After the doorbell chimed, Rod snatched a dish towel from the counter and craned to see the clock on the stove as he passed. He wasn’t expecting company, and what a stranger would be looking for at that time of night he had no idea. Standing at the door with mostly dry hands he leaned in for a better look at the live image from the doorbell camera. Despite flickering lines over the distorted figure standing at the edge of the porch stairs, he keyed in the alarm code, slid back both deadbolts, then cracked the door open.
A man in a brown suit, about two sizes too big, stood hunched forward with a sweat stained fedora rolled in his hands. His lips twisted into something resembling a smile. His eyes bulged with a unique mixture of pleading and panic.
Rod planted his foot and opened the door a few more inches, resting it against his raised toes. “Can I help you?”
The man nodded. “Good evening, sir. How are you this…evening?”
Rod flipped the dish towel over his shoulder. “Okay, I suppose.”
“Excellent, sir, excellent.” The man reached into his open suit jacket with one trembling hand. “My name, sir, is J.R. Turner and I am here this evening representing the Penny District Manufacturing Corporation,” the man pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper and held it to Rod, “the number one manufacturer of cyborg implants in the world.”
Rod tucked his chin and stared at the crude images. As he fought to find words, he glanced across dot matrix interpretations of night vision eyeballs and hydraulic prosthetics. “A little early for Halloween, isn’t it?”
The man’s broken smile faltered further, as if he didn’t understand what a pending children’s holiday had to do with anything. Instead of acknowledging Rod’s comment, he continued with his sales pitch. “I’ve been authorized, for today only mind you, to offer up to 50% off of our already low, low prices, sir. As always, factory approved installation and 2-year parts and labour warranty are included.”
Rod reached out for the doorknob. “I appreciate it, but I’ll have to pass.”
The men held the paper closer. “I assure you, you won’t see an offer like this again, sir. Please look closer, I’m sure you’ll find something that you can’t live without.”
Rod began pushing the door closed.
“Sir, please.” The man’s right eye drooped, a streak of thick, oily discharge seeped from the corner. “I just need one sale, sir, just one.”
“I’m really sorry. Have a good night.” Rod latched the door. He leaned his back against it, reached out to arm the security system, then waited.
Through the solid door he heard mumbled muttering, then heavy footsteps down the treads of the porch. Soon after came a flash, a hollow thunk, like someone punching an unbreakable pane of glass, and then the silence of the night returned.
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash