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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2235705
The Sugar-Free Way to Move Like You Mean It™
Diet Move Soda

         Kasie Walters diverted from her usual route home from school on Tuesday afternoon, compelled by the onset of a thirst that overwhelmed her while passing a convenience store called Brian's. She pulled into the parking lot and headed inside, wherein a large pink-and-blue display caught her eye (it had been positioned in such a way so as to do so), over which was a sign: DIET MOVE® SODA. Beneath it, in smaller letters: THE SUGAR-FREE WAY TO MOVE LIKE YOU MEAN IT™.
         Move soda had exploded onto the beverage scene nine months prior. In a matter of months its sales had rivaled those of Coca Cola; market analysts expected Move to be as ubiquitous as Coke within a few years.
         The brand was chiefly concerned with the 18-35 demographic and, by proxy, the 13-17 demographic, on whom one could usually rely to want to do/consume whatever the 18-35 demographic was doing/consuming. Thus the original Move's advertising had illustrated 18-35-year-olds engaged in social and adventurous activities, such as playing volleyball on exotic beaches and hang-gliding and skydiving, while occasionally cutting to white-text-on-black-backdrop title cards reading EXPLORE and ADVENTURE and, finally, MOVE. The ad ended with a still of a 12-oz can of Move beside a 32-oz bottle of same, the former of which drenched in water droplets.
         The unveiling of a diet variant came next and, as with its predecessor, Move's parent company marketed Diet Move via 15-second blurbs on television and other forms of media popular with target demographics, IE Youtube, Twitch, social media, etc.
         These ads featured bored, improbably-sexy 18-35-year-olds (one muscular Caucasian guy, one Caucasian blond girl, one also-muscular African-American guy, one Hispanic guy) sitting at home, when their fifth friend (Korean, female) bursts in with a 12-pack of Diet Move soda. Imbibing the soda inspires the group to head out on the town and the rest of the commercial depicts them dancing and grinding and otherwise Move-ing their bodies in a dark-lit nightclub while a sensuous female voiceover informs the viewer of Diet Move's zero-sugar content and instructs him/her to, quote, “Move like you mean it”. This last part plays over a scene depicting the muscular guy and attractive blond making intense and suggestive eye contact, implying a direct correlation between consuming Diet Move and getting laid. The ad then cuts to what is basically the same can-beside-bottle still as the previous commercials. Of the multiple million people that had seen the commercial thus far, none had noticed the single gruesome subliminal frame inserted at the tail end of the ad, which depicted a wide-angle shot of the club, its entire population piled in the center of the dance floor, the dead bodies in various degrees of dismember- and disembowelment.
         Kasie plucked a bottle from the display and bought it. The soda glowed purplish in the sun as she returned to her car. She cracked it open and took a sip. The taste was like a watered-down version of the original Move, the taste of which was best described as a cross between artificial-grape flavoring and amoxicillin.
         Then Kasie was on her way again, the bottle of Diet Move on the seat beside her. WROQ, a pop station out of Boston, was playing the latest Barry Dawson single. Traffic was light. The sun shone. The day was idyllic. She sipped the soda as she drove. Her evaluation of the taste: “kind of bleh”, but she kept drinking nevertheless, it being bearable enough to at least finish and justify the three-dollar expense.
         The bottle was empty by the time she got home. Kasie plucked it from the center console, along with her backpack from the back seat, and strolled up the driveway to the front door.
         “Mom! I'm home!” she called, upon entry.
         “Hi Kasie!” came the response from the kitchen.
         Kasie toed off her shoes and wandered into the hall, plopping her bag on the couch on the way by. Typically she had a snack after getting home from school, but the soda was sitting heavy in her stomach. She entered the kitchen. Her mother stood at the counter chopping vegetables. Kasie deposited the empty Move bottle into the recycling bin. As she did so, she experienced a sharp jab of craving for more of the soda. Her mouth went dry and she licked her lips. Her mother said something but Kasie was transfixed by the empty bottle in the otherwise empty blue bin.
         “Hm?” Kasie spun around.
         “I said did you want anything to eat?” Kasie's mother had set the knife aside and was brushing the vegetables into a bowl with a cupped hand.
         “No thanks.” She moved for the counter.
         “Are you sure?” Kasie's mother said, pulling open the fridge and searching for a home for the veggies on the already-crowded shelves. “How about a sandwich?”
         Kasie listened with half an ear. She had picked up the knife and was inspecting the blade. “No, I'm okay.”
         “Are you feeling all right?” Kasie's mother had pushed a bowl of leftover mashed potatoes toward the back of the fridge to make room for the vegetables.
         “Mmhmm.” Kasie trotted over and plunged the knife into her mother's lower back.
         “Uhn!” Kasie's mother tensed. Kasie withdrew the blood-slicked blade and plunged it in again, about an inch to the left of the original cut.
         “K...Kasie?” Her voice was tight.
         Again she withdrew it. Her mother spun around, eyes wide, watching her seventeen-year-old daughter inspect the bloody knife with the casual attitude of someone inspecting a malfunctioning TV remote. Shrugging, Kasie thrust the knife into her mother's stomach – once, twice, three times – and on the fourth lunge, her mother grabbed the blade, slicing her fingers open. An expression of horror and dismay plastered on her face, Kasie's mother slumped to the floor. Kasie tilted up her mother's head and cut her throat with one clean slice.
         Blood gushed from the gash on her neck, spilling down the front of her mother's white shirt in a big red stain that looked kind of like a bib. Kasie drew back, prepared to lunge again, but the lifelessness in her mother's mortified, betrayed expression convinced her that she (her mother) was dead.
         Still thirsty, Kasie tucked the knife into her back pocket and spun on her heel. The still-open refrigerator contained all kinds of beverages – milk, orange juice – but what she really craved was more Diet Move.
         She pulled on her sneakers and stepped outside. Things had changed in the few minutes she'd been indoors. People were screaming around the neighborhood. Somewhere in the distance a car collided with something solid-sounding. Sirens wailed. A dead body lay in the lawn across the road.
         People in her neighbor's yard drew Kasie's attention and she reached for the knife. But she saw the situation before she could kill them: her neighbor Mark Greenburg, a police officer, had his family out on the lawn. Mrs. Greenburg and the two kids were lined up in front of Mark, all kneeling with their hands interlaced behind their heads, all crying. Mr. Greenburg, still in uniform and holding his service weapon in one hand and a bottle of Diet Move in the other, took a swig of the latter and then aimed the former at his wife's head. An ear-shattering CRACK sent Mrs. Greenburg's body slumping forward. Then he sidestepped, gulped more Diet Move, and executed both of the kids with a quick one-two. Then he holstered the gun and waved at Kasie. She smiled and returned the wave.
         Overhead, something blotted out the sun. Kasie turned her attention upward, where the deep blue sky had developed what looked like black polka-dots. As she watched she noticed they were moving, and the one nearest her was growing in size. Finally Kasie identified it: it was a shiny, silver, saucer-shaped disc. The bottom of the saucer displayed blue-and-pink text: DRINK NEW DIET MOVE. The saucer came to a graceful landing in the middle of the street.
         A rectangular ramp extended from the bottom of the saucer. A door opened. Thick white fog drifted out. The interior glowed pale green. A humanoid silhouette appeared and started down the ramp.
         As Kasie's eyes adjusted, she could see that it was a tall, gray, androgynous creature with a big, bulbous, rounded head, shiny almond-shaped black eyes, and no mouth. It held in its hands, which featured seven fingers apiece, a 12-pack of Diet Move.
         Seeing Kasie approach, the gray creature lifted its knee, set the box on it, pried open the box, and handed her a can. Kasie popped it open and took a swill. Then, while silver saucers touched down all around the neighborhood, she ambled up the street while sipping Diet Move and searching for someone else to kill.
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