We All Scream
Short story by Iris Carden
Shopping with ten year old twins wasn’t easy. By the time both Christopher and Catherine (Kit and Kat to their friends), had new school shoes and backpacks, Helen was exhausted.
That’s when they noticed it. A new ice cream shop had opened in the shopping centre.
“Twenty five flavours,” Kat said. “Come on Mum, you know you want one.”
“It’s not a big chain. Just a local shop. You said we should support local small businesses while we’re coming out of a pandemic,” Kit said.
Helen could always trust a ten year old to repeat her own words back to her when it played to the kid’s advantage.
Kat followed up with, “It says everything’s half price for the opening day sale.”
Helen gave in. She could do with a treat every bit as much as the kids did.
There was quite a line up, but eventually they were served.
Everyone got triple cones. Helen herself had a scoop of chocolate, one of caramel and one of a creme-whiskey (not a particular famous brand, we’re not ripping their name off and getting sued, thanks) flavour. Kit went for three scoops of chocolate, as he always did. Kat had vanilla, banana and mint-chip chocolate.
In front of the ice cream shop, Helen was about to lick her ice cream when she noticed the chemical smell.
“Hey kids,” she said, “does your ice cream smell like window cleaner?”
They both sniffed. Then with exclamations of “oooh yuck” and “gross”, three ice cream cones were thrown in a nearby bin. Suddenly, a woman pushed past them and vomitted in the bin.
A man grabbed Helen’s shoulder from behind and spun her around to face him. He started yelling in her face about wasting ice cream, and how there were starving people in the world. Another man punched the first in the face.
Helen grabbed Kit and Kat and pulled them into the bookshop next door to the ice cream shop.
Other men had come to join in the fight. An all out brawl broke out in front of the ice cream shop, while other people were being sick.
Some women appeared to be dancing to music only they could hear, while children around the same age as Kit and Kat were running past the shops back and forth screaming, while a toddler lay on the ground, appearing to be unconscious.
Watching the chaos through the bookshop window, Helen pulled her phone out of her handbag and called triple zero, keeping her children inside the shop until police officers and the ambulance were on the scene, breaking up the fight and taking away injured, ill, confused, and disoriented people.
Helen gave a statement at the scene, and saw the staff of the ice cream shop being led away in handcuffs.
It was some time before the story was finally fully told in the local news, although it had been unusual enough for social media to have been talking about it long before.
The two young men who had opened the ice cream shop had believed they had a sure-fire business plan. They would make their handcrafted ice cream truly addictive so that customers would keep coming back. That was why they’d laced their product with large doses of methamphetamine.
Many people on social media opined that such a brilliant business plan may well have been the result of sampling too much of their secret ingredient.
This post was written in response to Lady Jabberwocky’s prompt for the week: I Scream for Ice Cream.