Our Lady Cinderella of the Dying World
A flunky, a factotum, a scrap of knees and rag dress, Cinderella mucks out the reactor, sandblasts the concrete.
Stepsister One mocks her from within a hazmat suit.
"Cinderella, I see corium residue in the breeder well. Cinderella, I see bodies in the ovens. Cinderella, go down in the sewer and dislodge the ten-ton blob of cooking fat."
That’s Stepsister One. She has a harelip. The plant foreman declined to marry her.
The other one, Stepsister Two, never leaves the tall panopticon tower. Her voice squawks over the bullhorn.
"Cinderella, proceed to cellblock nine, escort inmates to the exercise yard."
"Cinderella, your presence is required in the slaughterhouse."
Wicked Stepmother is the one in charge. Wicked Step is never seen; she is an idea, a code, a Pledge of Fealty who has been implanted in Cinderella’s sense of guilt and shame starting from her earliest school days.
Cinderella hears the unheard voice of Wicked Step when she thinks rebellious thoughts, when she illicitly touches her dirty parts.
The stepsisters feed on greasy flesh, gulp Dom Perignon, gorge themselves on fine cheeses. They load trucks with Louboutins, Cartier rubies, antique furniture. They enjoy none of it. Cinderella loads the waste management barge with frou-frou dresses, shoes, half-eaten rinds. She dumps the load in the open ocean.
Fairy Godmother appears in a flash of brown. Fairy G is a slash of paint across a cherub’s face, a crack in antique crystal, the awareness of death in a child’s mind. She appears to Cinderella looking something like Duchamp’s Nu Descendant; all fragments and misaligned planes.
"I can turn that bowling ball into a carriage" she says. "I can turn ideas into wars. I can taint the eternal gates of the sea with soiled pampers and six-pack rings."
Cinderella goes to the ball. Everybody dies.
Matthew F. Amati's fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Flash Fiction Online, Schlock magazine, and Space Squid. He lives next to a lake in Wisconsin where he plays the banjo and mutters. His story, "Let Me Squeeze Your Islets of Langerhans," appeared in Issue #57 of The Cafe Irreal and "The Voyage of the Texarkana" in Issue #61.