The following story was written for the Furious Fiction contest for May 2019.
The guidelines were as follows:
'“Mayhem” was one of the words we required of storytellers in May, and combined with the mix of other criteria it was probably an appropriate description for our list of must-haves this month! That said, we had our second biggest ever response as nearly 1000 stories vied to be mayor of this town we call Furious Fiction.
This is what was required for May:
The story had to include the words MAYBE, MAYHEM, DISMAY, MAYOR and MAYONNAISE.
The story’s first word had to be an 11-letter word.
The story, at some point, had to include someone or something RUNNING.
Never before has Google seen so many searches for lists of 11-letter words in such a short space of time! Jackhammers rubbed shoulders with pickpockets, lumberjacks, knick-knacks, photography, cappuccinos, chimpanzees, Shakespeare, marshmallow and sexologists! And if we weren’t downloading, we were vanquishing, bamboozling, backpacking and outdazzling the rest! Thanks for all your imaginative suggestions… (and don’t even get us started on the various uses for mayonnaise!).'
By S. W. Stribling
Quiveringly, she opened up the jar of mayonnaise. She hated mayonnaise. The look of it. The smell of it. And that’s exactly why he put her first clue of this scavenger hunt on the inside of the mayonnaise jar.
‘Guácala’ - which means ‘disgusting’ in Spanish, added with ‘4°C,’ meant the jar of mayonnaise in the fridge. Despite the excitement from waking up to her first scavenger hunt, she wasn’t sure she could conquer the internal mayhem of opening the jar and reaching inside to grab the next clue.
He always teased her about how easily disgusted she was towards so many things in life: certain foods, certain people, certain types of architecture.
‘Guácala, Warren.’ She said.
‘Oh, come on,’ he said. ‘Miss Mayor of Disgust.’
She passed him a half-dirty, half-amused look as she dug her hand into the mayonnaise. Almost vomiting as the cold, greasy, gooeyness squeezed and squirmed under her fingernails, around her fingers, and up to the grooves that separated one finger from another.
She dry-gagged and ran to the sink to wash off the mayonnaise.
‘No puedo.’ She said almost crying.
‘That’s a shame.’
She pouted and paced with dismay back and forth in the kitchen.
He laughed and took pictures.
Maybe she couldn’t do it she thought. That damn mayonnaise jar on the ground where she had left it. Now she was disgusted with herself.
She could see the clue pressed against the bottom of the glass jar, safely protected by half a jar of mayonnaise.
He watched her mentally approaching and reproaching. She contemplated the pros and cons as her lips were bit, pursed, and opened to breathe out heavily.
She took another step closer to the jar and immediately made an ‘Uggghhhh’ sound. The saliva in her mouth started to build up. She felt the urge to spit, but spitting was disgusting too.
Spit and mayonnaise.
The thought was now all over her skin.
‘Happy Birthday…’ She thought.
She had a moment of calm and neared the jar again. It was still open and the air was contaminated with its smell.
Now her upper lip retracted and her bottom lip protruded as she sucked up this lifelong hindrance.
She reached in. Her stomach sucked in on itself creating a black hole of repulsion that would devour all of her.
She squirmed and dug her hand to the bottom feeling a sharp corner of the paper.
She pinched it and pulled it out screaming.
It was a childish cry-scream - one that shook the walls. She shook and dropped the small paper on the ground to run - to run laps around the apartment and away from the experience.
He picked up the paper and rinsed it off. And after washing her hands and doing a few more violent shakes and squeals, she read the next clue which he held for her.
‘Now you must go meet your mother for coffee for the next clue.’
‘Te odio.’ She said.