The Thing that Ate Cars and Avatars

The Thing that Ate Cars and Avatars

The Thing sprang first out of a mid-century blue velvet sofa like a crocodile, snatching automobiles out of the automobile ads that would appear on its television. A Toyota Highlander for instance could provide 670 calories, 30 milligrams of potassium, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 11 grams of total fat and 220 milligrams of sodium.

As it ate it swelled, living in the shape of Vincent D’onofrio, or a Tyrannosaurus, or a geodesic dome or a hairy butte. Rubber, steel and advertising agencies were pressed to the breaking point serving its appetite, and shortages imperiled the gross domestic product.

There was a fin-de-siècle decadence in the taste The Thing developed for the delicacy of dewy girls on Facebook circa seventeen, and the rich and filling @bigfuckingdeal it stalked in the marshy grass of Twitter feeds.

It crawled into The Cloud by removing the screws on the cover with an armadillo tail. Better than a Phillips any day of the week The Thing had learned from a post on Emily’s List. Once in, it gorged on the barely formed foetuses of 1,400 future trends, Julian Assange’s soul, small and chewy as a California almond, and a Hulu original, among the cornucopia of non-saturated fats and proteins.

Popeye Conroy couldn’t resist a dame in a string of Japanese white pearls and a sad face. Bebe de Montague knew The Thing was taking her for a ride, and she dabbed at her tears with a Kleenex as she sat in front of Popeye’s desk in a hardback chair.  He didn’t have anything in his office more advanced than a number 2 pencil and a bag of M & Ms.

“I can’t promise a damn thing. But I’ll do my best little sister.”

She offered him a draw from her vape as he walked her to the door.

“Never touch the stuff.”

There was no substitute for plain old defoliating shoe leather. Popeye got a whiff of The Thing, which seemed to be damn near everywhere. He tracked the scent to a private cabana at the Beverley Hilton pool. He didn’t mince words. He didn’t like words. He cocked his arm, and hit the Thing hard as hard he could right in the bloated belly.

Out came a spew of half-digested HTML code, Apple CarPlay, steering wheels, temporarily free iphone apps, Super Bowl halftime shows, and a swirl of foamy chunks of phone batteries labeled Made in China.

Naturally the hullabaloo was in the papers. Bebe couldn’t stand the pressure of fame. The last anybody heard from her she was hawking the sex tape she shot in Van Nuys.

Popeye would never watch it though. It wasn’t his thing.

Ken O'Steen is a Los Angeles writer currently residing in Vermont. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Cleaver Magazine, Litbreak Magazine, Sleet, Literary Juice, Connotation Press, New Pop Lit, The Wolfian, as well as the anthology, "The Muse in the Bottle: Great Writers on the Joys of Drinking, edited by Charles Coulombe.

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