's 2020 Horror Write-off:

Perfect Peach

Submitted by Fyre

Who doesn’t love a peach? The animal rapture of gnashing sweet mass. Its flavour is complex, inertial. Eating a peach is the swing of a pendulum, starting entirely as potential and transitioning, smooth but messy, each bite a wedge, splattering flesh and rheum. Then you come to rest at the conclusion, having taken in this unique artefact’s totality.

Well, of course you’re thinking, what about the pit? What about the sinewy hanger-on? An impediment, the disgusting uretic stone who deserves none of the peach’s sweet embrace. Its crags and seams like manifold manacles. We hate the pit, we have no use for it. We love the peach and the pit is not the peach. We want the peach without it, uninterrupted tissue, perfect for consumption.

Our alchemists are working on it, you know. It’s taking ample resources but we think you deserve it. We want this for you just as much as for us. Already we’ve reduced the pit, stented its lesions and let its structure render out. There’s something at the core we didn’t quite expect but sure enough we’ll get it done. We’re working around the clock for you. Late nights and lonely spouses, sweat and blood and silent tears.

It truly a pitiful thing, disgust is the correct response. We’re approaching its total dissolution and we couldn’t be more proud. It’s taken more than we bet on but the perfect peach is worth it, don’t you think?

We’ve actually been able to glimpse the stowaway with more clarity. Who would have thought such a thing was in there? Foetal and bright, brittle antlers and venous hands. Stretched between the cords of its desiccated walls, much like an offender on the hobbling wheel. We aren’t really sure what’s going on with that but honestly we don’t have the time to care. You’re all waiting to consume.

It is done! The contiguous peach, the perfect handful of delicious tissue. It’s unmarred and it’s coming to you. Get your hands on our peaches and see for yourself. You won’t be able to stop and you won’t want to. Please enjoy it, it will be good for us but of course we made it for you.

You have your peach now, it’s just as you imagined. The first bite is just like any other but as you move through there’s nothing to stop you. You and this fruit are a stable system of interchange, it becomes you and you it. You reach the end and it feels unreal, is this what we’ve been missing?

The afterglow settles and of course you want another, it’s beautiful and right, it’s a cosmic justice that this is real. So you have another. It’s easy, their manufacturing is fast and efficient. You’ve always loved peaches, they just weren’t correct before. Everyone’s always loved peaches but they were never quite right. Now the pit is no more and we can all enjoy the reward. Sure the imps are out, but the peaches are perfect.

Our peaches are getting very popular, they’re what’s hot and what the people want. You see them propagating, on roadsides and in homes. In storefronts of course they stack high and intermingle. They form a greater mass, abundant peach on peach on peach. An unexpected result to be sure but we’re glad for the publicity.

Some imps have actually been sighted, knee-high little somethings scampering across country roads and into bushes. They seem to avoid our peaches, so naturally most people don’t get the chance to see them. They’re nothing to be worried about, but just in case you are, keep some peaches on your person.

We’ve just shut down the last of our vestigial production branches, pineapples were a dead end anyway. All our effort goes to peaches and all our peaches go out to the world. The world of peaches I’ve heard it called. If you look at the cities you can understand why. The skyscrapers breach from great mounds of peach, a termite nest of delicious nectar. It’s something to behold and I’m glad we could do this for you all. Not only to bring our peaches into your lives, but to incorporate your lives in them as well! It’s a real beautiful merger I think we’ve achieved. Pat yourselves on the back.

I don’t think people really leave the peach all that much anymore, do you know anyone who’s taken leave? Scary stuff out there from what I’ve heard, those little guys really grew up and I don’t think they care for us. Hey, could you pass me a peach?

You’re tired and sick. You think you might miss the sun. Well hey, that’s a good enough reason to take a walk you suppose. You hike yourself to your feet and pack a peach for the trek. The city’s changed a lot. It’s all tunnels and they’re lined with a familiar fuzz, leading up and down as much as across. You can navigate just fine though, you’re used to it.

People stare as you stride with purpose, you feel better than you have in a while honestly. You find a window you guess to be about halfway up your city’s tallest tower and awkwardly clamber in. It’s unlit in here but folks still seem to be milling about and the stairwell isn’t hard to find. You don’t even bother with the lift, no way it’s still working.

More people sit about each landing as you climb and munch, hunched over their own moreish peaches. They dwindle the higher you go, light is filtering down now, you must be close to the top.

The door at the last landing is ajar, at its seam a blinding column. Waiting for your eyes to adjust you take the chance to finish your peach. Delicious and right.

You step out and breathe in the fresh air, it’s so dry and flavourless. The sun is blinding despite your preparation. You walk up to the protective railing and peek over.

Below you is the city, a beautiful mass of orange and pink. It barely fits in your field of view. You lift your head up to the horizon. More peaches in the distance, each a colossal mound dotting the landscape. Spilling into the shore and over the geography.

Between them it’s arid. You’re sure there were woods outside the city limits, now you just see ruptured earth. Scraped or clawed or otherwise ravaged.

The culprit, an imp, a giant, what you thought was just a landmass rises from a crouch and scrapes the clouds with its divaricate horns. Does it see you? The more you look between the peaches, the more you see. Roving and digging. Fighting and fucking.

Hey. It’s okay! We’ve still got our peaches don’t we? I mean sure that stuff is scary, and it might spell trouble down the line. But we did this for all of you! We can’t stop now, it’s what people are used to. And hey, things just work this way.