The Great Bacon Escape is now available for pre-order. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't allow customers to download a sample of books in pre-order status. Therefore, I am posting the first three chapters here. Enjoy.
Somewhere, a light came on. The same light had come on many times before. But this time, something was different. Instead of simply illuminating the darkness, it carried with it a kind of magic. A magic of awakening.
And so, when the light came on, Jeff awoke. He blinked the sleep from his eyes and sat up.
As suddenly as the light came on, it went off again, and Jeff was plunged into darkness. After a moment, however, his eyes adjusted and he could see dim outlines in the gloom. He was surrounded by four white walls and a translucent ceiling. Dark shapes loomed above, though he couldn’t tell what they were. Beside him lay cool slabs of... something. He reached out to touch them. They were firm, but not hard, and very cold.
In fact, now that he thought about it, he was quite cold as well. He shivered, then looked down at his body. It was long and lean, mostly red, but marbled with something white.
I am bacon, he thought. It was a strange thought and not quite right.
No, I am Jeff the Bacon. That was it. He knew it for certain, though he didn’t know what it meant.
That’s when he realized the slabs lying next to him were also bacon. But they weren’t Bacon. Not like Jeff. They simply lay there, unmoving. They weren’t awake. They weren’t sleeping either. They weren’t alive.
That’s it. I’m alive, thought Jeff. But how? And why?
They were questions to which Jeff couldn’t know the answers.
Such are the mysteries of life.
Shivering again, Jeff stood up. The top of his head (if you could call it a head, but that’s where his eyes were and it seemed to be where his thoughts were centered, so why wouldn’t it be called his head) came close to the ceiling. Reaching up, he could almost touch it. The air was definitely cold, but not freezing. He decided to move around a bit and explore his surroundings. Perhaps doing so would also warm him up.
Jeff walked the perimeter of the space, trailing his fingers along the cool wall. He discovered there were other objects in here with them. On the other side of the bacon was a small stack of sliced ham, damp and glistening, wrapped in plastic. It lay still and silent. Beyond the ham was a package of long, tubular... sausages? Yes, that was it. There was writing on the package, but Jeff couldn’t read, so he didn’t know what it said. That didn’t stop him from trying to figure it out though. He bent over the package, tracing the lines with a finger.
Just then the plastic jerked. Jeff flung his hand back and cried out in surprise. The plastic kept moving, making a crinkling sound, and Jeff scurried away to put his back against the wall.
The movement inside became furious, frantic.
Jeff held his breath.
The plastic burst open, sending droplets of pink juice spraying. Through the tear sprang one of the sausages. It gasped for breath.
Jeff looked on in shock.
After a moment, the sausage caught its breath, gave itself a shake, and looked around.
It saw Jeff huddled against the wall and said with a notably British accent, “Well, mate. Could have used your help there. Any idea how hard it is to breathe while you’re smothered in plastic? Terribly difficult.”
“I... I’m sorry,” Jeff managed, speaking for the first time.
“I suppose this is all rather new. And I did manage on my own, so I won’t hold it against you. In the future, however, I shall expect your assistance if needed.” The sausage climbed down out of the packaging and brushed himself off. “So, what are you, mate?”
“I’m Jeff the Bacon,” Jeff told him. “Who are you?”
The tall, very pink sausage looked thoughtful. He glanced around. His eyes came to rest on the blue and yellow packaging at his feet. Then he nodded.
“I’m Oscar,” he announced.
Oscar walked over and stood before Jeff. “So, mate, where do you suppose we are?”
“I don’t know. That’s what I was trying to figure out when you scared the grease out of me,” Jeff said.
“Well, let’s finish investigating then. You go that way, and I’ll go this way,” Oscar said waving little sausagey arms in the air.
They turned and walked off in opposite directions. Jeff walked back the way he’d come, past the stack of ham and slab of bacon. The wall he followed met another, forcing him to turn right. He followed this wall until he came to yet another and continued. He saw nothing new. Ahead, Oscar appeared out of the gloom and they stood before each other once again.
“See anything?” Oscar asked.
Jeff shook his head.
“Me either. What do we do now?”
“Right. Well, I’ll go back over here then.” Oscar walked away.
Jeff wasn’t sure what else to do, so he returned to the spot where he’d awoken. He sat down, staring at the floor. That’s when he realized that like the ceiling, the floor was translucent. He hadn’t noticed before. Perhaps because it was so dark. He tried to peer downward, but couldn’t see anything.
He turned his gaze up and looked at the mysterious shapes above. What were they? And how could he see anything in the first place? There must be light coming from somewhere, he decided. Not The Light that had woken him, but a light. It must have been far above, losing strength as it filtered down and around the mysterious shapes. The little light leftover wasn’t enough to see things clearly at a distance.
A closer look was the thing.
Beside him, the slab of inanimate bacon was as tall as he was wide. Not a great height on which to climb, but since he could almost reach the ceiling anyway, he would easily be able to scrunch his eyes against the top to get a better look.
Jeff pulled himself onto the side of pork without difficulty. He wouldn’t be able to stand, so he folded himself in half like a meaty, bendy ribbon. He found that with a little effort he could assume almost any shape he wanted.
He placed his face against the cool surface of the clear ceiling and stared long and hard. It didn’t help. The shadowy figures didn’t suddenly reveal themselves. Jeff was disappointed. He relaxed, leaving a tiny smudge of grease behind. Then, out of frustration, he slammed his little fists into the ceiling. When he did, he felt something shift ever so slightly.
He stopped, looked around, and listened. Nothing seemed different.
Curious, he pushed up. Nothing happened.
He pushed harder. Not straight up, but at an angle.
Something shifted again and an awful, grinding scriiitch sounded. This was followed a heartbeat later by a chattering from above. Jeff couldn’t make out any words, but they were definitely voices—creepy, crunchy, chittering voices. It was unsettling, to say the least.
The rounded pink nub of Oscar’s head appeared over the side of bacon.
“I say, old chap, what’s all that ruckus? What did you do?”
“I’m not sure. I think I moved the ceiling.”
“Did you now? Could you do it again?” he asked, quivering with excitement.
This time, Jeff bunched himself up, placed his feet on the ceiling and pushed for all he was worth. The world lurched--the great, grinding sound sending a shiver down his spine. The chattering grew more agitated. It sounded like it was coming from directly above. He looked up and thought he saw movement on the other side.
He scurried back down to get away from the disturbing noises.
Oscar’s eyes were wide, perhaps with amazement, perhaps with fright. “Well, that’s something,” he remarked.
Jeff looked around the small room. Something had changed. He needed to figure out what. He walked around the perimeter again, studying the walls. The chattering faded behind him but didn’t disappear altogether. When he reached the front, he noticed a long, slender opening between the wall and ceiling that hadn’t been there before.
He called Oscar over. Standing side by side they peered at the oddity.
“I think we can get out through there,” Jeff said after a moment’s consideration.
Oscar glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and would have arched an eyebrow if he had one to arch. As it was, Oscar had not a single hair about him. “Maybe you can fit through there. I’m far too plump to fit through that. Besides, I’m not sure I want to leave. Whatever is making that horrible noise is out there. And it doesn’t sound very friendly.”
“Maybe,” Jeff admitted. “But I don’t see the point of staying here. There’s nothing to do.” He straightened himself and took a step closer to the wall. “I’m going out there.”
He crouched and sprung upward with arms outstretched, grabbing hold of the top edge of the wall. It was slick, but he managed to keep his grip. Pulling himself up, however, was not so easy. He wriggled and squirmed. Scrunched and stretched. It was quite a sight, really, if you had been there to see it. Oscar found it amusing, at least.
Finally, Jeff said, “How about a boost?”
“Ah, certainly. Happy to help.” Oscar moved closer, a smirk on his face. Clearly, he appreciated the irony of the situation1. Regardless, he took hold of Jeff’s spindly bacon legs and lifted. With the assistance, Jeff was able to thread his narrow body up through the opening and perch on the top edge of the wall.
With a bird’s eye view, Jeff realized it was not the ceiling that had moved, but the room itself. His little home appeared to be a drawer that now sat ajar just slightly. Another identical drawer extended above. Opposite him was a ledge upon which rested an assortment of large cylindrical glass containers. Also, now that he had escaped the confinement of The Drawer, the chattering was louder, closer.
Jeff considered his options. He could try to pull himself up to the top of the next drawer, but that seemed unlikely. He already teetered on the lip of this one. And since he’d needed help to reach this position, he doubted he could pull himself up alone.
He could jump to one of the ledges and use the containers as steps of a sort. He judged that from there, he might be able to jump back to the top of the next drawer. Well, he could try. If he missed, he would fall into the darkness below. He wasn’t sure what was down there but didn’t like the idea of finding out. Still... it seemed to be the better option.
The ledge he balanced on was quite narrow, and Jeff’s situation was already precarious. He sat for a moment, wondering how best to propel himself across. The gap he’d come through was very small. He should be able to use the wall above for support. He placed his hands on it and braced himself as he shimmied to a standing position. Now was the hard part: turning around without losing his footing.
Keeping one hand on the wall, he lifted the opposite foot and turned it, placing it back on the edge and finding his balance again. Then he was able to pivot his body and place the other hand on the wall behind. Now he was facing the ledge.
It wouldn’t be a far jump. From a more stable position or with a running start, he was certain he could make it easily. But from this position, even a jump this small was risky.
Deciding that too much thinking would only ruin what little confidence he now felt, he didn’t wait any longer. He scrunched down like an accordion, keeping his hands on the wall for balance, then leapt forward as hard as he could, pushing with arms and legs and bacony torso to propel him forward as well as up.
He soared through the air, hurtling toward one of the glass containers on the other side. He smashed into it with enough force to set it rocking. For a moment he feared it might tip over, sending them both plummeting into the darkness below. Fortunately, it only rocked twice before settling back onto the ledge.
Jeff was splayed out, arms and legs extended, holding on for dear life. His face was pressed against the glass. Inside was some greenish liquid. As he watched, a face appeared staring back at him. It, too, was green. The rest of the creature came into view then. A long green spear of a body and little wiggling fins. They watched each other with curiosity for a time. Jeff’s arms began to ache from holding on so tight. He felt himself slipping. Then the thing swam back into the murky liquid and disappeared.
Jeff inched his way down the jar and came to rest on the ledge. He sat there letting his arms recover and stared back at The Drawer. He felt a strange sensation come over him as he looked at it, an odd mix of longing and hatred. It was his home, but he also felt like it was his prison.
His gaze wandered to the drawer above. It was identical to his own, but there was something darker about it, something wrong with it that he couldn’t place. Perhaps it had to do with the chattering that emanated from it.
Above that was an open space, he thought. He couldn’t really tell. It was hard to see very far in the gloom.
It was, of course, a good thing that Jeff didn’t know what waiting upon that shelf. If he had... well, it’s best not to think too much about what might have been or what could have happened. Instead, it’s best to focus on what did happen.
Jeff turned his attention back to his immediate surroundings. Three glass jars lined the ledge: the one he had landed on, another short squat one, and a tall, skinny one. He inspected each closer. Like the first, the small one was filled with liquid but contained round creatures with green skin and tiny red tails swimming around inside. They paid him no attention whatsoever. The tall one was almost empty, save for a little pool in the bottom where three small critters capered about, splashing each other. It was a menagerie, a little zoo of pickled delights.
The jars sat almost side by side, and the short one was no trouble for Jeff to climb onto. From there he pondered where to go.
Directly overhead, there appeared to be the bottom of yet another ledge. He decided the tallest jar was too tall. There wouldn’t be enough room for him to stand atop it. So he hopped up and pulled himself onto the first jar, the one that contained the strange swimming spear.
Here, his feet stood just about level with the top of the second drawer across the way. The jar provided a much better platform from which to jump, and he felt much better about making it across.
He leaped, once again soaring over the chasm. This time he landed with more grace.
As he got to his feet, a deep raspy voice spoke.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?”
A different, but no less sinister voice replied, “Looks like fresh meat.”
1 The irony, of course, being that Jeff was asking for help when he hadn’t helped Oscar when he needed it.
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