Tag Archives: quirky

The Office Zebra

I love my job a lot, but it has been a hard last couple of weeks there. I never write about my job. Not directly, at least.

zebra stapler.gif

[*]

The Office ZebraTM

I sat next to the smoking wreckage of my cubicle and took a sip of coffee. No one blamed me for what happened; I knew that. I did have a lot of work on my hands; everyone knew that.

Looking back, there was no real way to avoid it, but I still had that faint feeling like I should have known.

Clearly I should have gone into studying tardigrades. At least they were tiny and nearly indestructible. But no, I had to study zebras. Zebras were definitely not tiny and, looking around at the assortment of black and white striped flesh that was strewn liberally around the remains of my cubicle, I could say with some certainty that they were not indestructible.

The reason I studied zebras was that our former CEO had been crazy about zebras, and so all the researchers went whole hog into zebras. Unfortunately, it turned out that the CEO had been literally crazy about zebras, a fact we all discovered when they hauled him off, raving about how the next president was going to be a zebra and he knew because he’d already voted for it. Suddenly, there were a lot of us with advanced degrees in zebras (including the highly dubious PhZ) looking sheepishly around, wondering how to make ourselves profitable.

“I’ve got a great idea,” my co-worker Adrian said.

“What?” I asked.

“Promise you won’t steal it.”

“I promise.”

“Zebra flight attendants,” he said proudly, like a 3-year-old showing off his indecipherable finger paint smears.

“That is literally the worst idea I have ever heard,” I said. He ran off crying.

I didn’t tell him my idea, because it was actually good. My grand idea was to make a zebra that would work in an office setting. Your average zebra has no business being anywhere near an office, so clearly this was going to involve genetic engineering and maybe something more.

One night a bottle of vodka and I laid out my plan. The Office ZebraTM was going to have a stapler for a mouth, the ability to recycle paper by eating it, and maybe a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot in its back. Honestly, I quickly ran out of ideas for what a zebra could actually do in an office. Luckily the vodka had some ideas. About halfway through the bottle, the pencil drawn diagram of the Office ZebraTM had really come to life. It had a different stamp on each of its hooves, you could pull on its tail to dispense hot coffee, and its eyes shot lasers, for some reason. The next morning, when the vodka could no longer give suggestions, I got rid of the coffee dispenser and laser eyes.

The lab started work right away. After a few focus group meetings, they decided to give the zebra a larynx and the instinctual ability to say “Good job!” at random times. It also pulled a small cart with snacks and coffee (no unfortunately placed dispenser, luckily).

“What are you working on?” Adrian asked one day.

“I’ve got something in the works,” I said coolly.

“Me too,” he said, smugly. “It’s going to blow your socks off.” He strode off, still looking back smugly at me and promptly walked into a door.

The lab really came through, I must say. Six months later, I went down there to find a zebra that not only stapled my papers and brought me snacks and coffee, but also stamped my parking ticket and brayed a rather indistinct “Good job!” at me. It was not its fault that it said it just as I was coming out of the bathroom.

The next step was that step which every R&D person dreads; field testing, or in my case, office testing. I decided to bring it to my cubicle and see how it fared. It arrived the next day and I led it proudly it through the halls as my co-workers all gaped. Adrian was nowhere to be seen, unfortunately.

I started with the stapler. I fed paper into its mouth but it just ignored it or bit the paper in half. I tried the stamps on its hooves, but they didn’t seem to work. Even the Wi-Fi wasn’t on. I went to copy room to get some scrap paper to feed it when I ran into Adrian in the hall.

“Hey, have you seen my KamikazebraTM?” he asked.

“What?”

“My KamikazebraTM. Hey, why are your eyes widening in dawning horror?” It was about then that a distant boom from the direction of my cubicle answered his question.

All zebra projects were quickly cancelled. Apparently, when no one can tell a stapler from a bomb, it’s a bad thing. Adrian got in trouble for bringing his KamikazebraTM to the office. I didn’t get in trouble, they just made me clean up what was left of my cubicle.

I wasn’t in any hurry. I took another sip of coffee, appreciating the thin silver linings. I didn’t have to check my email today. The air smelled vaguely of barbecue. Adrian had gotten in trouble.

Things would work out somehow. They always did.


House Trap: The True Confession of a Fictional Reality Show Star

House-Trap1

Source

 

Reality shows audiences had become so jaded that they were not interested in watching unless there was the possibility that someone could die onscreen in front of them. Of course, people still lined up to be on the shows, because fame and fortune with the chance of grisly death is still fame and fortune. I was one of them. I’d like to say I did it to raise money for cancer or to feed the starving children of Baluchistan or something but really, I just did it for the money.

A million bucks for 8 hours of work, if you could call it that. Tell me you wouldn’t be tempted.

The show I was on was called House Trap. The premise was that the contestant goes about their daily lives but there is a fatal trap hidden somewhere in the house. The audience keeps watching because the person could die at any moment. Maybe there’s a bomb in the butter or the shower shoots acid or there is a trapdoor that drops into a vat of alligators when the front door is opened. The person moves around the house in a panic and the audiences cheers for him to stay alive, or sometimes, to not stay alive. If the person stays alive for the whole day, he gets the million dollars. If not, it goes to the charity of his choice.

My episode was the fifth in the season. The idea was that I was just going about my daily business but according to the script (and yes, there was a script), I started by cleaning out the garage, then baking cookies, then polishing my collection of antique swords. Just like a normal day, right?

“Don’t worry,” the director said. “The trap is real and it can kill you but we’ll tell you where it is ahead of time so you won’t just stumble into it.” That sounded great but the day of shooting came and I still didn’t know. I asked the director.

“Ask Jack,” he said.

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know. Okay, places everyone!” The next thing I knew, I was pushed inside the house by myself and filming began.

The contract specifically said that once cameras started rolling, there were no re-shoots. If I called it quits, not only would I not get the million dollars but I would have to pay a similar amount to the studio for loss of income. And now I was stuck in a house with a deadly trap and no idea where it was.

I looked at my watch: 8:30am. Just eight and a half hours to go until I was a millionaire and home free. I was pretty sure the trap wasn’t in the first two activities, at least. They needed enough footage to fill an hour show. The previous season, a contestant had died accidentally in the first five minutes. Most of that show was interviews shot previously. Not great TV.

I went to the garage and saw the pile of boxes stacked up precarious just in front of a wood chipper. It looked like it hadn’t been used for ages, but I saw the red LED on the lower panel and knew it could start at any moment.

Skipping the first activity (hey, what were they going to do, sue me?) I went into the kitchen. It was silent and I realized that I didn’t hear the fridge running. I peeked behind it, and sure enough, it wasn’t plugged in. So that meant that either it wasn’t a real fridge or else there was something else inside it. I put my ear to the door and thought I heard some movement inside. That creeped me out.

I wanted to open the fridge really quickly and then shut it, but that was stupid. It could be electrified, could be a bomb, could be anything. Finally, I went and got some rope and with nails hammered into strategic places, I spent an hour rigging up a system where I could pull on a rope from the across the room and open the fridge door, then shut it again by pulling on another. I pushed the couch out and ducked behind it. This was definitely off script, but I figured it would be more interesting than watching me bake cookies.

I pulled the door open with a yank of the rope in my right hand, then slammed it right away with the other rope. Something dropped to the floor and to my horror, I heard a faint skittering sound. I looked up and saw a creature coming towards me like a miniature tank. It was an ant, but a bigger one than I had ever seen. It wasn’t alone either. About fifty had dropped out and were scurrying around, razor-like pincers flashing furiously.

I squashed the one that had charged me but then another one climbed up the back of my leg and bit me. It was like getting stabbed, really. I screamed and pulled it off, running into the other room for safety. My leg was actually bleeding a little and I could not imagine what would have happened if I had just yanked the fridge open and stood there while a wave of ravenous bugs had attacked me.

It took me another hour or so to hunt down the rest of the escaped ants and send them to buggy hell. I still had half the day left and I didn’t feel like playing by the rules any more.

First, I found duct tape and taped the fridge shut. Then I dragged it to the garage door and spent another hour fashioning up a funnel out of sheets and blankets and attaching it to the fridge door. Then I moved the wood chipper to the other end and turned it on. I took the duct tape off and the fridge door came open, right into the funnel, sending a wave of homicidal ants into the whirring steel blades.

The garage instantly became an entomological Jackson Pollock work, a myrmicine Texas chainsaw massacre. A very gory, satisfying mess, in other words. I turned off the wood chipper, shut the garage door and spent the rest of the time polishing the antique swords.

It turns out that my episode was the highest rated in the history of the show. They even changed the title of the show to House Trap: MacGyver Edition, where the contestants got paid double if they found the trap and disarmed it in some creative way.

I didn’t get paid any more though. They did let me keep the wood chipper though.


All I want for Christmas is a not guilty verdict

Well, Merry Christmas everyone. It doesn’t look very Christmassy here at the moment, with the warm weather and green grass, but I guess I can’t complain.

This week’s Friday Fictioneers story is the first repeat that I participated in before, back in 2012; in fact, it was my 3rd story ever, which you can read here, if you want. I was tempted to use the same story, but I ended up writing a different one.

FF3

copyright Scott L. Vannater

 

Okay, I ate the milk and cookies. But I did not eat the Elf on the Shelf.

I know the empty little suit is incriminating but it wasn’t me. Go ask the dog.

True, the suit was found in my bed.

Okay, I admit I ate the elf, but I didn’t attack the presents. The shreds of wrapping paper were planted.

By whom? No clue.

Fine! I shredded the presents, but that was before the fat man climbed down the chimney. I didn’t kill him, I swear.

This is all very stressful, your Honor. I request a scratching post recess.

 


One Small Step for a Chicken

FF157 Luther Siler

copyright Luther Siler

One Small Step for a Chicken

Vanessa was one nervous chicken. She took a deep breath, and stepped out into the bright lights. Cameras flashed.

“Thank you,” she said. “I am proud to be the first chicken to be appointed as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. One small step for a chicken; one giant leap for poultry-kind.”

She was sweating through her feathers. Stress always made her— oh no, not now.

She felt the pressure but couldn’t stop it. Seconds later, a giant egg dropped onto the platform.

Shocked silence.

“Looks like I’m being productive already,” Vanessa said. The audience laughed, relieved.

She had this.


Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

Disclaimer: this is fiction. This is not how I, David Stewart, met my wife.

That said, this is my 3rd anniversary of doing Friday Fictioneers stories every week, which means I have written 156 100-word stories thus far.

I was having trouble thinking of a good story for this one so I asked the students in my writing class. They told me to write “a funny, horror love story”. Thanks guys, eh?

I got my revenge though, by assigning them each to write a story for Friday Fictioneers. They have their own WordPress blogs as part of our curriculum, so they’re going to post them there. If you want to read them, the links are:

https://bobybangladesh.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/surprising-assets/

https://yuxianadventure.wordpress.com/

https://tmsamurai.wordpress.com/

The last two hadn’t posted their stories at the time I posted this. Keep in mind that they are still learning English and before these stories, they had each written one fiction piece in English.

Now, on to the story.

copyright Roger Bultot

copyright Roger Bultot

 

Did I Ever Tell You How I Met My Wife?

I unearthed her while digging the foundation of a new office building. She lay there, dead but conscious, watching me.

It took me twenty minutes just to ask her name. I was so shy.

It was rough at first; all relationships are. I’m a vegetarian; she drinks the blood of the living. Well opposites attract, they say.

*

That was 6 years ago. We’ve both adjusted.

My phone buzzes. Honey, bring a ssssacrifice home for dinner. I hunger I thirst lol

“Hey Bill,” I say to my co-worker. “Wanna come home for supper? My wife will whip you up, something special.”

 


Fruitcake

My wife and I were making fruitcake today for the holidays since I love fruitcake. I asked her what I should write about for this story and she said fruitcake, so here it is.

Fruitcake

copyright C E Ayr

Fruitcake

“It’s art,” Peter told his mother. He was ten and meticulously arranging boiled eggs around a raccoon carcass while a friend played D flat on the piano every 6.7 seconds.

“What does it mean?” she asked, but her expression said she thought he was a fruitcake.

“What does it mean?” a policeman asked ten years later, after Peter had put a woman’s shoe in every drain in New York.

“It’s art.”

“You’re a fruitcake, you know?”

Finally, he made a piece of artwork that captured national attention.

“100-foot statue made entirely of fruitcake!” the headlines screamed. “What could it mean?”


The Bucket List of Crime

 

Joel had a bucket list of minor infractions, so when he saw a hitchhiker outside a prison, he picked him up.

“Thanks,” the man said. “You know you weren’t supposed to pick me up, right?”

“What, you gonna tell on me?”

“So why’d you do it?”

Joel pulled out his bucket list binder. The man flipped through it.

“Bicycling without helmet, illegal fishing, petty theft,” he read. “That’s a misdemeanor, actually.”

“Law expert, eh?” Joel said. “Makes sense, I suppose. What were you in for?”

“Oh, I wasn’t a prisoner,” the man said. “My car broke down. I’m the warden.”

hitchhikers


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