Bitefighter—my 10 lb. Terrier Extraordinaire, Buddy for Life, and deadliest being within this 54 galaxy-cluster known as the Local Group—snaps the last clip of my thunder-shirt across my stomach and gives me a pat on the belly.
“Arf rowfo mcroofskie aroo.” (No more freaking out at the sight of suburban families, okay? You’re a writer and a Man Whore; you’re not doomed to a testicle-shriveling purgatory as an office-drone parent.)
I look at him with wide eyes and quivering cheeks. “Promise?”
He sighs, exasperated. “Rowfarfarf barkolofus.” (Yes Kent—I promise. If you can make it through today without having a panic attack, I’ll buy you some Mountain Dew Game Fuel. How’s that sound?)
I take a deep breath. “Okay. Thanks Bitey—I know I can be an ornery pet human, but—”
Brrriing! My phone’s alarm goes off. Its screen flashes with: “BOSS KID’S BIRTHDAY PARTY. MANDATORY.”
“Shit!” I bolt up from my chair and throw on some clothes. “My boss said I gotta attend his son’s party or he’s gonna give me extra work! I completely forgot about it!”
As I sprint out the door, Bitefighter cups his furry little hand around his mouth and barks, “Arfo mcbarkface rowfologist rex!” (Keep that thunder-shirt on!)
I mill around the party with a fake smile, warily eyeing the legions of kids who are beating the piss out of each other with foam noodles, Nerf gear, and other party accoutrements. Every now and then they race back to their mommas for another adderall. Are they children? Yes. But they’re also something more; with each additional upper, they blink a little less, and their smiles become a little more like Joker’s when he’s being scary. Their eyes have become uncomfortably wide, and sport lurid red veins that are visible from ten yards away. Their grins are unmistakably shark-like, and limned with overflowing saliva.
I turn to the only other single person there, a tired-faced dude named Jake. “Hey man, have you noticed that we’re the only people here that don’t have kids?”
His brow wrinkles. “Now that you mention it, it IS a little strange…”
My boss claps us both on the shoulders. “Hey fellas! Enjoying the party? When are you guys gonna submit to the demon Lord Blorlog and pop out some rugrats?”
My eyes narrow. “I’m sorry—what?”
He takes his hands off our shoulders, draws in a giant breath, sticks his fingers in his mouth, and—
—emits a painful whistle which causes the air to vibrate and flux. Me and Jake clap our hands to our ears and drop to our knees, screaming in agony. For an excruciating second I think my head’s going to explode, but I manage to stagger to my feet and start running. After a few dozen yards, I stop and turn around. Jake is hugging my boss’s legs and sobbing into his thighs, screaming, “I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO BLORLOG! PLEASE LET ME SERVE YOUR DARK MASTER!”
My boss runs his fingers through Jake’s hair. “As you wish, acolyte Jake.” He claps his hands, and every kid at the party snaps their eyes toward Jake.
Jake scrabbles back, turning over and stumbling to his feet, but it’s too late: legions of adderall-crazed tykes gallop toward him, snarling and hissing. He disappears under a storm of cake-smeared fists, and is quickly transformed into a mess of pulped flesh and exposed organs.
(Oh my god oh my god oh my GOD…my thunder-shirt isn’t doing SHIT!)
I glance over my shoulder and see I’m being pursued by legions of soccer moms, riding sleighs that are being pulled by their emasculated husbands, who are all dressed in submissive slave getups like the one the Gimp wears in Pulp Fiction. The soccer moms crack barbed whips over their husbands’ heads, urging their nutless spouses to go faster, dammit, FASTER! As I run down the wide suburban streets, I scream like a five year old schoolgirl. They’ll be on me in a second. Only one option left.
I open my eReader to Echo, activating its reality distortion powers. Magic flash.
Bitefighter swoops in on the Bitewing—a heavily tech’d out hang-glider—and throws me a harness. It slaps against my chest and initiates its auto-don protocol; gas cartridges pop and blow, snapping the harness onto my torso in a series of contained explosions. At the same time, Bitefighter works the action of his custom-modded shotgun, blasting grade-A yuppie bait into the slavering mob.
Chik-chik BOOM! A boxed set of One Tree Hill goes flying into their midst!
Chik-chik BOOM! Old Navy gift cards!
Chik-chik BOOM! How about a redeemable certificate for a Martha Stewart sponsored shopping spree at the Container Store, you SUV-driving bastards???
As I gain altitude, some clutch briefly at my feet. Most turn against each other, ripping limbs from bodies and gouging eyes from skulls in a desperate attempt to grab hold of the goodies. Sweet Jesus—it’s like watching the fast zombies on 28 Days Later.
Bitefighter and I climb higher, and after we’ve gained some distance, I look back and see they’ve somehow managed to start a giant fire; over half the neighborhood has been reduced to ashes. I breathe a sigh of relief and wipe sweat from my brow.
Lesson learned: do not fuck with yuppies—their hate knows no bounds.
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