Once upon a time there was a simple
young man named Bob
. Poor Bob was deformed
; not only did he look like a chimp
but he also had no lower legs, earning him the name Stumpy Bob
. He was abandoned
in disgust to a home as a child, and during his time there he was lured into working for a rich man who employed him to do the chores
about his enormous house
, little suspecting that this was the beginning of a life of torture
. His harsh and unreasonable master would taunt him constantly, and his favourite pastime was spilling peanuts
onto the kitchen floor and ordering Bob to sweep them up with a pan
. Bob would stump laboriously around the huge kitchen, sweeping up all the nuts
, only to have his master kick
them all out the pan and back onto the floor.
In order to get the day's work done he had to awake before sunrise to begin his chores and prepare his master's breakfast, and work constantly throughout the day until midnight. Bob was paid two pence per year for his work, only because his master felt this would be more insulting and demeaning than being paid nothing. Occasionally, Bob would fashion makeshift false legs in order to make his work easier, but his master always found them and confiscated them, throwing them upon the small rotting pile of prosthetic legs in the garden.
Despite all of this Bob clung to his master, the only parental figure in his life. Despite his cruelty, he fed and clothed Bob, even if it was merely to keep him alive for his own amusement. Bob faithfully obeyed his master without question, still hoping some day to gain his favour, patiently weathering every kind of abuse and insult.
The one thing Bob could find comfort in among his miserable days was his memories of a girl he once loved; she was the one and only light shining through the despair of his life. He lay in bed now, remembering. She was not like other girls, she had a twinkle in her eye like that of the stars, her laughter was like the bubble of a forest brook, she was wonderful, magical, so amazing that Bob was afraid even to make himself known to her. She was so beautiful, so special, how could he burden her with the knowledge that he loved her so? Instead Bob would look at her, hoping she wouldn't notice, and each time she saw him and spoke to him he shied away and hid. Ten years had passed since he last saw her, and although those memories filled Bob with longing and sadness, the mere thought of her was enough to brighten the darkest day. With the images of her dancing in his mind, Bob fell into an exhausted sleep.
The next day was the usual ceaseless drag of endless chores, but that evening something unusual happened. Bob's master called him into his room where he sat in his luxurious seat and asked him about the girl for whom Bob still carried so much affection after all these years.
"You were quite fond of her back then were't you?" he asked.
"Yes sir," replied Bob.
"Well it so happens that I saw her just the other day."
"Really?" said Bob, perking up.
"Yes, we got to talking and as it happens she remembers you."
"She does?" said Bob, a smile almost breaking across his deformed features.
"Why yes. She seemed very keen to meet you after all these years."
"Keen? To meet me?" Bob was amazed.
"Yes, she gave me her number to pass on to you. Hold on, I'll get it for you."
Bob stumped after his master, a strange feeling arising within him. He had not felt like this for years, and eventually he realised: he was happy! Bob followed his master into the kitchen.
"I'll tell you what," his master said, "as a celebration, have some of my supper, this is a special occasion after all! Eat up while I fetch the number."
Bob looked at a plate of steaming chicken and, overwhelmed by hunger, dug in and wolfed it all down. His master had done this before, letting Bob have some of his prize chicken on special occasions. Perhaps he wasn't so bad after all. Suddenly Bob realised that he had eaten all the chicken - there was none left for his master! He decided to fetch some out the freezer and put it in the oven while he was away getting the phone number. Perhaps he wouldn't be too angry, he would understand the excitement Bob felt after all.
Bob stumped his way to the large door of the huge walk-in freezer. He reached up and opened it, and looked inside. Suddenly he stopped still. He saw before him a frozen human head, along with an arm and a leg. He knew that head, he knew those frozen eyes that stared back at him... those eyes which once twinkled like the stars. He sat unmoving in shock, not noticing his master coming into the kitchen.
Bob turned and saw his master laughing harder than he had ever laughed before. "You should see the look on your face!" he laughed. "Now you know the secret recipe of my special chicken! I guess she was closer to you than you ever suspected! You could say there's a part of her in both of us!"
Bob sat staring, a broken man, as his master pointed and laughed. He turned and stumped slowly away to his bedroom, peals of manic laughter echoing behind him down the halls. He felt sick, he loathed himself, his head span. Ten years he had been here, and all of that time the girl he loved had been frozen and fed to him, and he had shovelled it all down greedily. He crawled under his bed and lay there, feeling nothing, numb and shellshocked.
The next morning Bob's master awoke, still laughing about the previous night's events. He walked into the kitchen calling out, "Bob! O Bob! I shall be very angry if my breakfast isn't ready!"
He noticed the freezer door was ajar, and opened it. The smile disappeared off his face as he looked in. There, next to the frozen head of his love lay Stumpy Bob's corpse, a thin coating of frost on his deformed body, a frozen tear on his cheek. Clutched tightly in his cold hand was a single rose, its frozen petals frosted over as it drooped sadly in death.