I witnessed the death of the beast.
I was drawn to its dying by the mournful bleating of barcodes. As I crossed the tarmac plain of the car park I was momentarily caught in the midst of the rattling exodus of trolleys as they stampeded out toward the trunk road like a burgeoning herd of ill-fated buffalo.
Before me stood the monstrous fiend - cut down to size by the notion of its own mortality, writhing in the last throes of its existence, windows weeping silvery molten tears, logo listing into indistinguishable distorts.
I watched it quiver and quake.
I felt the palpability of its fear.
Driven by morbid curiosity I entered through the hissing maw of its automated doors. My boots stepped into puddles of ketchup and mustard, oozing like blood and pus from lacerated scars. Dodging splattered chunky vomits of soup I fell into a stagger when I was hit by the putrid stench of vegetable produce turned to pulpy mush by the cancerous rot that had eaten into its cavernous belly.
I stationed myself in the faltering artery of the aisle between breakfast cereals and condiments, my face intoxicatingly wafted by the boozy last gasps from beers, wines and spirits. I watched the ponderous dissolve and disintegrate of cans and sacks and shrink wrapped packs. I saw the fracture and fissures of the shelves on which they sat.
The walls leading from the bakery were hideously speckled in blue and black mould spores, born from fetid bloomers and fusty crusty cobs. In the chill cabinets of the meat aisle biblical plagues of fat maggots writhed on putrefied poultry, while great swarms of fruit flies hummed and buzzed above decaying packs of minced beef and belly pork.
The beast bellowed tragic and ominous customer announcements.
"Unexpected items in the bagging area!"
"Substantial reductions in all departments!"
"Everything must go!"
"Every - thing - must - go!"
The BOGOF and the try-me fell.
Strip lights flickered, blinked and went dark. The beast was brought to its knees. Its mighty roof gave way to the stars. Walls came tumbling down. A carnival ticker tape of till rolls fluttered past me in one direction, a kaleidoscopic cavalcade of special offer coupons cascaded in the other. An armada of plastic bags ballooned and ascended in sequential billowing waves to the heavens.
I saw fingers of hoarfrost from the freezer cabinets come creeping in a white crystal blanket across the shattered tiles. I saw the warehouse twist stacks of racking into warped hernias in its poisonous gut. One by one the check out stations erupted, tossing up great starburst of brass and silver, interspersed with bank notes that were shredded to fine confetti.
Starved of fiscal oxygen the voracious heart of the beast finally trembled into the waiting arms of death. I found myself amongst girders and beams - stripped bare as sun bleached dinosaur bones, and caught myself wondering if the beast had always been this hollow - and why I had ever been in awe of it.
In the days that followed the fatal affliction spread with a vengeful rapidity to the out of town hyper-mothers and the alpha male distribution hubs, and on like a plague to the evolutionary bargain based off-shoots and the multitudinous offspring that had colonised the high streets and the filling station concourses. Last to fall were the seething legions that had nested in the shopping malls and retail parks.
Decades of dictatorial domination came to an end. The burden of the beasts was lifted from the land. No more did they prowl with predatory intent. And in their wake things that they had almost harried out of existence returned to flourish and multiply and occupy the abandoned spaces left behind - the butcher, the baker and the fish fillet maker.
No more Black Fridays. Everything closed at five. No one starved or ran out of milk. Public Holidays became holidays for the public once more- seaside and charabanc days. Sundays were special days. Days when you could put you feet up and read the paper. No one worried any more about missing the latest bargain. And a million more of us every day came to realise that we no longer needed to pick up a tin of branded product to know exactly what things meant.