Jelvin Harbinton was by all accounts a quiet and reserved man. Like most men of his age and class, he was locked in a struggle to maintain what meager wages he could in order to build the foundations of a meager future. He was very solitary, seldom rewarded himself, scarcely mingled with others, and dedicated himself fully to the task of work and supporting his poor mother, whom he was forced to live with and care for due to his father's passing. If not for the routine of work and taking care of mother, poor Jelvin would live a barren life. It was these two simple acts that consumed him.
Most nights Jelvin got little sleep. Though he worked all day, worked when he got home, neither his mind nor his body gave him any rest. It was quite common that he would simply pass out from fatigue, only to wake up a few hours later to repeat the cycle anew. He never felt any pain, physical or emotional. He was a constant in a changing world. He had a job and it was his niche in the world to perform that job. That is, until one fateful night changed everything for Jelvin and, using him as a catalyst, changed the whole world.
The night was unusually torturous for him, and gnawed at his patience without mercy. All about the darkened hours he twisted and turned, plagued by a phantom pain throughout his being. It was as if though every muscle in his body was on fire, strained by some ethereal exercise happening just outside the reach of his perception. He clenched his eyelids tight, trying hard to concentrate only on the empty panorama of black in hopes that he would find rest in its infinite expanses. The short lapses into unconsciousness were fleeting, for as soon as he drifted out to the sea of dreams, the currents would carry him back ashore. For Jelvin it was a fierce battle against the hours and minutes of the night. As he struggled to save the hours for sleep, precious minutes drizzled away one by one into a vast nothingness. The hourglass was hemorrhaging, and poor Jelvin felt each second tick away like it was a part of his body.
In truth the night had been more than just a struggle to sleep. For Jelvin it was a change of great magnitude, one ushering in a new stage of existence far beyond anything any man had ever experienced before. Those mystery pains straining his muscles were in fact the pains of his body transmuting shape into something not quite man at all. His muscles were literally breaking down, along with bones, tendons, cartilage, and organs, and reforming into something completely inhuman. A part of Jelvin's subconscious must have grasped that this great change was occurring, for why else would he have concentrated so hard on not opening his eyes or looking himself over to examine for any potential causes of the agonizing pain he was under.
This morose night had done fantastical things to Jelvin's body. First it had condensed his form into a meaty cylinder, whereupon his legs retracted and all but ceased to be. From his back sprouted a shell that wrapped around his sides and left only his front exposed. This shell cradled the meaty cylinder as a bun would cradle a piece of meat. Nature had not been entirely heartless to poor Jelvin, and had seen fit to provide him with some form of survival. From each of the two sides of this shell sprouted two frail but strong arms, though they appeared to be made of the same bread-like substance that comprised his shell. Jelvin maintained portions of his face, which were now present on the front of his meat cylinder form. It was entirely ghastly that this great conversion had taken place, turning him into the stuff of dinner table legends. What force had made it so? What curse had been thrust upon poor Jelvin of all people that he might lose his sacred humanity?
"Jelvin! Jelvin, dear, are you okay?" his mother pleaded with urgency, thumping against the outer side of his door. "You have not gotten up just yet!"
Dawn had broke, and Jelvin realized he had somehow overslept. Finally his battered body must have given into fatigue and allowed him some respite, albeit too late for it to properly benefit him. By this time they would be missing him at the factory, and all too eager to dock his pay and scar his performance record with his first ever tardy. Jelvin rushed to lift himself, momentarily blinded by the beams of light emanating from the window. That's when he felt a profound numbness all throughout his extremities, as though they were no longer there!
When reality came into focus, Jelvin was terrified. He was looking down at a long tube sitting inside a bun. At first he wondered how he had gotten himself inside of this strange costume, then he realized it was not a costume at all. That's when the nausea set in, and he quickly moved to cover his mouth in case his throat muscles failed to suppress the vomit. He was at a loss for everything, especially his wits. In the darkness of night, some foul force had switched his body with... Good God, with a giant hot dog!
"Jelvin! Jelvin are you ill? I'm coming in!"
"I'm fine, mum!" Jelvin retorted, wheezing a bit as he had never once before used his new mouth to speak. He found the experience a bit startling, that is, talking out of a mouth that up until scant few hours before had not even existed.
"I'll be out in a minute!" he added. "Please, just let me get dressed!"
But Jelvin was dressed, or as respectfully dressed as any hot dog could get. He was wearing his bun. In fact, the bun was a part of his body, like a bread carapace. The only thing missing from his person was any number of lurid sauces and garnishes used to placate wonton tongues, but Jelvin was not that kind of man.
"Jelvin, dear! Please answer me! Please let me know you're okay! I'm coming in, Jelvin!"
"No!" Jelvin shouted. "Stay out mum, I am not decent at this moment!"
Secretly, Jelvin longed for his mother to aid him now in his time of most desperate need. He imagined her clutching him, like a delicious pieta, sobbing for her now grotesque child. He pleaded in his heart that the cruel force that made him so foul, so putrescent, might also be a good force willing to return him to his proper form. Perhaps if they understood his situation they would be swayed to undo this dreadful deed! Perhaps if they understood that he has to provide for his poor widowed mother! But there was no mercy for Jelvin, because Jelvin deserved none. He was no longer a man. He was a hot dog, and hot dogs receive mercy from no one.
"Jelvin, I'm not waiting any longer!" his mother yelled from behind the wooden door, slowly twisting the doorknob so as to give plenty of warning that she was entering. "I hope to God you are decent and not ill!"
"No! Stop!" Jelvin shouted, but it was too late.
The door swung open, and poor Jelvin's mother's eyes beheld the most ghastly sight they would ever see. It was every mother's worst fear, though it was scarcely ever spoken of. For poor Jelvin's mother, it was all too real and all too much to take in. In the room of her dear, sweet son was a giant beast. It was a maniacal creature, a living sausage wrapped in bread, squirming in agony on the floor. It had two beady little arms that flailed aimlessly and two bulbous eyes that leaked like a broken faucet. And its mouth, it leaked too. In the mind of poor Jelvin's mother, this sight could only mean one thing. Her poor son had been devoured alive by this monstrous hot dog that climbed in through the window in the night, and tempted him like a delicious all-beef succubus. With so little to look forward to in life, poor Jelvin gave in to the temptation.
Jelvin gazed at his mother with complete shame, wishing only for her to comfort him and tell him that even though he was a monstrous hot dog, he was her monstrous hot dog. She did not rush to hold him, or even show him any pity. Instead she screamed in terror, and the shockwave from her voice drilled itself into poor Jelvin's tiny ears and ricocheted off the hot dog equivalent of his tympanic membranes until it had pierced into his brain like a dagger. All poor Jelvin could do in response was look her in the eyes, mouth agape, and reach his little hot dog hands out toward her.
"Mother," he said, reaching out to avail himself of her supposedly unconditional love.
Her eyes rolled back in disgust, setting off a series of dominos inside her body. As soon as her eyes reached the top, her head started dangling loosely on her neck, and then her spine started quivering, along with her arms and legs. And then, in the final horrible stage of this human clockwork's breakdown, she fell backwards. It happened in an instant, but for Jelvin, the whole horrid incident seemed to linger forever.
Jelvin and his mother lived in a small two-story shanty surrounded by identical shanties in every direction. His room was at the top of the stairs, so when his poor mother fell backwards, she stumbled down the steps. When her frail frame reached the bottom, Jelvin heard a second sound that stung harder than his mother's scream. It was a splattering sound. It was the sound of his mother's head cracking open.
The prodigal hot dog son wasted no time rushing to his mother's aid. Though she had rejected him, he would not do the same to her. Surely it was confusion that made her despise him so. He knew she would love him once she understood that he was still her precious son. It was his niche in the world to care for his mother, after all. He would make sure she was okay, and then he would crawl to a doctor and explain the situation. Surely doctors are men of science and reason, Jelvin thought, so they would no doubt be eager to help his mother in exchange for the chance to study the world's first hot dog man.
Pulling himself frantically towards the door with his little arms, Jelvin found his limbs more than adequate to facilitate motion. The main drawback was that his lower half was basically limp, and so it did nothing to help. A part of his brain still thinking calmly made him contemplate the idea of fastening wheels to his back end, but that would have to wait until later days. When he reached the top of the stairs, he used his arms to thrust himself forward over the first ledge, sliding down the stairs like a log down a hill. Unfortunately, this proved to be a mistake, as Jelvin crashed head first into the pool of his mother's blood. The violent red coated his head like ketchup. Jelvin once again suppressed the urge to vomit, while quietly cursing the horrible God that did this to him.
"Don't worry, mum," Jelvin said compassionately. "I'll get help!"
The defiant hot dog crawled towards the front door, slithering through it and into the back alley towards the cobblestone street surely crowded with people at this daylight hour. As he dragged himself, his body added more garnishments. Dirt, mud, garbage, stray paper, and oil clung to his victual figure. He did not care that his efforts were straining his new body, which was throbbing from the heat of frantic motion. Nor did he care that once he entered the main street he would be drenched in the sun's rays. He should have cared, for anyone familiar with the physics of hot dogs knows that they plump when exposed to heat. Alas, Jelvin was a simple man with a simple job at the factory, and did not burden his mind with the latest whims and curiosities of the science community.
"Help me! My mother has fallen down the stairs! She needs a doctor!" Jelvin shouted, pleading with the people as they watched him in stunned amazement. He was crying out to ghost pedestrians, phantoms incapable of reacting in any other way but unbridled fear. Their faces were frozen and in every direction he looked he saw a wall of gaping jaws, bulging eyes, and shrieks.
"Please!" poor Jelvin pleaded. "It's my mum. She has taken a tumble down the stairs!"
"Mommy, may I pet the giant hot dog?" an excited child inquired.
"Oh, dear God!" the mother replied.
"Mother, may I please ride the hot dog?" another child beckoned.
"Ahhhhhhh!" the mother retched from her mouth as she fainted to the ground.
And through all this attention, a sea of startled eyes, poor Jelvin slithered. Soon people were gathering all around him, like a mob, commenting to themselves about the movements and appearance of the strange beast before them. Jelvin pleaded for them with such fervor that he felt his body overheating. He was in the sun's light, surrounded by a crowd of scared and confused people. A child ran up and poked him in the belly with a stick, and his entire stomach split open, pouring steam into the air.
The poor hot dog reached down to cover his wound while trying to drag himself forward with the other arm. His body was plumping violently, bulging and bubbling under the might of the sun. In the distance the factories pumped plumes of smoke into the air. If the wind had been blowing toward the city as it often does, the smog would have sheltered him from the sun. Fate did not allow that, just as it had cursed Jelvin with his new form, terrified his mother, and cast him out into the world to die alone in such a senseless and ignoble way.
"Help... Help my mum... Please..."
The sad reality was that no one could understand poor Jelvin, for his hot dog vocal cords could not vibrate to produce or even mimic human sounds. All anyone could see was a strange, mouth-like orifice dilating as if to speak silent syllables beyond the threshold of the human ear. The fact was most people saw this monstrous creature slithering about, flinching its gaping maw, and expected that it was going to try to eat them. Not even his poor mother could hear Jelvin's haunting cries for help, and instead believed her son to have been devoured whole by this monumental hot dog, obviously forged in Hell much to the ire of Heaven.
No one could say for sure if it was evolution or the supernatural that brought about Jelvin's horrible transformation into living foodstuff, but it would not be forgotten. All day long the body of Jelvin laid bubbling in the sun while everyone gathered to ogle it, poke it, and touch it. One entrepreneur tried to charge people ridiculous sums to rub the lucky hot dog man, but he was driven away by authorities much to the delight of onlookers. Others panicked, thinking poor Jelvin to be an alien scout helping to plan for a massive invasion. Later, the hot dog man's body would be trafficked all around the world, studied by scientists and doctors alike. They would all condemn the hot dog man as the bastard son of immoral behavior, though for decency's sake they could not specify what exactly that immoral behavior was.
And, in a small apartment near an alleyway, the local constable would determine that a missing Jelvin Harbinton murdered his mother. Obviously no one would presume to think that Jelvin and the mysterious hot dog man were one in the same, or that the strange ketchup on the hot dog man's head belonged to the dear departed Mrs. Harbinton.
Jelvin Harbinton's life changed forever in one night and ended abruptly the next morning. His existence as a normal man had been unremarkable and forgotten up until the time of his transformation. Though he did nothing but beg for help and love, his life as a hot dog was remarkable and terrifying at once. Jelvin would never understand just what happened, let alone why anything like this would ever happen to anyone, especially him. Assuredly, though, he quickly learned that mankind was not ready to view the hot dog as an equal. Though Jelvin had never even considered such a queer notion, he learned how painful mankind's silent ignorance truly was.
We may never think twice about the plight of hot dogs until we look one in the eyes or, worse, we become what we eat. The hot dog is a noble creature, worthy of love and admiration. The sooner mankind acknowledges and embraces this fact, the sooner it can evolve toward a glorious world of peaceful cooperation. Jelvin Harbinton was a scout for a different kind of invasion. He was an unwitting scout for mankind's future.
The CEO of Lobstero, makers of the expensive home Lobster System, responds to recent unfavorable headlines about hand-squeezing a lobster out of one of the company's Lobster Packs.
Should you call someone a Nazi? The answer will surprise you.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.