“It says it’s preheated, but it barely feels warm!” Sarah complained to her friend, Amy. “A brand new gas oven—defective! So aggravating!” Sarah came close to slamming the oven door closed.

Amy tried to calm her. “Hey, just call the company. I’m sure they’ll take care of you.”

“It’s a piece of crap. It needs to be replaced.”

“That might be, but…aww, you might be hurting its feelings,” Amy chuckled, trying to lighten the mood.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “I should be kicking this thing like Fred Flintstone!”

“Did Fred even go near the stove?” Amy laughed quizzically.

“Well, you get my point. This oven deserves a beating, that’s all I’m saying. Junk.” Sarah sighed and gave the oven a death stare.

“You know, you’ll piss off the little men inside.” Amy kept her tone upbeat.

Sarah turned to Amy, “What did you say?”

“You know, the tiny men who work the appliances inside.” Amy’s smile was Cheshire-sized now.

Jason used to tell Sarah about the little men inside the appliances when she was five.

Sarah would clap, Oh goody! “Tell me about the oven again! Please, Jason!”

Laughing at her little-girl ignorance, her loving older brother would oblige, “The oven takes two men inside working together. One holds the match and the other holds the strike pad. Then one holds the lit match and the other blows it to keep it flaming.”

Sarah would giggle excitedly and sometimes give him a sweet hug, never inquiring how the match didn’t eventually run out of wood to burn.

Sarah asked Amy where she had heard about the little men.

“It’s a common little tale everyone tells kids. You know, just for fun.”

“Oh, wow. I thought my brother, Jason, had made it all up himself! Well, anyway, no one’s feelings are getting hurt here. Except mine!” And with that, Sarah did kick the oven door.

“Ooh, Sare, that might be bad luck, though. Seriously.”

“Bad luck? Hah, you know what’s bad luck?” Sarah pointed to the little roaster hen sitting in a tray, covered in thyme and garlic butter rub. “That poor bird is all dressed with nowhere to go. I think it’s bad luck not to be able to have dinner on time.”

“Let’s go to my place, then. Bring the hen. You can call the maintenance and warranty department there.”

Sarah gave the unloved piece of equipment a final, angry sneer accented by “goddamn piece of garbage” under her breath. They trooped over to Amy’s place.


Orville was sick. He wasn’t dying. He just needed a day to get better. He could work, he told Wilbur. But Wilbur insisted on complete rest for the day. The work could wait. If Orville didn’t fully recover, what would be the point?

“Logic, Orville, use logic. I admire your sense of responsibility, but patience will do best to resolve this incident.”

“Yes, you iterate with reason, my brother.”

“Besides, I will tell you something else, good sibling. I’m only considering going back to work for that Human en Grosse.”

“I agree with your take. Her appeal would increase greatly were she lying in a metal drawer with a sheet over her face.”

Wilbur and Orville smiled at each other as Wilbur cradled his brother’s head in his lap to rest.


A glass of wine, even from a simple $10 red, restored Sarah’s mood. The game hen had come out nicely and the maintenance call had gone just as well. What a relief. The company was sending someone tomorrow for repair or replacement, whatever was needed to take care of the useless metal box in her kitchen. Amy and Sarah joked and toasted, but in the back of Sarah’s mind, something scratched. Like the little tickle at the beginning of an ear infection, it persisted, annoyingly out of reach.


“How are you feeling, Orville?”

“Wilbur, your path of patience has proven correct and good. I am well, indeed, brother of mine.”

“Excellent. Let us plan, Orville.”

Heat was a boon and a bane to Humans, just like water. Wilbur had known of those who had worked the large water sprays for terrible people. Humans en Grosse sometimes proved that egos grew in proportion to physical stature. Egos made wonderful targets. The water workers had drowned those egos, along with the attached bodies. They had created a flood of two days. Endless water that no large plumbing man, no matter how cracked his back was, could stop. The water workers had been in control.

Not all Humans en Grosse were terrible people. Wilbur recalled their last assignment. A lovely, wrinkled female who had fallen in the minority of those whose body size reflected goodness rather than hubris. Wilbur and Orville had both been saddened when she left the Earth. Unfortunately, the current assignment was proving to be more common.

A tall, rude woman now owned their assigned workspace. She had insulted and even assaulted. Wilbur and Orville worked diligently together, lighting one match after another. Their little bodies were, of course, immune to fire.


11 o’clock and Sarah was sober now. She could drive. But that tickle was now full itch as the aggravation returned. Ugh! She’d paid top dollar for a non-working piece of crap. Well, she would deal with the representative tomorrow and maybe Amy would prove to be the wise one and everything would be fine.

As Sarah walked into the kitchen, she felt a wave of heat. “What the…?” It could only be coming from one source, but…how? She had turned it off before leaving earlier. And it hadn’t been working, anyway.

Sarah was instantly furious. The warmth of the wine was now replaced with overwhelming heat, definitely coming from the oven. As she closed in on it, she expelled her anger in a string of creative curses and more kicks to the door.

At exactly the same moment that she noticed the dark digital display, she felt the heat spike unbearably. Thousands of high-quality tempered-glass pebbles attacked her, too fast for her to put up an arm in protection. Although the glass bits weren’t sharp, the velocity at which they were propelled from the oven door made them cut deeply into her skin. That pain was the worst Sarah had ever experienced in her life. Until she felt the flames. She begged the god she didn’t know or believe in to kill her, or at least, kill her consciousness. No such luck now; in fact, it was very bad luck to be so attuned to herself at this moment. She thought, “Practicing meditative awareness has been a big mistake,” and then, “I should have gone electric.” And her luck finally turned. Consciousness over. But it was too bad, as she didn’t get to see the “Preheat Complete; Oven Ready” message on the fancy digital display. Or hear the pretty “ready” chime sound, instead of the typical beep.


Orville had been right. Sarah really did look better lying in a metal drawer with a sheet over her face.