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“What noxious notions!” the Grade-A extra large white egg growled from its cardboard container.
“But, but Your Egg-cellency,” the sycophantic squash tittered nervously from the crisper. “You know the carrot; he is so very capricious. I’m sure this phase of his will be as ephemeral as all his others have been. For example, just last week he declared he would leave his plastic bag and go around naked, because lying around in wrappers was condoning the human’s tyranny, making us foods delicious so they will want to eat us. It only took him an hour or two to realize that drying out was a rather unpleasant experience and then he went right back in the bag.”
“Oh salmonella,” the rotund, persnickety egg grumbled. “That degenerate carrot will be the end of us. Just imagine- leaving the fridge! After all the work I have put into making life here as pleasant as possible- that is how he repays me!” The egg rocked back in forth in fury at the thought. His frenzied rocking made the whole carton wobble, but the other eggs knew better than to complain. The stately egg had a spectral pale yellow ring around its brim, like a halo, which complemented his authority, both philosophical and practical. The other foods recognized his unusually hard shell, leadership in times of trouble, and ability to make sense of their unpredictable lives. On being put in the fridge some three weeks ago, he had instituted and presided over memorial services for the foods taken away to be eaten, helping the community to get past the frequent losses of friends and family. Though he possessed some aberrant behaviors, like his intimidating habit of rocking when angry, most of the softer foods recognized his value as a leader. They believed he worked altruistically, with the goal of making life better for everyone in the refrigerator, and therefore they willingly accepted his sometimes terrifying, dictatorial control over fridge goings-on.
For a while only the monotonic hum of the refrigerator could be heard. Most of the foods slept. Some talked so quietly that their words could not be heard above the fridge’s incessant hum. The humans must have been at work or school, because no one was taken out and eaten.
Gradually the peace was cracked by escalating voices coming from the back of the bottom shelf. A crowd of foods had gathered there, and was reacting enthusiastically to a speech given by the carrot.
“Why are we hiding in here, just waiting to die, when humans, even human babies, even cats, even idiotic dogs can roam the outside world at their own pleasure? Why do we submit like processed foods to our slaughter? Why do we submit to this antediluvian caste system of humans over foodstuffs? Let us stop waiting here like cowards for our deaths to come, and let us explore the wide fields and woodsy forests that belong to us as much as they belong to humans. If we die at the jaws of some fox or squirrel, at least we will have died living!”
With every sentence the carrot spoke, the crowd’s cries grew more boisterous. With every word he spoke, His Egg-cellency swayed more violently, and his halo seemed to turn darker. He spoke under his breath to the eggs around him, who served him loyally as his Guard and Cabinet. The Guard and Cabinet whispered to the foods in each crisper who were assigned the honorable job of keeping their respective food groups in line. Most of them were abnormally large and rather unripe. As the carrot concluded his speech, the elite group of foods seemed to come to an understanding.
While the crowd still stood in the corner, His Egg-cellency called down to the carrot. “My dear carrot, it pains me to hear you talk of such things that are dangerous for you and that endanger everyone else,” he admonished gently, like a kindly father whose son had just spent all his pocket money on some dalliance.
Sensing the leader’s displeasure, the carrot’s myrmidon began to inch back to their respective places in the fridge.
“I do not believe you really listened to my speech, my dear egg,” the carrot responded acerbically. He spoke slowly, enunciating every syllable as if it were the language that the egg didn’t comprehend. “I am aware of the dangers of leaving the fridge, as are my fellow groceries.” Turning to the crowd, he realized that all but two baby tomatoes had abandoned his ranks. Nevertheless, he turned back to the egg and continued speaking as if unperturbed. “What I am saying is that we should leave the fridge on our own accounts and see what lies beyond, before we leave in the hands of the humans and travel no farther that to a pot on the stove. Do you understand me now, or have your brains been scrambled a bit ahead of schedule?”
His Egg-cellency positively boiled at such treatment. His halo visibly darkened, and he shook violently.
“I hope I haven’t upset you?” the carrot asked sardonically.
Regaining his composure, the regal egg turned his attention to all the other foods, who were listening nervously to the power clash.
“My dear foods, I am sure you have all been listening to this belligerent vegetable, and have formed your own opinions of his plans. He has been making much ado about the supposedly superior conditions beyond our cozy refrigerator. Well I can asseverate that life here in the fridge is more pleasant than anything you would find out there. We are safe. Our lives are longer than they would be at the hands of wild animals. We are with our relatives and friends. We have no cares in the world and have nothing to do all day but chill and relax. Why should we leave this comfort only to die at the jowls of some horrendous beast the moment we go outside?”
As the foods listened to the words of their revered leader, the last chance that the carrot’s planned expedition might happen rotted away. The foods were used to the comfort and predictability of life in the fridge. While the carrot’s plan sounded thrilling, the demonstrated ferocity of His Egg-cellency and his fervent avowals that leaving would not be to their benefit effectively destroyed any courage the carrot’s words had instilled in them.
The carrot, realizing that even the baby tomatoes had left him, and he was now in every way alone, became panic-stricken and enraged. “Fellow foods,” he shrieked. “Do not let this cracked fool’s words confuse you; I am the one who really cares what is best for us; he just wants power and control! Come with me and escape his reign and your own certain deaths!”
With this outburst the egg’s last milligrams of patience were fried. His halo deepened to a dark gold. “Foods!” he bellowed. “He is trying to destroy everything we have! If you love me and you love this fridge, silence him!”
With these words from their leader, the extra-large produce, as they had been warned they might have to do, turned to their food groups and began shouting horrendous things about the carrot. He wanted to kill them all; he was on the side of the humans, the wild animals; he would make them all breakfast for rabid wolves, for soulless insects, for the worms which would help to decompose their lifeless bodies. The beefed up foods on his Egg-cellency’s payroll led the crowds of screaming, crying groceries down to the carrot, who tried but could not escape their hysterical blows.
When the crowds finally cleared and the screaming died down, all the foods went back to their shelves and settled back down, talking quietly once again but still looking around in fear. His Egg-cellency looked around with grim satisfaction, and gave his gang of extra-large produce looks of approval. His halo faded back to a pale yellow, and he rocked slowly, peacefully. All the foods went back to their normal routines of quiet chatter and long naps. All would spend the rest of the day uneventfully, with just two memorials services in the evening, led particularly movingly by His Egg-cellency. All would return to life in the refrigerator as usual, except for the carrot, who lay alone in the back corner of the bottom shelf of the fridge, crinkle-cut and silent.