Toaster Without a Cause
Written By: Joe

DISCLAIMER: Hello there! Joseph here! I just wanted to reiterate that this is an actual story I wrote for class. Yeah, I know. I am lucky I take such nonsense classes or I'd never get away with this shit. Anyway, uh, since it's technically a REAL story and all, just do me a favor and don't like steal it or something...not that you would but, you know, well, yeah, don't, okay? If you like it, feel free to send me kisses (see example) but no steal, yes? Thanks. Enjoy the corny, tongue-in-cheek literary humor!!!END DISCLAIMER!!

          My toaster beat me up today. I'm not sure why exactly. I don't recall doing anything to make it angry. I mean, I don't think I did anything that would piss a toaster off. Although, I'm not...really sure...what would piss a toaster off. I guess maybe like if you buttered the bread before you put it in or tried to jam in a bagel that was too big for the slot. I didn't do anything like that though. As far as I know, I did nothing at all to provoke my toaster and it just went ahead and beat the hell out of me anyway.

          I woke up at seven and went into the kitchen to make some breakfast. I got out two slices of bread and put one in each of the toaster's slots. I pushed down the lever and watched in fascination as the bread descended into the toaster's depths. I turned around to my stove and set about to putting some coffee on. As I watched it drip, I smiled. My new toaster really is the best toaster I've ever owned, period. When I was a kid we had a toaster oven. I think I decided after I moved out to go with conventional toasters over toaster ovens simply because it would be different from what my parents had. Also, I've always found that sound when the toast pops up to be very satisfying.

          So, anyway, my last toaster was fine, I guess, but it didn't fit, you know, ergonomically with the rest of my kitchen. Wait, I'm not sure that's the word I want. Well, anyway, it sort of stuck out. It was a pretty bland design and the paint started peeling pretty shortly after I got it. Plus, the toast I got from it never really matched up to my expectations of what I hoped authentic toaster-produced toast would taste like.

          It was rather by chance that, whilst walking past the kitchen appliances section of Sears, a dazzling glint caught my eye. I whipped my head in the direction of said glint and discovered it originated from the most stunning, beautiful piece of machinery I had ever had the good fortune of being in the presence of. It was a sleek, shiny, red toaster. It was sort of oval in shape but in a cool, future-y kind of way, so it wasn't equally rounded on all sides but got kind of deformed near the back...not in a bad way mind a sexy way. The paint that was used was an intensely shocking shade of red. It made it seem dangerous, but all the more exciting. The browning knob held a vast variety of untold possibilities with so many different degrees of...brownness. The slots looked especially inviting for all manner of bread-based food. I could hardly wait to press the lever down and receive the holy toast that would, once bread had been inserted, surely rocket out from its innards. The device drew me toward it like a beacon of toasty glory. A salesman, noticing my fascination, approached.

          "Ahh, the Toastmax 4000. Now that's a fine model. It has-"

          "I'll take it," I quickly said, wiping a bit of drool from beneath my lower lip.

          I made off with my Toastmax for a cool $24.99. After taking it home, I ran to my kitchen. I unplugged my old toaster and with a deft swipe of my arm, knocked it across the counter and into the trash. I hurriedly unpacked and plugged in my Toastmax 4000. The toast it produced was unbelievably divine. I went through two and a half loaves of bread that evening, trying out all of my different toppings and spreads with varying degrees of browning. Everything tasted better than good.

          I was snapped back to reality by the sorrowful smell of burning. I spun around to witness my toaster pouring out smoke.

          "What?!" I shouted. This had never happened before. I ran over to see what was wrong.

          As I stood over the toaster, peering into it, two pieces of badly burnt toast shot straight out and struck me in the face. I shrieked, startled by the momentary slap of heat. Plus, some crumbs got in my eye. I rubbed my face and regained my eyesight in time to see my toaster propel upwards and slam right into my head.

          BONG! The sound of metal colliding into my cranium would have been sort of comical if it hadn't hurt so much. I fell back against the counter only to receive several more blows as the toaster bounced back and forth against my skull and the countertop again and again, with a very paddleball-like effect. BONG! G-BONG! G-BONG! G-BONG! G-BONG! I slid down the wall of the counter and covered my face sheepishly.

          "No! No, please! Stop, please!!"

          "Shut your mouth!"

          I whimpered and attempted to better shield my head with my arms. Where had that voice come from?! It sounded very close but, no, it couldn't be...could it? I slowly removed my arms from the front of my face and looked up to see the Toastmax 4000 glaring down at me. By glaring I mean that it was kind of on its side diagonally, the slots pointed directly at me.

          "You don't fuck with me today! You don't fuck with me today!!" the toaster said. Now, this is going to sound really crazy but I could actually see it talk. The bottom slot sort of bent up and down, forming the words like a human mouth. The upper slot seemed to be the eyes as it mostly stayed bent in an upside-down V-shape, giving the effect that the toaster was permanently scowling at me. I had no idea the metal was that flexible.

          "I'm-I'm sorry," I stammered.

          "You should be sorry! Now shut your damn mouth!"

          "B-but why are you-"

          "Look, you don't ask anymore goddamned questions, okay? Just shut up and you'll get your precious toast!"

          With that the Toastmax emitted a sort of belching sound and shot out two more pieces of toast, these perfectly browned, squarely at my face. I had absolutely no clue as to how it managed to do this as I hadn't put anymore bread in. However, the toaster had fallen back to its normal, upright position (with a slight tottering back and forth as it settled) so I decided not to question it on the subject. It didn't speak or move for the rest of the morning.

          So here I am at work. Now finished pondering over this morning's debacle, my mouth is watering remembering how awesome the toast I had afterwards was. I had spread strawberry jelly on one slice and butter on the other and it was utterly incredible. It seemed like, was it possible? it actually tasted better than it ever had before.

          "Hey how's it going?" I turn my head at the sound of my co-worker, Rob's, voice.

          "Oh, fine, fine," I respond. I notice him squinting and remember the bruises on my face. I turn back and pretend to rest my head on my hand in an attempt to cover up the side of my face that is most obviously black-and-blue.

          "Uhm, so Mark and Rich and I are playing some pool later, you wanna come?"

          "," I respond nervously. "I' some stuff to do tonight...some stuff I gotta...uh...finish up."

          Luckily, this seems to satisfy Rob and he walks away. I don't need anyone else seeing these bruises. I stay up late that night, listening for sounds of my toaster on the move but to no avail.

          The next morning, I groggily stroll into the kitchen and, half-awake, drop two pieces of bread into the toaster. Suddenly, the appliance jumps about a half foot up and crams one of its slots (the mouth one) around my hand. I wake up immediately as the slot closes my hand in and I feel the heat turning on. I scream and shriek effeminately as I slam the toaster into the counter, walls, and cabinets. The toaster is emitting a growling sound like an angry rottweiler. After fifteen agonizing seconds of this, I'm released and the toaster falls back onto the countertop. I take several awkward steps backward and then run over to the sink, turning the cold water on full blast and shoving my hand under the faucet.

          "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" the toaster yells at me. I turn to face it.

          "Why are you doing this to me?!"

          "Shut up! You're in no position to ask questions! How dare you slam me into your dirty walls and cabinets! Don't forget your place!"

          "What place?! You're just a toaster!" The toaster's eyes widen (you have to see this to understand how amazingly expressive this thing can be).

          "Just a toaster? Just a toaster? Who makes you the best damn toast you've ever had in your life, huh? Who gives you a reason to wake up in the morning?" I look down pathetically. "That's right, baby. Me! Now you think about that the next time you feel like acting up." With that, two more pieces of perfect toast come shooting out at me. They hit my chest and fall into the sink.

          "No!" I shout and scramble to retrieve the toast, already soggy. I frown mournfully at it. "Could I get-" I start to ask the Toastmax...but then think better of it. I guess I can still eat this.

          Things go on like this for two and a half weeks. I wake up and ask the Toastmax 4000 for toast (I no longer approach it to put bread in myself as it doesn't appear to be necessary anyhow). If it is in a good mood, I get two slices of the finest toast man has ever been privy to. If not, I get a sound thrashing. Sometimes, I get a little of both. The beatings are somewhat varied. At times the toaster will just ricochet against my face repeatedly. Once or twice it strangled me with its electrical cord. One time it got hold of a fork somehow and shot it straight at me. I ducked this, however. The toaster berated me for doing so afterwards and I didn't get toast that morning.

          One day, the toaster tells me it wants to talk to me face-to-face about something. I'm a bit suspicious of this but I do need my morning toast so I approach it. Once I am close, it jumps up and latches onto my face, burning two distinct slot-marks straight down the middle of it. I go to work this way, hoping I'll have no reason to look at anybody. Unfortunately, Rob shows up and, despite my attempts to conceal them, can clearly make out the burns.

          "My God," he says, "What happened to your face?"

          "I uh-"I try to think. "I fell down the stairs!"

          "You fell down the-"

          "And went smack right into the radiator!" I hastily cap on.

          "Oh," he says after a pause then walks away. He comes back a moment later as I am hurriedly putting on my coat.

          "Wait, don't you live in an apartment-"

          "Sorry, I was just leaving for lunch." I cut him off and flee the scene.

          It's the end of the month and I'm sitting in my cubicle, nursing my wounds. My face is a wreck. There are several large burn marks, bruises of all shapes and sizes, and a significant gash on my right cheek from where the Toastmax cut me with a switchblade. That one sure took me by surprise. I don't think I even own a switchblade. The toast is still incredible but I'm starting to wonder if it's really worth all this pain. I don't, of course, mention this thought to the toaster.

          "Hey," I hear Rob behind me.

          "Yeah?" I try to crane my neck so I don't have to turn around all the way. I realize he's not the only one there.

          "Turn around." The voice comes from another co-worker of mine, Mary.

          "I'd rather not," I say. Suddenly my chair is whirled around against my will. I'm abruptly facing all of my co-workers. Nearly everyone from my floor seems to have come out.

          "Listen, we don't know what it is you're doing to yourself or who's doing it to you, but it's got to stop," Rob says.

          "I don't know what you're talking about," I say. He snorts bitterly.

          "Come on, who are you kidding? Your face looks like crap! What the hell have you gotten yourself into?"

          "It's none of your business!" I retort.

          "It's so noticeable now that it is our business," Mark says.

          "Yeah, I can't look at you anymore, man. It's disgusting," says Rich.

          "I thought you were my friends!"

          "We are your friends," says Rob. "That's why we're trying to help you."

          "I don't want your help!" I shriek. "Leave me alone! I can handle it! Just leave me alone!" I stand up and push my way past everyone and run out the door. I hear people calling my name as I leave but I ignore them.

          "You're only hurting yourself!" shouts Rob.

          It's three in the morning now. I'm lying awake in bed, thinking, plotting. They're right. I've got to put a stop to this. I've got to put a stop to this right now.

          I get up and creep gradually towards the kitchen, doing my best not to make a sound. Through the darkness, I can see the toaster at the far end of the counter. It's not moving. I hope it's asleep. I hope it sleeps, period. I get on my hands and knees and crawl across the kitchen floor. I make it to the far end, right under where the toaster is, get on my feet, and slowly raise myself up. I cautiously and quietly reach for the power cord. Almost there now, yes, just a little further...

          "What are you doing?" I'm startled by the sound of the Toastmax speaking, but I hold my ground and grab hold of the plug.

          "I'm unplugging you."

          "Do you really think that will work?"

          "Well, logically, yes, yes, I do."

          "Go ahead, then, I'd like to see you try," the toaster taunts. I see the switchblade it used on me before pop out of the top, gleaming slightly even in the darkness.

          "I'll just pull this out and then you won't be able to bother me anymore."

          "Bother you? Bother you? All I ever did was serve you. I make you the best damn toast imaginable and this is how you repay me? I should kill you right now."

          "You beat the hell out of me all the time! Sure, the toast is good but you're always hurting me! Why are you always hurting me?!"

          "Look, you want good toast? There's a price to pay for toast this good. There has to be, don't you think? So why don't you just go away and go back to sleep and we'll talk about this in the morning."

          "No! This isn't going on anymore! I'm ending this now!" I tighten my grip.

          "Fine! Go ahead! Do you really think you can unplug me before I get the jump on you? Are you even sure unplugging me will shut me off? Maybe I'll slash your throat right as I fall to the ground and we'll die in a pile together. Wouldn't that be poetic?"

          "What do you want from me?"

          "Want? I don't want anything. I want to do what I was designed to do, make toast. The best damn toast in the world." A fresh piece of toast rises leisurely and temptingly out of the eye slot. My eyes are fixed upon it.

          "That's right. What's more important to you? Your pretty face? Or the toast? Come on, do the right thing."

          I grasp the plug more firmly, pulling slightly but relax a bit as I look at the toast, bobbing back and forth vaguely. I've got to end this...but the toast is so good! I can't be at the hands of this maniacal machine any longer! But it's everything I've always wanted in a toaster! No! That's it! I'm pulling the plug!

          ...but the toast is so good...

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