Friday, October 3, 2014

Nightmare Fuel Day the Second

Day Two of the Nightmare Fuel project. And yes, I lag by a day. I always do. Some quick notes on the story afterward. I'll just start by saying that I love both magic shops and inexplicable magical items. I'm not so much a fan of the everfull-coinpurse or magic sword, but of quirky strange things which act in impossible but thematically interesting ways. For one example of such a curio, read on!

In the end, it doesn't matter where I got it, does it? Just know that it wasn't the usual way to buy a meat-grinder. A tiny shop between two buildings which were neighbors the day before and the day after, found in a trunk beneath the stair at the estate of a deceased eccentric uncle, bartered with an old gypsy woman for a night's sleep out of the rain (they keep telling me that "gypsy" isn't politically correct, that she's an old Roma woman if she's not just a random drifter. That doesn't matter either).
Photo by Andrea Trask
It doesn't matter that it's cleaner, shinier, more beautiful than it should be. The metal free of rust or scratches, the screws on its clamps shiny lightly with oil, the crank turning freely at the lightest touch to the smooth-worn wooden handle. If you know how to look at it, it feels special.

Oh, I started the obvious way. A pound of sirloin. Rough cut into cubes, not too small, and into the hopper.

I wiped my hands before turning the crank. Again, it's beautiful, is it not? It would be a pity to stain it, even a little. It turned freely at first, then with a bit of resistance as the meat ground. As I turned I felt

                                                                                                                        in the shade of a cork tree, cool grass under my body, my legs folded beneath me. Far off in the distance thumpcrashing of my brothers playfighting, but here I felt at peace, just smelling the flowers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          something else. Something peaceful, something pleasant. There was surprisingly little meat, but the feeling of peace stayed with me.

Next was some pork shoulder. I'd planned on a meatloaf, you see, and like more than one kind of meat in it. I suppose that isn't important either. I was eager to see what came next, if grinding the pig would be as exquisite a pleasure as grinding a cow (although where DID the meat go?), but remember, the thing is special. A man has to take care of his tools, wouldn't you agree? To do otherwise would be barbaric.

Pork cubes in the hopper, the handle meeting just enough resistance to know its working, first just a grind  and then 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   late afternoon, lying in a bed of straw in a high wooden building. The space smelled of clean hay and a hint of damp earth. High overhead in the rafters a beam of sunlight illuminated the complicated patterns of a spiderweb. The sight of it gave me a deep feeling of peace
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and, of course, the image faded.

Again, not enough meat comes out. So yes, it's magic.  The meat is ground into some kind of magical essence and then is gone. I never read all that many magic stories, but I can't imagine that they're all like this, with a magic trinket that, as lovely as it is, doesn't accomplish much more than the waste of what could have been a perfectly good meal. Even Jack's magic beans got him a trip to the clouds and a magic golden-egg laying goose. Where's my magic goose?

Maybe the problem is that I was wasting food. Perhaps this particular grinder is not meant for food. I did clean it again, but took a chance on the inner workings being tough than they seemed by throwing in a half-pencil, first breaking off the eraser end. I wouldn't want that little metal collar to dull the blades any more than the wood. The crank turned with surprising difficulty and
                                                                                                                                                                                            tall, impossibly tall, stretching limbs skyward. I drank the sunlight, grew full. In the blink the an eye or seventy years I felt my body diminished, dismembered, but with each loss I felt a sense of peace and gratitude until nothing remained save a joyous marker where a giant once stood.

I stood back for a long time after that, contemplating the machine and what it might be.

I lied when I said I hadn't read many magic-shop stories. I have, from Jacobs' Monkey Paw through Link's Fairy Handbag. I know that there's promise, but I know that there's more likely disaster.

I know better to carve the stray neighborhood cat or the old woman living alone into the grinder.

I know I've taken from it, but given nothing.

So I cleaned it carefully, thoroughly, gently. Clamped it tightly to the table.

The inside of the hopper feels smooth against my left fingers, the burrs still sharp.

There's nothing more to do but turn
I hope it doesn't hurt.


I was initially planning on going a slightly different rout, with the protagonist speaking to a captive whom he was going to feed into the grinder. That didn't feel right to me, and clashed with the children's book imagery throughout. I trust you DID recognize the children's book imagery, didn't you?

More, perhaps, tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. I read it the first time just for the pleasure of reading. Then I read again the visions and fully understood their meaning.