The Refrigerator Problem
It had been there, stayed, and watched many years go by.
It had been kept in the darkness, away from light, slowly succumbing to its suffocation.
It was torture - locked in that chamber, futilely coveting the bright of the sun
It felt old... was old, beyond the dawn of time.
Relying on what imagination was left in its weary mind, it contemplated - occupied
its time in its dank and lonely cell. The only companion it had was the other
prisoners, trapped like it was, and the echo.
The lonesome echo, creeping through the darkness,
reviving the sound of silence.
What longing it felt for the light it once knew...
the yellow element, impossible to reach. Time wasted it away. It longed, longed,
but couldn't get there.
It just stood in the fridge, its contents wasting
Well, what's a rotting milk carton got to do?
Become sentient and protest?
The refrigerator hadn't been cleaned for eons.
Green algae hung from its walls, and the light
was muted by a covering of what looked like mildew and pulverized dead insects.
And just the smell...
The smell was so ghastly that the Jadestorm household
simply kept it shut 24/7. Through a vacuum system at the top, groceries were
put in, never to be extracted in a lifetime. It was a black hole, really.
Instead, the owner and the pets feasted on omelettes.
Every day, the short human named Jadestorm and her pets would trek to the Giant
Omelette, scavenging whatever they could find. And every night, they would return,
after a long day of training, learning, and adventure to sit in the dining room,
eat the omelette, and glare at the fridge.
But they didn't go through one day without those
cravings. A sip of milk, a spoonful of yoghurt, and worst of all - a scoop of
ice cream... they would just glance pitifully at the smelly box and get their
paw on the door handle... before turning dolefully away.
After all, the last time Jadestorm had tried
to open it, she couldn't. The door was stuck - illegitimately - to the rest
of the fridge.
"Stripes, it's time to clean out the 'frigerator."
The call for order came from Jadestorm's chaotic-looking
workspace, where Neopian Times rejection letters ran rampant and a perpetual
paperstorm ensued. Buried at the centre of the dead heat was the hopeless author,
gnawing futilely on the end of her twentieth quill. The late pen was stuck somewhere
beneath the chewed-up globs of failed stories.
The blue Xweetok snorted, and threw a shoe at
"I heard a clunk noise, so I'm going to assume
that you're replying. You better clean that fridge."
"Excuse me," Stripes yelled, "but this is a bit
"The last time the thing was cleaned out was
when we first bought it, Stripes," his owner retorted, over the whirring noise
of a giant fan. "You should do it."
"It's a biohazard. We may need to call Chia Police."
"Aw, please, don't be sardonic!"
"Why not Scourge or Kit or Lucky?"
"Well, who threw the shoe at Jhudora? Making
her so miffed that we had to high-tail it out?"
"Okay," Jadestorm mouthed slowly. "If you do
it, I'll instantaneously buy you a striped paint brush."
"You can't afford it."
"Or make you hang out with the Kadoaties."
"Fat chance. You'll just act merciful in the
"Not even intimidation's going to make me do
that! The fridge has a mind of its own!"
"So do you!"
"You were never the best debater, Jadestorm."
"Did I actually mean to retort? Oh, Scourge slash
Kit slash Lucky, please close the screen door!"
Stripes turned around, to find a gold Gelert
smiling mockingly at him. "Ah, hello, Princess," he muttered sarcastically.
"Excuse ME, but I would prefer to be known by
my second name!"
Lucky wagged her tail, and licked her paw. "So,
what's Jadestorm making you do this time?"
"Clean out the big white box that's turned lime
green," Stripes replied grimly.
"Aw, you poor baby!"
"Hey, who's calling who the baby? I'm a long
ways off older than you! Besides, ever compared intelligence?"
"Yup. Jadesy says I learn things a lot faster
than you." She flicked an ear. "But really, poor you." Lucky smirked. "I'm
just glad it wasn't my shoe that Jhudora decimated."
"I should be treated like a national hero instead,
escaping like that," Stripes grumbled.
"Well, good luck with cleaning the 'frigerator,"
Lucky said cheerfully, and stalked away.
Stripes could almost see Jadestorm upstairs,
glaring at him.
"Aw, for Fyora's sake, I refuse!"
"Whatever," Jadestorm replied indifferently.
"What's a synonym for 'cooperation'?"
"What's this, another story?"
"Yep. Now CLEAN THE FRIDGE!"
But by then, Stripes had high-tailed it out of
the Jadestorm household, dashing down the street in search of certain electric
Gelerts to play with.
That night, Stripes had a dream. Whether it was
actually an apparition, or the real thing, he didn't ever find out. He didn't
want to. In fact, he was quite glad to be shrouded in ambiguity.
He was strolling through the house, clambering
up and down the banisters in the bright of day, all the while whistling happily.
He was having so much fun that he whammed headlong into something a bit like
cardboard, which smelled odd.
Stripes looked up, to find his eyes staring at
a milk carton, labelled 2% Kau Dairy Farm Products. It seemed to have become
sentient overnight, and had somehow managed to find its way out of the fridge.
"Cool, personification," Stripes muttered.
"I mean... nothing."
The milk carton shrugged, and walked down the
It was then that Stripes noticed the slightly
green tinge creeping out from each corner of the box. It looked like a small
patch of something furry. He shuddered.
Out of plain curiosity, he sauntered down, tracking
the milk carton tentatively. The living box made its way into the kitchen, and
peeked into the fridge.
From his hiding place, Stripes couldn't see the
interior of the white thing, but he expected a pungent smell. Sure enough, one
arrived, prompting him to plug his nose in disgust.
The milk carton was undisturbed. Poking its head
(hopefully, that was the head) into the fridge, it seemed to search around.
Finally, it re-emerged, pulling out a slab of greenish butter, a hunk of blue
cheese, and... a whole blissful box of ice cream.
The ice cream wasn't sentient, and the milk carton
slowly scooped it out, passing it out to the butter and the cheese. It wasn't
spoiled at all. Pure, delicious starberry ice cream poured out in generous,
celestial scoopfuls, to be enjoyed heartily by the assortment of dairy products.
From his hiding place, Stripes found his mouth
watering, coveting that heavenly wonder... oh, how he missed that icy, stellar
taste! Compelled to act, he put one foot forward...
And then another...
And then the milk carton was upon him, growling
fiercely. "No ice cream for you, until you clean out the fridge!"
But it was Jadestorm's voice. "Clean that 'frigerator,
"Or no ice cream..."
The cajoling was too much for him. Stripes woke
up, and knew that it was time for drastic measures.
Stripes flicked on the light, and sleepily walked
towards the fridge. It was there, just sitting there, innocently hiding away
its finer points. He gulped.
He put one paw on the handle.
He jerked it down, and raced to the laundry basket.
Wrapping copious layers of towels around his nose and mouth, he struggled back.
It was still there.
Like a super spy master, he crept ninja-ish around
the maze of walls, before reaching the thing.
"Fyora, help me in this time of darkness."
He took a deep breath, thought thoughts of parting,
and opened the fridge.
Or rather, tried. He struggled, wrestling furiously
with the door handle, but it wouldn't budge. Stripes dreaded to see what made
it behave like that.
He roared, reared upwards, and jerked, one last
Like Count Von Roo's crypt, it gave way with
an eerie creak, which resonated across the house like some dead thing calling.
Stripes turned around.
He slowly pivoted, and found himself facing the
It was just putrid. A veil of moss hung, half
glowing, in front of the shelves. Something at the back was dripping. Dripping.
Just dripping, at a steady, mechanical rate, as if it had been doing precisely
that for the last century. Stripes wasn't curious enough to find out about that.
Slowly, with a towel-wrapped paw, he reached
Even through the rough fabric, he could feel
the slime, oozing out of something. It felt vaguely like a can. He grimaced,
and pulled it out.
It was a can. It was a can of Achyfi, covered
in Slorg drool. Stripes glanced at the garbage.
It didn't even make a clang as it flew into the
iron waste-deposit. It just went "plop", and settled down, the slime slowly
Stripes reached in again. A hunk of what looked
like omelette, some jellies; even the vanilla ice cream went into the garbage,
slithering like Wadjets. And that was only the first layer.
"Eleventy hundred left to go," he moaned.
Slowly, Jadestorm's Christmas shopping list came
into view. The turkey, now a decomposing thing; the potatoes (at least, they
looked like potatoes) were growing wild; and the cranberries found a place in
the garbage. The scene inside became something out of a horror tableau.
"Huh? What's that smell?"
Stripes froze. A small, dark shape slowly made
her way down the stairs, and into the kitchen.
Jadestorm yawned. "Stripes, what are you -"
She saw the green stuff, and then the open refrigerator,
and then Stripes, dressed like the local biohazard control people. She stared
at him. The Xweetok stared back.
And then, she was screaming, screaming, screaming
for her life. Not bothering to say a parting remark, Jadestorm dashed out of
the house, as if on fire, making her way through the streets as fast as she
could, not caring what nightmares she would meet...
Just running... running... until her legs expired...
running into the night...