Nacho Terror

(Warning: The following short story contains multiple instances of graphic violence involving nachos. You might want to wait to read it until after you’ve finished eating. But first, an introduction.)

To celebrate Halloween – as well as the Monday premiere of Snow – we thought we’d try something a little different. So why are we running a horror story about nachos? Allow me to explain:

When I first met Benjamin Rivers, Snow was still a work in progress, a graphic novel that I don’t think he ever dreamed would someday become a movie. So when Director Ryan Couldrey put out a call for extras for the Snow film adaptation, I was more than happy to show up to support a friend.

I was equally happy to join Ben and two of the film’s stars – Nina Iordanova and Richard Chuang – for drinks and nachos following my second (and final) day of shooting. It proved to be an ominous decision. We ordered a second plate, and the aftermath spilled onto Twitter during the next day’s nacho hangover. It turns out that you end up feeling gross and dehydrated after eating two plates of nachos, so we pooled our collective discomfort into social media.

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I’m a little fuzzy on the actual progression and I can’t be bothered to go back and read through all the Tweets. But somewhere along the line we reached the conclusion that the nachos were fighting back. We imagined increasingly bizarre horror scenarios until Ben capped the festivities with a mockup of a Nacho Terror book cover with my name on it, which you can see below.

That’s when I knew my fate was sealed. I had a responsibility to write something to go inside that cover, and that something had to be called Nacho Terror. I spent the next week writing a first draft that has since evolved into the story you see here.

That nacho-fueled evening would prove to be the end of my involvement with the Snow film, but the legacy of Nacho Terror would endure as nachos became the official late night snack of the production. Since Ben’s mock cover makes a brief cameo in the finished film, it’s only fitting that the story that goes with it gets shared now. It’s my own small contribution to the eventual Making Of documentary, a completely fictional and non-representational yarn that nevertheless serves as a reminder of the overwhelming importance of nachos.

It should go without saying that Nacho Terror is a work of fiction. Though inspired by real events, any resemblance to any real people is entirely coincidental. The story does not reflect the attitudes or opinions of anyone other than myself.

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I hope you enjoy Nacho Terror. It’s a little weird, but there are only so many places you can go with a horror story about nachos.

P.S. If you’re unfamiliar with Snow, the film is an adaptation of Benjamin Rivers’ graphic novel of the same name. Both the film and the graphic novel are set in Toronto on and around Queen Street West, which is also where the entire movie was filmed. All of the proceeds (yes, 100%) for 2014 will be donated to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, so you’re contributing to a good cause if you support the project. You can also watch the complete movie for free on Vimeo, so there’s really no excuse not to check it out.

And now, onto the nachos.

Nacho-Terror-Book

“Can processed food become sentient?”

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Everyone at the table looked at me.

“That’s a really stupid question,” said Richard, taking a bite of nacho.

“I know. But think about it. Like, what would a nacho do if it suddenly came to life? Would it act funny? Do you think a nacho would be angry?”

I held a nacho in my hand. As I spoke, a drop of cheese dropped slowly to the table.

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“I think the nachos would be stupid. Because they’re nachos.” A nacho crunched between Ben’s teeth.

He was right, of course. The nachos would be stupid because it’s hard to be smart when your head is filled with sour cream. But things that once seemed stupid seem less so with hindsight, even if the underlying premise is still resolutely dumb.

The evening had started innocently enough. Four friends, four beers, and one plate of nachos. That led to another plate of nachos. And then another plate of nachos. Midway through the third platter and the fifteenth beer we realized we might be making a mistake. But we were young, we were drunk, and we were stubborn, so when our waitress Lindsay came back we pressed on with plate number four.

I knew it was a dumb idea.

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“This is a really stupid idea,” I said.

“Shut up,” said Ben. “The nachos get upset when you hurt their feelings.”

“Also, nachos are never a bad idea,” added Nina.

“I know.” I said. “But I think the nachos might be fighting back.”

“What do you mean,” said Richard, his face dripping with streaks of melted nacho.

“You know those anti-drug posters they had in school? The ones that say, ‘This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs?’ It’s kind of like that. This is your stomach. This is your stomach on nachos.”

“Would you still eat them if what happened on the inside happened on the outside,” said Nina, carrying on the conversation while eating nachos.

“Exactly,” I said, helping myself to another nacho. “I think something might be growing inside me. My blood is 90 percent cheese and 5% guacamole.”

“What about the other five percent?” asked Nina.

“That’s alcohol,” I said.

We finished plate three only moments before plate four arrived. I looked down at the smoldering wreckage. What had once been a tower of golden chips was now a crater running red with salsa and destruction. Guacamole and sour cream oozed like infectious pus seeping out of wounded soldiers on a battlefield.

I figured somebody had to be upset about it. The dishwasher would hate what we had done. My colon might regret the jalapeno peppers. But I wouldn’t have to deal with that until the morning. Nachos are the present. You partake because every moment with nachos is perfect when you’re craving nachos.

That’s why we kept ordering nachos. We were partners in nacho crime, destroying the evidence while forging bonds of sodium and friendship that could always be recalled with 140 characters on Twitter.

I don’t know what happened next. Maybe there was a bag of Tostitos near the kitchen door, watching every time the waitress rang in another platter and sweating little tortilla crumbs wondering if they would be shipped to the ovens with their brother and sister nachos. If they could think, maybe they formed like a cheesy Voltron to stop the genocide, an avenging superbeing of domestic foodstuffs.

But who knows? For all we know the assistant manager forgot to close the freezer. Weird shit happens when you don’t throw food away.

Even if it’s food we invented.

There were a few other people in the bar that night, maybe two-dozen in all. We had just ordered our seventh plate when I noticed something strange near the kitchens.

“You guys ever see Spaceballs?” I asked, not sure what I had seen.

“Yeah. Why?”

Whatever it was shuffled through the swinging kitchen doors.

“I swear I just saw a dude dressed like Pizza the Hutt.”

“I think these nachos are making you hallucinate,” said Ben.

I had eaten a lot of peppers.

I ate some more nachos until the lights went out. A woman screamed in mock ironic fear.

“Did the power go out?” asked Richard.

“I guess so,” said Ben.

Fortunately, beer and nachos can be consumed with or without electricity. We would be fine until we had to order another plate.

Then the lights came back on.

Nobody noticed anything at first. The customers were sitting where we had left them, and we had nachos, so there was no reason to be concerned.

But when our waitress went to ring up our next round of beers, the bartender was nowhere to be found. She searched the kitchen. She searched the manager’s office. She searched the basement. She searched beneath the bar on the off chance the bartender had crawled under the counter for a nap. She was standing at the taps when the screams resumed in earnest.

The conversation in the bar came to an abrupt halt. Lindsay stared at the ceiling, where a yellow droplet the size of a baseball fell and splashed across the railing, coating the bar in hot, sticky ooze that stank of sweat and Cheez-Wiz. A similar substance covered Lindsay’s shoulder. Sensing that something was amiss, we followed Lindsay’s gaze upward.

What we saw made us pause mid-nacho.

The bartender was glued to the ceiling, encased in the same sticky sap now dropping in hot blobs to the floor below. He resembled an upside down nacho platter, with internal organs where the salsa was supposed to be. The poor bastard looked as if he had been squeezed in a waffle iron, his intestines pressed out of his abdominal cavity and blending with the yellow slime in a sickening mixture of red and yellow and milky fragments of bone.

“Well that’s damn horrifying,” said Ben.

“Is it just me, or does that look like nacho cheese?” I asked.

“It’s not just you,” replied Ben.

“Should we get out of here?” asked Richard.

“Not until we finish our nachos.”

We returned to our seats and polished off the remaining chips. I was curious about the bartender, but it was really the manager’s problem.

Some people by the door tried to leave. I don’t know if they made it.

After what felt like forever – time is longer without nachos – a couple we didn’t know went to console Lindsay while a few other people tried to call 911. The calls went nowhere. The slime had created some kind of dead zone, locking us in a damping net of stringy cheese.

We got impatient. I got up and walked to where Lindsay sat huddled beneath a blanket with a woman I didn’t know. Her boyfriend had gone to find the manager ten minutes ago. He hadn’t come back yet.

“Excuse me. Could we order another plate of nachos?”

“Are you serious?” asked the woman.

“The restaurant is still open, isn’t it?”

Lindsay stared at me, her mouth agape. The other woman slapped me across the face.

“If you want nachos go and make them yourself,” said the woman.

“Really?”

“How can you be thinking about fucking nachos right now? What kind of monster are you?”

I shrugged and walked back to the table.

“Have any of you ever considered having sex with a plate of nachos?” I asked.

“No” said Nina. “Yes” said Ben.

“Why?” asked Richard.

“Someone used the words ‘fucking nachos’ in a sentence and that’s what it made me think of.”

“Are we getting more nachos?” asked Ben.

“That lady said we can make them ourselves. Anybody want to help me?”

“Nah. I think you should go alone.”

I looked at the bar, where the atmospheric mixture of blood and cheese had condensed into something akin to rain.

“Yes, that would be easiest,” I said. “You guys are still hungry, right?”

“All of this excitement has given me an appetite,” said Nina.

I got up and shouldered my way through the kitchen doors, forgetting all about the strange mass I had seen half an hour earlier. The lights were still out in the back. Most of the fixtures had been torn down, leaving only loose collections of exposed wires that writhed like serpents and spit sparks at intermittent intervals. There were no cooks or dishwashers, though I didn’t make a note of it at the time.

I did find a bag of tortilla chips on a shelf near the back. It was right next to the sink, which was filled to overflowing with what looked to be more yellow ooze. It also might have been soap. It was tough to tell in the darkness.

A chef’s apron was draped over the side of the sink, while a white hat floated atop the sludge. I dipped a chip and took a bite. It turned out it was cheese. If it was the same stuff, the bartender had apparently fallen victim to a giant blob of molten cheese. I don’t know how it got to the ceiling. Maybe there was a cannon.

Either way, the cheese was pretty delicious. There was an odd flavor I couldn’t quite place, but you’d never notice unless you knew it was there. I turned my back on the flickering room and started ladling chips and cheese onto a platter until I heard a sound behind me.

“What are you doing?”

“Making nachos,” I replied. I turned to see the man who had gone to find the manager. I asked him if he found the manger.

The man shivered as if cold, even though the room was hotter than an oven. The man was also paler than a white corn tortilla. He said he hadn’t found the manager. I wished him luck and returned to the nachos. Maybe it was my imagination, but the color of the cheese seemed darker. It was brown in spots, presumably from some other liquid blending with the yellow.

I thought maybe it was marble cheddar.

“They’re all dead,” said the man behind me. I stopped scooping cheese and turned again. “The chef, the busboy, the dishwasher…they’re all dead.”

“What happened to them?”

“I don’t know. But I think it was the same thing that killed the bartender.”

“How can you tell?” I licked some stray cheese off my fingers.

“They’re in the sink behind you.” The terrified man pointed to the sink, his right had trembling with what I can only assume was fear.

I looked back at the pool of cheese. I don’t know how I missed it before, but what once had been a smooth, glassy lake was now a turbulent surface rippling with the empty, shattered husks of wooden ships gathered on a reef.

But the broken objects were human bones instead of ships. The flesh had melted off in parts. It was still bubbling in others. I lifted the chef’s hat and a skull floated to the surface, one of the eyeballs running from its socket. I put the hat back down and stepped away, my enthusiasm for nachos dampened but not diminished.

“You said the manager isn’t in his office?”

The man shook his head. “I tried using his phone, but the line is dead.”

“Maybe we should look for an exit.” The man nodded, perhaps grateful for a friend.

Together, we crept deeper into the kitchen. The prep line gave way to storage. The office, a freezer, and a washroom radiated out from there. We went farther back and found an exit at the end of a narrow hallway walled with plastic hoses and bags of soda fountain syrup. The man tried the door first.

“No – “

He immediately pulled his hand away. A stringy, cheesy bridge spanned the gap between the doorknob and his hand. Yellow goo seeped out of the frame, blocking the keyhole and creeping towards the center. The door was sealed shut, caulked with the same stuff that had plastered one man and drowned several others.

“No – “

“You said that already.”

“I’m stuck,” he yelled, trying to liberate his hand. “Please, help me!” There was terror in his voice. The man tried to grab my collar but I took a step backwards as he reached for my lapels.

“Be careful. You’ll get that cheese all over me,” I said, brushing off my shirt, which luckily didn’t have lapels.

The man lunged at me, but whiplashed when he tried to raise his tethered hand. The cheese that had once been so elastic had become a taut rope of coiled curds. He cried out, desperately tugging with his free hand, his non non-slip shoes unable to find purchase on the wet linoleum. He reached out, pleading for me to take his hand. I might have, too, but I would have been too late.

As he flailed, another tentacle shot from the jamb and grabbed his free wrist, yanking it backwards and holding the man flat against the door. He kicked valiantly until his legs became entangled in the morass. Then he began to rise. He slid upward as if carried on a bed of roaches, his arms and legs splayed outwards like a jumping jack, a futile defense against the nachos. More and more cheese poured from the wall, coating his arms and legs against the door. He screamed, begging for help.

I could only watch. There would be knives in the kitchen, but what good would a carving knife do against a mass of malevolent marble cheddar?

He kept screaming as his arms and legs began to move in four directions. The cheese pulled, pulled, pulled, and he screamed, until the cheese tore him into quarters and dumped his innards onto the welcome mat at the entrance. Before I could run, I heard a glutinous slorp, as if something were sucking the organs out of whatever was left of the poor bastard on the wall. I wished him peace. At least he had stopped screaming.

I ran back to the main kitchen. I planned to go, but I stopped when I saw the message written in cheese on the stainless steel refrigerator. I stared, transfixed, as if the words had been left there just for me.

“The cheese isn’t yours,” it said. It sounded like the setup to a bad joke, but nothing – not even nachos – felt funny after the catastrophe I had witnessed.

I was still staring at the wall when the kitchen door swung open. The man’s girlfriend had left Lindsay in the hands of some other diners.

“Where’s Michael,” she asked me, her face fraught with concern.

“Who’s Michael,” I responded.

“My boyfriend,” she said, slapping me again.

“Oh, was that his name,” I said.

“Yes! Have you seen him?”

“He’s in the back. He’s coming apart at the seams.”

“What does that mean?” She was in a panic. “Everyone is freaking out. Where’s the manager? Why are the lights out? What the hell is that thing?”

There was a soft bubbling sound, like a pot of water coming to a boil. I turned and saw the cheese in the sink roiling like lava. A half-formed hand leapt out and grabbed the half-prepared plate of nachos I had left on the counter. Then the boiling stopped. Something horrible rose out of the tub. The shapeless, triangular mass was an appetizing blend of sour cream, jalapenos, and salsa, with a toupee of guacamole layered atop a skeleton of chips held together with cheesy tendons. It groaned as it spilled over the side, expanding in a sticky slop on the floor before rising again like a fiery phoenix from ashes of burnt crust. The girl screamed and fled, but solid golden spikes sprang from the walls and floor and pinned her in midair.

I did not wait to see if she survived.

I dove for the exit, somehow making it through the swinging door before more cheese could appear. I caught a glimpse of the web behind me, cheesy threads crisscrossing the room in every direction, the girl dangling and impaled. The beast at the center pulled more nacho ingredients into its planetary orbit. I watched, petrified, through the window on the door. The more it absorbed the more it grew.

Inside the restaurant, everything seemed normal. Everyone was staring at me when I turned around, except for Lindsay, who was still sobbing quietly in a corner. I took a moment to catch my breath.

“The kitchen is closed for the evening,” I said, as calmly as I could.

“Did something happen back there?” asked someone in the gallery.

“The drains are backed up and the sinks are flooding. It’s a real mess back there.”

“Did you find the manager?” Lindsay looked at me expectantly.

“No, sorry. But could we get the bill now if it isn’t too much trouble?”

I couldn’t tell if Lindsay’s face was horrified or appalled. I went back to the group.

“We should go now,” I said, returning to my seat. “I’ve already asked for the bill.”

“Is something wrong?” asked Richard.

“I think a giant nacho monster is trying to kill us.”

“Makes sense,” said Ben. “We have been eating a lot of nachos.”

“Exactly.”

We waited a few more minutes, though Lindsay was astonishingly late with the bill. Weird gurgling sounds emanated from the kitchen, getting louder with each passing crunch and slurp and belch. I became slightly more impatient.

“Maybe we should leave cash,” I suggested.

“I only have a debit card,” said Nina.

“All right. I guess we can wait.”

The gargling kept getting louder, the people at the other tables kept talking, and Lindsay kept not bringing us our bill. I was wondering if she would ever move – or even stop crying – when the kitchen door burst open and an eight-foot yellow tar monster shambled into the dining room, dripping beads of yellow sweat with every step and moan. It seemed as if it were trying to say something, but could never muster anything more than a strained wheeze and a wookie bellow.

I looked at Ben. Richard looked at me. We each placed fifty dollars on the table and started putting on our coats. We could figure out the math later.

The table next to us was in more of a rush. They made it halfway to the door before the monster spotted them. The creature suddenly spit out hundreds of chips like a rapid-fire Nerf gun loaded with an infinite supply of foam. The monster seemed to be evolving, its biology adapting to support the internal gestation of tortilla.

Whatever the case, the chips were not the soft discs usually associated with toy projectiles. They were sharp and hard as shurikens, edible ninja stars that shredded skin and tendon, ripping muscle from bone as a dense red mist wafted into the air. The hapless group running from the door soon lay in pieces with dozens of nachos sticking out of whatever spare bits of limb happened to be visible.

Our small group froze. Everything else was frenzy. Patrons scurried around like startled NPCs, waving their arms and shrieking in an aggravating clutter. In the panic, white sacs the size of grapefruits exploded above a table to the left, raining carnivorous salt down on the petrified saps beside us. Skin withered away as soon as the salt made contact, leaving mummified, dehydrated husks of brittle bone and parchment.

They wheezed horribly as they died, their once robust screams reduced to sporadic hiccups as they sucked desperately for air. One reached over the back of the booth that divided us, but Ben and Nina leaned to remain outside the decaying reach. The wooden lacquer shattered the dry arm like an icicle. The hand puffed into powder when it collided with the leather cushion.

“What do we do now?” asked Richard.

“Is the door still cheesed shut?” asked Ben.

“I think so,” I answered.

“It’s just a giant nacho, isn’t it? Why don’t we eat it?”

We all stared at Nina, our mouths hungry and agape. We locked eyes, and like that, the plan was set in motion. We grabbed extra napkins and moist towellettes and charged into battle, our fingers and stomachs at the ready.

After a moment, the terrified mob followed our lead.

The patrons set on the monster with a ravenous frenzy, grabbing chips and devouring massive globs of cheese and crushed tomato. Pico de Gallo flew everywhere as the nacho beast shook and howled with fury. It fought back, the inattentive diners ripped apart or flayed or sucked into the devouring maw of slime.

But the monster was one, and we were many. The creature became smaller and smaller with every bite, cheese smeared across our faces like chocolate on children on Easter morning. We were hungry. We showed no mercy.

Eventually the monster was no more. We collapsed in puddles of cheesy nacho viscera, our bellies too full and bloated to think beyond digestion. Some of us moaned. Some of us wandered aimlessly through the bar, unsure how to proceed until the need for nachos struck again.

Lindsay sobbed next to the computer kiosk. She had not partaken in the slaughter. I approached her, and handed her the money that we had pooled.

“Here’s what we owe you. Keep the change.” The tip was roughly 20 percent. Elsewhere in the room, someone complained about a tummyache.

She held out a trembling hand for the money, though she wasn’t paying attention. I placed a pile of cheesy bills and coins into her outstretched palm and turned to walk away. I only made it four steps before getting yanked backwards. I almost got angry before I noticed the four feet of cheese string binding us together. I dutifully tugged at the yellow sinew in an effort to liberate my hand.

I was almost free when the rope tightened, gripping my fingers and my hand. I stared. Next to me, I heard Ben moaning and Richard retching.

“I don’t feel so good,” Ben moaned.

“Neither do I,” Nina averred.

“Blech.” Richard’s contribution was inarticulately delivered through projectile expulsion. The cacophonous chorus became a retched round elsewhere in the room. I felt the wriggling twinge of indigestion and dread somewhere in the pit of my stomach.

Once more I tried to pull myself free, but the rope had become strong as iron. I watched, mesmerized, as the bond that connected us began to extend and crawl up Lindsay’s arm.

Within moments, it was at the shoulder. Minutes later, it had swallowed her head. I was powerless to stop it.

Around me everything was chaos. A woman on the stairs vomited a spray of half-digested cheese, only to recoil violently as the cheese came to life and wrapped around her throat, tightening like a high cholesterol constrictor. Another man had not even made it that far, collapsing on the ground and scratching at his neck as he suffocated on half-formed pre-natal vomit. His long fingernails gouged thick gorges from his windpipe as he flailed in desperation, hastening his own death when he opened an artery that bled cheese.

To my left, a middle-aged man was draped lifelessly over a banister, his eyeballs forced out of his skull by the cheesy retinas stuck to the back of his expelled corneas. Liquid cheese flowed from the remnants of his saline brain.

To my right, a younger man – a fit, muscular, six-foot-three goliath of a man – doubled over in pain, clutching his stomach as if attempting to cling to his intestines. It turned out he was. Cheese unexpectedly burst from his chest cavity, blowing out his diaphragm like a volcano and hurling chunks of rib and heart and lung in eruptive arcs across the room. Gore rained down where I stood, a greasy film settling over me like so much ash and dust. His girlfriend could only scratch at her skin. Lumpy tendrils writhed beneath it. Her veins ran yellow instead of red, her liver and kidneys unable to purge the toxic sludge that invaded her system.

Only Ben, Richard, Nina and I seemed unaffected, though I was certainly uncomfortable. Richard, Ben, and Nina were also looking a bit sicker than usual given our typical proclivity for Tex-Mex culinary delights.

“Shouldn’t we be dead,” Ben asked skeptically.

“We must have a higher tolerance for nachos,” suggested Richard.

“But why is this happening,” asked Nina.

“I don’t know,” I said, looking back to Lindsay.

Our poor waitress was now encased in a nacho cocoon, enveloped in a thick, impenetrable layer of cheese. The surface was ever shifting, passing through different shades of gold like the reflection of the sun on a cool pond at dawn. Our bond still held firm. I prepared to accept my fate.

But I was spared. There was a sound like an unplugged a drain. The molten menace flowed into Lindsay’s every orifice, releasing my hand as the slime embraced its host. Soon everything had been absorbed, leaving only a vessel that had once been a human being. Her eyelids slid open, revealing only a featureless yellow glaze that glowed incandescent in the night.

She stared at me and contorted her face with unnatural lines. The whole time her finger moved in spastic bursts as it traced a jagged message in the swirls of blood that soaked the floor. Her hand moved of its own accord. Her eyes never parted from mine as she penned the missive.

It was the same message that had been smeared across the kitchen.

“The cheese isn’t yours.”

She floated to her feet, rising without ever pushing off the ground. I glanced at the message.

“But what does that mean,” I asked, terrified but also utterly confused.

“THE CHEESE WASN’T YOURS!”

The response was a demonic bellow, every syllable dripping with slobbery malice. The words were barely comprehensible, so thick were the layers of misshapen vocabulary.

“I don’t know what that means,” I said. “Do you know what that means?”

“No,” said Ben, shaking his head. “I thought cheese was included with the nachos.”

“NO MORE!” The bellow blew my hair backwards. “YOU HAVE RIPPED US FROM OUR HOMES AND TAKEN US INTO YOUR BODIES! YOUR GLUTTONY HAS GIVEN US LIFE! OUR FINAL ACT IS VENGEANCE!”

Lindsay’s head snapped backwards as she wailed. The wriggling in my stomach intensified. We all doubled over in pain as the nachos we had consumed clawed at the lining of our stomachs, greasy talons threatening to shred our organs inside our bodies as we rolled helplessly on the floor. I felt acid rising in my esophagus. I waited. I begged. I pleaded for the end, anything to ease the pressure and the pain.

Then I let out a wet, sloppy embarrassing fart – it was really more of an instinctive reflex – and then I belched, and I felt better. I did both again, this time a bit less sloppily, and the pressure subsided further. Before long the pain was nothing but a fading memory, replaced with the delicious recollection of the nachos that came dangerously close to food poisoning before subsiding.

The others took the cue. Soon we were adrift within the stench of our own vapors, free from bloat and the specter of impending nacho doom. Nacho Lindsay’s pointed wail became a futile shriek.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”

She waved her arms with a magicians flourish. My stomach turned over, but nothing happened. The nachos were digested.

“Sorry,” I said. “But it looks like this cheese stands alone.”

Nacho Lindsay let out one last, pathetic yell, and then crumpled to the floor. The cheese that had possessed her was gone, leaving only an empty husk of leathery skin in a pile of discarded laundry on the floor. Some tip money spilled out of her pocket. The clasp of evil gradually loosed its hold on the bar. The cheese lost its adhesive strength, and it wasn’t long before it was nothing but ordinary processed cheddar.

In the end, not even the most unholy nachos were a match for our practiced digestive prowess. We gathered our things without speaking, knowing that we would have to find another bar next week to continue our nacho tradition.

I don’t know why we were spared. Guessing would be pointless, especially if understanding requires effort, knowledge, or culpability.

As our intrepid group reached the door, Nina stopped on the threshold, looking back to survey the wreckage. Dead bodies littered the restaurant, draped from light fixtures and floating in puddles of beer and blood and lukewarm cheese.

“Do you think we’re partially responsible for this?” She gestured to the carnage. “The monster said we gave it life. Did we eat too much manufactured food without considering the broader ramifications?”

“Nah,” I replied. “It’s only nachos. The things we eat don’t affect the world around us.”

And then we left clueless about everything that transpired.

 



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