Short Fiction: The Advertising Business

Advertising was in my blood. A rare strain of zombie virus was too, but mostly advertising.

I remember it was a Wednesday—the usual mayhem—I had deadlines to meet, clients to schmooze, and anti-human-flesh-eating-urge medication to take—and in walked Martin Milford, president of Milford’s Mayonnaise. He had come to hear our pitch for his company’s latest television campaign. Mr Milford was notoriously hard to impress, but Sam and I were confident we had the goods.

“Come on, it’s go time,” said Sam, bursting into my office.

I liked Sam. My colleagues used to make fun of me, mocking my name or imitating my lumbering walk, but Sam never did. I noticed she was wearing a pair of perilously high heeled shoes that day.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll meet you in the conference room.”

I smiled as she left. I remember thinking that in those shoes she would be a straggler in the event of a sudden mass evacuation. It’s funny the places your mind takes you. Anyway, as I wanted to be sharp for the presentation, I decided to skip my pills; they always made me fuzzy-headed.

Sam led the meeting; she was a real smooth talker. But for all the charm she laid on, Mr Milford wouldn’t crack a smile. He was a squat, surly man with a big bald head. He grunted and insisted we get on with the meeting. His head really was enormous. I remember thinking how it resembled a shiny, dome-topped treasure chest, one that concealed a plump, hunger-satisfying brain. My palms were sweaty.

Sam handed over to me (whispering, “Good luck,”) and I showed Mr Milford our concept art. He was disinterested, and when we brought out the big guns—our plan to get the mayor as spokesman for his product—Mr Milford just shook his head.

“I’ve seen enough,” he said. “That’s the end of this pitch, Mitch.” A grin smeared his bulldog face. “Ha-ha! That rhymes—pitch, Mitch. Ha!”

My hands clenched and my arms seized up; Sam asked if I was okay. Mr Milford said I looked terrible, adding insult to illness (or maybe he was just concerned for my welfare). Everything went black.

I found myself at the rear of a stampede. People were running shrieking from the building; they kept looking back at me in horror. My limp was more pronounced than usual and slowed me down. My hands were drenched with blood. Eventually I made it outside, where the sun burned with apocalyptic force. I don’t know how everyone else was standing there unaffected. A wall of police in tactical gear closed around me, opening fire with tranquilliser darts. I awoke in hospital.

Imagine my embarrassment to learn I was responsible for the chaos that day, having succumbed to a mild cannibalistic episode and killed six people, including Sam and Mr Milford. Imagine my dismay at finding out I was blacklisted from ever again working in advertising.



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