by John Schweers
Thomas Campbell, software writer, procrastinator, and unashamed fat person, sat in front of his desk. His computer monitor was waiting for him to type the next lines of code in the program he was writing. He simply stared at the screen. His mind was not in the building. There were almost no thoughts in his head at the moment. He was in a state of hibernation, one brought on by the boredom of his job. He could not bring himself to concentrate on his software writing today. In the back of his mind, Thomas knew he would regret not getting enough work done. Later, when he was forced to work late to make up for the lost hours, he would berate himself for wasting time doing nothing. Somehow, that didn?t matter right now. Hearing the sound of his supervisor walking nearby, he was forcibly brought back to reality and made himself start writing again. There were only three hours until he was allowed to go home.
Thomas took the elevator down to the parking garage on the bottom floor. He never took the stairs, even down. It was simply too much work. In Thomas's opinion, what was the point of living longer if those years were filled with the pain of diet and exercise? When the elevator reached the bottom floor, he got out and walked to his car. It was black, small, and got decent gas mileage. He had bought it used, for a low price. He didn't need anything bigger, as he had no family and rarely took long trips that would require more space. He put the key in the ignition and drove away from work.
He made the same detour he always did, when he saw the distinctive golden squares of Greasy's that were recognizable anywhere in the world. Every day, after work, he'd stop by and order some form of fat and sugar to be delivered straight to his gut. After picking up a double cheeseburger with large fries and large soda, he drove back toward his house. The smell of the food was beginning to get to him. The scent of recently boiling grease on the fries was as great a temptation to Thomas as anything else in this world. The light ahead of him turned red, and he came to a stop. The smell of the fries was too much. He reached into the bag and ate one. The deep fried potato was good. He ate another one. And another. He didn't worry about it, as there would be some left when he got home. The light turned green. As he was pulling out, Thomas grabbed another fry.
Arriving in the driveway of his suburban home, Thomas wondered where all of his fries had gone. He parked the car in the garage, unlocked the door to his house, and set the food on the table. He went to the back of the house to use the restroom. After turning on the television, he searched for the latest banality that the networks would shove on him. Finding something suitably shallow, he set to eating his food. When he picked up the burger, he noticed an ant crawling on it. He flicked it away, but noticed another. He put the burger back on the table. Then he saw that there were quite a few ants on his table. They appeared to be feasting on the last fry that he had forgotten from last night's meal. "Dang it!" he said out loud. The ants had eaten his meal. He would have to do something about this. He had some ant traps that he had bought awhile ago: the kind that attracts them with the scent and makes them come to eat it, and then the food kills them. He went to the closet to find where he had left the traps. Taking a few, he set them out on the table and counter.
The loss of a cheeseburger was a real blow to Thomas. He liked his food. He wasn't ashamed to admit it. After finding something else to eat in the closet, his somewhat obsessive personality began to kick in. He was thinking about ants. They were really stupid creatures, when he thought about it. They did exactly the same thing every day. When they awoke, they left their homes to slave away at some task that no one really cared about. They were shoved into small rooms when they weren't slaving away. Every room was the same. Every ant did the same thing, both in and out of their little cell. They didn't learn from what they did, either. Even though other ants died from eating the poison that humans put down, they would eat it anyway, just because it appealed to them. "The most pathetic part about them," Thomas said to no one, "Is that they don't even know that their lives are so pathetic." He was glad to be an intelligent human being.
Thomas awoke about seven thirty in the morning. He put on his work clothes, just as he always did. He got into his car, the same way he did yesterday, and drove to work by the same path. He parked in the same spot he always did, took the elevator to his floor, and went into his cubicle. It was just like every other one. All the software writers inside did the same thing. They were packed into this office building to slave away at their jobs. This revelation was nothing new to Thomas, since he had noticed it every day. He sat down and continued working on his program. The day dragged on. By the end, he felt like he did at the end of every day: ready for a cheeseburger.
When he pulled in to Greasy's, Thomas saw that the drive-through had a long line. Highly annoyed, he parked and walked into the restaurant. At least he had the nice smell of boiling grease to keep him company. As he stood in line to order, the smell of the fries and the sight of the food was appealing. It looked so good. He just wanted a cheeseburger. He got through the line and decided to order two burgers instead of one. He also upsized the fries and drink. After paying, then walking out to the car, he drove home.
Wondering where his fries had gone, Thomas pulled into the garage. He walked inside and turned on the television. There was some trash on about how someone had died of eating too much fast food. The doctors on the case had conclusive evidence linking fast food to bad health yet again. None of that stuff mattered to Thomas. He would rather die happy than live longer and more miserably. When he walked to the counter, he saw an ant walking toward the trap he had set out. It picked up a piece of the food. Once it had eaten, it picked up another piece and walked back toward wherever his home was. About halfway back, it dropped the food. It rolled over and died after several seconds.
"Stupid bugs," Thomas said aloud. He walked over and began to work on his dinner. When he had finished off a cheeseburger and his soda, his felt a fluttering in his chest. His heart seemed to beat a little harder. He thumped his chest, as if to make it stop, and continued eating. Halfway through his second burger, his vision started swimming. He was unconscious when he hit the floor. By the time anyone found him, he had long since died.