A Simple Survey:Volume1 File07
File 07: A Comfortable Casket for You
We lived in a world where the influential science magazine Planet had recognized the existence of everything from fairies and werewolves to zombies and bigfoot. I would be lying if I said that did not come with its advantages.
For example, a casket maker could find customers other than the dead.
Those types tended to come by in the dead of night, so the only real change I had to make was an alteration my hours of operation.
“The outside has to be ebony. I am sure I do not need to tell you, but there can be no cracks.”
A blonde girl of about 10 sat on the table.
However, she was about a tenth the size of a human.
The fairy seemed to realize this was bad manners, but she was simply too small to see the blueprint I had laid on the table if she was sitting in the rusted folding chair. Also, my office was rather cluttered and she did not want to get anywhere near the electric fan or my pet cat.
By the way, I had some doubts about the age she had given.
“Make it completely out of wood that fits together perfectly. No metal nails are to be used. And glue is out of the question.”
“Fine, fine. So you want it done using something like parquetry.”
“Yes, yes. Parquetry.”
No casket had been made yet. The customer and I were staring at the blueprints to make sure there were no imperfections in the order and discussing it to make sure there was no discrepancy in what we thought the finished product would be.
…But making a casket for someone of her size felt more like making a bento box. I had heard that making one of the nice multi-tiered ones could be quite difficult, though.
“Cover the inside with the low-resistance material I ordered from elsewhere.”
The girl crawled on all fours across the blueprint so she could tap at a point for emphasis.
“Sigh. You said you wanted a casket to use as a bed, so I thought you would want to fill it with roses or something,” I commented.
She glared at me.
Given her size, it did not have much impact.
“How am I supposed to sleep with those thorny things everywhere? A garlic-hater in my neighborhood was bragging about a bed from here, so I wanted to try it out. Why would I want scratches all over my body?”
“From your neighborhood? So are you an overseas student from Romania?”
“…Oh, and don’t forget to cover every inch of the low-resistance material with silk velvet. I am allergic to petrochemical products. I would rather not end up in the sick house after spending so much.”
“Umm, are you not going to put a giant cross on the front or anything?”
She glared at me more.
“Do you have something against me?”
“No, it’s just that roses and crosses add to the gothic image. Your clothes are fairly lacy, so I thought…”
“You are mixing together things I like and things I hate. Are you mocking me?”
“…You also want audio equipment, right?”
“People spend half of every day and therefore half of their life in their dreams, so it is only natural to prepare the proper environment for it. You have measured me. I would like speakers set up right next to where my ears will be on the right and left. Make the outside of the speakers out of ebony and the diaphragm out of paper. The inside components do not matter as much, but do not forget to make anything that will touch my skin out of natural materials.”
The girl rolled over onto her back on top of the blueprint and placed her palms over either side of her head.
“I guess I will need to fill the walls with cotton to soundproof it.”
“No, that would make it too hot.”
“I could add a small air conditioner…no, that that would show up too much. How about I add some coolant? You know, like the kind you put on your forehead when you have a cold…”
“I am allergic.”
“…Then, what about a cool mist sprayer. But with the audio equipment too, that might use too much electricity. It would be hard to power that for 12 hours straight with a laptop battery.”
“I will not have a power cable coming from my casket. And it cannot have a car battery on it either. That lacks elegance. There is something wrong when the power source is bigger than the casket itself.”
The girl stood back up as she did nothing but complain.
I chose to interpret her complaints as meaning she trusted me enough to resolve them.
“Umm, should I add solar panels then?”
“…You want me to leave my casket under the sun? I think you do have something against me. What kind of idiot would put their bed outside?”
“Yes, you probably would get attacked by crows.”
“I will view any further insults as disrespect.”
A pale light came from the girl’s palm, but I was not entirely sure what kind of effects it would have.
“I guess I’ll have to set up a wireless power transmission system. You’re fine with electromagnetic waves, right?”
“It is beginning to sound like this casket would function even on Mars,” said the girl as she eliminated the light.
“What do you want for security?”
“That is a nonissue as I can simply lock the door to my mansion. More importantly, I would like to speak about this here. You say there will be wheels on the bottom of the casket.”
“They’re convenient when you need to clean or want to rearrange things, don’t you think?”
For a human like me, a bento box-size casket seemed like nothing, but it would be difficult to move for someone who was only 15 cm tall. …That was my thinking anyway.
“If we are talking about security, that worries me more than anything else. Someone could use those wheels to take the casket somewhere while I am sleeping in it.”
“I thought security was a nonissue because you could lock the door to your mansion?”
“If any unease of that sort remains, I will not be able to sleep comfortably.”
“Well, it’s my job to make the casket to the customer’s order, so I’ll do as you say.”
Since it was the size of a bento box, I didn’t really see what the presence or lack of wheels would matter to a “large intruder”.
Perhaps she was planning to hold it in place with magnets.
“One last thing, but it is probably my most difficult request. I need some kind of ventilation. However, it cannot allow in any outside light. That too would get in the way of sleeping comfortably.”
“Look here. I can handle that. You know the U-shaped pipes used in plumbing? By bending a pipe back and forth again and again like that, the light can be kept out, so don’t worry.”
“Then please do that.”
But given the size, it would be difficult to build from scratch. I decided it might be faster to use some everyday items as jumping off points. For example, I could make the speakers by disassembling a small pair of headphones and replacing the external portion with parts made of natural materials.
Also, I would need to add a fan to the ventilation pipe, so an extremely small motor would be necessary. If only I could find something convenient to use for that…
“At any rate, do everything you can to ensure I, Titania, can have peaceful sleep. Bear in mind that doing so is directly connected to the stability of your fragile human society.”
“That makes you sound like some kind of evil demon king.”
“Unfortunately for you, I do not just sound like one,” said the girl as she put her hands on her hips in a triumphant pose.
Eight days had passed since I had overcome all of the unreasonable requests of that selfish rich girl and had completed her made-to-order casket.
I used my successful works in my advertisements, so I was editing some photos I had taken for a catalog. As I was doing that, a familiar face came up to the counter.
“How dare you sell me something defective!?”
“Ma’am, that is the cat door. The entrance for customers is over there…”
“I could not manage to open it, so I had no choice! Also, if cat siths are allowed to use it, why can’t I? But more importantly, it was defective!!”
The girl must have felt humiliated because her face of beet red as she yelled at me.
Leaving that aside, I had no idea what about it could have been defective.
“It is past the cooling-off period,” I warned her.
“Are you talking about the money? I don’t care about those scraps of paper!”
“…You told me not to worry about the ventilation.”
“I’m pretty sure it was constructed so no light could get in.”
“That is not the issue. You added a fan to the ventilation pipe, didn’t you?”
“If I hadn’t, fresh air couldn’t have gotten in.”
“But why did you have to use the same kind of motor used in the device that drills into people’s teeth at the dentist!? It sends a chill down my spine so I cannot sleep!!”
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