AntipodeanSF Issue 307

By Tim Boiteau

The house was quiet, the last of the New Year’s fireworks having petered out hours ago, but Mitch was awake — and hungry. He ninjaed out of bed without disturbing his wife Fiona, crept downstairs to the kitchen, and pulled a ginger ale from the fridge and a bag of party size chips from the cupboard. Settling down in front of the TV, he popped the can and reached into the crinkly bag, when suddenly someone whispered in his ear, “Come now, Mitch, this is no way to ring in the New Year.”

He turned and beheld an eidolon version of himself when he was younger, rail thin, face covered in angry-red acne, an incongruous trademark symbol branding its head.

Mitch blinked, gaping, as the ghost went on: “Do you recall the first time you snacked at such an unseemly hour?”

“Uh, uh, no,” Mitch stammered.

“You were sixteen and had that morning been reading the Sunday comics. Dagwood’s late night sandwich inspired you.”

As the ghost spoke, he began to shrink, melting downward into the shape of a piled-high club sandwich, complete with a toothpick-speared olive on the top.

“And after that initial success at emulation,” the sandwich went on, “you chased the feeling every evening for the next five years.” The sandwiches replicated, popping out of each other and piling upwards, extending backward in a heap, till they reached the ceiling, all of them speaking in unison. “Sixteen hundred and thirty seven club sandwiches in all. Shall we break that down for you in terms of ingredients?”

“Please, no.”

“Then, at the age of twenty-one you added beer to the equation, and for the next nine years, at 1pm on the dot, your gut bade you consume one or two sandwiches and three to five beers. You probably do not remember each individual meal, do you?”

“Not really, I —”

“Well, I do. Behold!”

The ceiling stretched upward as the mound of sandwiches erupted, bubbling out of the top and spilling down the sides, and beside it grew a wall of Rhine Gold (his favourite beer back in the day, interspersed with the blue and silver cans of other, lesser beers he occasionally guzzled).

“That’s thirteen thousand one hundred and forty cans of beer and a grand total of five thousand five hundred seventy nine sammiches. Scrumdiddlyumptious!”

“Dear God,” Mitch breathed, gawking at the mountain of rye bread and deli meats and crisp lettuce and tomato and glistening mayo mortar, all of if ringed by the sparkling wall of aluminium.

“It’s a lot to take in, I know, but we have not yet factored in the night of your thirtieth birthday, when you decided to give up late-night snacking for good, in the hopes of looking fit for your wedding.”

“Right.”

“And two weeks later, you were back at it again, but this time, having successfully kicked the habit of beer, you switched to ginger ale, and added chips to your sandwich meal.”

More cans cropped up on the top of the already towering wall, these green with tiny white bubbles on the side, and now for each sandwich that sprang into existence, there came a dusting of salt and vinegar chips, like snow on a mountaintop. He grew queasy gazing at the growing monument to gluttony.

“Averaging one party size bag every three days, and at four hundred fifty chips per bag, in the first year since adding this hyperpalatable side, you consumed fifty four thousand seven hundred and fifty chips, but then more and more you came to realise that the sandwiches were ancillary to your real craving for the salty sour crisps, and you reasoned that dropping the sandwich would be better for your waistline in the long run. So in the nine years hence you consumed only chips and soda, averaging two hundred and ninety bags a year — do you know how many chips that is?”

“I-I-I couldn’t even hazard a —”

“A staggering one million one hundred seventy four thousand five hundred powdery ovals of fried goodness.”

The sandwich mountain began to tremble as chips shot out of the top and began to rain down, flooding the dark living room and burying Mitch up to his chin. His eyes were watering from all the dust, and the razor-thin edges of the fried potatoes were slicing into his skin.

“That is all I have to teach you, but my partner, Snacking Future, has a word or two more.”

“Snacking Future?” Mitch despaired, sneezing and coughing from all the delicious dust.

“Yes,” an unseen voice whispered, sending a chill up his spine. “If you continue down your path of gluttony from tonight till your death at sixty nine, you will consume four million seven hundred sixty three thousand two hundred and five more chips.”

The ground began to shake, then the front door burst open and a wave of briny fried potato surged into the room, flooding the meagre pool and drowning the sandwich mountain.

Mitch screamed as he was swallowed up, calling out for his wife, attempting to stay afloat in the sea of crispy, salty deliciousness.

“Mitch?” his wife said in a groggy voice. “What the hell are you doing?”

Mitch looked up and was amazed to see the pale light of morning filtering into the living room window. The mountain of sandwiches had vanished, as had the castle of beer and soda cans and the sea of potato chips. He had been flailing around on the rug and had knocked over the coffee table, spilling the bag of uneaten potato chips and a can of ginger ale on the floor. That’s what he had been swimming in.

“Gross. Were you up last night eating junk food?”

He clambered to his feet. “Never again, Fiona. Never again. I’m free! Free!”

Mitch’s phone dinged, and the two of them glanced down at the table. 

The weight loss app he’d signed up for, Lose-cid, asked him, “Pleasant dreams last night?”

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About the Author

tim boiteau x600Tim Boiteau lives in Michigan with his family.

He is a Writers of the Future winner and author of three novels, most recently The Nilwere slated to be published by Grendel Press in 2024.

Find more of his work at <https://timboiteau.wordpress.com/>.

Issue Contributors

The AntiSF Radio Show

antipod-show-50Our weekly podcast features the stories from recently published issues, often narrated by the authors themselves.

Listen to the latest episode now:

The AntipodeanSF Radio Show is also broadcast on community radio, 2NVR, 105.9FM every Sunday evening at 7:00pm.

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Meet the Narrators

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  • Geraldine Borella

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