It didn’t start with popcorn. Ironically, they say the virus started in the gyms – implements of torture coated in a fine patina of human sweat. Some people fetishised the fumes, breathing contagion deep before showering, walking clean and dry into the cold city air to spread their viral load. Things escalated pretty quickly after that. Gluttony was the first sign; orgiastic feasting at fast food restaurants followed by uncontrollable groups of people swarming on the deep fryers and soft-serve machines. Fingers melted when the patrons got too hungry to even wait for the baskets to be lifted from the hot oil. Spotty teens abandoned the counters and either joined in or fled.

Contrarian to the last, I didn’t want greasy fast food. Popcorn was my thing; a dry empty hunger that couldn’t be filled. I started in the cinemas on George Street, sitting on the floor of the candy bar with powdered chemical butter coating my tongue. Soon I was up at Oxford Street, a classier venue, shovelling stale kernels popped in olive oil and gulps of icy Prosecco to wash it all down.

Next it was raw corn kernels bought from Coles. I dodged a violent mob raiding the muffin display and used a self-service checkout to get out quick. Kilograms of the stuff heaved in my bag as I walked home, avoiding large groups and trying not to make eye contact. Soon I was popping my own corn, bowl after bowl, dashing for satiety in an unwinnable race. I sat down in front of the TV news while the fry-pan heated up again for a fresh batch. It was the best movie I’ve ever seen.

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