Before you begin reading this crazy sequel to "The Modern Dilemma of the Hot Dog," please go preorder a copy of Zack Parsons' fantastic new book "My Tank is Fight," a romantic novel about tanks and tank sex. Zack has created a very affordable tome of knowledge (with many pretty illustrations) pertaining to all sorts of absurd World War II inventions that never took off (in some cases literally). If you enjoyed his "My Tank is ___" series of updates, then this book is definitely for you. If you're a fan of WWII and war in general, this book will also please your warmongering heart.
Swing on by Amazon.com and preorder this delightful treat of a book! You won't be sorry!
And now... on with the update!
Five years ago, I have no doubt imagining that the view from space was incredible. I'm sure it's probably incredible most of the time, but even more so back then. Five years ago was when the bombs went off and everything changed. From up there, watching the blue and green planet below erupt in white boils, growing and growing until there was nothing left but a perfectly spherical cloud floating in black, well, that must have been a true sight to behold. If it were possible to hold out long enough, whatever astronauts were up there would probably have gotten to see the clouds give way, revealing a brown and blue planet. The green was gone, along with most of us. Those that died were lucky.
In better days I would have comforted myself in the face of tragedy by eating a delicious hot dog. A juicy all beef wiener had a way of making even the most arduous of ordeals seem mundane. To know that a momentary escape was only a hot dog away was a comfort I sorely miss in these darkened days. Now hot dogs are just about all that's left to eat, and each bite makes me long to live in a world where hot dogs were never invented. Had I been born in that world, the bombs, the war, none of that would have ever happened.
"Hot dogs, a whole pack, at least a half mile up the road," a grizzled voice said in my head. I looked at my faithful canine companion, Danger, and nodded.
"What kind?" I asked aloud.
"Pork," said the voice in my head. Danger sniffed the air. The voice added, "Chicken, too. These hot dogs are composite."
I narrowed my gaze at the horizon and picked up my pace. The mangy mutt dutifully led me ahead. He needed me as much as I needed him. He had quickly grown, by default, to be my best friend. His nose was one of the few things keeping me alive, and I never took it for granted. All of my meals seemed to come by virtue of his sense of smell and my continued survival by his cunning ability to keep us a safe distance from predators.
Composite dogs weren't worth nearly as much, nor did they taste as good, but food is food when you're starving. If we lingered, the heat would no doubt kill us and the scavengers would pick our bones clean. And failing that, the raiders would no doubt use us for slaves or as meat. There was a lot of injustice, but all you could do was keep moving. Otherwise you'd be pleading your case to the court of some creature's digestive system, and most likely a human one at that. Yes, there are cannibals out there. Almost anything is better than eating hot dogs at this point. Almost.
The end began with a hot dog eating contest. A fat, beastly pig of a man devoured his way through one contest after another. Soon his story was featured on the news, in papers, and in magazines. His corpulent star rose over the land, eclipsing the sun and signaling the dawn of a dark age. People revered him, loved him, and wanted to be him. Women threw themselves at him, becoming lost in the folds of fat. The Beast hated himself more than anything, and he expressed his hatred by eating hot dogs.
"There, over there, by the tree!" barked the voice in my head.
Danger ran toward a nearby tree, moaning and creaking in the wind. It was gray and dry like ash, just waiting for the chance to disintegrate into a million flakes. It looked like every tree that was left, and for that matter just about every plant. The earth had become so barren, so infertile. A corpse was resting upon its dead roots. The rotting body was clutching a pack of hot dogs, bonded to it by way of death grip. The pack of hot dogs rested on his body like a gravestone, and served as a somber reminder that there was no true escape.
The body was nothing more than a giant human carbuncle. He looked like a hot dog out of the microwave. He was plumped and juicy, exploding out of his skin. His body was caked in dry blood and excrement, like ketchup and mustard, that clung to his form and pooled in the cracks and crevices of his skin, which mirrored the arid ground below in roughness.
The door to the Great Microwave had long since come off its hinges, and we were all cooking in the harsh winds and poison air. This man had clearly survived a good number of rotations around the tray of life, but his time had come and so he curled up at the base of this tree, clutched his wieners, and died. Thanks to the radiation, his body was decaying even before death had taken him away.
After winning hundreds of contests in every major city, The Beast was coroneted King of the Hot Dog Kingdom. There wasn't a county fair in the world that didn't quake at his approach. He had flown to Japan and won hot dog contests there. He conquered Europe, Africa, and South America. He was forbidden to enter Russia or China, for fear he would unsettle their aspiring hot dog eaters. He was unstoppable.
Endorsement deals followed. He had his own line of hot dogs, and everyone ate them. In every home in the country, true, the world entire, there was a pack of his hot dogs. No other brand could compete, just as no other athlete could compete. He was the fat body that all other bodies orbited around. His gravitational field seemed more powerful than that of the Earth itself. Everyone and everything was drawn to him. Even after his heart exploded, everyone still loved him. They left hot dogs on his grave and they held vigils on sites where he made history. Before each hot dog eating contest, there was a moment of silence to remember him.
His death saw the rise of professional hot dog eating. A national league was started, and the world followed suit in joining. Each nation had hot dog eaters competing with guts and glory. The Olympics, winter and summer, seemed to focus almost entirely on hot dog eating. There were fat people with cavernous stomachs, musclemen with bodies designed to crush food down to atomic fragments, tiny Asians with bodies trained for the sole purpose of storing hot dogs. The athletes came in many shapes and sizes, but they all had one goal in mind: to devour, to fill the void within.
Nobody paid attention to the harsh physical consequences of professional hot dog eating. The athletes would destroy themselves from the inside, slowly replacing their innards with hot dogs. Organs would give up, blood would slowly turn to poison, and malnourishment would chip away at muscle and bone. Brains would break down, unable to survive in the toxic sludge. The best athletes were dying for the sport. Worse, everyone tried to emulate them.
The hot dogs created the sport, the sport captivated the world, and one man controlled it all – the Commissioner of the International Hot Dog Eating Association. He was instrumental in taking the world's infatuation with hot dogs to a depraved level seedier and filthier than a brothel with a busted sewer pipe. Beneath the surface of this terrifying lust there stirred an angry spirit waiting to rise. People simply could not consume enough hot dogs, and the mere fact that there were always more to eat made them furious and hateful. They bought as many as they could, at times draining the world's reserves. No other food seemed to interest anyone anymore. Everybody wanted hot dogs all the time.
I pried the pack of hot dogs loose from the dead man's hands, breaking his brittle fingers off in the process. As much as I hated eating these damn things, they were the only food left to eat, save for each other. I am not too ashamed to confess that in desperation I have eaten from the dead, but it is not my way. I will survive on these wretched hot dogs for as long as I have to.
"Good work!" said the voice in my head. "Now get them out of that wrapper. I'm starving here!"
It just occurred to me that I had not eaten in some time, nor had Danger, who was practically ready to bite my hands off as they struggled to open the package. We were both so starving I had forgotten how long it had been since last meal. Five days? Six days? I could no longer remember. I opened the pack, and, as usual, the hot dogs were already cooked. Such is life inside the Great Microwave.
In response to the incalculable demand, food production shifted almost entirely to hot dogs. If it wasn't long and cylindrical, nobody wanted to eat it. The world produced so many hot dogs that there was scarcely enough room to store them. Old foods were destroyed by the tons to make room for more hot dogs. Canned goods were crushed and disposed of in great multitudes. Jars, bottles, tins, boxes, and bags were all burnt and cannibalized to feed the monstrous hot dog industry that had metastasized itself to the world.
Before long the IHDEA's glorious Commissioner had given up his post to run for President of the United States. He ran uncontested, and won in the largest landslide in history. Everything after that happened in a matter of days. Tensions rose as hot dog supplies reached epic levels and national rivalries grew more and more extreme. Sure there were billions of hot dogs to go around, but each nation wanted them all. Within a month of our new president's term, the United States was at war. The entire world was at war.
The bombs came crashing down all over. There were no safe havens. The mushroom clouds grew from the seeds, and the seeds were the hot dogs planted all over the world. They were the sparks that ignited this fire that turned man against man and man into beast. They were the plague that diseased us all. They were the complete and total undoing of man. The Four Horsemen were chicken, turkey, pork, and beef.
In our hellish hunger and haste to eat, we had failed to keep an eye and nose on our surroundings. We were not alone. Raiders, the scourge of the wasteland, had followed us. Danger should have smelt them coming, but he was so hungry all he could think of was food.
"Put the hot dogs down and walk away!" demanded the mohawked raider leader, clad in leather, chains, spikes, and the usual attire. Behind him was a small gang of five, each one more ugly and repulsive than the last. They were armed to the teeth, scarred and scratched from battle, and looking all too eager to raid me.
"Don't come any closer!" I shouted as I pulled a small blade from one of my pockets. "I will stab you where you stand!"
"We better run!" urged the voice in my head. "We can find more food over the horizon!"
"No," I mumbled, looking scornfully at Danger.
"I am standing pretty far away from you," the raider leader said. "You can't stab me where I stand unless you or I move closer to one another!"
"Well, don't move closer, and then I won't stab you where you stand!" I screeched. "Otherwise, if you move, I'll stab you were you eventually end up standing! Unless you move away from me, which is what you should do."
"You don't have what it takes to stab me!"
"I have a knife. That's generally all it takes."
"Just give me the hot dogs and we'll let you go. I will give you safe passage through the wasteland. Just walk away."
"I've heard those promises before. They don't mean anything."
"We're dead you fool, throw the hot dogs and we'll run!" the voice in my head shouted, loud enough to ring in my ears. "Maybe they won't chase us, maybe we can escape."
"No!" I shouted.
"We outnumber you. We'd be just as glad to eat you, the dog, and the hot dogs. But we'll let you go for the hot dogs. We'll give you safe passage!"
"I can smell more hot dogs, just over the horizon. Hundreds! Not composite either, real hot dogs. All beef! Come on, let's make a run for it!"
"I don't believe you!" I responded, answering both the raider and the voice.
I did not wake up intending this to be my last day. I woke up hoping against hope to find something to eat. Now, knowing it could be days before I find anything else, I was not ready to let go and die starving in the desert. If this were to be my end, at least I would go down fighting for something. I would die with a death grip upon these hot dogs.
"Run along now, Danger," I said to my best friend. "Go find those hot dogs over the horizon. Go along now!"
He barked and whimpered, then barked some more.
"You stupid fool," the voice said. "You stupid, stupid fool!"
The raiders were through waiting. With a mighty roar they ran at me with weapons in hand – axes, spears, and knives. It seemed as though they ran at me for hours, when in fact it was mere seconds. All I could do was yell and hold my knife out, hoping that they would somehow take turns running into it until I was victorious. Such is not how things go, not here or anywhere.
I managed to get one slash in before I fell to the ground, bleeding out of several freshly opened wounds. I held on to those hot dogs for dear life, refusing to let go as the raider leader tried to rip them out of my hand. I tried to pretend they were something good and decent in hopes of strengthening my grip. Eventually they just chopped it off altogether. I didn't even feel it.
"Goodbye, old friend!" a voice in my head said. I heard Danger scream and whimper, then go silent.
For a moment I saw a great white world where I was competing in a hot dog eating contest. My opponents were commendable, taking time to enjoy each and every bite, savoring the taste and celebrating the beauty. In this vision I won the contest, and I used my victory as a means to better the world and make people truly appreciate hot dogs not as fill for a hole, but as a sweet reward for good work and a pleasant diversion from toil. It was a beautiful vision of a world that never was and never will be.
In another life, when I was placing a hot dog on a bun, a man once said to me, "You'll fill up on bread." If there is a heaven, I will fill up bread every day.
I had to register my complaints while they were still fresh. And while the bark was still fresh and pliable.
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