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Fiction by Tim Frank

How Many People Will Die in IKEA Tonight?

Shoppers raided IKEA at night because their homes lacked the freshness of Scandinavian forests. With their rusted broken bedsprings and wallpaper oozing emerald slime, they really were a bunch of deadbeats.

IKEA offered the calm of morphine dreams with its sci-fi kitchenware and indulgent frozen food.

But no one expected to find a corpse one night, lying prostrate on a foldout sofa, a strobe light illuminating his pallid skin.

And nobody recognised him—which was perhaps the saddest part. He must have died while midnight raiders sat on mauve rugs reading IKEA catalogues, planning to live better lives with better bowls.

Or maybe he perished as students lobbed meatballs in the food hall and chased each other with lampshades through the warehouse by the potted plants.

But when the corpse was discovered the parties in the Swedish superstore ended. Everything was tainted.

A sage looking man with thick strands of greying hair and black puffy eyes discovered the body under a sky-blue duvet—the dead man’s gaunt face buried in a memory foam pillow.

The greying man said a prayer then gathered everyone around to pay their last respects—from the parents wearing tacky white sneakers, drinking Merlot on beanbags, to the gangsters playing cards in the farmhouse style living room.

The midnight raiders that had played in the superstore like it was a Tolkien fantasyland discovered it had a shelf life. Even babies kicking in their mother’s stomach saw the writing on the wall.

The raiders gathered around the body, heaved sighs, shuddered with grief, yet they all kept their distance, some averting their gaze—it was too much to bear. But then with a sadistic fury they chanted war cries like international rugby players.

Bipolar children who clowned about by the glowing fish tanks smashed headboards for kindling and tore sheets into strips, creating a pyre for the corpse.

Someone lit a match and a fire soon tore through every IKEA department, forcing the raiders down labyrinthine hallways to the exit by the checkout counters. Everyone scattered into the carpark under the clear night sky, as the building cracked and spat, aching under its own weight. That night the north London branch of IKEA was burned down.

Days passed and the raiders had to face returning to their rotten lives—eating oven ready meals slopped onto paper plates and warm beer served in plastic cups. Everyone yearned for the store’s wide-open space, its vibrant showroom floors and the night games that’d banished their frustrated day dreams. And yet they couldn’t escape the haunting vision of the corpse lying in a reasonably priced bed, flames reflected in his eyes, consumed without a name.

Tim Frank

Twitter: @TimFrankquill

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