Victor downed his drink and slammed the glass on the mahogany counter. The news blared with a shrill woman’s voice giving updates on the current political situation.
“Can you change the channel, Jeff?” Inquired Victor, a headache creeping its way through his head.
Jeff, the bartender, let out a small chuckle. “Vic, the only other channel I think any of us would like is the gov one. I know people here—and that includes you—are no stranger to violence, but don’t you prefer it through words?”
Victor took a deep breath and looked around. Indeed, most of his counter-mates were either ex-military or current law enforcement. Everyone else congregated around the pool tables and less alcohol-adjacent seats. He could see Sheriff Walsh and his two acne-riddled deputies give him a wave before going back to whatever it was they did.
“I don’t know, man. There’s a second TV here, right? They can watch Fox-NN-BC-Press there.”
“It’s broken. Some college kid did an Olympic-grade shot-put straight through the middle.”
Vic rolled his eyes and sighed, “Just this once, please?”
Jeff clicked to the next channel in resignation. “If it gets too gory, it’s going off. I am not cleaning up the toilets like I did yesterday ever again. The Capstone’s not a place for that.”
Good evening, my fellow Americans. The fluffy threat has expanded once more, reaching northern Oklahoma after a grueling battle with local wildlife. We recommend all citizens to stay indoors for the next day or so as the air quality will be compromised. Only go outside when necessary and avoid strenuous exercise. We are also currently tracking around 30 cases of Tularemia afflicting a campground. We do not expect many parasitic dangers at this time, though this could change at any moment so stay tuned. That’s all I have—and now for our special guest…
“Fuckin Oklahoma, huh? Not too far away from us.”
Vic snapped around to meet the eye of Sheriff Walsh. He was a stocky man in his 40s, clean shaven, and a very messy head of hair that was 10 years past relatability.
“Damn right, Beach Boy. These things just keep going and going. Like little devils. Soon they’ll reach Lubbock, and then us.”
“I just want your perspective on this, Vic. Being an ex-marine and all.”
Vic sighed. Yes, he was a marine. Yes, he had seen combat. But since when did he have all the answers? Regardless, he answered the Sheriff with trademark professionalism.
“Military’s doing everything they can, but we really can’t do much to stop the spread. I mean, look at us. Small town, middle of nowhere, and yet there are eight fluffy-dedicated facilities here. I mean, my friend’s son got a solid 15 an hour job so I can’t complain too much.”
“Bet it stops him from pesterin’ you about your lawn, huh?”
“5 bucks to mow it is a steal. I need a new source of child labor now.”
“You could find one of those fluffies to eat it for ya. Heard they’ve destroyed just about every single unprotected blade of grass in the Midwest.”
“Thankfully it’s only the Midwest. I mean, we tried bombing them, but that ended up taking out everything else they ate with it. It’s like shooting an ant colony one ant at a time.”
“Except everyone loves the ants and there’s a colony wherever we are, and there’s no way to hurt them without hurting ourselves.”
“Damn right. Apocalyptic, Sheriff. It’s a dystopia over here.”
The Sheriff laughed before suddenly focusing his eyes on a tan, fluffy, pug-sized target. He unholstered his Glock 17 and pointed it directly at the…thing.
And then the ball of fluff spoke, “Hewwo nice mistahs! Am fwuffy. Had nummies an’ wawm housie?”
Everyone in the bar collectively burst into laughter. The fluffy looked perplexed, and sat on its haunches. “Wook! Am dancie fwuffy! Wub wafftah!! Make ebewyfing bettah!” It wiggled its forelegs to and fro in a crude “dance.”
Jeff emerged from under the counter bearing some type of beer, and asked, “Hey…Sheriff. Why the gun?”
The Sheriff only tightened his grip on the firearm. “These things have fleas, Jeff. And parasites. I don’t know about you, but I like watching that gov channel. Hell, I prefer it over the news. The news doesn’t have news anymore.”
Vic looked over to Jeff with an I-told-you-so face.
“I mean, I don’t want fleas in the bar if this little shitrat won’t leave. I’ve got some disinfectant I can get.”
The fluffy tumbled back onto all four legs and—either out of defiance or confusion—took a few steps forward before sitting down yet again and softly crying.
“Fwuffy am tiwed of wunning. Nee’ housie and nummies and namesie, hu-huu… gib nummies…pwease…huu-hu…”
Victor was amused more than anything else. Jeff returned with some disinfectant, but put it down in favor of something under the counter. As Vic informed the returning Jeff of his plan to forcefully un-parasite the little fuck, the little fuck started to run. More like a spry waddle, but fast enough to warrant action.
The Sheriff, a noted physical diplomat, kicked the oncoming fluffy in the balls.
“SCREEEE!” The fluffy tumbled head over heels, leaving a stream of blood and piss as it did. It ended up on its back, screaming bloody murder and writhing in pain. Interestingly enough, it did not shit all over the floor. Upon a closer look from Vic, the thing was absolutely malnourished—yet the anus of the thing was rapidly puckering in instinctual fear. It’s scrotum had been torn open from the kick, and was now bleeding furiously by fluffy standards.
“Fuck, get him off the floor. Don’t stain it.” Said Jeff, pouring various high-proof liquors into the plugged sink behind the counter.
Vic was confused why he was wasting good product, but he suspected Jeff did not like his mother’s donations of cheap liquor that tasted like flavored hand sanitizer. It would certainly find a use now.
“I’ll get him,” said Sheriff Walsh. The Sheriff holstered his gun and approached the painful mess of a creature—er, biotoy—with vigor and purpose.
The fluffy was lifted by its legs and carried over to the sink, where it was handed off to Jeff. Jeff then dunked the fluffy in the alcohol-filled sink repeatedly. The clear, golden mixture in the sink slowly turned darker and murkier as the fluffy grime washed off. The fluffy tried to scream, but had trouble getting air to do so. It instead opted for kicking around and wiggling with surprising force, but absolutely not enough to escape Jeff’s grip.
At last, the fluffy was released from the dunking, landing on the counter with a plap. Its ballsack bleeding was now a trickle, swiftly handled with a dishtowel.
“Hah, hey look, it’s peeping and chirping like a foal,” said Jeff, “Sher-hey, where is he?”
Vic turned his head to find the Sheriff a few stools away scrubbing his slightly blood-covered boot with his handkerchief. The guy was anal about his uniform.
The fluffy, meanwhile, had stopped chirping. It murmured gibberish and dragged itself straight off the counter, where it quickly hit the ground with a crunch.
“I’ll take care of it,” Vic volunteered, “Don’t want any more rot around here. No blood either—that’s fortunate, eh?”
Jeff nodded and handed Victor a garbage bag. “Always a pleasure having you around here. Take him out back.”