Tombstoned, Chapter One: Peru Digs Her Own Grave

Nobody remembers what makes the tombstones work. The fairies, the leprechauns, the nanobots, the carpal-tunnel crippled hand of God. Yeah, you could crack one open and look yourself, but who knows what you’d find. 

A misplaced modifier.  

A hamster wheel designed for rodents with flat feet and Cockney accents. 

A snotty egg yolk that once took Pi out further than ever before, strangled it, and left its dead carcass in a half-dug ditch. 

Who the huck knows and who finn cares? It doesn’t matter. 

Nobody remembers. 

Not even Buck Sparkman, the world’s premier cravedigger. But he knows exactly when everything changed.

Some say it was for the better. Some say it was for the worse. But it at least it wasn’t “Cathy.” Or heaven forbid, “Garfield.” Either way, it wasn’t funny. And neither was that joke. 

The fateful day was April 20 in a year of indeterminate vintage. The time: Somewhere between a power lunch and yappy hour. The place: Peru Nicklaus’ apartment.  

Peru lived in two panic-room closet that grew out of freshly shorn forest field like a cancerous mole. It was surrounded by other growths, each one no different than the next.

The same upside-down mortgage. The same student loans. The same antidepressants and stool softeners in the medicine cabinets. It was a snuff film, but Peru called it home. 

As did her two pet poms, Jeepers and Peepers. 

They mostly just slept and snerfed on their doggie beds, although when were in a spiteful mood, they dropped a retaliatory snerf behind the couch. 

Jeepers liked to do it on the air vent, Peepers on the rug. Neither were fond of wiping. 

With the last bit of credit Peru had on her Beeza Card, she bought herself an iPlot, then a novel little gadget that could replicate whatever the user desired.

Of course, all of this depended on the make and the model. 

Some could conjure up sparkly little baubles and trinkets, while the top-dollar ones could conjure up a full-sized SUV. 

Regardless, its creations were always temporary. Much like last night’s virginity or yesterday’s presidential election.

Peru could’ve bought herself a top-dollar one. She didn’t. Instead, she bought a dozen of the most low-powered iPlots she could. And then she invited all her friends over to her house for a feast like no other. 

When her guests arrived, they stepped up to clearance rack iPlots and thought about what they wanted to eat, and the tombstones provided. They thought about what they wanted to drink and the devices gave. 

Needless to say, they feasted like kings, they drank like failures, and they obited every single bite and purge.

For the next three hours, tombstones around the town rang out with updates from the Green Hill debauchery. 

But all that came to an end in a rather abrupt fashion. First, Peru heard a rumble, a real below the belly gurgle, the kind that will make you break the speed limit on the way to a highway rest stop.

And then it got louder and louder. 

Little did Peru and her crew knew, the world was about to snerf itself.

One guest joked that it was Rodzilla. Another an alien invasion. And another, well, the reanimated corpse of the late, great comedian Chris Biggley on a crank-and-crack binge-and-purge at the nearest Fentynol Feedbag All-American Buffet. Today, each one is part of the weekly news cycle, but then? Not so much.

As much as Peru and the gang were having a good laugh, the laughing stopped when the walls of the apartment began to shake. Beer bottles fell, turkey legs tumbled, the silverware danced to a strange tune on the dining room table. And the poms? Jeepers and Peepers. Well, they huddled behind the couch, each in their usual places, and clinched their snerfs tight. 

The revilers promptly ran outside. 

Outside on her front stoop, Peru and her guests watched as they witnessed the seemingly impossible: two dog biscuits, each the size of semi-trucks, tumbled down the street, crushing everything in their paths — street signs, cars, and yard gnomes. The partygoers took off running when the modest two-panic room closet took one across the chin.

And just like that, Peru dreams went down. TKO.

It would be two weeks before State Farm broke out the smelling salts.

The dog biscuits came to a halt on Sam Torrence’s front yard, ruining the savings-account sod that covered the 10-by-10 foot lawn he called a weekend, but all the neighbors knew as a white beater and three beers. 

His sprinkler system was a wreck, spitting up like a toddler on a merry-go-round, and his front steps were as jagged as a meth head’s teeth. 

Sam wept as he picked up the shredded squares of high-dollar turf with his trembling hands. The grass fell in feeble clumps to the ground.

In days, it would dry out. In a week, it would be brown and dusty. In a month, it would float away on the breeze.

Someone recommended Rogaine, and within just a few weeks, Sam was awarded with a lawn of the month sign which he proudly displayed next to his sago palm. 

However, shortly thereafter his electric razor broke, and, well, his neighbors never bestowed that honor on him again. 

Shamed, he hung himself in bathroom. Stretched behind all conceivable limits, his snerf never recovered.

It was less a snerf and more a tapeworm from that point on out.

But Peru’s dogs were happy. They pounced on the bits of pieces of kibble that had broken off from the monster-sized milk bones. Peepers cut the roof of her mouth on a particularly jagged piece. Jeepers vomited and licked it up, but not before growling at his fellow pom. It was then that everyone realized that Peru was nowhere in sight. The guests immediately began to call her name. 

Ash Likker found her limp body underneath an azalea bush in front of Peru’s now demolished house. Her body was motionless and stiff and wearing a see-through nightie. Tom grew excited. Her turned around to make sure no one was looking and snerfed her lifeless corpse until the sky exploded with fireworks.

Claire Pye ran into Peru two blocks over.

Although Peu was dazed and confused, she was holding two white chocolate pumpkin spice lattes and a bag containing what was advertised as an apple danish but bore a curious resemblance to a glazed snerf, and a hand-me-down one at that. 

They sat down to pow-wow the latest bestseller, a book about a newly divorced housewife who rediscovers her passion for life by sleeping with a younger man and finding a newfound love for selling My Randy Stallion needlepoint pictures on Etsy. 

Claire and Peru laughed and cried and vowed to always be friends, despite the fact that Peru didn’t know that Jean had once given her ex-boyfriend Carl a snerf in the supply closet. It was Arbor Day. 

Burt Plugh did not look for Peru. He had no reason to. He was too busy sending her an obit about this funny thing that he just saw on YouTube. So hilarious. Like, literally, I’m dying.

Even Peru Nicklas found herself.

It was a task she had previously been unable to accomplish over the course of a decade-long diet of self-help mantras, exercise videos, and yoga pants. Finally, she was living her most authentic life. And all it took was the total destruction of reality itself.

But no one knew that then. 

And so, for the next two days, the sound of squeak toys echoed off the houses on this soulless suburban street of two-panic room closets and snuff films, while Pom and Jeepers snerfed wherever the snerfing snerf they pleased.

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