“Congratulations,” said the voice on Harry’s phone. “You won third prize in our Birthday Boy contest.”

“But I didn’t enter any contests.”

“You didn’t have to. Our company’s computer selected your name from thousands of American men whose birthday is today.”

“What’s the name of your company?”


“Never heard of you.”

“I’m surprised, considering we’re a multi-billion dollar company with stores throughout America.”

“So what did I win?” Harry asked.

“One of our delightful pet zombies. It does everything dogs, cats, and birds can do. It comes with a rotary switch and keyboard embedded in its back. If you want it to be a canary, just turn the switch to the bird setting. When a light blinks on the keyboard, type the word canary. Your pet zombie will start hopping around and warbling like a canary. If you get tired of having a canary around, you can turn the switch to one of dozens of dog and cat breeds. On the other hand, if you just want it to be a zombie, don't touch any of the switches.”

“I have a dog. What do you suggest I do with it when my pet zombie arrives?”

“Throw it in the trash, feed it to your new pet, or trade it in for a discount on a bag of our wonderful zombie food pellets which are chock full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and putrefaction retardants.”

“What's putrefaction?”

“Rotting of skin and body organs. Our pet zombies are inoculated and coated with shellac to keep their rot rate to a minimum. However, to keep your pet zombie fresh and supple, just feed it one food pellet a day. By the way, if you let the zombie eat your dog, you won’t have to feed it for a whole week.”

Ignoring the comment about his dog, Harry asked, “How much is a bag of food pellets?”

“A dollar for three month’s worth. So, where would you like us to deliver your prize?”

Harry gave his address.

“Congratulations once again. I’m sure you’ll just love your new pet.”

“Wait a minute,” Harry said. “Don’t zombies eat human brains?”

“Not the ones we sell. On the other hand, in the extremely rare situation where there’s a slight malfunction, and one bites your skull open while you’re sleeping, we stock blood-and-brains stain remover for your pillow case. Comes in a spray can. So, have you decided what you’ll do with your dog now that it’s obsolete?”

“Yeah. I’ll feed it to the zombie.”

“Ah, a most humane decision. We’ll bring a container shaped like a zombie food pellet when we deliver your prize. Just put your dog inside, and feed the pellet to the zombie. But we need to know the size of your dog so we can bring the right container. ”

“It’s a tiny, teacup poodle.”

When Harry hung up, he picked up his doggie, Honeybun, looked into her loving, sparkling eyes, and said, “You’ve been a pretty good pet. But it costs two dollars a week to feed you. You just ain’t cost effective anymore, considering these terrible economic times.”

Thinking she was being praised, Honey Bun wagged her tail and licked her beloved master’s hand
*   *   *

Honeybun thought she was playing a new, exciting game when Harry pushed her into a container shaped like a zombie food pellet, and handed it to his new, salivating pet.

"Third Prize"

Copyright: © 2010 Michael A. Kechula


Michael A. Kechula is a retired tech writer.  His stories have been published by 129 magazines and 36 anthologies.  He’s won first place in 10 contests and placed in 8 others.  He’s authored three books of flash fiction, micro-fiction, and short stories:   The Area 51 Option and 70 More Speculative Fiction Tales;  A Full Deck of Zombies--61 Speculative Fiction Tales;  I Never Kissed Judy Garland and Other Tales of Romance.    eBook versions  available at www.BooksForABuck.com  and  www.fictionwise.com    Paperbacks available at www.amazon.com.

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