The six cents.

“Okay, your total comes to $7.06,” the cashier said after ringing up the customer’s order of groceries.

“Here you go,” the customer replied, handing her a $20 bill.

The cashier took the $20 but noticed she didn’t have enough coins for the change, so she asked him, “Do you have six cents on you?”

The customer quickly fished around his pockets and replied, “Sorry, I don’t.”

Suddenly the lights in the store went dark. The cheerful, sunny afternoon was chased away by black clouds under a most menacing sky. Winds began to howl, flashes of lightning scorched the sky, and deafening shockwaves of thunder shook the ground.

Then the front doors flew open and in flew scores of screeching bats, joined by dozens of rats racing across the floor while hundreds of slithering spiders crept along the wall as they entered. The animals met and merged into a tall pile on the floor in front of the express lane where the customer and the cashier stood. Instantly the pile transformed into a tall figure wearing a heavy black robe that completely concealed his body.

“I have six cents,” the hooded figure announced in a most evil voice. Reaching into his pocket, he retrieved a penny and a nickel and handed them to the cashier, who was startled at the sight of his bony hand.

After the cashier placed the six cents in her drawer, the mysterious figure suddenly disintegrated into the animals that formed his likeness prior to his arrival. Bats flew out the door, rats dashed outside and the spiders raced along the wall towards the exit. Then the lights in the store returned and the dark clouds dissipated to allow the sunny afternoon to continue uninterrupted.

“Wow,” the cashier said after a long pause. “I guess that’s that.” Then she saw the customer. “Oh! Your change.” She retrieved some paper money from her drawer and handed it to the customer. “$13 is your change.”

Suddenly the lights in the store went dark again as the afternoon outside turned into the blackest, darkest night. Then a wicked female voice screamed, “Did someone say 13?” And then began a dissonant chorus of nonstop diabolical laughter that rang throughout the store.

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