Charlie was just too young to be in the kitchen after midnight in the first place. It wasn’t like he wasn’t warned. That’s not a subjective judgment; it’s the truth. But that’s a different story. For now this is the only one I’m telling.
He had snuck down exactly at two o’clock, when his alarm went off on his phone. They went to sleep at around one, and I guess Charlie figured it was best to wait a bit before sneaking down the stairs. He was hungry; I’m not denying that. They had starved him longer than they should have. There was a reason for it, of course. The bigger they are around the waist when they’re sold, the less they’re worth. Our people didn’t make the rules, they just play by them. It’s either we live or die – I mean… not that extreme yet. Not like the Plague of ‘456, but not paradisiacal either.
The only light on in the lower part of the house was that from the digital reading above the water dispenser on the refrigerator – the new one. Charile knew exactly where he was going that night; we don’t doubt that. They always know where they’re going.
After he got downstairs, we’re not really sure what happened to him. But we have a speculation, and to lend a sense of completion to the story, we’ll hand that over to you, if you don’t mind.
He gets downstairs and has all but lost every human sensation, the blue glow from the new machine sucking everything out of him, drawing him closer – making him every empty promise he needs to keep his silent steps going all the way into the kitchen. He meets the machine face to face and requests a midnight snack – wraps his fingers around the handle, feels the first of 90,000 volts, and drops.
All we have is the phone recording from 2: 38 that morning. Thirty-eight minutes – Jesus. You gotta wonder what the hell took him so long. Anyway, here you go.
“Hey. It’s me.”
“Hello, Me, what do you need? Make it quick. Things are getting pretty busy here.”
“The kid’s out.”
“Yeah? Well, I guess you made a good purchase on the machine after all, Me.”
“Okay, well I’ll be off in another couple hours, and I’m gonna be hungry when I get back. I was slammed, couldn’t get to lunch. You cookin’ him up now?”
“Just undressed him and pre-heated the oven.”
“You’re so good to me.”
“Just bring the napkins and the paycheck, love.”
“Sounds good, babe! Be home soon. Kisses.”