Contest #82 shortlist ⭐️

36 comments

Funny Science Fiction Happy

“Piece of junk!” I cry, as the smell of burning bread fills the room. I hear the sizzling satisfaction from the toaster, mocking me. 

I just put it in a second ago. 

Sure enough, when I press the eject button, two charred pieces of bread pop out with an indignant “Humph.”

“What did I ever do to you?” I protest, laying the blackened bread on the growing pile of burnt toast in the bin. The toaster stares back at me, quiet, calculating. 

“Dude stop burning bread,” Peter grumbles, sliding into the room with a yawn. He’s wearing the same grey, oversized hoodie and blue sweatpants from yesterday. His long brown hair is sticking up every-which direction. “I don’t know why you refuse to turn down the dials.”

I look in dismay and the dials are turned to full blast. 

I turned it down to 1! 

Peter places two pieces of wonderbread into the toaster and pushes down the nob. I watch intently. 

I’ll catch you in the act, you waste of space.

But the toaster knows I’m watching, it won’t mess this one up. Its silver complexion glitters in the light, just like it had in the ad. Three hundred dollars may seem like a lot for a toaster, but for top of the line innovation, I couldn’t resist. 

Peter and Steven, my two roommates, had thought it queer but didn’t complain when the obsidion case arrived in the mail. 

“It actually looks like the ad!” Peter had exclaimed, turning the cube-like silver machine in his hands. It looked like it had been dropped to us from a thousand years in the future where people had perfected the art of carbed goodness. 

Steven had shaken his head. “So this is how engineers spend their money?” He always has been a snob, but I caught him that night, 3am making avocado toast in my glorious new contraption. 

“Pop”

Peter picks up the perfectly browned bread, elevated from its cheap, cardboardy form into a piece of art. Every inch of the crumb is evenly charred, and crackles as Peter splits the toast in half, revealing a fluffy interior which sends plumes of steam into the air. 

Magnificent. 

Peter moans softly as he bites into the bread. 

“Why don’t you use the other features?” I ask.

“Toast is toast. No need to get fancy,” he replies, walking from the room. Leaving me alone with the appliance. 

Toaster is a crude name for this masterpiece. Anything you can imagine wanting to do with bread, it can do. Its smart sensors automatically detect the density and make of bread, informing the optimal algorithm for ideal cook time and temperature. It has a compartment for egg-wash if you want to make french toast, one for oil if you want a grilled piece of bread, even a cubby for ripe avocados.

And it worked like a charm... for a week. The french toast was perfectly seasoned, custardy on the inside, with a crispy, caramelized exterior. Grilled toast came out golden brown, the smell of garlic infused oil permeating throughout the small kitchen space. The avocado toast—ineffable. 

Then, the incident happened. 

It was a warm Saturday afternoon, and I was doing my usual musical cleaning. “Don’t Stop Believing” was blasting through my headphones and I was a little too excited about the song while wiping the marble counters. It was the toaster’s first time there and my autopilot hadn’t taken it into account. A broad stroke of the sponge accompanied by my close-eyed singing “Up and down the boulevard” had met unfamiliar resistance and the toaster flew from the counter and onto the floor.

I picked it up furtively, hoping no one else had heard the clanging and set it on the counter. No harm done—or so I thought.

That evening I placed an avocado into its cubby, set the dial to “Avocado toast,” and went back to Avenger reruns when a waft of burnt bread reached my nose. The toaster was screeching softly, burning the snot out of the baguette I had sliced up and set into it. I jammed the eject button only to reveal the damage: unopened avocado, and destroyed baguette. 

That was three days ago. Every day since, I’ve encountered the same disappointing result. At first I thought I had broken the toaster, but Peter and Steven had no problems with it. I haven’t shared my experiences with them, yet. I’m still gathering evidence. Telling people that household appliances have turned on you can lead to less-than-welcome judgement.  

“That’s it,” I say, staring down the machine. I can almost sense it rolling its mechanical eyes at me. “I’m going to give you till the end of this loaf of bread, and if you haven’t stopped this nonsense, you’re going in the bin with all the food you’ve ruined.”

I place the first two slices into the slots and press down. Immediately, the sound of searing and the smell of smoke fill the room. I hit eject. 

Black. Ruined. 

Next.

We continue this process until I’m on the last two pieces. I take a deep breath and scowl at the machine. “You think that just because I spent 300 on you, I won’t toss you? Hearing you fall into the dumpster will be the most satisfying thud I’ll ever have heard.”

I place one piece into the opening then stop.

“You know what, I don’t need to ruin these two pieces to know you’re full of it.” I throw the piece back in the bag and yank the cord from the wall. The toaster lets out a soft whir and the dials quiver. 

I lift it up, and turn to the door. It’s time for the dumpster. But I don’t move. My eyes are caught by the still-wavering dials, as though the toaster is holding onto its last breath. I look across the glittery surface, and stop on the bottom left: a small dent. The surrounding metal is scuffed and only reflects light dully. 

I bite my lower lip. Is this from the fall? 

I rest the toaster on the counter, its dials have ceased their movements and the appliance stares back at me, lifeless and hollow. Slowly, I extend the cable and plug it back in. The dials quiver then snap into locked position.

“Look,” I begin, avoiding eye-contact. “I’m sorry I dropped you. I know I should’ve said something sooner.”

I wait. After about thirty seconds, the avocado cubby snaps open and I turn to look at the toaster in dismay. 

“Was that what you were waiting for?”

The dial changes position. 

Click, “Grilled bread”. Click, “Toast”. “Click, “Avocado Toast”. 

I hurry and remove the two pieces from the bag and drop them in, then scramble to find a ripe avocado. The toaster pulls them down without me having to lower the level. Within seconds, a warm orange light glows from the opening and the smell of fresh bread fills my senses.

When the toast pops out, it’s perfect. Golden brown bottoms, and a brilliant green mat of avocado on top. I remove the pieces tentatively, then take a bite.


February 24, 2021 23:24

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36 comments

Cookie Carla🍪
19:28 Mar 24, 2021

Hiya there!! I just wanted to say that this story was beautifully written. You had my attention from the first line all the way to the end... good job!!

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Joshua Trockel
22:02 Mar 29, 2021

Hello! Thank you for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Michael Boquet
21:27 Mar 05, 2021

A very humorous story. You take something as mundane as a toaster and weave an engaging story around it. Congrats on getting shortlisted!

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Joshua Trockel
19:11 Mar 06, 2021

Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to comment as well :)

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Emma Harris
03:53 Mar 29, 2021

I had deja vu reading this. I swear I've heard a story similar but I don't know where from and it's killing me!!!

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Joshua Trockel
22:03 Mar 29, 2021

Let me know if it comes to you! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment :)

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Emma Harris
04:09 Mar 30, 2021

I'll definitely tell you if I remember!

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Emma Harris
04:09 Mar 30, 2021

I'll definitely tell you if I remember!

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Emma Harris
04:09 Mar 30, 2021

I'll definitely tell you if I remember!

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Don Hunter
18:24 Mar 19, 2021

The details are what make this story. I love the idea of a super-toaster with a cubbyhole for avocados.

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Joshua Trockel
23:02 Mar 22, 2021

Thanks for the kind words! Glad you like my idea of the perfect toaster :P

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Fay Winter
22:41 Mar 07, 2021

I love it. This is so humourous and well written! Congratulations on the shortlist, you definitely deserve it!

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Joshua Trockel
19:12 Mar 09, 2021

Thank you for the kind words! I honestly never expected the short list, but it was a fun piece to write so I'm glad others enjoyed the read as well :)

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Aimee Cardenas
19:45 Mar 07, 2021

Such a cute and well-written story. 🙂

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Joshua Trockel
19:14 Mar 09, 2021

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, and thank you for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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D. Owen
18:13 Mar 05, 2021

Congratulations on a fun well-written story. Funny thing-I actually prefer burnt toast.

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Joshua Trockel
19:09 Mar 06, 2021

The toaster's battle would've been in vain against you :P Thanks for taking the time to read and comment :)

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Theresa Anna
16:37 Mar 05, 2021

A pleasure to read! Funny! Congrats on the shortlist!

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Joshua Trockel
19:09 Mar 06, 2021

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it :)

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Lily Kingston
13:34 Mar 04, 2021

Ah, what a lovely bonding of a man and his toaster. Funny story :) Keep up the good work and keep writing!!

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Joshua Trockel
19:55 Mar 04, 2021

They became the fastest of friends in the years to come :p Thanks for reading! And that's the plan :)

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Laiba M
15:38 Mar 02, 2021

Hi, Joshua!! I love the story. You're so good at writing descriptions!!!~

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Joshua Trockel
23:06 Mar 02, 2021

Hello!! I tried focusing on fun descriptions so I'm glad that came through :) thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

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Laiba M
01:10 Mar 03, 2021

It really did!! Thank you for such an amazing story! One I'd recommend to others for sure!

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J Sagar
17:54 Jul 18, 2021

You've got great imagination!

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Rie Sanders
18:19 Jul 03, 2021

Fun story! I love the happy ending!

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Isabella Zheng
11:50 Jun 21, 2021

It’s great since I just finished reading a horror book 😂

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Lewis John
22:19 May 20, 2021

Never thought I’d enjoy a story about a toaster so much! Thanks for that!

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Iris Orona
18:03 May 12, 2021

THIS IS THE BEST HAPPY ENDING EVER.. I LOVED IT!

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Liz J
11:15 Apr 15, 2021

Hello there everyone, is there any way I can in contact with Joshua?

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Joshua Trockel
17:37 Apr 15, 2021

Hello, Joshua here :)

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Liz J
09:38 Apr 18, 2021

I am an a concept artist and illustrator, here is my portfolio, liezelj29.wixsite.com/website . And I was wondering if I could get your permission to create a storyboard of your short story, I absolutely love it, and I think it will make a very comedic and appealing storyboard. Its not for anything commercial purely for the fun of it, and to add to my portfolio. Id also be glad to give you the storyboard if you like it. Here is my email, if you prefer to chat there, liezelj29@gmail.com

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Joshua Trockel
20:44 Apr 19, 2021

I'm glad you liked it! Feel free to create a storyboard from it, I'd love to see it once it's done. I'll shoot you an email as well.

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Bjorn Truwant
12:15 Mar 30, 2021

Hi Joshua, I work for die Keure, a small publisher of school books in Belgium. I read your story and I like it. I would like to use it in an exercise in Crisp 3, our English language course for the third year of secondary school. Could you let me know what your terms and conditions are? You can contact me via e-mail: bjorn.truwant@diekeure.be. Thanks! Best regards, Bjorn Truwant

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