Friday, February 15, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday--Salmonella


The machines were still stopped.

The machines were never stopped.

Three days had come and gone and still no word from the plant manager. The union president was outside attempting to rally the workforce with his promises. "You all need your work to feed your families! I promise you now, somebody's losing their job over this!"

But who would be getting the ax? Who can you ask to take responsibility for this kind of mistake? After all, it had been in production for over forty days; none of the assemblers caught it, and why should they have? It's not on their task list. Before that, the test batch flew through all four levels in R&D. "This color is perfectly on-trend for this year. Guaranteed to sell."

Before that, it was in the hands of the marketing team, fresh from the design department, where some intern had scribbled into the margins one of the lunch ramblings of the just-a-little-too-inspired team lead, which definitely included the discussion of this color. "It's like a warm coral. Maybe with a touch of pinks. Walk into a room that looks like this vibrant orange, but smells like baked cookies. That's our target. Salmon meets vanilla. Salmonilla."

Whether they intended it or not, the name, having been noted on the paperwork and heavily referenced as it progressed toward production, made its way into the title of the collection (already a gross oversight), but the spelling error really brought  which was in production for nearly six weeks before the incident report was sent from House Depot HQ, explaining that a Mrs. Houghner (plaintiff) had vomited in their aisles after finding an aggressively marketed new line pleasing to her eye, and picking up the order catalogue only to find every item's color listed as Salmonella.

"Vomited in the aisles?"
"That's what the email says."
"...How many aisles?"
"At least four are mentioned."
"From smelling the paint?"
"No. Just looking at the cards. We - somebody at Mayer Design Co. - thought it was a good idea to name a signature paint color Salmonella, and the whole product line is modeled after it."
"How can that have happened? You can't be serious."
"Don't even ask. But the real kicker is that she fell in some of her vomit and had to go to the hospital, where they discovered her problem. She has PTSD. So she's going to sue House Depot and us for medical expenses and treatment. Our spelling error, or name, or whatever happened there, triggered her fall and diagnosis."
"I... I just can't believe it."

Three interns and two managers were fired that week, but the whole company went down shortly after. It was such a young design firm, and it really couldn't afford a mistake like that. The union's fines, the reprints, the lawyer's fees. Or even just the psychiatrist alone.


Read more stories from this prompt!
Moody's submission
Jeffery's submission
Josiah's submission

Want to make one of your own? Next week's prompt is NON-FICTION.

Write a short essay from the starting point, "this year." 


  1. Looks like everyone had a blast with this one.
    I love Josiah's, it's hilarious and very "Nemo".
    Jeffery's is - as usual - my favorite, even though I knew "it" before the final words.

    And your Salmon-Vanilla line was a hoot, too ;o)

    Now, on to thinking about next week's already.

    1. I agree, I loved that every take was unique but each was so fun. :)