by A.A. Garrison
The blender had been a Christmas gift from Pete's mother. It was July before he got around to it.
The flashy packaging presented the blender in a proud light, and advertised its superiority. Bar graphs demonstrated its power, and pictures of smiling people brooked no argument. FEED ME ANYTHING! the blender was saying, in a speech bubble.
"Okay," Pete said in answer.
He set out the mighty blender, then consulted the leftovers drawer in his refrigerator. Yams, hardened to stone. A steak with the bone in it. Peas aged into little green BB's. These filled the blender's spacious chamber.
Pete pushed the button, and the motor revved -- zeeeeYEAAAAAAH!
Pete startled backward. The noise was like a zombie on fire. When the blender didn't blow up or attack, he gave it a second go.
Once Pete had put his hat back on, and straightened his hair where it had blown back, he stood fingering his ringing ears. Dishes had quaked in the cupboards. Somewhere, a picture had fallen. A bomb blast felt like this.
"Hot damn ..." Pete whispered. It seemed right to whisper.
Cautiously, he examined the chamber, and found a uniform grey-green liquid in the foodstuffs' place. He sipped it straight from the chamber, and his face straightened out.
"Hot damn," he said aloud, with a grey-green mustache. He sipped again. "Hot damn." He kept saying it as he drank his breakfast.
When the chamber was empty, he examined its tangled blades, nested in the bottom like a trap. Arranged in a triple-Y, they appeared very, very sharp. Pete watched a hair fall on one and get split in two.
On the outside of the chamber, a yellow sticker warned: DO NOT REACH INTO BLADES.
Pete read it twice, then said, "Alright."
Pete cut grass for a living. It was how he encountered the toxic mushroom.
The mushroom stood off to the side of the rich client's yard, as if for punishment. Fat and bloated, with a sickly white complexion, it held the general size and shape of a softball. The thing wasn't hurting anybody, but Pete couldn't resist.
"Heh," he said. "Hehehehe."
Giggling devilishly, he revved the weed-eater and dove in. However, upon contact, the mushroom exploded, sending up a brownish cloud which enveloped Pete to invisibility.
He stopped giggling at once, and began waving away the cloud as if there were flies. "Aw shit!" he said, and then sneezed and coughed. "Aw shit!" He stumbled away, blinking the sting from his eyes.
The singing started just afterward, when he'd finished up work.
In a grand, operatic falsetto, it replaced Pete's thoughts. Turn LE-E-E-E-E-EFT! it said at an intersection. In the grocery store: Get chicken for DINNER-R-R-R-R-R! In the presence of an attractive woman: Are those RE-E-E-E-E-EAL!? Each followed the same crescendo, and was performed in-key. Pete's head was a radio.
"Shut up," he said several times, but to no end.
This phenomenon accompanied a change in the world's color, and a queer elasticity to things, and inappropriate sexual correlations, and other general hallucinations. People had too many heads, and had learned to fly. On the way home, cars left rainbows behind them, and said interesting things, these too heard in the song of Pete's thoughts.
"Cool," he said in a voice gone strange. "Heh. Cool." It echoed, like he was in a well. He laughed.
After spending an hour or so remembering how to unlock his apartment, he blundered inside. Navigation was hard, and his eyes were untrustworthy. Furniture was in his way. He was a bumper car. The singer tried to help: That switch turns on the LI-I-I-I-I-IGHTS! The floor vents will not BITE YO-O-O-O-O-O-U! That means you have to PEEEEEEEEEEE! Pete was a long time setting down his groceries.
Then he saw the blender.
He stopped dead, fixated on the proud appliance. He remembered its roar -- zeeeeYEAAAAAAAAAH! -- and it startled him as it had that morning, again sending his CAT hat to the floor. "Hey, blender," he said, seeing the words float from his mouth and through the ceiling.
"Feed me anything," it replied, but in Afrikaans.
Pete had stopped again. He couldn't tear away from the blender, lost in its power and gravity. It gave him the weirdest idea: what would it be like to get blended?
You should put your hand in the BLENDE-R-R-R-R-R-R!
The thought startled him all over again. "No way," he said. "Huhn-ugh."
It would feel really GOOOOOOD!
Pete blinked big.
Just one HA-A-A-A-A-A-ND!
"But I need my hands," Pete reasoned.
You have TWOOOOOO!
"Yeah, but ..."
The blender is so HUNGY-Y-Y-Y-Y-Y!
"Cuttin' grass needs two hands!"
Why do you hate BLENDER-R-R-R-R-R-RS!?
"Now, wait just a minute --"
Everyone's DOING I-I-I-I-I-IT!
The voice had Pete there. "Well ..." he sighed, halfway convinced. He paused, thinking, as cupids and dragons fought in the heavens of his ceiling. "Why's the blender so hungry?" he asked, eventually.
It's down on its LU-U-U-U-U-UCK!
"Down on its luck ..." Pete was back on the fence. "Well, why's it --"
The opera singer cut him off: JUST PUT YOUR DAMN HAND IN THE BLENDER-R-R-R-R-R-R-R-R!
It sent Pete aback, as if a big truck had passed. The dragons had overcome the cupids, eating the chubby little archers with delight. His pocket lint felt like Japan. His neighbor's TV might be the voice of God.
When he couldn't put it off anymore, he approached the blender.
The chamber was unwashed from that morning, its sides rimed with grey-green spatter, but Pete could still see the blades. In their deadly asterisk, they gleamed like diamonds.
It really LIKES YOOOOO-U! the singer persuaded.
Pete said, "Well ..."
With some more deciphering, Pete tested the device -- zeeeeYEAAAAAAAAAH! It was louder this time, without the lid. Grey-green spit from the chamber, freckling Pete's face. He licked it away and made noises of enjoyment.
Slowly, cautiously, Pete lifted a hand toward the chamber.
It will be your best FRIE-E-E-E-E-E-END!
He put it in a few inches, enough to get blended leftovers on his knuckles. He started his hand back out, to lick it off, but was chastised by: Jesus would put his hand in the BLENDER-R-R-R-R-R-R!
Looking shameful, Pete resumed. He hit the button with his free hand -- zeeeeYEAAAAAAAAAH! -- and it was a little earthquake. The ceiling-dragons were watching now, their faces unreadable.
Lower in ...
The blender will grant you WISHE-E-E-E-E-ES!
Lower and lower ...
The President reaches in BLENDER-R-R-R-RS!
Pete felt fast wind over his fingers --
And then he stopped, struck by the warning sticker he'd read that morning: DO NOT REACH INTO BLADES.
Pete's eyes bandied back and forth -- the letters kept moving around and switching places, the bastards -- but he at last comprehended.
"Oh, that's right," he said in a new voice.
He pulled out of the blender, and it powered off with a defeated groan. The singer argued and appealed, but Pete wasn't one to disobey yellow stickers. The dragons lost interest and flew away.
For a long time, Pete stood in the kitchen, looking back and forth between the blender and his hand.
About The Author
A.A. Garrison is a thirty-year-old man located in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, where he lives and works comfortably above sea level. His short fiction has appeared in dozens of zines, anthologies, and web journals, and he is the author of several novels and short story collections, including The End of Jack Cruz, Other, and The Storms of Pemberton.
You can find him at synchroshock.blogspot.com.
Fast-Paced Author Interview (at high speeds! Risking dire consequences!)
The Squid: Who would you invite for a roadtrip on SHIELD's hovercarrier?
A.A. Garrison: I would invite David Lynch as possessed by the ghost of Frank Zappa, the world's last hope.
The Squid: Now, say you're a science fiction/fantasy action hero — a pretty sweet gig, by the way. Tell us which one you are most like, and why:
a) Conan the Barbarian
b) Han Solo
c) Captain James Tiberius Kirk
d) Buckaroo Bonzai
e) Rick Deckard
A.A. Garrison: I'm Conan (though I prefer "C.B." or Mr. Barbarian; too many damn people confuse me with that guy on TV). Why? Pecks, pecks, pecks. You never know when you'll need to crack a walnut with a flex of the chest, after all (I get requests at parties all the time). As for which version, movie, definitely definitely movie, because heroic pose-striking just doesn't translate to paper (furry loincoths are hard to draw).
About The Artist
Our very own Dave Chang is a game writer and web designer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology.