" Drat it, Drat it to Mordor!" exclaimed Saruman, as he opened each and every cabinet in the black marble kitchen... no doubt searching for a box of cereal.

"Master?" sniveled Grima who was slinking at the kitchen table, pretending not to cheat at a crossword puzzle book.

"Did you eat my ' Rice Krispies' ? " Saruman demanded of Grima.

"No master... I would never!" he lisped.

"Then we are shamefully low on supplies!" stated the stately wizard in his theatrical manner... letting his voice echo magnificantly. This was a serious problem. He had become so preoccupied with helping that cycloptic tower-topper, Sauron, take over the whole of Middle Earth, that he had allowed his own larder to go bare.

And, now that he had sent his own massive amount of mud-covered servants out to destroy the humans of Middle Earth... he would have to go shopping himself.

He cast a baleful look at Grima, who was slyly seeking out a solution in the back of the book.

Nooo, he couldn't send him alone.

"THIS means..." he boomed, startling Grima, who dropped the book. "That we have to go to the supermarket." as unappealing as that was, he was not about to spend the next few weeks without ' Rice Krispies'.

Grima paled and slid down in the chair, groping on the floor for his lost book.

"We?" he sqeaked.

He did not want to go to that noisy, ghastly, hideous, tacky, over-loud, dangerous, glaring, blaring world, where children ran amok, and elderly people fought you over bottles of 'Aspirin'.

"Yes, you miserable coward..." after all, Saruman, even with his powers, and titles, was not about to go alone!

"Perhaps, my lord, someone should stay here, and... take care of the tower?" he tried, lamely.

"No! I'll put a locking spell on the door. Now go and get ready, and remember we do not want to draw attention to ourselves!"

Grima sought around for any excuse to be excused, and might have eventually created one... if Saruman hadn't spoken first.

"And... Worm, if you please me, I might let you have a coin for the "Machines." he said with a sly grin.

Grima's froglike face went suddenly dreamy.

Ahhhhh, the ' Machines '...

He had developed an addiction for those glass-throated monsters that ate coins, then belched out plastic bubbles full of cheap little novelty toys.

He had a collection of those trinkets in a shoebox... Every odd piece from plastic 'Slinkys' to sticky, stretchable body parts.

Or, if it were a very tiresome day, he might give his coin to the 'Big Machine'... The red one that loomed at the entrance like a huge mythical bird, prepared to lay a frosty aluminum egg filled with a sugary drink called 'Cola'...

He licked his lips at the very idea.

Saruman grinned evilly.

He knew his slave's every little weakness.

"Now... Go and get ready!" he shouted.

Grima jumped from the chair and vanished from the kitchen.

Saruman pulled his least obvious cloak from the closet, just a plain, grey one with very little elaborations.

He chose from the umbrella stand... a plain magical staff with only a brass knob on top.

At the door, before they left, he slipped on the last, flashy piece to his mortal disguise... A pair of 'Ray-Ban' sunshades.

There!

Mortals never noticed anyone if they wore those things.

He handed Grima the scroll containing the list of supplies, which he watched disappear into a flea infested pocket of the bearskin rug his servant wore.

With a flourish of his hand, he performed his favorite trick.

He opened the tower door, and outside was the 'Supermarket parking lot'.

He smirked.

After all, he was a smartass... and loved to show off.

Even if a feeble minded dolt was his only audience.

"Well... here we go!" he said, and the door to Middle Earth closed behind them, becoming invisible as they stepped away.

It takes a looong time to stock a wizard's entire tower.

Especially when you have to buy magical stuff as well as practical items.

It didn't help that their shopping carts possessed ill-tempered wheels, or that rude, cow-like people stood gaping stupidly at them, sometimes clogging up entire aisles.

It didn't help that they were out of the things he ordinarily bought, and he had to resort to puchasing store brands, either.

It was hours before they could drag themselves to a check-out, only to then be redirected to an 'Ordinary' lane.

Apparently, some lanes couldn't be used when you bought five cart loads of supplies.

Saruman sniffed.

They should open an aisle up for anyone with the patience to purchase five carts of merchandise.

Because he was a 'Bad Wizard', and not about to let a day go by without doing something awful... he slipped a ' Harry Potter' book and a handful of tabloid magazines under his robes.

Not that he liked ' Harry Potter '... of course, he was above such infantile ideas.

It was just that, well... everyone else was reading them, and so he had borrowed the first one from Gandalf, before they had their little quarrel... and then... well... he might be just the least bit curious as to whether Voldemort made it back for the next book.

(Maybe very curious.)

He groaned in dismay when he sighted the cashier. Of all the people!

It had to be a peroxided, perky young woman with a high chirruppy voice... one as screechingly unpleasant as a Nazgul's cry.

And it was too late to seek out a more suitably somber person...he was trapped!

Doomed to suffer though an agonizingly syrupy verbal assalt.

The girl... 'Britney', as her tag read, ( I could have guessed... he thought, most gloomily. ) leveled him with a baby pink simper and let forth a string of slang-infected small talk, as she absentmindedly scanned items across the counter's strange magical 'X'.

Saruman, the great, the grand, the wise... pulled up to his full height and glowered down at her.

She mistook it for eye contact, and continued her long, one-sided conversation.

Something about a 'Best Friend', a 'Microwave', and a 'Basketball'.

He wasn't really listening... Something else had caught his attention.

Behind the chatty cashier, a suspicious looking person,... No. Make that two suspicious looking persons... were huddled conspiratorally at a rack of 'C.D's.'

These two people drew his attention, because they were dressed exactly like himself, except with green cloaks, and ugly matching hats of some sort.

(Very ugly.)

Down their backs cascaded long, silvery-blond hair.

"Damn." He thought "Elves. What are they doing here?" Maybe they wouldn't look back this way...

The problem with elves, was that they could suck the gloom out of even the most dismal days.

Disgusting creatures.

But... Watching them quarrel was fun, and more interesting than 'Britney'.

It was actually quite enjoyable, because the first elf showed a 'C.D.' to the next, who snatched it away to see it. The first snatched it back, the second reached for it, pushing the first, who pulled the second's hair.

The second one snatched the first one's hat off, the first one pushed the second, and they fell to the floor in an angry tangle.

So much for graceful creatures.

None of the mortals seemed aware of the silent skirmish; especially not 'Britney', even though behind her there flew a cyclone of hats, sunglasses, hair, and scraps of green fabric.

Saruman looked down to see if Grima had noticed, but he was preoccupied with making google eyes at 'Britney'.

Saruman rolled his eyes and used his staff to stamp on his cohorts' foot, smirking as Grima's eyes bugged out impossibly far.

"Oh, knock it off!" he hissed, "and tell me what do you see yonder?"

Grima scowled in the direction of the elves... The first of which was now jumping up and down on his prone companion.

"Elves..." he said in a tone of disgust.

"Well spotted." retorted Saruman.

"Do you want to do anything?..."

"Yes... but, I won't." because, what he really wanted to do was wipe that angel-baby smirk off of Miss 'Britneys' face.

He toyed with the idea briefly...

He realized with a little remorse that it was too late when she announced their total.

"WHAT!!?" he demanded, flinging out an arm and knocking Grima to the floor... ( where he could easily pinch a few handfuls of candy bars. Lying there unoticed, he stuffed his pockets greedily. )

'Britney' patiently repeated the figure, twirling a length of blond hair while she spoke.

The elves had ceased their actions at the sound of the wizard's voice, and were looking around trying to see the source.

"Ridiculous! for 'Rice Krispies'and 'Toothpaste' ! " he poked Grima. "Isn't that ridiculous?"

"Y-yes, very ridiculous!" he answered over the sound of candy bar wrappers crinkling.

Saruman sniffed, haughtily.

Well, he was a wizard... time to work a little mischeif.

He put his hand deep into his pocket, and came up with a plastic card.

He himself didn't see the value in such an object... a 'palantir' it wasn't.

People here seem to think you deserved special treatment if in possession of one of these.

Sure enough, 'Britney' allowed him to have all of the supplies, just because he had the flat card.

He only had to sign a slip of paper.

"Oh, that's a funny name!" she said.

"Isn't it?" he said cynically, as he snatched the receipt, in the most impatient manner possible.

He again considered banishing her to Mordor as she called to his back... "Thank you sir, have a nice day."

No... he would resist the temptation.

Middle Earth didn't need her kind. Just think of the devastation a single idiot was capable of causing! As if perfectly timed to puncuate his thought, his own pet idiot tripped over a loose basket, and careened into an empty cart.

The cart sped, unchecked, down the aisle, and into the backside of a very large woman, who turned and pushed the man behind her.

He toppled backwards into a rack of 'Chicken Soup' books, which knocked over a small child, sending him flying into the elves' "C.D ' display.

People, and merchandise spilled across the floor, angry voices erupted, and total chaos insued.

Well, well.

It hadn't been a completely bad day after all!

This thought made him generous enough to give Grima two coins, once they were safely in the lobby.

He himself; Saruman, the great, the grand and the wonderful... went to the coke 'Machine'.

Not all of these modern 'machines' were despicable, he thought as he fed coins into the 'Machines' mouth.

"Hmmmmm... now, what have I not tried?" he asked, drumming his fingers on the machine's front.

"You have not tried a 'Fruitopia' yet, Master," offered Grima, struggling to open his first prize.

"I know that!" shouted Saruman. "I was talking to myself!!" he said moodily punching the 'Frutopia' button anyhow.

Grima took the opportunity to stick his tongue out at his master's back.

That felt pretty good, so he mouthed a few silent insults accompanied by appropriate facial expressions.

"I see that!" Saruman whipped around and glared, before returning to the coke machine.

He pushed the button again... and again... and again... Nothing. Damn!

He glared over at Grima, who had succesfully operated the other coke machine.

"Hmph." he checked around to see if anyone was watching them.

Coast clear, he whacked the machine upside its stubborn flank. It lit up, and began spewing forth bottles of 'Fruitopia' onto the floor.

Feigning a look of innocent suprise, Saruman pointed at the bottles.

"Pick those up!" he ordered.

Once the bottles were stuffed into the first cart, they exited through a pair of magical sliding doors. (Saruman made a mental note to have at least one set installed at Isengaard. They were most useful. )

"Hey, look what I got!", lisped Grima, excitedly, holding up a plastic bubble.

Nestled inside was a gummy cockroach on a long string.

"Charming." he said, sarcastically "Now, do something useful and help me remember where we left the door."

They surveyed the parking lot. There were all sorts of cars, trucks, and motorcycles... but no invisible door.

At least not that they could see.

Exasperated, they sat down on the curb to think. Well, one of them was thinking... The other was carelessly flipping a 'roach-on-a-rope' around; sticking it to the carts, the asphalt... and in one ill-aimed blow, Saruman's cheek.

He narrowed his eyes. "Do it again...and I will strangle you with it." he said, poisonously.

Sheepishly, Grima returned the roach to it's 'house'.

"Give me one of those candy bars."

"What candy bars, Master?"

"One of the candy bars you stole, Worm."

"Master! I would never!"

"Just like you would never eat the last 'Rice Krispies' ...hmmm? NOWGIVEMEACANDYBARORIWILLTURNYOUINTOAFIRECRACKERANDSETYOURTAILONFIRE!

There!

The sound of his own voice threatening someone weaker than himself cheered him up a bit... cleared his head so that he could think of a solution,... while eating a candy bar.

Before a complete solution could congeal in his brain, the two elves came hurrying out, still squabbling.

"AHA!" He exclaimed, startling Grima, who was trying to sneak a candy bar open.

"There go those elves. They must have a door too! We will follow them!"

"But, Master, My lord... " whined Grima " Wouldn't that door put us into one of the elf kingdoms?"

Saruman was silent a moment... Then he slapped the back of Grima's head.

"Of course it will put us in an elf kingdom... You bloody fool! We can't go in that way! This is why I am a wizard, and you are just a Worm. A slithering Worm. Right?"

"Right."
"Right what?"

"Right, I am just a slithering Worm... My lord."

"Good. Now that this issue is settled, we will resume searching for the door."

"How..., My lord... Master?"

"Simple, fool. I left the light on at home. Since it's growing darker here, we should soon be able to see a light shining forth from under the door." he announced regally; quite proud of himself. Yes. That was why he was a wizard, because he could think so logically.

They watched the elves disapear though their door. The bloody show offs! They wouldn't dare forget where their door was. They probably made off with a shirtful of lifted merchandise too... no doubt. Dirty little thieves, he thought, helping himself to the candy bar his companion had finally gotten open.

"Doesn't the sun ever set?" he demanded, watching the orange orb as it refused to sink. "I'll be glad to get back to the comforting gloom of home... this place depresses me."

Grima didn't comment. (If he were an all-powerful wizard, he would just make another door.) Instead, he stuffed a piece of Dubble-Bubble gum into his mouth.

"Smack, smack, smack." he chewed, trying to annoy his master.

Saruman turned suddenly, and glared, but Grima held still; innocently gazing after a gaggle of giggling girls.

Saruman squinted back across the lot, trying to see the door.

"Smack, smack, smack."

He whipped around. Nothing.

Again he turned his gaze.

"Smack smack"

He turned back, determined to catch him. Nothing. Then...

"Smack, sma-"

"AHA!" Saruman turned quicker this time, catching Grima in mid-smack. Grima swallowed and smiled, mouth now empty.

"What?" he asked.

Saruman narrowed his eyes. "Why don't you get up, off of your ass, and go search for the door."

What a dismal day, thought the wizard wearily, watching his servant slink sullenly amongst the automobiles, hands outstretched, feeling for the invisible door.

As it grew darker, Grima walked faster, searching the air for any unusual light source.

As a result, he didn't actually see the invisible door... and smacked into it, face first, with a sickening crunch that lifted Saruman's sour spirits "Ah!" he said, standing. "There it is!" he touched the carts with his staff and they began to magically follow him to the doorway, where he paused. Poking his prone companion with the tip of his staff, he smirked.

"See? I told you we would find the door after dark! " he said, cheerfully.

With a wizardly flourish, he stepped over the groggy Grima and into the welcoming chill air of his glum tower.

"Seems I didn't leave the light on after all!"

Epilogue

Saruman, humming to himself, pulled out his recently used credit card, and dropped it on the table.

A good trick, he thought. It was now only a smudged and crumpled scroll, containing a shopping list.

Still humming, he opened the top of a box of 'Rice Krispies' and poured a large amount into a bowl.

"Ahhhh.... Snap. Crackle. And... Pop." he said, seating himself before the bowl.

He was about to open his "Harry Potter' book when a thought struck him.

"Wait a moment!" he snatched up the 'Rice Krispies' box. It had already been opened!

He peered down into it's depths.

"Where is my prize!?" he demanded, shaking the box viciously.

Gone.

He slammed the box down, and pounded the table with his fist

"Filthy piece of worthless worm flesh!" he shouted, "He stole my prize again!"