The Little Willowford Mission (5)

Report Five

Cherished Commander, the time that has passed since my last report has allowed little opportunity for observations. Subsequent research has indicated that the body acquired an infection known as a cold, probably when travelling on the bus. This word is only partially descriptive of the symptoms, which included a raised body temperature for one day.

Commander, I have to confess that I was sorely tempted to flout your instructions and abandon the body for a short time. The progress of this infection was most unpleasant. In addition to the shivering, the raised temperature and the pain associated with swallowing, copious quantities of slimy discharge exited the body via the nose for several days and I experienced sneezing, a most alarming symptom over which the body has no control.

Naturally, I have taken comprehensive notes concerning the course of this infection and these will provide very useful data. I will send them presently. Although I have found it hard to rejoice in the experience, I am confident that you will gain great pleasure from my report, in particular relating to my detailed description of the evolution of the discharge, from watery and colourless to glutinous and green.

As I have left the dwelling hardly at all this week, this is a perfect opportunity to report on my visit to the ASDA last week. I am gratified to inform you that my memory of the event is almost as clear as it was the following day, such an impression it made upon me.

Having discovered the location of the store – this too was a challenge – I remained outside for some minutes, observing the population. It soon became clear that there was a very wide range of socially acceptable behaviour associated with the procurement of items from this place. Some people took wheeled metal trolleys in with them, whilst others entered without. People entered alone, with others or in larger groups. I could detect no discernible dress code and observed both men and women with areas of exposed flesh. The reasons for this were unclear, but it seems unlikely that they were displays associated with attracting a mate as I believe can be the case. One woman wore shoes made of fur that I previously thought were associated with nightwear so I have adjusted my records to reflect that.

I decided to enter without the encumbrance of a wheeled trolley, but this proved to be a misguided decision. The green plastic basket I chose became quite excessively laden and I found it very difficult to carry. Commander, you may ask how this could be. Surely I had determined in advance the products I intended to purchase and judged my capacity to transport them? That is true, but I found I soon became ensnared by the ASDA and placed involuntarily into my basket, a large number of items I had not planned to purchase.

How could this be? By any measure I am a highly sentient being, far superior in intelligence and evolutionary design to the humans for whom the ASDA is designed, and yet I was not able to function normally within its walls. There are, I believe, several reasons for this, although I have yet to discover if they are present by accident or design.

  1. The layout of the ASDA is such that it is impossible to buy a small number of items without passing many thousands of others. There appears to be no logical reason for the placement of items in relation to each other.
  2. The ASDA appears to function also as a social setting for customers to stand with others for long periods discussing issues relating to their families. Their trolleys are often ignored, thus slowing progress around the store. In addition, small children run, untethered, between the high shelves, causing further confusion.
  3. The lighting in the ASDA is bright and over-stimulating, inhibiting judgement when selecting items.
  4. The acoustics of the ASDA are such that there is a continuous high level of background noise including music, punctuated by incomprehensible announcements over a loud-speaker system. This makes customers anxious to leave, whereupon they forget items and have to return to areas they have already visited, thus exposing themselves to further temptation.
  5. Odours relating to the baking of bread and sweet confectionary pervade the store, despite the fact that these items are produced at the rear. This stimulates the body into demanding such items.

Commander, you will be shocked to hear that my progress around the ASDA, from the time I entered its precincts to the moment when the system for payment wished me farewell, was 2 hours, 17 minutes and 30 seconds. As I stepped into the daylight, burdened with two heavy sacks, the body began to feel very unusual and I had to take it to a nearby seat to rest.

Clearly, I will be obliged to return. The items I carried back to the dwelling bear little resemblance to those I had intended to buy. In addition, I found myself unable to operate the payment system and was forced to stand by while a young human male not only scanned my items but also removed the currency from my wallet, a task I would have been more than capable of carrying out myself. He touched the body on the arm on three occasions, with no obvious reason, and referred to me as his love more times than I could count. I found it impossible to challenge this assertion although it was so obviously false. I assume this was the result of the trauma I had experienced.  

I will be better prepared on the next occasion, Commander, and will be able to produce a much more comprehensive report. However, I believe I may tarry a while before my next excursion to the ASDA. The body requires a significant period of recovery before another attempt is made.

Your faithful and obedient officer,

Jane Brown (Mrs)


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