The Dark Kraft #2: “Return Policy”

“Return Policy”

By

Cameron D. Blackwell

Roommates Dave and Taylor were in the market for a new couch since their previous one met an untimely demise named Frankie. After asking for recommendations on Facebook on the best place to buy a good used couch, they went to Second Chance Furniture located downtown. The building looked like exactly how they envisioned it, an old brick building in disrepair on the edge of the poor part of town. The glass doors were the cleanest part of the outside. Taylor wasn’t sure about the quality of furniture to be found inside. Dave assumed him that the furniture would be fine. Dave did not lie.

Upon entering the shop, they were surprised to find how clean it was. The lights were bright, the floors were spotless, and the furniture was in really good condition. Second Chance had everything from coffee tables, to china cabinets.

“See, that’s what you get for judging a book by its cover,” Dave said in a superior tone.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Taylor said, waving his hand dismissively, hoping to avoid one of Dave’s lectures.

As they browsed the merchandise, they began to worry about the prices. Since everything looked like they had just come off the showroom floor in a first run shop, they wondered if the prices would match first run shops. Even the boring brown couches looked really good. There wasn’t a single blemish or scratch on anything. It was like they were made to look great by magic.

“Maybe they were all acquired from overstock from multiple stores,” Dave said.

“That doesn’t make me feel better,” Taylor replied.

And then he saw it, the prefect couch. It sat to the right of the glass doors leading to the outdoor section, glistening majestically in the sunlight. It was the sharpest hue of teal known to man, outfitted with three large cushions that boosted of comfort so divine that one would be a fool to pass it up. Taylor was immediately drawn to it. He had to have it.

“Are you sure this is the one you want?” Dave asked, recognizing Taylor’s penchant for dramatic attraction. “I mean, I thought you hated teal.”

“This isn’t just teal, this is THE teal.” Taylor gently caressed the top of the couch and marveled at its suppleness. It was almost too soft. As he touched the cushions, he imagined this was what clouds must feel like. He had to have this couch. “This one.”

Dave raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “Really?”

“Yes!” Taylor had never been more sure of anything his whole life.

“Oh no,” said an old frail man coming in from outside. His name tag read “Horace”. He looked like he had seen some shit in his days. He looked like he was seeing some shit right now. “You don’t want this couch. You’ll only bring it back, or maybe not you, but someone will bring it back.”

Taylor shuddered at the creepy old man vibes Horace was giving off. “Hey, dude. Just back off and tell us how much it is.”

Dave placed his hands on Taylor’s shoulders and gave them a slight squeeze. “Calm down, Tay-Tay.” He knew Taylor hated that name, but he didn’t seem to care today.

Horace rubbed his gnarled arthritic hands as he pondered his moral quandary. He needed to boost his sales, but at the meantime, he didn’t want to endanger people’s lives just to make a sale. On the other hand, he and Gladys needed to eat. “$80, take it or leave it.”

“We’re so taking it!” Taylor said.

And that was that. Within twenty minutes, Dave and Taylor loaded the teal couch onto their truck, and twenty minutes later, it was resting comfortably in their living room. Taylor and Dave stood in the center of the room and stared lovingly at it, or at least Dave tried to. Something about the couch unnerved him. Why would the old man warn them against taking it? He was only too eager to shake off the weird thoughts and busied himself with cleaning the dishes.

Prince Pigeon, a delightfully cute orange tabby, was more than enamored with the couch. Not only did it have wonderful new smells, it was something else to claim for his empire. He wasted no time pouncing on it. He purred loudly as he stretched and finally settled on the softer than soft cushions. It did Taylor’s heart good to see his cat enjoying the couch as much as he hoped to later. Dave called him into the kitchen to help with the dishes.

It took them twenty-five minutes to hand wash and dry every dish. This was the punishment they had to endure for both owning dish sets and not washing them in a timely manner. Taylor was ready to sit on the couch and cuddle his kitty.

When he entered the living room, Prince Pigeon was not where he left him. Taylor wasn’t worried at first. Cats are fickle and can hardly sit still. It was possible the kitten prince had decided to go somewhere else. He approached the couch to do himself a sit, and found Prince Pigeon’s pink collar lying just in front of the couch. “P.P.?” Taylor asked. How had the prince gotten his collar off? “P.P.?” he called again.

Dave and Taylor searched everywhere they knew to look for Prince Pigeon, but couldn’t find him. “Where did you find his collar again?” Dave asked.

“By the couch,” Taylor replied.

A chill raced down Dave’s spine.

“He’ll turn up, right?” Taylor asked.

Dave nodded, though he wasn’t so sure for some reason. He gave Taylor a quick hug as an idea came to him. “Hey. I think I’m going to run an errand real quick. You stay here and keep looking for the Prince.” Taylor was all too glad to oblige, and for this, Dave was glad. He had to get down to the bottom of what the old man meant.

Taylor walked around the entire house calling for his cat. He prayed that he would hear his sweet meow in response, but only silence greeted him. After making three tours of the house, the kitten prince was nowhere to be found.

Distraught, Taylor collapsed on the couch and allowed himself to be cradled by the cushions’ softness. It was everything he had imagined it would be, like a cloud. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift away to sleep. With each passing minute, he felt as if he was sinking deeper into the cushions. Soon he began to feel little pinches on his arms and face. His first thought was ‘bedbugs’. Maybe that was why the couch had been returned. Then he felt wet. Had someone spilled soda on the couch and he was just now feeling it? No, there’s no way that could be right. Then what was happening?

Taylor attempted to sit up to get something wipe the couch with and found that he couldn’t move. His face was st

uck to the cushion, as were his arms. He couldn’t lift himself up enough to open his eyes. Then he felt something cover his entire body. His legs weren’t responding to him. He was only getting wetter. Whatever this liquid was, it was causing his skin to tingle and then burn. He felt himself getting absorbed into whatever this was. Taylor wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. He could only lay limp as his body corroded away, possibly hearing the faint sound of a lost kitten prince. And then there was nothing.

Dave had figured out why the couch had been returned and drove home as fast as he could without incurring the Traffic Gods’ wrath. He had been dialing Taylor’s number the entire way, but each time it went direct to voicemail. He skidded onto the driveway and ran inside without turning off the car. Taylor was not in the living room. Dave felt a rush of dread as he searched the house for his mate. Taylor was nowhere to be found.

Dave approached the couch with the collected dread he accumulated and pressed redial on his phone. The faint sound of Taylor’s ringtone emerged from between the cushions. A second later, the couch burped and Taylor’s phone landed at Dave’s feet. It was at this point Dave realized that he should have gotten information about the return policy.

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