Karen plunged a knife into the soft and pliant flesh and cut a clean, round hole. “Gosh, this is gonna make a mess,” she said, pulling the top off the pumpkin. She was surprised to find, instead of seeds and pulpy orange goo, a lot of fuzzy black mold. “Damn it,” she said, “I paid four bucks for this thing!”
She threw the pumpkin away and washed her hands, wondering what to do in the two hours she had left before work. “Guess I’ll watch some TV,” she said. She flipped through the channels, but there was never anything on in the afternoon. She decided to put in a movie–after she got something to eat. For some reason she was starving, even though she’d just finished breakfast.
She decided to fix a bowl of ice cream. It took a while. She kept dropping the spoons on the floor. “Why am I so uncoordinated today?” she grumbled. Her hands looked terribly pale. She hoped she wasn’t getting sick.
She shuffled back into the living room, adding lethargy to her list of symptoms. It seemed like a lot of trouble to cross the room to select a DVD, so she plopped down on the couch and stared listlessly at the screen. A talk show was on, lots of dysfunctional people screaming about baby-daddies and drugs. She had been watching, ignoring her ice cream, though staring at the host’s shiny bald head, she was hungrier than ever.
After a few minutes, the show was interrupted by a special news bulletin. “A mysterious fungus has been reported as causing mass outbreaks of mind-altering behavior this Halloween. Symptoms include a lack of coordination, extreme hunger and what has been described as ‘brain fog’. If you see anyone exhibiting these symptoms, please report it to the FEMA Heath officials at the following numbers. FEMA director W. Craig Fugate is cautioning citizens to stay indoors until the cause of this massive outbreak can be identified and dealt with. If you absolutely must leave your home, wear a helmet as a precaution, as the fungus has been linked to outbreaks of violence, including infected persons attempting to bite passersby on the head and face.”
Karen stared at the screen in dismay. “Are they trying to tell me I’m turning into a frickin zombie?” No wonder the cats were hiding on top of the bookshelf.
She sulked on the couch for a while. Finally, she had to get up and get ready for work. After all, convenience stores never close, not even during a zombie apocalypse.
It wasn’t all bad, she decided. There were a few customers she actually wouldn’t mind meeting today.
(c) 2011 J.M. Cowan