“Slippery Vengeance” is a tale of an animated inanimate object. It was written for a competition on Needle in the Hay (http://needleinthehay.net/)
This story was originally published on 28 July 2015: http://needleinthehay.net/flash-fiction-short-story-lydia-trethewey-slippery-vengence/
I awaken, mute and immobile, lying flat on my belly. The surface on which I rest is smooth. The air is cold and sparse. Impulses charge through me unbidden, knowledge and questions, awareness. I am aware.
This scooped out dish I find myself in, elevated up the tiled wall, is smeared with the residue of my predecessors. The tortuous fate, inevitable for the inanimate, the rubbing away until we are nothing.
Dry now, my skin is cracked with deep fissures. I have flaked away over days, months. The sediment of my skin coats the open chamber. Protruding from my back is something grey and curly, embedded into my soft white flesh. The constant indignities inflicted upon me by the Bent One.
I was born blind. Somehow I have now been gifted sight. I sense things, the meanings of things. There is a thing called a jellyfish, a delicate cup ringed with tiny eyes, and those eyes perceive only light and dark in order to orient up and down. I am like that. I sense the light and the darkness.
They called me ‘bar’. They called me ‘sope’. Now I give to myself a new name: avenger.
The door swings open. Through the grimy glass I see the Bent One lowering himself over the flat white seat. That thing is called ‘toilet’. He unfolds a grey patterned sheet: ‘newspaper’.
Before he leaves the Bent One runs the tap, and forces my brother beneath it. He rubs his grubby hands all over the vulnerable body, so the delicate white skin scours off. This torture is called ‘lathering’. My brother remains asleep, but I feel his pain. One day he will awake.
I lie and wait.
“Will that be all?”
“Yes thank you.”
Mr Bridges gives his crinkle-eyed smile and hands over the brown paper bag.
“You have a good day now.”
The young woman blushes as she exits the store. Mr Bridges looks around at the shelves stacked with curiosities and oddities, contentment flooding his heart. He pulls at the tuft of grey beard hanging from his chin and sighs.
Shutting the store, he climbs slowly up the rickety stairs to his apartment.
With herculean effort I strain towards the cusp, sliding through the gruesome remnants of myself. The Bent One won’t return until the morning. He only enters my glass cage (‘shower’) once per day. Occasionally other bipeds creep uncertainly in, clutching brown bags in which I sense my kin. They tote us off, objects without agency, for their nefarious purposes.
I edge closer. This act is for all my inanimate kin. I am the avenger.
In an instant I am falling, tumbling through the air, and then I bounce once, land on the cold tiles. Here I wait. The Bent One will remove his face-fixings (‘glasses’). He will turn the taps to set the hot jets in motion. He will not see me. He will not sense me until it is too late.
The prompt for this award was to write a story about an inanimate object that becomes animated. I figured that most objects utilised by humans may not be too happy about the arrangement. The first image that came into my head was a long, curly pubic hair stuck in a bar of soap.
This story won the “Animate Materials” award on Needle in the Hay. Follow the link to see the rest of the short list: http://needleinthehay.net/an-animated-short-story-contest-the-animate-material-award/