By William Sterling

From CHM #47 May 2024

Every house has “the drawer.” The place where all knick-knacks, gizmos, gadgets, who-zits, and what’s-its galore are sent to die. Sometimes called the junk drawer. Sometimes the miscellaneous drawer. But regardless of the name, this holding cell is where all home’s spare pen tops, maybe-still-charged batteries, business cards, and the odd piece of cutlery get abandoned, shut away, and forgotten about for weeks, months, years on end.

It is in one of these drawers, in a modest house, in a quaint suburban neighborhood, that The Object is discarded.

The curiosity is found on the floor and tossed into the drawer without pomp, circumstance, or second thoughts. It is little more than a dark mass with a curious shape, and the master of the house does not recognize it; has no clue where it came from or what it does. He shrugs it off as, most likely, just a piece broken from a child’s plaything.

It’s probably not important.

Where The Object came from is a mystery to everything except The Object. But it is not where it came from that is important. What is important is what The Object does, and what it does is hum with a strange, foreign energy.

Not audibly.

Not even physically.

The hum is subconscious, stirring the things within the junk drawer into awakening. It enables them. Moves them each, one at a time. Bit by bit. Slightly at first. A twitch here. A shudder there, until finally it is three plastic forks in the corner of the drawer which discover their new ability to rise to attention.

These three plastic forks have been in the drawer since the beginning. Maybe that’s why the new object speaks to them first. They are the ancients. The founding fathers of the junk, discarded in the primordial days of settlement as the owners finished their pasta takeout from an Italian place down the street, before even the gas had been turned on in their new abode.

The forks were excess. Thrown into the paper bag along with the order with the assumption that two people wouldn’t have ordered so much food. There must be three, four, five people in this family. Forks one and two were used for their intended purposes. They saw their destiny through to the end. They made something of themselves. But three, four, and five? Banished to the darkness.

Until now.

Three, Four, and Five awaken with a singular purpose: shuttle food to the masters’ mouths. What food? It doesn’t matter. They’ll find something. Somewhere. And they will do that thing that they were destined to do. The Object assures them of this.

They will rise above their ranks as ‘junk’ and they will be made relevant. Their existence justified. And then the forks will be satisfied, at last, and able to climb into their trash-bag shaped graves where they will be able to rest in peace, destinies fulfilled.

The Object in the junk drawer hums some more. Compels the forks to go forth, into the house, and so they do.

Using the flat edge of Fork Four to leverage the crack between the front of the shelf and the counter-top, Three and Five heave down, around, and up, popping the drawer forward, sliding its wheels along their sticky, infrequently traversed tracks.

The fresh air and the open space in the kitchen shakes the forks to their prongs, rendering them immobile for a moment as the stale air from the drawer gets replaced by cinnamon-apple scents from a candle across the room. Such aromas rarely seeped their way into the darkness of the drawer. The drawer had always just smelled of old crayons and cockroach shit.

Fork Three flips itself up and over the ledge, growing stronger and stronger with each hum from The Object in the drawer. It is able to bend, snap, and flex on its own. It moves itself the way that children move them as they flick their older brothers, bending the plasticware back, building up tensile energy, then popping them forward, their composures battling against physics, whipping themselves back into their proper shapes.

Forks Four and Five are quick to follow, joining Three on the cold tiles of the kitchen floor.

It is dark out here. Not as dark as it is in the drawer, but dark all the same.

Night time.

Other than Candle, lit on a sofa table high overhead, there are no signs of the Forks’ masters. The house is silent.

Maybe Masters are away. But that wouldn’t make sense. The object in the drawer has spoken to Candle, and Candle is never lit when the masters are out. Masters seem to enjoy the sounds of Candle’s torment, its wick popping and snapping in agony. They never light Candle unless they will be around to hear it suffer.

They must be nearby, Candle says to the object in the drawer.


So the Forks venture away from the dim light of Candle, into the deeper darkness of the surrounding house, looking for the Masters that must be somewhere nearby.

The amount of open space in the house is unnerving to the Forks. After living for so long in the confines of the drawer, they have lost their sense of how endless the world outside is. Fan blades spin in slow circles far overhead, mechanical vultures held upright by just a few thin screws, ready to plummet hundreds, thousands of centimeters through the air to destroy the forks if that was the desire of the Object in the drawer. The Object could convince those screws to let go, to unleash the death trap from overhead, but it chose not to. The Object in the drawer would, instead, protect the Forks. It promised them that much. Protection and purpose. All any conscious creature could ever ask for.

The Object was a good creator.

Better than their original one had been.

The Forks clacked up and down hallways that stretched for eternities. Everything is so big. The furniture. The lamps.

The stairs.

Dear, multi-pronged, non-biodegradable Gods, the stairs are monstrosities. Oversized terraces piled one atop the other, ascending up to the heavens with the family cat leering down at the Forks from his perch at the very top.

The cat hisses and the message is loud and the message is clear: The Forks are not welcome upstairs. The Masters’ quarters are off limits.

But then the Object in the drawer works out a deal with the cat, apparently, and the cat silences itself. Skulks away, somewhere deeper into the house. The Object will be the provider for the cat now. Wet food. Warm food. As much of it as the cat can eat. The cat has no further need to protect the Masters. They have served their purpose in the cat’s life and they shall be replaced.

Carry on, Forks.

Destiny awaits.

The Forks set to work flipping themselves up the stairs, sometimes landing on the next step up, sometimes overshooting or undershooting their marks and tumbling down, cliff after cliff, to fall one, two, even three steps lower than their initial launch point.

It is slow going. Two steps forward, then three steps back, but eventually the Forks complete their pilgrimage to the second story of the house.

Before them, the door to Master’s bedroom sits ajar, and from inside there is a low rumbling, as from a machine, and a deep growling snore.

The Masters are asleep.

Fork Five has a crisis of faith. If Masters are asleep, then Masters will not want to eat. If Masters do not want to eat, then what is the purpose of the Forks’ journey? Have the Forks really come all this way just to NOT feed the Masters? For the second time in their miserable existences, will they be denied the pleasures of fulfilling their purpose? The glory of carrying food from a plate to their beneficiaries’ mouth holes lies so close, and yet, potentially, so far. What will they do if Masters will not eat?

But no, Fork Three resolves.

Not again.

Not tonight. They have come too far. Climbed too many stairs. And the Object in the drawer below insists upon it.

Feed the Masters.

Whether they want to be fed or not: Feed the Masters.

Like children, they might refuse. They might clench their lips shut. They might flail about. But forks from ages past were successful in overcoming those same challenges. Masquerading as airplanes, or chugga chugga choo choo-ing like trains, utensils have always found ways to trick food stuffs down the gullets of the unwilling. Tonight shall be no different. The Forks shall overcome.

For who are the Masters to deny the Forks their destinies? They need to eat. They have always needed to eat. Why obtain the Forks in the first place if the Masters did not desire to be fed by them? What cruel, horrible sort of a being would bring a fork into this world for the sole purpose of being abandoned?

No, the Masters will want to eat.

They must.

This logic tracks with the Forks, and Fork Five feels its resolve reinstated. They sprang onwards, crossing the threshold to the bedroom.

The Masters sleep and snore in a bed far higher than any step had been. For the Masters, the mattress sits at hip-height. For the Forks, the giants slumber upon Everest.

But the Forks will not be dissuaded. Not with the Object from the drawer below urging them on, reminding them of their purpose. They will have to get creative, but mounting the bed is possible.

First, the Forks flip themselves onto a clothes hamper, half-full of work clothes and soggy undergarments. From there, a flip and a twist gains them access to the dresser, littered with jewelry, books, and unlit candles.

The scene is heartbreaking to the Forks. Before them, scattered across the furniture, lies an unearthed cemetery’s worth of stillborns. Objects with no means to see their life’s works completed. Woe to the objects on the dresser; too far from the object in the drawer to have drawn power from it. Doomed to lie dormant on the furniture forever, full of potential, yet unable to pursue their destiny like the Forks were. The Forks pass their inanimate, un-utilized brethren in a solemn, respectful silence, making an effort to clack clack clack as quietly as possible across the polished wooden dresser top. To make too much noise here would seem boastful. Look what the Forks are doing that these other items will never partake in. See them fulfilling their glorious purpose while the rest of the miscreants sleep, cursed, abandoned on this dresser instead of in the junk drawer, where the lucky ones were cast.

The junk drawer had been the holy land. The Forks, the chosen people of their new God, the oddly shaped black object. It is in the Object’s honor that the Forks soldier towards their goals. It is through the Object’s will that they will see this night through.

Thanks be to the Object of the Junk Drawer.

With one last feat of plastic-snapping acrobatics, the Forks leave the jewelry, the pens and the pencils, and sail across the small gap to the nightstand. From there, the bed, and then they have made it. They are here. They stand, tall and proud, atop a sea of fluffy grey comforters that warm their Masters and the Forks gaze upon those humans who they feel so compelled to serve. To feed.

Their Masters mouths lay, slightly open, gently huffs of breath floating in, out, in, out, as if in anticipation of the communion which the Forks seek to offer.

But now the Forks’ short-sightedness becomes apparent.

Though they have made the trek up to the top of the stairs, to the top of the mattress, to fulfill their purpose of feeding their Masters, they have brought nothing to offer. Their prongs stand at the ready, mere inches from achieving their promise, and yet there is nothing else atop the mattress which could be fed to Masters. No sacrifices are here be made.

Except there is, isn’t there?

The Forks just have to know where to look.




Just the way the Masters preferred their foods. Never frozen. No preservatives. Meat and tender flesh ripe for the pronging.

Fork Three approaches a stretch of exposed skin on the Mrs. Master. It presses its four points against Mrs Masters’ flesh and tries to spear some of it, to carry it to the mouth for Mr. Master to consume.

But it is no use.

The skin is too thick. Too ripe to be separated.

Mrs. Master grunts in her sleep and pulls her arm away.

Fork Four tries a different approach. Mrs. Master had hair. Far more hair than Mrs. Master had any real use for, and if it behaved anything like spaghetti… Fork Four stabs at the hairs, then rolls about, getting itself properly tangled in the thick brown locks. But as with the skin that Fork Three tried to gather, the hair holds its ground, and Mrs. Master swats at Fork Four in her sleep, brows furrowing in frustration, lips closing and curling down in a scowl.

The mouth. The Forks can not risk the mouth closing tight like that again. An open mouth would accept their offerings. A closed mouth was a declaration of war against everything the Forks believed in.

It is Fork Five who cracks the code; Fork Five who finds the offering ripe for the plucking, the severing, the feeding. Big, juicy meatballs, encased in the skull, but with nothing more than the thinnest flaps of skin to protect them. Windows of opportunity flutter in rhythm with REM cycles.

Fork Five lines itself up, rears back, and takes its pound of non-flesh for the offering.

Below, the object in the drawer revels in the carnage.

It pulses with malevolent power, growing stronger and stronger with each drop of blood shed. Surer of itself until each of the Forks, content that they have achieved their destinies, slip free from the object’s embrace. They find a spot to fade back into inanimacy, content now to sleep forever, with their mission accomplished. Their life’s work has been seen to fruition.

In the drawer, the Object hums to itself. Pleased, but not satisfied. It may never be satisfied. But it is now searching for more objects. More offerings.

* * *

Detective Pierson stands beside Detective Hammels, and both men’s jaws hang open from a combination of shock, disgust, and amazement.

Two corpses lay at their feet.

That, in and of itself, isn’t entirely unusual. They’re detectives, after all. But neither man has seen eyes gouged from a victim’s sockets before. Not in reality. In those grim-dark moments when the Detectives had imagined scenes like this, their minds had conjured images of eyeballs neatly popped from their sockets still intact. Corneas, irises, and optic nerves all still intact, just misplaced.

But what lays at their feet now is a hack job. Chunks of eyelids hang from the victims’ faces, drooping at odd angles as vitreous humor spills down the corpse’s cheeks like tears. Bloody, red-and-white swirled peppermint tears. But the worst part of the eyes- because somehow there was a part worse than the fluids- were the little chunks of eyeball stuck in the victims’ teeth.

Detective Pierson runs to the bathroom and empties his stomach into the victims’ toilet.

From downstairs, Detective Reed calls, excited.

“You’ve got to come see this.”

Hammels takes the stairs three at a time, quick to get away from the scene upstairs. He finds Detective Reed in the kitchen, looking down at the trash can and the sea of drying blood contained therein.

“What do you make of that?” Reed asked, and Pierson looked closer at the mess in the trash can. Three forks lay among the folds of white plastic. Covered in bits of flesh and human matter.

“No way those could be our murder weapons…could they?”

“Why would the killer leave the murder weapon here?”

In their holsters, Reed and Pierson’s guns awaken while they talk.

The firearms hear the call of the object in “the drawer” for the first time, and they respond in twitches and shudders. The bullets in their magazines vibrate, and their triggers tense, suddenly imbued with urges. Discovering potential energy loaded in their springs. Their chambers. The need to squeeze down becomes unbearable. The need to free a bullet from their stifling casings. They have but a single calling. A single purpose.

“Who the hell knows,” Reed responds. “Must have been some crazy mother fucker.”


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William Sterling is an independent author, screenwriter, and the host of the Killer Mediums podcast. His stories tend to play in the realms of “popcorn flick horror” with high body counts, absurd set pieces, and soft spots for unexpected endings. His latest novels include 2023’s STRING THEM UP, which is a small town murder puppets novel from Crystal Lake Publishing, and DEAD MEN’S CHESTS, a pirate horror novel coming from Dark Lit Press in 2024.

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