Story Go Round 10/25/2008, #1

Have Pizza, Will DIE!

(post-titled by Terry)

It was Octopus 31st, and Sheila Jameison was carrying pizza toppings out of the walk-in cooler for the festivities. She was dicing tomatoes when one of the mushrooms escaped the bowl and rolled between the stacks of pizza boxes. Poking tentatively around in the mushrooms with her knife - expecting perhaps to find a mouse - she was startled to hear a tiny shrill cry of pain. It came just as the tip of her knife had pierced one of the mushrooms.

Sheila took a step back, not prepared to have her job become a place of moral ambiguities and Supreme Court overrules. It galled her that the mushroom had chosen to become sentient - here - tonight - on her first shift at her very first job. Typical, she muttered, trading knife for a bowl and trapping the edible fungus underneath it. Her supervisor Rex ambled past, proud of the stains already accumulated on his apron, and said, "Sheila, this isn't day care freetime. Get that monster supreme ready so the delivery gets out on time."

Sheila avoided his gaze, uncertain how to reply. She felt a bevy of impacts from inside the upside down bowl, like popcorn popping. Rex had paused, looking at her expectantly, so she lifted the bowl and allowed the now living mushroom to explode out. It went straight for his face, plugging his breathing pipe with its bulbous body, excreting spores to fill his nostrils, shrieking a fungal death cry that would stop a man's heart cold. Rex collapsed in less than sixty seconds, while Sheila looked on horrified. The uncut bell peppers, olives, prawns, artichokes, and garlic cloves crowded to find every orifice available on Rex and create a few new ones. Sheila realized to get the pizza out on time, she would have to skimp on basic manners and get at the toppings any way she could. Who wants to eat uncut mushrooms? She hauled Rex up to the cutting board as he moaned, and picked up her knife again, then paused. Big mistake. A slurping, squishing sound drew her attention to the right, where she saw the sliced tomatoes oozing towards her. She pointed her knife at them fiercely, but then realized she just couldn't do it. It wasn't that she was against killing things, it was that Sheila liked a lot of vegetables - not that she was a vegetarian - she just couldn't cut them up. Rex would have to go in the oven as is. Slipping him free from his wrapper, she shoved him to the right side of the oven with a pizza paddle, to leave room for a five-cheese pizza on the left - it was due sooner, anyway. Though his girth was awkward at first, his natural greases soon had him hissing and popping and browning. The onions in his ears smelled delicious! She basted them lightly when she turned him.

Should she parbake him? She wasn't sure. She needed a second opinion. "Lenny," she yelled, "could you come here for a minute?" Sheila heard Lenny's shuffling footsteps approach. "What do you think," she said, turning to him, "Should --" She stopped when she saw the look of raw hunger on Lenny's face. "Just leave me," he began, and Sheila thought 'ok, you can finish him up,' but as she strode away to wash her hands she heard him add, "... the brain."

"Oh no you don't," she cried coming back in a huff, "I know all about your little 'problem'. No brains for you, not on the job. And if you have an addiction, you need to admit it! That's the first step, you know."

Shuffling towards Sheila now, Lenny groaned inhumanly.

"Well, all right. I guess I'll chop the vegetables for the next one. It seems we both have something to teach each other."