The Big One by R. Schlaack

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SUMMARY: Some Backwoods Brethren, a fish...and some very yummy toxic waste.

Wriggle-toes and the Earless One sat fishing in the middle of Dow's Dump, two misshapen chunks of humanity.

"So when d'ya think it's gonna happen?" Wriggle-toes croaked.

Earless One looked at him questioningly. He was very tall, and had a face like a cheese wedge with little pinhole eyes.

Wriggle-toes wriggled his seventy-two wormlike toes with impatience. "You know...the Big One. The Bomb. When are they gonna drop the Bomb on us?"

Earless One shrugged.

"They say it's gonna happen," Wriggle-toes continued, returning to his fishing. "They say we're gonna wake up one morning, and flash! Boom! All the big cities will be puffs of smoke."

Earless One said nothing – he was born without a jaw, anyway. He jigged his pole, the bobber making ripples in the oil-covered water.

Wriggle-toes scratched his swollen frog-eye, and pus oozed out from under the lid. "I wonder what it'll be like," he mused. "All that fire and flying debris, the radiation. That's what we gotta be careful of, is the radiation." He reeled in his line and looked at his hook, then threw it back into the water. "Now my uncle Skinny said that we'll have to go underground for hundreds of years – or was it thousands? Anyway, we'll have to be down there until the radiation goes away."

Earless One looked hurt. He pointed at the water, and the pale shapes of the fish bobbing beneath the surface. Wriggle-toes laughed gently. "No, sorry buddy. No fishing down there. But hey, maybe we can make a fishing tank down there – then we can get ‘em whenever we want."

Earless One's face brightened. He let out a contented little sigh.

Wriggle-toes lowered his voice. "The real business down there will be procreatin', y'know," he said, giving a lecherous little grin. "When we go down there, we'll have to grab us some wimmins and get procreatin', making babies. For the survival of the species, of course." He gave a short cackle.

Earless One made a pleghmy wheeze that might have been a laugh. His bobber dipped a couple times, and he set the hook.

Wriggle-toes continued. "We'll also need some way to make food down there, y'know. Probably use momma's breadmaker. And we'll have those fish, too, remember..."

Earless One's bobber took a dive. He whooped with pleasure, reeling in as fast as he could.

"That's it!" Wriggle-toes hollered. "That's the ticket! Reel ‘im in, Earless!"

Earless One horsed the fish in and swung it into the boat. It was bloated and pale, shot with wormy pink veins, and had several protruding eyes. Wriggle-toes was beside himself.

"That's a pike! Hot damn, biggest pike I ever seen!" He hand-walked over to where the fish sat pulsating in the bottom of the boat. "Lookit the teeth on that mother! Here, I'll get the hook out..."

He pulled the fish's cancerous jaws apart. "Damn treble hook," he muttered as he fiddled with it. It was stuck tight in a bony growth inside the pike's mouth. The fish, for its part, had no inclination to bite – it just sat there and oozed.

Wriggle-toes got the hook out and sat down with a sigh.

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