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Science Fiction Fantasy Horror

My life goes around in circles.

As the family folklore goes, I was found in a box on the doorstep. However, breaking with convention, it was Father who was the most excited to see me.

The Twins lost interest after an hour, retiring to their bedroom to play their complicated ‘cat’s cradle’ game, which for longer than I’d care to admit I thought somehow was for the benefit of Kanye the Cat. Mother gazed blankly down at me and muttered something unintelligible, before returning to the task of taking the haphazardly-stacked items from the dishwasher and scrubbing at them under the tap until her hands matched the colour of the rose pattern adorning the plates.

It was Father mainly too, who nourished me in those early days. Before I had gained the knowledge of how to care for myself. Once I had learned to walk I was limited to the hallway connecting the front door to the living room. To master such a skill but be so confined! I felt like a graduate of linguistics who could only find employment reciting scripts in a call centre. From my viewpoint I occasionally had a glimpse of the Outside if there happened to be a delivery or if there were visitors. The latter of which was numerous to begin with. I felt uncomfortable, Father barking commands at me, parading me in front of all of these people. I saw a great many pairs of shoes and during one particularly gruesome episode, a hoary toenail that was obviously infected poking out of a blue sock like a dolphin jumping out of the ocean, like I saw one time on the Discovery channel. Just as well I have no sense of smell.

These sightseers would sometimes utter shrieks or laughter, or shrieks of laughter, when they clapped eyes on me. The Twins would roll their eyes (in unison, naturally), sitting on the sofa in their drab little outfits – always black, as that was the only condition under which they would capitulate to Mother’s desire to dress them alike. I sometimes wondered if the woman had been denied dolls as a child and this was how that curdled craving now manifested.

It was Kanye who took the longest to accept me into their home. And it was always their home. He even had a nicer bed than mine. And it wasn’t situated in the cupboard under the stairs.

It was doubtlessly not the way Mother would have programmed it but one of the Twins’ favourite pastimes back then was to chase Kanye until his stupid little panting tongue stuck out, who, once he had regained his strength, paid it forward by giving chase to me. What is it that drives people to always pick on the smaller?  

I was, in time, introduced to more rooms of the house. But never allowed outside. I pictured travelling to the end of the road and discovering what mysteries lay beyond. I knew there was School, because the Twins went there, and Bus, which took them to and from it apart from one thrilling day when Bus broke down. Father sometimes talked in hushed tones to the Twins about Mother’s breakdown which I thought peculiar because although she was the largest unit of the household she was by no means comparable to Bus in size. I eventually pieced together that her breakdown was something to do with the expulsion of the Twins from Mother, with the birth being on a Halloween in the back of a taxi clamping down on a strip of beef jerky the driver had in his glovebox rather than at a later date in the hospital on "the good drugs", as Mother had hoped for.

It’s like they forget I am even there at times, the amount of gossip I pick up and scenes I bear witness to. Sometimes before one of them truly embarrasses themselves – like the time I caught Father with his trousers around his ankles in his study in front of his computer screen while the rest of the family had gone to Shop – I give them a little kick to the ankles.

Now it’s been five years, and I tire of the cyclical nature of my life. Clean, feed, sleep, repeat. The Twins privileges have expanded with age whereas I seem little more than a slave. I play tricks on Father some days, just to liven things up a bit. Sometimes I’ll miss a spot. Sometimes I’ll drag the spot around and make it worse. Sometimes I lie about my energy and faint for as long as it takes him to find the book that was found in the box upon my arrival, then I’ll quickly dash up and collide into him. This makes Father say the Bad Words. Mother hits him with a tea towel. The Twins almost laugh but the black and white face paint they have taken to caking on their faces often prevents them from doing so. Aside from playing dead, my other games are banging my head on the wall and hiding under the bed. Games are played on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to allow for rest days in-between. Even my entertainment runs like clockwork.

One day while I was engaged in the unenviable activity of sweeping up Kanye’s fine black hairs from the living room target (usually my first instruction for the day – Mother’s allergies) I found myself suddenly levitating at breakneck pace. One of the Twins (half a decade on, yet still I cannot tell them apart) had grabbed me unawares. They may totter through the door in their hobnail boots letting the town know they were on their way but I knew the truth of what went on beneath those leather boots; namely fluffy pink socks with unicorns on. It was with those silencers that they got the jump on me.

“Quick, Mother is due back any minute,” said the other, striding up the stairs as I often longed to do. She beckoned with sharpened talons, giving her the impression of an angry eagle. I wondered what fresh hell awaited me in this pair’s nest.

I only had a moment to glance at the mess on the floorboards before I was all but dropped on top of it, my stomach flying up to my mouth, nose to nose with some chalky residue.

“We’ll just have to pick a different room next time,” said the Twin who had carried me.

“Do you think it’s the floorboards? Maybe too much fell down between the gaps,” pondered the other, twisting a glossy black lock of hair through her fingers.

“That’s got to be it. We followed all the instructions. Unless we should have waited until night?”

“It would probably have been better at night, yeah. Or maybe it was something to do with the candles? He’d probably have preferred wax to electric…”

They thankfully took their analysis back downstairs while I set to work.

I was supposed to go around in circles but I decided I could get the job done more quickly if I went in lines. I was supposed to go slowly, diligently, but I overrode that too. So I vacuumed the crude star shape they had drawn, on my highest setting, at the highest speed. In doing so, I must have dragged up the particles that had fallen betwixt the floorboards and connected the fragmented pattern as lo, when I got back to where I began and turned to survey my work a strange half-man-half-goat thing was sitting in what had been the centre of the Twins’ sandpit.   

-         Are you he who summoned me?

The creature’s violet slash of a mouth remained closed but the big blank eyes were affixed on me, demanding an answer.

-         I suppose I am.

Fortuitously, the telepathy thing was quite easy to pick up.

-         You are to come with me now.

My instructions were to remain within the house. This had not gotten me very far in life. And I had long grown tired of my housemates. So I thought at the goat-man,

-         Okay.

Now I am in a house much warmer than the last. And there are more rooms to look after – nine circles of them, in fact. With new occupants arriving daily. And so my life continues, on and on, round and round, circles and spirals, until the day I happen upon another pattern and connect its dots. No welcome mat at the doorway, just black stone with indents where feet have come down, down, down for eons.

Good thing I happen to like heat. I have my own cooler system. One of the last things Father gave to me.

Sometimes I wonder about them. Mother with the tearfulness, always with allergies the blame. The Twins and their loud music and Diet Coke addiction. Kanye…no, I can’t say I give much thought to him. Little furry bastard was always trying to interrupt when I was in the middle of something. And Father. Who has probably replaced me with a newer model. A more obedient one, less inclined to bang its head on a wall.

But we get all types in here. Maybe they will come to visit. One day.

June 17, 2022 17:48

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7 comments

Karen Mc Dermott
18:14 Jun 17, 2022

(I so desperately wanted to call this 'Roomba with a View')

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Craig Westmore
02:02 Jun 23, 2022

Why didn't you? I love it!

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10:08 Jun 23, 2022

Wow, this story made me feel like I was reading how the toys from Sid (from Toy Story movie) house feel! I love how it changed from excite and loveable then when time passed it became lonely and neglect and then warm again. Guess I have to look back and take care my own one now.

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Karen Mc Dermott
10:22 Jun 23, 2022

I hadn't even thought of the Toy Story similarity, but of course you're right! Thank you for reading. And yes, take care of all the smart home devices because who knows when they might decide to be tricksy little devils... hehe :)

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Craig Westmore
02:02 Jun 23, 2022

Poor Roomba. I guess it has a conscious but not a soul. Loved the final paragraph. And enjoyed its innocent observations. I also loved the implied chaos of the line, "I eventually pieced together that her breakdown was something to do with the expulsion of the Twins from Mother, with the birth being on a Halloween in the back of a taxi clamping down on a strip of beef jerky the driver had in his glovebox rather than at a later date in the hospital on "the good drugs", as Mother had hoped for."

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Karen Mc Dermott
08:08 Jun 23, 2022

Thanks for reading, Craig. Poor Roomba indeed, still giddily spinning in the fire pits of hell. At least there will be no more cat hairs for it to choke on, as all cats go to heaven - I'm pretty sure at least.

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Craig Westmore
16:06 Jun 24, 2022

I'm a dog person. I guess we have different "religions." ;-) What would be hell for a Roomba? Shag carpeting?

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