Fresh

Here’s my story, Fresh, written from a prompt of an oyster picture. Fresh was selected for first runner-up at The Angry Hourglass this past week. I wrote three different oyster stories based on the difficult prompt. The first was about a couple arguing over oysters (and infidelity) at dinner, the second was about the demise of Drake’s Bay Oyster Company as its farms were turned back to wilderness land, and the final one was this campy romp. If you’d like to see Fresh in its natural state with the other AH stories, go here.

FRESH

Vince wanted the new management position, so he had accepted the dinner invitation despite his misgivings. Everyone at Archer Daniels Midland avoided Doctor Hopkins, but the man still had scientific cachet.

Vince rang the doorbell and stared at the sprawling gothic house.

“Vincent! Come in.” Hopkins smiled just a little too broadly, and his eyes flashed with glints that sent uneasy ripples up Vince’s spine.

“The wife’s delayed in Atlanta,” Hopkins said. “It’s just you and me.”

Vince tried to conceal his dismay. “I would have liked to meet Mrs. Hopkins.”

“Next time. Gin and tonic?”

“Please.” Vince glanced around the main room. He’d never seen art like this before. Leather sculptures? Skins? And odd—creatures?—in glass bottles everywhere. One looked like a pig fetus.

Hopkins handed him a tumbler. “Drink! I’ve got oysters. Fresh. The wife likes ‘em with lemon, but I prefer a nice horseradish sauce.”

Oysters: not Vince’s favorite. Vince peered at the bowl of oysters on ice.

“Fresh,” Hopkins repeated, his smile widening as he selected an oyster and slurped it.

Vince blinked. Had he just seen the oysters wriggling in their half-shells?

“I think they’re still alive, Doctor.”

“Yes, yes, they taste better that way!” Hopkins appeared unperturbed, pressing an oyster on Vince, who swallowed it reluctantly.

He almost gagged on the slithering thing. “But they aren’t supposed to move like that even in their—um—natural state.”

Hopkins froze, his smile plastered on his face like a madman’s leer. “I’ve been having some fun, fiddling with a side project in addition to our work on new preservatives at ADM. The wriggling is a side effect of the preservative. Nothing to worry about.”

“W—what’s in the preservative?” Vince swore he felt the oyster crawling back up his esophagus.

“Oh, a little of this, a little of that. You know, stem cells, microbial digestive by-products. I want ‘em fresh.” Hopkins waved suggestively at the glass jars spread throughout the kitchen, beaming. “You and I, Vincent, are making history as my first human subjects!”

Vince didn’t hear him. He was too busy clawing at his throat, struggling to get a breath past the obstructing oyster.

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