Warning: Might be a tad 'gross' for some
Carl Anderson was already in a bad mood when he came from work Tuesday afternoon. His boss at the mill had been on his ass all day, and because the trimmer broke down he had to take lunch at ten in the morning. So when he walked in the door and saw the twelve cases of pickles sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor, he was ready to explode.
“What the hell is this?” he yelled at his wife.
“There was a big sale at Kornberg’s,” Edna said. “You know I couldn’t pass it up.”
Edna was a small, timid woman, except when it came to shopping. To call her a shopaholic was an understatement; the woman was obsessed with shopping, especially with sales. Even if it was in another town twenty miles away, she’d still drive there and buy all the sales items the store had in stock. Cases of everything from marshmallows to mustard littered their small suburban home, and the only rooms that weren’t completely filled up with her bargains were the bathroom, the kitchen, and a very small portion of the living room.
“Godamnit, Edna, I can’t take this any longer,” he bellowed, kicking a box of pickles as he tried to get to the refrigerator for a beer. Edna was sure she heard one of the jars break. “There’s nowhere to walk in this place! I’ll give you twenty-four hours to get this stuff out of here. I don’t care what you do with it, just get it out! I’m tired of sleeping on the couch!”
“No ‘buts’, woman! Just do it! I don’t care how much money we’re saving. Nobody should have to live like this! Now, I’m going to take a shower, and you’d best start getting some of this stuff out on the porch. Maybe you’ll get lucky and some hobos will steal it.”
“Okay, Carl, but if you’re going to take a shower—”
Carl’s hard stare stopped her in mid-sentence. She watched him storm off to the bathroom, peeling his shirt off along the way.
“Oh well,” she said to herself after he’d slammed the door. “It’s not like I didn’t try.”
~ ~ ~
When Carl stepped into the shower that evening, his muscles were as stiff as the wood he’d been pulling all day. Ten hours of green chain was enough to tighten up even the youngest of men, and he wasn’t any spring chicken anymore. So he was mildly surprised by how quickly he loosened up. As soon as he was done rinsing the soap off his body, his muscles seemed to just melt. And by the time he got out and toweled off, he felt like he’d been soaking in a Jacuzzi for half a day.
After putting on his underwear and bathrobe, he somehow managed to find a path to the couch. He was so relaxed he didn’t even try to unbury his recliner from under the four cases of soda Edna had so graciously set there.
No sooner had he found the remote and turned on the TV than she came out of the kitchen and handed him a fresh beer.
“Feel any better?” she asked.
“Hell, yes!” Carl said. “That was one of the best showers I’ve taken in a while. I think it had something to do with that soap you got the other day.”
Edna smiled. She was happy to see him in a better mood.
“It was on sale,” she said.
“Figures. Anyway, I found it in the cupboard. Your dumbass must’ve forgot to replace the last one in the soap dish.”
“You know, Carl, I was trying to tell you something before you got in the shower.”
“Oh, yeah?” he asked. He started to take a drink of his beer when something caught his attention. “What the hell?” he said, setting his beer on the floor.
“It’s about that soap.”
A large blister was starting to form on the top of Carl’s foot.
“Do you see that?” he asked, kneeling down to get a closer look. But just as he did, another blister appeared on his wrist.
“It was on the mid-day news…”
Carl wasn’t paying any attention. Small blisters were starting to pop up all over of his arms and legs, growing at an alarming rate.
“Jesus Christ!” Carl shouted. “What the fuck is happening?”
Just then the first blister, which had grown to the size of a golf ball, suddenly exploded. A spray of hot pus splashed in his eyes.
On TV the evening news was just beginning. The announcer said something about a nationwide recall.
“Carl, maybe you should listen to this.”
Another bubble burst, this one on his shoulder. Then the one on his wrist. Carl felt one growing on the back of his neck, and he instinctively slapped at it. Edna put her hand up to shield her face, but some of the thick fluid still landed on her cheek.
“Oh my God,” Carl cried. “What the hell is happening to me?”
The TV announcer said something about ‘soap’.
By now the blisters were forming faster; on his stomach, his legs, his chest, his face. It seemed every time a new one appeared, another one would erupt. His skin was starting to look like bubble wrap.
Pop…pop pop…pop pop pop pop!
“Edna!” Carl screamed. “Help me, for God’s sha…”
Edna watched with wonder as a stream of thick, yellow drool ran out of Carl’s mouth and down his chin with that last word. Then his left eye started to bulge out of its socket. That was all she could take. She turned around and went back into the kitchen.
“Edda! Wheah aw you goan? Edda, doan leef be!”
“I tried to warn you, Carl. I really did.”
Edna listened to his screams for almost a full minute.
Pop pop pop pop pop pop!
The TV announcer said something about thirty-eight deaths.
But many more were expected.