By Todd Martin
Arnold was making his way back to his car with the grease-stained paper bag that contained his lunch (a cheeseburger with no onions or tomatoes on it and an order of seasoned fries) when the odd-looking man approached him seemingly out of nowhere. The guy was wearing a dirty navy blue sweater that was a little too big for him and a pair of ripped and stained corduroy pants (that were a hideous shade of brown that reminded Albert of dog shit) that looked like they hadn’t been on the receiving end of a good wash since Bill Clinton had been in office.
The man appeared to be in his fifties or sixties and had long, filthy, brown hair (that was caked with grease and what was most likely vomit) and a matching beard (that appeared to currently house a variety of different insects and possibly a few small rodents). He only had a couple of teeth in his entire mouth but they were broken and yellowed (Arnold’s father would have referred to them as “Jack O Lantern teeth” had he been there to see them). He stunk of incredibly bad body odor, stale whiskey, old chicken soup, and a mixture of good old fashioned vomit, urine, and feces.
“Hey there, do you have any change you can spot me?” he asked, his breath (which smelled like a rotten egg bathed in soured milk) hitting Arnold in the face with such force it made him actually take a step back (and lose most of his appetite).
“Sorry, I don’t have any on me at the moment.” Arnold replied, hoping to end the conversation as soon as possible so he could just get on with the rest of his day.
“You don’t have a couple of quarters or dimes to give to a down on his luck guy who hasn’t eaten in almost a week?”
“I’m afraid not, I don’t ever actually carry cash on me at all.”
“Not even a penny or two?”
“No, I’m sorry.”
“That’s OK. I couldn’t help but notice though that you have something that smells mighty nice in that bag of yours. Care to share it with me?”
“I’m sorry, but that’s my lunch. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to be going before I’m late getting back to work.”
“Did you eat yesterday?”
“Well I, uh, I” stammered, wishing he’d gone to the Dairy Queen or even the Hardee’s on the other side of town for lunch so he could have avoided having such an uncomfortable conversation.
“What about the day before that, you have anything to eat then? I didn’t, but I bet you did. You’re a chunky fellow and I bet you sure don’t miss any meals I wish I was as lucky.”
“Look, I don’t want to be rude but-“
“I’ve missed plenty of meals myself recently. I know a lot of people that have of late. To be honest with you I can’t actually remember the last time I ate something that I enjoyed.” the man said with a frown.
“I’m sorry to hear that, really I am.” Arnold said softly, wishing that he could just teleport somewhere else much like Nightcrawler from the X-Men comics always did when he found himself in a jam.
“Apparently you ain’t too fucking sorry since you don’t want to share what you got there with me.” the man snarled, pointing to the bag in Arnold’s hand.
Feeling very uncomfortable (and more than a little scared) Arnold decided that his best course of action was to just not respond at all as he didn’t want to risk making a comment that would make the guy any angrier than he already was. He was obviously mentally unstable and most likely capable of engaging in physical violence, so Arnold got in his car and was about to shut the door to avoid any further communication when the man grabbed the door handle from the outside and tugged on it, preventing him from doing so.
“You know what it’s like to eat stuff out of a dumpster, fat boy? You ever have to shoo flies off a half eaten hamburger? You ever been so hungry you ate a dead and rotting rat, Mister?” the man roared, looking more insane than ever as he glared at him.
Arnold just started his car and took off as fast as he could, dragging the man down the street as he clung to the door handle cursing and screaming at him at the top of his lungs. He reached through the window (which was somehow rolled down during the altercation) to slap and claw at Arnold with his other hand and was able to grab a handful of hair that he tugged and pulled at with all his might (which was considerable despite his scrawny build).
He finally lost his grip (and Arnold lost some hair) when the car accelerated around a sharp curve. The man hit the road like a ton of bricks and rolled a couple of times before he came to rest in the middle of the road. Arnold just sped away as quickly as he could without even bothering to glance into his rearview mirror to see if the man still was alive or not (and not really caring either way).
After a few moments the man stood up and accessed his injuries. He had a few abrasions and his back hurt, but all in all he wasn’t seriously hurt at all. He dusted himself off and cursed loudly when he realized that the back of his pants had been ripped open as a result of the wild ride that he’d just been on thanks to Arnold.
He took the cell phone (which was actually a highly advanced communication device that allowed him to stay in contact with his superiors at all times) out of one of his pockets and started pushing the required keys on it. Just a few seconds later one of his contacts picked up on the other end and he cleared his throat loudly before he started to speak.
“The human I picked failed the test. He didn’t help out a fellow human in need as he was required to do. Proceed with Scenario A as planned. Eradicate all of them, it’s time to start over yet again.” He said with a hint of sadness in his voice.
He put the communicator back in his pocket and made his way to the extraction point where the mother ship would pick him up before the attacks began. As the first wave of armed attack crafts began to appear high in the sky over the city he couldn’t help but wonder if Arnold would have done things differently had he known the fate of the entire human race depended on his actions.
Somehow he seriously doubted it.