Friday, February 15, 2013


The hand on the clock assaulted gravity once more, pulling itself upward with a tired, trembling arm. Damian imagined he could see the hidden gears flexing like muscles beneath the smooth, white exterior. The hashes marking the passing seconds were teeth, poised to chomp down on his neck and trap him here, forever.

“I was only on the phone for a mo-” Damian blurted, stopping when his boss raised a meaty hand.

“That's not why you're here,” his boss said, fingers steepled. “I’m going to have to ask something of you.”

Damian's eyes darted around the small office, searching for an escape. If the denizens of the world were strictly divided into “fight” or “flight,” he was most assuredly a bird. Even now, Damian found himself envious of a crow taking wing outside.

A thin glass pane surrounded by wood paneling hemmed him in as effectively as any metal cage, however. The menacing fluorescent tubes above chased away all trace of friendly shadow. Behind him, the closed door might as well have been a heavy bank vault.

“Um, sir?” he stammered.

The leather executive chair protested his boss’s shifting weight. “Our customer has requested your presence in an off-site meeting.” The sentence seemed to leave a sour taste in his mouth. His lips smacked before he continued. “So, I'll need you to go ahead and drive yourself to the airport tomorrow night. See my secretary on your way out. She's already made arrangements.”

“Did you say tomorrow, sir?” Damian asked.

“Yes.” Jowls trembled with a nod. “The first flight we could book you on is early. You should consider yourself lucky; the ungodly hour qualifies you for an overnight stay. Hotels are not cheap.”

Damian found it easy to contain his enthusiasm. The “first” flight was likely cheapest, more than offsetting the cost of the flea-ridden hotel. Still, this was behavior he’d grown to expect from his employer. What caused Damian to frown was the implication of the stay.

“Overnight?” Damian squeaked.

His boss shrugged. “I don't make the rules. Have a nice flight.”

And then he turned around and began pounding away at his keyboard. Damian stood to leave. He had obviously been dismissed.

You already have made plans! Inigo reminded him. Tell this thing to your boss. He cannot simply expect you to be available whenever he requires it.

Yes, he can, Damian replied. That's sort of how it works.

You do not even try, Inigo said.

Fine. Damian turned back, one finger raised.

As Damian opened his mouth, the phone rang. His boss revolved and made a shooing motion.

“Hello? Yes, Sherry. Put him through.”

Damian closed his mouth. Who was he kidding? He draped himself in defeat and left.

Coward, Inigo heaped on.

I'll just have to reschedule, Damian replied. Surely, she'll understand.

She would have to, wouldn't she?


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