You walk down the street until you reach the little store on the corner. You had been told that the solution to your problem is in here, though you aren’t sure how that could be. How could a store sell something to help with insomnia that wasn’t hops? But your friend had sworn up and down that this store sold cures for anything and everything, and none of it was dangerous. Though your friend wasn’t sure why you thought so many things were dangerous, like tobacco.
“Tobacco is good for you,” they had said. But you remained adamant that tobacco was terrible, though you couldn’t tell them why because that would mean revealing where you really came from. Anyway, back to this story.
You look up at the sign hanging above the door. It is shaped like a soda bottle on its side and it says ‘The Bottled Store’
“Welcome to The Bottled Store, where everything and anything you could want or need is already bottled up!” A teenage girl says from the doorway. She steps aside and gestures for you to walk in. You step past her and walk into a room full of – surprise! – bottles. Glass bottles of all shapes and sizes line the walls and fill rows of shelves. You wander around, looking at all the bottles.
The first few are fairly normal. Grass, rocks, dirt, flowers, and other related things fill the bottles in the first row. The second row has fur and scales of various animals, from cats and bears to snakes and dragons. You chuckle at the last one. Dragon scales? Yeah, right.
“Good day! May I be of service?” A little boy asks. You tell him that you are looking for something to help with your insomnia. “Follow me!” The little boy leads you a few aisles down. The bottles here are filled with liquids that look… strange. “Anger? No… Annoyance? No… Lets see. Bitterness… Maybe depression would work? I heard that makes people sleep.” The boy holds up a small bottle filled with a dark blue, thick liquid. It moved like molasses. “Or maybe peace would be better…” He puts the bottle back and moves down the aisle. You take the chance to leave. Bottled emotions? This place was getting weirder and weirder by the moment, and you wanted none of it.
You stop just a foot away from the door. Why is weirdness weirding me out? I was born in the future for goodness sake! You think. You turn around and walk right up to the counter towards the back of the store.
“Hello. How may I help you?” A young girl cleaning the counter asks. You tell her what you’re looking for. She thinks for a moment. “Aha! I believe we have just what you need.” She goes behind the counter and pulls out two bottles of dried herbs that have skulls on their labels. “Cyanide and oleander both cause unconsciousness! Put a little in your tea before bed, and you will sleep like never before.” The girl cackles.
Okay, maybe this is too weird even for me. You think as you turn to leave again.
“CHILDREN!” An angry mother yells. You duck behind a shelf, terrified. That woman sounds scary. You peek around the edge of the shelf to see what is happening. The three children have gathered around a woman with her hands on her hips. “How have none of you given this man the proper help he needs? Don’t say you can’t find it!
At the end of the upstairs, you all know that’s where sleep is.
So don’t try to tell me you did your best, because you didn’t!” The kids mumble apologizes. The mother sighs. “I’m sorry.” She walks over to you and hands you a bottle containing what looks like a cloud, or possibly sheep’s wool. “This is bottled sleep. Put a tiny, tiny bit in your pillow and you will sleep like a log. A teeny pinch should give you a few weeks of good nights, this stuff is really potent.” You go to pay the woman, but she stops you. “Take it as an apology for the way my children treated you today. And please do come back!”
You finally exit the store and head home. You head straight to bed without even changing into your night clothes. You put a small pinch of the fluffy sleep in your pillow and begin to dream of times yet to come.