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Author's note: This is my first pasta I've ever written. I'm open to criticisms, so if you have anything to say about this pasta I'd love to hear it.

Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

After my senior year of high school, I decided to take a road trip by myself. This wasn’t some kind of “I need a change of scenery” or “I need to discover who I really am” trips. No, this was my way of getting as much personal freedom as possible after four long years of the bondage of the public school system. I wanted nothing more than to simply drive to the middle of nowhere and revel in the feeling of having no commitments or responsibilities, at least for a short time.

My plan was to drive through Northern Washington. I wanted to take in the scenery, drive through old logging towns, experience staying at some janky motel in the middle of nowhere and eat overly greasy food at hole-in-the-wall truck stops and diners. After planning my route, withdrawing enough money to afford gas, food, and lodging and briefly saying goodbye to my parents, I set off.

I had made it a hundred miles or so before I ran out of my pre-packed snack items and, foolishly, I had forgotten to restock the last time I stopped for gas. After a few minutes of searching, I came across a small mini mart called “Happy-Go-Lucky Mart”. It had definitely been there for some time; the old wooden siding was falling off in some places and the signs out front had become covered in mildew and grime. It was exactly the kind of store I had wanted to find.

As I walked up to the entrance I noticed one of those coin operated kiddie rides, which appeared to be as old as the rest of the store. It looked like it was probably supposed to be a horse at some time, but most of the paint and enamel had been chipped away. However, the painted mouth appeared as though it were in the same condition it had been in since the day the ride was built; an impossibly wide grin spread across what at one time would have been the horses face. The bizarre painted grin slightly unnerved me, but I just shrugged it off and walked inside.

Walking inside I was greeted by the clerk behind the counter, “Hello. Welcome to Happy-Go-Lucky Mart.” Turning my head to respond, I noticed the clerk had the widest smile I had ever seen on a human face. The clerk looked about seventeen or eighteen years old, so I figured he was just being smarmy, or it was some gimmick the employees had to go along with the store name.

“Oh, hey, thanks,” I mumbled, working my way to the shelves of potato chips.

“If you need any help, just ask.”

The way the clerk said this, I noticed something odd about his tone. For how big his smile was he sounded distant and uninterested. My thoughts returned to the kiddie ride out front. At first the similarities between the two made my skin crawl. But I quickly snapped myself out of it, I was eighteen years old for Christ’s sake, I shouldn’t be letting myself get creeped out by something like that. After gazing intently at the rack of snack foods in front of my for some time a cheery voice shattered my concentration.

“Hello there young man, can I help you find something?”

I whirled around to come face-to-face with an extremely ecstatic older gentleman. He was dressed fairly normally; an old flannel shirt tucked into some well-worn blue jeans. Though he dressed fairly normal, his grin made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Just like the clerk, the old man’s smile seemed to literally stretch from ear to ear, yet it didn’t look forced like the clerks. It was almost as though he truly was as obscenely happy as he looked.

“N-n-no, I’m good,” I stammered, slightly stepping back from the man. He looked truly happy and eager to help, but I just couldn’t take that fucking smile.

“Oh, I see,” he replied, “no need to look so grumpy though. I’m sure you’d look much better if you tried to smile!” He then tottered off to the back room, and I got right the fuck out without buying anything. I jumped back in my car and sped off. I made it about fifty yards before I heard my rear tires burst. I cursed and slammed my fists on the steering wheel. And then I felt a sudden sting in the side of my neck, then everything went black.

The harsh fluorescent glare of a large medical lamp roused me. Squinting as my eyes adjusted to the sudden influx of light, I tried to get some sense of where I was. I found myself strapped to some kind of metal dentist chair. The chair was in the middle of an otherwise barren room; pristine white linoleum floor and dull cement walls, nothing else.

“What the fuck is this?!” I yelled, tugging at my restraints.

“Oh, there’s no need to curse.” I recognized that voice. It was the old man from the store, wasn’t it? My suspicions were confirmed as he walked around the chair to stand directly in front of me, scalpel in hand. “I’m just going to make you look a little better, that’s all.”

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