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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Early Bird

Sunrise was an acquired taste. At first it came as bitter, as Rachel pulled herself up out of bed to the blare of an alarm, got dressed in the semi-darkness of the first rays of sun filtering in through her window, eating breakfast as her kitchen got lighter, and sticking to a strict time for leaving to make sure that she was driving to work early enough that the sun was still behind the low buildings or late enough that the sun was high enough that she wasn’t burning her eyes out while she made her grumpy way to work.

But slowly, she started to notice the little things.

The first she noticed was traffic. Heading to work, she would see a car or two, and that’s about it. There was the occasional frustrating stop light that was on a timer instead of a sensor, that drove her mad, but other than that, the drive to work was so much more enjoyable. It took her less time to get to work, and she found herself in a better and a better mood when she got there.

Then she started to notice the stillness.  Since most sane jobs didn’t have start times until later—there were very few people moving around in the morning. She could look out her window while she was eating breakfast, and with the exception of the occasional bird, there was a stillness outside that made the whole view out her window look almost like a painting, one that just slightly changed every morning as the seasons went through their cycle.

Lastly, she noticed the quiet. She’d lived in apartment buildings her entire life, so she was used to hearing pipes and steps and people through walls. Her life was always surrounded by the busy through and through and other lives around her. But—when your alarm went off so god awful early, most people weren’t moving yet. No pipes, no footfalls, no annoying teenagers screaming at each other in the apartment next door. Walking down to her car, there wasn’t anyone banging on doors, or dropping things on the stairs, or any of that nonsense.

 

So, after months—they asked her if she wanted to move back to the normal schedule, the 9-5, and she answered without even thinking about it. She liked being up before sunrise.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Planning (524 words)

It was a rhythmic thump, thump, thump.  Wanda made her way through the house, searching each room to see if she could find the source of it. Finally, she found her way into Clint’s little office and found him hitting his head repeatedly against the desk in front of him. She watched Clint carefully, trying to decide the best course of action here.

“I guess it’s not going well?” she finally asked.

Clint looked up and seemed to look through Wanda.  She began to wonder if he was suffering some kind of brain damage now and if she should insist that he go see a doctor. “It is not going well. It is slow torture. I made a terrible decision to take this job. I should not be allowed to pick my own assignments anymore. Save me from my own folly, Wanda.”

Wanda pulled a chair over next to him at the desk. “Oh, come on, Clin. It can’t be that bad.”

Clint lifted the screen of his laptop, revealing more cascading windows then the computer should be able to run smoothly. “There are almost no online sources. Everything means that I have to go see the research in person. And it’s not like it’s all stored in a central library or a big exhibit that I can visit, but dozens of places in dozens of different locales all over the country. And it’s not like I’ve got plenty of time to do it.  This was a rush job—so they want a full, finalized article in one hundred and twenty days, which means that I have to have a workable draft to them in, probably nine or ten weeks, so I have to travel to enough of these locations for the article to be well informed, but also get the writing done and not get completely burned out over the next couple of months.  This is not going well, and I hate everything.”

Wanda blinked, reading a couple of the screens, before leaning back in her chair, sighing. “This is a rough one, Clint.”

“Don’t let me pick my jobs anymore, Wanda. Save me from my own stupidity,” Clint cried, slamming the laptop closed again and letting his head bang against the desk once more with a sickeningly solid thump.

“We can fix this,” Wanda said with a lot more enthusiasm than she felt. Then her mind kicked into gear and she sat up a little straighter. “Yes. We can fix this.  Get me a list, Clint. Get me a list of the top places you need to go. I will make the most efficient plan you’ve ever seen. We will get all the research done, then, we will make a schedule for writing, and we will get this all in on time. Do you think we can do it?”

Clint looked up skeptically but saw the look of determination on Wanda’s face. It took him a second, but his face was set in grim determinations too. “Yeah. Yeah, we can do this.”

“Alright. Let’s get to it!” Wanda smiled, slapping her hand against the desk. “Get me a list, and let’s go.”

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Stories

 

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Hard at Work? (99 words)

It’s the beginning of our busy season, so we all really need to buckle down.

I know that fifty-five hours of week isn’t ideal but I promise it will slow down eventually.

Nose to the grindstone everyone! Just think about all the money we’re going to be making soon.

Are you sure you need those two days off? Can’t you drive down to the wedding Friday night and be back in time for Monday morning?

 

Texting: Hey, All! I decided to take a vacation down south for the week. I’ll be out of contact for the week! Have fun.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Voices (820 words)

<<Part 1>> 

<<Part 2>>
Lily parked behind the coffee house and took a deep breath through her nose.  Her last non-coffee scented air for the next eight hours—until she could get home and wash it out of her hair later that night. But at least it would be a busy day.  A day that could keep her mind off the night that she had, keep her mind off the dream and off “them”, The Man and Woman who occasionally seemed to have conversations inside her head.   Even if this busy day was filled with the whiny teenage girls who worked there on the weeks, earning just enough to fund their spending habits, and doing as little work as they could in the meantime.

“Lily.” She was barely through the door when her boss grabbed her gently by the arm and tugged her to the side.  “I need you to do back room work today.”

“Aw—Rachel, come on.  It gets so dull back there.”  Lily wasn’t above whining like the high school girls if she thought it might get her out of the worst work in the store.

“I know—I know.  But the checker is probably coming tomorrow, and the place needs to be spotless and above and beyond coed.  You’re the only one I can trust to go back there and actually do your job.”

“Remind me to be half-hearted and lazy from now on.” Lily griped, reaching for the cleaning apron off the hook.

“Ah, ah, Lily. We just know that wouldn’t be you. Not a lazy bone in your body.” Rachel grinned.

“You’ve clearly never spoken to my father.” Lily responded, but headed back to the back room regardless, and got to work.

Luckily, Lily had been the one roped into doing the cleaning for last quarter’s check as well, so the back room wasn’t anything as bad as it could have been. Unluckily, it was time consuming, but mind numbingly dull work that would take most of the shift without any mental stimulation.  It was going to take such a long time.

This was normally the time when she’d listen into the voices, just to see if they had anything fun going on, something for her to focus on that would help pass the time.

Normally, she would have done it without hesitation.  Anything would be better than sitting back here, scrubbing drains, plumbing fixtures, floors, and walls in silence.  But should she today? After those dreams she’d had?  Something about her helping them?  Should she encourage it by listening again? Was it worth it?

Finally, Lily had a “screw it” moment.  The scrubbing was so boring, and if she heard something that she didn’t like, she could always just blame it on cleaning fluid fumes.  Those things could get pretty nasty, so she had a ready-made excuse right there.

She tuned into them—the man and the woman she’d heard since she was a child.  It was kind of like adjusting a radio dial in her head.  If she put it at one setting, it was soft and static-y, something she could listen to but not something she gave her full attention to.

At another setting, they came in loud and clear, high definition sound pumping right into her brain.  And that was the setting she put it on now. Anything to drown out the boredom and silence.

She was worried that they were going to be talking about her again, but really, she needn’t have been.  In the long run, they almost never talked about her, percentage through her life wise.

“Ah-ha!” That makes seven points for me!” I’m kicking your ass, little man!” The woman crowed. They were playing rocks, which was, as best as Lily could figure, some kind of dice game.  They played it a lot to kill time.

“You know I only let you win because you get very pouty when you lose.”  The man replied calmly.  Lily knew that was true.  She’d heard him make moves that were too stupid to ever make unless he was doing it intentionally, but subtle enough that she wouldn’t call him out on it directly, whenever he started to pull too far into the lead. Lily had also heard the hissy fits that the woman had thrown on the occasions where she had lost.  She was a very competitive creature.

“Yeah, yeah. Whatever you want to tell yourself so you can sleep at night.”  The woman rolled the dice again, “And another nine.  Okay. Your turn.  Unless you just want to go ahead and concede the game to me now.”

“No, no, I think I can hold out for another couple rounds.” Lily smiled to herself.  It was great to listen to them play rocks.  It was one of the best ways to pass time, even though she couldn’t actually play herself.   She settled into her routine, cleaning away as they threw the dice again.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Hard at Work (324 words)

Cubicle No. 1: James had curled up on the floor, half under his desk half under his chair. He’d been working hard until about 4 am, so there had been no point in going home…He then preceded to completely forget to set an alarm and was now sleeping through most of his work day.

Cubicle No. 2: Nathaniel was so focused on his phone that he didn’t realize that his computer had gone to screen saver mode.  He was either updating his Facebook or texting his girlfriend at any given time, and he far more interested in that then he was in any assignment the higher ups could give him.

Cubicle No. 3: Amelia was working, but slowly. She’d come in two hours late to make time for her nail appointment, and now she was carefully typing one gentle finger at a time to not damage the new color.

Cubicle No. 4: Gracie was hard at work, headphones plugged in, completely tuning out the whole world as she went, typing much faster than she’d ever worked before.  James had finally finished his part and now after four or five days of not being able to get anything done–now Gracie had just about twenty-four hours to finish the whole project.  She would have cried if she had a second to spend worrying about her doomed fate. In the mean time, it was peddle to the metal.

Cubicle No 5:  Charlie didn’t really care what his coworkers thought or what they saw him do. His Daddy was the CEO, and there wasn’t anything they could do to get him into trouble. Even if they tattled on him–he would just have to call them a liar. No matter how much proof they had–Charlie would win. So he downloaded Steam, and played Rocket League most of the day.

 

Come the end of the quarter, they would all be praised or scolded equally. Because that was  what being on a team was all about.

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Stories, Uncategorized

 

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Fiction: A Hard Day’s Work (225 words)

I didn’t mean to make her angry.  Anyone who had ever met Harlowe would know that no one in the world ever meant to make her angry.  No one would ever want to make her angry.  It was a slip of the tongue, a stupid old expression, and I didn’t mean to apply anything about Harlowe at all.

Now, I would no better than to use old expressions I learned in the back alleys of the capital city.

“Ow,” I groaned, turning onto my side to readjust the heating pad.  Harlowe chuckled slightly from the other side of the room while Hana reached over to rub some sort of medicated cream on my shoulders. “Hana, everything hurts.”

“Don’t be a baby,” she griped, but she still had love in her voice, “Harlowe and I spent longer days than that in the field doing harder work before we were even in training bras.”

“Yeah?” I asked.  Hana didn’t talk much about when she was young, before her father died.   Maybe if I was subtle about it…

One look from Hana and I knew she’d seen right through me. “Okay, you’re in pain, so I’ll give you one story.  But then you have to stop whining like a toddler and try to get some sleep.  Deal?”

I couldn’t have asked for a better offer. “Deal.”

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Interns (262 words)

“Lookie, lookie. Fresh meat.”  Matthew rubbed his hands evilly, and Abigail reached over to hit him lightly in the chest.

“Be nice,” she scolded.

“Nice? Nice? These are The Interns, Abigail.  Being nice to the interns is expressly forbidden in our contracts.”

“It is not, M.”

“C’mon Abby. Remember our internships? You wouldn’t deny them that experience, would you?”

“Well—I…Matthew don’t be too cruel,” Abigail pleaded.

Samuel took a long drag on his cigarette and watched his co-workers argue. Intern season was a lot of the higher-ups favorite time of year.  They loved to take bets on who would crack first, to act aloof in direct proportion to the interns eagerness, and occasionally pretend that the assignments the intern completed were not the assignments that the interns were asked to do.   He supposed it was a way to make the boring parts of this job more interesting, but Samuel never bothered with it.  He hadn’t interned here anyway, so he didn’t get the revenge joy from it, so he let those who went through the program do their torturing, and he stayed clear of it.  Well, as clear as he could when he ended up with an intern in the cubicle next to his.  There was always one there.

Samuel dropped his cigarette and crushed it under his toe.  He looked up at the new batch, five this year, two men, three women, and wondered which would be asking him to point out the copier they were supposed to use. He just hoped whoever it was next to him wasn’t a whiner.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Stories

 

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