Brave Little Toaster Fanfiction: TBLT: Finds The Recalled - 26. So We'll Go, Just Where We Want To Go
- Brave Little Toaster Fanfiction: TBLT: Finds The Recalled
- 26. So We'll Go, Just Where We Want To Go
A note before we begin!
Some appliance designs during Lewis & Lucy’s segment (Mona, Romano, Ticktick, Dustin) were thought up by Aileea.It was also her idea for Blenn to be the same model as the one seen in the Parts Shop of TBLT1.Go visit her DA (Same name!), she’s a really sweet person, and she does wonderful art!Also, to those in the Discord server, you’ve all been so kind! I’m very happy to have been included in this big ol’ appliance family of a fandom!
Next, this fanfiction has been a labor of love, at least five months in the making. That’s right, I didn’t start posting until it was complete. I never liked subjecting people to hiatuses or discontinuations.
That said, I thank you for your patience, for reading to the end, and reviewing, if you have!Have something extra I had in mind. Super long, but I hope you’ll enjoy!
26. So We’ll Go, Just Where We Want To Go(Epilogue)
Following Lampy’s departure, careful examinations were done to locate the lamps’ masters/mistresses. Consumer records, and their recollections of them, were used. Of course, names weren’t enough; a phone number was needed to inform the households in question. If the request to send in the lamp was accepted, they would be sent out to the address provided by the phone book.
Yes, they still used those.
Some were more defined than others, but ultimately, a high percentage of send-offs were generated. So, on one of the assigned days, grouped together inside Moe’s cargo area were plenty of Marigolds. This included Lampford, Lampta, Lampson, Lewis, and Lucy. There were also boxes of which to be “shipped” in.
With Lampson was a peculiar bouquet of flowers, consisting of pink daisies, white forget-me-nots, and orange marigolds. No one was sure why he had them, nor where he got them from. He also requested to be the first stop, which was just as strange. Yet, they felt it better to not ask.
Finally, Lammond was seated in Moe’s passenger seat. He kept a clipboard with a checklist, and a pen to mark each item off. A route was in place that allowed the least amount of time per address as possible. Being the Chief Supervisor of Repairees lended more responsibility as of late, but he was all for it.
After everything the Marigolds have been through? They deserved to have this.
Once everyone was present, Moe rode them off, as Lammond directed him to the stops.
Lampson, the Artist
Moe parked near the entrance to a cemetery. For the first time, he spoke with uncertainty. “This… This can’t be it, right?” Lammond located the street sign, before double-checking the list.
“It’s the correct address,” He replied, mirroring Moe’s tone. Then, he shifted his attention to the lamp this pertained to. Lampson, this is your stop.
The lamps heard, they all rising to their bases. When Moe’s door slid open, Lampson hopped out, bouquet in cord, looking as though he recognized the area. Bemused, other lamps followed to the doorway, peering outside.
“Wait, what about the package-… Oh my.” Lampford commented as he was last to follow suit. Lampson looked back at them, while Lammond hopped out from the passenger side.
“No, sorry; I’m not being shipped out,” He tried to explain, finding it awkward, “This is… About… Closure.” A wave of sorrow fell upon the others. “Don’t worry about it; I’ll be right back.” He turned on his base, hopping through the open gates.
“Are we going to…?” Lampta started. Lampford promptly nodded.
“Of course we’re going to follow him.”
It didn’t take long. A brass gooseneck lamp with a bouquet of flowers was hard to miss with the surroundings. They were lucky that there weren’t any Humans around. From a few rows off, they watched as Lampson filled the headstone’s built-in holders with a water and nutrient powder mixture. Then, he arranged the colorful blossoms, both bearing equal amounts of color.
After all this, the Marigold sat and stared in silence. They let him have a few minutes, before approaching. The headstone read:
“Matthew DavisB. February 9th, 1956D. September 25th, 1978”
They wanted to ask, but felt it was too insensitive. Yet, Lampson could tell what they were thinking, just from the context clues.
“It was a car accident,” His voice was quiet, trying to keep it steady. “It was Grocery Day, but some jerk T-boned him and his car on the way back. We at home only found out from the paper – after about five days, one of us snuck out to grab them. The obituary from the day after he disappeared confirmed our worst fears.”
“He was so young, so he didn’t have a will,” He continued, as the others drew closer to him in comfort. “Which meant that we were all free game for the relatives. Right about then, my cord started to fail, so no one wanted me. Eventually, I pulled some strings to get myself Recalled. I figured anything was better than this, but as you know, I was wrong.”
“What was he like?” Lewis decided to ask, hoping to stir something more positive. Lampson regarded the question with a small smile.
“Oh, he was a fantastic carpenter,” He answered, filling with nostalgia. “Tables, chairs, benches, frames for sofas or beds… You name it, he could make it. And, well… One could say I learned a lot from watching in secret. Turns out, metal is quite a bit more sturdy than wood; it doesn’t splinter or chip as much!”
At last, Lampford found something to say. “I’m… I’m so sorry, Lampson. That… You had to lose your master this way…”
“Oh, don’t apologize,” Lampson exhaled, but still smiled. “I just wanted to come see him one last time, and say goodbye, you know? Before I’m…” He trailed off. “Before I’m bought. Hopefully.”
“Aw, Sonson…” Lampta added in, cord winding around the other, “I just know someone will replant you before you know it!” When she was given a look of confusion, she clarified. “Replanting? Flowers? We’re flowers, aren’t we?”
“You’re a real treasure…” Lucy mused aloud.
When he was ready, Lampson requested another moment alone, shooing the other Marigolds away. They respected his decision, and waited further off than when they were eavesdropping. Only when they were out of earshot did Lampson look back to the grave.
“If there’s a Heaven for both of us, I hope to see you there someday. For now… I’ll miss you. Goodbye, Master. I love you.” He held the headstone, then parted from it in hesitation. It took force for him to go join the others.
When they returned to Moe and Lammond, the Marigolds boarded the cargo area, as the work lamp came over to ask, “Will you be alright?” The brass lamp took a breath to settle his nerves.
“Yes,” He simply said with a nod. Returning it, and not wanting to seem too privy, Lammond went back into the passenger seat, as Lampson looked into the cemetery one final time. His voice fell to a mutter. “I’ll never forget you.”
He entered with his fellow Marigolds. Any longer, and the dam would break.
Lampta, the Rancher
The dam broke anyway. Yet, Lampson willed himself to not make any noise about it. Next to him, Lampta brought him close, which only escalated the tears.
It’s a difficult time, I know, it’s gonna be okay… She was whispering. Lampson was unused to such comfort and affection. Then again, he never was as open as moments ago, either.
It’s just- I haven’t thought about him in so long, and I thought… He replied, finding it hard to shake the urge to vocalize. I thought I’d be able to keep it together by now, but… It hurts. So much…
It will, and that’s normal! Lampta assured. But let it all out. It hurts even more to keep it inside. Lampson felt too vulnerable to disagree, leaning against her. He let go of the broken dam, but still stifled any noise. His tears did all the work.
Lampta, this is your stop. Lammond was heard as Moe parked, this time just outside a farmhouse. It was a pretty sight, overseeing at least an acre of land, consisting of crops and animals alike. “Ah… Now this is reassuring.”
Meanwhile, Lampta gently nudged Lampson awake. Hey, my stop’s here! The other lamp roused, not remembering when he dozed off. While reluctant, he pulled away from her at last. A package was prepared, each box containing a Marigold styrofoam mold. Lampta was half-settled into the bottom half when the door slid open to reveal Lammond.
“Well y’all,” Lampta gave a sad smile with the wave of her cord. “Our times together were a real hoot, and then some!” The other lamps bid her the same sentiment in turn, as she lay in the box.
“Yes, it honestly, truthfully was,” Lampford agreed, feeling fond from the memories. “I’ll miss your energy. You’re a real ray of sunshine, Lamptasha.” Lammond hopped into the cargo area, as another Marigold carried the top portion of the styrofoam.
“Hey! We agreed not to call me that!” For the first time, Lampford laughed.
“Then, let’s agree not to call me “Fordy”,” He joked. Seeing him react like this made Lampta fold, with a lighthearted eyeroll.
“Fine – a deal’s a deal, Lampford,” She stressed the name, despite it not being the first time. Lampford blinked in surprise.
“I didn’t think you’d actually do it…” He paused. “On second thought, only call me “Fordy”. Only you.” Lampta sat up, embracing the taller lamp.
“D’aww! You’re too sweet, Fordy!” Immediately, Lampford held her in return. She was stunned; the starry lamp didn’t expect that out of the aptly described Stick-In-The-Mud.
“I will miss you.” This time, he sounded serious. When they pulled away, he added, “Take care of yourself, alright?” Lampta nodded, trying to not cry from the warmth of the situation.
“I promise!” Lampson tried to avoid looking away from her, wanting to contribute.
“I hope everything falls into place, for you,” He spoke, nervously. And… Thank you. For earlier. I think I’ll be okay.
“Thanks; I’m sure they will!” Came her chipper reply. No trouble at all!
Once all was well, she lay back down in the box. She was encased in the top half of the mold, freezing so that her shade would fit. She heard the box close, and being sealed with packing tape. Afterwards, the box was carried, most likely by Lammond.
Farewell, everyone! She yelled out, one last time. She was responded to with heartfelt goodbyes in turn. When the box was set back down, she heard Lammond ringing the doorbell – the same one Lampta was used to. She smiled internally, overflowing with all kinds of nostalgia. She couldn’t wait to be welcomed home after so, so long.
Farewell, Lampta. Lammond kindly said. Have a wonderful life!
Bye! You too! As Lammond left to hide, a black, 1925 Model-T Tudor Sedan opened their eyes from nearby, looking over at the package. On top of the box was a note, no doubt from the sender. Gazing forward, they saw Moe on the side of the road, next to the fence. The Luxley Corp insignia was clear as day.
At the package again, an aged, southern, and masculine voice came forth as he asked, Do my headlights deceive me? Lamptasha, is that you? It seemed strange to have such an accent, for the area he lived in. Yet, he was met with an excited gasp.
Autonio! Oh, land’s sakes alive! Yes, it’s me! I’m finally coming home! If she could, she would’ve made the box bounce sporadically in her fit of joy. The automobile smiled, satisfied.
Well now… I’m sure the Round-Up Gang’ll just be pleased as punch, I’ll tell ya what. He froze when the front door opened, an adult Human female finding the package on the porch. She picked it up and read the note, before turning around, entering and shutting the door behind her. When the coast was clear, Lammond popped out of the nearby bush. He went to leave, before Autonio spoke to him.
“Hey you, new-fangled Knight.” Lammond turned back, facing the Model-T. He nodded for him to continue. “Thank you, for bringing our little Lamptasha home. We’ve been waiting ages, you see. Better late than never, I suppose.”
“You’re very welcome, Sir,” Lammond politely replied, with a small bow. Then, he couldn’t help but wonder, “Lamptasha? I started to think she didn’t like being called that…”
“Oh, she doesn’t,” Autonio chuckled. “I’m the only one who’s allowed.” Lammond nodded in understanding, before moving to leave again.
“Ah, well… I must be heading back. You have a good day, Sir.” Autonio watched him go.
“Yeah, you keep workin’ hard, youngin’!”
Lampford, the Leader
“Then, he called me a “youngin'”,” Lammond told Moe whilst they rode to the next destination. Moe let out a chuckle.
“Well, you are only three-fourths of a year old.”
“Yeah yeah, I suppose that’s true…” Lammond rolled his eyes, but let it go. “I’m just glad that we’re already making others happy. The look on his face when he realized who it was in that package…”
Back in the cargo area, Lampford found himself admitting something.
“She was the first one I met, in that damned place,” Although it seemed out of nowhere, it wasn’t unlike a Marigold to ponder. Over what, they could guess it. “To be honest, when I landed where the Unsold ones would later go, I never wanted to move again. In fact, I wished I didn’t survive. But, she… She got me to get up again.”
“I think I can speak for everyone, when I say this,” Lucy added after a moment of reflection, “But she was quite the ray of light in our neverending darkness, a pinhole of sunshine cast into the deepest pit, a star twinkling within the vacuum of space itself…” Next to her, Lewis blinked.
“A star… She chose that…” He recalled with a small smile and nod.
“Perhaps she knew it,” Lampson found his voice, able to keep it steady now. “It’s easy to think that she merely liked them, but she is anything but shallow.” He was met with more nods of agreement.
“Knowing her, she’d probably track us down just to say hello…” Lampford mused, his smile more sad. “I know she’d find a way. I know she would.” Silence followed. They felt Moe park.
Lampford, this is your stop. As usual, the lamps perked in interest, some moving to prepare a package for him. With a sigh, Lampford hopped into the mold when ready.
“It’s been so long, I hope he’s been well…” He murmured to himself, then turning his attention to the others as he sat upright. “Well… It’s been swell, to know you all-” While he expected his send off to be brief, the rest of his words died when every single lamp embraced him. At least two rows had to make do with those in front of them.
He didn’t know where this was coming from, or why. Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to ask.
“Thank you, for trying to save us,” Lampson was the first to answer for him. “It was crazy, and you could’ve been killed, but… You’re brave. I certainly couldn’t stay down after that. If you were able to stand up to Raymond, so could we.”
“Thank you, for giving us a chance,” Lucy continued, honesty leaking from her otherwise closeted exterior. “Even when that insane pile of screws made us out to be malicious, you treated us no different than before. You knew better than to buy it. We really appreciate that.”
“Thank you, for taking the helm,” Lewis chipped in, contrasting both of them with pure ingenuity. “I know we weren’t to go outside, and we were to be careful with bulbs and outlets. It was tough, but something to live by was better than complete chaos.”
“I… Thank you…” Finally, Lampford was able to speak again. “Thank you all, for sticking by me, for all these years. I know it wasn’t the greatest way to live, and I know I’m rather… Well, old-fashioned. At least now, we’re finally getting what we deserve – our lives back in order.”
“You said it!” This was replied to in unison. Moe’s door slid open, Lammond hopping in to join them, as normal. When the Marigolds parted from him, Lampford lay down in the mold, waving to the others goodbye one final time.
“I hope the rest of you have bright futures.” He wished to them, then nodding for the top half of the styrofoam to come down. He froze, just as Lampta had. Once the box was sealed, he too was carried off by Lammond.
Goodbye, Lampford! You too! The taller Marigold heard, smiling internally. He called back in acknowledgement, before realizing that he just barely fit in the mold. One of the only downsides to his unique manufacture, he surmised.
When Lammond reached the front steps to the small house, he set the package down, trying the doorbell. It didn’t work. He went to knock instead, afterwards finding somewhere to hide. It took a minute, but eventually the front door opened, a middle aged Human male picking up the box and attached note.
Have a wonderful life, Lampford! Lammond uttered in secret, as the Human went back inside the house. Once it was safe, Lammond snuck out of hiding.
The sentiment is mutual; thank you very much! He heard as he hopped back to Moe, to continue the route.
While still in the box, even though he’s lived for a long while (for an appliance anyway), Lampford somehow felt new again. It only got stronger when he was set down somewhere, hearing the box opening, feeling the top portion of the styrofoam be removed. Oh, Lampford wished he could see the look on his Master’s face, as he carefully lifted him out of the package.
“Welcome back, Lampford.” He was so kind, so loving; just as the Marigold remembered him. Older as well, but that was to be expected. As he was carried elsewhere, he briefly hoped that Lampson would experience such a feeling again – and that where ever Lampta, Lewis, Lucy, Lampy, and all the others ended up, they would too.
“You ready to work with me again?” He heard his Master’s voice ask, as Lampford was set down somewhere familiar. Soon, the Marigold found he didn’t need to see – the words and actions were more than enough. He was plugged in and switched on, and he internally smiled, even would’ve shed a tear if he could in this state.
Absolutely, he was ready.
Lucy, the Detective
In a suburban street, Moe parked next to the sidewalk. “Hm, looks like a nice neighborhood,” He observed, hearing far off barks of dogs and children at play. “But they won’t be staying here long?”
“Nope, and while that sounds like a shame…” Lammond confirmed, “Wherever they’re going, it’s with their master and mistress. They own some kind of… Store. It’s hard to explain.”
Lewis, Lucy; this is your stop. Lammond’s familiar call filled the cargo area. Unlike some of the Marigolds before them, they were thrilled to be home already. Before anyone else could, they put together each others’ boxes, then sitting in the molds. When the door opened, the world nearby filled Lewis with a glow like no other.
It was strange. Perhaps it was the fact that it was both their time, so it made all the difference.
“Well, this is it!” He spoke, chipper. This time, two lamps carried the top halves of the styrofoam, just as Lammond hopped in as per usual.
“It’s been so long,” Lucy added, with a fond smile, “I wonder how things are now… The others, how’ve they been? My Master, your mistress… What do they do now?”
“And Dustin!” Lewis remembered, beaming with her. “We’ll finally get to see Dustin again! Boy, I’m sure he’ll be so happy to see us again! He was so sad when we had to be taken away…”
“I’ve heard that your master and mistress both own a store these days,” Lammond informed them, “And that is where you’ll end up, soon. I don’t know if other familiar housemates will be joining you or not, but I’m sure you’ll get to see them at least one more time.”
“The Mystery Garden!” Lucy blurted, in surprise. “They really did it! Mother of Holmes, they never let it go! I’m so proud of them…” Lammond merely nodded, figuring that she knew what she was talking about.
“Hm, I’ll have to make a second trip for one of you…” He mused aloud, as he realized something. Overhearing, Lampson shook his head, approaching.
“I can help carry them,” He offered. When Lammond looked unsure, he continued, “We’re stronger than we look, trust me.” Finally, the swing-arm lamp caved. Lampson turned to the sibling pair, a soft grin on his face. “We’ll miss you two. I hope that it’s all it’s cracked up to be.”
“Will you be okay?” Lewis had to ask, but appreciating the words. “I mean, eventually you’ll be the only one left…” Lampson waved it off with a shrug.
“Believe me, I thought that through when I came along,” He assured lightly, “I’ll be alright now. Don’t worry about me, alright?” With a nod, the remaining lamps in the cargo area gave the two their send-offs and farewells. Then, both top halves came down, the packages being sealed shut afterwards. Of course, both Lewis and Lucy did as the rest had before them, and froze to fit.
Both of them were picked up, carried out of Moe and to the front step of the correct house, both with the notes attached. “Now, we ring the doorbell or knock, then hide somewhere until they’ve been taken in,” They heard Lammond tell Lampson in a low volume. The doorbell rang, and the two hid away.
The door opened, an adult Human male revealed. He picked up one box, then the other, carting both inside. “Michael! Lillian! Your lamps are here!” He spoke, setting them down somewhere before shutting the door. A few moments longer, Lammond nodded for him and Lampson to return to Moe.
Have wonderful lives, you two! The work lamp called, as he’d done many times before. Yet, the inflections never waned.
Thanks a million! Both replied in unison, being set down somewhere sturdy. There, they waited. It felt like a while. This time, Lucy alone piped up. Where are they? It’s not like them to take so long…
Another voice joined in, feminine and energetic. Detective Lucy? Have you finally returned from retirement, ready to face the challenges of the worlds’ capers once more? Because boy, do I have a case for you! I call it: “The Lost Lamp”!
Mona! MONA! Lewis interjected in glee. Hello! Gosh, it’s been SO long! I never thought I’d hear your voice again!
… Ah, there’s the man of the hour, ladies and gents! Mona acknowledged, in surprise. It’s really the both of you, isn’t it? Why, I’d say that’s a case closed. Detective, you’re so skilled! Not even out of your box yet, and you sleuthed this like a pro!
They heard Lucy emit a laugh, playing along. Why thank you, Dr. Mona. It was nothing. Anyway, is anyone else still around?
Oh, yes! Yet another called, masculine and deep. The roster of which you know and love have indeed remained! Romano, at your service… As always! A pause. Oh, right. You can’t see me yet. I bowed.
It’s so wonderful to hear your voices again, too! A third, also masculine appliance added to the mix. I was really convinced that this was the end of our twin lamp duo. You both added so much more flavor when you were still out and about.
Greetings, Blenn! Lewis regarded, internally beaming. How’ve you been?
Hmm, I’d say I have a while yet, hopefully. Came Blenn’s response, seeming certain.
Hey there, Lewis, Lucy. Nice to hear from you again. At last, one more spoke, a lot less happy than the rest. At least we’ll still have something good to hold onto when we go to the Store.
Ticktick…? Lucy prompted, concerned. It’s nice to hear from you too, and that we’re all going together! But… What’s the matter?
Oh, him… Mona answered, more seriously. She sighed. Tick hasn’t been the same since… Well…
It was two months ago, Tick picked it up, unashamed. Dustin, our wonderful Dustin, wore out. The family threw him away. He’s probably dying on a heap of scrap metal right now, and yet. They replace him with… With…! That THING!
Tick, you know we don’t last forever… Blenn tried to reason with him. I don’t even know how much longer I’ll be able to go until my motor quits on me! At least he had a very good life here.
Dustin… Lewis mused, saddened.
Is gone…? Lucy added with him. But, we… This can’t be true!
It is! Tick ignored Blenn. How dare they replace someone so kind with a disgusting reminder of what things used to be?!
Listen, pal. If you have something to say to me, say it to my face. Don’t be a coward. The newest voice gave both Marigolds pause. It was familiar, and yet it wasn’t.
Oh, believe me, “buddy”, I could write a book about all the things I wanna say to you… Tick sounded bitter.
Look, I can’t help it that I replaced your old friend, The other continued, standing his ground. What, did you think that was what I wanted? Did you think I knew all this when coming here? Why don’t you go wind yourself up, maybe you need a good tightening.
… Kirby? No, it can’t be… Lucy tried to deduce, but struggled.
I am a Kirby, yes, The familiar-but-not noticed, To be specific, a Sentria II. I really lucked out, didn’t I? A crowd of biased nutjobs. Name’s Korbin, by the way.
As it happens, the twins Michael and Lillian eventually came to collect their lamps, among a few other appliances. Lucy was scooped up by Michael, while Lewis was regarded by Lillian, both enjoying their new symbols by saying it added “more personality” to them.
Together, the group that Lewis and Lucy reunited with, along with the still-recent Korbin, all awaited their new destination from in the large trunk of a car.
Mona was a small, light pink radio who reminded them much of Radio, though not quite. Romano was a red-purple coffee maker, simplistic in design, but made up for it with his rich voice. Blenn was a yellow blender with a black trim and dial, and was one to never leave his pitcher behind. Finally, Tick was a tiny, brown alarm clock with a clock face and bells to ring.
However, at their first opportunity, the Marigolds got a good look at the vacuum.
For sure, there was a lot of resemblance. Yet, the Sentria II was still his own machine in many other respects. If Kirby was like looking into the past, and Karl their present, Korbin was like gazing into the future. They just hoped that the animosity was from the way Tick and him bickered.
The reality of Dustin being gone was hard to grasp for Lewis and Lucy. It was great to finally see the others, no doubt about that, but the Eureka was special. While the rest regarded this in turn, they were far more accepting. Except for Tick of course, but who could blame him?
Although there were peeks here and there, as well as moments where neither Human were in the rooms, none of the appliances had a good chance to witness the surroundings of the fabled store. It was the norm for the others, but the Marigolds found themselves having to readjust to near-constant Human presence.
All the more to let them sink into their thoughts. Even with the sounds going on around them, it was somehow easy to tune everything out. It was almost wrong – ignoring their Humans when it’d been decades since they could hear them last. Was it bad to miss a vacuum they only knew for months, more than a pair of kids who’d been in their lives for longer?
The two shared a thought, neither telling the other, but it was the same. Like Lampson, they needed closure, no matter how crazy it sounded. Perhaps with that, plus more time, could things change.
It was dark, when closing time hit. The breezy Marigold peeked with an eye, before unfreezing completely with a relieved sigh. He took in the sight before him with his light, being on a table within a modest greenhouse. Although it wasn’t the same as being outdoors, it still filled him with a glowing confidence.
He left the plants behind, and as he reached the lobby just a room over, he wasn’t alone. Familiar appliances also came in, one after another. As they started giving their opinions on the new place, Lewis looked over at Lucy, who arrived last. He hopped over to her, only one thing on his mind.
“It’s pretty nice here, full of old friends and our master and mistress,” She mused to him, a sad smile on her face. “I’m sure it would’ve been even better with him, but… I suppose it can’t be helped, right? Unless… No, it’s too crazy.”
“I want to see him, too,” Lewis had no trouble telling her. “If it means going to that junkyard in the dead of night, if it means only finding what he used to be… Then so be it.” Lucy’s grin waned from the words, yet there was empathy in her eyes.
“Would it be safe out there, with just us? I mean, it’s not like we could somehow rope them into it, and even if we did, we only just got back together! I wouldn’t want to put them in danger…”
“You two can’t be serious!” Blenn cut in, having overheard them.
Lewis, the Outdoorsy
“Oooh, I’ve heard folklore about that place; it’s madness out there!” Mona added, remembering. “They say that, nearly 25 years ago, five misplaced appliances were dumped, and almost met their doom! A merciless magnet wanted to see to it that they get crushed into a cube; and was willing to go so far as to murder their master in the process! The only thing that saved them that day, was one Brave Little Toaster…”
“Ah, I love that story,” Romano chuckled, “Sets a good example for young machines. To be more grateful for what they have, who they have. But, most importantly, to not wander into junkyards.”
“Never heard of it,” Korbin rolled his eyes, “Besides, how do you expect to get there? How would you know where it is, anyway?” His input stunned both Marigolds, they having not thought about that.
“We’d, uh, well… We’d…” Lewis began, stammering. His glow faltered, intimidated by the comments.
“I say we let them go,” Tick cut in, finally. “All of us, too; to pay respects for our friend.” Korbin cringed, roving backwards from the group.
“You do what you want; I’m staying right here!” He proclaimed loudly. “If none of you turn back up, I won’t be held responsible!”
“As much as I’d absolutely love that, you’re the only one with wheels.” Tick spoke again, clearly hating to admit. In response, Korbin emitted a whir of irritation.
“But… Why should we be doing this? You heard Mona, it’s dangerous out there!” Blenn began to quiver. “What if something awful happens? What if we’re stolen away and sold for parts?! What if we’re crushed or melted down and don’t survive?! What if we…”
He continued on, as Lucy left the room, sounds of strain coming from not far off. Lewis and Mona followed, finding the other Marigold grunting as she tried to pull Michael’s big leather chair out toward the lobby. The two awestruck appliances helped her.
“Oh my… We could all fit on that thing!” Romano remarked, once everyone could see it. Mona was first to hop onto it, enjoying the higher vantage point.
“Lucky for you, I remember the address!” She declared in pride, “I used to get advertisements, calling it Crazy Ernie’s Amazing Emporium of Total Bargain Madness! Very superficial, but I like the ring to it!” Lucy hopped in with her, quickly followed by Lewis.
“Well then, Dr. Mona Generalheimer!” She bestowed to the pink radio, as Romano joined them all after Tick did. “I, Detective Lucille Goldiemary, declare you our entrusted navigator!”
“Oh my, Detective, that is an honor!” Mona bowed, both of them clearly playing around. “But, pray tell, who shall be daring and noble enough to pull our carriage along?” All eyes went to Korbin, even Tick’s. Korbin stared at them, most of their visages almost pleading.
“Please?” Lewis’s voice came through, though quiet. “I know we just met, and I know how crazy this is…” Korbin didn’t answer. Finally, Blenn hesitantly joined the rest in the chair.
“… Well,” He piped up, afraid all the while. “As long as we stick together, we might stay in one piece. And, you know, Korbin…” He paused, glancing over at the pair of Marigolds. “We got to know Dustin his entire life, but they… Never got that chance. They deserve to say goodbye.”
After what felt like hours, Korbin slowly came forward, wordlessly. He coiled his cord around the chairleg. Then, he spoke with a smirk. “Fine. You’re all lucky I’m fully charged.” The responses he got, sans Tick, were a mix of relief, gratitude, and joy.
As Mona guided the way, Korbin pulled them out of the store, out into the City. To be fair, it didn’t take very long to reach Ernie’s Disposal, it being a mere four blocks off, with a left turn to make.
“This is reminding me of that story!” Mona was saying during the trip. “About the Brave Little Toaster and his housemates? They traveled around the city, just like this! Only, they were looking for their master’s apartment building, not a junkyard.”
“When did you guys hear about it?” Lucy asked her.
“Spring of ’87,” Mona replied, with precise memory. “It was a set of appliance-only broadcasts made by one of the five in the story, a small radio like myself. He would share their days as it happened, live – like an audio drama! I could play it back for you two sometime if you want! Er, the more interesting parts; I won’t bore you with the 14 hours-per-day uncut versions.”
“That would be splendid!” Lewis grinned, eager. “It’s been so long since I’ve heard a good story! I’ll bet that one will be fantastic!” Just after saying that, everyone in the chair felt Korbin stop.
“We’re here.” What he announced was true. The property was desolate-looking, as most Humans would expect, but to the group, it was nearly post-apocalyptic. Aside from a far off, rhythmic banging sound, all was silent.
“It looks like it goes on for… Miles,” Romano noted. He was met with nods of agreement. “Even a Human could get lost in there…”
Against what would’ve been better judgement, Korbin urged himself to move forward, through the open gates. Deep down, he’d hoped that just being here would’ve been enough to humor them, but no one complained as they dwelled deeper within the junkyard.
“What a lovely way to spend retirement…” He muttered. “Many years of service, and it only brings you… What a travesty.”
“Do you think he would still be able to hear us?” Lucy inquired over Korbin’s grumbling. “I know he’s already been here a while, but if there’s any chance he’d hear us…”
“It’s worth a try, at least…” Blenn quietly agreed. Without another word, Tick began.
Dustin, are you out here? You’ll never believe the good news! Lewis and Lucy… They’ve finally come back home. And now, we’ve come to see you – all of us. The only other sounds they could hear, aside from before, was the rolling along the dirt, and Korbin’s motor whirring. We miss you so. They never got to see you fall ill, let alone leave. If you’re still around, please help us find you…
Ah… Finally, they heard him. Hello, Ticktick. All of you. I appreciate the thought, but you really shouldn’t be here. This is no place for healthy appliances. But… If you must find me, look for the pile with the red convertible. I’m behind it.
It was hard to miss such a description. As promised, on the other side, lain inches from the ground, was the Eureka Golden Vanguard; so worn down that it was a far cry from his original sheen. On sight, the smaller appliances all leapt off the chair, rushing toward the vacuum, while Korbin veered away from view, feeling awkward. A slow glance over, and Dustin could see the housemates he’d come to know.
“So, it’s true…” He spoke softly, with a warm, tired smile. “You’re all here. And, you two… You’ve returned after all this time.” Lewis and Lucy immediately teared up, embracing the Eureka as best as they could. Weakly, Dustin returned the affection with his cord. “It makes me so happy. For a while, I assumed that we’d never meet again. Not in this life, anyway.”
“You look so… Different.” Lucy noted, unhappily.
“Oh, I know; I’ve lost my luster years ago…” Dustin managed a light chuckle. “It comes with age, I suppose. I haven’t even been able to move for the last few days; it’s too hard on my tired motor. I’m sure we all know what that means, but I wouldn’t fuss.”
“I wish we had more time with you…” Lewis muttered, trying to keep his composure. “It feels like just yesterday; we were living our lives, all was normal, and then Luxley took us away. It was only a few months, and now…”
“And now, you’re here, picking up where you left off,” The Eureka continued for him. “Rejuvenated too, by the looks of it – I like your new perforations. They suit you.” There was a pause, his plug tenderly running along the aforementioned symbols upon the Marigolds’ shades. From afar, Korbin snuck a peek at the sight, stem lowered and doing his best to not let his eyes leak. It was difficult.
“Ah… Who is this? A new friend?” He was spotted, all eyes looking over at him as the two Marigolds parted from the Eureka. He shrank back. “It’s alright; come closer, young one.” Silently, Korbin did as was asked of him, out of respect. He couldn’t look Dustin in the eyes. “My, you look fancy. You must be the one they turned to when I had to leave. What is your name?”
“Korbin, Sir,” The Sentria II answered after some deliberation, but quietly. “Yes, that’s true…”
“Don’t mind him too much,” Tick couldn’t help but add. “We were all taken to the Mystery Garden, but he…” He trailed off, unable to find a proper way of wording it.
“… Should be given a chance,” Dustin replied with a serious tone, it stopping Tick cold. “It’s alright, Ticktick. Just because I was great, doesn’t mean he can’t be, too.” When the small alarm clock couldn’t respond, Dustin turned to the Kirby again. “If I may, I must ask something of you, Korbin.”
“Yes?” Was all Korbin could venture, still rather unsettled from the idea that he was speaking to what was essentially his predecessor. The older vacuum gave another smile.
“Please, take good care of them,” Dustin said softly, no doubt referring to the smaller appliances. “They’ve lasted all this time, with and without me, but now that I can no longer be around, I wish to pass that task onto you.” In surprise, Korbin finally managed to look up at him. “You’re strong, dependable, loyal. I can see it. I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”
As little as Korbin believed in such abilities, he eyed the others around him before giving the Eureka a nod. “I’ll… I’ll do my best.” He sounded far from certain, yet Dustin understood.
“Thank you.” He was relieved, before continuing with the previous topic. “Anyway, I know it wasn’t for long, but… Here, let me show you something. Mona, would you mind playing The Song for me, please?” Mona stiffened for a moment.
“”The Song”? The one with the…” She made a throat clearing noise. “Of course, Dustin.” From memory, she played The Song’s instrumental. Lewis and Lucy (and by extension, Korbin) never heard it prior, but the others recognized it immediately – Queensrÿche’s “Silent Lucidity”.
They remembered when Dustin first heard it, way back in the 90’s. They made jokes about him having a “secret music career”, simply from the musician and the Eureka sounding the same. Later, they found him singing it – and it was no longer humorous.
Of course, in the state he would later become trapped into, such wonderment became less until it stopped entirely. Needless to say, Dustin was surely testing his life thread’s patience by performing. Yet, if they were to stop him, they were only delaying the inevitable, and it wasn’t polite to refuse a dying appliance’s last desires.
So, they let him sing, listening in acute silence. It wasn’t as rich as he was once able to produce, but was no less enchanting. All they could do, while collectively weeping, was reflect on all their precious memories together. From small moments like a hum as he cleaned the floor, to large ones where he helped someone feel more at ease with his soft purring.
The short while of instinctive fear as the Big Mistress first started using him, all just because they had internalized it as Karl. Immediately following, sheer relief as not the Kirby Classic, but the Eureka Golden Vanguard, came into view while the Big Mistress worked. They had to remind themselves: Karl is gone. Dustin is here.
While the Marigolds were taken away, life continued on, with Dustin experiencing a long one. At least, for what was expected for his branding. Yet, at the end of the road; old, broken, and dying, at least he wasn’t alone.
By the time the song ended, the small appliances had gathered around him in the pile, huddled close. This, Dustin didn’t mind at all.
“What a wonderful song,” Lewis mused, trying to wipe away his tears. “I’ll always cherish it. And… I’ll always cherish you.”
“It was so wonderful, I…” Lucy too was bombarded with emotion from the experience. “I had no idea that you had such a knack for singing…” They stayed like this for a short while, until Dustin told them that they ought to “get a good night’s rest”. Despite the qualms, he only said to not worry about him.
Eventually, the set of small store appliances found it in themselves to pull away and leave Dustin’s side, after one final group hug. They returned to the leather chair, though with great reluctance. After a lot of stalling and hesitation, they bid farewell to him, before Korbin did what he had to do by roving the group away.
The Eureka watched them leave, at last allowing a single tear to escape his eyes, but still grinning. The strength he pretended to carry waned into almost nothing, his cord lay limp nearby. Had he not, perhaps he would’ve lasted a couple more days, but all that sharing and singing… It drained him so quickly. He closed his eyes, speaking lowly to himself once more.
“I am smiling next to you.” He calmly drifted off. In minutes, his motor silently raptured, his face disappearing.
It was time for the Long Sleep.