I stare out at the river of chocolate. It is smooth and the surface has lost its sheen in the cold morning light. It could be solid. But even though I wish it were, I know it isn’t. the currents are swift and sure at the very bottom. Everyone knows that this is all part of the cycle.
Around us, the candy factory has gone dead—the old psychotic CEO has given them the morning off for this. He probably needs the extra time to research his precious Gobstoppers. When all of us old ones are gone, no one will be left to ridicule him and his stupid fly-by-night whims. But that’s no longer my concern.
Nearby, sweet-faced girls decorate my sugar-glass skiff with buttercups (they’re made with real butter, you know), their long green hair braided with a million colors of licorice and their brilliant orange faces painted with a rainbow sheen of pixie dust. I watch them giggle as they work. The future of Wonka Enterprises. It didn’t seem so long ago that I was with them. It doesn’t seem fair that I am not with them now.
I knew my time was coming when I first felt the bitterness creeping up my throat. Later when the snarfberries tasted like grimrot, I wasn’t surprised. I tried to hide the fact that I could no longer stand the taste of candy as long as I possibly could. Looking back, I think all the others did too. Like when old Un Sa Tou when on a five year diet or when Loon de Mai had a decade long tooth ache? Our kind don’t get cavities and what kind of self-respecting Oompa Loompa goes on a diet? As for me, I tried to leave the candy factory. My brilliant plan: selling vitamins door to door. There are only so many people willing to buy health food supplements from a three foot tall woman in overalls with orange skin and green hair. Don’t let them fool you, it doesn’t matter how supernaturally your teeth sparkle.
But can you blame me? I wanted to live. I believed—and I still believe—that I deserve better than this. Call me arrogant if you want, but what was good for so many others, isn’t good enough for me. I cried when they took me. Haven’t eaten, spoken or slept since.
A brave young thing checks my bonds and lays me down in the sugar glass skiff. Six strong men carry me to the edge of the chocolate river. All my chances to run are now gone. It’s then that they begin to sing:
Oompa Loompa Doopity Doo . . .
I don’t hear the rest because I am trying not to cry. If there’s any last chance for a miracle, I can’t let my tears melt the boat. And if there is no miracle . . . well it would be best to let the waterfall do me in. It will be faster and virtually painless if it happens that way. Besides, my tears and snot and fear will ruin the flavor of the chocolate. That’s something we learned back in school. The old lessons die hard.
They push the skiff into the river now and I moan softly into my gag. It’s not just the tragedy of the thing, it’s that even the scent of chocolate is making my stomach roil. The back of my throat and my nostrils feel as if someone has poured acid down them. I kick and scream against my bonds. But they just keep singing.
Something inside of me snaps and I just start to laugh. The morons will keep singing for eternity. The last thing I will ever hear is there singing. It will take it with me to hell.
The last thing I will ever see is the plasticy blue sky painted on the roof of the factory. I will never see the real sky again. I don’t know whether to close my eyes or to hang on to it. What did the others decide to do? I decide to close them.
I hold my breath. Chocolate is the most nauseating substance on earth right now. But it won’t be long.
Before I know it, I’m caught in the whirlpool. The waterfall hits the end of the boat, shattering it instantly and I’m plunged into darkness. It knocks my held breath right out of me. I’m under. One second. Two seconds. How many more until it’s over? Or do I just give in and take a deep breath? The sugary gag and bonds melt away now, part of the putrid chocolate death trap. My skin feels like it is breaking into a million boils, the delicate skin around my eyes feel like it is being stabbed by a million tiny knives.
Finally, I throw up into the chocolate over and over. The funny thing about throwing up, is that it takes breath to heave. It is not a choice. My body fills my lungs with the molten liquid.
Then it’s over.