Existential Terror and Breakfast: 4

Epiphanies taste better with toast.

Malcolm Steadman had been staring at his toaster waiting for his pop-tart to finish cooking for what seemed like a full ten minutes. That is because it had been a full ten minuets. It took Malcolm another two minutes to realize this. This upset him.

The toaster had to be broken.

This, in any normal circumstances would be less of a problem, but Malcolm had been experiencing a string of terrible epiphanies too profound for him to handle and earnestly just needed a break from such heavy thinking. He was just supposed to eat his toast, ignore the injustices of carbon, pretend that he had agency and go to work, and ignore the bleak ocean of banalities and Wednesdays ahead of him. The toaster breaking, however, meant that he was now thinking about entropy.

Entropy.

Everything, no matter how grand and majestic, or small and useless, ends. If there is one constant, one rule that everything must adhere to, it is that everything is a slave to entropy. Malcolm, of course, is no exception. He realized that he had owned the toaster for nearly ten years. When it was gifted to him he was a much younger man, one with endless hope and a sense that everything in his life would work out. Yet each day since he had popped his first slice of bread into the toaster, the appliance, as well as himself, saw an almost microscopic bit of wear and tear. It sightly horrified him to know now that each act of toasting bread had actually harmed the toaster little by little until the filament in it had burned out. It severely horrified himself to know how much he had changed in that time.

The endless hope, the sense that everything would work out, had dwindled. He was jaded now, jaded and tired. He was ten years older and still working for very little. Things had not worked out. Things had not worked out, and he was just getting older. Slowly. The minuscule changes in his body and life would continue to happen, and without his permission, until he was no more. Malcolm would someday be as dead as the toaster. On top of that, he would be there to see it all happen, at a snail’s pace through time. The worst of it was that he would be aware that he was aging, that Death’s visit was only inching closer and there would be no one to save him. He would get older, weaker, and he would lose his faculties. His mind would slip from him and he would forget everything, and with enough time, everything would forget about him.

The universe would go on without him of course, but even that was not eternal. Decay had been happening to it the moment the big bang exploded it into the ether. There was not a single thing in the universe that could fight entropy because the universe itself lost before the fight had begun. Just like Malcolm himself, the universe would lose its luster. It would slowly grow weaker as stars exploded and grew further apart. Everything would break. Time and entropy would eat them all until even they themselves would cease to exist. A horrifying monster deaf and blind to its action, a monster so fierce that it would devour everything without prejudice, and it would do it slow. Painfully, horrifically slow. This monster, Malcolm entertained, had all of the patience because it knew it was destined to win.

Though it should seem obvious, it dawned on him now that what bothered him about this was that there was no protecting the things that made life so precious. The counted and recorded knowledge of generations and generations of people. Music that had sparked great emotions and inspired one to forget how to be embarrassed and dance. The breathless silence of a couple as they kiss for the first time as spouses in a wedding photo. Entropy would destroy them, and entropy would destroy them with as much thought as it gave even the worse things about existence: none. All would be forgotten at the heat death of the universe.

Malcolm ate his uncooked pop-tart from the toaster…

He would only find out later when he came home from work that the toaster was just simply unplugged.

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Rev. Fitz
Michael Fitzgerald (Rev. Fitz) is a writer, illustrator, and amateur Electrical Engineer who lives in Seattle.

2 Comments

  1. Well done, I did not see that particular ending coming, it gave me a laugh. 🙂 (I mean, spicy oatmeal was funny too, but it seemed likely that he wouldn’t be able to eat it.) Always check things are plugged in first. Then check the outlet.

    I’m kind of impressed by how you manage to blend existential dread with humour… I know I try not to think of how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of the universe. It worries me. ^.^ Oh, and bonus props for the “broken image link” incorporated in that picture.

    1. Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed it 🙂 I cannot honestly separate existential horror or angst with from humor, we live in too absurd of a place to not laugh about it.

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