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A Pleasant Surprise
by Michael A. Kechula

Dr. Zanker was upset when the corpse he tried to animate turned into a mass of yellow goo.

“How could I have failed so miserably?” he cried. “Yanush, did you press the Fluff-Noodle switch when the green lights blinked?”

“No. The checklist said I should press the Fluff-Diddle switch.”

“Dammit! That’s the wrong switch! How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

“I used the checklist you had printed by the Village Idiot Guild. They must’ve goofed.”

“I’ll sue the bastards!” yelled Zanker. 

Overcome with curiosity, Yanush jammed two fingers into the goo. “It’s very slippery. Perhaps we could use it to grease the wheels on wagons we use to haul stolen corpses from the cemetery.”

On impulse, he licked his fingers. “Mmm.  Tastes good.  Reminds me of mustard, and yet it’s a bit sweet. Doctor, you should taste this.”

Zanker thrust fingers into the goo. “That’s odd. It doesn’t have the stink of melted corpses.” Licking his fingers, he added, “You’re right.  It’s quite delicious.”

“Notice the hint of honey?” asked Yanush. “And yet it has the flavor of mustard.  Imagine. Mustard and honey combined. Perhaps we should call it mustardized honey.”

“I think honey mustard sounds better,” Zanker said. 

“I have an idea, Doctor. With this you’ll be able to hide the gamy flavor of road kill.  Remember how you tried to sell all those carcasses to the village butcher, and he refused them because they were so bitter? I’ll bet he’ll change his mind if we spread this goo on the critters your wagon squashes along the cemetery road.”

“Great idea. I’m promoting you from Laboratory Flunky Third Class to Culinary Specialist Third Class. As a bonus, I’ll throw in all the road kill you can eat.”

“Thank you,” Yanush said, licking his lips.

“Meanwhile, check the castle for empty bottles. Fill them with this wonderful substance. I’ll design some eye-catching labels. I’ll call it Grandma Zanker’s Special Formula Honey Mustard.  I’ll have The Grave Robber Guild exhume more bodies. This way, we can make more honey mustard when this batch runs out. Just remember, from now on when a fresh corpse is the table, and the green light blinks, press the Fluff-Diddle switch!”

Zanker was delighted when the village butcher accepted a shipment of honey mustard basted road kill. Soon, villagers were clamoring for more. They also bought every bottle of honey mustard Zanker could provide to village shops.

Before long, the cemetery was empty. Zanker almost went out of business for lack of raw materials. Just as he was about to declare bankruptcy, bubonic plague struck. Soon, the cemetery overflowed with corpses. Zanker gleefully converted them into thousands of gallons of gooey honey mustard. 

When the plague subsided, the great influenza epidemic of 1918 struck Europe. Zanker was so overstocked with his product, he began exporting to America.

Since then, Grandma Zanker’s Special Formula Honey Mustard has been America’s favorite brand. Especially among gourmets who feast on road kill.