“Q. Can I Hunt Underwater Zombies with Your New Chainsaw, And If Not, Does the Warranty Cover Water Damage?” by Myna Chang

Apr 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Jeremy chugged a can of Shake & Wake Soda. He’d been up for two days straight making a new video for his YouTube channel. A yawn morphed into a surprise belch that brought tears to his eyes. He shook his head and hit the upload button. This chainsaw stunt video was a masterpiece of editing, blending top-notch graphics with his favorite guitar riffs.

The style might not fit Grandma Sharon’s taste, but he knew it would bring more upbeat customers into her quiet little hardware store. “Don’t worry, Grandma, I got you covered,” he said as he cross-posted the video to her Hometown Depot website.

He paused to admire how sick the video looked embedded in the sales copy. Pleased with his work, he decided to get some sleep before his shift stocking shelves at the store. His apartment was heaped with piles of camera equipment and chainsaw parts, so he stretched out on the floor under his desk and fell into a satisfied sleep-coma.


Sharon settled into her comfy office chair. Early morning was her favorite time in the hardware store, with dawn light streaming in the big front windows and the scent of pine mulch wafting from the garden aisle. She savored the quiet for a moment, then booted up her computer.

The day’s first shoppers would arrive soon, but she had time to answer a few customer questions on the store’s website. She zipped to the administrator Q&A portal and opened the first question:

Q. Can I hunt underwater zombies with your new chainsaw, and if not, does the warranty cover water damage?

Asked by: Nuke & Del

She wrinkled her forehead. The timestamp on the question was 3:07 a.m. “What the heck?” She pounded out a polite-yet-responsible reply and hit send. The phone rang before she could open the next question. So much for her peaceful morning. She forced a smile into her voice.

“Hometown Depot, how can I help?”

“Do you sell confetti dispensers to attach to my chainsaw?”

Sharon squinted at her phone. “Did everyone wake up crazy?”


Jeremy’s phone alarm dinged, telling him it was time to go to work. Half asleep, he finger-combed his hair, grabbed his work apron and headed out. Chill morning air stung his face as he drove. He wished he could close his car window, but it’d been smashed by flying trampoline springs while filming his video. The cold drive was worth it though, because that tramp scene was the highlight of his final action sequence. It looked killer. So who cared if his nostril hairs froze? It was a small price to pay for stunt-making glory.

The first thing on his to-do list at the store was to change the boring old labels on the chainsaw display. He couldn’t understand how his grandmother had managed to make chainsaws dull. Good thing he was there to help. She expected him to spend the morning restocking the nails and bolts, but he figured that could wait. Bright new signage was more important. Maybe he could add some runway lights to amplify the route to the chainsaw aisle? Oh yeah, Jeremy was wide awake and ready to blast new life into the hardware business.


Sharon glared at the words on her screen. This was the fifth weird chainsaw question of the morning and she hadn’t even finished her coffee yet.

Q. I bent the chain guard cutting the roof off my car. Can I straighten the guard, or do I need a new one?

Asked by: Wanna Be Florida Man

A. This saw is rated only for cutting wood. Please don’t…why would you even do that?

Answered by: Sharon

A follow-up question immediately popped onto her screen:

Q. I want a convertible. And you’re seriously underestimating this saw, it took the top right off my Taurus, slick as snot. But what about the bent guard?

A. Don’t do that again. You’re lucky you didn’t get hurt! And yes, you need a new guard. You can order one on the website.

She shook her head and moved to the next question:

Q. Can I cut thick tree limbs with the extension pole fully engaged?

Asked by: Pearl S. Gleeson

“That’s more like it,” Sharon muttered. “A legitimate product question.”

A. Yes. The Safe-T-Cut Extendable Chainsaw can cut tree limbs up to 7.5 inches thick with the telescopic pole fully extended.

Answered by: Sharon

Q. How about a human bone?

“Yikes.” Sharon hit the ‘block user’ button and moved to the next question:

Q. I was chasing a raccoon and it ran up a tree, so I tried to follow and fell over backwards, and the chainsaw flew out of my hands and wedged into the side of my house. Can I get a longer extension pole?

Asked by: NOYB

A. No. We don’t have longer poles. Please use this product responsibly!

Answered by: Sharon

AA. And leave that raccoon alone!

She massaged her temples, hoping to ward off the headache that was forming, then continued her work:

Q. Is the Pole of Reaching effective against your basic water zombie?

Asked by: Nuke & Del

A. No! I already told you not to submerge the chainsaw in water! You’re going to electrocute yourselves!

Q. That sucks. Can we get a non-electric chainsaw? Because that lake south of town is filled with undead.

A. What is wrong with you people?

AA. I guess you could try our gasoline powered model. It’s on the website.

Sharon frowned. The Pole of Reaching? That sounded like one of Jeremy’s silly game things… Jeremy.

Her jaw clenched as she scrolled to the product description. Sure enough, all this nonsense was her grandson’s fault. He’d been messing with the sales copy. Again. Instead of the “Safe-T-Cut Extendable Chainsaw,” her website now offered the “Get Medieval Polearm Saw of Reckoning.”

Beneath the ridiculous name, she saw the color options had been changed from the normal red, blue, or white to:


  • Dragon Red – Only a few left in stock!
  • Extreme Blue
  • Kick-Ass Pink
  • Camo-Whamo – Temporarily Out of Stock
  • Beige – Special Gonzo Discount!

Quantity – Buy two and save a buttload of cash!

“A buttload of cash,” Sharon snorted. “That boy still doesn’t understand basic arithmetic. No wonder he flunked out of college.”

Still, discounts were a good idea for the slower-selling colors. She calculated the break-even ratio in her head, mentally bumped up the number to maintain a profit margin, then clicked into the pricing screen. She continued to grind her teeth while she edited out “Gonzo” and “buttload.”


Jeremy saw that his grandma was still busy in her office, which gave him the perfect opportunity to unload the new shipment of Automatic WhackAxes. He feared she’d disapprove of the new product, but he was sure she’d come around after all the lively new customers swarmed into the store. He unloaded the boxes, and whoa! The display looked pretty rad. He took a quick selfie and uploaded it to his stunt site, then checked the hourly traffic stats.

“Yes!” he yelled. He danced in a circle around the garden shovels, singing “oh yeah, highest traffic ever, oh yeah.”

An older man in the paint aisle backed away from him, but Jeremy didn’t notice. He was focused on the new comments that had already appeared on the chainsaw video. He skimmed them, then froze: a note from the Atomic Duck Tape Corporation? Fingers trembling, he expanded the message. Read it. Opened his mouth, fish-faced, and read it a second time.

“A sponsorship offer? From the most badass tape company in the world? You could stick a frickin’ rocket together with that stuff!”

He danced around the shovels again, this time singing “oh yeah, unlimited super tape, oh yeah, atomic money.”

The two customers who had been browsing socket wrenches hurried out of the store.


Sharon turned her attention to the chainsaw video. “How to use this bitchin’ saw!” pulsed in neon yellow, and her headache immediately synced with the flashing graphics. She hesitated. Why couldn’t he just stick to restocking the shelves like she’d asked?

She hit “play” and a blare of frenetic guitar music rattled her computer speakers. Then Jeremy wavered into focus, wielding a chainsaw. It was the Dragon Red model. He demonstrated how to attach the “Pole of Reaching,” and explained how it allowed users to safely trim tree branches without the need of a wobbly ladder. Sharon smiled in relief. “Very responsible,” she nodded.

Then someone off camera threw a watermelon and Jeremy swung the saw like a baseball bat, ripping the melon into a jagged wreck of rind and red haze. The guitar screech amped up to an image of Jeremy using the fully-extended pole to slice the net off a basketball hoop. The view changed to Jeremy gleefully sawing through the “Caution” traffic sign at the intersection of Lake Road and State Highway 6. The next shot showed him posing on a surfboard, using the chainsaw to fend off flying lakefish.

The montage slowed and a voiceover intoned: “Remember what Grandma says: Be responsible. Wear your safety goggles.” Jeremy donned a ski mask and hacked an old trampoline to pieces.

Sharon gaped as trampoline springs bounced across the screen, while her grandson yelled “Banzai!”

Stunned, she squinched her eyes shut for a moment, then squared her shoulders and reached for the PA microphone. Her words boomed throughout the store: “Jeremy, come to my office. NOW.”


Jeremy slid sideways through Sharon’s door. “You wanted to see me, Grandma?”

She jabbed at her computer. “What is this Medieval Polearm stuff on my website?”

Jeremy grinned. “Pretty awesome, huh?”

“It’s completely irresponsible,” Sharon said. “You should see the questions that are coming in. You’ve set off an epidemic of stupidity!”

“Stupidity? That must be my fan base. I cross-posted from my YouTube channel.”

“YouTube. Jeremy, Sweetheart, when are you going to stop playing with that nonsense? You have to take responsibility for your life.”

“But Grandma, I make money off my stunt videos.”

“People pay for that insanity?”

“Ha! No. But the advertising on my site pays, cash per click.”

“They pay you for your viewers?”

“Yep. And I get a bonus when my fans come back to read the comments. It’s called viewer engagement. I’m really good at it.”

Sharon quirked an eyebrow, unconvinced.

“Let me show you.” He scooted up a chair and clicked into her Q&A portal. One of the questions Sharon had answered earlier blinked at the top of the screen:

Q. I’m going to a Dystopian Renaissance Faire this weekend. What types of armor can this chainsaw cut through when the pole is fully extended?

Asked by: Sir Worthington the Worthy

A. Son, you are too stupid to use a chainsaw. Return it to the store at once!

Answered by: Sharon

“Grandma!” Jeremy said. “That’s the opposite of positive viewer engagement. You’ll tank your ratings.”

“But that guy is going to kill someone,” Sharon grumbled.

“Naw, he’s just a role player. See his follow-up question?”

Q. Ok, I’ve tested this. In handheld mode, I have greater cutting power—that flimsy LARP armor can’t hold up. But, my reach is greatly reduced, putting me smack-dab inside the Shining Knight’s cleaving radius (he uses the Automatic WhackAxe). Do you think the increased cutting power is worth the risk?

Asked by: Sir Worthington the Worthy

Jeremy cracked his knuckles and began to type:

A. Nope. That WhackAxe will fuck you up, bro. I say extend the pole out as far as it will go, and sneak up behind that cocky MF.

PRO TIP: If you enter the jousting competition, you might wanna reinforce the joints on the pole with some Atomic Duck Tape.

Answered by: Jeremy Z Stunt King

“Jeremy Z Stunt King?” Sharon scoffed.

“That’s my internet handle,” Jeremy replied.

“Uh huh,” she deadpanned. “And I suppose the Automatic WhackAxe is a real thing?”

“Yeah, we sell ’em. Aisle four.”

Sharon sputtered, but Jeremy pretended he didn’t notice and moved to the next question:

Q. Is there a bulk purchase discount? I’d like to mount a saw on each wheel of my minivan.

Asked by: Nancy

A. That’s the spirit, Nancy! Don’t let those other moms crowd you out of the school drop-off line! You can see in the order box (above) a discount of 5% if you buy two. So I think that’ll give you a total of 7% off, if you buy 4, but don’t hold me to that cause I don’t believe in math. How the hell are you gonna mount those saws to your van? You gotta come back & post some pix!

“See Grandma? Customer engagement. People will come back to look at those photos and buy more stuff. You’ll have tons of rockin’ customers in your store.”

“What? I don’t want those lunatics here!”

“Really? I thought you hired me to bring some excitement into this dull place.”

“It’s not dull, it’s peaceful, and I hired you because you flunked out of business school. I was afraid you’d starve.”

“I didn’t flunk out. I quit to focus on my YouTube channel. And I just got this great new sponsorship gig.”

“Will it pay enough to cover your expenses, and give you some profit to save?”

“Yeah? Maybe? I already make enough to cover rent.” He remembered his broken car window and sagged. “Maybe it’s not really enough. I suck at math. But you’re good with all this money crap, Grandma. Would you look at this contract for me?” He opened the Atomic Duck Tape message and handed over his phone.

Sharon sighed and started to read. Her breath caught. “Holy moly, Jeremy, this is more than I’ll make all year.”

“So it’s a good deal?”

Sharon nodded. “But you might change this paragraph to state you’re not liable for any injuries that result from your videos. In fact, you should probably warn all your fans. Your stunts are too dangerous for them to replicate.”

“Wow, Grandma, you’re good at legal crap, too. Wanna be my business manager? In exchange for my customer engagement expertise here at the hardware store? We can be partners!”

“Of course, I’ll help you, but…” she stammered. The phone rang. Grateful for the distraction, she hit the speakerphone button.

“Hometown Depot.”

“Hi, Sheriff Ortree here. Do you carry flamethrowers? There’s a whole herd of zombies at the lake, and these chainsaws keep getting jammed up with bone fragments.”

Jeremy leaned closer to the speaker. “I’d recommend the Flamethrower of Justice, Sheriff. We just got a whole crate of ’em, and we can give you a gonzo discount if you buy in bulk.”

Sharon considered her grandson while he closed the sale. Were the lake zombies his fault? Possibly, but she had to admit, the store was more interesting with his brand of customer engagement.

He hung up the phone and she draped her arm around him. “You’ve got a deal, partner.”


Myna Chang writes flash and short stories. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Best Small Fictions, Fractured Lit, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag, and Bending Genres. She has been nominated for Best Microfiction, and she is the winner of the 2020 Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction. Read more at MynaChang.com or @MynaChang.

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