A freak shopping accident which killed 92 year old pensioner and father of twenty-three Wilbert Wheatchaffer has left a London branch of British supermarket chain Sainsbury's no option but closure.
Shoppers and staff alike have been bewildered by a mysterious ghost-like figure doing his weekly shop in the cereals aisle, only to disappear without paying for his chosen items. Branch management have moved to close and refurbish the supermarket not only on a account of the staggering drop in customer numbers but also due to the "considerable" losses incurred by the phantom shopper's shopping sprees.
Many now believe that Mr. Wheatchaffer, fatally killed by nearly two tons of cereal after a "shelf-malfunction" in the cereals' aisle, has come back to plague Sainsbury's, and since the debacle, which took place on Friday July 13th, only 130 customers have entered the Chelsea branch, 13 of whom have mysteriously disappeared.
Sightings of Wheatchaffer's phantom have been scarce. Three checkout attendants reported the same mysteriously-clad customer, but management dismissed the apparel described merely as that of Goths or Linkin Park-esque rock wannabes. Yet bizarrely, every morning, a box of Kellogg's Crunchy Nut cereal has been unaccounted for in the cereals aisle, whilst an inexplicable milk puddle has re-emerged in exactly the same place, no matter how many times it is wiped up. Customer complaints subsequently revealed that all the free toys in the cereal boxes had emerged disfigured and without heads. Countless other items steadily disappeared from the supermarket's shelves, prompting Branch Manager Bort Spudlington to label the phenomenon as "The Phantom of the Shopera".
An aisle attendant has since been hospitalised after a routine "cleanup in aisle three" became a veritable haunted house of horrors. Richard Dyke, hurrying industriously to his destination, mop in hand, was shocked to collide with a ghostly figure in a black robe, only for the skeletal enigma to pick itself up, relocate a few bones, recollect its basket and scattered contents, and disappear into the night, chased by security to no avail. It is no coincidence that Mr. Dyke was the cleaner present at the time of the fatal cereal-slide:
"There was this old guy, I'd say about 90. He was totally bonkers, and said he wanted Kellogg's "Crunchy Nut". I couldn't reach them, so I went and got a ladder, grabbed a box for him - returned the ladder. When I got back to check on the old codger, he'd already poured milk in the box and was ludicrously scooping out the tasty contents with his hands, arms shaking violently on account of the Alzheimer's, so that he was missing his mouth altogether, sloshing the slush all down his pyjamas onto a puddle in the floor", he recounts, himself quaking neurotically.
Eyes blinded by a scoopful of scolding Kellogg's, choking on the plastic green Shrek novelty toy he'd accidentally shaken into his mouth, the mentally unsound pensioner stumbled into a shelf of "jumbo savings" packs, slipped in his own puddle of morning goodness, and was promptly crushed by a deluge of Cheerios.
"There's a Lot of Goodness in Those Little O's"
Such was the force of the incident that Antarctic seismologists, on the recording the seismic activity, predicted that the next Ice Age would officially hit earth's climate the following day, and that we would all die. Fortunately, this time they were wrong.
In light of the fatality, Branch Manager Bort Spudlington has moved to reassure customers that Sainsbury's is still one of the safest places to shop:
"Trolley mishaps occur now and then. Sainsbury's has had its fair share of 6 year olds mown down by runaway trolleys and dismembered by renegade baskets, but our victims always survived - until now. We are, however, taking steps to make Sainsbury's a safer place to shop. We want our customers to know that when they shop at Sainsbury's, they are shopping more safely than in rival supermarket chains. Our initiatives include trolley speedometers and corresponding aisle speed limits. Shoppers will, most likely, be limited to 20 aisles per hour, and any person crazy enough to exceed this will be snagged and bagged', perhaps fined accordingly.
"To avoid future cereal-box collapses, we will be working closely with Swedish manufacturers Jenga' in developing a revolutionary new shelf-less stacking system, making every Sainsbury's aisle a safe aisle."
If unsuccessful, a backup initiative is already in the grinder. The supernatural supermarket will be demolished and a children's funfair erected in memory of Wilbert Wheatchaffer's favourite pastime.