One year ago today, my shortest and weirdest horror story was published at MicroHorror. Though I can’t explain why, I’m actually quite fond of it. Here is “The Tomato-Elevator.”
The tomato-elevator had accidentally produced a squash, again. The director would be displeased.
The workers sought to find the hiccup in the mechanism, but due to the make-up of the machine, it was impossible to see what went on between the thirteenth rung and the fourteenth without dismantling the apparatus completely. And that was forbidden by the warning label. All they could know for sure was that at rung thirteen, they had a slightly bruised, despondent tomato, and at rung fourteen they had an extremely confident squash.
“Why does this keep happening?” asked Bill, who had only been elevating tomatoes for three weeks.
No one responded, but eyes looked at eyes looked at eyes and none of the eyes were Bill’s.
The eyes all said the same thing. There had never been a squash before Bill arrived.
The director was on her way. Decisions had to be made.
“What if…” Bill licked his lips with the effort of thinking, “…what if we made a squash-demoter? You think? You think maybe at rung thirteen it might…”
The eyes looked at the floor looked at the shoes. The eyes did not acknowledge that this was a good idea.
“Fellas?” Bill inquired at bowed heads, hunched shoulders. “Fellas…”
Arms reached, hands grabbed, fingers gripped. Mouth was covered, limbs were restrained, necessary adjustments were made.
Parts were removed.
By the time the director arrived, the machine had been loaded, the mess cleaned up. The workers wore expressions of complacent boredom which clashed with the beads of sweat forming on white foreheads.
Checkmarks on clipboards, satisfied nods to the symphonic whir of machinery, bland admonishments about time and productivity. The director’s stay lasted only forty-seven seconds. She had left the room before the large, dark, misshapen tomato entered the elevation chamber.
When Bill’s heart went from the thirteenth rung to the fourteenth, it turned into a squash.
© Carie Juettner, 2013.
All rights reserved.
Want more weird stuff? My Tumblr has been on a Halloweeny kick this month too. Check out What’s In My Journal.
Here are some things you might have missed: