If Only I Had Read The Directions [fiction]

I ordered the experimental vacuum cleaner after receiving an email stating that the one I wanted was out of stock. They offered me this new version for half-off, so I clicked yes. My carpet was starting to look pretty dingy since my old vacuum had broken down two weeks ago, and the holidays were coming right up. I didn’t relish the idea of visitors thinking my housekeeping skills were lacking.

The box itself should have given me a clue something was amiss. I arrived home from work that Friday night to find a refrigerator-sized monstrosity in front of my door. But I simply assumed there was a lot of protective padding around the special vacuum, took the box inside, and began to open it in my living room.

Right away I felt a bit dizzy, but I chalked that up to skipping lunch. As I viewed the top of the shiny green machine sitting serenely in its cardboard nest, I got too excited to take a dinner break. I ripped away the rest of the box and admired the lean lines of my new vacuum.


It certainly looked different from other ones I’d owned. Instead of standing upright, this machine was a low, round apparatus. Sort of… saucer-shaped. Or maybe more like an inverted bowl. And it was almost glowing in its greenness! There were so many unfamiliar settings and switches and buttons that I soon gave up trying to match them up to the diagram in the manual. I tossed it aside and decided to just use my wits to get the thing going.


I untangled the cord, a little bemused at the buzzing I felt. The thick green cord coiled around my hand like a snake. It was warm and almost felt alive. I ordered myself to stop being so silly and just plug it in. As soon as I did, a variety of lights on the vacuum started flickering… almost as if it was trying to communicate with me.

Or with someone else.

Ridiculous! Where did I get such fanciful notions? I picked up the handle and began to run the foot over the carpeting near the television. The vacuum hummed quite softly, unlike prior noisy cleaners I’d had. Maybe this was the “experimental” part.

Then the television turned itself on. The channels changed themselves and finally stopped at Cosmos. Huh. I had never seen this show, but it didn’t matter because I was determined to finish my vacuuming without further distraction.

The machine was doing a good job. I was pleased to see my vanilla carpet already looked cleaner and brighter. I continued vacuuming the living room and went on into my bedroom. The cord extended with me wherever I went, though it hadn’t appeared very long at first. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it writhe and lengthen like a serpent emerging from a basket. Yikes! I turned quickly and it appeared to be a normal cord again, without a will of its own.

I wanted to vacuum my bedroom and then take a dinner break. Lack of food had most certainly caused me to come up with weird thoughts. That was unfair to this new cleaner, which in fact rocked! It glided smoothly over my bedroom carpeting, making the fibers look white and silky. I’d be sure to write a positive review for the seller.

And then I glanced over at my window. In the darkness outside, a round object hovered, with red and yellow lights blinking in a cycle.

My vacuum winked back.


[written during my Saturday prompts meetup and slightly edited]


5 responses to “If Only I Had Read The Directions [fiction]

  1. Awesome. Not sure how you do that. Reading your stories is like listening to a radio show. You don’t perceive it at first, but somewhere in there you realize you have a picture in your head of the whole thing as it unravels.


  2. Nice. Love the last line.


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