's 2012 Horror Write-off:

"Infestation: Spam"

Submitted by Olita Clark

>Be Rodger.
>Just Rodger.
>You always hated your last name and the family it tied you to.
>The Leak was the perfect excuse to drop it.
>They were in Oregon when the spores blew in.
>Your relatives are all five years dead..
>They're probably nothing but overgrown shambling skeletons by now.
>You're OK with that
>But why waste time thinking about those assholes.
>You've got far more important things to deal with right now.
>Like, for example, securing your food for the next three weeks.
>Even after the end of the world, gold diggers still exist.
>You managed to pick one of them as your girlfriend.
>What could you say?
>She had a really nice body.
>Knew how to use it too.
>Little did you realize that she was using you at the same time.
>Waiting until you were passed out from one of your all night shifts at the main gate.
>Woke up to find your monthly food ration missing.
>In a desert society, a can of fruit was worth its weight in gold.
>The bitch could get enough gas to go to Disneyland and back with what was in your apartment.
>You tried explaining the situation to those assholes in the distribution office.
>You thought bureaucracy was bad before The Leak.
>You hadn't seen anything yet.
>Eight hours of sitting around in a modified wedding chapel.
>Dozens of forms filed.
>And for what?
>Two shitty options.
>Either sign up as an assistant on a Hound run.
>Or beg on the streets until your ticket comes up again.
>Fuck that shit.
>There was one thing of value the little whore didn't manage to grab.
>Probably because you keep it hidden in your pillow.
>It's a small can of instant coffee.
>The good stuff.
>One of the ultimate luxury items, you could easily swap it for a gallon or two of unleaded.
>You're loath to part with it, were planning on saving it for yourself.
>But desperate times call for desperate measures.
>Thankfully you know a guy who won't scalp you too badly on the trade.
>It isn't uncommon for a Hound to keep a bit of their haul hidden from the officials.
>Though Vegas pays them well for their services it never hurts to have a little extra.
>Dealings for these products takes place in the various back alleys of the cities.
>It's a generally overlooked practice unless a Hound starts getting really greedy.
>You've seen what happens to those poor sons a bitches first hand.
>Guarding the gate means you get to stand above their stinking corpses all day.
>Hung by the neck until dead by an electrical cord for (Excessive.) theft.
>It's like some twisted parody of an old western.
>The executed Hound's regular customers don't fair much better.
>All their possessions are claimed by Vegas and they're booted down to the lowest housing.
>And to add insult to injury, they're stuck with Blue food tickets for a whole year.
>Blue means bare minimum rations needed to survive.
>The scraps no one else could stomach.
>The water that smells funny.
>No thank you sir.
>This is the only time you'll ever be standing in this dark back alley at three in the morning.
>And waiting.
>And...Christ, where the hell is Sixteen?
>Wasn't he supposed to be here five minutes ago?
>Did something happen?
>Oh fuck, he got picked up and they'll be coming after you next.
>You know it's an irrational thought but you can't chase it away.
>You begin to sweat, shifting from foot to foot.
>This is bad this is bad this is-
>”You ok there?”
>You shriek, the can of coffee nearly slipping from your hands and you spin around.
>Sixteen is casually leaning back on the filthy brick wall, grinning.
>He had been so still that you hadn't noticed his dark clothing against the shadows of the alley.
>Fucking creepy-ass Hounds!
>You swear going out into the Wet so often has unhinged them.
>”Bit jumpy for a gate guard, aren’t you?”
>”Do you usually try to make your customers shit themselves?” You snap back.
>”Nah, only the stupid ones.”
>He holds out his hand for the can.
>Right down to business then.
>You reluctantly hand it over.
>There goes your last chance of ever tasting a cup of Joe in this lifetime.
>Sixteen brings the can up to his face, examining it carefully.
>He spins in around in expert hands, checking for minute cracks and other damages.
>Finally, he peels off the lid.
>Sixteen taps the unbroken paper circle appreciatively.
>”Unopened. Nice. Most folks would've caved and made a cup or two by now.”
>You ask impatiently “So we're good then?”
>Sixteen nods and the can disappears into his jacket.
>He nudges a small suitcase out from behind a nearby trashcan with one scuffed boot.
>”It's all canned crap, but it'll get you through the month.”
>”Remember, if anyone asks, your dear Aunt Sally heard of your plight and made a donation.”
>”Of course, right, sure.”
>You're distracted by the sight of that wonderful suitcase.
>You haven't had anything to eat since breakfast two days ago.
>Who knows what kind of goodies are in there?
>Maybe a few meal's worth of Spaghetti-Os.
>You've loved those ever since you were a kid.
>You take a few eager steps forwards to claim your prize, practically drooling.
>Sixteen's voice is a hard bark.
>You jump again, meeting his eyes, fear dancing at the edge of your mind.
>”I'm serious. I don't need my name put out there. I've got a good thing worked out right now.”
>”Vegas is always looking for a new example to keep folks in line.”
>”I don't wanna end up swaying from that gate of yours.”
>”And if I do, and it's because you let your tongue wag around the wrong people...”
>He doesn’t need to say any more.
>The Hounds have an odd sort of brotherhood.
>They'll kill each other in a heartbeat if someone crosses into their designated hunting grounds.
>But if one of their own meets their end from outside forces?
>They're worse than the Mafia that used to haunt these streets.
>You gulp and intone “Yes, sir.” with what you feel to be the proper amount of respect.
>Sixteen continues to glares at you for several seconds, but finally relaxes.
>”Good boy.”
>He makes a shooing motion with his hand.
>”Now run home before you're caught out after curfew.”
>Without another word, you snatch up the suit case and scramble off.

>”Home” for you is a room in one of the Strip's nicer hotels.
>Working as a gate guard affords you a small amount of status.
>Your place actually has a minimal amount of electricity allotted each day.
>The building is even kept a comparatively chilly 80 degrees.
>They managed to keep Hoover Dam running, but it's nowhere near full capacity.
>What juice Vegas dose get is strictly regulated.
>The casino twelve floors below you lays shrouded in permanent darkness.
>You need a flashlight to navigate the flights of stairs up to your place.
>Still, it could be much worse.
>You could be stuck in the Low End with the sand cleaners.
>You turn the lights on, bathing your “apartment” in a flickering yellow light.
>You can't say you care much for the décor, but you don't feel like hauling in new furniture.
>At least the bed is comfortable, even if it's covered by gaudy golden sheets.
>It's onto these abominations that you drop your very expensive suitcase.
>With some amount of trepidation, you undo the worn latches.
>The left one sticks and requires a good smack before it finally gives up the ghost.
>You swing the lid back slowly and are greeted by the glorious sight of...
>Dozens of neatly packed cans stare at you mockingly.
>You're going to kill Sixteen!
>Of all the foods you've had to force down your throat since The Leak, Spam was by far the worst.
>The overpowering saltiness!
>The thick, paste like texture!
>The smell!
>The thought of it was enough to make you feel sick.
>And you were going to have to live off this shit for three whole weeks?
>Seriously, fuck Sixteen.
>You were going to need to find a way to get back at him.
>Delay him at the gate for extra inspections next time he came in from a run?
>Oh, yeah, that sounded good.
>In the meantime however...
>You retch.
>Your stomach rumbles desperately.
>There's nothing for it.
>You select a can at random.
>The weight in your hands somehow makes the whole ordeal worse.
>You loop one finger through the tab and pull back as slowly as possible.
>The scent assaults you like a rabid dog.
>Thick, meaty and...rotten?
>You have a split second to register this oddity.
>Then it's on you.
>There's a grey pink blur of movement from the small opening you're created in the can.
>Suddenly your entire face is engulfed in a thick paste-like substance.
>It's forcing its way up your nose.
>It sends tendrils around the edges of your eyes, trying to force past them and into your sockets.
>And oh god it's in your mouth whywhywhy it tastes even worse than it did before.
>Your skin is burning as if you've just fallen face first into a vat of acid.
>You scream, but that only makes things worse.
>You're provided it with a bigger opening through which to enter your body.
>The whole foul mass forces its way into your mouth.
>There's a pair of dull popping sounds and your world goes dark.
>It pulled out your eyes.
>It drew them into itself and devour them, making them part of its soft body.
>You try claw at the mass but immediately pull your finger back in agony.
>Oh God oh good Christ you think it dissolved your flesh down to the bone.
>And all the while the thing slowly oozes itself down your windpipe.
>Burning and burning and burning and BURNING.
>You choke for breath in the darkness but find none.
>The taste fills your world as you fall backwards, limbs flailing helplessly.
>You're vaguely aware of the suitcase tumbling down on top of you.
>Of several of the clumsily sealed cans popping open from the force of the impact.
>Of more of those things oozing out and sliding across your like fat slugs.
>But the taste overpowers all.
>As consciousness fades for one final time, you swear you can hear Sixteen laughing.