvious smell was artificial lemon, but under that hid something like the olfactory equivalent of menthol. It wasn’t a good smell, and the can could have been dirty for all she knew. She almost decided to pour it out, but she was really tired. She drank instead, draining most of the can, before she had time to change her mind.
The liquid burned her throat on the way down, but it was tolerable, more like cola than alcohol. Nothing happened for a moment after it hit her empty stomach. Then she started to feel nauseous. The feeling ballooned going from mild discomfort to unbearable in seconds. Jessie scrabbled at the door of her car and, after a moment’s work, threw it open to lean out of the driver’s seat and heave at the ground below. Nothing came. She hung off the steering wheel of her car and the door handle, trying to get the potion up, for several awful minutes while her stomach clenched and her throat insisted it was paralyzed.
Then the nausea was past.
She sat back in the car shuddering and wondering if somehow the drink had gone bad. She’d never seen someone react like that at the club. Then again, she’d probably only sold five cans of it and she wasn’t certain she’d seen anyone drink. The beer battered truffles were way more popular.
She did feel better. The logy leaden feeling was gone from her limbs and the fog bank had rolled out of her head. Her skin still felt gritty, and she could still smell the smoke of a long day in her hair, but now it felt like she had the energy to deal with both of those things.
I’d better do something about my clothes first, she thought.
The club she worked at was named “Prime Meridian.” For the most part it seemed like whoever had named the place didn’t really know what that meant but the VIP waitress uniform was vaguely nautical in a Hollywood kind of way. Nautical and tight. Shoppers at “Finer Things” most decidedly did not expect to see that sort of outfit when they were picking out four hundred-dollar shoes and 5 hundred-dollar handbags. Fortunately, the store had a small employee locker room and shower in the back.
Jessie pulled an emergency outfit she kept in the back seat out and hurried to the store. After five minutes of banging on the front door Nathan appeared. He looked both ways before rapidly unlocking the door, opening it just enough for her to squeeze through sideways, and then rapidly shut it and locked it again. All of this, despite the fact that the parking lot was empty. “You’re late. You’re dressed like… You can’t work in that!”
“This isn’t even my shift, so don’t whine about me being five minutes late, and I’m going to change.” She held up the roll of business casual clothing. It wasn’t, really, quite as good as Finer Things expected out of its employees, but it would do.
“Well don’t clock in until you’re ready to work.”
Prick, Jessie thought as she headed for the showers.