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Title: The Cooker

The ground shuddered once more.  A glass slipped off the kitchen table, smashing onto the tiled floor.

“That was stronger!”  Harry said, holding tightly onto the edge of the table.  Looking down at the shattered glass he noticed that many of the floor’s tiles were now cracked.  “What’s going on?  We shouldn’t get earthquakes like this in England!”

Helen was stood next to the cooker.  She was struggling to keep a pan of boiling potatoes and another filled with vegetables from slipping off the gas rings.  “Some of the water’s spilled out.”  She said, annoyed.  “The tops of the potatoes aren’t covered.  I’m going to add some more.”

As the latest tremor subsided, Harry’s wife grabbed the kettle and began refilling it at the sink.

Harry frowned.  “What the hell are you doing?”

Helen looked at him.  “If they’re not properly cooked they’ll be hard to mash, and lumpy.”  She turned off the tap and took the kettle back to its stand.  She switched it on.  “I hate lumpy mashed potatoes.”

Another tremor started.  The house shook and deep cracks opened up in the walls and ceiling, showering the small kitchen in dust and debris.  Helen made sure the pans were covered.  “And I hate grit in my food, too.”

Harry ducked down and squeezed himself under the table.  He shouted.  “Get down here!  Forget dinner!”

Helen looked down at him; a noticeable layer of dust now covered her dark hair. “Everything is from Tesco’s Finest range, so I will not ‘forget it’.  And you haven’t set the table yet.”

The tremor was weakening.  Harry looked up at his wife.  She was standing there, hands on hips.  He frowned.  “What’s wrong with you?  Get under here.  There’ll be another any second!”

Helen frowned, shook her head and then turned.  She opened a draw and pulled out two sets of knives and forks.  “I’ll have to do everything myself, it seems.”  She brushed away some dust and set two places on the table, and then turned to the kettle, which was boiling.  When it switched off she picked it up and topped up the pan of potatoes.

Another tremor started.

Harry shouted.  “Get under the bloody table!”

More dust fell from the ceiling.  There was a snapping sound as one of the work surfaces broke in two.  The doors to some of the kitchen cabinets opened.  One of them tore from its hinges and clattered to the floor.

Helen sighed.  “Fine, but I need to turn the gas off first.”  She turned off the two rings she was using and then crouched down.

The tremor subsided almost immediately.

Harry stared at his wife.  “That was odd.  I didn’t expect it to stop so quickly.”

Helen frowned again.  “Good.  I’m going back to the potatoes.”  She stood up and turned one of the gas rings back on.  “Could you help me now, please?”  When she heard the hiss of the gas she pushed the knob.  With a click the spark of electricity ignited the gas.  “And after dinner I’d like you to start repairing everything.” 

The kitchen began to vibrate again.  Another tremor was building.  A cabinet broke away from the wall and hit the work surface below, its door flying open.  A dozen mugs and several cups and saucers flew out and smashed onto the floor.

Harry looked up at his wife from under the table.  “Get down here!  Now!”

Once again Helen turned off the gas and crouched down.

And once again the tremor subsided almost immediately.

After a few seconds Harry spoke.  “That was...”

“Odd?”  Helen said, finishing his sentence.  She nodded.  “Yes it was.”

Harry looked down and shook his head in disbelief.  “How could our cooker possibly have such a dramatic effect?”

“That’s a good question.  It’s obviously caused by the gas rings, though.”  She turned and pointed.  “The oven’s still on.”

Harry looked through the glass of the oven door at the chicken that was slowly roasting.  “That does seem to be the case.”

Helen looked at him, suddenly angry.  “If you’d bought a Rangemaster like I told you to, instead of that cheap copy, this wouldn’t have happened!”

Harry crawled out from under the table and stood up.  He glared down at his wife, who was still crouching amongst some rubble on the floor.  “We couldn’t afford it, remember!”

Helen stood up.  “You get what you pay for.”  She pointed at the cooker.  “And because you insisted on a budget model it looks like we’re going to have to put up with structurally damaging earthquakes every time we cook!”

Harry was incensed.  “Are you saying this is all my fault?”

Helen ignored him and turned to the cooker.  “The potatoes and vegetables look done so at least I don’t need to light the rings again today.”  She took the pan of potatoes and walked to the sink.  She drained the water and then looked up.  “We should get a loan and change to a Rangemaster as soon as we can.”

Harry forced himself to calm down.  He decided not to comment on his wife’s expensive suggestion; he certainly wouldn’t be acting on it, and walked over to the cooker.  “I guess I should have researched online a bit more.  Someone else must surely have suffered the same problem so it may be possible to fix.  I should...”

Another tremor rumbled and grew.

Helen turned and shouted.  “Why did you light up a ring?!”

“I didn’t!  Look!  None of them are lit!”

The room shook.  This time a long wide crack appeared in the floor.  Harry jumped sideways to avoid it.  Fragments of the tiles flew through the air and clattered off the cabinets and ceiling.  Helen yelped and grabbed her left cheek as one of the fragments opened up a gash.  She dropped the pan of potatoes into the sink.

And then something sharp and glistening rose up through the floor, pushing up the table and pinning it to the ceiling.  It stopped moving and the tremor vanished.

Harry and Helen stared at the slender and metallic cone-like object for a moment.  Harry then looked at Helen.  “See!”  He said, pointing at the object that had skewered their table.  “There’s nothing wrong with the bloody cooker, it was that thing all the time!”  He shook his head slowly, and then chuckled.  “Rangemaster indeed!”

Another tremor started.  The cone-like object pushed up through the ceiling.

The kitchen collapsed.

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