Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Alastair Cruciatus: An Office Job

Alastair sat in a swivel chair in a gray, soulless office cubicle, tapping the end of his pen impatiently against the cheap, standard desk. Briefly he wondered how his life had come to this, but pushed that line of thought aside. They agreed to get jobs. He had no marketable skills, except for murder. He can try this. Stop thinking about it.

The blue screen in front of him constantly emitted its headache-inducing several-year-old-glow, and he had absolutely no idea what to do with it. The ring of several phones sounded in the background, answered by tones of forced pleasantry. Murder really wasn’t such a bad profession, now that he thinks about it- if he can just find someone to work for who won’t try to kill him… Perhaps he could be an assassin for the government- no, that would be far too much paperwork. And he couldn’t use magic. It probably wouldn’t pay as much as freelance work anyway. So who else might be hiring assassins…

He was almost deep enough in thought to forget his situation when the old plastic phone at his desk rang. For a few moments, he stared at it, like some foreign invasive object that was almost too absurd for him to be offended by. At some point in the limbo of the moments that followed the second ring, it occurred to him he was supposed to answer that.

Gingerly, he removed the phone from his base- as though holding it any harder might give him some incurable disease- and raised it to his ear. “Hello?”

An impatient woman was on the other end, her tone inconsolable. Clearly some great tragedy had befallen her which she would be harrowed by forever unless he could fix it. “Oh, thank goodness someone finally answered. I’ve just bought this laptop, you see- just yesterday- but I can’t get this error message to disappear, and I can’t click on anything else until it does. It reads-”

“Did you turn it off,” Alastair cuts her off, each voice carefully spaced and mechanically delivered, with only the slightest hint of malice, “and turn it back on again?”

The woman on the other end pauses, either surprised at a new idea or deeply offended, he was certain. “Why, that was very rude, young man. Did you know that I have been waiting an entire fifteen minutes to-”

“Did, you,” the growl in his voice is only barely concealed now, “turn it off, or didn’t you?”

Another pause. He supposed he might have sounded threatening enough that time for her to consider what he had said. “Well, no,” she began.

“Then do it.” he spat, as everything around him suddenly became utterly unbearable. Why is he wearing the same clothes as everyone else in this building? It’s not as though anyone he works with will ever see them. Everything is gray and dull and cheap and worthless- this job is completely worthless, people don’t need to make calls just to be told to restart the expensive machines that they don’t need. The uniformity, the sheer monotony of everything in the office was just overwhelming. What kind of person works here? Life is about feeling, experiencing extremes, learning about the world around you, but these people- they don’t need a soul mage to tear their emotions away, they’re doing it to themselves. Fuck.

“So, I’ve just turned it off, now what…” Alastair didn’t hear the rest of what she had to say. He wasn’t paying attention. He was putting the phone away- no, he was throwing it across the room. He’ll just turn the computer off- no, he’ll stab it, several times, and if a bout of gleeful laughter forms within him as he watches the sparks fly, he won’t stop it. The wires inside look better than the bland image of emails. In fact, anything would look better than what was already in this office, he decided.

A few moments later, all the windows on his floor of the skyscraper had blown out. The frames of cubicle walls were littered around the floor, the canvas within gone or burning, and a few scorched and notably disassembled bodies lay strewn about. Alastair stood up straight, breathing in the scent of smoke and blood. “Much better,” he declared, and then, “I will never try this again.”