Originally posted on January 12, 2012, before the disaster.
Written for Chuck Wendig’s Friday Flash Fiction Challenge “Song Shuffle Stories”.
The prices were supposed to be unbeatable; that’s how Ken ended up with the sofa.
Hung over and dragged to the sale in protest, Ken had picked the first one that didn’t make him wince when he sat on it. The price was definitely unbeatable – $100 for a brand new leather unit was a steal. A damaged unit, they told him, perfectly good except for a few small flaws in the leather. He didn’t care about a couple of scratches on the back, even if they did look disturbingly like fingernails, and it made his mother happy to watch him and his friends finally haul the dinged floral piece upstairs and out the door.
Ken should, perhaps, have wondered why the price had been so low. Especially when it began to smell after a few days. Certain that her slovenly son was the cause of the household stench, his mother watched imperiously as he scrubbed the entire basement, down to steam-cleaning the carpet. The smell lingered, despite his best efforts and he eventually collapsed in an exhausted heap onto the offending furniture and began to doze in front of the television set.
As the darkness of sleep closed around him, Ken felt strangely warm and comfortable, as though he was surrounded in a soft, thick fabric. He didn’t think much of it when the fabric covered his face, but when it began to squeeze him tightly he could do little except struggle in vain as it pulled him towards the ground.
When Ken woke with a start, everything was dark and quiet. Almost too quiet – he could only barely hear the pre-season hockey game he had been watching. He moved questing hands forward, but they bumped into a cloth wall, yielding yet strangely solid. Ken wondered idly if he was still dreaming: the room seemed to have shrunk to a size that felt frighteningly like a coffin.
He called out, quietly at first, and then louder when he realized that there were people nearby, muffled voices that sounded like they were underwater. He pushed at the walls around him, trying to claw his way through, kicking and screaming in frustration when no one responded, feeling only the unending encircling of the walls and the irregular scratches on them.
“Excuse me, sir, can you tell me more about this lot?”
“Yes ma’am. This sofa, along with the television and the table, were taken from a repossessed house just outside of downtown. The owner stopped making payments on it after her son disappeared. They’re in excellent condition, as you can see, but the sofa has quite a few scratches on the back.”
“Is that why the starting point is so low?”
“Yes ma’am, although I don’t expect that it will stay that way. This is an unbeatable deal.”