Title: The Taco Hellmouth
The Taco Hellmouth
"Welcome to Taco H—Bell, may I take your order?"
Damn, it's getting harder and harder to say that right every time. You and your friends laugh, I'll bet, at that little joke. Well, I don't. I know it's true.
Since the idiot in front of me is still staring dumbly at the menu (it's just tacos, for gosh sake), I take the opportunity to let my mind go blank. It's a form of meditation. During which time, unfortunately, I become intensely aware of my surroundings. The excuses for meat, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, tortillas, and hot frying oil behind me, my fellow inmates (some unwashed and most moronic) around me, the idiot in front of me, and the two people coming in the side door, which fortunately I can't see from where I stand. If I could, I might think more about escape.
"This is where you want to eat?" I hear a masculine voice say.
Hey, I wouldn't be here either if I could help it, so just shut up and wait your turn to order, boy-o.
Another guy, slightly younger-sounding, replies. "Yes, Deadboy, this is where I want to eat. I mean, look at the prices."
Deadboy? Here come the weirdos.
"Xander, if it's money—"
Deadboy and Xander. Definitely weird.
"You take me out all the time." Lucky stiff. "And it's always to these really nice restaurants. And I love it, I really do, but I just want a chance to eat something really heart-stopping and teenagery for a change. Besides, these chalupa things aren't half bad."
Oh, yeah? Well, you haven't seen them made over and over and over again, and you haven't watched thousands of people eating the hideous things, and you haven't had to clean up after them again and again and again.... You know, I could really kill that freakin' Chihuahua, saying, 'Drop the chalupa' all the time. Doesn't he realize how often people actually do that?!
"You can't eat unhealthy at lunch?" 'Deadboy' is talking. "If you do stop your heart, you know I'm turning you right now."
"You promised to wait until I was finished with college."
"Yeah, well, you have to promise not to die in the interim."
"Well, since you put it so nicely...."
What are these freaks talking about? Lucky for me, they're next in my line, so I look up at them—and gasp. Freaks or not, they're really cute.
"Welcometotacobellmayitakeyourorder?" I say all at once, still staring at them.
Xander makes his order, which I have to admit truly is heart-stopping. He's just about to pay, when I hear some crashing near the trash cans outside. I glance at the obviously expensive clothes 'Deadboy' is wearing.
"You might want to get that to go," I say. "The hot sauce is about to fly."
"I like the sound of that," murmurs Xander.
"What?" asks Deadboy, ignoring him.
"The crowd gets a little rowdy about now," I explain.
They just shrug.
Fine, it's his dry cleaning bill.
Then, just when I'm handing Xander his tray, the fabric of space-time rips open.
I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, right, you've been snorting too much of that hot sauce in the back." Believe me, I was so bored once that I actually tried it, and it's even less fun than it sounds. And it's not that kind of buzz.
No, the fabric of space-time actually ripped open. Right there in the lobby of Taco Bell. Ripped open like some sort of mouth to hell. Which, if you think about it, kind of makes sense.
Deadboy and Xander apparently don't get the connection. "Hellmouth?" says Xander, with disbelief. "What's it doing here?"
Deadboy just puts out a protective arm.
And to top it all off, three nasty-looking green demons step through the Hellmouth.
I know, I know. But if you're still with me after the Hellmouth thing, I don't see why you should balk at demons.
"I thought we killed these things," says Xander.
"So did I," says Deadboy.
"Angelus!" one of the demons roars. "We have unfinished business!"
Great, now we've got customers bringing irate demons into the restaurant with them. On the plus side, they're scaring away all the other customers, and all the other employees. I find myself unable to move, rooted in my spot behind the counter.
So I have a perfect view of Deadboy and Xander dispatching the nasty demons. Despite the conditions, I find myself enjoying watching the two hot guys moving in concert. Punch, kick, spin, slice... Deadboy's pulled a sword out of his long coat.
Finally, the three demons lie on the floor, dead. Deadboy stands and slides his sword back into the sheath in his coat. The fight has taken more out of Xander, who's kneeling on the floor catching his breath. Deadboy walks over to check on him and then turns to me.
"Y—yeah, fine." I'm amazed I can speak.
"I think we'll get that to go after all."
Deadboy helps Xander up. As I transfer the contents of Xander's tray to a bag, I suddenly become fully aware of the corpses on the floor and the food and demon blood splattered everywhere (what cleanser gets up demon blood?), and I have terrifying visions of my manager demanding an explanation.
Suddenly, despite my better judgement, I'm enraged. "Do you realize who's going to have to clean this up?" I shout, angrily jamming burritos into the bag. "Do you know what my manager is going to do to me?" And that stupid Hellmouth thing is still sitting right there in the lobby.
Xander just grins at me. Cute grin. "Just hold on a second."
At that moment, there's an odd sound, and the mouth-thing suddenly seals itself. There's an explosion of white light, and when I open my eyes, the mess is gone.
All of it.
Not a trace of demon blood or hot sauce anywhere. The place is cleaner than the day it opened.
I stare at Xander, who's still grinning, in shock for a moment. When I can move my mouth again, I say simply, "I love you."
Deadboy walks over and takes Xander's hand. "Thanks," Xander says, "but I'm spoken for." He and Deadboy exchange a look and I'm melting inside.
"Can I get you anything else?"
Xander walks up and takes his order.
"I don't think so," says Deadboy. "And remember," he adds, tossing a crisp twenty on the counter, "you saw nothing."
I smile knowingly. "I don't know what you're talking about, Deadboy."
Xander gives a whoop of joy, and Deadboy turns to glare at him. I wonder what I said wrong. Xander waves goodbye as Deadboy herds him towards the exit.
"Thank you, come again!" I call as they're almost out the door.
I hear Xander laugh, and then they're gone.
For a while, I stand there, staring at the twenty, not knowing what to think. There'll still be hell to pay with the manager, especially if the police show up, but I'm already forming an explanation about mass hallucination due to exposure to hot sauce (to which I, having once snorted it, am immune) and using the free time to get the cleaning done. It's a ridiculous explanation, but he'll swallow it. He has no choice.
And me? Well, I'll have the memory of this little adventure to get me through my days. That, and a vision of a perfect little restaurant: Deadboy and Xander standing guard in the lobby, scaring off the morons, slaying the jerks. And no one drops any chalupas.