Me and Mr. Happy Puppet Head are standing on the stage of our studio doing a show. The risers in front of the stage are full with small children. Some of them are asleep, the rest are fidgeting in their seat as a burly stage manager points silent fingers at them.
“And if you buy in bulk,” I explain. “Canned food can end up being much cheaper than buying fresh, or even frozen sometimes. This one is spinach.” I point to the chalkboard where I drew a can of spinach.
Mr. Happy Puppet Head sneezes loudly.
“Children, can we say ‘Sneeze, Sneeze, break your knees’ to Mr. Happy Puppet Head?” I ask the children. They all repeat the Sneeze Blessing back in bored monotone. A few of them sneeze loudly in the middle of it. A few of the kids immediately start repeating it to their fellow audience members.
“Okay, now when I go to the store, I usually buy some spinach, corn, tuna fish, maybe some beets, not the pickled kind…”
Mr. Happy Puppet Head sneezes again, this time louder and with more force, and sort of knocks himself back a good bit. More sneezes from the audience.
Everyone automatically chants, “Sneeze, sneeze, break your knees.”
“I also try to buy a lot beans. Beans are a great source of protein and are essential ingredients in most of our favorite Mexican dishes. Hey, you to be all right?” Mr. Happy Puppet Head’s sneezes have turned into a chocking cough. He spits up a little and nods his head at me. The kids in the audience are all sneezing and coughing and spitting up.
“Um… tuna isn’t a vegetable, but it comes… in a can…” I try to concentrate, but it’s difficult when several children are now vomiting and crying and having epileptic fits and there are all these big black bugs buzzing around. “What is going on? Mr. Happy Puppet Head?”
There is now a large pool of standing water covering the studio floor, and I hear a loud noise outside. Like a huge train coming closer and closer.
I swat one of the bugs against my chest and I get green goo all over my hand.
The roar outside is getting closer and louder and the bugs are buzzing, seeming larger, the kids are crying and moaning, flailing around in the water, unconscious. Louder and louder it comes. A train growling like a lion that’s surfing on the biggest wave ever. Louder, louder.
Crescendo. The back wall of the studio disappears in a cloud of dust and the wind rushes in.
I turn to see our small suburban town as it is ripped apart by a herd of tornadoes. Riding atop them are clawed Vampires shooting lazers from their eyes. The lasers make buildings explode.
I stare at the carnage, my eyes wide under the goggles. Realization dawns and I say dramatically under my breath, “It begins.”
The body of a small boy floats face down in the near two-feet of water, bloated, green, and covered in boils.