Posthoumous: A Dystopian Short Story About Houmous

Greetings! This is a short story I finished in January 2016 to enter into a science-fiction competition. It went by without being acknowledged, so I’m sticking it online for anyone who wants to read 6,000 fun words. It needs sharpening up a bit, but what the hey… it’s fun!

I’ll likely be editing it in the future as I’m not happy with the ending at the moment, but as it’s been sitting around for over a year doing nothing, I figured it would be a better idea to get it onto the blog for folks to read and criticise. Whatever – I’m impervious!

Synopsis

This is a prescient statement, one detailing how humanity suffered a near-apocalyptic event with the overproduction, and eventual extinction, of houmous in the 21st century. Following the crushing realisation there would no more mushy foodstuff goodness, humans were driven towards pandemonium in this dystopian tale of chickpeas and pita bread gone wrong. Welcome… to a posthoumous civilisation.

Posthoumous

Prologue

There was a time when there was houmous. This time has gone. There was a time when the houmous industry was prosperous. Now the industry is not prosperous. There was a time when chickpeas were plentiful and the people of the world rejoiced at this knowledge. These days chickpeas are not plentiful, and the people of the world do not frolic or laugh with the same sense of rampant merriment which was once the case.

For hundreds of years, houmous had been a much-celebrated mainstay in the diets of millions of citizens on this largely green and blue Earth. Human beings considered the chickpea-based dip holy and placed it alongside such foodstuff luminaries as beans on toast, spaghetti hoops, noodles, and mashed potatoes. It was used at dinner parties, as a snack with pita bread, and in sandwiches. It was even touted by vegans as the answer to all of the world’s problems.

This critical and commercial acclaim was a tremendous fillip for honourable houmous, its proponents, and those who profited from its production. Chickpea farmers flourished, many innovative ingredient combinations were invented (such as mint and asparagus houmous), and everybody agreed it was a most happy time, a time when one could stroll down to the local shop and buy a tub of houmous for about £1.50 (or somewhere nearing this fiscal totality). Unfortunately, strife has a tendency of setting in subtly. As houmous became wildly available on a terrifying scale, some began to ask themselves the following pertinent question: How much… is too much houmous?

In the annals of human history, the 21st century proved to be the defining moment for houmous. For aeons, it had existed untroubled, but with the foodstuff reaching a gourmet status in polite society, there was a predictable crisis. Food snobs the world over defined themselves by their favourite brand and ingredient combination, startling new concoctions were foisted upon an oversaturated market, supermarkets became overrun with a myriad of houmous based products, and, inevitably, this took its toll on the Earth’s reserves.

Overproduction led to a colossal crash in chickpea availability, but nobody could have ever prepared for the disaster which unfolded. Whilst prescient members of society, such as delusional conspiracy theorists, prophesied mayhem and destruction with overtones of houmous, even the wildest of suggestions barely scratched the surface of the near-apocalyptic events which were set to push humanity to the boundaries of existential dismay.

This is the story of how humanity and houmous came to odds. Taken to the brink of destruction, human endeavours turned in desperation to embracing a world of less provocative recipes. In pursuit of peace, Earth became a Posthoumous civilisation freed from the interminable horrors of chickpea based dip.

Part I: A Brief History of Houmous

It is important to stress houmous was once a simple product which was merely consumed for culinary pleasures. The twisted insanity it eventually induced on society was bad luck – these things happen and, on this occasion, it was houmous’ turn to do the ill deed.

It was likely invented during antiquity. An Arabic word, “houmous” means “chickpeas” which, of course, is the central ingredient of the dip. Do not let yourself be swayed by this effortless summary, as reality is a conniving and clever fiend. Although folks from the far reaches of early civilisations may have gorged merrily on chickpeas, it is wholly unclear if they could head to their nearest supermarket to acquire a tub of houmous. Indeed, it is uncertain if houmous existed in antiquity – all one can do is hazard a guess and presume a variety of mushy, delicious chickpea stuff existed for ancient humans.

What is known is the first recipe for houmous reared itself in an Egyptian cookbook in the 13th century. It appeared in the Kitāb al-Wusla ilā l-habīb fī wasf al-tayyibāt wa-l-tīb – this means “Medieval times food” for those of you lacking the intellectual capacity to grasp such a simple word combination.

Considering medieval food, in comparison to contemporary culinary dishes, in its barbaric glory is enough to make one wobbly and nauseous; few dishes from the era made it to the 21st century. Yet there was something rather special about houmous. It hung around. It stuck. It could obstinately adapt to the changing social and economic demands human beings threw at it over hundreds of years, allowing it to spread like a virus through civilisations. It did what its chief medieval foodstuff rival, pig’s bladder soup, never could – it remained a popular dish throughout the ages and transformed itself into something of a modern marvel.

Thusly, from the 13th century onwards, humans became addicted to the mushy dish with the pleasant aftertaste. Houmous blossomed from there, with each new generation turning to its comforting delights in moments of extreme suffering and woe. For example, it is believed King Henry VIII, in a moment of extreme suffering and woe, turned to houmous for comfort and delights, which backs up the preceding sentence rather fittingly.

As the centuries rolled on by like a bunch of rolling chickpeas, houmous grew in stature. Once the Industrial Revolution began, houmous became widespread. By the turn of the 20th-century adulation had turned to reverence, and after World War II the foodstuff descended into a new era of mass production and availability. This was the houmous era and it was mushy and tasty.

Naturally, in the 1960s, Hippies began to champion houmous, and this counterculture movement sent the dip into overdrive. The food was considered something of an environmentally friendly, healthy product, and this allowed it to be regarded with great awe and affection by those seeking a healthy alternative to the likes of ketchup. Truly, houmous had become a miraculous product which could win over even the bleakest of hearts.

Alas, great success brings great dissension and the opportunity for conflict. In short, human excess stepped in. As the possibilities for houmous became aware to the masses, the original flavour was simply not enough. With the emergence of supermarket chains there came the public demand for new types of houmous, larger amounts of houmous, and better quality houmous. This triggered the tragic descent of a once lauded foodstuff into an arena of tumult, intemperate demands, and chaos.

Part II: The Hedonistic Years

During the 20th century, the population explosion brought with it more chickpea addicts desiring nutritious dip. The need for greater chickpea reserves was driven massively by the surge of interest in the decades following the 1960s. Supermarket chains began pushing to create more varieties – new recipes emerged, and over time became increasingly erratic.

Blissfully ignorant, societies of the world turned a blind eye to this impending disaster. In the late 20th century, and into the early 21st, the landslide of houmous inventions should have shocked the world. It did not – humans revelled in the colossal selection available and did nary worry a jot for the potential consequences. The occasional aghast social commentator was quickly drowned out by the hordes of slaves to the houmous name, who dismissed all pessimism as pessimistic.

Chefs, of course, capitalised on the uprising. Provided with a chance to shine, new types of houmous flooded supermarket shelves with alarming rapidity. There is a fine line between creativity and lunacy, one which chefs soon found themselves breaching with a wild disregard for decent moral conduct. Early recipes mixed normal ingredients such as asparagus, beetroot, mint, lemon, spinach, and artichokes. These were decent recipes for decent people – an upstanding tradition of morally righteous foodstuffs.

Crazed heathens had to go and ruin it all. Before long recipes began to grow wildly out of control – by 2010 there were over 20,000 known varieties of houmous and the simple fact was the world’s governments were losing control of the situation. Yet, blindly, and one could attest ignorantly, they turned their noses up and allowed houmous creations to reach the foul depths of repugnance.

Insane chefs the world over began concocting frightening varieties in an attempt to cash in on the craze. Notoriously, the American chef Biff Biffington became the prolific figurehead during this time. His creations received awe and non-awe in equal measure, and some of his most unconscionable inventions included semtex houmous, horse manure houmous, watermelon and mackerel houmous, and mous (a mixture of chocolate mousse and houmous). Tragically, but inevitably, his life ended when several tonnes of chickpeas flattened him into a substance not too dissimilar to that of houmous.

Supermarket chains could have held the madness back, but they joined in the practice and produced budget priced houmous pots which were easy to generate and disseminate. These low-cost varieties were initially a hit with consumers, but before long houmous creations simply could not live up to the hype. Disappointment led to discontent, and the media spread the dissatisfaction with front page stories bearing headlines such as, “Fish & Chips Houmous Causes Factory Meltdown!”, “Latest Houmous Invention Induces Nationwide Riot!”, and “Politicians Blame Gentrification On Houmous”.

The most notorious debacle to emerge from this corporate craze was the chocolate houmous incident. The brainchild of the now defunct Food Supermarket Ltd, this company dared to combine 85% dark chocolate with houmous. The company’s fatal mistake was using such a strong percentage of cocoa beans, overwhelming the houmous flavour and turning the product into what was essentially a mushy form of chocolate. Horrifically, this caused disappointed houmous aficionados to take to the streets and bellow furiously in disgust, often at awkward times of day (such as 7 am in the morning when no one’s really ready for that type of thing).

In an attempt to quell the outrage over this dismal failure, Food Supermarket Ltd released the hopelessly misguided lavatory disinfectant houmous. It was at this point most people agreed the food community had well and truly debased itself. From this point onwards, it was a steady slide towards a fate worse than sandwiches with white bread. Indeed, the manic over usage of chickpeas was beginning to drain the world’s supplies. In denial, the farmers and corporations continued as if nothing was amiss, but something most definitely was amiss. Chickpeas simply couldn’t be farmed as rapidly as consumers were consuming them, forcing the houmous community to face bold realities it did not dare face.

By 2015, the situation was out of control. Emergency government meetings were held by the UN, and on the 26th July 2016 the International Houmous Committee (IHC) was formed in an attempt to dispel the growing sense of public unease. Unfortunately, the formation of the IHC did the exact opposite – mass panic seized the world as it became apparent houmous supplies had reached a crisis point. Immediately the big questions were asked, and the world’s media fuelled the panic by debating whether it would be possible to survive without chickpea and olive oil based dips. Some considered what place in life those with houmous livelihoods would have. Others considered ending it all. There were also those who simply fell to their knees… and wept.

Unable to control the situation, the rot began in earnest. This was not aided by the IHC’s inability to agree on what was the right type of houmous to serve at committee meetings, events, and other polemical occasions. How, some members argued, could one in all seriousness serve houmous and beetroot at a political convention where ideologies were to be shared and a crisis averted? Indeed, surely the original flavouring is what would best summarise the committee’s ultimate goal?

Restlessness grew amongst the world’s governments as the IHC singularly failed to do anything except embarrass itself. One such example was a leaked memo from IHC dignitary Geoffrey Chest, who alerted his mistress of the houmous crisis in private. His memo, first published in British tabloid newspaper the Daily Disaster, simply read: “I am deeply concerned about the houmous situation. Yours, snugglemuffins XOXO :o) P.S. I loved wearing your dress last night, babe.” Chest was admonished for his conduct.

Such incidents greatly amplified the public’s alarm. The concern of tens of millions of people could be likened to a train hurtling through the night, a train stacked full of houmous! This train was set to derail and dash itself on the tracks, spilling a perpetual stream of houmous pots all over the place and making a fine mess, one which those required to clean it up would see and respond with, “Oh, bloody hell, you’ve got to be kidding me!?” Something had to be done.

In accordance with the need to end the growing dilemmas, the IHC, in 2017, appointed one of the greatest political luminaries of the age to restore equilibrium. This was former army general Captain Brian Violent. Captain Violent, a 78-year-old lifelong admirer of houmous, vowed to the world he would solve the burgeoning crisis. His inauguration speech read as follows, verbatim: “I, Captain Brain Violent, hereby swear to use unnecessarily aggressive means to further the cause of houmous. It will not be easy, but I can assure the citizens of Earth soon there will be houmous flowing from every available orifice from here into eternity!” Despite announcing his name incorrectly, this speech went down in history as one of the most sublime imaginable.

Mr. Violent immediately instigated revolutionary tactics such as installing 40ft high barriers around major cities in the event of houmous tsunamis. Another plan was a particularly aggressive leaflet campaign denouncing zoo animals (such as giraffes), who Mr. Violent claimed were furtively shipping houmous to their home planet of Jupiter. He also suggested houmous may have been a figment of human imagination, the pencil is mightier than the atom bomb, cheese should only be eaten above sea level, aliens shaped like giant houmous pots were monitoring his every activity, and the American government had ordered him to join with the President in matrimony.

The public, fed up with his dismally vacuous attempts at saving society, demanded he be blasted into space with nothing but a lifetime supply of instant noodles and an uninteresting selection of romantic literature. The IHC adhered to this request.

Part III: The Descent Into Madness

As the years ticked inexorably by, houmous supplies began to dwindle on a frightening scale. In an attempt to retain some semblance of control, corporations took on dubious tactics in order to meet their houmous shipment quotas from a still expectant public. Unsavoury behaviour such as squishing blue bottle flies together as a chickpea substitute and adding food colouring went unnoticed by the masses, who quaffed down the delicious mushy houmous with gusto.

Undeterred by the grotesque betrayal of consumer rights, corporations ignored the houmous reality and instead plunged headlong into the abyss in pursuit of further fiscal gains through chickpea substitutes. There were blue bottles, peas, bits of mud, rabbit droppings, acorns, and black peppercorns glued together to resemble the slightly larger chickpea.

All of this did little to diminish the harsh reality of the houmous situation – houmous reserves were dwindling rapidly. It was 2020 and supermarkets were already cutting back by creating knockoff brands such as “Home-us” – a mushy dip made out of bits of old furniture. Consumers were not amused. Indeed, many particularly ardent houmous zealots would begin each day by climbing from their beds, falling to their knees, and weeping.

Corporations blamed the farmers, the farmers blamed the corporations, the politicians blamed the corporations and the farmers, and the public blamed everything on pre-decimalisation. Things got mightily confused after the latter assertion as everyone involved had to pretend to understand what that big word meant.

By 2022, houmous was no longer readily available – not even in top class swanky restaurants. It even proved difficult to find in those really massive supermarkets which are like aircraft hangers – the ones where you could probably find vacuum-packed oysters airlifted in from Japan, yet there wasn’t a single pot of delicious houmous!

Desperate consumers would approach proletariat shelf stackers and demand access to the delicious dips, but were sadly denied with the curt maxim, “We don’t do that no more, mate”. Perplexed, frustrated, and irate, consumers took to social media to vent their spleen. Comments such as “I am outraged”, “WTF?!”, “Sad face…”, “We’ve landed donkeys on Mars… but there’s no houmous!?!?!” were commonplace, and the internet became a place of mourning for the mushy deliciousness so evidently missed by all.

Facing a crisis of unprecedented implications, the world’s politicians finally began to take notice. It was 2023 and preservation societies were founded alongside debate committees with the goal of debating the living daylights out of the houmous issue. Big words parted from lips, heads nodded in agreement, heads shook in disagreement, the occasional fist was waved belligerently, and over the course of three months of intense bureaucracy and decision making, absolutely no decisions were ultimately made.

This signalled the end for houmous. With humanity unable to make a decision on the fate of this much-loved dish, and the equally popular chickpea, houmous officially became extinct in 2024 – the final chickpea in history was preserved in a time capsule in the hope it would one day be dug up by future civilizations to repopulate the planet with mushy delightfulness. Failing this, it could be turned into some sort of weird, diminutive deity.

Many citizens struggled in the years following the cessation of houmous production. Millions endured withdrawal symptoms, and centres were set up to alleviate the suffering. These were known as Helpous centres. The name was criticised heavily by Humanitarians, who claimed it was a cheesy pun during a time of stress, anxiety, and hegemonic despair. These people were dismissed as “PC nanny state morons” by the members of society who had a leaning towards the anachronistic side of things.

Inevitably, things turned nasty, and when things turn nasty with humans things sure do turn nasty. Thusly the rumblings of the latest World War commenced as nations began to express their outrage over the houmous extinction event. Before this war could begin, the International War Announcement Committee (IWAC) was besieged by dozens of government representatives seeking, nay, demanding the impending carnage be named the Great Houmous War. This erupted into a 10-hour war known as the War Which Determined the Great Houmous War, during which the battle spilt onto the streets of several major cities and wiped out 100,000 lives in a hellish, agonising, houmous free skirmish.

Eventually, in early 2025, the dispute could finally erupt into a full-scale international conflict after the decision, in the very final minute of governmental patience, to name the war the Great Houmous War. Had this not been decided upon, there would have been a terrible war about the incorrect naming of the war, and this would have been a staggering tragedy of unknown proportions.  Thankfully, the right decision was made, and a nightmarish and brutal war could begin in its place.

The Great Houmous War had been unlike anything anyone had ever seen before (primarily as it was initiated by houmous or, rather, the lack of the stuff). Indeed, paranoia and stupidity got the better of everyone, accusations began to fly of reserved stashes which weren’t being shared, and as with most wars, all it did was mess things up a bit and not really solve anything.

Looking for positives in a barbaric situation, the Great Houmous War did at least launch a much-lauded hero into the limelight. Although ultimately killed in action, British General Sir Armleg Fistfoot (knighted before the war due to having the Best Name in England) was a brave and robust man with noble features and noble intentions. The man would prove to be the poster boy for the war generation, particularly in the UK. With his acceptable looks, wonky teeth, intrinsic capacity for cold-blooded murder, and average intelligence, Sir Fistfoot filled the fantasies of many delusional teenage girls who wished to one day grow older and run a houmous farm with an analogous gentleman.

There were many others like him, of course, but Sir Fistfoot epitomised the Great Houmous War by representing the abject stupidity of the entire endeavour. Indeed, future generations would later question exactly what was so “great” about the Great Houmous War. The answer was simple: it was great in the sense it was absolutely massive and wreaked havoc all over the place, but certainly not great in the same sense one would consume and exclaim in delight about a great batch of houmous.

The Great Houmous War was a tragedy of the highest order and claimed tens of millions of lives. After five years of mayhem, it dribbled to an abrupt halt when the International Houmous Committee (IHC) intervened with the news of a pioneering space mission to seek and find chickpea reserves in the deepest reaches of the universe. With the war having taken its toll on the human population (70% of able-bodied individuals were, by 2030, either stone dead or maimed beyond usefulness), the IHC propelled the Houmous Space Agency (HSA) into the limelight.

Nations stricken by the war agreed to halt destructive proceedings, and a peace treaty was signed in the summer of 2030. This signalled peace, as this is what a peace treaty is for, ushering in a new era of contemplation, restoration, and further bickering, as eyes turned to the skies and wondered if the solution lay amongst the distant stars.

Part IIII: Posthoumous

With peacetime came peace. Obviously, there was still the odd ruckus (such as neighbours arguing about music being played too loudly at unsociable hours – at any rate, this had nothing to do with houmous) thrown in for good measure, but on the whole, the incessant bombing of wartime had come to a sudden close.

The aftermath of the Great Houmous War was laced with oddness and debauchery. From this mess emerged a new form of civilisation – a Posthoumous way of living. The societies of the world united and began to slowly embrace an existence where there would forever more be no more houmous. It was a prolonged and terrible time, filled with whinnying sentiments about “everything’s going to be okay”, and soothing platitudes about how “humanity always finds a way”.

Optimistic people were viewed unfavourably – pessimism largely became the order of the day. Human nature, being the way it is, even led some folks to admit they were incapable of accepting the harshest of realities. These feelings had been in place for a long time and had festered and grown during the war. The public made its opinion known with bad tempered marches across the many lands of Earth.

During this time, the IHC was disbanded. With the extinction of houmous, there was no need for the organisation. The majority of more useful members were enlisted to assist with the HSA space program. Consisting of the finest scientists and freethinkers of the world, the HSA was created with one mission in mind – to search the entire universe in the quest to find a planet with a harvestable batch of chickpeas. It was a worthy endeavour, and the HSA commenced its work in order to find, cultivate, and create houmous.

The first manned mission launched in 2035, but several houmous infatuated engineers had been too busy lusting after their favourite product and had inadvertently created a faulty ship. The HSA-A blasted off the launch pad, made it 30ft into the air, and then promptly fell over. Thankfully there were no fatalities, although several members of the dozen strong crew had their eyebrows singed.

Undeterred, scientists returned in 2036 with a rocket which was created by individuals not particularly interested in houmous. This allowed it to be completed in a manner which would not court further incident. Gloriously, and with much relish for dip, did HSA-B blast into orbit and into the deepest reaches of space, manned this time by half a dozen brave souls eager to earn their loot and return to Earth for pita bread lunches.

Sadly, they were never heard from again. Conspiracy theorists believed they landed on a planet with chickpeas and, overtaken by greed, vowed never to return to Earth. Allegedly, they lived out their days feasting on free houmous, able to create, with wild abandon, bizarre recipes at leisure. This was merely one theory. Others believed the crew’s final radio message, which was filled with high-pitched shrieking and cries of “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!” suggested they had met with an untimely end. The truth was as enigmatic as the cosmos itself.

Whilst the failed HSA missions played out (the organisation was eventually disbanded in 2038) a didactic order emerged on Earth based on the need to comprehend what had played out over the preceding decades. Human behaviour is built on the need to cultivate, interpret, and understand. Memories can be seen as a therapeutic, and this is what the order realised. Soon, the movement brought forth individuals known as Houmous Scholars, a collective set to rid the world of despair and loss through nostalgia, head nodding, and contemplation.

The Houmous Scholars weren’t outstanding intellects or exceptional people in any respect, they merely had a magnanimous desire to help humanity during a time of adversity. These individuals, primarily men with enormous beards and a distinct smell of Old Spice, began to document the history of houmous in a solitary, enormous, massive great big book (thusly complementing their enormous beards). The Massive Book (as it was dubbed) was prone to gathering dust on an enormous scale due to the stench of Old Spice making it impossible for janitors to clean the area.  Regardless, these men, at first numbering in their dozens, but eventually swelling into a figure of thousands, toiled hard in order to appease the public’s sense of disillusionment and fear.

The documenting of houmous began from antiquity to the present day in an attempt to warn future humans of the perils of letting things go a bit pear-shaped. Noble indeed, and Houmous Scholars were celebrated the world over for their Humanistic leanings and commitment to truth, honour, didactic desires, and big beards.

For a decade they toiled. Hard at work crafting a tome which compiled the history of houmous, they ultimately produced a 500,000 page work of historical accuracy which would cause people, upon sight of the enormous book, to collapse in a fit of spasmodic rapture. It was either the aforementioned or the build up of dust was causing their brains to clog and result in a seizure, but it was all rather spiritual and deep irrespective of the cause.

This was a joyous decade, and in the years following its completion, the majority of people were happy with the Massive Book and its veracity. Unfortunately, like a pot of houmous left open in the sun, things soon got nasty. The commencement to a pear shaped future began with haste – polemics, infighting, a caustic disregard for reality, and many other favourite human pastimes. For you see, there had always been a great deal of contention surrounding the pronunciation and spelling of houmous. Variations on its spelling include, but are not limited to, houmous (the correct version!), hummus, hummous, hommos, humos, hommus, hoummos, and a wild and increasingly deranged set of alternatives. It seemed humans simply could not agree on a solution, and as a result, a bitter enmity grew between rival spelling factions.

Tumultuous times commenced. Individuals took to the streets to vent their fury about this seemingly innocuous difference, with vast swathes of people getting violent in the insistence of the appropriate spelling. Fanning the flames were some of the Houmous Scholars, many of whom had initially stepped in to restore order by forming the peace movement HOPEmous. Unfortunately, their efforts were dismissed as imbecilic amongst the growing sense of impending anarchy.

Not helping matters were the Houmous Scholars who had lost their ways. Dozens had long held deep-seated bitterness regarding the issue of the correct spelling – their arrogant desires overtook reason. Worse was to follow as Houmous Scholars returned to their work in order to alter the Massive Book, changing key facts and turning the story of houmous into fiction to please their diabolical needs.

This behaviour fed the conspiracy theorists once more, many of whom claimed the initial record keeping was inaccurate, preferring instead to believe newfangled tales as spun by the Houmous Scholars who had grown demented in the commitment to their art. There were those who claimed houmous was the invention of government officials to control the masses, whilst others believed houmous hadn’t existed to begin with. With these claims came the milestone in Posthoumous life – the need for the panicked world governments to step in and mollify the general unease.

It was a period of intense uncertainty, but there were genuine societal advances. The governments of the world united in the cause to eradicate what could, at any moment, became an international state of martial law. The finest intellects on Earth combined their brainpower into one room, creating a super IQ of 2001, and discussed for three straight days what needed to be done.

The geniuses emerged on the morning of August 10th 2050 with a simple but history changing proposal: free sandwiches. The politicians, astonished by the brevity and creativity of such an idea, took to the media to spread the word. The information fired across the planet like a speeding bullet from a speeding gun – free sandwiches would be provided daily to the citizens of Earth! As if by magic, the situation cleared. Dissent dramatically decreased. Sedition stopped suddenly. Anarchy arched away.

Seemingly, a miracle, which had appeared so improbable for several long decades, had arrived. The enduringly acrimonious hunt for a solution to the houmous problem had culminated with a simple and sensible solution. Against the odds, through war and failed attempts at far-reaching space travel, the answer was found on home soil with one of the most familiar products known to humanity.

Free sandwiches were not magic, nor were they miraculous, but they were equipped with the ability to deter civilisation away from further bouts of the utmost unseemly behaviour.

Epilogue

“A lone man can stare into the middle-distance and convince himself he sees an answer. Then the clouds part, a ray of sunshine bursts forth, and it can be seen all there remains is a field strewn with fetid cowpats.” Sir Armleg Fistfoot, quoted on the battlefield during the Great Houmous War - July 13th 2028 circa 10am.

Sir Armleg Fistfoot was blown to smithereens, along with millions of other troops, in the name of a foodstuff. At the time, it must be noted his death was considered a noble one. As he breathed his last, he lay staring kind of into the middle-distance (he’d lost an eyeball, and the other one was at a wonky angle, making it impossible to determine what he was exactly looking at) wondering whether he had lived a good life. Darkness descended, and he remembered the moment he’d first tasted a half-fat houmous. His face creased into a smile of immense girth. Then another bomb landed on him.

Such tales were commonplace during the conflict. Fighters wrote letters to their sweethearts detailing the need to annihilate in the name of chickpeas, and governments ruled on in the name of finding the solution. What was the solution? For decades many believed the answer was to hang around waiting until the cessation of this particular moment of madness. Few predicted turning to bread with varying fillings would provide the answer to humankind’s most pressing dilemma in the history of ever.

With free sandwiches came free thought and the ultimate grand step towards newfound social liberation; from the shadow of houmous humanity began to find its lot once again. The Houmous Scholars had been declared morally bankrupt and had all been burned at the stake, along with the Massive Book, in an attempt to eradicate this vile scum from the world. It was a time for great celebration – everyone was welcome to attend the burning and, naturally, there were free sandwiches available for all ages, races, and creeds. Really nice ones, too, with a choice of brown or white bread for any fussy eaters who couldn’t appreciate the vast superiority of brown bread.

With governments sensing order was restored, civilisation could begin the prolonged process of healing. Thusly, city skylines were once more filled with giant skyscrapers, and the philosophical thought which emerged featured an insatiable leaning towards future days and the possibilities of intelligent thought. People began taking solace in the realisation the passage of time was the answer; to purge the memory of distant ills and forget about traumas – it was the way forward.

When one can pinpoint a moment in the distance, it is a step in the right direction to easing one’s fears and providing the strength of character to struggle on through adversity. This is what free sandwiches brought to society. There was the initial dithering – millions of souls looked up to the sky and wondered if there was houmous out there, but the only answer came from the high-pitched wailing of “MAYDAY!” emitted from the mouths of the brave HSA-B crew.

Dithering moved aside and was replaced by the need to press on and accept future days as a gift from reality. Those innumerable days paved the way for the need to move on from a Posthoumous landscape and embrace a new life with gusto. Now, as we near the end of this tale and look to future days with uncertain optimism, we must reflect on how nostalgia can often, like houmous being spread by a spoon, part ways with sanity and lead to incoherent thought. This was the case with a society burdened with houmous and then wracked with guilt in the Posthoumous aftermath.

Now, with a mind as clear as can be, it is clear free sandwiches will not allow history to repeat itself. It is readily apparent there is no split in the spelling of sandwich products. The lack of houmous is accepted, and the dip is considered as a product from a bygone age. There is a general sense of ease and a feeling of peace sweeping across the world as this unpleasant business seeps into malignant history.

It is said, by some humans, time forces a cyclical path of destruction and dismay, and capricious fate has a habit of being not particularly capricious in its repetition of this unfortunate state of affairs. But where there are free sandwiches, there are no hungry bellies. Where there are free sandwiches, there is no need for war. When there is war, free sandwiches are pretty useful anyway. With free sandwiches, there is no endeavour to find food combinations which will cause anarchy. It is a foodstuff which slakes one’s hunger pangs. Sandwiches are grounded in rationality and promote a way for people to achieve moral splendour.

For humanity, sandwiches can do no ill deed. Once stamped with the affix “free” they became the revolutionary power which powered life into an empowered new era. Not even the quiet rumblings of discontent between those who prefer white bread over brown can dim the sense of optimism which now sweeps across the world like a tidal wave of houmous.