Monday, October 31, 2005

Night of the Martha Stewart Living Dead

Like it? 
When I was younger, I loved writing horror stories. Then I got a mortgage and realized that life is scary enough. Fuck Dracula. You know how much I'm going to pay for oil this year?

So I gave it up. I looked deep within myself, found the part of my personality that wrote horror stories, and clobbered it with a phone book. Then I dragged it away to my brain's dark and loathsome attic, bolted the door, and condemned it to live out its wretched, accursed days in isolation, with only the light from a smoldering bonfire of vanishing calculus memories to defy the gloom.

But that impulse to write scary stories waits there still, boys and ghouls -- it bides its time, minute by despicable minute, hour by godforsaken hour! And every year, around Halloween, it breaks loose -- why, on a Sunday morning just like this one! And it seizes control of my body and writes a Halloween column, just like this one!

Now that we're all spooked out, submitted for your perusal is a recent Associated Press story about a haunted neighborhood.

It seems the town of Cary, N.C., will soon be home to a subdivision populated entirely with 650 houses designed and furnished by Martha Stewart. Everything in this community will have the Martha Stewart brand on it, from the Martha Stewart-brand chimney bricks to the Martha Stewart-brand roach motels under the sink. You can live between Martha Stewart walls, in a Martha Stewart bed, flinging Martha Stewart slippers at the Martha Stewart cat. Take a Martha Stewart shit in the Martha Stewart toilet and clean the Martha Stewart clingy crud off the side with a Martha Stewart bowl brush.

It seems like a quaint, cozy little suburb, doesn't it? Nothing evil could ever live here -- or could it...?


SCENE: A typical afternoon in a quiet cul-de-sac of Marthaville. The sky is a neon blue (because it's made of neon), and outside each of the identical houses, two identical blonde pigtailed girls play hopscotch while another bucktoothed clone boy takes aim at them from the hedges with a slingshot. Soon our heroes, Punch and Judy, drive up to one of the houses in their Martha Stewart-brand V6 sedan, and get out to have a look.

PUNCH. Well, here we are, honey! Home at last. Say, this new neighborhood looks great! (pulling boxes out of the trunk) I'm so glad we had to move here for my new job as an overstuffer in the Martha Stewart Overstuffed Cushion Factory.

JUDY. What are you, the narrator? (icily) This place kinda gives me the heebie-jeebies.

(She looks down the street and sees every one of the blonde pigtailed girls staring expressionless in her direction and waving. A bird falls dead out of the sky.)

PUNCH. Aw, you're just cynical because you spent the last four years in a high-powered corporate job in the big city and don't like moving to the suburbs.

JUDY. Seriously, dude -- are you the narrator?

(Later that day. Punch and Judy are tucking into Martha Stewart frozen dinners in front of the TV. On every channel is a different Martha Stewart show.)

PUNCH. Mmm! This Stewart chop with Martha sauce is delish. (Sips his Martha Stewart-brand zinfandel.) Could you pass the Martha Stewart, please?

(Judy follows his pointing finger to the salt. She hands it over quietly.)

JUDY. I'm creeped out here, Punch.

PUNCH. (dropping his Martha Stewart fork) Gee willikers, Judy, what would make you say a terrible thing like that? Are you trying to hurt her feelings?

(He points to a huge mural of Martha Stewart on the wall with a camera planted in her open, grinning mouth. Underneath it is a sign: "Martha Stewart is watching.")

JUDY. See, that's kinda my point. What's with all the Martha Stewart? I never asked for Martha Stewart stuff -- where's my Crate & Barrel dining room table?

PUNCH. It's being chopped into pieces and buried far away, honey -- like I discussed?

JUDY. (near tears) This house is so perfect it's bland. Did you notice the porch is hand-carved from a single piece of wood? And that there's a kitchen tap for warm apple cider? When I was in the bathroom, a voice came from the mirror and reminded me that squeezing the toothpaste from the end is more efficient.

PUNCH. There, there. (gives her a Martha Stewart-brand tissue) Just sit quietly and think of a fun arts and crafts project you'd like to do.

(Suddenly, the door crashes in! In stagger several zombie-like middle-aged WASPs carrying dishes of food.)

JUDY. Aaaaaaah!

ZOMBIE 1. We brought you a ham casserole, Judy.

ZOMBIE 2. Martha's special recipe, Judy.

OTHER ZOMBIES. Be like Martha ... be like Martha...

(All of a sudden, we notice Punch's hair has gotten blonder, and his teeth and posture are fantastic.)

PUNCH. Relax, Judy. It's a good thing.

JUDY. (steeling herself for a bloodbath) I loved you once.

(Judy seizes a Martha Stewart steak knife and backs away. One of the zombies lurches and tries to get its wonderfully manicured fingers on her -- but she slices the hand off at the wrist, spewing blue blood everywhere.)

JUDY. Wow -- these knives are actually pretty sharp.

ZOMBIE 3. And affordable!

ZOMBIE 4. The handle is ergonomically designed.

JUDY. (falling into a swoon, then recovers) No...No! No, you won't get to me like you did to Punch, you vile creatures!

(She hacks two of the zombies to ribbons and flees while the rest are busy blotting up the mess with an easy-to-make mixture of distilled white vinegar and dish soap. In the street, Judy sees hundreds of zombie families, limping about and giving each other gardening tips. They see her and start moseying over in her direction. A cop on the beat walks by.)

JUDY. Help-- police!

COP. Something I can do you for, lady?

JUDY. This subdivision is overrun by zombies! You've got to help me escape!

COP. (winking at her) Don't worry, Judy. I won't let them get you.

JUDY. Gee, thanks -- hey! How did you know my name? Unless...

COP. (suddenly stern) That's a tacky pair of shoes you're wearing, Judy. That's not from the Martha Stewart Collection in your closet. Martha's shoes are more practical and stylish.

(A trio of zombies leap from the bushes upon Judy and smother her with a duvet cover.)

JUDY. Aaah!

(The screen goes black. After a moment, we see it is the next day. A new couple is moving into a house in the cul-de-sac, Steve and Eydie.)

EYDIE. Boy! This sure looks like a safe place to raise some bland white kids, doesn't it?

STEVE. (looking around warily) I dunno -- that Martha Stewart bugs me. So hoity-toity all the time.

(Suddenly, Punch and Judy appear -- both are wearing identical Martha Stewart cashmere sweaters tied around their necks. Punch nudges her in the ribs.)

JUDY. (glassy-eyed) Welcome to the neighborhood...

[Fade to ecru.]

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