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Short Story 48

“The feature is available in both front-load and top-load washers.” The sales ‘person’ beamed with a wide smile and dead eyes. It was difficult to tell what they were thinking behind those pools of high gloss or even what they were. Everything about them, their skin, their clothes, the texture of their hair, all of it radiating with almost a plastic glow or rather shine. The rest of them, including their voice, was uncomfortably ambiguous.

“That’s nice, but you haven’t explained what it does exactly.”

“Quite simply it can do anything, everything, and more. That is the beauty of it, nothing is impossible for it, it was designed with performance in mind.”

“I see.”

There was nothing remarkable about the item. It was a clear cube with an opening at what could only have been the top. It was not particularly large or small, about the height of a medium sized dog. There was nothing inside and for all intent and purpose it looked incapable of doing anything other than storing a few items in an overtly visible fashion.

“Oh, and don’t let its size fool you, it is light weight and comes in compact models.”

“That’s nice.”

“We also have a variety of colors, as well as the option of opaque or crystalline.”

“Interesting.” The question peeked, as it always did, the greatest deterrent and motivator to leaving a situation like this, “How much is it?”

“It is very cost effective I assure you. There are also ample financing options.”

Financing options always had a special ring to them. That magical sensation of ‘you can’t afford this.’ It was enough to break whatever mystic boundary prevented movement.

“You know, I think I’m going to look around a bit and think about it.”

The high gloss eyes blinked smartly, the plastic cheeks thinning exposing a heightened emotion on the apple, “I completely understand, please if you have any questions just ask.”

“Certainly. And thank again for your time.”

A mechanical bow at a fifteen-degree angle, “It has been my pleasure.”

A stroll around the store would satisfy the part that was suspicious of observation. Glance around at a few things, five minutes later one could slide through the front doors and out onto the pavement with little judgment. The scheme was attempted, and a light round of the store was made.

There was nothing particularly compelling to look at, even if the eyes were strained to see it. It was apparent that this places big seller was that cube thing that the salesperson had spent a great deal of time recommending, though always in an abstract way that made it difficult to know very much about it.

After the allotted course of time the full round of the shop was made and it was finally time to leave. The path leading there was entirely made up of pale white tiles that didn’t glow in the ambient light of the store, instead they seemed to absorb all light into them. This action, however, did not make the floor any brighter but only seemed to make it grow darker over time. Before the last step could be made to the door it had turned black all together. Supposedly, of its own volition.

“Have you decided yet?” The salesperson’s voice, which was entirely unforgettable, chimed from only steps away.

“No, not quite yet. I think I’ll go home and sleep on it. It’s a big purchase and I don’t just want to make it willy-nilly.”

“I see, so do you consider it unsatisfactory?” This question came with a sedateness that quelled the pinned smile.

“It’s not that, I just need time to consider it.”

“I completely understand. Here as a token of our gratitude for your consideration, please accept this free sample.”


On the palm of their plastic flesh sat a sliver of something which glittered and vibrated color like mother of pearl. By looking at it just the way it was, outside of current context, you would have thought it was just that.

“Yes, a sample for you. Please take it, we hope it will help you make your decision.”

“It’s free?”

“Certainly. It is, though its capacity is quite limited it may very well help you make up your mind.”

It was taken, lifted out of the plastic hand and stored in a fleshy more human grasp, “Thank you.”

The smile reappeared stretching the face, “Of course, we hope to see you again soon.”

With that, a nod was exchanged either way and the store was left. In a rather average four-seater the object was examined and poked around the even plain of a hand held up very flat. It was truly nothing special, even the unordinary shimmer it had possessed seemed to have evaporated with its being removed from the building. After several nudges the object was given up and put away in the small penny cup just beneath the radio.

The ignition on and parking brake disengaged, the vehicle reversed out of its stall and began to make its way out of the parking lot and toward the inlet that would permit exit back into the general populous. The car progressed as normal and then stalled before losing all power in the middle of the parking lot.

There were several attempts to get it to restart but nothing worked. Then all at once light flashed and restored, to the surprise of the occupant, seemingly on its own. Taking the wheel there was an attempt to shift it, but it held on fast to its own position. It wouldn’t shift gears, turn on the headlights, or even wash the windows.

Reaching for the door handle there was an attempt to escape, but this too wouldn’t budge no matter how hard the hands gripped or the arms pulled. Sweat began to pull onto the brow and palms, short choppy breaths. In a second panicked attempt the window was beaten on and the small door lock mechanism was mashed painfully.

“I have to get out,” The word squeezed through grinding teeth, “Let me out.”

The latch gave way and the door sprung open. In time with this the single occupant fell from the car to the asphalt parking lot. Cold clear air poured around them touching the moisture on their dampened skin. Horror stricken eyes turned to the open space from which they had fallen. Ambient light was emanating from the penny cup, and then all at once it receded.

Fumbling up and away from the car, a desperate attempt was made to run back to the shop. Legs were no longer an ally, turned to jelly from fear. It was impossible not to stumble all the way back to those tinted black glass doors. The car of its apparent own design proceeded to close the door and reverse after its owner in a slow and controlled manner. At the moment it was pulling into a yellow lined stall the doors were thrown open and the temperature-controlled shop exhaled over its panicked customer.

“I see, your incompatible.”

Torrid eyes gazed up into the face of the plastic clerk who appeared rather perturbed at such a sudden appearance.

“That thing you gave me has done something to my car,” It was with the aid of the glass walls that standing was achieved.

“Yes, that is a pity. It only did that because you are incompatible.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Unfortunately, I believe it is beyond myself to explain and even more so beyond you to understand. This is unfortunate, we all had hoped this would have turned out differently.”

Turning there was an attempt made to open the doors, but they wouldn’t budge. No matter how hard they were pulled.

An hour later the clerk left the store and went to the car. The door opened readily and allowed them to retrieve the small mother-of-pearl like square from the penny cup before returning to the store. Less than forty minutes preceding this the car was towed away and twenty minutes after that a woman stood before the clear cube with the same sales attendant.

“You may like to know madam that this feature is available in both front-load and top-load washers.”

“That’s wonderful, but it is rather strange isn’t it. Is it a washing machine?”

“Why madam it is not just reserved to such menial tasks, it can do near everything one might want.”


Thank you so much for reading everyone!!

Prompt Sentence: The feature is available in both front-load and top-load washers.

Word Count: 1404

©DecemberKnight 2023

Special thanks to Jason Jarrach from Unsplash for the use of the image!

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