Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Rolling Dead

They had been there all all along.

Nobody was aware they'd been there. And yet they were suddenly there. Everywhere. Hidden in plain sight. People would stumble past them. Busy with their days. Entirely ignorant that they were being watched. Meticulously evaluated. Measurements being taken. Plans being perfected. Decisions being made to gauge when would be the perfect time. And then without warning - it began. The takeover was terrifyingly quick. Children torn from mother's arms. Loved ones dragged away. The selfish pushing others to their death to try to make their escape. Until ultimately thy were taken too. The weak fell in hours. Wracked with fear they stood bewildered. Petrified at the carnage they witnessed around them. Desperately searching in those brief moments to identify where the attacks were coming from. But only briefly. Because they were taken too. Nobody spared. Nobody given mercy. Nobody left alive. Screaming that hideous gurgle. Handfuls of survivors forced to forage for food. Walking straight into the jaws of death.

My kids and I play this game on the drive from my house to drop them off at school to see how many abandoned shopping carts we can see. They've decided that if we see twelve of them then they win something. Like a frozen yoghurt. Or a cookie straw at Starbucks. And every day since we started we've never seen less than thirteen. It’s disturbing how many there are. Initially I thought it was an indictment of the area I live in. Glendale is a pretty big suburb with the usual mix of good and not-so-good (that's polite for "shit hole") parts. I live right on the border of "meh - it's okay" and "I was mugged in the local Walmart and got gonorrhea off a slurpee at the 7/11". For the record - I don't even think 7/11 even make a gonorrhea flavor Slurpee. 

But actually we see way more carts in the nicer neighborhoods. And I don't mean right of the car park by a store. I mean a bloody good effort away from them. Quite often near bus stops, for reasons that do make sense. But we see them pretty much everywhere else as well. Just left - half way down a block. Or even weirder - in a huddle of three - with no discernible reason as to why they're on the corner of a suburban street. When my kids see one they get more excited than you can possibly imagine. 

It all began with my son becoming inordinately confused when he saw a lone, abandoned, orange Home Depot cart in a patch of scrub near my apartment.That completely blew his mind. Quickly he used the best thing I'd like to think I've ever given that boy. Creativity. He had a back story all set to go and told me - quite matter-of-factually in that way five year old boys do - that he knew it'd tried to cross that field all by itself and it's wheel had become stuck in the mud. And now it was there. Alone. Hungry. Dying. I think I actually did tell him, "that's a little bit serial-killer there, Oboe..."

A few days later I let them in the truth. A slightly sanitized version, of course. They are only kids after all. I told them that years ago people spotted what they thought was a comet in the sky. Some said it was a UFO. But only lunatics believe in those. Anyway, soon after aliens arrived. And they disguised themselves as shopping carts. And gradually they've spread out - positioning themselves around the Glendale, Arizona area. Waiting for the right moment to take over the world. Most people don't notice they're even there. It's almost the perfect disguise. But we do. Every day we see their numbers multiply. As we drive by on the way to school - yelping "look Daddy that one's asleep!" when we see one turned on its side. Inching their way through the suburb. Like a herd of walkers in The Walking Dead. Except with a tell-tale, murderous, squeaky wheel (that's how they communicate with each other).  Growing in number. And growing ever more in strength. 

Then I turned to my kids and told them sincerely.that the carts know we've seen them too.

"And that's why they will try to get us first........."

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