Following delivery at Alt.Fiction, here is the three-minute piece I wrote for the open mic panel.
Mr Ipkiss, and the monkey who poops pomegranates
“I’m so glad you could come, Stanley.”
The man’s name was Ipkiss, according to the nameplate on his desk, and Stanley was so overcome by the strangeness of him that he had quite forgotten about his toothache. There was nothing spare about the man, as if all the excess that could afflict a human being had been winnowed clear. He put Stanley in mind of a stalk of wheat, albeit a giant, talking one that was standing over him wearing a look of polite apprehension.
“I’m…glad I could make it?”
It was, apparently, the correct response, as Mr Ipkiss clapped his hands together in satisfaction.
“Excellent, Stanley. Quite excellent. Now, if I might trouble you with a question, do you know what we do here at the office of fair trades?”
“You throw the book at shopkeepers who fiddle their books?”
“Ha!” said Mr Ipkiss. “The book! That’s very good, but not quite it. We at the OFT are concerned with maintaining balance.”
“Like a bank balance?”
“More universal, but essentially, yes. We work very hard – strive, one might say – to keep the natural accounts of our world in the black.”
Whatever it meant, he sounded very passionate. Stanley wondered how far it was to the door. “That sounds…complicated,” he said.
“It is, Stanley. I agree. Sometimes the fate of everything can depend on one small item. Empires have crumbled on the turn of a playing card. Imagine the chaos that could result from a single, tiny seed.”
“Yes, Stanley. The seed that’s stuck between your teeth right now has a destiny, and we’ve asked you in to help us realise it.”
“Well, I was going to see the dentist…”
“Oh, there’s no need.”
A strong, long-fingered hand gripped Stanley’s jaw, expertly popping his mouth open. He jerked in surprise, trying to come to his feet, but discovered he was unable to move. As his head was tilted back, a pair of gentle, simian eyes met his own.
“I’d like you to meet Charlie,” Mister Ipkiss said. “He’s one of our agents in the office.”
Charlie the monkey reached into his open mouth. There was a strong tingling sensation and a twist, and as quickly as the operation had begun, Stanley found it was over. He prodded weakly around the inside of his mouth, expecting to find a gap. Instead, the tooth had been replaced, and the ache was gone.
The monkey hopped onto the desk, popped the seed into its mouth, and appeared to swallow. Stanley found his voice.
“All that for a monkey to swallow it?”
“Ah yes, well, normally, of course, we grow our fruit, but in this case expediency demands a different course.”
A burbling gastric rearrangement rang out from the belly of Charlie the monkey. There was a moment of tremendous, terrible pressure, of expansion and release, followed by a thud as something round, dark, and ripe landed on the desk. Mister Ipkiss produced a handkerchief and moved deftly to sweep it up, before presenting it to Stanley with infinite courtesy. Foolishly, Stanley accepted, and was treated to a sensation he would never forget; the warm, tacky weight of a freshly-laid pomegranate, heavy against his palm.
“Thank you again, Stanley,” Mister Ipkiss said. “It’s been an absolute pleasure. I’d shake your hand but-” he cast a look at Stanley’s hands, “-well, you understand.”