The auction room was piled high with lots. Lots of this and lots of that, her father had always joked. Jemma’d caught the bidding bug from him. Always bargains to be had, he’d say and rub his hands. On this occasion, she’d spotted one right away.
“You like this, Miss?” asked a tall young man in a suit.
“I do,” she said. “The colours are so vibrant. I’ve always wanted a real Persian rug but they’re so expensive.”
“Not this one,” said the auctioneer. “There is a reserve price but we’ve had no bids so far and this is its third time through the sales room.”
“Really? But it’s beautiful! Why the pattern… it’s almost alive. It practically speaks to you.”
“I entirely agree with you but it keeps coming back… Look, seeing that you like it so much…” he turned the tag around and showed her the reserve price. “What do you say?”
“Done,” she said.
“You want to take it now or shall we deliver Monday?”
“Monday will be fine,” she said.
Jemma answered the door. To her astonishment, there was the carpet — no delivery van, just the carpet.
“Hi, where would you like me?”
Jemma was dumb-struck.
“Are you going to step aside or do you want to carry me over the threshold?”
Jemma moved and the rug floated down the hall and into the lounge.
“Ah, parquet… I like parquet. It’s a sign of good taste. I can see I’ll fit in just fine here.”
The mat settled in the exact spot she had intended for it, at a slight angle to the fireplace.
“Nice place,” it said. “Cat got your tongue?”
Jemma opened her mouth but no sound emerged.
“Speaking of cats — do you own one? Not that I mind a cat, it’s just that they tend to stick their claws in a bit, you understand, but a dog, now — that’s a whole different bag of mites. Dogs chew. See that missing piece of my fringe?” The mat’s colours deepened just a tad… “A dog did that — a long time ago. Say, what’s your name?”
“Excuse me,” said Jemma, “but how exactly did you get here?”
“You bought me, remember?”
“No — I mean I didn’t see a delivery van.”
“Oh… I came under my own steam. It’s better for the environment.”
“You mean you can fly?”
“Like the wind — but it’s not as much fun as in the old days what with pollution, weather balloons, air traffic… It’s getting so it’s dangerous up there. But I suppose if you really want to take a ride… I mean, you paid, after all.”
“Oh, could I?”
“You’re the boss.”
Jemma immediately plonked herself on the rug, cross-legged.
“Hey, do you mind? That’s my face you’re sitting on. I dare say there are those who’d not object but… Don’t they teach you in school these days how to ride a magic carpet?”
“Oh. In that case, I suppose you’re forgiven.”
“So what do I do?”
The mat gently floated off the floor and flipped over — pattern down. “What you do is lie on your front and grip the leading edge, but first you have a think where you want to go.”
“Can we go anywhere?” asked Jemma.
“I’d avoid busy air routes. I mean, it’s safer and less hassle, not that I’m one to complain, you understand and if there’s somewhere you really want to go…”
“Okay, give me a minute to think…” Even Everest was a tourist trap these days. “How about the Australian outback?” she suggested.
“It’s a long, long way,” said the carpet, “a long way! Which leads me to ask: what weight are you?”
“Your weight… I mean, you’re not what you’d call skinny, are you? You’re no stranger to a kebab! I’d say you’re… upwards of 180, 200 pounds from when you sat on my face just then.”
“How rude! I’ve never been so insulted!”
“Really? Whatever you say… But it’s a consideration. Carpets my age have to take it steady, you know. How about choosing somewhere closer — what did you say your name was again?”
“I’ll give you somewhere closer, you… you rag mat, you!”
The carpet was still complaining about being ‘trussed in this appalling manner’ as she bundled it out of the back of the car and dumped it on the auction room floor, demanding her money back.
“You want to put it up for re-sale?”
“May I ask why? You seemed so keen on it.”
“I just found it a bit… loud for my taste,” said Jemma truthfully.
She could see it looking sideways up at the auctioneer but it didn’t say another word. It just lay there looking smug, waiting for the next target for its acerbic wit to come along. Jemma kicked it as she left.
The auctioneer looked round.
“Just stubbed my toe,” she said.
Oonah V Joslin lives in Northumberland, England. Winner of Micro Horror Prizes 2007 and 2008. Most read in EDF, Jan 2008. Guest judge in the Shine Journal 2008 Poetry Competition. Bewildering Stories Quarterly 4 2007 and 1 and 2 in 2008. She has had work published in Bewildering Stories, Twisted Tongue, Static Movement, 13 Human Souls, Back Hand Stories and The Pygmygiant, Lit Bits, The Linnet’s Wings, The Ranfurly Review and Boston Literary Magazine. The list is growing every month which pleases her immensely! Oonah is also Managing Editor of Every Day Poets. You can link to work, follow updates and contact Oonah at http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ or http://www.oonahs.blogspot.com. She thanks all of you who take the time to read and comment.