Please Send Dragons

Being the creative, whimsical, free-spirited soul that I am (by that I mean easily distracted as well as… [drifts off mid sentence]) I occasionally find myself bored, and then daydreaming, and then wishing for a dragon.

It’s a slippery slope.

I can remember countless times I’ve been sat in a school chapel, sports hall or meeting room, ears under attack from a unending drone on responsibility or rules or the emancipation of the proletariat (I probably should’ve listened to that one), and just thought,

‘Imagine if a dragon smashed its way in here now. That would spice things up.’

It works best when there’s a big window, the destruction of which is overwhelmingly pleasing to visualise. Rose windows in chapels are my favourite – sorry god, but a giant reptilian jaw gonna look so sweet smashing through one of those!

[My inner writing voice is telling me that tips for a great daydream are where this piece is headed (Tip #1, ‘Rose Windows’, I guess?), so…]

#2 ‘Vantage Point’. Pick a window a good distance from you. Unless you’re going to daringly tame and ride the dragon (respect) or slay it nobly (there best be maidens watching, else you’ve just wasted a dragon) you want to be at a safe (out of the way for the first few seconds) distance to chuckle as your fantasy comes true and that classmate/colleague/tennis coach you never really liked gets scooped up in the mighty beast’s jaws. If you’re going into an event with the expectation of being bored, at least the foresight might allow you to pick an optimum daydreaming spot (I always liked some elevation where possible, or a nice corner in an office).

#3 ‘Sly Grin/Wee Nod’. There are two purposes here. The first is to provide an intense feeling of satisfaction and generally ‘being cool’. To achieve this, imagine yourself giving the dragon (and the bodies of your currently-deceasing unliked colleagues) this combination: sly grin (because you’re far enough away to be safe, clever you) and a wee nod (a show of mutual respect between you, virtually a demi-god for being called Skylance, and this mythical beast). You can even do this dual-action in real life, because of the second purpose: feigning interest in whatever’s actually going on. Your boss, examiner, chaplain etc. will be thrilled.

There are, of course, obvious drawbacks to imagining dragons, which is why I will soon post about my excitement for the impending zombie apocalypse, my preferred option.

This seems like enough nonsense for one day (one week in fact, sorry I’ve been so quiet!). Have a great weekend!

P.S. As a little aside, I really admired and respected my school chaplain, who was a great man and to whom I mean no offence, but the subject matter just wasn’t my jam. Plus, rose windows!

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Colleague_2.5

[Back by popular demand! Well, someone mentioned it in passing… Find the rest of the story here and enjoy!]

I glanced over again. He was still busy talking, hands gesticulating and eyes locked on the girl stood at his desk. I nudged Alex as he was packing up for the evening.

“Who’s that talking to Tom?”

Alex shrugged. “Katie, from downstairs. Don’t know her surname. Why?”

“Just not seen her up here before,” I replied casually.

Truth was, I was very suspicious of why she’d been talking to Tom for so long. I’d been building up the courage to confront him all afternoon over Kerry’s disappearance, but he had been busily engaged for an hour now.

I looked at the clock. It was getting late – Alex’s leaving had left just the three of us in the office. I carried on pretending to work; a few minutes later I saw Katie nod and shift her feet to leave, and took my chance.

“Tom,” I called as I walked over. His eyes caught mine – grey, metallic. Then they flickered away from me, towards the doors. Sarah, the pretty but uninterested girl from my first day at work, had burst through them and was heading in our direction.

“I just need a word with you-” I began to Tom but Sarah cut me short.

“It’ll have to wait until tomorrow, Kyle Broomer,” she snapped. “Tom, I need to see you upstairs now.”

I’m usually subdued on work matters and outspoken on conspiracy ones. The situation here seemed to combine the two – my conspiracy voice won out.

“No, Sarah, I need to speak to him.” Tom put his hands up towards me apologetically; pre-empting his excuses I continued, “He knows something about Kerry’s disappearance.”

Time blurred.

Sarah shot towards me as Tom leapt from his chair.

The two collided, almost in midair. Sarah’s fist met Tom’s chest and she immediately jumped back into a crouch.

I didn’t know what Sarah was up to, but a fight with a cyborg wasn’t going to end well for her. I grabbed Sarah’s hand and turned for the door.

“Run!” I shouted. Sarah’s grip tightened as her other arm swung towards my face, fist clenched.

Just before it hit me, my legs gave way and I collapsed. Tom had dived forwards and held my ankles like a vice.

In one movement, he flung me backwards along the floor and rose to his feet. I crashed hard against a desk and my breath rushed from my lungs.

I could only watch as Sarah and Tom squared up to each other. They reached a strange impasse – one would twitch, almost imperceptibly, as if just starting to move, drawing a similar feinted response from the other. It was as if they were predicting the other’s movements, and only a glimmer of a reply was needed to dissuade it.

After a few seconds, Tom dropped to his knees and swung a right hook at Sarah’s midriff. She caught it and twisted as he spun round to reach her head with his left hand, trapping her neck just as she pulled his arm clean out of its socket. The pop was followed immediately by a crack and Sarah slumped to the floor.

Tom turned to me, still slumped against his desk, popped his arm back into its socket, and spoke in the artificial voice I’d always known he must have.

“Good cyborg; no time to explain. Kerry’s safe. Come with me.”

I got unsteadily to my feet. Powerless to resist, I followed.

Hot Stuff? No Thanks

[This is a real problem I deal with on a daily basis. I’d like to dedicate this piece to anyone else out there who’s suffering with this discrimination.]

In these modern times
of multi-tasking convenience
it’s only right to combine
purposes for a meeting.

A lunch must be working,
a break calls for coffee,
pop round for a chat
and a tea’s in the offing.

Think then of the plight
of one, like this writer,
who between tea and coffee
would rather have neither.

Hosts seem offended,
strangers disapprove
“If he doesn’t like hot drinks
just have him removed!”

Is it such a big crime
I’ll have water or juice,
assuming the latter
I even can choose?

“I’m just not prepared,
I thought you’d want one!”
It’s not a big deal,
that’s not why I’ve come.

The meeting or chat
is the reason I’m here,
if you can’t offer drinks
I don’t care, so don’t fear

While my uncommon tastes
may single me out
I’m glad of this fact:
my dependency’s nowt

I’ve never run gasping
into any room
requiring caffeine
like the alternative’s doom

So while addicts submit
to their chai latte owners
I’ll shun all advances and remain as a loner.

Colleague_2.2

[Colleague_2.1 and 2.0 also available]

09:22 Broomer, Kyle wrote:
Busy this morning hey? Missed our 9 o’clock catch-up the day we have SERIOUS news! Pop round my desk when you’re free

09:47
Come now, you can’t be that busy. Your calendar says you’re free.

From: Kyle
To: Kerry
Time: 10:14
Hey, just been by your desk, your manager says you’ve not called in sick, what’s up?
K

Call Log
Today
Kerry (mobile) (6) 13:37 >>

Monday
Kerry (mobile) 21:27 <<

My best friend Kerry has disappeared. She was in work yesterday – we had lunch together as usual and discussed various theories including that about Tom, the suspected cyborg who works in our office. I mention this because Kerry’s disappearance has coincided with Tom’s getting rid of his glasses. This may not sound like a big deal, but it’s something Kerry and I were waiting for, because we reckon his eyes hold clues about his real identity. This morning, he came in without his glasses. I haven’t gone over to chat with him yet, though I could on any flimsy premise, but Kerry’s disappearance has rattled me because I’m sure Tom’s behind it.

Kerry and I have been friends since our first day of work. We were two of several new starters that day, and bonded within ten minutes of arriving in the building. As a group of us waited at reception, Sarah, another newbie, asked if I had seen the fifteenth anniversary memorial service of 9/11 which had been on recently. I hadn’t but I know plenty about it and when she brought up the footage of the Pentagon impact, I mentioned the hole in the building which is suspiciously half the width of a Boeing 757.

“Come now, you don’t believe those conspiracy theories, do you?” Sarah asked. She was quite a pretty girl, and the conversation had been going well until now, nevertheless I have always been one to stick to my guns.

“There are too many anomalies in the evidence to believe everything the FBI investigations found,” I replied. “Thermite in the wreckage, insider trading on United Airlines stocks…”

Sarah smiled and laughed lightly. The polite response. I was used to that, at best, by now, but was still disappointed when she turned away to talk to the guy across from her. I looked around at the rest of the group, most of whom averted their eyes, but found Kerry’s locked on mine. She gave me a slight nod, and when we spoke at lunch later that day the 9/11 Truth was our first topic.

Kerry was what I like to call a ‘bambi’ – wide-eyed and impressionable, with views that could slide around like a young deer on ice. But she was also a meticulous researcher, and soon we became a great team – more than the sum of our parts. My endless creativity and curiosity coupled with her knack for uncovering information led to prestige in the online world of ‘conspistadors’, as we called ourselves (I came up with the name). And while we had plenty of topics, none was so under-our-noses as Tom.

We thought we had the upper hand, an eye on him, but now I fear he’s got to Kerry and I don’t know what to do.

Colleague_2.1

[You’re welcome to read this post first if you’d like]

There’s a guy at work who’s not quite right. I don’t mean he’s crazy or anything – he seems, at first glance, to be a pretty normal guy. At first glance. If you look closer, you’ll see it. It’s that he’s not (totally) human. That’s what isn’t right.

His name’s Tom, apparently. Probably more like evil_office_v9.2.cyborg. Ok, so I don’t know he’s evil. He could be here on a protection mission. But the more we know about him, the better, and we can’t rule out the possibility he’s dangerous. His heightened senses suggest intelligence-gathering; I’ve yet to see any hostile capabilities. Maybe I’ll have to find a way to provoke a response and see what he’s programmed to do.

He’s definitely a cyborg. I considered alien, or demonic possession, but an alien would have a more similar (to blend in) or more different (getting their alien disguise wrong) appearance, not just one of a tall but slightly hunched man with glasses as thick as reinforced doors, and a demon would have caused more disturbances – phantom draughts, weird drawings, suicides, that sort of thing.

I’m convinced his eyes are a key clue. They’re so obscured by his glasses and there must be a reason for that. You can see the machinery working, or something.

I resolve to watch for a chance to knock them off ‘by accident’ so as to get a better look, but he doesn’t turn up to work the next day. I’m packing to leave at 6, the last one in the office, drained by a long day and disappointed my plans have stalled, when Tom walks in.

No glasses.

“Hey Tom,” I call with a smile. He waves back and wanders over to my desk. “Where you been and where are your glasses?” I inspect his eyes. They’re a dull, metallic grey.

“Laser eyes… surgery,” he replies, the pause for me to hear that extra ‘s’ all too intentional.

“Laser eyes?” I say, raising my eyebrows. “What do you need them for?”

Tom touches a fresh scar on his temple, and his eyes flash red as a whirring noise starts.

“Elimination.”

Colleague_2.0

Kyle’s long had his suspicions about Tom. The nagging feeling something wasn’t quite right; that the guy wasn’t exactly what he seemed. If asked to pin it down, he’d struggle, but mutter something about possession or aliens being likely.

Superficially, they got on pretty well – they’d chew the cud at lunch in the canteen or exchange the manly ‘nod & grunt’ greeting if they passed each other in the office – which seemed to suggest no one had mentioned to Tom all the aspersions on him Kyle blurted out to anyone who would listen.

“I think he’s a cyborg,” he was saying to Alex one afternoon by the water cooler. “I think they messed up his eyes but he wears those thick glasses to hide that fact.”

“I think it’s probably just that he’s got bad eyesight,” Alex said.

“He got telescopic eye sight and probably spy-satellite hearing as well,” Kyle replied. They looked across to where Tom sat at the far end of the long office, his eyes fixed on them. Alex reddened and looked away, but Kyle kept his eyes fixed on Tom as he spoke again.

“He can hear…”

He watched as Tom’s lips mouthed the words with him,

“Every…Word.”

Death and Taxes

I’m sat, almost-dozing, at my bland, functional desk in my clean, straight-lined office, when the zombie outbreak starts. God knows how it started at a tax consultancy in Slough, but there you go. There must be something in the water.

Anyway, excitement – my colleagues are being eaten! Admittedly, this brand of excitement comes with a healthy dose of fear and gore, but still, it has been a slow day, so I’m not in a position to turn down excitement.

I did quite like Jo though. It was a shame she chose to wear such a nice dress because the blood splatters really ruin it. She chose to wear heels as well. That was pretty funny. Zombies cannot run in heels. Her ankle made a horrible snapping sound.

I don’t know where the original one went, the madman that burst through the office door, tore that manager guy (Richard?) to shreds and bit Jo. He may’ve jumped through the window trying to eat Sasha. I don’t blame him – Sasha’s gorgeous. I’d run around after her if it was socially acceptable.

Now Kevin’s doing a little dance around his desk with Jo, scurrying one way and the other as she tries to get to him and his precious brains. I consider telling her not to bother. I’m not sure Kevin’s particularly blessed in that department. Funny little man, Kevin. I’ll admit to a thin smile when Jo grabs him and pulls his arm off.

*thud*

The arm lands on my desk. I stare at it, oozing thick, red blood. What a satisfying thud it made.

“John?”

I start and look up. Kate, my manager, stands above me. I’m glad she’s still alive.

“End of play today, yeah?” she asks. I look at the arm. It is not an arm. It is a tax mitigation report for a client down the road. I look up at Kate, and back towards Kevin. Jo isn’t eating him. I can’t see either of them.

“Jo?” I stammer.

“She’s been let go,” Kate replies, as she pulls a pistol from her jacket and fires three shots behind me. I turn to see a blood-drenched Jo thud to the floor. “Death and taxes, John. Life’s two certainties – let’s keep it that way.”