[Content Warning: story concerns polyphagia, zombieism]
The woman coughed; a dry, raspy cough. People say paper doesn’t taste like anything, but that was false. In front of her were two bowls, and in front of the bowls there were stacks of paper. Neat, rectangular stacks. One of the bowls contained a brown sludge of dissolved, environmentally friendly paper. The other contained regular white photocopy paper, drenched and still whole and separable. The photocopy paper was almost entirely untouched. (The photocopier itself had a lock on the side and to access the paper, the woman had told the printer to print the nothing in the machine at the moment.)
The rest of the room came into focus bitwise: the carpet with its grey-beige swirly patterns, the knife on the middle of the floor and the glossy shavings strewn around it, the open photo album with its empty pages. Then, the swirlies in the cabinets, the metal handles, the classy paint job on the walls that hid the way the wires crawled upwards to the wall-lamps. Then, the wax candles – wicks lit once just to blacken them, untouched for three years now.
(The crumples of the family photos on one corner of the carpet, under a chair.) It had turned out that eating images of meat was close enough to start the salivation, which lead to the hunger cramps. Pazit stared at her phone, which displayed a website full of GDA levels. Then she coughed her lungs up.
“Focus, Pazit; focus,” a voice told her. Recognizing it took a moment as this was the first time she’d heard herself speak with such a dry throat. Drinking water helped, a little. She felt small.
A couple of feet away from where she was, a box blinked and animated. The woman called Pazit got the remote control from somewhere between two couch cushions and turned the volume up.
“…may be talking about an epidemic – with us tonight, with her multiple PhDs, is Claire Wellsh. Claire, could you shed some light on this strange disease?”