Bell Over the Door

The bell over the door tinged his arrival at the corner grocer. The shop was empty, but he knew that it was. All the shops were empty. At least when he looked directly at them. Sometimes, out of the corner of his eye, he’d catch a glimpse of a person walking or stooping over to pick up a coin or even waving, but when he turned to face them, they’d transformed into a tree or street sign or fire hydrant. Everyone did that when he was looking. Even the grocer.

Percy picked out the food he would need for the coming week, estimated the cost, left a fair amount on the counter next to the register, and as he exited, the bell over the door tinged again. There were more trees and signs and such on the street today, much more than normal, if this condition could be described as normal. Percy did not think it normal, but he did wonder: if everyone turned into inanimate objects when he looked at them, what did the people see when they looked at him?