Thoroughly Chewed

I needed to write a short story.  Here it is.  It’s written like The Unfortunate Existence.  I think you’ll see a lot of similarity.

Lewis was a stick of chewing gum.  He was made in a factory in America and was shipped off in a colorful package with more leaves on it than had gone into Lewis.  As he was being made his pliable little mind was engaged in thoughts of mortality; how would he die?  He at first had thought his life was about to end just as soon as his package was bought, but it seemed less and less likely each day that he ever would be purchased.  He had been shipped to a remote gas station in the middle of nowhere.  Now he thought that he would die of age, or boredom.  Or perhaps something spectacular would happen when his expiration date came about.  Would he be burned?  Crushed?  Eaten by a suicidal sparrow?  One could only wonder.  And wonder he did, as the days went by.  Though the type of gum he was was commonly sworn by as being the longest lasting stuff on earth, he was sure that his judgment day was coming, and fast.

Then it came.  A bell rang, signaling the opening of the front door of the gas station.  This was no routine bell– no, this was in the middle of the day, at a time when no one, no one, came or went.  The manager behind the counter was usually taking a nap, and this road was notorious for being empty at this time of day.  The road was empty all day, for that matter.  Best traffic in the state.

Lewis was torn from his thoughts as a giant hand from above snatched his box from its cozy spot.  He felt dizzy as he was tossed up once, then landed flat on the counter.  So his final days approached more quickly than he thought.  Would he be first to be executed?  Would he be folded against the rough tongue first, pulverized by the molars before that, or– horror of horrors– swallowed whole?

Being swallowed was the fear of every little stick of gum.  It was the ultimate punishment, in their minds.  Nothing could be worse than going through a human digestive system.  If you were spit out, it was good fortune; you could live indefinitely if you survived the pain of chewing.  If you were just stuck under a chair or a desk, you’d live until the chair was gone, and by then you might have been able to work yourself free.  The worst fate besides death was to be stuck to the bottom of a shoe and get squashed day after day, until your face molded to the sole.  Running shoes were especially painful, Lewis had heard.  But the most terrible thing that could happen was to be swallowed.  That was certain death, slow and agonizing, as the digestive juices of the stomach and intestine bit at you and burned you.  As a regularly chewed piece of gum you might be all right– only the weakest of sticks actually died from chewing– but being swallowed… there was no word to describe that fate.

Before Lewis knew it, he had been sold like that much lifeless material.  He tried telling himself that they could sell his body, but they couldn’t sell his spirit, but it was no use.  He knew his days were numbered.

The top of the package was ripped off, exposing bright sunlight that shone through his wrapper.  He felt his neighbor slide out of the package beside him and breathed a sigh of relief.  He wasn’t going yet.  Perhaps he could wiggle himself out of the package and the wrapper, now that the top was off.  He tried, but it didn’t work; sticks of gum didn’t have much control over their muscles.  So he resigned himself to his fate, hoping against hope that his new owner had no teeth and a bad habit of sticking chewed gum into strange places.

Lewis could hear that first piece of gum’s torture.  It had a squelchy sound.  If he had to die from chewing, he would want a more manly sound, like an explosion or something.  Unfortunately, chewing gum manufacturers don’t have much of a selection for sound effects.

That first piece lasted the buyer a long time.  Lewis didn’t know how long it was, but he figured that it was nearly as long as the time it took for him to be made.  But eventually his owner finished off his neighbor.  Lewis listened for a distinctive sound that would indicate either that the other stick had been swallowed, or that it had been stuck under a chair or something.  He heard nothing.  He braced himself as he felt movement in the box around him.

He was being unwrapped.  He began panicking, trying with all his might to escape the fingers gripping him, or to make himself look undesirable.  His wrapper fell away and he saw a giant red hole.  He tried to scream, but he didn’t have a mouth.  He tried to wiggle, but he didn’t have muscles.  He tried to keep himself stiff, but he felt himself being torn apart by hard white objects.  He tried to make an explosion sound, but he could only manage a squelch, like his brother.

He was chewed for a long time.  Not for nothing was his type of gum the longest lasting.  He couldn’t tell how long it had been as he swung in and out of consciousness with each new burst of pain.  Each time he woke, he hoped to see the leg of a table.  Instead he saw teeth.  Lots of teeth.

At last he saw saliva flooding the cavern, a sure sign that he would be swallowed.  He despaired, thinking of all the potential days he had left in him.  He felt the tongue rubbing against him and resigned himself to his fate, doing the chewing gum equivalent of closing his eyes.  He felt movement and all of a sudden was rushing through space.  This was what it was like to be swallowed?  It could be worse.

The words “it could be worse” have turned many undesirable occasions into hateful occasions.  It was no different for Lewis.  Once he thought those words, he smacked into something hard.  He opened his eyes, chewing gum style, and saw…

He was free!  It wasn’t the stomach after all!  He seemed to be wedged into a crack on the ground, though.

This might have been a fortuitous circumstance, more desirable than being swallowed, but it was by no means heaven.  The ground was hot during the day and cold during the night.  Lewis wished the world would figure out its heating system.

At last, after weeks of nothing, he was found.  He saw a face looking at him, then fingers reaching for him.  Before long he was riding in someone’s pocket.

A few days after that, he was sold on eBay, the first piece of chewing gum ever to be bought for a thousand dollars.  People always wondered after that how a piece of gum could ever wind up as such a lifelike portrait of the current President.

Lewis lived to a ripe old age, and beyond.  He lived until at last he was put out of his misery when the janitor at the museum he was residing at accidentally picked him up with a vacuum cleaner.  The owner looked for him everywhere, but he was gone.

Well that was… interesting.  I didn’t really like the ending, but it’s hard to end a story conclusively that features a nearly-immortal piece of gum.  Hope you liked it!

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  1. That was certainly interesting and enjoyable. I liked the bit about the explosion noise.

  2. i thought it was very creative and funny
    but i dont get the ending. did he have a portrait of the president on him?

    • Yes, he was sold on eBay because he was imprinted with a portrait of the President. It’s a bit of a stretch in terms of believability, but I was trying to end the story.

  3. And… Done! I remember this story, so I’m assuming that this is where I got distracted last time. I’ve officially read through your whole blog. Aren’t you proud of me?

  4. That was…interesting. I actually wasn’t really going to read it, but somehow, you sucked me in anyway, so I’ll give you that.

    And did someone say they’d read your blog all the way through? Hmm. I’ll bet I wrote more comments than they did. Actually I have no clue. Did I? Or do I not want to know the answer to that question? Hehe…


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