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Science Fiction

“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”


The most extraordinary, spectacular, out-of-this-world event Adam Park had come across in nearly seven months was happening right before his eyes.


“There’s no way I’m seeing this right now”, he went on with a slight snort.  This was, without a doubt, going into his “Post-Apocalyptic Journal: The First Textbook For A New Generation” (the title was long, but he thought it had a nice, satirical ring to it).


“I’m the only human alive in this entire world, and you would think a random Costco in Death Valley would have a better stock of Hot Cheetos.”


Since the catastrophe of September 2032, Adam had conducted a nationwide search to accumulate the largest amount of the spicy, cheesy, cardboard chip.  Each supermarket gifted him with crates and crates of his favorite red finger-dye snack.  It wasn’t the most productive task to take on, but what else is there to do in an empty world?


“Well Stinks, at least they have your snacks.  In bulk.  I guess southern California valued humans more than pets.”  As of January, he began a new search for at least a reasonable amount of cat food.  His companion was named Sir Stink-A-Lots, because, well, the tabby cat reeked when he first found her.  “Isn’t that just...absurd?!”


Meow.


”Yep”, he nodded to the ball of gray fur, and into the trunk of his car the treats went.  “Well, next stop: Vegas, Baby!”, drawing out the “y” for a showy tone.  “I’ve been waiting for this one for too long.  You’re gonna love it over there Stinks.”  Adam turned on the horrifically loud engine and drove through the blazing hot sun.


The 19-year-old class clown wasn’t entirely opposed to solo life.  His goal after high school was to travel America alone with his blue, 1997 Ford F250.  Popularity was fun, but freedom was ideal.  For someone who was so well known in his small NorCal town, all Adam really wanted was for people to not know anything about his life, or really even care for that matter.  The dream did only feel like a dream, though; it’s hard to blend into Fresno when you’re one of the only asian families living there.


After 4 hours of late 90s hip-hop, 2 bathroom breaks, and 3 bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Adam decided to get some rest right before hitting Sin City.  His partner in crime, however, was not in agreement.  “Come on, Stinks.  I’m starting to see stars from driving in all that heat.  We’ll get there soon.  I promise”.


Purr.


Adam cleared a space in his trunk for his makeshift bed and immediately crashed into unconsciousness under the stars.  


To say that what happened next was gruesome, beastly, and outright disgusting would be a broad understatement.  Adam was hoping to wake up to Outkast.  Well, just Outkast.  Instead, the band was accompanied by two different screeches: tire...and fluffy, gray, smelly cat.  He sat up when realizing the two sounds were not in the key of the song.


A Corvette pulled over about 30 feet from the crime scene.  Blood was splattered all over its hood, but it nearly blended into the red paint.  Its engine turned off, and the entire world was silent again (except for the music).  Quiet reigned for about 10 seconds, and a door flung open to resume the monstrosity of the event.


“Oh.  You’ve.  Got.  To be kidding me.”  The Morning Hot Cheeto Costco Extravagant had nothing over this.


Past the muffler smoke, a human.  A curly-haired, olive skin, 5’5” human.  She was spit out of the car and froze when she met eyes with the other homo sapien.  Time stopped for approximately 15 seconds - just two young adults who looked set up to play Monkey-in-the-Middle with a dead cat.  There were too many things that would have happened if seeing another human was not a bigger deal than seeing roadkill, so they seemed to dismiss the corpse.


“Who are you?”, the girl came closer - about 20 feet away from the crime scene now.


“There’s no way,” Adam couldn’t hear or see her speaking over the music.  “How did you get here?” he raised his voice, but not just because of the distance between them; he was trying to mask fear.


Fire, smoke, screams, blood, tears.


10 feet away from the crime scene.


“Hey!  Did you hear me?” Adam’s heart rate was skyrocketing.  He reached into the driver’s seat and got rid of the 90s vibe.


8 feet.


Guns, bats, stones.


5 feet.


Forks, spoons, knives.


Adam had been trying to suppress those memories for seven months, just to have them fight their way up his throat once again.  And right before Vegas, too, he thought.


He relaxed.  He told himself to stay cool.  “My name is Adam.  You?”


She was right next to the cat.  And she was unfazed.


Berserk.  That was the only word he could use to describe the world during September of 2032.  He tried “insane”, “demented”, “deranged” - but “berserk” was just right.  “Creative” was also a good one to use.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner of human limbs and desserts of their pets’ limbs started to get more and more intricate throughout the weeks.  Impressive, almost.  He’d be lying if he said there weren’t any bodies he was forced to eat.  It was weeks on end of trying to blend in and stay alive, until he found a hideaway in an alley to keep safe.  It’s also where he met Stinks.


Oh right, Stinks.


Adam already knew what was going to happen to his best friend.  Heck, he already knew what was going to happen to himself.  He left the last of his guns in Sacramento as of February, not expecting that he would need it more than his Hot Cheeto stash.  And even if he were to try and drive away, the girl had a friggin’ Corvette.


“I’m Elena.”  She stared at him, while about to motion towards the cat.


And just like that, all fear left his face.  “You can speak”.  Adam was the only human who remembered how to speak a language when disaster hit.  He already spoke his native tongue, so that was one more language than most people could in Fresno - now he spoke two.  Everyone else resorted to mumbles and grunts, so two simple words was like hearing a baby say “ma-ma” for the first time.  “Could you please explain why you acted like a complete psychopath walking towards my dead cat?”


“I’m the psychopath?  You’re driving a 40-something-year-old truck with an animal,” Elena folded her arms.


Post-Apocalyptic Journal, Adam addressed to the diary in his head, you don’t even know what’s in store for you.


“And you have a concerning supply of Hot Cheetos”, she peered into the filthy trunk of the car with revulsion.


“Fair enough”, and he recoiled to becoming the charming comic he was back in high school.  “Nice to meet you.” 


They shook hands.  They talked in the middle of the street about their past lives, their recent adventures, their dreams.  They even shared a bag of Hot Cheetos.  She loved it.  Eventually, the two loners agreed to go to Vegas together, separate cars to maintain both of their belongings.  After burying Sir Stinks, they were on their way.


But it wasn’t until the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign that he noticed it.  A bump in the road popped something out of Elena’s trunk.  It was small and slim.


Like someone’s arm.


She loved the Hot Cheetos.  Small, slim, crunchy, tasty; and well, you could always lick the red remains off of your fingers.





 



May 02, 2020 01:20

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13 comments

Ruth Porritt
05:49 May 05, 2020

LOL, your story made me see Cheetos in such a new way, that I wrote about Doritos in my earlier response. (embarrassed face) Anyway, have a good one, Ruth

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Ruth Porritt
05:47 May 05, 2020

Hello Jaden, I enjoyed this story. The writing feels fresh and electric. (Full of positive energy) I am not gushing--your writing reminds me of my experience reading the first part of The Stand. (in the mid-nineties, lol) I especially enjoyed the bits of description that enabled me to see common objects (like Doritos) in a completely new way. :) I look forward to reading what else you've written. Thanks again, Ruth

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Josephine Alcott
19:04 May 05, 2020

Your comment(s) (LOL) definitely made my day! I am more than flattered being compared to THE Stephen King. Doritos also have similar characteristics to Hot Cheetos, so you do have a point there. Looking forward to seeing some of your stories as well!

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Ruth Porritt
00:57 May 06, 2020

Great! A fellow King fan. :) I also like his non-fiction books. (On writing, and Danse Macabre) As a teen, I used to quote lines that characters would say in The Stand. Needless to say, I got a lot of weird looks. :)

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Chelsy Maughan
02:01 May 05, 2020

Listen, this story gave me chills. I loved that it was funny and dark. I also really like your writing style, it reminds me of an author I like, Joshua Gayou. I recommend reading his novel Commune.

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Josephine Alcott
19:01 May 05, 2020

Thank you so much for this feedback! I’ve never heard of Gayou, but I’m sure I would love his work from what you say of him. I hope to get a hold of Commune soon!

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Chloe Alistar
04:58 May 03, 2020

I am so engaged in your story. The main character's characterization, the plot, the conversation with the cat (who I loved so much). What made you choose a search for hot Cheetos as the drive? :)

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Josephine Alcott
05:48 May 03, 2020

Thank you so much for such positive feedback (the cat was definitely the star of the show)! Originally, the Hot Cheeto hunt wasn’t supposed to have any correlation to the ending. I just wanted to counteract the mood of a dark, post-apocalyptic world with a silly kid doing something so useless with his time. After days of not knowing how the story would end, I thought I would use it to help create the reason for the whole apocalypse. I also appreciate you for being my first commenter in these writing contests Chloe! :)

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Chloe Alistar
06:11 May 03, 2020

Funny enough, you were my first commenter too! YAY! :) Also, I think you succeeded in having a fun almost quirky adolescent voice in this dark and morbid world. I liked that the pacing was fast in addition to the other symbols of fast (corvette car, the brief mention on cannibalism, the passing of poor kitty). There were a lot of layers to this story and great imagery!

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Sadia Faisal
09:22 May 28, 2020

nice story, please like my story and follow me

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Evelyn ⭐️
21:02 May 19, 2020

Nice story! When I first read the title I couldn't stop laughing!:) Overall it was a great read! Stay safe and healthy!-Evelyn

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Josephine Alcott
03:04 May 26, 2020

Haha, I'm glad the title made you laugh. Thank you for the positive feedback and stay safe as well!

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Pranathi G
14:52 May 04, 2020

Nice story! Can you read my story and give me feedback on it? It's called, "THE TIME HAS COME." It's for the same contest. Thanks!

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