Charlotte stopped arguing with Jacob, not because she was wrong or right, but because she was exhausted. How long had they been holed up in this dim, cold place? One minute, she was lounging around with a group of her closest friends, bathed in bright light and blanketed with a fine layer of Muzak. Suddenly, she found herself and her best friend manhandled and tossed into the dark abyss.
“Look, I don’t want to argue either. I just think we need to calm down and examine the situation,” Jacob said.
“What the hell is there to examine, Jacob?! We’ve been kidnapped and you just want to sit on your ass and think. Who knows how little time we have to find a way out of here?”
“Hah,” a voice squeaked out of the darkness.
They both turned their heads toward the sound, and their eyes landed upon a husky, dirty, dimple-ridden potato with a smirk upon his face.
“I beg your pardon,” Charlotte said indignantly. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m very sorry, how rude of me,” said the potato. “My name is Rupert. I’ve recently just arrived myself, but I’ve been here a few days longer than you two.”
“Well, Rupert,” Charlotte sneered, “Unless you want to help us get out of this mess, I really don’t care to hear your opinions.”
Rupert paused for moment and let his smile drop into a more serious expression. “Look,” he said. “You two seem very confused, so I’ll let you in on a little secret. You’re here to become a part of someone’s meal. There, right to the chase. No sense in sugarcoating the situation.”
Charlotte and Jacob turned and looked at each other in silence. Jacob turned back to Rupert and said, “Come on, that’s ridiculous.”
“I’m afraid not, my dear boy,” Rupert replied. “With my own ears, I overheard a pair of giant creatures discussing such a matter when they opened up the great walls of this place and took my friend Peter.”
Rupert dipped his head and muttered quietly, “He was such a congenial bit of gruyère… Not how those fellows usually are.”
He quickly recovered, “Hmm? Where was I… Ahh yes. So… as I was saying, we are all to be important ingredients of what these creatures are calling “a stew.” I specifically heard them mention myself, you two carrots and the two pounds of chuck roast to my right.”
Rupert quickly snapped to attention. “Oh my, it appears my manners have completely abandoned me. Tsk, tsk,” he said. “Charlotte and Jacob, allow me to introduce Otto. He is a man of few words, but he shares the same fate before us all. Oddly enough, he’s a bit more chipper about it than the rest of us.”
It was then that Charlotte and Jacob realized Otto had been sitting there the whole time, eyes closed and engaged in some sort of silent meditation.
“Well, Otto?” Charlotte questioned. “How can you sit there and be so zen about this whole situation?” “If we work together, we’ll surely find our way out of here a lot faster,” she pleaded.
“No,” Otto replied with a stoic look upon his face.
“No… No!? What the hell is wrong with you people,” screamed Charlotte.
Otto sighed. “There’s nothing “wrong” with me.” He finally opened his eyes and looked directly at Charlotte. “Don’t you know that there’s no greater joy in life than knowing you’ve served your purpose and met your destiny head on? I don’t fear my fate. I embrace it.”
Rupert piped in, “I may not be so enthusiastic as my friend here, but he is essentially correct. What sense is there in spending your last hours wringing your hands and pulling your hair out? If you would only accept your fate, then you could relax. You would realize that there’s nothing you can do, so you may as well enjoy the time you have left. Play some games. Do something creative. Whatever, I really don’t care. But please, please… don’t waste anymore of the precious time you have left.”
Charlotte tensed up. “I’m sorry. I can’t accept the fact that… that this is how I end – at the whims of some other creature’s culinary imagination.” She relaxed a little bit, “Look, I don’t know how they do things where you come from, but us carrots, we’re a fiercely independent bunch! We choose our fates, they don’t choose us!”
Jacob felt himself becoming weak and complacent. “Maybe they’re right Charlotte. What other choice do we have? I certainly don’t see a way out of here.”
Surprised at Jacob’s sudden resignation, Charlotte screamed, “Jacob! What is the matter with you? We’re carrots! We’ve both been taught the same truths since we were just sprouts in the soil. You know as well as I do that we choose our destiny, no one else! To give in is to give up… to go against every natural grain in our orange flesh.”
Jacob felt Charlotte’s words upon his ears like a splash of cold water. “Yes…yes.. you’re right. I.. I don’t know what came over me.”
Charlotte took a moment to look around, take in everything around her and absorb all that’s happened. She had to admit that the others appeared to be right. There wasn’t any obvious way out of this.
Not true, she thought. There was one way. It was an option she never thought she’d actually have to consider. But it was an option and the only truly honorable one left.
She turned to Jacob. “I agree with you that our options are limited. But, we can still escape,” she said.
Jacob looked to her questioningly. “How?”
Charlotte peered over Jacob’s shoulder at a large, open pitcher of orange juice.
Jacob followed her eyes. “Whoa… whoa.. nuh-unh.. No, there’s gotta be another way.”
Charlotte peered at him sympathetically, “Jacob, you know there’s not. We’ve all concluded that there’s no means of escaping with our lives. But we cannot give these depraved creatures the pleasure of putting us in their stew. We can still make a choice and depose ourselves from this situation knowing that it was on our terms. ”
She stared back at the pitcher of orange juice. “The citric acid will seep through our bodies and destroy our flavor profile. That should make us useless for these creatures and they will get no satisfaction from our deaths!”
A flood of realization seemed to rush into Jacob’s eyes. Though his body was still wanting to show signs of reluctance, he steeled his mind and forced himself to adopt a brave posture. Jacob nodded at Charlotte and proceeded to climb up to the rim of the pitcher. Charlotte followed him slowly and soon they were both peering into their yellowy, tumultuous future. Charlotte reached for Jacob’s hand.
She gave a final look down at Boris and Rupert. “Bon voyage, gentlemen.”
I see a lot wrong with this short story, but I don’t know how to fix it yet. I wanted to keep working on it, but I decided that at some point, I would gain more benefit by just putting it out there and getting some feedback from other folks. I also feel like it took me way longer to get to this point then it should have.
For those who took the time to read this, I really appreciate it! I also greatly appreciate any and all criticisms you may have. This is the first short story I’ve written in about 10 years.