BY BEN ARZATE
Five years ago, a mysterious brand of soda began appearing in supermarkets and convenience stores all over the world. It seems to appear on the shelves of the stores out of thin air. All store owners and employees that have been asked have no recollection of ordering or stocking the soda. It always comes in glass in glass bottles with no labels on them and a white cap. There has never been an individual one spotted on a shelf, only six packs. The packaging is also blank white save for the word “soda” in black bold letters on the front and back. There is no other identifying information save for the bar code or the store’s price tag. Attempts to trace the bar codes have so far turned up nothing. The price has always been the same on all sightings of the mysterious soda, the equivalent of $4 USD. It always shows up on receipts and check-out machines as simply “soda”.
The most peculiar thing is that each individual bottle seems to have its own unusual properties. The soda itself always resembles a simple cola, but rarely does it actually taste like it. Or even act like it. For example, in one particular six pack:
- Bottle 1 was described as tasting like water.
- Bottle 2 tasted like hot coffee despite no heat coming from the bottle or the soda itself.
- Bottle 3’s soda turned into worms after it was opened.
- Bottle 4 tasted like cola, but the bottle was found to be able to to see though walls when looked through like a telescope.
- Bottle 5 shattered and the soda inside disappeared when it was opened.
- Bottle 6’s soda turned solid when it was opened. After breaking open the bottle, it was found to have become candle wax.
This six pack was observed in early 2008 when the soda first started appearing. During this time, it was believed that as unusual as this phenomenon was, it could be written off as benign. However, as time goes on the soda seems to become increasingly dangerous.
The first reported incident of someone harmed by it was in March of 2010. An elderly man in Madrid arrived at a local hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain. While waiting for care, the man vomited up fecal matter. Testing showed that his bowels were severely obstructed. Immediate surgery was required. After further questioning, it was found the man’s condition could be directly attributed to drinking a bottle of the mysterious soda.
The first reported incident of death caused by the soda was in January of 2011. A family of five in Osaka were found dead in their home of mustard gas poisoning. The gas had been released from a bottle of the soda. Two months later, a Chicago convenience store clerk working the night shift was found dead behind the counter with eight rounds of .22 caliber bullets in his head. Security footage showed that the bullets had shot out of a bottle of the soda the clerk had opened. It was concluded these were no longer isolated incidents when three months later; a young woman in Buenos Aires had her face melted off by acid sprayed at her by one of the bottles.
Word was put out as far and wide as possible to never open the bottles and for them to be turned over to authorities should they be spotted. Earlier this year, the full extent of the soda’s danger was observed in a small town in Ecuador. From what could be gathered from survivors, an owner of a local market had found a six pack of the soda and (against the advice of onlookers) was disposing of it by putting the bottles in a garbage bag and smashing it on the street. The bottles breaking resulted in an explosion that destroyed most of the town. The area is now uninhabitable due to fall out, the bottles apparently having had the same effect as a nuclear bomb.
Governments all over the world are taking action to seize and safely store as many bottles as possible. However, due to the nature of the soda’s appearance, there is no way to trace them all and no way to keep them out of private hands even with the strictest of penalties for possession.
To make matters worse, the bottles seem to be appearing more and more often. Last week, in supermarkets in Quebec, Mexico City, Seoul, and Johannesburg, the staff came in to find all of their inventory had disappeared and been replaced by six packs of the mysterious soda.
Ben Arzate lives in Des Moines, Iowa. His poetry and fiction has appeared in various places online and in print including Bizarro Central, TwentySomething Press, Ugly Babies Vol.1, and Spoilage. His first poetry book, the sky is black and blue like a battered child, is available on Amazon. He also often reviews books at Cultured Vultures and his blog dripdropdripdropdripdrop.blogspot.com