"You never did tell me how you managed to get to the shelter from Pizza Junction," Nina said. "That’s a story I’d like to hear."
"Sure, I’ll tell you all about it, but you won’t believe me," Derek said.
"Try me," Nina challenged.
"Well, after you left to deliver those pizzas, all hell broke loose at Pizza Junction. I had gone out the back door to take out a bag of trash, when all of a sudden, this bum tried to get the jump on me! I thought he was drunk, at first, but then I saw there was something very wrong with him as he swaggered towards me. His mouth was drooling blood, and I asked if he needed an ambulance, because I thought the poor guy was just hurt, but he didn’t answer. He kept coming right at me and that is when I noticed his eyes.
"He had this blank gaze and his eyes were all clouded over with red veins. He was pale and sick looking too, he was all covered in sweat and dirt. So, I threw the bag of trash at him and went back inside the store. I tried shutting the door so I could lock it up, but he was forcing his way inside through the crack of the door. That is when Mr. Burger came to yell at me for taking too long to take out the trash. By then, I had given up holding the door and the bum burst inside. Mr. Burger tried to calm the man down, because he must have thought the man was a unsatisfied customer, and offered him his money back or a free meal.
"Problem was, the only free meal the bum wanted, was us! Mr. Burger had come between us to deescalate the situation, but it was no use, the bum charged him and knocked Mr. Burger right into the shelves where we store the large cans of pizza sauce. The cans fell from the shelf and rolled across the floor, one of them burst open and pizza sauce spilled all over the place. That made a huge mess, and since it wasn’t my fault it had happened, I wasn’t about to mop it up. That is when I got an idea. While Mr. Burger struggled with the bum, I grabbed a mop from the janitors’ closet and decided to use it as a weapon. I could clearly see that Mr. Burger was in trouble and that the bum was clearly either out of his mind or extremely pissed off about the quality of our customer service.
"So I hit the bum over the head with the mop, but that only aggravated him further and he turned back towards me. Mr. Burger took one of the remaining pizza sauce cans from the shelf and hit the bum on his head from behind. That seemed to do the trick, the bums’ head cracked open like a watermelon and his brains gushed out from the wound. The bum fell to the floor then, and Mr. Burger was all kinds of freaked out! He thought we had murdered someone, so he ordered me to go turn off the open sign and lock all the doors.
"After I had done that, I went back to meet with Mr. Burger in the back room. Brenda, the pizza maker girl, had followed me; because she had heard the commotion and was wondering what had happened. When she saw the body, she let out a god awful blood curdling scream right in my ears! I explained the situation to her while Mr. Burger was formulating a plan to dispose of the body. Brenda suggested we call the cops, but Mr. Burger was too worried about losing his business license. He told Brenda that if the police found out, they would surely shut the place down and that we would all lose our jobs. That scenario seemed to have a heavy effect on Brenda and she assured us she was more than willing to help dispose of the body.
"Brenda, you see, was an ex-felon, and she wasn’t keen on the thought of going back to jail on the count of a murder charge. She was on parole, for what, I’m not entirely sure and I’m not one to gossip, but she had a number of ex-husbands who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Brenda suggested we dump the body in a barrel of acid, but Mr. Burger told her we didn’t have any. I suggested we bury the body in the basement, but Mr. Burger said the idea was bullocks. I don’t know what that means, but he had come up with a better idea: incineration.
"We all agreed it was the only way to get rid of the body, so I fired up the pizza oven while Brenda and Mr. Burger lifted the body onto the conveyor belt. We sent the body in, feet first and watched it burn up. That took a while, even though we had turned the heat up on the oven to full blast. Boy, did it get hot in there, and damn did the smell of burning flesh stink to high hell. We were all panting and sweating and Brenda, because she was so over weight, took off her shirt to deal with the heat. All she had on underneath was a bra and she was all sweaty. Mr. Burger told us we all had to take a break then, because he was worried about labor costs and such. So, we all retired to the front lobby to pig out on some pizza.
"Brenda had made us all some pizza to eat while we rested and recovered our strength. At first, I thought she had baked an anchovy, pineapple, and jalapeno pizza for us to eat, but then I remembered we were fresh out of anchovies the day before. That is when I realized that the anchovies were actually bits and pieces of burnt flesh from the corpse we had incinerated in the pizza oven. I warned everyone and we all went to the back sink to make ourselves vomit. Brenda threw up way more than she had eaten and I thought that was a little strange, but I had no desire to question her about it.
"After we tossed our cookies, Mr. Burger told us he was feeling ill. Brenda and I didn’t think much of his statement, because we thought he was referring to the whole accidentally eating human flesh and then puking episode we had just endured. That wasn’t the case though, Mr. Burger had been bitten on his wrist by the bum and neglected to tell us about it. Brenda suggested we call an ambulance for him, but Mr. Burger told her that would be an even worse idea than calling the cops. Mr. Burger, apparently, was worried that he would surely lose his food handling license and that his career in the restaurant business would be over forever. Neither Brenda, nor I, had been injured during the ordeal, so we didn’t mind much if Mr. Burger decided to neglect his wound.
"We discussed closing the place up early for the night, on the count of all the extra hard work we had done killing bums and disposing of the evidence. Mr. Burger was concerned about that idea, because we hadn’t yet met the profit goals for the week and so we all agreed we should continue making pizzas until closing time. Problem was, Mr. Burger had gotten worse, he started looking a lot like the bum, he looked all sick and pale and his eyes took on that blank glare.
"Brenda hadn’t seen what the bum looked like before we killed him, so she didn’t think much of it, but I was starting to worry. I told her we should consider taking the rest of the night off and let Mr. Burger worry about running the store. Brenda said she wouldn’t leave Mr. Burger to run the store alone and explained that she was loyal to his franchise and had a crush on him. I wished her good luck and then clocked out. I’d had enough for one night and had a hot date with a level 43 elven ranger on World of Warcraft later that evening to prepare for. So, I waved my goodbyes and left the store. I went outside, hopped on my ten-speed and pedaled my ass all the way home.
"When I got home, mom and dad were already looking sick. That is when I saw the news on television about an outbreak. When I found out the internet wasn’t online, I decided to abandon my date with the elf girl and went back to watching the news. They listed off a few shelters and I decided I would make my way to the nearest one to await further instructions. When I got there, Pamela was already there. That is pretty much all that happened up until the point I met all the rest of you," Derek explained.
"You were right, Derek," Nina said doubtfully, "I don’t believe it."
"I told you so," he said.
"That is quite a story, Derek, you sure you aren’t making a lot of that up?" Kayla asked suspiciously.
"I swear it is the honest to God truth," Derek said confidently.
"Sad thing is," Stan interjected, "I have heard crazier stories that turned out to be true."
"Truth is stranger than fiction," Rhinestone added.
"So, you mean to tell me that you left Brenda to get eaten by one of those crazies?" Nina asked.
"It was her choice, really, and besides, I had no idea Mr. Burger would have turned into one of those things," Derek answered.
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