Lightbulb of Doom
Posted: 15 October 2018
Word Count: 798
Summary: A surreal, ridiculous vignette contemplating an unhappy boy, Johnny, with a cruel father. Johnny has discovered a lightbulb from the future... the aliens might just want it back... meanwhile his father, Mr Spight, might increase the rent yet again on No.46...
Lighbulb of DoomJohnny stared at his father across the dinner table. Mr Spight was well known, if not well liked, throughout their small home town of Edenbridge.
His surname was sadly apt. A vindictive, round shouldered man with a bristling moustache under a pinched nose, immaculate slicked back hair, pasty of complexion, Arthur Spight had a thriving interest in the rental property market of Edenbridge and surrounding villages.
When he ate his lips peeled back from his small grey teeth.
Arthur was a letting agent. He held landlords and tenants in equal contempt though his venom was reserved for the tenants since the landlords stuck around, generally, while tenants came and went. The tenants paid him with their coming and going, so it was not in his interest to keep them happy.
Arthur Spight was one of these people who revel in their unpopularity.
He ate small morsels, rat sized morsels, Johnny thought, as he watched his father’s nose hairs quiver with every intake of breath. Unpopularity mattered to Arthur Spight in the sense that if he felt liked, he felt uneasily that he was doing something wrong.
As he recently affirmed to his wife, life is not a popularity contest, life is about…
“… getting what you want, making sure you’re happy, and damn everyone else, unless they’re paying you”, as he swung the wheel of his unnecessarily large four by four, bringing it to a halt in the supermarket car park. He thrived on the pained looks of the ‘peasants’ as he thundered by. Pained at best that is, often terrified. He generally occupied at least two parking spaces for fear of receiving a scratch on his immaculate paintwork.
Arthur Spight squirted more ketchup onto his fried breakfast making a disgusting farting noise with the plastic bottle. Johnny wrinkled his nose.
“You’ll be dead soon enough”. he said. His father looked at him, fork halfway to his greasy little mouth.
“What did you say?” he asked nastily.
“I’ll be in bed soon enough. Sorry, thinking aloud. I’m tired”. His father looked at him suspiciously, then over at his wife. She was staring at a mushroom.
“How old are you now?” he asked Johnny.
“Eleven”. Arthur grunted. He thought for a moment then, with nothing more to say, continued shovelling food into his gullet. Johnny stared at his plate for a moment then asked to be excused. He walked slowly upstairs conscious of his fathers gaze on his back.
Lying on his bed Johnny opened the blue exercise book that served as his diary. He turned to the entries for the last few days. His gaze flicked to the box just visible in the corner of the room under a pile of comics. The box contained his diaries for the last few years. He jumped up and went over to the box. He pushed the comics onto the floor and lifted the lid. Inside was a jumbled pile of exercise books. He picked one out at random. He opened it to a page roughly halfway through, where his neat, cramped handwriting filled the pages.
‘Sunday, December 26th.
Christmas is my least favourite time of year. All this excess. I hate chocolate, gravy and Nan’s awful presents. I hate having to look happy and grateful every time I open something I don’t like. The only good thing about Christmas is Auntie Viv coming over but she didn’t stay long this time cos Nana Ruby has the gout or so she says. I think she only says that so she doesn’t have to come over and eat Mum’s cooking. Anyway I DID get some paper and pens so I can work on my plan to conquer the UNIVERSES and make things better for EVERYONE except DAD and make mum QUEEN.’
Johnny put the book back into the box with a snort. ‘Plan to conquer the universes’ he whispered to himself derisively. ‘Ridiculous.’ He moved over the the window, pulled the curtain shut. From under his pillow he took a small wooden box. He did something with his hands, a curious gesture, and the box slid open. Inside was a glowing green ball. As he held the box with the glowing green ball inside the ball grew larger with a rushing noise, as though the ball was taking all the air from the room, from the outside into it, making it swell. Soon the ball was touching the ceiling, the rushing noise almost deafening. Johnny watched it, rapt. The ball trembled and shook. Then in the blink of an eye it was gone, the box again intact. Johnny placed it back under the pillow then sat on the bed exhausted. ‘How am I to conquer the universes if I can’t even understand what that is?’ he asked himself bitterly.
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