It was about 2:00 am, the night of Thanksgiving, and almost everyone in the house was still awake. I had just finished my third cup of coffee, struggling to keep up with my uncle’s rant about politics, the so-called ‘educational-system’ in America today, and our consumer-driven lives. He’s a professor at Berkeley, and I’m sure he’s fascinating to his students. But as for me? I ended up falling asleep at the table – likely a victim of my annual turkey-induced Thanksgiving food coma. My dad carried my limp body up the stairs and tucked me in.
At around 5:30 that following Friday morning, I awoke doubled-over with my bloated stomach on fire. Something from the family’s Thanksgiving dinner didn’t agree with me. I figured, Must’ve been Mom’s infamous Brussels sprouts and turnip casserole. Whatever the cause, I needed a cure – and I needed it immediately.
Not wanting to disturb the still-slumbering household, I painfully tiptoed to my Mom’s Prius and pulled out of the garage in search of a store open with the remedy for my intolerable indigestion at this ungodly hour. Somehow I sensed that the nearby WorldMart would be open early this time of year, so I drove there with one hand on the steering wheel, the other clutching my stomach.
It was weird – how do I describe my experience? I drove for about 20 minutes and the world seemed so abandoned. My headlights on the road were the only signs of life; my surroundings were so empty and ominous. Little did I know that it was just a hint of what was in store for this poor young college student with an upset stomach.
WorldMart came into view like a shining beacon on a deserted planet – its famous blue and yellow lights shining like a welcoming guiding light, beckoning me. I noticed that my stomach pains had subsided somewhat, having been replaced by the desire to be inside WorldMart now.
As I signaled to turn into the parking lot, I noticed there were flashing police cars and caution tape blocking off the main entrance. Military-looking helicopters buzzed by closely overhead, and I heard the crackle of military walkie-talkies. I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Whatever I thought, I came here for a purpose. I had a burning fire in my stomach that needed to be extinguished. Being the clever girl I am, I found a back way to the WorldMart complex, an entrance that was marked “EMPLOYEES ONLY.” I was pleased with myself when I found a space near an open door for employees.
As approached the door that read “Employees Only,” I looked around to make sure no one was watching. I slowly reached for the door knob reading “PUSH” above it. As I pressed my body against the metal barrier that was keeping me away from my drugs, the fluorescent lighting coming from the WorldMart began to shine over me. Though I was never really a WorldMart shopper, I felt this odd gravitational pull. I was overcome by an irresistible urge to go inside this bright shiny mega-store and spend all the money I had in my pocket. I found the resolve to push away this sensation and purposefully, I entered the employee’s entrance. I stepped into the store, shielding my eyes against the brilliant fluorescent glow.
I was stunned by what I saw next.
It was a sheer animal panic, absolute chaos. The employees of WorldMart, dressed in their familiar Play-Doh colored uniforms with smiley-face buttons racing around, absolutely terrified. It was an unsettling sight for someone who had just come for a $5.99 bottle of Extra-Strength Pepto Bismal.
A horrified employee spotted me and raced over. The girl was about my age, maybe a little older, and her hair was a bee hive of frizziness, as if she had stuck her finger in a light socket just moments ago. She leaned into my face, her hands flailing frantically. “Oh my God, lady!” she wailed. “How did you get past the police lines?”
“Um,” I stammered, taken aback as I was by the terror in her eyes, “can you tell me which aisle I can find the anti-gas medicine?”
“Don’t you understand? There’s NO TIME!” she screamed at me. “You have to save yourself! Get out, now!”
”Listen,” I proclaimed, “I’m just here to grab some medicine and then, believe me, I’m out of this place.”
Suddenly, she was looking past me as if I no longer existed towards the front entrance of the store. Her eyes glazed over—she finally realized that she was no longer in control of what was about to happen. “Oh my God,” the frizzy-haired clerk muttered, her face going marble white. “It’s six A.M. It’s, it’s . . . happening – “
What are you talking about, I wanted to ask her, annoyed that she was disrespecting me as a WorldMart customer. But I followed her mesmerized stare in the direction of the front of the store.
That’s when I saw what she saw. I saw . . . Them.
As a single force, They were throwing their bodies up against the glass doors, howling at a piercing volume. Then, suddenly, with a tremendous shattering crash, all four glass doors in the front buckled, gave way and exploded inward. The sound of smashing glass caused me to recoil backwards. All together, the WorldMart employees let out a cry—a cry for help. Although they had armed themselves with baseball bats and BB guns from the Sporting Goods department, they knew they were utterly hopeless. They were no match for Them. The monsters poured in through the twisted wreckage that was once the front entrance, a snarling and screaming legion of zombie-like creatures that were moaning something in a most inhuman and unintelligible way. As they drew closer, I realized that they were repeating two words as if it were a mantra –
“Black Firiday. Black Friday. Black Friday.”
This is what the mob of subhuman beings were chanting, over and over, the two most horrifying and evil words I had ever heard in my entire life.
They marched closer and closer. I looked around to find shelter—I needed to hide—it was my last chance at survival. I crawled into a nearby tent in Sporting Goods and watched with horror as the zombie-consumers attacked the poor WorldMart humans. Inside the tent was a pimply-faced WorldMart employee who had – unfortunately – peed himself. He was shaking, rocking back and forth in a fetal position on the floor of the tent. “They’re not human, they’re not human,” he kept ranting. His name-tag read MY NAME IS TOM, HOW CAN I HELP YOU TODAY? with a smiley-face… I felt sorry for him.
Outside the tent was the most wretched sight I’d ever seen in my life – hundreds and hundreds of drooling, misshapen, clawing, stumbling brainwashed zombie-consumers with plastic credit cards clutched tightly in their hands taking over the megastore, willing to kill any WorldMart employee standing in their way from getting a “doorbuster” deal on a $15 fondue dipping kit made in China. When I turned back to the girl who had warned me to leave, she was no longer there. I said a quick prayer for her.
A super-charged 350-pound zombie-consumer with a stomach the size of a small planet grabbed a hapless WorldMart employee by the throat. I was terrified as I watched the zombie-consumer lift the poor employee off the ground, staring at him malevolently with burning red eyes. His voice was guttural and demonic as he demanded that the employee answer him his question:
“Tell me now, or I will kill you where you stand. Where . . . is . . . ALL . . . the cheap, slave-labor made, plastic Chinese crap that is on sale for Black Friday?”
The trembling WorldMart could barely croak out the words. “This . . . is . . . WorldMart. It’s EVERYWHERE.”
The zombie-consumer growled viciously at the WorldMart employee and said, “You know what I’m talking about. The slave-made iCRAP!”
“The iCrap section?” the victim whispered. The employee, shaking with fear, was pointed towards the special iCrap section. “Uh, that’s over in Aisle Seven.” In return for this valuable information, the zombie-consumer disposed of the employee by throwing him on to the cash register. That little stunt caused the zombie-consumer to lose precious seconds before herds of other zombie-consumers discovered the iCrap section and fought each other viciously.
“iCrap! iCrap! iCrap!” the zombie-consumers wailed as they tore through anything that stood in their way. Surviving WorldMart employees dove for safety – but the zombie-consumers were not interested in consuming flesh. No, they only had an appetite to consume massive quantities of cheap plastic electronic items made by slave-laborers in China. TVs, cellphones, laptops – it didn’t matter what the iCrap was as long as it could be plugged into a wall and had the logo of a white apple bitten once by Adam and Eve. It didn’t matter that the iCrap item would be obsolete in a year or two. It didn’t matter that the zombie-consumer couldn’t get rid of it on eBay next year for even a tenth of the price. It was the first hour of Black Friday and the zombie-consumers were insatiable. There would be blood.
Things got much, much worse. The zombie-consumers turned on one another as they fought to wrestle various items away from one another. It was a zombie-consumer feeding frenzy! To my shock and horror, they were ripping limbs off of one another, biting fingers off their rivals, grunting with determination to consume massive quantities anything and everything.
I needed to make my escape. Tom? He was a lost cause, unable to move from his quivering and soiled position in the tent. I had to save myself. I peeked out of my safe-haven: the consumer-zombies were utterly distracted by their insatiable desire to tear each other apart to get their goods. It was just the moment I needed to escape the end of the world at WorldMart. On all fours, I crawled out of the tent, undetected by the zombies.
That is . . . until suddenly, out of nowhere, a box flew from across the store in front of me. To my horror, the box had a red sticker that said: iCRAP 5 – MARKED DOWN! SAVE 2.5% ON BLACK FRIDAY!
Tom saw the box and screamed, “Noooooo!”
But, fatefully, I picked up the box and stared at it longingly. After all, it was an iCrap 5. Just six months ago, my father got me the iCrap 4. It was so six months ago, This is cutting edge. The latest and greatest. The envy of all my friends. I could walk out of here with an iCrap 5!
Tom became frantic. “THROW IT BACK! THROW IT BAAAAACK!”
I shook my head defiantly, the corner of my lips tilting into a satisfied smirk. Tommy-boy’s just jealous because I got it and he didn’t. This is what the voice in my head said. But I knew I had been momentarily possessed by the evil spirit of consumerism. I fought the voice in my head, but, fatefully, it was too late.
An insurmountable wave of evil, foul-smelling, growling, dentally-challenged, flesh-eating zombie-consumers were on the verge of pouncing on me. I clutched the iCrap 5, tucking it under my arm protectively. “Please, no!” I shrieked. “I have a family, a mother, a father, please! I don’t want to die this way!” As the mass of the Unhuman poured over me, I screamed and the next thing I knew…
The sound of my alarm was waking me up from this horrible nightmare. Frantic, I sat upright in a cold sweat, trembling from the terrible night visions I had just experienced. Coming to my senses, I realized: It’s 5 A.M., the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. Yeah, that’s right. Black Friday. I suddenly remembered I had set my alarm the night before – Thanksgiving night – so I could race over to WorldMart to wait in line for the 6 A.M. Black Friday door-buster specials.
You know, maybe my iCrap 4.0 isn’t so bad after all I said to myself.
I turned off the alarm clock, fluffed up my pillow and went back to sleep with a grin. I slept in until noon and completely missed the “doorbuster specials” of Black Friday at my local WorldMart. And you know what? When I awoke, I had no regrets.