Perky, and fit to burst, Winnie Carbuncle, Creamy Craze Custard’s new Quality Control girl stood ready for duty. Fresh faced in her shiny white uniform and white mesh hat, she almost jumped out of her regulation factory shoes. Seeing her mentor, Derek, approach, she slipped her cell phone out of sight into her uniform pocket.

“I’m so excited,” Winnie confessed to her mentor. “I hope I do well.”

“I’m sure you will.” Derek sighed and stared at her pocket. “You should know we don’t tolerate cell phones or texting during work hours. It’s company policy, total strict adherence, pain of death, that sort of thing.”

“Understood.” Winnie smiled.

As she hopped from toe to toe, Winnie tried hard to look over Derek’s shoulder to see what he was writing on his clipboard. He pulled the board to his chest to conceal it from view. Derek nodded towards a clipboard hanging on the wall by the vat. “Take that one.”

Winnie looked over the rows and columns, too excited to absorb what she read. “So,” she continued, “You’ll be looking after me for the next week?”

“Yuuuup” Derek said. “The whole week.”

Winnie looked around her. Though two vats were churning the custard, she’d seen no-one else in the building. They were alone. Derek had interviewed her earlier that morning, and explained the crew worked at different times so as not to disturb production. “It would be just a few hours each evening but you’ll find the pay is good,” he’d reassured her.

So here she was, super eager to please, hoping Derek wouldn’t regret giving her a chance.

“And the person before me; what were they like?” Winnie beamed.

“Alright I guess. He did a good job.”

“So why did he leave?”

“He died.”

“Oh.” Flushing pink, Winnie turned her attention to the clipboard. One of the boxes read taste test. “So, we actually have to taste the custard?”

“Sure. You grab a ladle, spoon a thimble full into this small plastic cup here. Use the spatula to take a sample and check it tastes okay.”


“We don’t want to put out salty custard, that’s why they call if Quality Control.”

“Try this one,” Derek sighed. He nodded towards the closest vat while handing her a ladle.

Winnie did as directed and sampled the custard. It tasted like, well, custard, and she didn’t quite know what to say. She didn’t want to look stupid, but felt she ought to say something. “Nice.”

“Then check the box, there.” Derek indicated the place on the form with his fingers. They moved onto the next vat.

Winnie liked this job. It seemed pretty easy and she was confident she could get the hang of it. She noticed a wheelbarrow by the side of the vat. She wondered what it was for. “So what did my predecessor die of?” she asked. She brought the next ladle of custard to her lips.

Derek waited until she swallowed before answering. “Cyanide poisoning,” he said. His eyes opened wide with approval as Winnie fell dead to the ground. “Ooops, another bad batch!” Derek said. He recovered her clipboard and replaced it on the wall. He hoisted Winnie into the wheelbarrow, and whistled as he pushed her up a ramp hidden behind the vat.

Just before her limp body disappeared into the custard forever, Derek whipped out the cell phone from her pocket.

Gloop! As the giant air-bubble popped, Winnie went under the liquid and sank to the bottom. He poured in a whole bottle of white liquid labeled formaldehyde then threw the empty bottle in after her.

Happier than he’d been all day, he almost danced back to his office, a healthy spring in his step. He hung Winnie’s cell phone like a trophy on the office board, next to fifteen other such phones, each with a single name printed underneath. Under this one, he wrote “Winnie.” He wrote the date on his clipboard and hung it by the phones. “Oh.” He’d forgotten one last thing. Derek took down Winnie’s cell phone and removed the battery from the rear, then replaced the shell back on the board. He threw the battery in the trash can which landed squarely, resonating loudly against the sides of the metal can. He raised his hands over his head like a basketball star. “Another cell phone bites the dust,” Derek shrieked to the imaginary crowd.

He left that night with a whistle on his lips, and grabbed a sign that said “out of business” which he hung happily on the factory door.


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