Short Story: When Not to Shopon September 19, 2013
Hey guys! Long time no write! Have a state of the union. And by union, I mean artist, and by artist I mean me.
First off, putting aside the comic for a bit has been fantastically rejuvenating for me, so thank you for your patience. You guys are great! Second off, it’s allowed me to push forward with commissions, and that has meant that for the first time, I’m able to make a real living off my art. A real, full-time living that’s above minimum wage!! I don’t know how long it’ll last, but so far it shows no sign of slowing down, and that’s amazing and wonderful and I’ve never felt so awesome.
The downside, of course, is that I’m doing commissions full-time, which doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy to work on WoBG. I have a page half penciled! I’ve been trying to work on it in-between! But I don’t know that I’ll be able to finish it in time for our update window. I know, that sucks. It sucks a lot! I actually really want to work on WoBG right now, which is nice. But there are just so many other timely commitments. Did you know that I’m illustrating two card games? And a tabletop roleplaying game? And with ANOTHER card game and TWO tabletop roleplaying games still in development, waiting in the wings until they’re ready for me to art for them too!
So the long and short of it is Broken Glass is officially moving to ‘when it’s done’ update schedule. I suggest following Sam and I on Twitter, or adding WOBG to your RSS feed. I can’t guarantee when I’ll be done with any pages, especially since right now I’m adjusting to what it’s like to be really working on freelance full-time. Before, I could move things around and make time but now it’s pretty hectic!
Anyway, thank you for bearing with me; as a reward for your patience I have a short story for you! It’s something I wrote a few years ago, set not exactly in the WoBGverse but in the world that spawned the seeds for WoBG. But I reread it last night and it was at least faintly amusing. And I even drew a sketch for you! It’s like a miracle or something!
So without further ado, When Not to Shop.
And this too could be yours for the low, low price of $9.99!
Still awake. Nicholas stared at the searing technicolor of the infomercial blazing across the screen. He could practically recite it by heart now; he’d seen it every night this week. This was largely because he hadn’t slept since Sunday night, and today was… What was today? He’d had a meeting with Sunset Corp, and Kennedy had brought him a six-shot espresso. What day was that? Oh right, it was Thursday.
Well, Friday now. Friday at 4am.
The infomercial was for some sort of juicer. It had several additional apparatuses, several different sizes for the juice receptacle; and each could be added for another “low, low price of $9.99!” Or, he could get all five for forty bucks.
The sleepless man stared blankly as the cheerful woman demonstrated the juicer by putting an apple through it and getting — stop the presses — apple juice. “Do I need a juicer?” he wondered softly out loud. All told it was ninety bucks. That wasn’t so bad. And he had a lot of money to spend. He could juice lots of things. He could juice lemons, and oranges. And celery. Kennedy would like it. Kennedy liked rabbit food like that.
Absently, his fingers touched his phone, running fingertips over the glass surface as his sluggish mind considered the possibilities. Brilliant. Every day could start with carrot juice. Or strawberry juice. Strawberry juice, undoubtedly, would taste delicious. And they just said, starting the day with a healthy start is sure to cure all ills. He had a lot of ills that need curing. Distantly, he wondered if this juicer could cure nightmares. Maybe that’s what he needed all along: a juicer. The spirits just needed a healthy sacrifice of spinach juice.
“Hello, I’d like to purchase a Spinzone Juice-a-tron,” he found himself saying, into the phone, and to an actual person.
“A Juice-a-tron? Excellent!” the woman on the other end perkily replied. Nick blinked slowly. 4am was not a time to be perky. Maybe she was perky because she had juice every morning. “Can I get your credit card number, please?”
Nicholas fished his wallet out of his pants, pulled out his card, and read his information over the phone. The woman mm-hmmed, and okayed, and he could hear the distant klakety-clack of keyboard keys as she put him in the system. Finally, she said cheerfully, “Thank you very much, Mr. Grey! Now, the juice-a-tron has several extremely useful options–”
“I want all of them. The personal-sized juice receptacle, the chopping blades, the peeling extension, the extension cord, the extended lid; all of it.”
“You won’t regret it, Mr. Grey! Now, that will just be–”
“Forty bucks, I know. I’ve been watching…” Nick’s sleepless eyes focused on the screen. The rather excitable man was using the peeling extension to rapidly peel potatoes. That could be useful around Thanksgiving. So long as it didn’t make potato juice. That sounded pretty gross.
“…surface cleaner and wipe-and-wet,” the woman on the phone was saying.
“I’m sorry, what? Could you repeat that?” Nick asked, pulling his attention back to the task at hand. It wasn’t easy. Four nights without sleep takes a toll on a man.
“I was saying, Mr. Grey, that we’re running an extra special right now. If you buy the juice-a-tron, for just nine-ninety-nine, we’ll throw in our patented Spinzone surface cleaner and wipe-and-wet solution. It’s guaranteed to keep your kitchen spotless without a fuss!”
“Oh,” Nick replied, considering that. “Uh. Yeah, okay. That too.” Why not? Everyone needs to be clean. Well, the counters do, anyway. And maybe Maria will finally do her damn dishes.
“Wonderful! That brings our total to a hundred and twenty-five dollars, including tax and shipping. Now, Mr. Grey, you might be interested in some of our other Spinzone products. Would you like to hear about them?”
“Uh… Sure, yeah. Okay.” Nicholas sunk a little lower on the couch, feeling his bones turn gelatinous in the wake of so little sleep. How many hours had it been since he had coffee? He should get up and brew some, but that would be so much effort, and the couch was so comfortable…
“…our Spinzone exercise wheel–”
“I’m sorry, did you say exercise wheel?”
“Yes! It’s a fantastic body-toning innovation! Do your thighs need toning, sir?”
“Um…” Nicholas thought about it. He wearily lifted a leg to pull his pajama pants back. “I guess?” His leg dropped again.
“And do you have room in your place of living for a huge, costly, unsightly piece of exercise equipment, like a Bun-buster or an Ab-o-matic?”
“I don’t know. Maybe?”
The woman laughed. “Well, here’s the kicker, Mr. Grey: you don’t have to have a huge, costly, or unsightly piece of exercise equipment cluttering up your abode! The exercise wheel is a free-form pedal-based system encased in a specially designed stabilizing apparatus–”
“So, it’s a stationary bike,” Nicholas clarifies.
“Not so! It’s a single wheel, and it’s designed to be used with any seating arrangement. On the computer? Set it up in front of your chair and pedal while you work! Watching a movie? Attach it in front of the couch and get those thighs into shape for your next date!”
“Oh, I don’t date.”
“Well, then for your next meeting!”
Nicholas blinked. “Why do my thighs need to be in shape for my next meeting?”
“Well, Mr. Grey, appearance is extremely important in the business world, don’t you think?”
“I guess that’s true.”
“The Spinzone Exercise Wheel is sure to impress. Are you interested, sir?”
“Uhh…” Nicholas combed slowly through the sludge that was his not-so-waking brain. Exercise is good. He’d been meaning to set up a gym up here. And this would be a good start. He didn’t want any huge, unsightly gym equipment after all. “Yeah, sure. Okay.”
“Wonderful! And of course you’d be interested in the resistance attachments, as well as the pro-pedals and the–”
“Yeah, sure. Whatever, just… tack it on.”
“You got it, Mr. Grey!”
Nicholas rubbed a hand over his eyes and breathed out a sigh. “Hey, listen… do you have anything for nightmares?”
The woman paused for a moment, hemming, before offering, “We have our aroma-audio-therapy snooze alarm, distributed by Snoozezone, subsidiary of Spinzone, sir! It’s designed to give you that soothing, relaxing sleep you need.”
“But does it prevent nightmares?” Nicholas insisted.
“Well, for just an additional fee of twenty-nine-ninety-nine, it comes with an assortment of essential oils designed for use with the aroma-audio-therapy snooze alarm. The lavender in particular is useful in putting you into a relaxed, easy slumber, which is medically shown to reduce frequency of nightmares.”
“But what if my nightmares aren’t because of tension? What then?”
“Well perhaps you should try the vanilla, sir,” she replied. “I quite like the vanilla. I use it at home all the time.”
“The vanilla?” he asked softly. “And you don’t have nightmares?”
“Nope, not a one, sir. I mean, I can’t guarantee–”
“I’ll take it.”
“All of it. I’ll take all of it.”
“Alright then! Well, sir, you’ve ordered the Juice-a-tron with its five additional attachments; the Spinzone surface cleaner and wipe-and-wet solution; the exercise wheel and its ten super-ultra attachments; and the aroma-audio therapy snooze alarm, with scented eye mask, the complete collection of essential oils, the incense burner, the trio of soothing melody audio CDs, and the special edition collector Spinzone therapy hair-twist-towel. Is that correct, sir?”
“Um… yes. Yeah, I guess so.”
“Well, because you’ve been such a great sport, we’d like to throw in the cleaner for free!”
“Er…thanks, I guess.” Nicholas let his head fall back on the couch with a soft sigh. That was nice of them.
“So, your total comes out to $586.79. And we’ll just use the card you gave earlier, yeah?”
“Yeah, okay. Thanks, uhhh?”
“Julie,” she replied cheerfully. “You’re very welcome, sir. Have a good evening.”
“Thanks, Julie. You too.”
And with that, he shut down the call and turned his attention back to the TV. A flabbergasted woman was operating a handheld hamburger grill. Literally. It looked like a metal oven mit with grooves, clutching at a flat, sizzling hamburger patty. Whereas a normal person would watch that and consider where the fat run-off would get to, a sleep-deprived Nicholas instead watched in fascination.
No longer do you need to deal with the embarrassing temperature fluctuations of a huge, unwieldy outdoor grill! No longer do you need to wait forever for your burger to cook in those flimsy kitchen griddles!
Oh, yeah, Nick thought. That would be pretty rough, if we had a grill. Uneven temperatures. How do people even live with that?
The Suntastic Handburger Grill uses localized heat and pressure to cook that patty faster, so you get that mouth-watering, sizzling meal before you’re too hungry to cook!
Technology. What advances! Delivering meals hand to mouth even faster than usual. Nicholas felt the smooth shape of the phone in his hand.
Dial now, and you can get a bonus item, our Buncubator for just 29.99!
“Hello? Hi, I’m interested in your Handburger Grill…”