Writing Challenge: The Sentient Toothbrush

I was challenged on my Ask.fm page to write a short story about a sentient toothbrush. Here goes!

The Sentient Toothbrush

by Richard Holliday

443 words

Molten plastic slopped into vacuum moulds that quickly burped out an endless chain of uniform blue handles. A blast of air hardened the plastic as another metal protuberance pressed polyester strands into the flat, top end. As the plastic cooled and contracted it gripped the strands tightly.

At this moment, it felt whole and somehow alive. It knew it was nothing special; one of thousands of other identical items spurted from the industrial cauldron that day.

It was a toothbrush. That was enough.

The polyester strands formed a mane about a face of unfilled pores. Somehow this collection of atoms had become aware of itself, and alive in a place where life had no sense of belonging.

It felt warm and damp. Steam condensed on stainless steel machinery above, below and to every side. A rough rubber mat moved ceaselessly, conveying the toothbrush and its cloned brethren away from the place of birth, leaving a placenta of plastic sprue discarded in a bin below the moulding station. Before it even realised what was happening, the sprue was melted down to form another batch of toothbrush handles.

Would another one be able to say hello, the toothbrush wondered. Would it know I was here, thinking of it?

The conveyor fanned off, and the toothbrush was introduced to its sisters and brothers. Some of these kindred spirits were shorter and fatter, destined for a hardware store in a place that the brush didn’t even know existed. Some were circular and with fancy mechanics encased in their shafts. Designed as refills on the latest Colgate. Or Braun.

Just look, the toothbrush though. Think they’re so fancy. Motorised and stuff.

It was proud of what it was, and had no ideas above its station.

It was a toothbrush. That was enough.

The rhythmic regularity of the conveyor stopped as the toothbrush fell through the air – a few inches that felt like kilometres, wheeeee – into a clear polythene sleeping bag. A hot metal element sealed the end. Cosy, the brush thought, and fell asleep.

Harsh shop lights woke the toothbrush up. It was disappointed – looking at ordinary people walking to and fro and not paying it the slightest bit of attention. Hello! I’m a living toothbrush! It tried to scream but had no mouth. It tried to laugh at its own trivial nature but it had no mouth.

I could’ve been in a fancy hotel. Five star. Into the slathering mouths of footballers and pop stars and David Cameron. But no, I’m to serve a serf, a normal person.

The toothbrush’s fronds of plastic hair wilted a little, and it remembered.

It was a toothbrush. That was enough.

The End

If you have your own challenge for me, send it in via my ASK.FM or CONTACT pages! Look forward to it!