Hmpf. I spent more time counting the words than I did writing the thing. 992 total. <1000.
|I tried to warn them. I told them what would happen. But nobody listened. Nobody ever listens. And now it was too late.
I hid in my apartment. I couldn't turn on the television because they controlled the transmissions. They were in control of everything. And if I watched it, I would change.
There was a knock at the door.
"Stay away!" I cried. "I'm not interested! I don't want any!"
"Awww, but according to our records, you haven't signed up for out super saver club yet!" said the voice on the other side of the door. "It would be better if you just signed up. After all, we're now your landlords, and that also means we'll give you super discounts on your rent!"
"I have a contract! You can't evict me if I don't."
"That's true. But the term is up in September. You will join. You will become one of us."
"Never!" I clasped my hands to my ears. "I will never be one of you!"
Perhaps I should start at the beginning.
Super McBeen started as an independent restaurant. A little competition to the Olive Garden across the street. Owned by Clara McBeen. She almost got conscripted to have her own cooking show on cable. But they went with someone else instead. Little did we know, she then hatched a plan in her twisted mind. A plan for revenge.
Apparently she was also a sorceress. Anyone who consumed of her secret sauce would become her slave. They would be devoted to the interests of her, of the restaurant. Subtly at first. But of course they could drop the pretense when everyone in the town was controlled.
Her restaurant blew up in popularity. A few people came at first, then when they were controlled, they brought friends, family. All bonds of love and friendship between parents and children, husband and wife, brother and sister, all were secondary to the devotion to McBeen and her restaurant. Soon she bought up the little Olive Garden across the street, if you can call the owner selling it to her for 1 dollar buying it up. Then she was in control of the local employee-owned grocery store, and the farmer's market. But it didn't stop there. McBeen didn't want the town. She wanted the world.
My girlfriend had tried to take me to Super McBeen. Oh Stephanie. Are you still in there somewhere? That was a few days ago.
"Would you like to try out that new place on First Street?"
"Oh no, not you too," I said sarcastically. "That place is evil."
"Come on, it is not. It's just a little local business. That's what we should support."
"You went there?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's really good."
"Well, all right."
In the parking lot of the restaurant, I saw parents literally dragging their child, maybe 10 years old, towards the restaurant.
"You will eat here and you will enjoy it!" the mother said.
"No! Bobby ate here and he's not him any more! Neither are you! You're not my mommy any more!" the kid cried.
I took some more uncertain steps with Stephanie.
Just outside the restaurant, there was a man, forcing an adult woman inside.
"Ok, I really don't want to eat here now," I said to Stephanie.
"Don't you love me?" she said.
"If you don't eat with me, I don't think I could bring myself to sleep with you tonight."
I backed away. This was not like her at all. For long, she had insisted on never giving it up to me until marriage. "You're not my Stephanie, are you."
Some sort of security guards approached me from the side and tried to block my escape. "Looks like we've got a tough one here. Go in the establishment, sir. We'll give you a new customer discount."
I pulled out my pocket knife and waved it around. "I'm getting out of here, and the first one of you who tries to stop me will be pooping from his front side for the next few weeks."
"We've got a runner," he said into a walkie talkie.
I screamed and ran. One of them lunged for me and I nicked him in the side of the neck. A fountain of blood splurted from his split carotid.
I got back to my apartment and turned on my cellphone. 37 voicemails, from Stephanie, from the police, from the restaurant. I listened to my CB radio. There were knocks at the door. I pretended to not be in. Someone picked the lock, and I managed to evade detection by hiding in the shower somehow, and then they left. Over the next few days, they bought up the local newspaper, and the television stations. The CB community was telling about how anyone who watched the new broadcasts turned. They were like zombies. There was some sort of shootout at the police station, as they seized control of the town. The national guard had been called in, but enough of them turned on itself, the broadcasts had made it past our local town. It was a total coup.
Tonight was a new moon. I got my shotgun which I'd never used. I had a 25-pack of Remington Express long range shells. Enough to go out in a blaze of glory. I snuck under cover of darkness to the restaurant. I was 20 feet away when security surrounded me. They pointed their guns at me. I pointed at one of them. Damn. "Take me to your leader," I said uncertainly.
Soon I found myself in a room with Clara McBeen, the witch herself.
"Welcome," she said.
"Hi," I said, as I raised the gun and fired. An opaque shield appeared in the air, deflecting it. And again. And again.
"Join us," she replied, her eyes glowing. "It's your only option."
"No," I said. "No. I have another." I put the end of the barrel in my mouth.