Contest #84 shortlist ⭐️

The Judgmental Ceiling Fan

Submitted into Contest #84 in response to: Write a story that spans exactly a year and takes place in a single room.... view prompt

9 comments

Fiction Sad Contemporary

Humans have always been judgmental beings. That is why they have assigned me the role of a ceiling fan. 

My only job is to look down on people because I cannot control the speed at which I turn. It is all in their hands. Those knob heads control me with a knob. And for the past ten years, I have been judging them as the ceiling fan of the Government Utility Bill Payment Office. 

Last March, I heaved a sigh of relief. For some reason, they were shutting down the world. This meant that the household ceiling fans had to work overtime, while I can rest until they reopen the world.

But as luck would have it, the maintenance man forgot to switch me off before he left. I've been turning slowly and slowly for the past year, without any rest. It would've been better if they kept the knob at full speed, but no I wasn't lucky enough for that. If I ran at full speed for a few days, I would probably fall off the ceiling. And we all know ground fans are worthless. But the knob was turned to the slowest speed setting. A ten-year-old ceiling fan that hasn't been maintained by incompetent government officials and it is moving really slow. That's when time stands still.

I have never left the ceiling for ten years. But turning above an empty room, without any people to pass judgments on, I would beg for hell than stay here.

But as days passed, March marched slowly into April after almost a year. It was during April that I came close to freedom. Since most people stayed back home, the electrical appliances outside residential areas got a fluctuating power supply. Don't ask me how I know all that technical jargon, electricity literally keeps me alive. 

Those fluctuations caused my speed to increase.

Instead of moving at five revolutions per minute, I would rotate at six the next minute. Then seven the next. I expected eight the next minute, but the power fluctuation fell, and I began to move at two or three per minute. 

Every time I felt a glimmer of hope, I would slow down. This kept happening long enough that I ceased to care. Death as freedom is too much wishful thinking for someone like me. Gradually, my condition worsened. Dust began to cover my blades. Rust began to slowly creep up on me, but I wouldn't stop turning. 

At that point, I began to lose a sense of myself. I wasn't able to judge humans anymore. All I did was slowly turn, get covered in rust and dust, and stare at the blank floor. 

But working in a poorly maintained government office has its perks. A few weeks later, probably during the early monsoon in July, a few rats came in. With no one around to shoo them away, with large paper stacks of government records lying for them to chew on, this became a heaven for them.

But surprisingly enough, when it became a heaven for them, it did so too for me. I got to watch the rats. And very soon, within a few weeks, the whole place was sprawling with rats. 

Apparently, rats don't care much for siblings. They just have a go when they feel like it. So it gave me enough room to judge them. Promiscuous and incestuous rats, I was back to my old self again. 

But in September, the rats slowly began to disappear. They had eaten away all the paperwork. And didn't have anything else to eat but themselves. The rats which turned to cannibalism survived. They gave me another reason to judge them.

But soon enough, that too became boring. Somewhere in October, I could hear the voices of people outside the room. Apparently, they were going to reopen the world again in phases. You can bet that I had been waiting for this.

Imagine the sight when the maintenance man comes in and gets greeted by chewed records and cannibal rats. But they didn't open the office door. During the time when they shut down the world, people began to pay their utility bills without leaving their homes. So now they could pay their utility bills from home rather than come all the way here.

Judging the antics of the cannibal rats soon became boring to me. So I began to ignore them. As winter approached, hell began to creep back on me. The rats ceased to fight themselves and began to fight the cold.

But the cold didn't affect me, I am just a ceiling fan stuck on top. 

But why did I start feeling like this? When did I gain the capacity to feel? 

Where did all the emotions come from? 

I'm an inanimate ceiling fan. A mass-produced capitalist commodity that will not work past its warranty period. If I can remember correctly, around March of this year, I started feeling this way. Just before they shut down the world. So for the next two months, I had something to do: think. I began to ponder why a fan could get emotional.

Those days passed by, and it was March again, exactly a year since they shut down the world. They still weren't going to reopen the world. But something expected happened with the door of the office.

During the winter, the door edges shrunk. And when summer came, the door became loose and bolted open. So basically, the door was open for anyone to come in. I waited for a few days, no one came.

Some day, probably during the end of March, a young couple came in. They just needed a place to fool around. But the minute they entered, their faces were smeared with shock. The boy began to scream and ran away without the girl. The girl was initially frightened at what she saw, but that fright turned into anger as she slowly walked off to find that boy. 

Until now, I hadn't realized it, but a corpse had been hanging off the ceiling fan. The noose which I had used still held my decomposed body.

I remembered everything now. 

Working as a maintenance man in the government utility office was almost worthless. I was invisible. But that didn't really matter to me. That is how my job has always been and, I had learned to accept it.

What I hated was that people judged me for being a cleaner. If I don't clean their place, they will live like pigs. But when I clean their mess, all I get is filthy stares of condescension. I never expected gratitude. But I never expected judgment either.

After I hung myself, I had left the fan switched on. My body hung from the fan for three days before they shut down the world. And no one noticed a decaying corpse. That was when I became the ceiling fan. It was the only object which hadn't judged me for the past ten years.

The rats had eaten parts of me. So now I became a few rats also. The world is full of filth, and now I'm only going to add more.

March 12, 2021 06:43

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9 comments

Michael Boquet
16:19 Mar 19, 2021

Oh, man. What a shocking twist. Love the concept of the man's consciousness leaving the mortal coil and getting trapped in a fan. Don't know if this was intentional but I read the fan's voice in a British accent. In case you plan to submit this elsewhere, one thing I noticed: "I would beg for hell than stay here." - i think you're missing a "rather" either before 'beg' or after 'hell' Great minds think alike! I wrote about a painting in a gallery for this prompt. Congrats on the shortlist!

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Pasupu .
17:37 Mar 19, 2021

Thanks a lot for the kind words, Michael. I would love to read your submission, please share it here if you can. And thanks for the grammar edit. Sometimes things get missed no matter how much you edit.

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Michael Boquet
17:54 Mar 19, 2021

I know that's true. I'm much better at proofreading others work then I am my own. Here's my story for this prompt: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/84/submissions/58212/ Appreciate you taking the time to read it.

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Ryan Lm Colli
16:56 Apr 08, 2021

This is such a compelling story, raw, powerful, and real. Clear as glass but still sharp and stingy. You have an amazing talent for writing, especially when it comes to the emotion. The emotion is just so perfect with the words, and it flows through your mind like a surging river. I can tell this has a lot of effort into it, and I love your writing! Beautiful piece :)

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Delphine Hintz
17:53 Mar 19, 2021

You wrote a very interesting story. What snagged my attention was the title (uh . . . it's great!), but the beginning also grabs the attention since the style of writing seems to be colloquial but also a little flat. The cycle of entertained, not entertained, entertained, not entertained with nothing else - read: little depth -may have been part of that. In my opinion, writing that way from the 'perspective' of a ceiling fan makes that a really cool technique. However, when the end is read, and it turns out the narrator is a person, then the...

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H Bolton
15:47 Mar 19, 2021

So. Good.

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Pasupu .
17:38 Mar 19, 2021

Thank you very much.

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Rachel Loughran
14:51 Mar 19, 2021

Hey, you got me! This took a serious turn! Very inventive, really well written, cracking job all round. Congrats on being shortlisted!

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Pasupu .
17:38 Mar 19, 2021

Thanks for the kind words, Rachel.

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