Short Story: The Cigarettes

The Dead Cigarettes
Smoky.

Good day to you all! As with our Posthoumous short story, over a year ago we wrote a wee little thing called the Dead Cigarettes (renamed here) to enter into a short story competition. Once again, it was completely unacknowledged and it’s been sitting about doing nothing. So, up it goes to this blog for you idiots to read! It’s not world changing, but it’s Kafkaesque so give it a whirl and, hey, it provides us with an easy Sunday post.

The Cigarettes

John was in midair and the fat man’s arm was tugging him back and forth from thin reedy lips and yellow stained teeth. For a scant few seconds, the big arm would drop down and linger and John would hang swaying with his higher extremity burning away. All of a sudden he’d be tugged back up and the fat man would drag on him once again before exhaling a malodorous blast of fumes.

John had spent the last month packed tightly into a cigarette packet with 19 others. Many of them had become his friends. He’d just now been torn from them, the packet placed snugly inside the fat man’s jacket pocket; John had been set on fire with a lighter. The fat man had purchased John and his peers and he was now sucking the life out of them – three already lay scattered around on the concrete floor below him. They were dead. John had no serious qualms about this situation, for it was his destiny to die this way.

Despite being ready to fulfil his purpose, a sense of poignancy swept over him. He looked around and took in what he knew would be his final surroundings. It was a bus stop. The fat man, with his blotched red face and puckered nose, was staring dead ahead with a vacant but intemperate expression. His eyes were creased up as if embittered by a recent experience. John figures the fat man resembles a rugby ball – his skin looks appalling, he looks rough around the edges, and it was as if he’d been kicked about a great deal.

John saw there were a few other people around the fat man on what was a windy and overcast day. The setting annoyed him somewhat – a bus stop! John couldn’t help but feel disappointed about how bland this location was for him to meet his end. He sighed as he was lifted back and forth – it was a strange sensation, being smoked. He could see his innards being exhaled into the wider world and he forlornly looked down at the ground and prepared himself for his inevitable descent to earth. The fat man would surely discard him in this manner. He didn’t appear much like a bin friendly type of guy.

For his entire brief life, John had prepared for this moment – it was a given with his profession. He’d been made in a factory, stuffed into a cigarette packet, and had spent a long time in collective confinement with the others. As the packet was transported around he’d been bumped and knocked about in a dark and dingy environment. The overriding smell of tobacco represented this time, but he’d grown to understand his peers and accept his lot. Indeed, the other cigarettes had intrigued him. There was Stuart (a good looking go-getter determined to be the best smoke in the history of cigarettes), Lucy (who talked about her childhood on a tobacco farm in North America and would sing in a high-pitched and irritating warble), and Dave (an imbecile and distended eyesore – his butt hadn’t attached properly to his tobacco rod, you see). John recalled these three as they’d just been smoked – even Dave with his broken butt had been taken by the fat man in his quest to slake his toxic needs.

Now John realised his use was nearing its end. The smoke was filtering around him in thin wisps. He knew he was fulfilling his duty with professionalism and nobility, but what would occur at the very end? The others had talked of seeing a light at the end of the filter, but some suggested this was probably just a lighter. Others talked wistfully of “Ciggy Heaven” as if such a concept could exist. Ludicrous! If that were the case, where could cigars go to? Or matches? John had thought it all through and, regardless, he was in a strong frame of mind as his maker was preparing to be met.

Tugged once again from the fat man’s lips he was, with no warning, plunging downwards. Spiralling wildly out of control, his surroundings became a blur and he felt disembodied. He waited for the bump and it came abruptly – a sudden jolt. The hard concrete floor didn’t greet him personably and John rolled awkwardly to one side. Stunned, he lay motionless feeling as if his being had been beaten by a harsh object.

He could feel he was still partially alight, but the tobacco inside him had depleted. Now he was barely a cigarette. He was a butt. The fat man belched exuberantly high above him, so John took this opportunity to behold his consumer. The fat man began nonchalantly picking his enormous nose with a stray finger – John sympathised with him and felt for the plight he was suffering through. Alas, though, he realised he was dying, but he felt he shared a common interest with the fat man. He just wasn’t sure what this was.

Waiting for his bus had induced idleness into the fat man and this had led to the carcasses of his friends being strewn around – Stuart, Lucy, and Dave. At this moment, John realised the fat man had a severe addiction which he should be seeking medical attention for, but John was more intrigued by the bodies of his fallen friends. Gazing at them, he wondered if he had lived a worthy life. He’d been cooped up in a packet in the dark, but he did not feel as if he had wasted himself. He believed he had existed in the way a good cigarette must. He had fulfilled his destiny with great professionalism and this brought him much satisfaction.

During this realisation, an immense force descended upon John with extreme violence. The impossible weight landed on him and pushed his being hard into the concrete. He didn’t feel pain or fear, he was cut from existence by a motley coloured shoe. The fat man, seeing his bus finally approaching, had stubbed John out.

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