Blog of Sara Jakša

Do You Use Self-Checkouts?

Several chain stores have adopted self-checkouts. These checkouts are convenient. However, there are also some problems associated with them.

Some people like using self-checkouts. They can often go to one of these stations and check out quickly, rather than waiting in a long line to be checked out by a cashier. Checking out quickly allows them to leave the store sooner and get on with their day. They might have to pick up their children at daycare, for example. They might also need to go to the library to do some research for a school project or research paper. Using the self-checkout allows them more time to do what they need to do.

However, many people appreciate the personal touch, which the self-checkouts do not offer. They like to be greeted by a cashier. They like to be smiled at and spoken to. Finally, many also like being assisted with their purchases.

Whether you choose to use the self-checkouts or to stand in line to be checked out by a cashier at a traditional register, you will leave the store with your purchases. Then you will be able to continue your day. When you finally arrive home, you will have your groceries--groceries that will will help you to have a successful and productive week.

Why the Flowers? [Fiction]

Sharon was walking around the lake. She enjoyed the smell of the the silver fin tree. The dark blue calmness of the lake, as she walked around it. The sound of the birds, looking for their food, warning one another. The cold wind, as it gently wrapped around her, guarding her.

She enjoyed this walked in the wilderness. It was one of the only times, she could be with the nature. She liked people, but their connection was never as strong as this.

She stopped at the nearby patch of flowers. Primroses were making their bloom known. Their normal yellow colour was complemented with others: red and blue, green and pink, orange and purple.

The flapping of the bird was heard over her head. Sharon standed up and started to walk home. It was getting late.

As she came to her wooden house, she noticed the white car parked in front of it. She walked to her front door, meeting her visitor.

"Sharon Olson, right?"

His brown eyes looked her up and down, as she nodded.

"My name is Joe Price. I am an organisation for national flower show. Since we are short on judged, I was wondering, if you could jump in?"

He fished his business card from the breast pocket of his dark blue suit. Sharon wondered how much did it cost. It looked expensive.

She took the card, and read it. She then narrowed her eyes.

"I wasn't aware people here knew I was accredited judge."

Joe waved his hand. He looked dismissive of her worries.

"Miss Evans recommended you. The place in on the other side of the card. Be there at 9 o'clock in the morning."

And without any other words, he left for his car and drove away.

Sharon slowly entered the house, trying to get back the feeling of calmes from her walk. She left the card with the keys in the entrance hall.

The card did not give her peace. After eating dinner, fried polenta with mushrooms, peas and wild onion, she went to retrieve the card. She chuckled to herself.

"What I am even worrying about?"

She arrived there at 9 o'clock sharp. She pushed her working glasses on and walked inside.

There were people everywhere, getting ready for the contest. She could see all the different flowers. Some of the bigger ones, she didn't even recognize.

There was a great arrangement with sunflowers. One other pair were putting the last tulips to their creation. There were at least three contestants, that were using allium, and it looked great. Calla lily was also present, even if Sharon personally didn't really like the flower. But it was used spectacularly.

Some groups were not that great, but it still looked like they were trying their best. Sharon made a small smile at them. These people were usually the ones, that liked flowers the most. That wanted to show the world, how great they are. But in their enthusiasm, they lacked the knowledge of the background games, the marketing, the arbitrary rules, almost every judge used.

She hoped, that all the judges were chosen at the last minute. Then this group would have better chance of success.

Joe called to her and before she had the chance to say anything, he dragged her to the judge room.

The other four judges were already there. She recognized all of them and her heart had fallen. Nike, Zoe, Frank and Joss. Not the people, she liked working with.

Joe turned to the room.

"I imagine everyone of you know the rules. We are judging by the international rules. Get to work."

The other four left the room, some ignoring her and some glaring at her. She sighed as she followed them there.

The competition was a success, or as much it can be with 4 out of 5 judges rigged. But the creations were amazing. She forgot, how these competitions could be fun.

The last thing on the agenda was obligatory dinner for all the judges. Sharon never understood the point, but she let it slide.

The soup came on the table, and Sharon took in the smell. It was a wonderful, rosy smell. Almost too rosy like. She recognized the smell.

"Do not eat that soup."

Zoe started to laugh, as she took the soup and started to eat it. All of the other followed her example. Nike and Frank looked at her disgusted. How dare she interrupts their dinner.

Sharon doesn't eat. She could recognize that smell anywhere. The smell of daffodils. Not specifics antidote and deadly if eaten in certain quantities. She excused herself to the bathroom.

She called the paramedics, telling them about the poisoning. She just wanted to leave, when she saw the teenage girl staring at her.

She remembered her. She was the one, that used primroses in her creation. It was cute, but somehow small for the competition. She still give her about 90% of her points.

"You are not eating with the judges?"

Sharon looked at her, hoping her premonition was not true. But nothing showed on her face, as she smiled.

"There were daffodils in that soup."

The teenage girl's eyes widened. She looked at her in wonder.

"You could tell?"

"I can always tell the different flowers by their smell."

The girl started to biting her lip. She looked nervous. She then looked at her.

"I thought that the competition was rigged, but you..."

Sharon sighed at the girl's quick words. She looked sorry. She waved her hand.

"They normally are. I hoped this one will be different."

She looked at the girl, before walking out of the public bathroom. She stopped at the doors.

"If nobody dies, then nobody has to know."

With this words she left her alone in the bathroom.

She saw her once again, when paramedics confirmed, that everybody will survive. The quantities consumed before their arrival were not that great. She smiled, and than caught her eyes. By accident. She waived, but the girl just smiled and walked away.

Why Not Tell? [Fiction]

Milan was catching his breath, as his eyes widened. He almost collapsed on the floor, but, but Mira tried to support his heavier body, as she looked worriedly at him. He looked at her and grinned.

"Mira, you are amazing."

She smiled, but she also become red from embarrassment, as she looked away from his face. She slowly moved away, worried, that he is going to just collapse again. But he was standing strong, and all the disbelief and surprise had turned to excitement.

"Just imagine, how the world is going to change now..."

"No!"

Mira's stronger than usual voice cut him off, before he could finish his sentence. There was determination in her eyes, as she glared at him. There was not a remnant of the smile from before on her face.

"We are not showing that to anybody. Or telling. Promise me that."

Milan looked at her, a disbelief showing on his face. He took a step forward, but Mira shook her head. He stopped, confused.

"But why? I thought you were all for the scientific advancement."

Milan's voice was weaker than before. Mira bit her lip, looking sideways. Milan came closer and grabbed both of her arms, shaking her.

"I don't want more people to die."

Milan released her, but she composed herself, and grabbed his hand again, activating the device inside her hand.

The next moment, they were in the forest, hidden by the leafs. She pressed Milan to the nearby rock and put her hand in front of his mouth.

"Did you hear anything?"

The sound of the footsteps on the leaves were heard. Two people. Their voice was barely audible.

At that moment, they heard the additional footsteps, up above. They looked up and saw a small child jumping on the branches. There was a click. And a bang. Then a thump.

Milan eyes widened, as he looked at the now dead body of a child, how it had fallen in front of them.

"Another one of these annoying pests."

The footsteps came closer, as their voices become more carefree.

"I wish we could just find, where they live. Then we could just end this and go home."

They were closing on the two of them, but in the next moment, they weren't. They were back to the field, where they started. They both collapsed on the grass. Milan looked at Mira with wide eyes.

"Was that...?"

He didn't know how to express his feelings. Mira just nodded.

"Imagine what could happened, if they get a hold of this technology."

They just started at each other for a moment, then Miran nodded.

"I promise, I will never tell that to any other person."

USB-Answer [Fiction]

"So there were no complications with this job, Tami?"

The older woman pierced the younger one with her eyes, searching her face. But the younger was looking at her, like always, like there was nothing amiss.

"No, madam."

The older woman in the chair had waived Tami away, not giving her any more attention. Tami walked away, used to this treatment. Here, she wasn't a person. Here, she was only a weapon.

As she walked away, the USB key that she had hidden inside her pocket started to burn her. It wasn't used in hours, since she had it, but it still felt like that to her.

"Are you still searching for the truth? Or is justice the new hype word today?"

He sounded like he was taunting her, and she played along. But both of them knew, it was just a facade. Just another lie, but this time not for each other, but for others.

She couldn't stop thinking about him all the way to the internet coffee place on the other side of the city. She hadn't been there for years, but she knew it had to be here. He would pick that place.

She was only there once, with him. They used the computers there to left the message to the police at the time. It was the last time she had ever seen him. Until today. Until he became her mission, to go there and kill him.

She came to the internet coffee and looked at it, stopping herself.

"Do you even know, who do you work for?"

She knew, that if she does that, there might not be a way back. That the world tomorrow could be the different world from today. Even today could be different from today.

She still entered. The owner was still the same, chatting with one of the costumers. He had a smile on his face. But the smile felt, when he saw her. He just nodded.

She didn't know, if she should offer condolences. She killed his son, not more than half a day ago. But she nodded back. She knew, that no matter what she said, it would not change anything.

"I am glad, that they had sent you. No matter how selfish it is."

She took the computer that was the farthest away from the entry. The one in the corner. It was strategically the worst possible place, but she didn't care. She logged in and put the headphones on. Another mistake, that could get her killed. She opened the file.

"Tami. If you are ever seeing that, than I have to tell you, that I do not blame you for my death. I know my life is going to be short..."

She listened to his story. To the manipulations the government is doing on all the citizens. And his pleas, not to get involved.

As she took the headphones off, the owner came with her favourite tea. She had forgotten the smell of it before. He put it in front of her.

"He knew he was going to die. But I am glad, I had the son that stood up to his ideals."

Tami took the tea, and sipped it, not answering anything. The owner just sighed.

"He always regretted not being able to save you."

Tami stopped drinking her tea, but her eyes narrowed and there was a smirk showing on her face. She spoke, facing the computer.

"They will be able to see, what kind of weapon they made."

Secretary's Secret [Fiction]

"And that is why you should accept our preposition."

Monika looked up from her scribbles, looking at them and smiling. She had different words written down, ideas that came to her head as she wasted her time here. Not one line was related to the meeting.

But she smiled as, her eyes warm, just like every time she listened to different businessman, trying to work with them.

"It seems like a great idea. Let me talk to my boss, na we will see."

The man in front of her tried to smile back, but he made more a grimace, than really anything. He standed up and offered the handshake to Monika.

"The elusive boss?

Some people are starting to wonder, if there is a boss."

She shook his hand and her smile had become playful.

"Who would have run the company otherwise, Mr. Bluebill?"

She escorted Mr. Bluebill outside, wishing him a great trip back.

As soon as he drove away, she made her way into the office and let her mask break. She collapsed into her chair and leaned her head on the table.

She remained there, until she could smell the aroma of basil tee. She raised her head a little and saw the cup in front of her face. She then realized that a person was standing there, with files in her arms.

"You are a lifesaver, Nika."

Nika shook her head, as she took the seat next to her. She looked as her employer take the first sip of the tee, her eyes closing in pleasure. She patiently waited, until Monika puted her cup down and looked at her with great intensity.

"The financial reports for the last month, the advancement of the fraud-detection algorithm and the request for additional financing from the data group in Norwell."

Nika had put the files down, as she went through them, mindful of all the things on Monika's desk.

Monika took the financial report and glanced through it. She already knew, what was in it, but it helped to see any inconsistency. She then put the fraud-detection folder on her left, as she leafed through the financial proposal. She closed it down and sighed.

"Send the reply to the Norwell group, that it is rejected. For the same reason the last 9 proposals were rejected."

Nika nodded, as she took her phone out and made a note. Then she looked up.

"Harsh meeting?"

Monika nodded, as she looked away, taking another sip of her favorite tea.

"Mostly boring. But I am afraid of Bluebill's reputation."

Nika smirked as she looked at her.

"Getting every secret of the company he does not work with?"

Monika nodded as she looked at her. But Nika smiles at her. She takes the piece of paper and put it on the table.

"What are the secrets, that he could discover here?"

"That I am the boss."

Monika's answer was so quick and definite, that Nika blinked for a moment. But then she wrote down the information on the piece of paper.

"Anything else?"

The silence came between them. None of them remembered anything else. Monika smirked.

"It is a nice idea. Risky, but nice."

The looked at each other and started to laugh. They didn't stop, until more than a minute has passed.

"I am an idiot."

Nika tried to look at her seriously, but laughter was still vibrating in her body.

"Well, let hope you idiocy does not ruin the surprise Mr. Bluebill will experience."

Monika looked at her questionable, but Nika just sugghers.

"You didn't think, I will just let him walk away with that secret, right?"

Monika looks at the cup, but it is empty. Nika took it and stood up.

"I will get you another one."

She was already retrieving, when she heard the voice behind her.

"Try not to scare him to death. Also, if you kill him, do not let them discover the body."

Nika turned back, grinning at Monika, while her grey eyes didn't promise anything, as they thought about her prey.

Ranní, The Morning Sun [Fiction]

Kevin was sitting on the floor, panting, as he stared at the cup on the table. His eyes were wide open, and his arm was covering his torso.

The small head appeared above the cup, using the small hands to keep herself up. She looked hesitant, with her wide eyes and her wings were vibrating.

Kevin slowly stood up, still keeping distance. The thing in the cup was lowering herself a little, but it was still seen. He slowly came closer and took a look.

Her wings were beautiful, like the wings of the elegant butterfly, that was flying among the colorful flowers in the summer field. There were a black, tiny cat like ears, almost hidden by her white hair. Her dark purple eyes reminding him of the night see.

He smiled as he lowered herself to her eye level.

"I am Kevin. What is your name?"

He looked at her expectantly, but inside he was face palming. Why would the creature even understood him?

"Ranní."

Ranní's voice was soft like the morning sun, that slowly licked the land, as he awake everything up. Ranní quietly giggled. He blinked at her.

"Ranní means morning. I was named after the morning sun."

He made a voiceless 'o' sound, nodding his head. But then he peered at her.

"You can read your mind?"

Ranní hid herself in the cup, so only the top of the head was seen. Kevin cringed at that.

"I am sorry. No more questions."

She raised herself up, looking at him, evaluating him. She bit her lip. Then she shook her head.

"it is just, that I had never been in this world before."

She looked away, like expecting something, but it didn't come. She turned back to him, her eyes wide in surprise.

"You believe me."

He looked up, thinking as his shoulder jumped a little, his lips curling. They looked at each other and started laughing.

"Why are we laughing?"

Renní looked at him, stopped laughing and just looked at him with a smile.

"I am glad."

He looked at her in confusion, as she tried her wings a little. She flexed them and made a trial swing. She looked satisfied as she raised herself up, and Kevin followed her.

"After yesterday, I thought I would never hear you laugh again."

Kevin immediately sobered, the memories of yesterday following his mind. The betrayal, the emptiness inside his head, the giving up on the future. That woman...

His thought stopped, as he saw Renní plunder toward the floor. He had thrown himself on the floor, catching her before she hit the ground. He looked at her, suddenly afraid.

"Who are you?"

She looked at him, a sad smile. She stood up, but her wings were no longer working. They didn't move. Kevin watched her and then realization came over his face.

"You shouldn't give up yet. There is a bright future in front of you."

Kevin raised himself, but he didn't say anything, still having his mouth open.

"But..."

Renní looked at him sternly. She raised one finger, just the same as his favourite teacher from his first grade did, when he did something stupid. He looked down, ashamed.

"I forgot. I am sorry."

Kevin gulped. He didn't want to see the results of his failure. He tried to ignore everything, until the tickling in his hands become so intense, that he started laughing. He looked at her, afraid, but for some reason feeling better. He didn't want to question it, so that even if it was an illusion, he could pretend a little longer.

"I guess I can't give up now, if that means killing all of you."

Renní looked at him encouraging and at the same time appeasing. She nodded.

"As long as you remember that."

He blinked. He was in the kitchen, but Renní disappeared. He looked around, but she was nowhere to be seen. There was just a voice in his head.

"After the darkest pitch of the night, the morning sun always comes."

Bushy Tree [Fiction]

I am extending my leaves, searching for more sunlight. I am getting too bushy.

I like the spring, that brings the sun with it. But not just the sun.

In order for me to grow, only the strongest parts should remain. That allows the energy to flow only to the parts, where it is needed.

I can't control my energy, it goes everywhere.

But this year, they are late. I can feel myself spending thin.

Then I can feel it. One branch going down and another. I lean back, as I allow them to help me, shape me.

On the end, I will come out stronger.

Last One Remaining [Fiction]

Berstuk looked down on his people. The people that used to believe in him. The people that were afraid of him. He brought them food and scared them away from danger. He only wanted to them to survive.

But now none of them believe in the likes of him anymore. He was the last one standing. All his brother and sister had left already. "On with the time," they said. But he didn't want to leave them.

The Germans could make the laws as strict or as lax as they wanted. But he knew, that it was not their fault. It was time to move one.

Then he saw the young child playing by the water. The child looked around 5, but then appearances could neverbdeceive Berstuk.

Albin Fryco. 6 years old. Living in the foster home. Playing here, because he is not welcome in his own house.

He watched, as the child had fallen into the lake. It was the deep part of it and Albin did not know, how to swim.

Berstuk lowered himself down, as he gently lifted the child from the water. He lost consciousness, but there was no permanent damage done. He was still breathing.

He sat himself next to Albin, and waited for the child to wake up. It took a while, but for a being like him, it felt like a moment.

The child woke up and he looked around confused. Then he saw Berstuk, standing above him, not a drop in compassion in his face. Nothing human like in his body.

Berstuk was aware, that his goat legs appear more frightening than they really are. His fur was unusual to the people in this era. As long as he kept the stern face, the people were afraid of him.

"Get away from my land. If I see you here just one more time..."

Berstuk never finished his threats. The knew that they were necessary, but he didn't want to lie. The human imagination did the rest of the work for him. They always imagined the worst.

Albin run away, twordwards his house, as quick as his small legs would carry him. Berstuk looked after him.

"There is still work to be done here."

And he disappeared back into the wind, looking over everything.

Last Night [Fiction]

Miran entered into the room, the hot vapor rising from the cup of green tea in his arm. He stopped short, and smiled, as he looked down on the sleeping person in front of him.

She was lying down, her head propped on her arms in front of her. She was slouched forward in her chair, the papers were scattered around the table.

Miran carefully put the tea down, and took the cover, to put it around her shoulder. There was a small smile, as he shook her head and started to tidy the papers.

He glanced at the couple of them, but then he suddenly stopped. He picked the top paper of the stack, that he had just made. His eyes glanced through the words, his face an

unreadable mask. He looked at the woman lying on the table and back to the papers.

He picked the other papers up. One by one. Reading all the information on it. He couldn't connect some of it, but most of it was familiar. Scary familiar.

He put the papers back into the stack, and closed his eyes. He remained there for a couple of seconds, taking a breath in and out. Deeply to get the oxygen into his brain.

He opened his eyes. They were a lot more focused now, that just moments ago. He put his hand on her shoulder.

"I am sorry, but I have to do this."

He left, not once disturbing her sleep.

Maja woke up in the morning, feeling the drowsiness in her eyes. Her neck was hurting and her legs had fallen asleep. She stretched, moving her head to get rid of the stiffness in her neck.

She looked around and noticed the stack of paper and tea. She put the hand on the cup, feeling only coldness. She took a sip from it, the cold fragrance of jasmine felling foregin on her tongue.

"Miran?"

She waited for a moment, as she put the cup down, listening for the answer. There was only silence.

She looked through every room in the building. It didn't look any different than normal.

Maja ended up in the kitchen, where she took her phone, and tried calling, but she only got a voice mail. She texted, but there was no answer, so she pocketed the phone and looked through the window.

"I really hoped we would not end up enemies."

The song of the birds was her only answer.

Classroom Crisis [Fiction]

You are standing in the hall. You can hear the voices. Panicking voices. They are getting louder and louder. Closer and closer. You look on the right, into the classroom. You are on the third floor. The gunshot rings.

You turn and go back to the classroom. You look at the scared faces of all your classmates. The teacher is trying to be brave, but she is shaking. It is barely visible, but she put her hands in front of her. You curse your ability to read body language.

You close the door, as you came and look around. The tables are not rooted in the flour. There are also three cabinets. Filled with study book, maps and a doll for first aid lessons.

You came closer to the cabinets. They are not rooted in the floor either. You try to move them.

"We are going to move the cabinets in front of the door, to barricade ourselves."

Your classmates look at each other, but some of they start to help. More and more people are helping.

The cabinets are really heavy, but you manage to move all three of them in front of the doors. One in front of the locked door, and the two in front of the unlocked door.

The noise does not stop, but while working, you managed to ignore them. Every gunshot you hear could be the loss of somebody's life.

You shut your eyes, as you bit a lip. You want to help, but you don't know how.

There is a tentative hand on your shoulder.

"We are going to be fine, right?"

You turn to see the most popular person in class, the one that never talked to you before, asking you for insurance.

With that words, the gunshot is heard. It was the closest. You realize, that they are shutting at your doors.

"Move as far back as possible."

You all gravitate in one corner. You are the mass of people. The teacher is standing on the front, getting her wits back.

They try to came in the classroom for five minutes. It felt like hours, but you glanced at the clock way too many times.

They move to the next one. You bread the sign of relief, but you try to not make it show.

All the class is getting a little confidence back. But the fight is far from over.

"So, what are we going to do now?"

As your question starts producing the solutions, you start feeling more confident. They will hopefully survive that to live and tale a tale.

The odds are not great, but...