When Estee Lauder released their miracle anti-aging cream, “Hebe-Jebees,” the entire world took notice.  The “miracle” was no-longer part of a typical marketing push, it was a literal description of what the cream was capable of producing. Forty years and nearly two billion dollars in research had led to a profound breakthrough in the technology of youth. All patrons had to do was rub the cream on their faces once in the morning and once in the evening and voila, a never-ending youth.

The earthlings ate the shit up. Not literally, of course. But they rubbed it on their faces by the gallons. And before long strange things began happening. Terrible things. Monstrous things.

The first reported case of mutation occurred on February 16, 2025, about two months after the launch of the Hebe-Jebees. Christina Powers, aged 42, mother of 3 frat-boy sons who attended Big 10 conference schools and who TOTALLY SLAY TOO MUCH PUSSY BRO, was rubbing some of the cream into her face when she began to notice what felt like a slight electrical surge slithering through her veins. This sensation stopped her only momentarily. When she didn’t die or fall convulsing onto the floor she figured it was just a momentary phenomenon, liable to dissipate momentarily.

However, she was wrong.  Although she didn’t die, she immediately became “undead” so to speak, and her vibrant, revitalized skin suddenly turned to plastic, her eyes became red with wrath and she was immediately consumed with a thirst for the flesh of good looking human beings. And flesh is meant in the most literal sense possible—just the skin, the epidermis, the hide of the victim. This monster had no use for the actual meat, or bones or marrow or soul of the person.  Just the cosmetic.

After the initial case, the condition spread like a cup of spilt soda on a kitchen floor.  It was confined to mostly women, who were the primary patrons of the Hebe-Jebees, but in some areas, such as southern California, there was a sizeable portion of men running around cannibalizing their neighbors. Also in places like “SoCal,” the plague was so great that in a matter of a few days’ time, the monsters outnumbered their prey by a good 3-1. Very quickly, there was very little feast for the famine.

Initially, the less…uh… aesthetically endowed amongst us, such as Pedolo and El Crow, feared little for their own safety. After all, initial reports claimed that it was only the most beautiful parts of the population who were being victimized by this sudden rash of cannibalism. However, because “beauty” is truly in the eye of the beholder—and because so many people have so many different kinds of fetishes—it quickly became obvious that the ugly people weren’t safe, per se, simply safer.   

After several weeks of intense fighting between the mutants and the humans, the mutants managed to gain considerable momentum. It was during this time that El Crow and Pedolo had found themselves at the edge of survival by hiding in a dilapidated cabin in The Middle of Fucking Nowhere.

Small towns got hit the slowest, obviously. And the smaller the town, the slower it got hit. In Rio Frio, it began with about 37 cases in the first week. That was all, and it should’ve been easy to defend against. It wasn’t like in New York, where 85,000 mutants began carving up the living within the first week. But there were several problems for the small town populations. For one, no federal aid was available, as all of it was tied up in the major cities. For two, everyone knew everyone, and while this made for the occasional glee-kill of one woman getting to lop off the head of the plasticized version of the woman who had once spread terrible rumors about her at a local hair salon, by and large, people were extraordinarily hesitant to decapitate their neighbors, or their friend’s wife, or a former flame, or a family member, or whatever relationship it was they had to the monster ripping at their flesh. 

El Crow and Pedolo were actually supposed to be prepared for such a scenario. They were members of a team of rag-tag Zombie fighters that called themselves the “Zombie War Attack Team” or “ZWAT” for short. All members had  the team name emblazoned on the side of their vehicles, which had all been customized with bullet-proof siding and windows (that zombies shot guns was beyond my knowledge) and all members had concealed weapons permits and contained within their vehicles a small arsenal of weaponry consisting mostly of firearms, but depending on the personality of a particular member, could include samurai swords, chainsaws, hatchets or even tazers.  

El Crow and Pedolo weren’t “inside” members, with access to the group’s official, and surprisingly large, armory and caravan. They didn’t even actually own any guns and they didn’t customize their vehicles with the obligatory bullet-proof siding and glass (or at least El Crow didn’t. Pedolo didn’t own a vehicle so this wasn’t exactly a choice on his part). In fact, both joined the group simply because they thought it was funny. 

What they didn’t think was funny, however, is when the other 22 members of the ZWAT froze in their tracks during the outbreak. The team completely barfed. And instead of putting any of their weaponry to work, most members of the team simply soiled themselves and stood perfectly still as the middle-aged mutants of Rio Frio ran at them and feasted on their carcasses. Some prayed to God. Others asked dead loved ones for forgiveness. The rest were too scared to do anything but discharge their bowels and mourn their own deaths. 

It was while all that was going down that El Crow and Pedolo “commandeered” one of the ZWAT vehicles–a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder, blue– and raided every gas station and shopping market in town for canned goods and water. Then they drove the backroads of the Rio Frio Valley, up into the mountains, until they found somewhere to sleep that seemed far enough removed from civilization to provide relative safety.

The structure was a dilapidated 3 bedroom house that appeared to have had no occupants in at least 20 years, perhaps 30. It was located 14 miles from the nearest town on a flat piece of land right at the point where the rolling foothills of the Rio Frio Valley gave way to the towering Rocky Mountains.  The prior occupants had obviously had an aversion to civilization, to the point that they lived sans electricity, plumbing and running water. There was an old outhouse about 20 feet from the abode, and, after a brief investigation, El Crow had found a fresh-water well about football field’s distance away. There was no glass in the window frames and the inside of the house was brown and dusty. The floor was littered with the parts of the wall that just couldn’t take it anymore and had leaped to the ground in their seemingly successful attempts at suicide.

El Crow and Pedolo swept a few spots with their shoes, threw down a couple of sleeping bags and made themselves at home for what they conservatively estimated would be the next three months.

Besides spending a good portion of that time trying not to freeze to death at night, they spent the majority of the day simultaneously attempting to not let the other catch them masturbating, while simultaneously trying to catch the other person masturbating. This led to a veritable litany of awkward moments throughout each day and night as both men were seemingly incapable of either reining in their desires and/or of exercising any kind of basic motor-control over their hands and genetalia.

 It took them about a week-and-a-half to go through the 6 months of food and drink they had brought with them and after about 3 hours of attempting to snare a mouse or a rabbit or any other kind of small game, the two men decided to take their chances heading back down to Rio Frio, where, by now, the mutants had surely fed on the last of the humans. But hopefully, they thought, they could perhaps blend in or simply just power their way through the remnants of society and scavenge for any leftover non-perishables and…possibly… some womenfolk. Yes, their nearly 20 years of incessant porno watching had taught them one thing and one thing only: that it was only a matter of time and chance before they would come across some woman they didn’t know who, for reasons known only to her, could not contain her spontaneous and engulfing lust for either El Crow or Pedolo or, preferably, both.

And so the two men headed down from the foothills and began the nearly 2 hour-long drive back down to the ruins of Rio Frio. But if they had had any modicum of perception, they would’ve noticed a series of subtle but telling clues that awaited them as they descended. From a plethora of birds, to fresh tracks in the dirt, to the passing of other housing structures along the way that appeared to be in mint condition. In short, as they came preciously closer to the town, they would’ve noticed that things seemed incredibly and increasingly “normal.”

When they finally entered the town on a cool, crisp, invigorating March morning, even their dull, absent-minded, distracted sense of observation couldn’t help but notice that the streets weren’t inundated with glassy-eyed, hunched, plastic-skinned mutants, but, instead, there were families and puppies and the occasional jogger.

They pulled into a gas station, walked inside and were met with a smile and a jolly “hello” from some blonde college student with a name tag that said “Jake.” Pedolo and El Crow gazed at each other for what surly the cashier must’ve thought was an awkward amount of time and left rather rudely without acknowledging the salutations of the cashier.

Eventually they made their way to El Chupacabra the Apathetic’s home, whereupon they stomped on the door and Manny Furious the Underachieving answered with an unwavering smile, and a hug.

“Where the fuck have you two been?” El Chupacabra asked. “We thought maybe the mutants had gotten to you fuckers. It’s damned good to see you.”

Immediately after concluding the group hug, El Chupacabra sniffed expressively, made a face of pure disgust and said, “Holy Jesus, we need to give you guys a bath. Or, at least you El Crow.” Pedolo apparently reeked of his usual self, and therefore elicited no concern.

After bathing and eating a wonderful several pizzas cooked up by El Chupacabra, El Crow and Pedolo related their trials and tribulations and asked El Chupacabra what had happened after they left.

“Oh,” replied Manny Furious, “one of the mutants fell in love with a human and before you know it, they all came back to normal again. It only took like a couple of weeks. El Chupacabra insisted we should just stay home and wait it out, and as usual, she was right. So far.”

El Crow and Pedolo wondered aloud about the weirdness of the whole thing, but Manny Furious, after an awkward hum of silence, tried to tie up the entire experience with an elegant, encompassing, evocative elegy.

“Our emotions,” he stated. “Are what makes us human. And I suppose love is one of the most powerful emotions. Probably even more powerful than hate. So it should’ve made some kind of sense to get these mutants feeling something. Nothing lasts forever anyways. Not even mutations. Not even death. Physical, spiritual, emotional or otherwise. It’s like a big cycle or something. You know. Death, rebirth, decay, growth, etc. You gotta stay in the moment, so to speak. The universe is love and all that. The circle of life and what not. You know, good things happen and then bad things happen, but good and bad are relative, so you really don’t know what’s good or bad. Look at it now, the mutant invasion seemed like a bad thing, but now everybody’s happier and enjoying life much more since the mutants turned human again. We appreciate things more. Every morning I wake up and I’m like, what a wonderful day, I don’t have to dodge mutants today. So maybe it was good in some ways that it happened. For the time being, the country is getting along and people are working together and stuff like that. It’s like the story in Chuang Tzu about the guy whose kid finds a horse, and the guy is all like, ‘Cool a new horse. This is really great,’ but then the kid falls off the horse and breaks his leg and the guy is all like, ‘Well this is fucking terrible. Why did this have to happen?’ But then the army strolls through town to forcefully recruit members for some bullshit war armies are always wasting time on, and they leave his son alone because his leg’s broken and then the guy’s like, ‘Holy shit, good thing my son broke his leg.’ Except it was like a whole series of events.  Like something bad happened, but it ended up being good and vice-versa. Like the guy comes across the horse, which is a good thing, but then the horse ends up being too wild to break, which is how the son breaks his leg, which is bad and so on. But I can’t remember the whole thing, right off. But, as usual, Chuang Tzu had a really good point.”

El Chupacabra the Apathetic, Pedolo and El Crow stared dumbly at Manny Furious for about 40 seconds as he sipped on some green tea, and then El Chupacabra the Apathetic, with the resounding amount of anger and indignation that is only capable of someone who has tried to instruct a moron like Manny Furious in the spiritual arts for 30 years or so said, “What the fuck are you blathering about? You fucking moron.”

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