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AT THE CO-OP

Scovell Road SE1

At the Co-Op on Southwark Bridge road, I hoped to find a fresh lead to re-ignite my research after the stagnation of the past 48 hours. I had detected no new traces, and was prepared to believe that the crisis had already reached its unspectacular head and was about to dissipate into the air. I had detected numerous bits of evidence in outlets of the Co-Op before, and now I was busy decoding the shopping purchases made by the occupants living in the area. The reflection of people's inner state of mind, (particularly their desires and fears,) in the way they shop, registers on the seismographic surface of the Co-Op.

In the shop I had concealed myself behind the fresh bakery stand in order to mask my scent. I have growing concerns that my own body odour, cultivated over many years, may now be detected within this sudden territorial unveiling of the borough, and this could bring me into jeopardy. I had noticed that earlier, on the street outside, several executive-looking women raised their arms when they walked past me, not so much in Fascist salute, but rather as if to expose the smell of their armpits as a form of chemical deterrent. Lodged behind the safety curtain of fresh croissants, I recorded the purchases of this local enclave.

In the far end of the store by the yoghurts and things an altercation was taking place, but one that was being fragmented by the repetitive voice of the automated checkouts and their exclamations of "Would you like to continue?" over and over again. It seemed that the customers at the checkouts had been there for some time and had all become unstuck by this question, unable to continue. They stood as if trapped by the narrowness of their options.

As the sound of the voices began to dominate my brains by their incessant repetition of 'Would you like to continue', I fancied that this question was imposing a subliminal message to the people in the shop, myself included, inasmuch as I had now developed doubts about whether I wanted to continue what I was doing or not. I imagined my own head to be like a checkout in a miniature supermarket, as though I were being incorporated into the modular architecture of the Co-Op. Desperately moving away from the smell of the croissants, the sudden familiar odour of my body fortified my self-image, roused me from my opium-like stupor, and I made a break for the exit.

 

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