Welcome Everyone, Ha, Ha, Ha,
Hey, Big Bird — can’t I just suck his blood now?
This counting is taking forever…
Ha, ha, ha!
(Alright, so I’m feeling a little cheeky today.)
You know, Readers… life can be unforgiving at times. One bad move with, say, oh, I don’t know… — a horrific, cringe inducing portrayal of a “Teen” Vampire that also happens to glorify abusive relationships, (hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge…) — and people might just cease to trust you. You’re credibility’s shot. Suddenly, you’re Carlos Mencia.
There can’t always be “Happy Endings” for everyone.
Anyway, keep that in the back of your mind… This week’s short came from a simple, innocuous writing prompt — something I hope to do more and more as time goes on, as it was quite fun for me to piece together. The prompt? “I Like Cheese”. A phrase uttered rather drunkenly, (and wholly non-sequiturly), by my younger cousin on a visit to my place in Queens, which led promptly (get it?) to uproarious bouts of laughter… and me sneaking inside to write down those three simple words.
I’d go on, but I don’t want to give anything away…
PLUS — I have guacamole to make for the Superbowl!
And Jell-O shots to drink
And Slaps to take.
So, and without further ado, I give you: “I Like Cheese”.
I Like Cheese!
I like cheese.
What’s in my pockets? Let’s see. Hmmm… Feels like, Messy Granola — psssh, that’s not cheese! Anddd… Yuck! Sticky Jelly Beans — too sweet! Anddd… A Big Bag of Fishies? They taste like cheese, but they’re not CHEESE, cheese…
…Soooo, I have NO cheese.
Looks like I have to go out and find some!
Maybe if I go outside those happy people in the parade celebration can help me!
It’s too noisy here anyway. I wish the noisy animals would just be quiet!
The ground outside is so squishy. It’s fun to dig my toes into the grass. Squish, Splash, Swoosh — I splash a big puddle! Yay! So fun! I don’t remember rain, but I sure hope rain did not fall on everyone’s parade. That would be sad. But it is OK, everyone looks so happy. Some people even had so much fun that they fell asleep on the grass. Silly-Heads!
All the people look so glad — smiling wide with all of their teeth, and hands above their heads in joy. Some people wear silly costumes too, with wiggle-waggle arms and funny-duddy glasses — even the Van-tree-lo-list man’s here too, with his hand inside that big scary doll. I don’t like that big scary doll, though. It looks too real…
I hear a big BOOM from up above, and look up to see pretty fireworks explode in the sky way up high over my head — WOW. They better be careful not to burst the big parade floats with all those neat lights! There sure are a lot of pretty floats this year. Everyone looks like they’re having so much fun, and so I run to catch up with them because I want to have fun too! I skip into the crowd, cheering and shouting like everyone, and slap High-Fives to all the fat people i catch up with that don’t run so fast.
Then someone pushes me — which is not very nice — and I fall into a big red puddle and hurt my own bum. OW! I look for the meanie when I get up, but I guess he already left cuz’ he, and all the slow fat people too, are already gone… Now my Lalergez must be bad toady, cause I felt the dust hit my face and then I sneezed real big-like. Ah-Choo! I wipe the dust away, and then shove the tears away too, and then see that the parade is already gone around the block. All’s I can see still is the big, tall man on his long skinny stilts, and his neat flashing lights like on the floats — but then the trees block him too!
Oh, well! So, now the people are all gone. And the Parade is gone too.
But, look! Across the street is the Stupor Mawrket!
Hurray! My cheese is there!
I wait at the traffic spot, but the light is too little to see, I think. Or, it’s not there. I don’t know. I don’t see it. What should I do? How long am I supposed I wait?
This is taking Foooorrrreeeevvveeerrr! Ugh.
Soooo… I know it’s naughty, but I’m gonna cross anyways.
(I looked left and right!)
I try to walk into the store like I always does, but the door doesn’t see me today and so I hit my head on the glass. BANG! Ow… Now my head hurts because I walked into the door. But it is kinda funny… Then I have to pull the doors open, and they’re reallllyyy heavy — but the cheese is there, so I pull hard!
It’s weird not seeing anyone in the Stupor Mawrket, but I guess they’re all at the parade so it’s OK! Asides, More Cheese for me!
I call for the Deli-man when I go in the back, past the cereal aisle with all my Favowrite-ist cartoons from TV, but no white man shows up. Nobody comes for a Reaalllyy long time, and I Reaalllyy want some cheese.
“HELLO!”, I scream!
But, nobody ever comes.
So… Then I’m bad again and go to where the people stand… and get it myself. But then when I go back there there’s the white Deli-Man taking a nap on the floor! Silly-Billy!
I put all my paper in his pocket, next to the metal pointy thing with the watch on top — I hope it’s enough — and take a big bite from the corner of the biggest, bestest, cheese-block I’ve ever tasted in my whole, entire life!
Ugh… Where am I? My head… Why am I holding a brick of American cheese? Is this the supermarket across from the lab? What am I doing here? How did I get here? Why am I behind the Deli? Why is my lab coat red?
That earth-shattering crash outside… could it be that the invasion..? So, it wasn’t a dream after all. Mankind is…
They must’ve come for me, and I must’ve ingested a test capsule. Well, it didn’t kill me — that, at least, answers that… Wait. That’s right… The pills. The plan!
Hurriedly I pad my pockets, quickly remembering that before I’d taken my pill I’d begun to affect a plan.
I first trace the familiar rectangular outline of my GPS monitor, bought for my Rhesus population’s tracking, and my chest tightens at the implications of how I’d planned to use it for the early stages of the coup.
Listen to me… a coup? A revolution with one man?! What can I possibly hope to do alone..?
The next thing my fingers find is the loose collection of bean-like, sugar-coated, distilled cannabinoid capsules, which my cartload loved so much, bulging out at the bottom of my pocket.
The very thing that must have saved my life… Provided my Intelligence Theory is correct. Looks like it’s gaining steam…
I remember the final object before my fingers dance across it, my peevish plan then crashing back into my psyche like a frightful tsunami — The Trackers…
Just then, something next to me coughs.
There’s a man in a Deli smock lying on the ground next to me — a huge wad of greenbacks sticking out of his chest pocket next to a meat thermometer — and he’s still breathing! Though alive, his breaths are dangerously shallow, and so I sit him upright and get some water from a nearby shelf to pour over his face.
“Thank you”, he begins, his words fighting their way out through intermittent coughs. “Who are you?” Cough. “What’s going on?” Cough, cough.
I take a deep breath, how am I supposed to even begin to explain this..? One step at a time, I guess. Here goes nothing…
“Well, you see… My name is Doctor. Nyguen, and I work just across the street. I conduct classified governmental research for…” But here I find myself falter… My cocked and loaded stock description of my livelihood unable to fire, being wholly unsuited for the world’s current predicament. “I do pot research on monkeys.” I conclude. “Please, tell me, what’s your name? Tell me everything you remember.”
The man blinks, adding after a minute, “Ron. My name is Ron Ballast. I, um… I work the Deli counter…”
“I know, I just stole some of your Yellow American.” I tell Ron, indicating the Brick of Cheese on the floor between us, and he flashes me a wide smile — a promising sign.
Suddenly the word “electrolytes” flashes in my mind, and I realize why I’d sought out the cheese. My subconscious mind had wanted to regain its facilities… simple salts. Brain fodder. Hydration.
“I don’t remember much.” He continues weakly. “There was this weird announcement that came over the stores speakers, but past that…”
That’s right, “The Announcement”. Their first strike toward the intelligence of this world.
Instinctively I glance over my shoulder, approximating the man’s custom perspective from behind the counter, and find I can easily see the background static of a warped Tellevision being poorly reflected by the stores wide-angle mirror.
So he hadn’t gotten a full dose of whatever they’d done to us. He’d survived the first wave, which means… There must be others then, too.
“…Past that I don’t remember anything until you doused me.” Ron concludes.
And, how could he? His brain was likely seizing, and he was likely well on his way to unconsciousness.
“Ron?” I begin softly, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I’d like to tell you now what’s going on.”
“Ok…” He agrees meekly, peering up at me with eyes deep-set in their sockets. Frightened. Cowering.
“But, listen… I need you to know that it’s not going to be an easy thing to accept, what you’re about to hear. OK? But I’m going to need you to listen anyway, and to be strong. You need to trust me. Think you can do that?”
Ron blinks and nods.
“Because…” I stammer, knowing this bit would be the roughest… “Because, well — to be frank? We may be the only ones left.”
Ron blinks again, swallowing hard. “What… what do you mean by that..?”
No other way to do this but to just begin…
“Ok… Here goes.” I heave a deep breath — knowing full-well this wont be easy for either of us to hear… “Roughly twelve hours ago — maybe more, maybe less, it’s hard for me to tell, I was drugged — Earth was… invaded.”
Ron’s eyes begin to shimmer, going wide and wet, and a large chunk of dried rheum tumbles down his cheek, carried on the back of a single groggy tear.
After I knew for sure the crux had sunk, I plodded on, “Now past that all I have is conjecture, but here’s what I think I’ve figured out so far — and working off this is what’s kept me alive. I believe they’ve launched an attack on humanity’s intelligence, Ron. And, when you think about it, this makes a certain amount of sense… that is if they want us, or at least the simpleminded among us whom they can easily control — children, the mentally challenged, and likely intelligent animals — to be obedient to them. Subservient. Sycophantic. Loyal. I learned this strategy well with my work in primate research: Remove the Alpha, and you become the Alpha. Basically, they’re looking to make us into a race of slaves.”
Ron merely stares at me with saucers which pierce my heart.
Maybe I should stop. Maybe it’s too much. I don’t want to hurt this man, do I? Isn’t there some other way? No, it isn’t about that and I know it — I must go on. He needs to hear it; the truth. State it plainly, Bill. Like ripping off a band-aide… Like plucking a hair…
“Thus, Ron, my preliminary conclusion is as follows: they wish to make slaves of us. In their eyes, those among us with intelligence are likely to revolt… and so they were executed right away. Or will be, and soon. But, and this is the important bit, they also believe that all of us below this particular threshold should be mailable enough for them to aptly control — to invariably brainwash — and so they are spared… So that they might someday become the seeds of future slaves.”
“Oh…” Added Ron, crestfallen. “Then does… does that mean… Does that mean I’m stupid? Was I below the threshold?”
“No, no, no. Nothing like that. Look, their assault was first launched through our media; Television, radio, cell-phone’s — anything that they could broadcast on. I was busy conducting research in my basement, the screams of my caged test subjects acting as an unlikely buffer to whatever pervasive announcement they’d made. You, for your part, were likely deafened by the simple whir of a Deli blade — and, if we’ve survived on… happenstance, then there must be others as well. And we must find them.”
“Right…” he answered, absently.
“Listen to me. Right now, what we have to do is try and carve out a place to exist, Ron. That’s step one.” I pull out the packet of capsules from my pocket, presenting them. “These are experimental drugs — meant for monkeys but safe for us too — which work by binding with the cannabinoid receptors of our brains. Long story short, they make us stupid. Stupid enough to survive. They make their detectors skip over us, and they make their kind ignore us. However, they’ll also incapacitate us while we’re under the influence. Also, we may… wander — I’ve recently discovered — which can be a problem. We’ll have to work on that.” I then pull out the GPS tracker, and the baggie of round GPS tags, holding them out for Ron to examine. “These are tags and a tracker which I’d bought for my Monkeys, in case they’d ever gotten away. If we could, somehow — I don’t know how yet, but we’ll work on that when we get there — tag the foot soldiers, we can then keep track of their whereabouts, and, at least, be able to avoid them until we can figure out what to do next.”
“Right…” Ron said again, clearly a Galaxy away…
In what sad state is this man’s mind?
“Is all this true?” He added finally. “How can I know what you’re saying isn’t… well… you know?”
It made sense for him to be skeptical, after all, this was near insurmountable… even for me. And I hadn’t just had a seizure… and likely a stroke or two.
“Can you walk?” I ask, tenderly as I can muster. And at Ron’s simple encouraging nod, I help him to his feet.
Together we shuffle toward the front of the store, being careful to stay hidden from prying eyes behind a shelf or two, and find, beyond the supermarket’s wide, and blood-streaked front glass window, a scene of devastation surreal and complete. I had to brace myself on a nearby shelf to prevent feinting while squared off to the sheer horror of it all…
We really are big meat sacks full of blood…
All the streets were flooded, sewage grates clogged inexorably with errant clothing and limbs, with what looked to be red sewage — and I knew it to be mostly human gore. Everywhere an eye was cast bodies were slumped and strewn haphazardly — screwed onto fence posts, draped over traffic lights, tangled in power lines — as if a tornado had come about and flung them all around whimsically. The immediate dead and writhing, those clearly visible from our vantage through the horrific show-window, seemed maligned by a type of savage burn the likes of which I’d never seen — ghastly, still embering pink stumps of ash were all that remained where limbs ought to be… clearly the work of some technology of ungodly, unearthly origin. Troops of soldiers jogged and splashed up and down the streets, rifles held tightly in four arms and across impossibly broad chests.”
The work of DNA manipulation, no doubt. Our petty sanctions seem awful peevish and foolish, now — don’t they, congressmen?
Up in the sky, organized fleets of cubed cruisers marched mightily in a row, while smaller smiling arches, likely scout vessels, buzzed in, out, and about their ranks. And, in the distance, some sort of robotic walker, a five legged monolithic monstrosity — easily thirty stories tall — could be seen crushing and then scanning houses. Likely seeking out humanity’s remnants…
“No…” Ron breathed, taking his weight off me. Fighting to stand on his own.
“NO!” He then bellowed.
“Be quiet.” I warn him in a rasped whisper, “They’ll find us!”
I reached for his wrist, but he was already lunging for the window.
“Why?” he demanded, while beating the glass with his fists. “WHY!?”
I palmed a pill in my hand and clapped it into Ron’s mouth, hearing him choke on it and swallow — before wheeling on me, fiery malice in his gaze.
I was set to run — pivoting my heel, weight leaning in — when the Building violently shook and tossed us both to the floor. Fearing the worst, I jammed a pill into my own mouth, just before seeing Ron’s eyes roll to the back of his head, stoned.
So this is what I’d done to my pets…
Yawwwnnn… That was a good nap. Boy, the air sure is dusty. Ah-Choo. I sneeze from my Lalergez. Up in the sky, there is a hole in the roof. And a big Bo-bot is peeking his head through.
“Hello!” I say.
Then somebody grabs me rough and picks me up by my neck. Meanie! And someone else is here too. The bad costume man is hurting my neck AND his. He looks at me long with his kitty-eyes, and then bangs my head into the other man.
We look at each other, and I say, “Hi. I like cheese.”
And he says, “I like cheese too.”