So once again, Chuck Wendig has me shaking off the constrains of my normal writing and stretching and reaching myself. His challenge was a genre-mashup. From the choices, I picked to smush together Dystopian Sci-Fi and Slasher or Serial Killer genres. This has to be the silliest story I have ever written. But it was fun, I learned more about making voice strong and that an odd dream can be fodder for a story.
Hope you enjoy; it came in at a sparse 925 words including the title. Would love it if you tell me your favorite conversation T-shirt lurking in your wardrobe in the comments. Let’s make it fun, you know.
I got to TEOTWAWKI, and All I got was this lousy T-Shirt
Conversation t-shirts went the way of the Pet Rock, the original Ker-Knockers, and the Cabbage Patch Kids; but, not because Americans lost their interest in them or because such great classics like “I’m with Stupid” had become passé for any other reason; no, they had a typical unknown taste maker destroy them by way of serial killer.
Back in 2054, right after we were all living with these days, instead of hours of darkness and light, four years after the meteor hit and kicked Earth in her girly bits enough to get her orbit cycle all out of whack, conversation t-shirts basically put a target on your back.
I had a closet full of them and when the Center for Disease Control confiscated them, I learned that I narrowly had escaped the wrath of the Con-Tee Serial Killer.
Acid rain also saved me. But, I’ll get to that later.
A scientist, eventually only known as the Con-Tee Serial Killer, was working for some bio-tech corporation outside of Seattle, was frustrated with the lack of world population. He had seen the world’s population top over 10 billion in 2050. But no government, agency or non-profit organization was doing anything to help educate people. Now this scientist, he loathed the conversation t-shirt and thought that humans who wore them were not worthy of eating up the planets diminishing resources. He designed a formula that controlled people to seek out and destroy the “I’m With Stupid” populations. The formula dissipated – odorless, tasteless, and nearly undetectable – into water and fouled the water supplies in all of the Pacific Northwest first; then he hit up the Great Lakes area. Because bottled water companies had ago been importing water from both the upper Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, soon all of North America was infected. Riots broke out in places like Hot Topics, Outlet Malls and Wal-Marts. The population of the United States, then Canada and Mexico dropped. Japan and China were also infected quickly and suffered the greatest population drops. Somehow the formula made it to Europe, but save for some areas of the U.K., most of Europe seemed to not be infected. Of course, the experts on this condition didn’t know that real style centers of Europe scoff at such apparel. Only a few ugly American tourists were mugged and beaten within an inch of their life during the Oktoberfest in Munich. Other than those few incidents, most of Europe was spared the plague.
The serial killer’s plague started in the rainy Pacific Northwest, it was also along the bridges and byways of Portland, Ore. that the cure and eventual containment of the formula and its maker. I was searching out a vegan lunch truck on my lunch break in my “Ride Me Hard and Put Me Away Wet” t-shirt. Working as a flat-rate mechanic allowed a bit of liberty on the work wardrobe. Basically no one gave a shit what you wore under your coveralls. Why I wasn’t attacked on the way to the lunch is a bizarre anomaly and I credit it to the simple dumb luck I’ve been blessed with since birth. Just as I was taking a bite of my black bean burrito, we got a cloud burst that drenched me. So that my t-shirt was not visible and had abated and attack caused by an “Y__ _R_ _N _D__T : Would you like to buy a vowel?” t-shirt, which occurred near the historic Hollywood Theatre. A landscape artist who witnessed the start and sudden stop of the attack would be the one to bring it to the CDC’s attention that rain had some kind of calming, if not curing effect.
However, it would be a very long week. One that would prepare people for the coming celestial shift a few years later, when color and fashion faded to simple utilitarian warmth and cooling. REI made a killing. In fact the first mass killing of the outbreak was outside one of their stores. I wished I’d had stock in them. Regardless, people learned to dress more appropriately – especially for the weather. In fact today, moisture-wicking and anti-staining became the buzz words. It was the dawn of the age of the Road Warrior fashion.
The week started out with the first killings showing up in places like Tacoma and smaller suburbs of Seattle like Kent and Burien. Then places like Warren, Mich., Duluth, Mn. And Green Bay, Wis. had outbreaks of normally non-violent, law-abiding citizens just savagely destroying anyone caught on the street in a shirt with some sort of snide, clever or asinine saying on it. Most people may have seen the viral video of the guy with the “When I want a pointless conversation, I’ll let you know” shirt who was taken out by an old lady who wore a powder blue wool suit. However, the guy that caught the clip thought she was having PTSD because the guy had a beard. Regardless, the Con-Tee Serial Killer’s work was a success. Notes of responsibility were sent to various police departments up and down the Puget Sound and along the shores of the Great Lakes. Between death and imprisonment, the world’s population was impacted, just as the formula’s scientist intended it. But he only had one week of blissful victory and anonymity. Soon the whole world would know that bio-tech scientist, Caden O’Neal, was the evil Con-Tee Serial Killer.
As for me, I’m headed to the CDC’s warehouse. I want my clothes back.