It’s a snow day here and Noble Hamster (my eleven-year-old) and I are up to no good. We’ve been concocting some flash fiction which I can only attribute to a love of fart jokes and fast food:
I was outside, hanging with my buddy Stanley, when the first one streaked across the sky. It was shooting flames and smelling like nachos supreme.
“What was it? A meteor? An asteroid?” Stanley asked.
I watched the smoke fade and another zoom along the same path. “No. I think it was…a taco.” Just then, an explosion lit the western horizon, followed by more blinding streaks from left to right. A volley of hard-shells landed at the edge of the back yard.
“Crap! Incoming! We gotta get inside.” Stanley turned, started for the back door and was blindsided by an enormous burrito.
It was like I’d always heard it would be…
When they built the Comida Loca factory at the west edge of town, my dad said it’d end badly. I figured it was his dislike of Southwestern cuisine talking. But he’d predicted: someday escaping gas from the frijole vat would ignite when it came into contact with Papa Juan’s Atomic Hot Sauce.
The explosions were pelting me–and all the fine folks of Hopetown–with a flying taco bar of terror.
“Dude, get up!” I shouted to Stanley.
He moaned and wiped sour cream out of his eye. “I’m not gonna make it. You go on ahead.” He licked a finger. “The seven-layer burrito is awesome.”
“We don’t have time for you get lunch. Someone’s got to stop this.”
“What are we gonna do?”
People always made fun of my dad, like saying he was one fish taco short of a Fiesta Pack. But he’d said this would happen. He’d been prepping for this sort of disaster for years, laying in a stockpile of gas masks and super soakers. By now, he had enough mild salsa and Beano to sink a king-sized combo of Run-For-The-Border-Destruction.
Stanley followed me into the garage where we loaded our weapons with salsa and put on our gas masks. “You really think it’s gonna work?” he asked.
“It has to.”
Once we were packing spicy heat, we hopped on our bikes and rode in the opposite direction, making a grande lasso around Hopetown. The south side of the factory was wide open, just like Dad always said it would be. We walked in the open doors, our footsteps echoing in the empty corridors. Every now and then, we stepped over a glassy-eyed victim, overcome by the toxic fumes.
“Is there anything we can do for them?” Stanley asked.
“Once we can contain the frijole vat, the air will clear and they’ll be fine,” I said.
The smell inside was worse than anything I’d ever imagined–even with our gas masks on. Worse than the time my Uncle Neal stayed with us after ordering the black bean soup at Mariana’s.
Suddenly, I realized Stanley was gone. I turned back to find him lying in a heap–knocked unconscious by the noxious fumes. I ran back, lifted off his mask and checked for a pulse. “I’m okay,” he coughed. “It’s up to you dude. You’re going to have to save us all.”
I tossed his broken gas mask to the side, ripped off my own and sucked in one last breath. Strapping the mask to his head, I said, “Hang in there,” and headed into the mayhem.
What was happening on the factory floor was like nothing I’d ever seen. Shards of broken taco shells flew everywhere over a slippery carpet of hot sauce. I held the salsa blaster in one hand and a high-powered Beano launcher in the other, my eyes darting everywhere as I searched for the source of the explosions.
The vat gurgled and sputtered like a contestant on the final round of a chimichanga eating contest. I fired a long blast of mild salsa at the thing. It creaked and moaned and grew larger before my eyes. I realized then that it was only seconds away from blowing completely and covering all of Hopetown with a refried paste of tortilla-torture. With all I had, I launched a dozen Beano capsules at it. One sparked. I dipped and dodged as tacos and nacho cheese flew past on all sides.
Still straining to hold my breath, I dove for cover behind a palette of enchilada sauce containers and launched a double dose of Beano at the thing. The container shuddered and with a mighty belch it let out one last gasp of foul air. I could hold my breath no longer.
When I woke, I smelled the sweet scent of fresh-fried churros. Was this heaven?
“Thought we’d lost you,” Stanley said.
“No, no,” I said, pushing him away and getting up. “I’m okay, everything’s okay—now.”
“Darn tooting,” Stanley said. “And I’m starving. Wanna go to Taco Kidd?”
“You betcha. But do me one favor, will ya?”
“A course, what?”
“Hold the beans.”