Chiming from the doorbell roused me from my sleep. At first I was confused, then simply awestruck. Nobody had rang that doorbell since the Mistress left; the sound was almost foreign.
It was still somewhat light out, and everyone had only just begun falling asleep. Slowly, everyone made their way to the door, jaws agape as the doorbell rang once again. And again. And again.
Java made her way to my side and we both exchanged perplexed looks with each other. We didn't say anything, but I knew we were both thinking the same thing: What could possibly be outside the doors?
Intel slowly shuffled through the crowd and up to the door. For a moment, she said nothing.
"What's going on?" Lennoxx whispered shakily, breaking the silence.
Intel quietly shushed her. "Listen," she said.
I did. I heard voices outside, faint but unmistakably there. I couldn't tell what they were saying, but I could tell they were all male, except for maybe two.
"Sh-should we let them in, whoever they are?" I asked meekly.
Intel didn't answer, but instead raised her voice and asked to the voices, "Who goes there?"
Dead silence, for at least ten seconds.
this'll be hard to explain
" said one of the higher voices.
"Simply put," said a deep voice, "we used to live here, and we came back. So let us in."
A quiet muttering spread through the crowd that had congealed by the door. I certainly hadn't heard of appliances being dumped and coming back. None of us really knew what to think about it.
"How do I know you're not lying?" Intel asked.
"Why would someone lie about something like that?" said another male voice incredulously, higher than the last one, but lower than the first one.
"No kidding!" said the first voice angrily. "Why would we travel for three days from the city to here if we were lying?! We don't have anywhere else to go! Just
please let us in!"
Intel considered this. "Very well, then. I think we can trust you enough, even without seeing you."
"Thank you! Thank you so much!"
Intel stretched her cord out and the door was clicked open. Slowly, very slowly, the door inched open to reveal a group of five appliances standing in the threshold before our eyes.
There was a long, painful silence in which everyone examined the other in awe. Standing in front was a male toaster who was conspicuously similar to me in looks, although his enamel was a reflective silver and mine was white, his eyes brown and mine a sky blue. He was extremely handsome, and the moment we locked our eyes I felt butterflies batter my stomach and my face grow warm.
Behind him stood a yellowish-orange lamp and a red radio. The lamp was lanky and rather tall for a lamp, his neck silvery, while his head and base was a dull orange and his eyes a pleasant yellow, with a unique cord the color of his base. He looked rather friendly, judging by his gentle smile. The radio beside him was faceless, but I figured he spoke like Lennoxx did: through his speaker. He had a yellow circular dial and a long silver antenna. To be honest, he kind of freaked me out at first.
Hanging behind them was a small yellow electric blanket, with a beige plastic face and a pink knob nose, beady eyes weary as he observed us. He had the demeanor of a little kid, which I found positively adorable. Also behind them was a large vacuum with a stony-looking face and a gruff air about him. His bag was a forest green color, his chrome a dark gray with a dull shine.
I was definitely surprised at seeing any of them anywhere near our house, but I had no idea at that moment how much they would change my life by their discovery, or rather, rediscovery, of our residence.
And so the former household and the current household was now united.
We all slowly made our way into our old estate, observing the new surroundings that still held a sense of well-being. I tried my best to avoid looking at the pretty white she-toaster standing by me. She really was gorgeous. Her blue eyes reminded me of icy diamonds.
"Welcome," I heard the strong yet gentle voice that greeted us by the door say. "Welcome, all of you. We're glad to have you here."
I turned around and saw an elderly-looking she-computer who I could already tell was sharp as a tack despite her apparent age. She had bags around her dull yellow eyes, and somehow managed to keep a pair of spectacles upon her head. She was a pale grayish-yellow with a blue power button on the right-hand corner of her screen, which was off at that moment. She looked very compassionate, and I didn't feel all that intimidated any more.
"Now, then. I hear you're all former residents of our humble abode?"
Suddenly the crowd of appliances (mostly females, I noticed-- score!) started asking questions, all at the same time.
"How long was the journey?"
"Did you really live here once?"
"How did you ever get back?"
"Who was your Master?"
Woah, woah, woah! One at a time, if you please, ladies!
"Quiet! Quiet, please!" the lady computer projected to the crowd. "Let me ask the questions. Now, will you all introduce yourselves?"
We did. They did the same. I couldn't get over how pretty the she-toaster-- Ostera-- was. I almost felt unworthy in her statuesque presence. There weren't many appliances in the house to introduce, maybe a dozen, more or less.
"Where's your Master?" I asked. A heavy silence answered my question. Everyone visibly bowed with sadness.
"We used to have a Mistress," Ostera murmured sadly.
I sighed. "I'm very sorry
"But you know," Lampy said, "we had the same thing happen to us."
Intel's intelligent amber eyes noticeably glimmered with interest. "Did you really? Would you mind sharing the tale? I'm sure we would all love to hear it."
I relayed our tale, from the moment the Master left to when we got back. As you can imagine, it took quite a long time; but thankfully nobody interrupted us, just stood and listened intently. It was nice to have a good audience. Everyone likes a nice, quiet audience.
After I'd finished retelling our story, there was a moment of silence. "So you're a success story
" Ostera murmured, shaking her head in awe. "I never thought any lost appliance could find their way back, not once, not twice, but thrice!"
I shrugged. "I guess we're just lucky."
"Understatement of the year!" said Lennoxx, the black clock-radio. "You're far beyond lucky, my friends. Some higher power must really like you all. Our Mistress left, but we'd never think of going out to find her-- it's improbable. We're all waiting for someone else to find us, and then everything will go back to normal."
"I knew I had the right idea," said Kirby half to himself.
"Don't say that," Intel reassured us. "You are all very well-off with your choice, and evaded most consequences. That's more than any of us could hope to achieve in our lives."
"Enough flattery," Lampy said with a flip of his plug.
"My ego's about to burst," Radio interjected. Everyone got a laugh out of it.
"So," I said, "you said your Mistress left. Could you tell us the story? As they say, an eye for an eye."
All was still for a moment. "Ostera, could you do the honors?"
"Certainly." She walked up, nearly dazzling me with her poise alone, took a breath, and began. "Our lives were like that of any other appliance. We were shipped out of the factory, to a convenience store, bought out of that and into the home. We all served our purpose as best we could, as any other appliance would. One would think we were a regular, rather ordinary household. But that was a façade. Behind closed doors, there was a black presence of a puppet master, if you will.
"Unlike most other households, we had a ruler. I myself have no idea who came up with the idea of a monarch to monitor our duties around here. But we had one either way, and that was that. Her name was Elight. She was a tall, thin lamp with a silvery head and base, and a black spine, cord, and plug. Her eyes were the most fluorescent green I've ever laid my eyes on-- they seemed to be piercing through your skin, calculating your every move. To magnify her intense gaze, her eyes had thick dark circles around them. She was almost beautiful, in a dark, mysterious, hypnotic way. But it wasn't her appearance alone that made her evil.
"She was no monarch-- she was a dictator, a tyrant. She didn't rule like Intel does now. She scared people into following her rules, she ruled by force and fear. Her bloodlust was amazing-- any empathy she may have had was concealed, and very well at that. She made examples of people. And by examples, I mean she publicly executed what she saw as lawbreaking appliances in front of everyone, so she could convey the message, 'Don't break my laws, or you'll end up like this damned soul.' She also held prisoners, scarred and beaten, for examples as well. It was scary, to say the least. Every day was like a game of life and death. Follow her rules, and be scared into obedience, or break the laws and be executed.
"Eventually though, her rule came to an end. The Mistress came home from the store one day and brought home a computer-- Intel. For a while, though, life remained stagnant and fearful as always. Intel was so incredulous at this lifestyle she decided she ought to do something about it. Though we all pleaded, telling her it was no use, that Elight would just kill her, Intel stood up to Elight in front of everyone.
"'This is no way to rule a society,' Intel said to Elight.
"'How dare you!,' Elight screeched. 'How dare you resist me, question my laws! You have some gall. Best thing to do now is rid of you, right here, right now.'
"Elight pulled out her knife and swung at Intel with it. But Intel caught the blade just in time, though it scarred the plastic of her cord. 'You are no queen of mine,' said Intel. 'Not mine, not theirs, not anyone's!'
"'Then I suppose you would do better?' Elight challenged.
"Intel then held a vote for who should rule. Some, out of fear, voted for Elight, though they all looked paralyzed at the thought. Intel, though, won the vote by a landslide. Elight was infuriated, and demanded a recount. But Intel remained firm, even as Elight spat and raved at her in her rage. Thereafter, Elight was banished to the basement, ordered to stay there and never come out. To this day, nobody has seen her. (Ostera noticeably shivered, though I had no idea why.)
"Shortly after Elight's banishment, our Mistress left. There was no notices, no signs. She just left. She just left one day and never came back. Nobody knows what happened to her. Some say she moved away, some say she was kidnapped, some say she might have even died. But nothing is known for certain. For quite a while, the house was in shambles. All motivation was drained out of everyone, and we all fell into a deep, spiraling, hopeless depression-- even Intel, though her association with the Mistress was minimal in the short time she was still there. She insisted we all keep up high spirits and try and live life as normally as we could. We did that, for almost a year, now. And then you all arrived. That's our story."
" was all I could say. How much pain they all must have been in! An appliances' purpose is to serve their Master, and not much else
and to have that stripped away was horrible. Now we were going to feel that same pain as well now, since we were outlaws.
"I'm so sorry
" Lampy murmured.
"Don't be," said Java, the lava lamp. "We're okay now."
"And until something happens, we'll continue living this way," Intel explained with a smile.
"I suppose it's not a bad way to live," I said.
"I suppose not," said a scratchy voice form behind us. I turned around and saw something lanky and wiry leaning in the shadow of the stairwell. Iridescent green eyes, bright as day, flickered from the darkness, and it stirred an indescribable sense of dread in me, as though the eyes could stab straight through me. The shadowy figure emerged from the gloom and revealed to us was the lamp of which Ostera had described to us. Elight.
She was scarier in person. To see those eyes was a paralyzing sight. You were like a deer under headlights in her gaze. And Ostera wasn't lying when she said Elight was almost beautiful. She moved in a graceful yet threatening manner, like a cat stalking her prey. Wrapped in her cord was an old steak knife, stained with the yellowish color of oil, the sight of which sent a shiver down my spine. All the residents cowered and backed up a step or two, and I could see quite a few trembling with fear.
Intel's eyes narrowed, looking directly into Elight's headlight-eyes. "You know I've banished you from the inside. Get out."
"Come now, Intel," Elight drawled, slowly twirling her oily knife. "All I wanted was to see our new guests. Can you spare me that much, my dear old queen?"
Intel said nothing, but still glared at the she-lamp with a hatred the likes of which I'd never seen. Elight sauntered slowly over to us, smiling a tiny smile of what looked like morbid amusement, like someone playing with a dying mouse. Ostera hastily gripped my hand in hers, quivering with wide, terrified eyes. I had no time rejoice the feeling of the white beauty holding my hand however, for soon the former monarch was upon us.
"Welcome, my dears, welcome," she said. "You all look a rather wizened bunch. You've had many adventures in the past, I can tell by that rambunctious gleam in your eye."
" I said.
She turned to me and Ostera, and chuckled, the sound of which sent another shiver down my spine. "Already getting attached, are we?" she queried when she saw Ostera gripping my hand. Ostera frantically let go and fled into the crowd.
"Look at you all scramble," Elight laughed loud enough for everyone to hear. "Making our guests suspicious."
Intel spoke again. "You've met our guests-- now leave."
Elight ignored her, staring at Lampy with her gleaming eyes. "You," she said simply.
Lampy winced. "M-me?"
Elight nodded slowly. "You look like you have potential, my friend-- the potential to fulfill a task of mine. May you be so kind as to accept my favor?"
"He will not!" Intel barked. "You will leave now or face the consequences."
Elight simply smiled at the she-computer. "He has every right to do as he wants. Surely you can't argue with that, Intel?"
Intel said nothing yet again, and stepped back with reluctance. Elight took her cord in his, and a hungry spark shone in her eyes. "I'll ask again: will you accept my favor, dearest?"
I could almost feel Lampy's internal struggle as he thought wildly what to do. "A-All right
" he murmured finally.
Elight grinned. "Good boy. Oh, dear! Look at the sky! It really is becoming late. You must come with me, to fulfill our favor. I'm sure you all won't mind?" Before waiting for an answer, the she-lamp led Lampy out of the room and before she went into the kitchen to get to the back door, she turned to the crowd, smiled, and said. "Good night." She then left with Lampy.
Nobody knew what to say for quite some time. The fear gradually faded away, and Intel lost the blaze of hatred in her eyes. "It's late," she said. "We should all go to sleep."
"Where do we sleep?" I asked. "We don't have a designated spot here."
Intel smiled. "You're free to sleep where you please, my dear."
The residents slowly made their way to their places, readying for bed. The spot I would normally sit-- on the counter, near the sink-- was occupied. Where would I sleep, then?
I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. Ostera stood behind me. "Y-you can sleep with me if you want
I accepted her offer. She let someone else take her spot, and, much to my confusion, she led me upstairs. "Where are we going? Toasters belong in the kitchen."
"Nobody said we have to sleep in the kitchen," she countered. I couldn't argue with that.
We made our way upstairs and soon I found she'd led me into the Master's old bedroom. I was half overjoyed and half disappointed, since the room had changed so much since I saw it last. But why'd she take me here?
"We're sleeping on the bed tonight," Ostera explained, as though reading my mind. She leapt up onto the bed with a soft thud. "It's nice and comfortable."
why the bed?"
"Why not? Hey, Toaster, we're friends, right?"
The question caught me off guard. "I-I don't know
we only just met each other."
"We can still become friends, though, right?"
I didn't answer, my face growing hot with every passing moment. Ostera giggled when she saw my face. "I'll take that as a yes. Come on up here with me. I don't bite, and neither does the bed."
I debated with myself for a while whether or not I should. Part of me said to do it and bond with white beauty, the other part of me said it was unnatural for appliances to sleep in beds. Finally I just said screw it and leapt up there with her.
It took a while to get used to the feel of it. I won't deny it was comfortable, but it felt very unnatural at first. Soon I found a comfortable position and lay there, staring up at the ceiling. Even that had changed. Slowly the sliver of remaining light from outside faded and we lay there in silence for a while, not sleeping, just thinking.
"Since we're becoming friends and all," said Ostera suddenly, "I ought to tell you my story, too. Not just one of the house, but of me. Well, more like me and someone else
Someone else? You mean she was with someone before this?
"Well, go ahead and tell me, then," I said. "Becoming-friend."
She smiled, but only for a moment before she grew solemn and told her tale.
"When I was first brought to the house, I was nervous and really frantic. I sought-- no, craved friends. I was very needy back then, and still am. I grew close to Java, Lennoxx, and Toni, and I became close with Intel, too. But I felt like I needed more. And then I met him."
My stomach gave a surprised twinge at the amount of syrupy adoration in her voice. She was with someone before this. I was slightly disappointed, but kept listening.
"His name was Kenmore, he was a microwave, large but gentle, my color of white, gorgeous green eyes. He was very handsome. The moment I saw him, I knew we were simply meant to be. He was the nicest guy I've ever had the pleasure to meet. He cared for me-- for everyone. We first started out as just good friends, but eventually, we both knew our feelings for each other, and our friendship grew to a whole new level.
"Loving someone intimately was forbidden during Elight's rule. So we had to keep our relationship secret, and we succeeded for a year and a half at keeping our love hidden from Elight. It was the best time of my life. But fate had different plans.
"One morning, after Elight had been banished to the basement, Kenmore stopped working. He couldn't turn on. That was the same morning the Mistress left us. We were all extremely crushed at her departure, but Kenmore took it the worst. He blamed himself for it, and, later that evening, he threw himself into the trash. He couldn't serve his purpose even if he wanted to, and therefore, he had no life to live. So he threw himself away. I would have done the same after that, if not for my friends. He meant everything to me. All hope was lost, for the longest time."
Ostera paused to wipe away a tear trickling down her cheek. I suddenly was overcome with emotion, and squeezed her hand in sympathy. More tears leaked from her eyes, but she forced herself to smile. "But I'm still going on. I'm living proof that even when you feel everything around you is crashing down, you can go on."
I unconsciously wrapped my arms around her, much to her surprise. "You're so brave, Ostera," I told her.
She hugged me back. For quite some time we sat there in a warm embrace. "Are we friends now, Toaster?"
I looked her right into her crystalline eyes, grinned, and replied, "Of course."
Soon afterward, fatigue got the better of us, and we fell asleep with our cords entwined.
Meanwhile, in the basement, Lampy was fulfilling Elight's favor.