An Honorable Mention in the 2017 Spring Shock Trigger Warning Writing Contest

Warning: this story contains multiple, gratuitous mentions of the word “condom.” Readers of sensitivity and good taste are strongly cautioned.

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 10/16/15 10:23 AM

Sam, below are the entries of the Dornan diary I was able to decipher. Sorry it took so long.

ALL CAPS are as in the original and italics convey various other emphases, mainly change of ink color.

If you want me to keep transcribing, I’m game. Mr. Dornan’s handwriting is brutal but my writing career is going nowhere and I really need the work. -J

 

February 20. To defeat food, you must first understand food.

February 21. An hour with the marketing pukes. “We’re not duplicating the conventional eating experience.” So you can’t taste the food, so what? Listen: a stomach condom lets you eat as much as you want. Chew on that, pukes.

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 10/21/15 10:23 AM

More diary. Just curious: you said this is re the “Dornan case,” but are you his lawyer in the criminal trial or the wrongful termination lawsuit? I’d love to hear more about the “demo incident,” especially the part about “repeatedly striking an officer with a latex bag full of chewed food until it ruptured.” But maybe you can’t say anything. -J

 

February 24. Pep talk to the elasticity team. Got their undies in a bunch because I “ask the impossible.” Stretchy Condom = Impossible because when the condom is full you have to pull it out. Then had to explain for the one billionth time why the customer can’t just tie a knot in the end and let the whole thing glide out the back door with a grin and a wave. Why do I have to figure out everything?

March 13. Pep talk for the strength/suppleness team. A condom is worthless if it breaks. We. Will. Not. Break.

But we will be supple. Mouth feel, I keep telling them. You put in the condom, you shut your eyes, I pop blueberries in your mouth, can you count them? Can you? Hello?

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 10/21/15 4:22 PM

Nibbling away at the Dornan diary. I’ve been staring so long at these chicken scratches, they’re invading my dreams. -J

 

February 26. Looong meeting with the permeability team. No progress whatsoever. If flavor leaks through to the tongue, we CAN duplicate the eating experience. But, if calories leak through, DISASTER. The Puke-in-chief wants to claim 0 calories. Puh-leez, we can lie. A little calorie sneaking through here and there means NOTHING.

Because: permeability = hopeless. Programmable pores are science fiction. People brainstorming about nano-whatever and “smart plastics.” Pathetic. If it needs a battery and 16 gig of RAM, the public won’t swallow it.

The team wants to give up. I’m the leader. The leader does what is necessary. Stalin did what was necessary. Stalin put machine gunners behind the troops to shoot anyone who retreated. They hated him for it. SO WHAT? Who won WWII, Hitler or Stalin? (Answer: STALIN.)

So I yelled and threw a chair. I was sorry after. Bad form. Stalin was never sorry.

February 28. Strength/Suppleness responds to my MANAGERIAL BRILLIANCE by finding a smart material that solves everything. Piezoelectric is magic! Body heat makes it stiffen into a narrow tube, and JACKPOT! — the food shoots out. SHAPE-MEMORY POLYMERS ROCK, BABY!

You know what this is? This is VICTORY. This is OLYMPIC GOLD. This is me winning the FIRST EVER NOBEL PRIZE FOR STOMACH CONDOMS. This is my whole high school senior class showing up at my dacha to APOLOGIZE IN PERSON.

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 10/29/15 5:51 AM

More diary. I have to say, I’m developing a fondness for ol’ Norman. -J

 

March 3. Had to use my ADVANCED MOTIVATION TECHNIQUES on the Form Factor task force. They simply do not know how to FOCUS. Just like my father. AIR-HEADS. CLOWNS.

Just as the road to Berlin passes through Poland, so the path to invention PASSES THROUGH PAIN.

 

March 5. Marketing pukes: suddenly they decide the word “condom” has bad connotations. Oooh, that word is so scary. SCARY.

Need to clear my head -> spent time in sensory deprivation tank AKA Zone of Immaculate Genius -> Bingo! Invented an entirely new product. Like an IUD but for Caesar salad. Mindfulness.

March 6. Breakthrough on permeability. Work around by training customers to sniff food when using the condom. 90% of taste is just smell anyway.

March 7. Father. Of. The. Stomach. Condom. I’ve been saying that out loud. In front of the mirror. Hearing how it sounds. It sounds GOOD.

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 10/30/15 3:01 AM

I’m going blind here. This transcription would be so much easier if I could just talk to the accused. Can I visit him? Which prison is he in? You’ve visited prisons, right? Are prisons yucky? -J

 

March 8. Decided to attack the problem from the food’s point of view. EMPATHY. Wrapped myself in plastic kitchen wrap. Like one of those English cucumbers. Fell down, could NOT get up. Almost suffocated. Almost DIED for the cause. How did it feel? Horrible. And good. Let the food SUFFER.  The food IS THE ENEMY.

 

March 9. Memo to self: bio-engineer vegetables that scream in pain when you cut them. Could be fun! If feasible.

March 10. Weekend: ruined. Got the big thumbs-down from Jody on the smell idea. She emails me 4:00 on a Friday, then runs off to a women’s leadership conference. Coward. Did Stalin ever hide at a women’s leadership conference? Did Stalin ever ignore a weekend’s worth of text messages sent continuously in precise 15 minute intervals? The question answers itself.

March 16. Setbacks in Suppleness. Had to pry the truth out of them. AM I SOME KIND OF BABY WHO CAN’T HANDLE BAD NEWS???? Testers hate the Smart Condom that shoots food. “That’s like puking.” You want PUKING, testers? I’LL SHOW YOU PUKING.

March 17. So the venture capital moneybags zitbrain people want a demo next week. Meddle meddle meddle. I’m busy achieving a technological miracle so all future generations will revere my name and the mail won’t get delivered on my birthday but these FILTHY venture capital people take time out from counting their money to notice that we’re behind schedule. TINY, TINY brains = promising career in venture capital. I.D.I.O.T.S.

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 11/03/15 6:14 PM

Finally making progress! So much easier transcribing this way. Have you talked to Norman? What a fascinating man. Where can I buy helium? -J

 

March 18. Jody: “We need to talk.” Love it LOVE it when she says that. The venture capital people actually read my latest memo which, when viewed from a distance, spelled IDIOTS in ASCII art. Have to give those FOOLS credit for noticing. Won’t underestimate them again. Stalin underestimated Hitler, 20 million Russians paid the PRICE.

March 20. A close one in testing. College students of course. Little pigs stuffed themselves. Surprise surprise, the condom gets too full to pull out.

So, I used the tool. I call it my shoe horn. Really, a reverse shoe horn. Whatever it is, it didn’t work. Nine One One. Stomach pump fouled by the condom. Like a Nazi tank in Russian mud.

You wouldn’t believe the reaction. Panic. Jody convening the Star Chamber. Ominous brow-furrowing. Talk of “reevaluation.”

Kids heal from torn esophagi. But morons, tragically, DON’T HEAL FROM THEIR MORONNESS.

March 21. Stalin’s death? A stroke. The cause? Smoking? Lack of exercise? Look at his uniform. What was that shapeless sack hiding? FAT, that’s what. FAT FAT FAT. Just like my father. Except for crushing Hitler. Okay, actually there’s no comparison. Except for the FAT.

March 24. Permeability team: L.O.S.E.R.Z. Their only idea to keep the food inside and flavor outside is magical Smart Pores that

(Great. SCOTT. Did you (dearest Diary) read those words of PURE GENIUS I just wrote? FLAVOR ON THE OUTSIDE. That is GENIUS! We DON’T NEED permeability if we have FLAVORED condoms. If you’re drinking pinot noir, select a pinot noir-flavored condom. If you’re eating sauerkraut, etc. etc. Like all great solutions, it’s ELEGANT! Like a swan, dipped in chocolate, is elegant! I can FIRE those permeability morons!)

Later: At the end of each successful day, Stalin entertained himself by making Khrushchev dance. Who’s gonna be my Khrushchev?

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 11/05/15 6:11 PM

I can’t believe how easy Norman is on Jody. What a witch, sabotaging the demo then blaming Norman. People die, GET OVER IT. Why can’t they see that it’s NORMAN who is hurting here? When somebody wants to cut through iron bars, they use a file, right? What kind of file? What’s a file? -J

 

March 25. Okay, like all great solutions, the flavored condom proves to be, on reflection, not so great. Had to unfire permeability team. Awkward.

One gigantic problem with flavored condoms. If somebody is eating a meal, you got multiple flavors. Jody called it insurmountable. SCREW insurmountable. I envision a condom with flavor “patches” on different sides. You eat some steak, you rotate the condom to the steak flavor. You eat some mashed potatoes, you rotate to the etc. etc.

Jody’s not buying. “Training issue.” Always “training issue”. Because apparently consumers are too dumb to learn. You go to driver’s ed to learn to drive a car but you can’t go to condom’s ed to learn to eat with a condom so YOU DON’T GET OBESE AND SLOWLY DIE OF A STROKE WHILE KHRUSHCHEV AND BERIA ARE STANDING OVER YOU GIGGLING LIKE FAT RUSSIAN SCHOOLGIRLS

 

March 26. Demo in 2 days and our idiot testers pick today to have a DISASTER. Another choking incident and it turns out the kid is 16. He signed all the papers, he LIED THROUGH HIS FREAKING TEETH TO ME and yet, somehow putting him in the hospital is MY FAULT? Hey, idiot parents who gave birth to an idiot son, ever hear of the DARWIN AWARD?

I am on the CUSP OF PERFECTING THE GREATEST STOMACH CONDOM SINCE SLICED BREAD and my boss thinks the very very best use of my GENIUS BRAIN is making 2-sentence edits to a RELEASE FORM. Do people WANT to live in a better world? Sincere question.

March 27. Practicing in front of the mirror for tomorrow’s demo. MUST SHOW EMPATHY. LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE. Practice names. Hello John. How is John today? John, how are your children? Did they die of obesity? I’m sorry to hear that, John, but your investment today, John, could be a legacy which honors their memory and guarantees such a tragedy never happens again.

Relatability Is Key! I must be flexible. Don’t count on luck. It would be pure luck if the investor’s kid died of obesity.

In the mirror I see a softness around my mouth. It is my father’s mouth. A mouth for laughter, having good times, making friends. But not for MAKING ENOUGH MONEY so your kid could afford to GO TO PARIS like everyone else on the senior class trip. CONDOMS ARE NOT ABOUT HAVING GOOD TIMES.

I wrap myself in plastic kitchen wrap. I look at myself in the mirror. I am the living embodiment of the stomach condom revolution.

I am strong. Yet supple. The investors will see me tomorrow and think: NOW THAT’S A CONDOM.

* * *

From: Jill K.

Subject: Dornan Notebook

To: Sam W.

Date: 11/06/15 9:38 PM

Did you see this headline?

Guards Foil Bizarre Prison Escape Involving

Helium-Filled ‘Stomach Condoms’;

Unemployed ‘Novelist’ Wanted for Questioning

I need a lawyer BAD. You’ve got to help me. I am in so much trouble. -J

#

******

Click here for other stories from the Spring Shocker Writing Contest.

Photo by .v1ctor Casale.