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A Few Bad Apples

Following the public outrage and scandal, after the hospitalizations and quarantines, the Unified Fruit Crop Corporation offers a helpful list of questions and answers to address your many concerns about the problem with its fruit.

Due to unforeseen occurrences of rot and infection, the Unified Fruit Crop Corporation (UFCC) is recalling all apples shipped between March 2003 and October 2004. UFCC would like to express our sincere apologies to all of our valued, loyal customers who consumed the contaminated fruit and subsequently became ill or suffered “mild” death. As a form of remuneration, the UFCC will issue you a coupon for a complimentary bag of oranges, redeemable at any participating Orange Hut franchise. Yes, thanks to those few “bad apples,” we have taken the necessary steps toward quarantine, and now our orange crops are safer for it!

The management of UFCC understands that you may still have questions and concerns, such as: How did all of these apples, some of them festering with worms and parasites, ever make it through UFCC’s inspection process? What this question fails to recognize, however, is that not all of the apples carried worms. Many were simply rotten or malformed, or contained trace amounts of zombie flesh. Had our team of High Quality Standards Inspectors not been overrun by hordes of the undead, and subsequently joined their ranks, they would have easily caught any and all health and safety infractions as outlined in our High Quality Standards Process.

To familiarize our customers with these Standards, we’ve assembled the following list of “Frequently Asked Questions.”

Q: Last week at school, my son traded the baby carrots I packed in his lunch for a slice of an infected apple, and he since has been confined to a saline I.V. and a respirator. Is United Fruit Crop Corporation responsible for his medical bills?

A: Oranges are full of vitamin C, and that means they’re a super source for preventing the sniffles. But nothing helps health like a carefree attitude. Try putting a quartered peel in your mouth, then have the whole family join in, and take joy in your goofy orange grins. If you live alone, you can amuse yourself with a mirror or any clean metallic surface.

Q: My family, my town, my entire life has been quarantined. Fourteen weeks! You’ve known since then. At the very least, you’ve known. Your demon apples have destroyed us. Why has it taken UFCC so long to admit to its horrendous mistake?

A: An orange can fit snugly into the toe of any Christmas stocking. What is it about the blend of citrus and fresh pine that makes for such a magical feeling? In some parts of the world, children look forward to the holidays for their annual orange, which they cherish and eat with great reverence.

Q: Toxins…spreading. Immuno-compromised system…buckling. Please…send…new kidney.

A: Not all oranges are created equal—but you can always count on navels and Valencias to be a big hit! When the season’s in bloom, look for blood oranges or the pink Cara Cara navel for a rare, juicy treat.

Q: Asagh, agghs, aash. Ohhhhhhhhh. I must be swift and brief, precise in the attrition of dexterity, the flesh sliding between the keys, the questions of consciousness and neurophysological stasis slipping into primal aghsh;sh, aaaahghh. Ag!! Which is to say, there’s providence, biblical allusion, even, in (RAGGH) the vessel of my casual demise. Whither does volition lie, in a disembodied spirit, a neural confluence of mind, or simply the wired flesh of BRAINS? BRAAAAINS. AGHSGH. SLUUURP, AHGHSSH. The taste provides no answers.

A: Try a fruit knife with a sharp, flexible, three-inch stainless-steel blade and a plastic handle, cutting the circumference of the peel while keeping your thumb free from the slice. Or just dig in with your fingernails and teeth! Don’t forget to visit for some Orange You Glad™ recipes for parties and funeral platters. And remember, when it comes to fresh oranges, only trust those bags with the UFCC label: Never touched by zombies, guaranteed.™

Jeremy Richards is a writer and actor residing in Seattle, Wash. His work has appeared in McSweeney’s, Eyeshot, and Pindeldyboz, and on NPR’s “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.” More by Jeremy Richards