Chuck Wendig has asked us all again to write 1,000 words which in we do the following:
Your task is to write a flash fiction piece wherein the protagonist of that piece is subject to some manner or method of torment, trial, and torture. It’s your job to put that character through the wringer, whether that be physical, emotional, spiritual, moral, or some combination of the bunch. I want you to fuck with and fuck up that protagonist. I want to care deeply about that character and feel every sting and barb.
I can think of nothing more soul stealing or tormeting than waking up to a 9 to 5 job.
The alarm didn’t go off. When I finally did open my eyes those big red numbers are showing a number I can’t quite comprehend. It’s supposed to go off at 5:30 AM every morning to beat cross town traffic.
The clock glares 8:45.
I drank way too much last night.
I drag myself out of bed into the bathroom. The reflection showed a ghoul. Somehow during the course of the night I turned from a mild mannered data entry clerk into a shambling hangover monster.
I cut myself shaving.
While on hold trying to get my boss, I stub my toe on the transfer plate in between the dining room and kitchen, a maniacal brass shiv in the middle of my floor.
My boss is not happy.
I finish getting dressed, only grabbing my phone as I race out of the door. The message light is blinking. Four unread text messages, two missed calls, and a voicemail, all from Darlene. I get a queasy feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t with Darlene last night; I was out with the guys. Before I blacked out I remember them telling me that I should let Darlene know how I feel.
I cue the voicemail.
“Bill, fuck you. Who the fuck do you think you are? My pussy stinks? Grow the fuck up and lose my number. My pussy stinks? Find some other whore to lie to you and tell you your dick is a good size. Fucking pathetic. My mom has cancer you fuck not a bad hairstylist and you know that…”
I wonder how I’m going to get back the ring.
The local Starbucks people know me by name and one good look at my slack jawed and bleary eyed face they start making me the trente espresso with a million extra shots.
It is hot, and I spill it on my crotch driving into the parking lot at work.
“What’s up Bill? A little too much fun last night?”
“Whoa! Bill, looks like you pissed yourself.”
“Bill, did you forget that you take it out of your pants first, again?”
“Bill, the boss wants to see you.”
My boss is one of those beautiful bastards that actually believes what we do here is important. Checking one excel spreadsheet against another. Rinse, repeat, slash wrist. He “came up through the ranks!” We were supposed to look up to this guy but I doubt we would piss on him if he was covered with badgers.
“Bill, this is the third time you’ve come in late.”
“Since you’ve started…”
“I’ve worked here three years!”
“Exactly, your lack of dedication to your job and chronic tardiness is worrying. I didn’t get where I am today by not showing up for my shift. In fact I showed up an hour early and stayed late every night. And now I am the Shift Supervisor. If you weren’t trying to be so cool and not care about your work, in a few more years you could be like me.”
“Three times in three years? That’s not chronic, it’s just sad.”
“It is sad. Sad that I have to do this. Here are your exit papers.”
“What? Exit…I don’t understand.”
“We won’t be needing your services anymore.”
The drive back to my shitty fucking rental house in a shitty fucking neighborhood is the longest it has ever been. My foot is throbbing from the stubbed toe. Makes it hard to push the pedals. My pants still aren’t dry.
At least I can go back to sleep.
You know maybe today isn’t so bad. That job was just a big fucking roadblock. Maybe I can finally dedicate my time to my webcomic, “Eat Ninjas, Shit Pirates.” You know this could fucking work. I feel oddly victorious. At least it could be victory I’m feeling, more than likely digesting whiskey boiling in my stomach.
The radio station starts the first three notes of a Spin Doctors’ song. With a scream of anguish I look to change the station, the car in front of me stopped.
I smack into her, my sore foot not reacting to the brake pedal fast enough.
Wrecking one’s car is the best response to a Spin Doctors’ song.
I realize that my car insurance expired last week.
Then I see that the girl driving the car in front of me is Darlene.
She thought she saw a cat; my car is fucked, fluids draining out of it faster than…a thing that leaks fluid. My brain isn’t really working.
Her car isn’t in that bad of shape and I have no insurance.
She bitches me out in the same vein as her voicemail earlier as I see my car drive off on a tow truck.
She gives me back the ring. Luckily, there is a bank across the street, and I had just gotten my tax return. I offer her $700 dollars to make her go away.
“Maybe I can fix my car and the smell in my pussy? Fucking asshole.” We head over to the bank. She is just radiating heat and hate into the back of my skull.
The bank is pretty crowded, first of the month, and I’m about to empty my account. And with no job. My foot really hurts.
I hand her the envelope full of all the cash I had in the world, and head for the exit.
That’s when four guys in skimasks rush in with automatic weapons and shotguns.
The guard makes a slow reach for a side arm and is shot dead.
“Everybody get the fuck down!”
We all drop. I catch the eyes of a cop kneeling next to a pretty lady. They both look to be weeping.
I keep my eyes down and only here randomness. Sobs, grunts, screams, gunshots, and finally the ringleader asking us all for our wallets. I throw the sad empty Velcro thing in front of me. I see Darlene slide the envelope next to it.
The goons grab the cash and some hostages and head out into the fray.
Darlene looks shaken up, but I’m more concerned about the cash.
Hours later, after the cops are done with us, Darlene offers me a ride home. She tells me that maybe I was drunk last night and she shouldn’t blame me. In fact, maybe I’m a good guy, with a decent job (I haven’t told her about the firing, like I need that spiking the kool-aid).
We slow to a stop at an intersection about a block from my place.
She looks at me meekly, those perfect lips slide over perfect teeth. “Bill, I’m sorry. I’ve been such a bitch lately. Can I have my ring back?”
I hand it over and we move through the intersection. We are moving into a new relationship, a new understanding. Everything is forgotten and washed away.
That’s when the bus hit us.