Job Swap

Take a character from one of your stories and place them into your current job. How does the office respond? Do they do a good job filling your place, or are they all play and no work?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

writing-prompts

Download from our shop right now!

You might also like:

145 thoughts on “Job Swap

  1. igonzales81

    I must admit, it was a surprise.

    For a while, things looked grim. When that flood not revealed the skeletons in my closet, so to speak, I thought my quest was over.

    But one accident on a lonely stretch of highway, and I was a free man once again. Free to pursue the perfection of my art.

    And, by the most extraordinary coincidence, that same accident provided me with a new means of obtaining my preferred medium.

    I arrived at the café a little late, which couldn’t be helped, and instantly recognized the young woman who had hired my…unwitting benefactor. Facebook is such a helpful tool, after all, making it child’s play to match a face to a name.

    “Candace?” I asked, putting on a disarming, befuddled expression. “You’re Candace Miller, right?”

    She looked up from her laptop. “Yes.”

    “Phil Waters, I’m you’re replacement tutor.” I stuck out my hand, and she took it automatically. Flawless skin and a fine bone structure; excellent.

    “Replacement?” Now she looked confused. “But what about—”

    “Car accident,” I said quickly. “Nothing too serious, but he won’t be able to make it today. Not to worry, I’m fully qualified to help you with your psychology assignment.”

    She frowned, glanced back at her computer. I could tell she didn’t like this turn of events, but we were in a public place, and I knew from reading the notes on my new computer that she really did need help completing that paper on evolutionary influence on personality theory development. Finally, she ran a hand through her hair—red hair; now that was icing on the cake—and sighed. “Won’t you sit down?”

    I slid onto the chair next to her. “Okay,” I said in my most professional tone. “What we’re looking at here…”

    The process for fine-tuning a piece of scholastic writing is involved, and—to say the least—a bit dry. But in its own way, it can be a work of art, requiring creativity, whimsy, and above all patience. Three hours later, Candace glanced at her phone.

    “Oops, look at the time,” she gave a little laugh. “I was only supposed to retain you for a couple of hours.”

    “No matter,” I said with a smile of my own. “I don’t have any more appointments today. I’m prepared to spend as much time on you as necessary.” She looked up at me, looked away quickly. I realized I was staring, and turned my gaze away, leaning back in my chair. “But you probably have other things to do with your day. Why don’t we call it, and reconvene tomorrow, same place and time?”

    “That’d be great,” she said, closing her laptop. “Unless my regular tutor can make it.”

    I shrugged. “I guess we’ll wait and see.”

    She stood, still not looking at me, and scooped up her jacket and purse. “Thanks for the session, Mr. Waters. I…you really gave me some helpful advice.”

    “Think nothing of it, my dear.” Oh, the things I could teach her…

    She dropped a crumpled twenty on the table, courteously covering our tab. “Bye.” And she hurried for the door.

    I let my smile widen, keeping my eyes on her. So poised, so graceful; she was definitely going to be a masterpiece.

    I finished my coffee in a long sip, waiting just a moment before rising to follow her home.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You’re close to creating a classic case of murder. Why not continue? Your set up and back story is worth part two
        You can.still.leave it up in the air, just tease some more. Gimme, gimme.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I finally found time to look for this character, who I remembered well, finally realized the significance of the flood line. This is a very bad guy, written well. Great job. You should keep him for future reference.

  2. Beebles

    I’m going to double dip, just cos I was so appalled by my first effort. Besides, it’s payback time!
    ______________
    I shuffle out onto the veranda, expecting it to be a little cooler. The tinder dry evening heat suffocates me like a corset. I’m sweating my own personal monsoon in this outfit. The sun is setting behind the distant Himalayas and I would give anything to strip and plunge into their white capping.

    Laurence Kirkpatrick is lounging against the veranda wall, cigarette halfway to his mouth. His red mess jacket stands out against the alabaster column like a blood stain. He doesn’t laugh but his dark eyes smoulder with mirth. And hatred. He hates me for sending Maysie away.

    ‘Is this your way of making me pay?’ I ask, barely able to breathe.

    ‘This is my way of compensating the Company for the loss of one if its best agents.’ He looks me up and down with rueful disdain. ‘Though it’s hardly a fair trade, old boy.’

    ‘If it’s any consolation, I think she’s doing a better job than I could.’

    ‘Of course.’ His gaze is distant for a moment. ‘There isn’t anything my bibi can’t do.’

    He’s wrong of course. Forgiveness is not her strong suit, as he will find out.

    ‘Does she know you call her that?’

    He focuses on extinguishing the cigarette. ‘Of course not,’ he says straightening. He is more than a head taller than me, lean, clean shaven. He cups my stubbled chin in one strong hand. ‘And you’re not going to tell her.’

    Sometimes I wonder why she has fallen for Kirkpatrick, though we both know the plating is rubbing thin.

    ‘She needs me.’ It’s as if he can read my thoughts. ‘And besides, I have a reputation as a bit of a lion tamer.’

    ‘I thought she was Sherani, the tigress?’

    ‘It’s a loose translation,’ he shrugs. ‘Now let’s see you walk.’

    I totter a few paces. The straps on the shoes are killing me, not to mention they are too small, and I keep stumbling on the hem of the dress. And the heat; how do women manage in these things?

    ‘Why can’t I wear a sari?’ I moan. ‘Maysie prefers a sari.’

    ‘Because the Prince prefers women in western clothing. You’ll need this.’

    He produces a black wig and plonks it unceremoniously on my bald pate. He leans close to my ear.

    ‘Now go in there and seduce Prince Raahil. And if you don’t come back with the letter from the French ambassador, I shall attach your corset strings to two elephants and shout ‘Chai!’’

    Then he delivers a slap on my behind, making me yelp and thrusting me toward the door. I stand, sweating, framed by the light from the candelabra. The quartet is striking up another waltz. I hate waltzes.

    ‘And when you’re done,’ Kirkpatrick whispers, lighting another cigarette, ‘bring my Sherani home.’

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Most interesting Beebles,.You,re warming up to the prompt. I wish you could carry this a little further.

      I also liked all the descriptive phases and instilling my nterest more
      Perhaps part three?

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Those first paragraphs set such a great scene, then came the next part, and I couldn’t stop smiling as I imagined the transformation. I really liked the “loose translation” line. I do believe the Prince isn’t going to be fooled.

      1. Beebles

        No me neither. Here’s a story. At school I played the title role in the Victorian melodrama Black Eyed Susan. Such was the seriousness of our preparations that it wasn’t until I raised my lacquered face to the audience in scene one and they exploded in laughter that I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is a comedy isn’t it.’ Incidentally, my co-star and husband that day was a chap called Jason Durr who went on to act opposite the likes of Sean Bean and Patrick Stewart. Well I never.

  3. typewriter

    When I saw Mr. Howard, he was hustling tubs of buttered popcorn through the window of the concession stand. Little did I know, he was even happier than ever, and liking his job more. With the problem with the red bulb of a nose (spherical and completely bulging out from under his eyes) adhered to him forever, had not quite fitted in with the rest of the people like him.
    I got him the job, working as the Popcorn Clown at the fair, all the kids loved him, and that what made him loved them too. Just about two-hundred tubs of the buttery fluff was purchase from the stand. All the kids, especially adults loved Mr. Howard. He’d shown improvements to what it feels like to be like the rest of the people like himself. Got bigger deals for Birthday parties and circus shows.
    I was in line at the concession stand. A long query line ahead of me. I waited to be up next, wanting a coney dog and cotton candy, I debated if I should get a candy apple instead. I made my choice, and that I had gotten the candy apple for later, while I made my decision with popcorn. I sat at one of the nearby picnic tables, in the shade of a hanging tree. Mr. Howard took a ten minute break to sit with me as I ate.
    “You showed your true colors in front of all the fair-goers.”
    “It’s the nose. The nose. All this time, with the anxiety and all, what people was going to say to me about it.”
    “Yeah, listen. I came by to check up on you. How’ya holding up? I saw that you made peace around here, after all the troubles, with the nose, somehow, say, stuck to you supernaturally.”
    “It’s not the nose that’s bothering me at the moment. It’s—”
    “What?” I said.
    “Nothing. Let it go. I had my humiliation. I suspect worse to come.”
    “Don’t be so down, Mr. Howard.”
    I tried to caress him, but I seen a frown.
    “Hey, don’t appear indifferent with the rest.” I told him sincerely.
    “I wanted to be different, but not this way, with this nose. This red parasite. That makes me not-so-attractive.”
    I wanted him to continue on. Best not to arouse anything out of the ordinary. I spotted self-hate. He wanted the nose-thingy to be over. It was the best wish he’d ever wanted. I can ensure you. Aforetime he went to the old well behind a derelict house, dropping a silver dollar. Making a wish for the nose-thingy to be gone, and move on with his normal life. Never occur that the wish he’d made came true, it so happens that every single day, he wakes up, and peers at himself in the bathroom mirror. What he sees was the thumb at the tip of his face. It’s never coming off, he thinks. Never. Not in years, that the red, cushy thing’s coming off.
    “I wanted to tell you something. It’s more than a favor. I know what you can do. You can help this issue. I have faith in you.”
    “What is it?” I said, uncertain what he was getting at.
    “Well. You can make the creative changes? The short story: “Mr. Howard Has A Big Nose.” Can you change the nose part, by rewriting the entire manuscript?”
    “I can do that.”
    I made the creative changes, and was feeling vindicated by that exceptional command.

  4. RafTriesToWrite

    Note: I’ve never done just a dialogue before so, I hope I did okay. Character came from my recently published very short story.

    Job Swap

    “Oh, uhh, hi?”

    “Hello dahling”

    “Who are you? Where’s Raf?”

    “He’s sick dahling, I’m filling in for him”

    “Is that even-“

    “Yes, it’s allowed dahling”

    “Says wh-“

    “Says me of course”

    “How do you-“

    “Know what you’re going to say? I’m a psycho dahling”

    “Don’t you mean-“

    “Oh yes, psychic, that too”

    “O-kay, so who are y-”

    “I’m a character from Raf’s recently published short story called, ‘The Psycho Psychic’, neat huh?”

    “How are you a-“

    “Psycho? Oh, trust me dahling you do not want to know”

    “O-kay then, so do you know how-“

    “This works? The lappy toppy thingey? Yeah, I opened it already dahling, but I don’t know what all these debits and credits mean, and these account titles? Ooooooh, horrible! Don’t get me started on property plant and equipment dahling, cause I’m about to lose my sanity. Not saying I have any.”

    “Oh, it’s quite easy really, they’re just-“

    “You know what, I already know dahling, you can stop now”

    “Uhm, yeah, so do you know-“

    “Yeah, yeah, I know what to do, you can leave me be dahling”

    “Okay, if you need any-“

    “Yes of course dahling! You can go now.”

    “What a psycho”

    “If I can read thoughts dahling I can surely hear you whispering over there, saying that I’m a psycho and what not, which is true by the way. Raf can confirm it.”

    “Okay, you know what? That is it!“

    “Oh, no need to be upset now dahling, I’m just workin’ here”

    “No! You don’t understand, your presence-“

    “What do you mean my presence disturbs the workplace dahling? For all I know you’re the one disturbing the beautiful aura in this fine workplace of yours”

    “What?! Me?! Are you-“

    “Serious? Most of the time dahling.”

    “I can’t-“

    “Believe me right now? Oh dahling, lil’ ‘ol Brianna only speak the truth and nothing but the truth, ain’t that right Jerry?”

    “Uhh, my name’s Jerson.”

    “See dahling, even Joey thinks I’m right.”

    “Get-“

    “Fine, fine. If you really want lil’ ‘ol Brianna out of the building just because you can’t handle her sizzling psychic powers that’s fine, but don’t come crying to me when you turn 45 and realize that you still have no husband to hold”

    “What did you-“

    “Oh you heard lil’ ‘ol Brianna right dahling, I can see the future as well. Mmmhmmm! I’m out”

    –Later that day–

    “So? How did it go?”

    “You know Raf, you should really consider finding a new job.”

    “Please don’t tell me you-“

    “Me? lil’ ‘ol Brianna? Ruinin’ your job? I’m tellin’ you, it’s the girl with the ponytail who thinks she’s so smart that’s ruining your job.”

    “She’s my supervisor.”

    “Your what now? Oh, I don’t get why you be needin’ any ‘ol supervisor! What for anyways? I mean look at what you did to me dahling, I turned out great without no one supervising you.”

    “That’s not a very good-“

    “Compliment? Oh sure it is, you just gotta-“

    “Ugggghhhhhh. This is going to be one long night.”

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        It’s not that kind of published work NC, it’s just the status of my work being available to every reader, we call them published works. It’s in wattpad actually, but thank you.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You are certainly adept at driving a story with dialogue​
        What is tricky is trying to work bAck story into a realistic dialogue but you handled it well.

      2. RafTriesToWrite

        Thank you, Moirai! Had to look her up, can’t say I knew her but she looks almost like what I imagine Brianna to be. She definitely has the hair. All she needs I guess is a long cigarette holder, two big white pearls for earrings and that slightly grotesque cloth wrapped around her head.

    1. igonzales81

      That was very good. I love to see a story driven by dialogue. Must say, I picked up more Tallulah Bankhead than Zsa Zsa. Could just see her there with that bared-teeth smile and smoldering cigarette. Well done.

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        Thanks igonzales! Had to look her up too, Tallulah definitely has the stare that goes with zsa zsa’s hair, just add that smoldering cigarette on a cigarette holder, with some big ‘ol white pearl earrings and that cloth wrapped around her head and viola!

  5. ReathaThomasOakley

    Job Swap

    I was contemplating the dust on the file cabinet when I heard a little knock at the door. Must be her, I thought, can’t believe I’m nervous, this is more like a blind date than…

    Another knock, louder this time, forced me to the door.

    “Annie!,” I said, trying to make my voice welcoming. Then I noticed the gummed stars in her hair. Oh, dear, I thought, the third grade school pictures, no wonder Mama didn’t frame one that year.

    “Please come in, let me just get the door.”

    “This your office?” I’d forgotten how strong my accent once was. “Don’t, uh, doesn’t look like a real office. Where’s all the other folks?”

    “Well, Annie, I once had a real office, people in and out all day. I’m retired now, so it’s just me, and sometimes my husband, in this office. But, it is where I work.” She walked around the room, inspecting my book case, the art, then finally the shelf with old toys.

    “Bill Ding with Clowns? You’ve got Bill Ding? Brother used to have a set like that.” She reached for one of the wooden men. “Where’d you get them.”

    Hmm, this was going to be tricky.

    “My mother saved them, but, when she, um, when she went away, he didn’t want them, and I did. Should we talk about swapping jobs for the day?”

    “Sure. But, I thought I’d be sitting at a desk, telling folks what to do, where to find things, like the lady at the bank, but, now…”

    “I thought, since my job now is writing, you might write something.”

    “Does it have to be in cursive?” I laughed, remembering her letter to me last year. “No, I’ll explain about that in a minute. So, you can write, and I’ll do some detecting.” Annie spun around, pointed Bill Ding at me.

    “Wait a minute! I don’t do detecting any more, that stupid Wilfred keeps showing up and I gotta keep telling everybody I don’t like him, really and truly I don’t, ’cause he’s nasty!”

    “Oh, Annie, I’m sorry, I–”

    “Know what he did yesterday? Know what he did?” Ah, this was getting strange. I hadn’t written Wilfred for a while.

    “No, Annie, I don’t know.”

    “He came to school with lizards hanging on his ears! Real lizards. Came right over to me, said, ‘Wanna put my lizards on your ears?’ See how nasty he is.” Oops, Cousin Eddie did that, but I didn’t think I’d written it yet.

    “I agree that’s nasty, but, it’s a great story. Why don’t you write it?” I took Mr. Ding, put him back on the shelf, and guided Annie to a desk. Hmm, I thought as I touched her shoulder, the aqua taffeta, she dressed up for this.

    “Annie,” I said as she sat, “this is what I use to write, it’s called a computer. See, I just tap these letters and they show up–” Annie jumped up from the chair, nearly knocking me down.

    “How’d you do that? That’s like magic or something!”

    “No, dear, it’s just a computer, I’ll explain–”

    “No, I watch the $64,000 Question, they have a computer. That TV thing there isn’t a computer.” Annie moved away from me. “I don’t think I like it here. I want to go back home.”

    I saw my plans for a great day evaporate. I’d wanted to talk to Annie, answer some of the questions from her letter, but, it wasn’t going to happen.

    I sat at my computer, opened the Annie file, and started deleting.

    “Ah, my dear little Annie Louise Porter,” I said to the empty room, “you want to go back home, lots of times so do I, so do I.”

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, nc. The Letter was a February 2, 2016, prompt. I’ve probably posted a dozen or so Annie stories that I’m currently editing and pulling into one longer piece to pitch to an agent the first weekend in June. The first three chapters recently got a nice award. This site, and the lovely comments, have kept me writing, so thanks again.

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      That took a quick and intense turn to frown town at the end Reatha. I don’t know how you do it but you made me tear up. My office mates are now looking at me weirdly. Brava!

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, Raf. Sometimes writing about Annie makes me sad, because of her innocence and her belief in the future. But, if my life is an indicator, she’ll be okay.

    2. Beebles

      what can i say. Its enchanting, that’s what it is. And just a little heartbreaking. Annie is so real and your room is so real. I had to look up the clowns, we don’t get them over here. Can’t wait for this all to come together.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        More magic Reatha
        Your characters literally jump off the screen when I read.

        Annie.is completely real to me and I echo a another comment posted, I want to know about ,Annie put together

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Thanks, Kerry. I’ll let you know when the book is done (I’m very optimistic!). I promise to list this site in my thank yous.

      2. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, Beebles. Right now, because of our recent major move, the office is a mess. But, our ten-year old granddaughter, who read some Annie stories last summer, offered to help get it in order. I hope I don’t call her Annie by mistake.

    3. writer_sk

      Really well-done. You’ve created such joy behind Annie. I liked seeing her talk to you and be in your office.

      Love the detail about the lizards. Just terrific writing, the character is wonderful.

  6. Mainiac

    Charred and Crunchy

    “I need a helper for the day, can you help me? ” I asked.

    Solitude thought for a moment than said with a crooked smile, “Surly I can do this just for a little while”.

    I snuck him in as quickly as I could , I hid his large body with two wide apron’s tied together and placed a chef hat on his head.

    As I watched from across the room I could see that Solitude looked out of place. He had never seen the likes of what stood before him in this present place. Why today, of all days, I thought, must we bring a character from our story to work .

    Solitude looked puzzled. What are these tiny things ? “He thought.” Then he muttered a certain verse and as he did I started to curse..

    Ah I thought I can hear you Solitude you don’t even have to mutter a word. I forgot I gave you this gift . yes he said this will work.

    His first order came on a tiny piece of paper that read ‘ fried shrimp with fries ‘

    He looked around his tiny space, bumping into plates, and knocking over trays, every time he turned or moved his giant head .

    He tried to pull a plate, at least he tried, he thought as careful as he could but each one had dropped.

    He tried to move in closer and stuck out his very long tongue. Now he placed a platter carefully on the counter this he did with each one.

    He went to get the shrimp unshelled of course. Who was Maniac to tell him to take the shell off as he read her every thought .

    He rolled them in dry powder that reminded him of sand and hurried up and placed them in something Maniac called a pan.

    He grabbed the fries and placed them in hot boiling oil.

    Solitude took the fries out once they looked done. They looked charred and crunchy “ahhh” what a meal it will be .

    Mean while, in the pan his shrimp look a little light so he added a little flame of his own as he cooked.

    He let out a gurgle from deep in his throat a small flame shot out. “ahhh now that’s how to cook.” He placed it on the platter and said this order is ready and up.

    He did not one, but 20 orders in all as fast as he could.

    The waitress took the order’s out and as quickly as she left, she brought it back and said these order’s are no good .

    Solitude was confused as he tasted the shrimp and fries, so he snorted out a bit more flame and then placed it to the side . He did this to every plate till he thought they all looked done.

    With a sigh he grabbed his last order which was ‘lobster on a roll’ so he grabbed a lobster from within a slimy tank .

    He held it on his long nail and snorted out a flame. He lightly rolled it over and over so it would all look the same. He reached for another platter with his long sticky tongue and placed the lobster on it for it now it was surly done.

    Crispy he thought, as he smelled that lovely scent and placed it on the counter ” order’s up” he said.

    He made a quick turn and heard a crash his damn tail had hit the plates.

    The waitress took all the orders out than brought them back and said “the customers are not happy ” and than she left quickly after that .

    Solitude was not understanding he new he did it right. Well he thought, maybe just maybe as he tried one little bite .

    He snorted a bit louder and flame’s came out much higher. The room filled with smoke and made all the customers choke. “What is that awful smell?” said one chef from the other side .

    As I looked over I was startled to see .

    Solitude looked more hurt then angry I saw it in his eye, you could see the sparks start to fly for he was hurt deep inside.

    The third time he sent out the same orders and yet the waitress brought them back. “I will show her” he mumbled, and then I heard a loud crack .

    He let out a mighty roar, he spread his gigantic wings, he blew out his biggest fire and smoke came out again.

    A high pitched noise sounded and the shouts repeated “fire” .

    “What on earth are you doing Solitude?” I looked and caught his gaze, I could see he was stumbling and making a mess within the haze.

    People ran from every where as smoke filled the kitchen and all the dining room’s “It’s a monster” I heard some one yell, as they ran down the hall.

    “You call this cooking?” I yelled as I looked around at the mess.

    He laughed and snorted “Why yes!! Of course I do next, time if you don’t want a cook, just ask my cousin instead.”

    “Whom is that you are speaking of for you’re the only one of your kind.”

    He laughed. “There are many I can see in your mind there is puff the magic dragon I am sure next time he can help.”

    And than I saw it. He had a human head . It was burnt and charred, for the waitress , she was dead .

    I pulled out my note pad and my pen. Than I blocked my mind and glared straight at Solitude as I sent him back to his time. I will never forget the look on his face that day.

    He had a sh@t Arse eating grin and then I thought I heard him say……….. “charred and crunchy I like it this way.”

    I quickly found my self shooting straight up in bed as I shook off the strange dream I had in my head “never again will I eat bananas before bed.

    1. Beebles

      Solitude comes across really well, a good mixture of knowing what to do in a kitchen and yet not what is expected leaned added comic value even the gruesome end. Nicely done.

  7. nchorsemama

    TAMMY CAN’T FOLLOW DIRECTIONS….

    I got to the store early to count all the tills, and do the paperwork that I knew Grayson wouldn’t be able to do. If I was a little nervous about bringing Grayson here, well I pushed that thought aside. A blessed day off, after working 4 weeks straight. I needed it! I checked the time again. He should be here by now, where is he? I grabbed my journal and opened it to the last page. Words started appearing before my very eyes!

    “You’re leaving me again!” Kira accused

    “ It’s just for the day Kira” Gray said patiently

    “But you promised!”

    Oh, this wasn’t good at all, I reached for my pen.

    Seeing them in the flesh, well, they were even better than I imagined . Grayson stood at 6′ 7” with long wavy dark hair and those chocolate eyes. The battle scars on his face made him look fierce indeed.
    Kira’s tiny frame reached the great height of 5′ 2”. What she lacked in that area, came tenfold in sheer spirit and her vow to never be broken. Kira’s fiery red gold curls framed her face perfectly and you could get lost in her emerald green eyes. Though Grayson has brute strength he is also a fair and just Lord , Kira has a cunning mind and a loving heart. They were breathtaking! Looking at them now, him dressed in his chain mail with his mighty sword, he looked a formidable sight. Kira on the other hand wasn’t dressed as the lady of the castle at all. Her preferred garb was her boots, breeches and shirt, to Grayson’s dismay.

    “Kira…” I started

    “Tammy! He made a promise..er..you made the promise through him” She glared at me with her hands on her hips. I looked to Grayson to make her understand. He stood with his arms crossed over that massive chest.

    “You’ve made me an honorable man Tammy, and an honorable man keeps his word.”

    How like them to throw my words back in my face! Great! Now everyone will think I can’t follow simple instructions!

    “Alright, you both can come, but you don’t need your chain mail and sword Grayson. And Kira please leave your blades at home.”

    “What! You would have me go to a new land without protection!?”

    “What! And leave me defenseless!?”

    They both shouted at the same time. Two pair of incredulous eyes bored into me. I rubbed my temples. Was this a migraine coming on?

    I gave them a quick tour of the store while I waited for my assistant BJ to get there. There was no way I was gonna leave these two in charge of the store. As we ventured through the clothing section, Kira was delighted to see all the breeches for women. Grayson held up a bikini and eyed it with a raised brow.

    “It’s for swimming.” I said and laughed at his expression.

    “ Why would you wear clothes for swimming?” He wanted to know.

    “ Are these for babies?” Kira asked about the small pocket knives in the glass case. She pulled one of her 10” blades to compare.

    I dropped them in the grocery department to go let BJ in. When I got back with BJ in tow, I found them with opened cans of peas, potatoes, carrots, chicken and tuna. They had also opened and package of hamburger buns. They were using their daggers to eat with.

    “Where’s the ale and wine, Tammy? Grayson asked. Sweet Jesus, I was beginning to think this isn’t going to work at all.

    I went to my office to get the tills to carry up to the registers. I had no sooner got the last till in it’s drawer when the piercing alarm went off of one of the emergency exits. I ran back there to find Grayson sword drawn turning in a circle looking for the enemy. I used my key to turn off the alarm and turned.

    “Grayson you can’t open these doors”

    That’s when I heard the crash in the stockroom and ran in that direction with Grayson on my heels. We almost made to the swinging doors when they opened and Kira walked out covered in….. blood? Oh dear God in heaven!

    “I can explain….” Kira started, then saw Grayson’s face and hurried to reassure him. “It’s not my blood Grayson.” No, no, no,resounded in my head.

    “Who’d you kill?” I whispered, terrified to hear the answer.

    “I haven’t killed anyone…..today” She said irritated. “I was helping one of the lads pull stuff down from the top and someone had put two bottles of this fake blood on top and they broke and splattered all over me.” Fake blood? Ketchup! Thank you Lord.

    I gave Kira a clean shirt and went back to the office. I needed something for this headache. I had just swallowed the pills when the camera TV caught my eye. Kira was in the furniture department lying on one of the beds with ….what was that in her hand? I looked closer. Is that a honey bear??? Oh my gosh, that’s a honey bear!!! I took off for the furniture department. Not here, not today!! I got there just as Grayson was walking up.

    “ No Kira!” I yelled. “ Close your eyes and think bad thoughts! No don’t eat Grayson with your eyes!!” Grayson had the audacity to laugh out loud. I grabbed the honey out of her hand. I started to feel for all the people at Rosehaven’s Keep. These two together were just too much. This isn’t working. I went to get my purse.

    As I was coming back to the front to collect my beloved Grayson and Kira, a scream rent the air.
    As I reached the electronics, I couldn’t believe what what eyes were showing me. There stood Kira with one blade at a young mans throat and another pointed at his friend standing nearby. Grayson was holding one of his hands over the counter with his sword raised for striking.

    “Stop! “ I yelled

    “ He is stealing from you! He is a thief! I will cut off his hand for you.” The young man looked to be about 18 and scared out of his mind.

    “ No Grayson, we don’t do that here. Release him at once!”

    “What are you doing?”He asked me. I had pulled out and journal and was writing as fast as I could.

    “I’m writing you guys home. My century is not ready for you. “

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      I’m very much curious now as to when Kira and Grayson came from. It was a fun read NC! I loved the joy ride here. Gonna be a crazy week indeed.

  8. Kerry Charlton

    [Character from Hiring A New Villain]

    CATCHING MISS LIPRUSH LARNILLE

    “You’re going to be very sorry, Kerry. Have you lost your mind?”

    He could tell Betsy, his secretary was furious but since he was desperate to go away with his new girlfriend, Lulu Meringue he had met last week he told her,

    “I have an invitation to spend a week in Bermuda with her at her winter home and it’s too tempting to turn down.’

    “Well boss I’m just worried about your company.”

    “Now Betsy, I briefed Liprush Larnille on how to handle my job, it’s just one week“.

    “I know all that but didn’t she sink the Good Ship Lolly Pop last week?”

    “Three weeks ago, she drowned Antony Quinn, but we all forgave her for that. Besides she says she has religion now.”

    “Okay boss but if I can’t control her, you’ll hear from me at your little love nest.”

    Two days in Bermuda, sail fishing and romancing Lulu had put Kerry in a wonderful mood. Betsy’s call broke it.

    “Slow down Betsy, quit yelling so loud in the phone.”

    “You’d yell too, guess what?”

    “I’m game, what?”

    “Your little villain took your two senior foreman, two trim carpenters and one plumber to South Padre Island. They rented a suite at the Grand Hyatt.”

    “Who’s paying for that?”

    “You, dummy, remember you gave her your American Express card.”

    “What else?”

    “Grand Hyatt wants four thousand dollars to clean the room. It’s full of ‘you know’”.

    “Send them a check from petty cash. Is she all right?”

    “She’s fine, one foreman broke his elbow, the other sprained his ankle, and the plumber lost the tip of his cash register finger.”

    “What?”

    “You heard me, Miss Liprush said it was where it shouldn’t have been and she bit
    it off. That’s all the news today,” Click

    It was a restless night for Kerry, despite Lulu’s attempts to brighten his mood. The phone rang at five fifteen in the morning.

    “Boss, boss can you hear me?”

    “Barely, what’s the racket about.”

    “Oh nothing much, I’m at the jail house in Port. Isabel.”

    “Did you say Port Isabel?”

    “Yep, it’s the closest jail to South Padre. I drove down to help and the sheriff contacted me.”

    “What about?, Oh never mind, what’s she done now?”

    “ You‘re catching on boss. Your villain, Liprush, both foreman, one carpenter and the plumber are in jail for indecent behavior.”

    “What happened to the other carpenter?“

    “He hurt his back, we put him on a bus and sent him home.“

    “I appreciate everything you’re trying to do Betsy. When are you coming home?“

    “Home, what’s home? I’m having a blast down here. Don’t expect to see me for two weeks.”

    “Well, if you have to.”

    “Boss, I forgot to tell you, you’re overdrawn at the bank. I had to pull out some party money.“
    ,
    :

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Mainiac. I could see this happening.To most people,especially me. But I don’t.know any wealthy women from Berm hiuda, that’s the sad part!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Most interesting Beebles,.You,re warming up to the prompt. I wish you could carry this a little further.

        I also liked all the descriptive phases and instilling my nterest more
        Perhaps part three?

      2. Kerry Charlton

        I wrote comment to you twice and they disappeared. Spooks in the web site. Thanks for your comments
        This wasn’t an inspired answer to the prompt.but then neither was the prompt itself

  9. MoiraiTQ

    I took out all the carriage returns.

    “Really, Tim? I have to train a temp to do my job?” Tim, my boss, has just told me that I’ve been put onto a special team for the reconstruction of our websites. Woo! Hoo!

    OK, my job is not difficult. It’s a lot of common sense and making upset people happy. Actually, it’s quite easy. What’s hard is all the minutiae that I’ve learned over the last three years. What can be refunded, what cannot. Who to contact and in what situations. How to tell if customers are lying. When to be a hard-nose and not give in or when to soften up and be human. Oh, the hardest is always being nice. It’s not easy being nice when someone is yelling at you, demeaning your company, and generally being an ash-hat.

    I have to explain all this to the temp. Tim knows that I can do it. I’m up for any challenge. The temp comes in on Monday. Today is Friday.

    *********************

    As I was driving into work, I was thinking about who this temp would be. I’m hoping Tim didn’t get some dummy from the temp agency. I don’t want to have to explain over and over again how to do the simplest tasks. It’s not a hard job. A lot of it is repetion. We have training manuals and contact sheets. The temp will do just fine.

    I pull into the parking lot and park in my normal spot. There is a limo taking up six spots right next to the front of the building. What the flock of seagulls is a limo doing in our parking lot. We already don’t have enough spot and this flocking limo is parked in our parking lot. I take a deep breathe and hope it leaves before most of the office gets here at 9 am, or at least parks somewhere else.

    I grab my purse and building key card, walk through our front door, and head into the office. Not 10 seconds after the door closes in the reception area, the bell rings. I turn around and face the glass door. What? What is she doing here. She is smiling at me and waving. I smile back and go to the door.

    “Hello Hillary. I’m sorry, I cannot help you crochet today. I wish I could, but Monday’s are pretty busy and I don’t have any more PTO.” How does she know where I work? Well, she knew where I lived, so this shouldn’t surprise me.

    “It’s ok. I’m not here to have another crochet lesson, even though we do need to schedule another one. I’m here to fill in for you. I’m your temp.”

    I take another deep breath and let her in. She turns to dismiss the body guard. I ask him to move the limo, as we need those parking spots. She nods in agreement. In my mind, I’m laughing because this is just too funny not to be true. Too bad I cannot put this on Facebook because I just don’t have anything work related on Facebook. Today is going to be an interesting day.

    I start with the necessary parts of work. I show her where the bathrooms and kitchen are. Then we to my cube. I pull a second chair over and start going over all the required things. How to log into the computer, how to check email, how to use our purchasing system. She takes notes on everything. We also have training manuals. This takes us about 20 minutes. We then go over the processes for the different situations. This is where some of the minutiae comes in. This is when her eyes start to glaze over and rolling into the back of her head. This is normal for any new person coming into this job. We have so much to learn and not enough brain to hold it.

    By this time, it’s almost 8 am. I suggest we take a little break and get a cup of coffee, tea, or water. We walk into the break area near our work area. All of a sudden, everyone in our two buildings just happens to need something in our little break area. People are talking and getting in my way. They want to see Hillary. I get shoved out of the way and out of the break area by the masses of people.

    I walk back down the hall to our work area, into Tim’s office, and close his door. “Tim, this is not going work. She’s a celeb. She won’t be able to get anything done. No one will let me near her. We need a different temp.”

  10. MoiraiTQ

    “Really, Tim? I have to train a temp to do my job?” Tim, my boss, has just told me that I’ve been

    put onto a special team for the reconstruction of our websites. Woo! Hoo!

    OK, my job is not difficult. It’s a lot of common sense and making upset people happy. Actually,

    it’s quite easy. What’s hard is all the minutiae that I’ve learned over the last three years. What

    can be refunded, what cannot. Who to contact and in what situations. How to tell if customers are

    lying. When to be a hard-nose and not give in or when to soften up and be human. Oh, the hardest is

    always being nice. It’s not easy being nice when someone is yelling at you, demeaning your company,

    and generally being an ash-hat.

    I have to explain all this to the temp. Tim knows that I can do it. I’m up for any challenge. The

    temp comes in on Monday. Today is Friday.

    *********************

    As I was driving into work, I was thinking about who this temp would be. I’m hoping Tim didn’t get

    some dummy from the temp agency. I don’t want to have to explain over and over again how to do the

    simplest tasks. It’s not a hard job. A lot of it is repetion. We have training manuals and contact

    sheets. The temp will do just fine.

    I pull into the parking lot and park in my normal spot. There is a limo taking up six spots right

    next to the front of the building. What the flock of seagulls is a limo doing in our parking lot. We

    already don’t have enough spot and this flocking limo is parked in our parking lot. I take a deep

    breathe and hope it leaves before most of the office gets here at 9 am, or at least parks somewhere

    else.

    I grab my purse and building key card, walk through our front door, and head into the office. Not 10 seconds after the door closes in the reception area, the bell rings. I turn around and face the glass door. What? What is she doing here. She is smiling at me and waving. I smile back and go to the door.

    “Hello Hillary. I’m sorry, I cannot help you crochet today. I wish I could, but Monday’s are pretty

    busy and I don’t have any more PTO.” How does she know where I work? Well, she knew where I lived, so this shouldn’t surprise me.

    “It’s ok. I’m not here to have another crochet lesson, even though we do need to schedule another

    one. I’m here to fill in for you. I’m your temp.”

    I take another deep breath and let her in. She turns to dismiss the body guard. I ask him to move

    the limo, as we need those parking spots. She nods in agreement. In my mind, I’m laughing because

    this is just too funny not to be true. Too bad I cannot put this on Facebook because I just don’t

    have anything work related on Facebook. Today is going to be an interesting day.

    I start with the necessary parts of work. I show her where the bathrooms and kitchen are. Then we to my cube. I pull a second chair over and start going over all the required things. How to log into the computer, how to check email, how to use our purchasing system. She takes notes on everything. We also have training manuals. This takes us about 20 minutes. We then go over the processes for the different situations. This is where some of the minutiae comes in. This is when her eyes start to glaze over and rolling into the back of her head. This is normal for any new person coming into this job. We have so much to learn and not enough brain to hold it.

    By this time, it’s almost 8 am. I suggest we take a little break and get a cup of coffee, tea, or water. We walk into the break area near our work area. All of a sudden, everyone in our two buildings just happens to need something in our little break area. People are talking and getting in my way. They want to see Hillary. I get shoved out of the way and out of the break area by the masses of people.

    I walk back down the hall to our work area, into Tim’s office, and close his door. “Tim, this is not going work. She’s a celeb. She won’t be able to get anything done. No one will let me near her. We need a different temp.”

    1. nchorsemama

      Too funny Moirai! I also see that glazed over look when training people. You’re right it’s like too much info so fast for the brain to hold. lol

      1. RafTriesToWrite

        I can’t help but agree with NC over here Moirai. I was also a trainee once and I can confirm that I’ve seen that look before, I had too much information forced into my brain that day.

        It wasn’t a fun day for me.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      I really enjoyed this. You did a great job keeping Hillary’s story going, glad you didn’t point out how the training might have helped in her previous job.

      1. MoiraiTQ

        Thanks, RTO. Yea, I’m not going to bash her. I have one more idea that’s been bubbling up. It’ll get written. Hopefully, there’ll be a prompt. Or I’ll just add it to a prompt.

  11. dustymayjane

    Madam M from “Worst Memoir Opening Line Ever”

    “Madam M…Is it? Your attire is unsuitable for the workplace. Didn’t Dusty explain? Business attire, except Fridays which are casual.” Stan from Human Relations wondered where Dusty found this wack job, in her feather trimmed house dress and high heeled house slippers.

    Madam M leaned back to look down her pointy nose at Stan. “Dusty just invited me to ‘Bring your favorite character to work day’. She didn’t say anything about what to wear. And isn’t it Friday young man?””

    Of course it was Friday. Stan blushed pink to his ears. “Well, so it is. In that case, let me show you where you’ll be working today.”

    “Working! I will do no such thing!” M gasped and gave Stan a look of haughty derision.

    Stan was at his wit’s end and hadn’t the patients to deal with any Madam Ms of the world. “Fine, sit here and… read a book or something.” It was just as well. He couldn’t afford any tax return mess-ups just because Dusty decided to swap in someone as inexpert as Madam M.

    Madam M felt satisfied with the arrangement and took a chair in the office area filled with identical desks and half walls. After looking around the room and finding the surrounding not particularly to her liking she opened her large bag and unpacked a few of her more favored décor items and placed them around the office.

    Stan was agape at what he found upon his return to Dusty’s work area later that day. A large stuffed peac*ck, his tail feathers on full display, an armless, n*de man of white marble and an ancient urn that could have come from the Ming Dynasty. M herself sipped tea from a delicate teacup. The saucer shared a space on Dusty’s desk with a porcelain teapot, a dish of sugar cubes and a matching creamer, all resting upon a large silver serving tray.

    “Madam M, what may I ask are you doing?” Stan held his palm to his head and wondered what she could possibly be thinking bringing such oddities to the office.

    “Having my tea. Would you care to join me?” Her bright pink lips pinched together over the edge of her teacup ready to slurp up another sip.

    “Stan was infuriated. “No thank you Madam M.” He looked at the peac*ck, the statue and the urn. “I understand you have made yourself at home here Madam M, but may I ask what this is?”

    “Well you can see this is a peac*ck, I called him Darwin. I’m sure you recognize the Statue of David. It’s a replica, not the real one. And this is my dear husband Ernest. I never leave home with my Ernest.” M’s long, bony fingers pointed to each precious belonging as she spoke.

    Stan heaved a big sigh and wondered who’s idea it was to bring your favorite character to work.

    1. RafTriesToWrite

      Another funny piece of work right here! I loved what Madam M did to the place, I feel like she really lifted the aura with her “oddities”.

  12. Beebles

    And after I’d just done one. Apologies for length blah blah
    —————————
    The Only Currency

    She’s seen enough.

    The collapsed buildings, the charred layers of destruction, the shallow graves holding the bodies of parents and children, some burned, some decapitated.

    It’s a massacre.

    And it is of national significance. Even she, as a newbie, can appreciate that.

    She makes a few notes from the top of the spoil heap and offers up a silent prayer to Yama, sickened by the brutality the story tells. She pops the pencil and notebook into the top pocket of her overalls, emblazoned with the GRID logo, and shakes the supervisor’s hand.

    ‘Thank you, that’s really useful.’

    He returns her smile. He is friendly enough, keen, intelligent and will be on the phone to his superiors immediately she has left.

    It’s going to be a long day, but she senses this is no different to what she normally does. Same tropes, different time.

    Back in the car she makes a couple of calls of her own, shaking her black hair out from under her hard hat. Her voice is Bengali honey dripping through the ether; if only they had these devices two hundred years earlier, her day job would be so much easier. She closes the last call and smiles like a big cat on a newly downed buck: it’s why, back home, kings and princes call her Sherni, the tigress.

    At the compound she reverse parks in amongst the 4x4s and BMWs, GRID and PipeCom logos compete over every inch of the portacabins. Walking across the yard to sign in she can feel the gaze of the banksmen at the smoking station, as subtle as their high vis. She shrugs it off, a blessing and a curse.

    By a stroke of luck she corners the PipeCom QS in the canteen. He’s young, one of the graduate trainees, and she gives him those big grey eyes over a mug of tea. She is only three years older but he is wet daub in her hands and information floods out like blood from a ripped throat.

    The GRID Project Manager is a different breed, a veteran of countless projects, his mind fixed on delivery, on keeping the contractor PipeCom in line. She briefs him on the archaeological findings, the implications for construction. His questions are incisive, targeted. She warns exactly what the PipeCom archaeologist will say.

    ‘Have the figures sorted by the Look Ahead meeting,’ the PM says

    She inclines her head. ‘They’re already done.’

    The meeting room is cramped and, save for a single, blond haired woman, the occupants are all men, PipeCom and GRID arrayed like chess pieces on either side.

    East India Company, she sneers to herself and pops a couple of buttons on the overalls. If she didn’t have their attention before, she has now. choduein.

    The newly discovered remains are agenda item #4, straight after H&S. The PipeCom archaeologist, a young man in a sharp suit and shoes that reflect his smug grin stresses the importance of getting the excavations underway at once. He helpfully provides an estimated cost.

    All eyes fall on the foreign looking woman in the low cut GRID overalls. It’s the same game, from the heat of Calcutta; she knows it will cost more, she knows PipeCom will have a hefty mark up on those costs and on the resultant delays to the programme. It’s her job to cut that tatti. She leans forward and presents figures of her own.

    ‘It’ll be more cost effective if we preserve the site, thrust-bore underneath.’ Some of the choduein around the table smirk. Her PM nods encouragingly.

    The PipeCom consultant shakes his head. ‘The authorities would never agree.’

    She purrs like a well fed predator. ‘They already have.’

    Afterwards, outside, the black and white queens meet.

    ‘Nicely done. I’m Elsie, PipeCom Environmental Consultant.’

    ‘Maysie Gearman, Heritage. Thank you, and I didn’t have to hold a pistol to anyone’s head.’ She hawks and spits onto the hardcore surface.

    Elsie looks shocked. ‘I’m sorry?’

    ‘Don’t be.’ Maysie holds out a dark hand. ‘It’s reassuring to remember lead isn’t the only currency.’

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Well, at least you know how to do italics and bold. This world is pretty grim, but Maysie is amazing. She played everyone, and then bragged about it. I suspect we will continue to hear from her. Well done.

      1. Beebles

        That’s very generous Reatha. i have to admit i would have deleted this if i could. Poorly conceived, planned, executed and delivered. Not my finest hour and only twenty four after getting onto the 101 website. Tch. As for the world, that’s what i do.

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Okay, I’ve read this several times again and don’t quite understand why you wanted to delete it. As for the grim world, this doesn’t sound like England.

          1. Beebles

            Felt turgid and cramped to me, looked back and so many things i should have done better, so many better tacks – self critics are the worst, aren’t they? – but i really appreciate your thoughts and effort. Now time for a game of cricket on the green before tea with the vicar and a bit of waving at royalty. Tally-ho! 🙂

  13. Pete

    I nearly trip when I see her coming out of the training room. Mel, my page turner, walking with a throng of new hires. Her dark, wavy hair spirals to her shoulders, and even as she’s business casual—striped shirt, jeans—my nighttime creation looks beautifully out of place at my fluorescent day job.

    I’m not even aware that I’ve approached her until it’s too late. “Excuse me, Mel?”

    She turns and squints—a childhood gesture she never outgrew. She confirms everything with a smile, because Mel never guards her smile, she smiles first and suffers the consequences—usually a proposal of some type—later.

    Her eyes widen, and in them I see the sky through my bare toes, just before I fall back to the earth and muster the strength to stretch my legs out and launch my swing for the clouds. I stammer, and the microwave dings in the breakroom, the world zooming into trouble on cable news above our heads.

    This is ridiculous. I’m happily married, old, and never saw that coffee stain on my shirt until now. But Mel in person is something else.

    The smile remains. “Do I know you?”

    I shake my head, open my mouth. Her head tilts in recognition as she snaps her fingers twice then points. “Yeah, wait.”

    What am I doing? I should have never approached her, but how often do you meet, actually meet, something—err—someone you’ve created. Not that I’m God, I’m a hack. But her face, it makes you believe…

    Mel gasps.

    She’s figured it out, what I did to her a few prompts back, maybe that’s why she’d here. And a closer look at those eyes reveals not the sky but the painful splinters of my failure and rejection. All I want to do is go back and erase the words. How? I’ve already put her through hell, struck her with a heroin addiction. Not exactly fodder for conversation, if you get my drift.

    Wanda from Claims makes no secret watching us, and one of her training room boys openly gawks at her ass. Mel wipes her eyes. Her hands tremble. Her voice is wet, hissing to a simmer.

    “Why did you do it?”

    Obviously, she’s recovered. I made sure of that, but what fell from the pages, scrapped from a thumb drive was the gruel of recovery, the skin grating agony of kicking addiction. Not to mention losing her boyfriend when the guy went ape on a bunch of drug dealers.

    I don’t have much to say about him. He was paper thin, a sap, unoriginal until I wrenched his life and made it interesting. But it’s hard to feel remorse for a character I never bothered to name. Jake works, I decide on the spot.

    Mel nods at me. “Jake.”

    It gives me chills, the way she says it. Like she’s praying. How was I to know she loved him? I start to say that when she shakes her head.

    “He’s in prison,” she says, the tears like gasoline now, feeding the fire in her eyes. “Prison.”

    “Mel,” I say, looking around. Wanda’s had enough, she caps her Diet Coke and lumbers off to take phone calls. I reach for Mel’s hand. “Let’s calm down, okay?”

    She jerks away from me. “Calm down?” She’s inches from my face, her pain reaching into me. The training room kid approaches. “Mel, this guy bothering you?”

    Her eyes never leave mine. I shoot the kid a glare, one that promises a case of genital warts if he doesn’t leave us the hell alone. He gets the message. “I’ll uh, I’ll see you in class, Mel.”

    The kid walks out, wide and uncomfortable, probably because I just gave him a sh!t stain in his skinny jeans. Mel watches retreat, notices, and smiles despite herself. Rolls her glassy eyes. “Real mature.”

    “Look, Mel. I’m sorry.”

    Seconds crawl by. A guy talking on a headset enters and dumps his ice in the sink. He refills his one gallon metal cup and heads out.

    Mel looks at me. “Don’t apologize. Get him out.”

    I shuffle my feet, groan at the thought of writing a guy who bores me. A guy I envy. A guy I generally dislike.

    Mel’s eyes widen. “Now.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Of everything I enjoyed about this, the line about not noticing the coffee stain stopped me as I read, a perfect description of how smitten you were. I also thought the way you rewrote as you went was great. Wonderful take on this prompt.

  14. ShamelessHack

    “All hands on deck! Avast and walk the plank! All bullyboys to the yardarms, load the cannons mates, and…”
    “Can you tone it down? My kids are trying to sleep upstairs.”
    “Why ye pox-scuttled sewer rat! I be Captain Spewfoam, the most afeared pirate in all the Chinee Sea. Ye canna talk to me like that wi’out me cuttin off yer ear.”
    “You won’t do that.”
    “I might and might nought. Who might ye be, ye decrepit maggot, eh? EH?!”
    “You know who I am.”
    “Hmm. I be asquinten at ye and yer lookin a bit familiar, but…”
    “Stop clowning around Spewfoam, I’m Hack.”
    “Bless ye.”
    “That wasn’t a sneeze. I’m Shameless Hack, your creator.”
    “Ahhh, I get it now. You be one of them mystics, them fortune teller fellas, eh?”
    “No. I made you up. You’re a character in my last novel, “The Pirate That Peed His Britches.”
    “Them’s fightin words, Hack! Pick up yer sword! En garde! Devil take the hindmost, and prepare to breathe yer last, ye black-hearted, scurvy-riddled…

    Click (Delete)

    Note to self: The next time Writers Digest comes up with a bone-headed prompt like this one, close the laptop and go to sleep.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wonderfully self-aware, Hack. I agree about the lameness of the prompt, but treat these things as ways to stretch my brain cells. Kind of like the rack or the iron maiden that way. I especially loved Spewfoam’s reaction to your name…

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Note to hack: whatever the prompt, keep that computer open! This was so funny. For some reason I saw Spewfoam in cartoon form, eye patch, pirate hat, costume from Party City, ready for Talk like a Pirate Day.

      1. ShamelessHack

        Thanks to ye all! I’ll be sharin the next treasure with thee. But I’ll be comin to rip off yer hides should ye deign to make any more remarks about me pissed up britches. Grrrrr.

        Click (delete)

  15. grahamgold

    Dan, the project manager, walked over to his workers. “Guys, who’s that?” Dan asked. Santi, an employee he took to every construction site he worked at, looked over at the bearded man staring at a wood support beam.
    “That dude?” Santi asked.
    “Yeah, the hell is he doing on our site?” Dan seemed upset, but also a bit fearful. Years of construction had made him strong, but he feared eccentricity.
    “Thought he was your cousin,” Santi said, mouthful with a cheese sandwich. Santi put his hood on to protect himself from the cold breeze.
    “My cousin?” Dan said, “that guy is twenty years older than me and has been staring at this support beam for the last five minutes.”
    “All day, actually,” Jerry said, the youngest of the group. “I just thought he was your pops or something.” Jerry drank his daily coca cola.
    “Why do you all think this guy is related to me?” Dan was losing patience. They all shrugged. “You guys must be messing with me. You’re messing with me, right? Has anyone talked to this man?” They all shook their heads.
    “Yo homie!” Santi called out to the bearded man.
    The bearded man looked at them with wide eyes. He smiled, and then pointed to the beam. “Does the beam support the roof, or does the roof support the beam?” The bearded man’s powerful, baritone voice surprised all of them. They looked at each other in confusion.
    “What you doin here?” Santi called. “Come here.”
    The bearded man walked over. Dan stood eye to eye with this man. Dan’s usual tough demeanor was superseded with curiosity.
    “That’s a very good question,” the bearded man asked. “What am I doing here. What am I doing here? What are we all doing here?”
    The workers laughed. They welcomed unexpected entertainment during their grueling days. For a moment they forgot that their faces stung from the cold. Santi and Dan exchanged looks.
    “You crazy man? You can’t be here.” Dan was about done with the guy. Everyone could hear it in his tone, and they anticipated a confrontation.
    “I wanted to try and build something,” the bearded man said, a childlike expression on his face, a big smile and a desire to understand. Dan looked at Santi again. He grabbed the hammer from his belt and handed it to the man. The bearded man took it and held it up, examining it.
    “It’s crazy what these things can do,” the bearded man said.
    “There’s a nail on this floor board, right there, yeah. Hit it with that against the top of the nail, and you will have built something. Then you gotta go.” Dan and the others watched as the man bent over the nail.
    “This could lead to many great things,” the man said, bringing the hammer down.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I really, really liked this, the details of the men’s food, the cold wind, the men thinking the stranger being Dan’s relative, and especially the bearded man contemplating the beam. I also liked Don’s solution and the great last line. Very well done.

  16. pven

    “How do you use Excel today?”

    Mrs. Alison Hendrix listened to the responses of the nine people in the computer lab, nodding after each person’s brief response. She had never felt as lost as she had right then.

    “I see. And… and… what are you expecting to learn from today’s… class?”

    “How to do a VLOOKUP.”

    “Me, too.”

    “I want to be able to take my spreadsheet and find duplicates.”

    “Wow,” Alison responded. “I barely know how to find anything in the menu bar, so this is going to be interesting!” She laughed a bit too hard. The class sat there, faces blank, waiting for her to begin.

    “Um… OK…”

    “Ms. Hendrix?”

    “Huh? What?” She looked around the computer lab. Nobody had spoken, nobody had moved.

    “Hello, Ms. Hendrix. We couldn’t help hearing your predicament. I’m pretty good at Excel. Would you like some help?”

    Alison turned her face to the projection screen and mumbled into the chip in her tooth: “You! Did you put me here?”

    “No, ma’am,” said the voice in her head. “But we’re noticing an uptick in role swaps. We’ve got some agents looking into it.”

    Alison’s mind whirled as she weighed which was the more outlandish twist of fate: the government device that she hadn’t yet had removed from her mouth, or her unceremonious insertion into the technical training world.

    “Ma’am. Would you like some help?” the agent repeated. “We do VLOOKUPs all the time.”

    “Oh, heck yes!” Alison replied.

    “OK. You don’t happen to know your computer’s IP address, do you?”

    Alison shook her head.

    “Ms. Hendrix?”

    “Oh! Sorry! No!”

    “No matter. I’ll have my men pull it up based on your location. Ten active computers… may take a few tries… No, just get them all online, Jim. We’ll probably need them.”

    “Why… why are you doing this?”

    “You’ve been a big help in getting us into that sleeper cell, Ms. Hendrix. I’d just like to return the favor. Now, are you ready to go Cyrano de Bergerac on this spreadsheet?”

    Alison nodded.

    “Good then. Repeat after me…”

    1. Observer Tim

      There are days this sort of thing would be indispensable, even considering the extremely high chance it will go horribly wrong. At least she has a control group in her tooth to help her. Nice job, pven.

    2. Beebles

      Feels like one of those dreams, such as being in a play and finding you don’t know the lines. I like the ‘oh heck yes.’ I could feel that sense of desperation and relief.

    3. RafTriesToWrite

      Ooooo. Two prompts altogether. I wish I had help from my tooth too, beacause if I had to do a VLOOKUP to save my life, I’d most likely be dead. Loved this pven!

  17. Observer Tim

    THE ASSISTANT’S ASSISTANT

    I couldn’t think of anything weirder than how my real workday starts. Names have been changed to protect the guilty…

    “Hello, Tim speaking.”

    “It’s Wanda; something’s wrong here.”

    “Can you give me a little less information, please?”

    “Somebody stole your computer.”

    “Stole it? Wait, what’s actually missing?”

    “Just the box. There’s a screen and keyboard and a mouse, but I looked behind the document stand and there’s no computer here.”

    “That’s because it’s a docking station; the laptop is in the top drawer of the file cabinet. Use the small key.”

    “Uh-huh. Okay, I got it. How does… oh, I see. Tim, why do you have a laptop?”

    “Sometimes I have to use it for presentations.”

    “When’s the last time you did?”

    “Four years ago. And next month.”

    “Sounds really worth the inconvenience of looking it up every night.”

    “Hey, it’s secure.”

    “So’s a safe nobody knows the combination to.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Are you okay now, Wanda?”

    “No, I’m staying on the line with you as long as needed. Okay, the laptop is plugged in and turned on, what’s the password?”

    “I gave you the password in the envelope.”

    “It says it’s wrong, and something about butt-locker.”

    “Oh, BitLocker; that’s the other password. Sorry about that. It’s GovCan414.”

    “Uh, huh. The other password? Did anybody ever tell you your company is paranoid?”

    “They’re the government, what do you expect?”

    “Where’s the handcuff to chain the laptop to your wrist?”

    “Come on, Wanda, it’s not that bad. Anyway, we take security seriously.”

    “I can tell. Now this Windows screen is the password you gave me.”

    “Right. And the user ID.”

    “Got it; what’s the network name?”

    “Network name?

    “It’s the third box. It’s filled in with Upsilon, but I don’t trust you guys anymore.”

    “No, it’s Upsilon.”

    “Okay, here goes… and I’m in; man, this is slow. Oh, somebody’s here; who’s the blonde?”

    “Dierdre; she’s one of the managers.”

    “Okay, just a second. …name’s Wanda …for Tim …broken in three places …next Monday …call him when I need …yeah, he is. Thanks. Windows is all started up and… Windows Seven? Nobody uses Windows Seven!”

    “We do. Anyway, start Outlook and check my e-mail, then call me back.”

    “Why call you back?”

    “Because it takes a while. Talk to you later, Wanda.”

    “Sure thing, Tim.”

    “Hello, Tim speaking.”

    “It’s Wanda.”

    “What took so long?”

    “People came in. Dierdre’s team is missing, I have to get toner for one of the printers, Terry something called about your reorg, Jane called from Edmonton to ask about cashing out leave, I had to explain to your Tom and Thomas who I was and why I’m here, Leslie wants help with something called Chart, and there’s popcorn on the mezzanine at lunch.”

    “That means it’s payday.”

    “Huh?”

    “The popcorn. Okay, we’ll start at the beginning; do you have the list of instructions I gave you?”

    “Yes”

    “Okay, first Dierdre; start up EASY, the admin system. While that’s taking its own sweet time go to the door labelled ‘carnivorous plants’; that’s the supply room…”

    “Tim, is this typical for your day?”

    “Pretty much, yeah.”

    “I am never doing this again; next time write a duplicate of yourself.”

    1. Beebles

      ‘carnivorous plants’!! Brilliant. It sounds like it seesaws between a hoot and a yawn chez vous. I enjoyed Wanda’s understated scorn. And I agree, all bosses should be called Jim … or Nansi.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Tim, do you ever sleep? This is so revealing about your personality. Do you realize you’ve opened the door to what makes you tick?
        I believe in.my world it’s called a fascinating, hold no bars personality
        Thank you for writing it.

    2. RafTriesToWrite

      I can’t begin to imagine Wanda’s hard time at your work Tim, it seems that there’s a lot going on everyday. I agree with Jhowe, very funny stuff here Tim! Loved it.

  18. jhowe

    “Why it so cold in here, mon?”

    “It’s air conditioning,” I say. “It helps us stay productive.” The Lobster Man shakes his dreads, rattling the carved wooden beads.

    “Ain’t we like in the Yukon or something?” He shivers. “What we need all this air conditioning for?”

    “We’re in Miami.”

    “That far north, mon?

    “Look, can you do the job or not? My agent told me to write you in, so here we are.”

    “Keep dreaming about having an agent, mon. But, yes, I can do the job.” He smiles, revealing several missing teeth. “I can do anything.” He looks around and picks up a stapler and eyes it suspiciously.

    My boss walks in the room and I cringe. She stops in front of us, scowling. The Lobster Man holds out his hand and introduces himself as the new guy with no name, really laying on the Jamaican accent. My boss nods and says, “How about we call you Bob Marley?”

    The Lobster Man falls to his knees and weeps. “I would be honored, beyond words, mon.”

    “Then Bob Marley it is.” She turns to me. “Jhowe, shouldn’t you be in your office typing who knows what and laughing for no discernable reason, with one finger on the minimize key in case someone walks in?”

    “Yes,” I say. “As a matter of fact, the new prompt comes out today.”

    “Get to it then. Our new employee needs to get to work.”

    “Now, mon?” The Lobster Man looks at his non-existent watch. “I got a fatty in my locker calling our names.”

    “A fatty?” my boss says.

    “Ganja, mon.”

    “Oh, I see. Is it safe?”

    “You be tripping soon, mon. And tonight, you sleep like a baby.”

    “Well then,” she holds out her arm and he takes it. “Lead the way.”

    I shake my head and walk to my desk. I sit and type a lone W into the browser. The site pops right up. I just hope I can post today.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is pretty crazy, JHowe, and more than a bit brilliant. Somehow I can just see Lobster Man in a work environment. At least until the narcs showed up…

      I sense this is going to be a silly week.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Lobster Man is becoming more and more real, and I adore him. You might want to be more careful writing him, he might just want to stay.

COMMENT