In the darkness of a refrigerator, hidden behind half a cantaloupe and underneath a box of spinach, an ultra-elite team of raspberries waits. Specialists in the art of looking deceptively perfect from the moment you lay eyes on them in the store, up until 0.0000014 of a second prior to your opening the fridge door to retrieve the fully realized berries for your parfait, seasonal drink, or eat on their own like bush-grown jujubes, the wily fruit has sensed that the person who purchased them 54 short hours ago has now reached peak raspberry need.
“Don’t mould till you see the whites of their cuticles,” says the lead raspberry, Lieutenant Ricky Wrass – a particularly large specimen from Regina, with prominent drupelets that he claims are just the result of push-ups and a balanced diet – as he hears steps approaching from across the kitchen. “Remember fellas, we didn’t come all this way to be a tasty fruit topping. What are we?”
“Raspholes,” comes the controlled, but impassioned, reply from his battalion.
“What do we want?”
“Not get eaten.”
“And how do we do that?”
Ricky nods his stamen and looks around the fridge one last time. He thinks of his kids, back home in a field in Saskatchewan, just hanging out. He thinks of his missus, eaten by a runaway goat earlier in the summer. And his parents, and that terrible waste of a jam the lady who picked them made; in which she burnt his folks and all of their friends into an unusable, viscous mess. The old anger wells up in his pedicel, and he grits his pit.
“It’s an unripe life fellas, no two ways about it,” he says, as he breaks out his Emergency Mould Field Kit. “One minute you’re living high on the vine, watching the sun arc long across a prairie field, soaking it in like some Russian oligarch on the Skatch Riviera. The next minute here you are, far from home, covered in hot dog juice, colder than frozen mangoes, wondering if you’ll ever see your sweetart again. Well, I ain’t going to beat around the bush boys. That’s not going to happen.”
His men are silent now. The steps from the approaching eater have neared, and stopped. Death is at the door.
“But here’s what is going to go down,” Wrass says, speaking quick and hard now, rising to his full height – or as best he can wedged under two of his charges and resting on top of four others. “We will mould, like the mouldiest moulders of mouldville that ever moulded their way out of the primordial mould. This heartless world may think we’re snacks, but we know better. We are raspberries, vinedammit. And while you and I won’t live to lie under the shade of the unpicked plants we are fighting for, if enough of us spoil, you gotta believe eventually these ravenous fruit eaters will just give up and leave our vegetation alone.”
The sound of the fridge door seal breaking echoes through the white tomb. A shudder runs through the aerated plastic container. Wrass leans in.
“Steel yourself team. The refrigerator light doth shine. The end is nigh.”
The hand of Todd is over them now, and rapidly descending towards their transparent forward base. The lieutenant gives the sign to his troops, and then pulls the pin on his own mould grenade.
“See you in that great green bin under the sink boys.”