He passed through the dining room, digging his toes into the downy carpet as went. In the kitchen doorway, Victor halted and stared. The room was immaculate. Not a single can of Spam littered the floor, there was not a Brussels sprout in sight. The benches were neat and every cabinet door was closed. He looked about suspiciously, and then entered. The refrigerator greeted him with a hum. He opened it and saw the Brussels sprouts were all back in their bowl; he took a handful. He opened the pantry. The wall of Spam cans he had demolished the previous day had been reconstructed, and now stood towering before him, as neat and full as the original structure—and just as unappetising. With visible reluctance, he withdrew a can from the treasury. On the bench next to the sink, Victor set his meal down, eyeing it as one might look upon a Post-it note reminder for a dentist appointment, perhaps one that was to involve root canal work. After an inactive minute, he puffed out a stoic breath and picked up a sprout. Wincing, he bit down into the bland leafiness. Leaning with his hands on the bench, his head down, and his eyes closed in concentration, Victor chewed… and chewed. At the end of two full minutes he had swallowed his first mouthful. Ten minutes after that he had worked his way through two sprouts.
“Ugh. That’s enough greens,” he said.
He opened the can of Spam, cast the lid away, and stared at the blushing prism of processed meat. After rummaging through the empty drawers, Victor retrieved a fork from the dining room table. He excavated a large chunk of pork from the can, leaned over the sink, and, after a moment’s hesitation, shoved the Spam into his mouth. He chewed. As soon as he swallowed that forkful he started on the next. This one took longer to chew and swallow, and by the end of it Victor’s complexion was a shade paler. He wiped his forehead and leaned his head down. A long, weak groan escaped his mouth, as did a thin strand of saliva, which abseiled from his lower lip right down to the stainless steel surface of the sink. Victor sighed, wiped his mouth, and shook his head.
“This isn’t worth it,” he said, glancing at the Spam can.
He stood up and paced the kitchen, back and forth, with his hands on his hips.
“Waste not, want not,” he recited. “A Furbank never quits.”
On his third lap, he stopped in front of the open pantry. His brow furrowed in thought as he looked inside, and then his eyes widened.
“Huh! That’s it! The kitchen must reset every morning. It all goes back to the way it was. The sprouts, the Spam—it all refills. So I can’t waste any, and it’s not quitting. Yes!” He clapped his hands and laughed. “No more Spam today. Ha!”
Victor set his forearm flat on the bench and swept aside the half-full can and the remaining Brussels sprouts.
“Huh. That’s quite liberating.”
He took a glass and placed it in the sink, beneath the spout, and turned the tap. The plumbing shuddered and moaned, and then a steady trickle of cold water began filling the glass. Before it reached halfway, though, the flow of water abated, stemmed by the snake working its way through the pipes. Once the python’s pale, narrow head passed through the spout, Victor grabbed it and pulled the reptile loose. He set it on the bench as the water flowed again. Just before the liquid reached the brim of the glass, the water pressure receded to a rapid dripping: another snake was on its way. Victor filled and drank four glasses of water; he drew eleven albino pythons from the spout, setting them aside on the bench. His thirst quenched, he took the bowl of Brussels sprout from the fridge, tipped the vegetables on the floor, and then brought the empty bowl to the sink. With delicate yet speedy movements, he collected all the snakes, including the two that had dropped to the floor, and put them in the sink. He then lowered the bowl upside down over them: the bowl was wide and deep, and after tucking in a few loose tails, Victor had the serpents comfortably captive.
“That’ll do for now,” he said, giving the bowl a tap. “Don’t go anywhere.”
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