My Little Zombies
When the pink pony bit my husband, things turned weird fast. I’ve never seen a pony like that, not in real life, I mean. At first I thought some crazy person had dyed a white pony pink, like one of those poodles you see on TV, but after what happened to Dave, I think it was the real deal, down to the pictures of cronuts on its flank.
It was gradual. At first Dave just baked a lot. He was pretty good at it, too; I gained three pounds in a week from the carrot cake alone. You might even say I encouraged him. Then the obsession with the color purple started. He was worse than all of my kindergarten class put together: purple, purple, purple, everything had to be purple. He looked like a giant grape, but I could deal with that, right up to the day I found him coloring his hair. All the hair on his body.
“Hi, honey! There’s cupcakes in the fridge,” he said, giving me the manic smile that seemed permanently plastered across his face nowadays.
Nobody could be that cheerful. Not without drugs. There was a crazy dilated-pupil thing going on in his eyes, too. I just couldn’t believe it. My Dave, the mild-mannered accountant, who had never so much as smoked a cigarette, getting stoned out of his head.
“That’s great, sweetie.” I paused. “Um . . . Are you feeling all right?”
There was that smile again. “Abso-FUN-tastic, jelly bean. Why?”
“Doctor Sterling hasn’t put you on any new medications, has he?” I knew I was grasping at straws. Or maybe Silly String.
“Nope.” He looked me up and down. “You look a bit under the weather. How about a little song to cheer you up? I have this great one about friendship. Miles and I sang it at work today.”
“Oh, no. That’s all right.” I could hear him humming as I made my retreat.
The next day I dragged Dave to Doctor Sterling’s office. At first he threw a temper tantrum, but agreed to come when I let him bake something for the doctor. Along we went, he balancing a tray of cupcakes with purple icing on his lap on the drive over.
The doctor took a long time with his examination. I paced the waiting room and stress-ate half the cupcakes while I waited. Some of the other patients looked peculiar, too. There was a girl in periwinkle-blue, drawing big stormclouds on the doctor’s office furniture, and an elderly man in bright yellow, holding a bucket of lemon ices. The gentleman at the far end of the room seemed to be sporting a rainbow-colored tail.
At last the doctor called me in.
“So, what is it?” I asked, giving Dave a sidelong look.
“Your husband is completely healthy, Mrs. Coolidge,” Doctor Sterling said and looked at me over his old-fashioned spectacles as he took a bite out of the cupcake in his hand. He wrinkled his white mustache, shaking loose globs of purple frosting. “We can’t go around locking people up for sheer exuberance, now can we?” He turned to my husband. “These cupcakes are excellent, Mr. Coolidge, bravo!”
So that was that.
Over the next few weeks I noticed that we weren’t alone. News reports started coming in from all over the world. Friendship Fever, they called it. The crisis in the Middle East was solved when both parties discovered their love of baking macaroons and the color mint-green. Terrorists painted smiley faces on their guns and helped people rebuild their homes. No one was starving anymore, thanks to the influx of food, mostly cookies, to areas suffering from famine.
Dave took to walking round on all fours. His hair had grown into an unruly purple mane, and a small tuft of a tail stuck out of his pants. I wasn’t sure, but his face seemed longer to me, and his eyes wider.
I locked myself into the bedroom and ate kale straight from the bag.
Then came the day when I woke to the sound of hooves clip-clapping outside my door.
“Open the door, honey,” he yelled in his high-pitched voice.
I wrapped the comforter around myself and shuddered. “No. Go away, Dave!”
He laughed, a tinkling sound like jingle bells. “My name’s not Dave. It’s Princess Glitter-Cupcake now. Come on, let me in.”
“All righty. I’ll just have to kick the door in. I’m doing this out of love, sweetie. I just want you to be as happy as I am. Don’t you want to be happy?”
He hummed his friendship song as his hooves hit the door. The wood splintered, and I screamed. He looked at me through the hole and blinked his long lashes. Velvety, purple hair covered his face.
“I’m coming for you, honey!” he called, and backed away, no doubt gathering momentum for another kick.
I ran for the window and yanked it open, praying that he wouldn’t see what I was doing. As the door broke I tumbled outside and banged my side on the garden gnomes he had painted bright purple. He poked his head out of the window and I saw that he had a glittering, purple horn growing out of his forehead now.
“What are you doing, honey?” he asked, a look of wide-eyed curiosity on his horsey face.
I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran.
The Websters’ basement was well equipped; it had food, water, and candles. I was safe here, until yesterday. That’s when they found me.
The friendship song is growing louder and louder now. They’re almost through the door, taking turns kicking it in. But I have my chainsaw; I won’t go quietly.
I have to go.