Welcome to Sunday Scribbles!
Today marks week 35 of the 52 week writing challenge!
The prompt for Sunday 3rd September is ‘Fast Food’:
This weeks attempt is based on the @Flashfichive prompt from the 9th August:
This weeks prompt is set in a dystopian society where pizza toppings, and anything else the government considers poor taste, can decide whether a person lives or dies. My main character, Shawn, is a pizza delivery boy with more than one dark secret.
It wasn’t always like this. No one could even remember how it happened. Of all things, no one thought pizza toppings would be the thing to turn the world to chaos. Nuclear weapons, sure. Hell, even alien invasion was considered more plausible. But pizza? It never registered on anyone’s radar, despite food being one of the top things people Tweeted about.
‘I blame social media,’ Shawn grumbled, as he walked through the rain with slow steps towards his bike, pizza in one hand, and scanner in the other. ‘One more delivery, and then…’
Then what? Home to his room, filled with memorabilia of the turn of the millennium, a time before things got crazy, where he could think about how messed up his life had become?
Shawn looked down at the address on his scanner and shook his head. A quiet neighbourhood in the suburbs. Probably a family. Kids. Dog. The works. Nope. Tonight, he wouldn’t be going home. Tonight, he’d be drinking.
‘Shawn!’ a familiar voice yelled as Shawn mounted his bike and settled the scanner in its holder.
Shawn rolled his eyes as his boss strode towards him, umbrella sheltering his perfect suit. ‘What is it now, Alex? This is my last one.’
‘We’re a government organisation, Shawn,’ Alex said in a whisper, even though the parking lot was empty. His face twisted in disgust as he eyed Shawn’s damp jeans and ratty t-shirt. The crimson splatter on his knee. ‘You represent us every time you go out. Where’s your uniform?’
‘The last delivery was messy, and I’m all out of clean uniforms,’ Shawn replied with a wince. ‘All that’s left in the lockers is suits, and I figured I’d look more like a pizza delivery boy if I used my ‘Fast Food Rockers,’ T-shirt.’
‘Suits? Have you been raiding other peoples lockers again?’ Alex accused with a glare.
Shawn shrugged. ‘Millie keeps all his chocolate in there, and he won’t share if I ask.’
Landon Miller was Shawn’s partner and personal bodyguard. Shawn preferred ‘Millie’ to the other bodyguards, but he still liked to ditch him for kicks. Alex’s eyes narrowed in suspicion and Shawn realised his mistake.
‘Where is Landon anyway?’ Alex asked. ‘He’s supposed to be with you at all times…’
‘While I’m on duty, yeah, I know,’ Shawn interrupted, and he wracked his brain for an excuse. ‘Like I said, last job was messy. He’s changing in the locker room. I’m waiting for him.’
Alex sighed and ran a hand through his hair. ‘Next time, be more like Landon and do your laundry, Shawn. I can’t keep covering for you. My boss already wants to fire you for that fiasco of a hit last week.’
‘But my dad will kill me if I lose another job!’ Shawn said, with a small whine of protest.
‘Exactly. His wrath, or no more screw ups. You pick.’ Alex folded his arms and glared at Shawn. ‘It’s your fault you’re still living at home in your 30’s…’
‘I’m 29!’ Shawn protested. He turned away, arms crossed. ‘You’re a terrible friend.’
‘Am not. I got you this job, didn’t I?’
‘Yeah…’ Shawn replied. He ran a hand through his hair and glanced at the pizza in his hand. ‘Pizza assassin. Best job ever.’
Alex rolled his eyes and turned away. ‘Get to it. And don’t screw this one up.’
Shawn watched as Alex retreated into the restaurant, then glanced down at the pizza box and snuck a peek under the lid. He inhaled, and a longing smile spread over his face, followed by a swift look of disgust. ‘Anchovies and Pineapple? Really? This is what happens when you let people create their own pizza…’
Shawn stored the pizza and gunned the engine. Before long, he was pulling up in front of a house with a neatly trimmed garden and a kids bike slung by the fence. He dismounted and cursed as his long jeans sagged with water from the puddle he’d stepped right into. ‘Come on!’
This customer was going to get the full service, and buy him a new pair of jeans. Shawn gulped and grabbed the pizza from his bike. Shuffled up the driveway. One hand crept behind his back to the concealed weapon in his waistband. The other rung the bell.
There was a scuffle on the other side of the door. Then, voices.
‘Can I get it, daddy?’
Great, now there was a lump in his throat. Shawn swallowed and slid his gun under the pizza box. The adults fates were sealed. The kids? They’d be sent to camp for reforming. But seeing their parents shot on their doorstep was something most would never recover from.
Shawn glanced back at his bike as the lock clattered on the other side of the door. ‘Should have brought Landon and his SUV.’ Landon was cold. Shawn was sure he’d shoot, kids or not.
The door opened. Shawn closed his eyes and pulled the trigger. There was a clang, and the bullet shot back towards him. Shawn jumped backwards, eyes wide, as the man behind the door advanced towards him with a metal sheet as a shield. The bullet clattered off the pavement and into a puddle.
‘Drop the weapon!’ a young, high pitched voice yelled, and from behind the shield, a young girl of no more than fourteen stepped, gun in hand and aimed at Shawn’s head.
Shawn turned and fled. His gun slipped from his hand and clattered to the pavement, but for some reason the pizza remained clutched to his chest. His feet took him to the end of the road, and he darted down an alleyway. Left. Right. Left. Left. A few turns to throw them off, and then he threw himself behind a dumpster. His breaths came in harsh pants, and he dropped the pizza box to clamp his hand over his mouth.
Footsteps. And for one terrifying moment Shawn thought they had him. Then, they receded, back the way they came and away from his hiding place.
Shawn heaved a sigh of relief and pushed his hand to the dirty floor. He’d brush himself off, double back around, and get a cab back to work. Report in and… ‘They’ll fire me.’
His phone was in his hand before he knew what he was doing, and his thumb scrolled to Millie. Hovered over the call button. No, that was no use either. Millie was either tied up right now, or wanted to kill him.
The pizza box caught his eye, and Shawn’s mouth watered. He drew the box towards himself and clutched it to his chest. A quick glance either way confirmed that the alley was empty. He’d deleted his Instagram snaps of his favourite pizza years ago. There was no proof, and no one here to witness this. Shawn knew he was safe to indulge a little. What did he have to lose?
He opened the box and began picking off the anchovies. One by one, he tossed them at the wall on the other side of the alley, until all that remained was pineapple. His mouth watered, and he selected a slice. Moaned as he bit into juicy fresh pineapple. Heaven.
Something hard pressed against the side of his head. ‘Don’t try to run.’
‘Dammit,’ Shawn exclaimed. He froze when the pressure increased. Glimpsed a gun out the corner of his eye. ‘I knew my taste would be the death of me one day.’
‘Oh, we don’t want to kill you,’ the same little girl from before said, as she appeared in front of him. ‘We need you… What’s this?’
Shawn followed her gaze to his hand. ‘Pizza…’
Her eyes narrowed and she grabbed the box. ‘With pineapple… and a bite taken out of it?’
A harsh pain assaulted Shawn’s head as the man with the gun clobbered him with it. ‘No games. Answer her!’
‘I like pineapple pizza, okay?!’ Shawn yelled, eyes wide and frightened. ‘Please don’t tell my boss… Well… you can tell my boss, he knows, because he’s known me since before, but don’t tell his boss! They’re already going to fire me. I don’t want to die, too.’
‘If he’s gonna get fired, he’s no use to us, Cherry.’
Shawn held up his hands and backtracked. ‘Fired? Did I say fired? I won’t get fired… Well. If you play dead, and leave home, and conjure up a couple of fake bodies… and… Oh who am I kidding? You may as well shoot me now.’
The man shrugged and aimed his gun at Shawn’s face. ‘Okay.’
Before Shawn could panic or think to run, Cherry stepped in front of him, arms outstretched.
‘Wait,’ Cherry commanded. ‘It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve done it. And if he likes pineapple, he’s not one of them.’ She bent down to Shawn’s level and cupped his cheek. ‘How would you like to help us out, sweetie?’
Shawn sniffed, and his stomach growled. ‘If I do, can I eat the rest of that?’
Cherry smiled and handed him the pizza box. ‘Come. We have much to discuss.’
It was after midnight by the time Shawn arrived back at the Pizzasin restaurant, pleasantly full and on a high from his adventures. Landon’s car wasn’t in the parking lot, and Shawn heaved a sigh of relief. He wouldn’t have to face his partners temper until Thursday night.
Shawn ran a hand over his face and through his hair. Winced when it came back bloody. Anchovy United had been thorough in his cover story.
Alex appeared from a side door, shirt untucked and suit jacket nowhere to be seen.
‘Shawn! You were supposed to be back hours ago! I found Landon handcuffed to his own locker. He said you ditched him again…’ Alex said. He’d started at a yell, but trailed off when he noticed the blood on Shawn’s face and his torn clothes.
Shawn shivered. ‘Yeah, I won’t be making that mistake again.’
Alex deflated, resigned. ‘It was the pineapple, wasn’t it?’
Shawn nodded. ‘You know I struggle to resist sometimes, and Millie can’t know. None of them can.’
‘What happened?’ Alex asked, with a gesture to the blood on Shawn’s forehead.
‘Anchovy United took me hostage,’ Shawn replied.
‘What?!?!’ Alex screeched. ‘This is why you have a bodyguard!’
‘Keep it down!’ Shawn said, as he covered his ears and looked around. The restaurant appeared deserted, but it never hurt to be cautious.
Alex grabbed Shawn and dragged him into a back office. Lowered his voice to ask, ‘Did they steal your scanner?’
Shawn made a show of patting down his pockets, even though he knew he’d handed it over willingly. ‘Damn… Yeah, they did,’ he told Alex.
‘But they let you go?’ Alex asked with a frown. He moved towards the nearest desk and booted up the computer.
Shawn shook his head. ‘I escaped. You know, for people who like anchovies on pizza, they sure have a weak stomach when it comes to kidnapping.’
Alex raised an eyebrow at Shawn and nodded to his wounds.
‘Oh, sure, they hit me around a little, but after that, they tied me up with garden twine and let me watch TV. It wasn’t hard to break free and slip out past the three of them.’
‘And the targets?’ Alex asked, as his fingers flew over the keys.
‘Dead. The anchovies grabbed me as I was leaving,’ Shawn said. It was a blatant lie. They’d faked their deaths and moved on. All that remained was a scribbled address on a piece of paper in Shawn’s back pocket. Their next meeting place.
Alex heaved a sigh of relief. ‘Any idea what they wanted?’
‘Nope, but from now on? Landon is my shadow,’ Shawn said. Another lie, but Alex didn’t bat an eyelid. Shawn was getting good at this. Perhaps he was made to be a pizza spy? It beat pizza assassin.
‘I’ve deactivated your scanner,’ Alex said. He wiped his brow and turned to Shawn. ‘If they contact you again, I’m the first to know. I’ll need to mention this to my superior, but you shouldn’t be in trouble. You handled this well, all things considered.’
Shawn grinned and turned away. He was at the restaurant door when Alex called after him.
Shawn turned with a frown. ‘What now Alex?’
‘Just… Don’t cuff Landon again, okay? I’ve mollified him for now, but if it happens again, he’s going over my head.’
‘Sure,’ Shawn replied with a wave of his hand.
He stifled a grin as he left the restaurant. It was okay, he could think of other ways to ditch his partner. For once in his life, he felt like he had a purpose. Maybe now, he could be on the right side of the war and eat his pineapple pizza in peace.
Thanks for reading!
I love this story idea a lot, and I’ll revisit it to make it a longer work once I iron out the details!
You may remember this song about fast food: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pgPq4FGWfk. It got stuck in my head writing this. I remember our pop group dancing to this one! (Yes, I was in a band as a teenager, I even wrote our only original song!)
Next Sunday’s prompt:
The prompt for 10th September is ‘Friends.’
(Another one which has the potential to get a song stuck in my head!)
If you try next weeks prompt yourself, let me know how it goes. Post your attempt on your blog on the 10th September, and leave a link in the comments below this post so that I can read it 🙂
If you can attempt the prompt in less than 140 characters, you can also #sunscribbles on Twitter. I am super interested to see what you all come up with 🙂