The lad turned over the plyboard sign to see “free range produce” in peeling paint. The vending machine’s hut still had the lights on. Within, a wall of metal boxes stood as high as himself. He tapped on the reinforced glass of each cell and gave their stubby handles a tug but none came loose. All held a shiny punnet of brown-shelled eggs.
With coins fished out of drains he filled the slot until an unseen mechanism sighed and gave way. He stood rigid under the stall’s humming lamps and listened for any telltale sounds coming out the wasted countryside.
Once he got them back to the chattel house that passed for home, he cracked a shell. Bubbled clusters fit for frogs spilled themselves and sizzled in the firelight. The sight disgusted him yet the smell found him reaching for a spoon.
A fortnight later he cradled his swollen belly with a single hand. Waiting outside the vending kiosk, he spied the growing headlamps of a truck.