Chapter 2

Rob decided to persuade Chris, her lady friends, and Jeff for some extra boston cream pie, just so Alan was able to make it before closing hour. The redhead had been best friends with Alan since they were sucking thumbs and whining over reflective appliances, but that didn't mean that his friend's spontaneous outlook of life was agreeable. Up until now, the boy pick pocketed people for a living and purposely wore the nastiest overalls and the dirtiest socks because he believed it 'stood for freedom.' But to Rob, it only stood for lousy hobos desiring to be dunked in the school garbage bins.

"So Robby sugar plum," Lauren chirped, while nibbling on the crumply piece of pie she shared with Chris. "You didn't get any dessert, honey!" She pursed her puffy, cherry lips and sent Rob a mischievous wink. "Aw, Chris! I wish I had a boy as sensitive as yours! He's worried about Al!"

"I suppose he should be," Chris whispered dryly, while adverting her gaze from her boyfriend and trying to shield her disappointed frown with some more pie.

Rob glanced at her nervously and allowed his glasses to fog ever so slightly in embarrassment. It wasn't his plan to disappoint Chris, and she seemed lively about it not three hours ago. But how was Rob able to nail his schedule into Alan's mind? He only wished that he'd had warned Chris a bit more before….

"Well forgive me for seeming impatient-" Ginger abruptly stood from her seat and placed a fifty dollar bill near Rob's corner of the circular table. "But I have a WHOLE LOT of paperwork to tackle because my new boss is from Tartarus!" Kissing Jeff's apish nose, the young woman gracefully exited the diner and allowed her blood red strap dress to sag ever so slightly and reveal her pale shoulders. And as she exited before Lauren or Chris could've objected, in strolled a handsome and familiar man dressed in a formally dashing tuxedo.

"How CUTE," Lauren squealed, while checking herself out in her dessert spoon before Alan approached the table. Giving her hot pink skirt one last ruffle, Lauren smirked and held her well-tanned hands out to the confused man. "Nice to meet such a fine fellow such as you!" Her honeyed Southern voice rang in his ears almost obnoxiously, but her voice reminded him a lot of someone he used to treasure.

"Uh-A-Alan," Alan stuttered, eyeing Ginger's leftover dessert spoon to see if he needed any fixer uppers in his appearance. Alan had chocolate eyes, dark, dark brown hair, and olive tan skin. Many have considered him struck with good luck, yet Alan and Rob never payed attention to their looks as much as the rest of their revolving world seemed to.

Rob gave his best friend a welcoming pat on the back. "Good to see you, Alan! And shoot! You finally got the trim I suggested. It looks awesome!"

His friend mockingly flipped his head to the left, giving his hair a shiny effect. "And look who's finally got the girl out of us two posers?" He politely shook a grinning Chris' hand and winked encouragingly at Rob. "She's a looker, Robby! And to think that back in high school, polls predicted that I was the jock ready to grab a girl. Look's like your first base has been slammed!"

"Alan," Rob whined childishly, sending his best friend a pensively rough glare. "Mind your manners. We've only been together for a few months."

"Oh now sweetie don't look so modest!" Chris pecked her boyfriend's freckled cheek and enjoyed watching him blush tomato red. "If anyone's a looker here, it's you. So Al." She directed her big brown eyes back to the slouching man. "You seem to be flying solo. I'm just curious…How's that working out for you? You seem too much of a looker yourself to not be noticed."

Alan sheepishly scratched the back of his head and shrugged, caught off guard. "Well….not many girls have came to me yet…But as I was walking…." The poor lad began to blush crimson and scoot his chair a quarter. "There's this girl…She sings…sings in an isolated motel that seems empty. I try to call out to her, but she doesn't' seem to hear me."

"Are you sure you're just not hearing things old Al," Rob wondered, now completely concerned for his friend. "We discussed schizophrenia in the third grade when you swore that Lola Swells kissed Parker Denim in the third grade, and we both know that the guy made PigPen look blessed in the hygiene sense-"

"I'm serious," Alan snapped, earning some stares from the neighboring tables. Lauren could only pat his shoulders and smile sweetly at him.

"We believe yah, Alan! Now cheer up and say hello to Jeff."

"Who's-"

"Oh my goodness GRACIOUS!" She, Chris, and Rob's eyes widened in shock. "H-He was just here….Strange…Heheh…maybe he's in the restroom stalls or something! You two lovebirds need to finish that pie slice before I help out!"

On the back porch of Rob's cabin…

two lean figures could only scowl indifferently in the shadows.

"He's late," Frank hissed, while boggling his catlike eyes at his Beetlejuice pocket watch. "And to think that he'd had caught on with the phrase 'by eight', and now it's bloody 9:15!"

"Well maybe if you'd had let us storm out of that stupid diner together," Ginger insisted, while clawing her fingers into the thin hem of her dress. Frank only rolled his eyes from behind her and resumed to his stressful pace. "What'd you even ask him to get?"

"The prop-"

"The toad," Ginger asked dully, while staring out at the vacant roads near them. "Why must we look over another pitiful soul's own constant environment? That twerp didn't even seem like he had a well-rounded life but only a bad case of naivety."

"And those are the best paying customers," Frank added in his charismatic sing-song voice. "Besides, he may thank us in the next life."

"Really?" Ginger gave her partner a malevolent smirk and slinked closer to the cabin. "Because frankly, Frank, no one's ever thanked us yet."

"No one said that thanking was apart of the contract, flower." Jeff diverged away from the shadows and held out the twitchy toad in his thin, leather-gloved hands. Stroking his beard, Jeff withdrew the toad to Frank while pensively frowning. "The boy…he seems naive enough. His girlfriend also seems too busy to even notice the…changes we may soon make. But the boy, Alex, Akin, whatever the brat's name was…." Jeff flashed a frown in his girlfriend's direction. "He could spell out our downfall if we don't keep peeled eyes on him."

"You said that about the Hatter in the Victorian era," Frank pointed out, while making sure that this was the right place.

"And the hippy blowing smoke rings," Ginger added. Turning her attention back to Frank, she sighed a little too wearily. "Listen straight shooter, I may have lied about my 'job,' but I still have a job to my daughter back at home. So get on with the seance or whatever because I'm still lost."

"How is Button-nose," Jeff asked amusingly to Ginger. Ginger only sighed and massaged the sides of her pale shoulders.

"It's rough raising her up there….Maybe I can make it easier with a camera to watch over her-"

"The energy is HERE!" Frank grabbed the couple's shoulders and whisked them promptly into the tidy cabin. Frank then directed them to the messy pile of appliances lying near the kitchen counter, making sure that they were behind them and not in front of them.

"Don't you feel the currents?" Ginger and Jeff sniffed the invisible messages being sent to their shivering spines and nodded almost automatically to the Voodoo doctor. "My flesh friends, our time has come to reunite with our friends on the next side." He then purposely dropped the flimsy toad out of his calloused hands and stared interestingly at the reflective glow the kitchen lights were sending to one toaster before exiting the cabin.

(Toaster's P.O.V.)

"Did you guys hear that," Blankie trembled. His beady eyes were dangerously dilating in child-like fear, and that assured me that my poor friend earned the shivers again.

"Hear what," Lampy wondered. His hazel eyes scrutinized the kitchen, the living room to our right, and the stairway to our left. Shaking his head, Lampy shrugged at his blank findings. "You're probably just imagining things, Blankie. Oh! Here's what I do..I close my eyes and imagine a nice, big closet spider-free and-"

"BOO!"

"AHHHH!" Both Lampy and Blankie huddled close to each other until the quick impact sent both of my friends into the opened drawer beneath us. They were definitely lucky that they didn't hit the floor, but I was too upset with one spunky device that night to reveal concern.

"Quit the comical sound effects, Radio!" My brown eyes narrowed into slits until he shivered uncharacteristically. "At least save it until Halloween."

"Toaster's right," Kirby grumbled before frowning up at my two other shaking friends. "And you two; start acting more mature! Lampy, that's especially for you!"

"I-It's not MY fault," Lampy defended himself immaturely. "Radio made the noise in the first place and-"

"Buenos amigos," Radio sung a little too shyly. "I-well, logically speaking….that wasn't me at all. It came from the living room." We all then craned whatever necks we possessed to the hall that seemed to darken by the minute. Gulping, I pushed down my instinctive fears and leapt from the counter down to the nearest corner of our master's dresser.

"Okay gang. Then I guess we better go investigate." Everyone beside me nodded and followed my lead. We inched deeper and deeper into the living room, and Lampy was gratefully able to adjust his light to the right amount of brightness for us to see and not be blinded by.

"I wonder if the Master and Mistress will arrive here soon," Blankie commented almost wistfully. I smiled excitedly and patted his tiny head.

"Well then, he'll be in for some odd surprise! He was already nervous about his date with the Mistress-"

"SURPRISE?!" We all jumped and huddled into a squished hug with one another as one distorted figure crept before us. I could only make up his left green eye, glowing, glowing brighter than any appliance I've ever witnessed.

"That eye…his one blue left eye…always watching me…" Radio then flipped from his spooky interpretation and shrieked in a more shrill voice accompanied with suspense music. "Don't shoot him Charley! Don't!"

"Radio SHUT UP!" Kirby had finally lost his temper and groaned at the small toad before us. "What kind of…living thing are you? You're-" We all gasped at the toad. It dawned upon me that his appearance was greatly comparable to a corpse, a corpse with one dead eye, dead skin cells rotting on his webbed hands and feet, and one tiny bone necklace on his neck.

Nodding to us, the toad corpse smiled, revealing his yellowed and corroded teeth and trying to grasp my chord. "Greetings to such lovely company. I am known as the Prince of Lily Pad Terrence. But you may call me 'Paddy'."

Lampy sent Paddy a shaky smile and dipped his head politely. "Gee, fascinating….I didn't know that toads had teeth."

"They don't." My eyes widened frighteningly at his statement, and he chuckled at all of our awkward reactions. I began to notice his twig cane that he fiddled around in while hopping limply to us. His one green eye flickered to Radio, who remained as still as he was able to stay. "Wild spunky spirit I sense in you. Full of life. But be sure to not be so caught up in fun and games when you're in one, good sir!"

"Thanks," Radio muttered, unsure how to react to Paddy at first until he approached Blankie.

"Aren't you so young," Paddy cooed. To me, he just sounded like he was secretly mocking Blankie, and I couldn't help but snarl to myself at the toad's tone while all the while he was scarier than any creature I've ever witnessed.

But to my relief, Blankie didn't seem to notice. "Thank you, si-sir."

"Oh I'm no sir. But you soon will be. True there is no place like home-"

"-And think to yourself," Radio proclaimed in a motherly voice. "There's no place like home. There's no place like home-"

"Thank you very much Radio," Kirby cut short sarcastically, glaring at our guest. "Listen toad, I only get suspicious around the freakish of freaks, and you are really hopping forward to a top seat on that bench, aren't you pal?"

"Don't be rude, Kirby!" I didn't seem too fond of Paddy either, but I didn't want to let my stubborn vacuum friend to give off the wrong impression about us cabin-home appliances here in the woods. We didn't even introduce ourselves properly to Paddy nor he to us. "I apologize on his behalf-"

"-Of course you'd be the one defending such bold appliances, my lady." He planted his slippery lips on the end of my chord, and I couldn't help but grimace at his gesture. But what really started confusion was when the word only vital to my Mistress was audible from his lips.

"LADY?!" Blankie gave me wide, innocent eyes and a tiny sniffle. "You-you never told me-"

"I've had my suspicions," Lampy nodded knowingly with a small smile on his face.

"Dude looks like a lady," Radio sung.

"I never actually considered…" My voice trailed off in humiliation, and I could feel the stares burning on the back of my head from all of my friends. Was it just me, or was this topic far too odd…or strange, to even be considering about? I always believed that appliances didn't own the sacred titles of a 'man' or a 'woman', 'sir' or 'lady', and they were always reserved for the human masters.

"Of course you haven't," Paddy sighed exasperatedly, while picking out five tiny devices that looked like paper clips in his palms. "Your master cared more about flint than all of you put together!"

"That's pushing it," I warned. But suddenly, Paddy breathed in and out a golden mist, blowing freely into our eyes. "W-What-"

"And so Hansel…" I found Radio, at the corner of my eye, slouching into unconsciousness. "-And Gretal…we're lost hopelessly in the song…"

"Dude looks funny," Blankie giggled, before falling asleep as well. I tried to reach for him, but I couldn't feel my limbs, and my eyes never left Paddy's wicked smile.

"H-How could….Blankie…guys.."

"Wishy washy…" Lampy and a gurgling Kirby soon drifted off as well, and the last words I heard before falling into a deep slumber came from that tricking toad.

"Come and see the rest of our friends sometime, pets. That is, if you play the game fairly Master has given you."

I used references for Radio from poet Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Tell-Tale Heart', the popular thriller series 'The Twilight Zone' during the episode 'Monsters due on Maple Street,' 'The Wizard of Oz,' the song 'Dude (Looks like a lady') sung by the rock band Aerosmith, and the famous Hansel and Gretal tale. Thanks to those reading, and I really hope that this fits in well!