The Fairy and the Ogre

Once upon a time, a young woman sat at a boring desk doing boring work – typing till her fingers bled and reading till her eyeballs fell out.

One Tuesday, as she sat in front of her computer beating her head against her desk in frustration, her boss stopped by for an unwelcome visit.

“Sleeping on the job again, eh?” he boomed nasally, “Better lift that job performance, or you’ll lose your bonuses!”

As Sally contemplated the loss of a measly $3.56 annual bonus, her bile rose and she got angry. VERY angry. But what could a mere worker like herself do against the might of management?

That evening, as she labored at her ever-increasing workload, she spied a night-dweller of the office – the cleaner. Hump-backed and quiet, only venturing to speak if spoken to, he shuffled around emptying bins.

“Evening!” she said, attempting a bright smile and succeeding only partially.

“Evening, dear” smiled the cleaner, “you’re working late, aren’t you?”

Sally looked at her acquaintance, and briefly pondered the office hierarchy which made managers so far above her… and the office of cleaner such a huge distance to fall.

“Do you enjoy your job?” she enquired.

“Well, dear – it’s about all I can get, looking the way I do!” the cleaner twinkled cheerfully.

“May I ask… your back…?”

“Oh, that!” he harrumphed. He leant down, “Can you keep a secret, dear?”

“Ummm… I- I- guess so..” stammered Sally, a little bewildered but very, very curious.

The cleaner whipped off his coat (causing Sally a few moments of deep anxiety – an office was no place to be stuck alone, late at night, with a demented sexual predator). On his back was…

… a pair of wings?

Fairy wings.

Translucent, glittery, the works.

What’s more, they were firmly attached to his bare back.

“Errrrrr… you’re a cleaner dressed as a fairy?” uttered Sally, near lost for words.

“I AM a fairy!” declaimed the cleaner/fairy.

“Oh”

“You don’t believe me, do you, dear?” enquired the cleaner/fairy, with a glint in his eye.

“Welllll…” said Sally diplomatically, “It’s a bit hard to take in, isn’t it? I mean, fairies are kids’ stories!”

The cleaner giggled, and Sally started to worry a bit again. Then again, she HAD learnt self-defense. And the cleaner was pretty weedy – she could probably hold him off long enough to call security.

“Tell you what,” suggested the cleaner/fairy, “I’ll grant you a wish. Something localised, mind you, and fairly small. No lotto winnings or fancy cars in your driveway, let alone castles built overnight. I’m a fairy, not a genie!”

Sally pondered. She couldn’t take this seriously, but she didn’t want to seem to NOT take it seriously either…

“Get rid of my boss” she said, “Don’t kill him, don’t even harm him, just make life a bit hard, make him want to leave. He makes MY life pretty damn hard, I’d like to see him suffer for once.”

The cleaner’s eyes brightened. “Perfect!” he announced, rubbing his hands together, “I know the perfect trio of brownies to make his life hell… they love personalised mischief. They’ll embarrass him, plague him and make it all look like unlucky coincidence!”

The cleaner wandered off, giggling and muttering under his breath.

Sally, shaken, slumped down in her chair and wondered what on earth she’d just done. Surely at the worst her boss would be in for a couple of slashed tyres or a loosened chair back… something annoying and maybe expensive to fix, but not majorly criminal. She’d hate to have incited a mentally-ill member of the community to cause real damage to someone.

WEDNESDAY

Sally entered the office with a hint of trepidation. Everything looked perfectly normal. She peered into her boss’s office on the way to her cubicle – empty as normal (he typically got in late and left early – regular hours and overtime were for the plebs). Nothing was out of place. Probably, she thought with rising hopefulness, the cleaner had forgotten his bizarre promise 5 seconds after he’d wandered away.

Wednesday was meeting day. You’d expect a break from dull routine to be welcomed, but somehow work meetings managed to be duller and feel more routine than even the work managed to be. Maybe it was because lots of people, all radiating dullness and hopelessness, were stuck in a small space together instead of dispersing their misery over the office.

The boss walked in late (standard) with a scowl on his face (mostly standard – the only time he smiled in a meeting was when someone was about to be publicly humiliated or fired). He sat down, farted loudly (not standard) and blushed (extremely non-standard). He picked up a pen, which exploded. Not a minute into the meeting, and he looked ready to cry or explode himself. Sally wiped a drop of ink from her cheek and boggled, while trying to pretend she was noticing nothing. All around her, she heard the sound of desperately-muffled chuckles giving way to fits of fake coughing.

Brownies?

The manager thumped the desk, and said, “Right, let’s start this meeting! Stuart – what’s the status of -”

He coughed. He spluttered. He hacked… and out of his mouth came something looking suspiciously like a furball to Sally’s practiced (cat-owning) eye.

Stuart – a bit weak-stomached at the best of times – gagged and ran out of the room. Everyone else kept to their seats, too shocked to do anything useful.

Sally smirked internally (never externally – that would be career suicide in this place). Whatever was happening, she was determined to enjoy every minute. The boss slumped, head in hands, silent.

After a number of very quiet, very boring minutes in which everyone glanced covertly around the room while trying to avoid eye-contact with anyone, the boss thumped the desk again. “Meeting adjourned!” he choked out, then strode out of the room, head held high and arms clasped over his abdomen.

Sally returned to her boring cubicle and looked at her work, thinking hard. Brownies? Mischievous ones? Coincidence? Or had the cleaner poisoned her boss’s coffee cup or something? Crud, how would she explain herself to a murder investigation? “Well, Your Honour, the cleaner said he was a fairy and would grant me a wish…” She gave in and banged her head on her desk for relief.

“Sleeping again, eh? That performance review is getting worse and worse, girlie!” boomed a familiar, nasally voice. Well, he wasn’t THAT sick, she mused angrily. The boss moved on to his next victim – at least, started to, before tripping over nothing and hitting his head on the ceramic ornamental fern pot. Sally choked back the giggle as he bounced to his feet and looked around wildly for whatever had tripped him. Looking just a little red, he gathered his dignity and strode off into the bookshelf. Someone broke, and a coworker was wracked with laughter. The boss, bright red now and with two lumps competing for dominance on his forhead, swore inventively and fired the nearest employee.

“Someone didn’t have his morning coffee,” whispered Stuart from the other side of her cubicle. “Cripes… have you ever seen him so mad?”

“Only that time when his wife walked in, told the entire office that she hadn’t had a decent shag in the ten years they’d been married, then dumped him!” whispered Sally.

Stuart boggled, “I missed THAT?”

“Nah, I made it up. She should, though, I reckon it’s true!” whispered Sally, then ducked down to avoid the enraged glare of the wounded boss.

The day passed, with miscellaneous mishaps causing regular bellows of fury from the direction of the boss’s office. The employees kept a low profile, attempting to reign in their sniggers and keep their whispers from reaching the (bright red) ears of the boss.

Just before 4:30, the fire alarm went off. As the employees dutifully traipsed toward the fire stairs to complete the drill, they were met with firemen – armed with fire extinguishers – heading into their office. What the heck was going on? Not a drill after all?

They met and waited downstairs for more than the usual ten minutes. Just as people started to look impatiently at their watches and mutter about going home and overtime, the firemen re-emerged. Between two large, burly firemen was dragged a small, weedy man covered in foam, with curls of smoke still rising from his head.

He was delivered to a waiting ambulance. Frank, edging as close as he could get unobtrusively, returned wide-eyed with the news.

“They reckon he set himself alight… just his hair! Some weird psychosis! I’d say they’re taking him to the mental health hospital down the road.”

Stuart grinned, “He’s not going to be back in a hurry – halle-bloody-lujah!” he crowed. “That man’s been driving me batty since I started here… thank God he’s gotten some of his own back, the great psycho!”

Sally collected her belongings and headed home, deep in thought. The ‘fairy’ had certainly delivered. Coincidence?

THURSDAY

Sally and her coworkers sat at their boring cubicles, doing their boring work, and felt as though they were the luckiest people in the world. The tyrant was gone – they were free! They were still bored and dull, but life was good.

FRIDAY

Sally came into work early and relaxed. She headed straight for the kitchenette to make herself a coffee.

In front of the coffee machine, hulking and huge, stood an ogre. No mistaking it, even for a normal girl like Sally – his skin was pale green and scaly, he had two horns, and he smelt like week-old trash marinated in sewerage. The only unogre-ish thing about him was the pale pink silk hankerchief draping out of the pocket of his (huge) Armani suit.

She drew a breath to scream, and choked on the smell, coughing and spluttering.

“Don’t bother screaming” said the ogre. “I’m Dan, your new boss.”

Sally stared.

The ogre stuck a hand out to be shaken. “I hear your old boss was an incredible softie.”

Moral of the Story?

There’s always another manager.

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8 Comments

  1. I like it.

  2. Very cute story. I’ll surely relay that one to my kids some day.

  3. Thanks David 🙂 One of those important life lessons… 😉

  4. Hehe. Nice ending. I really enjoyed this piece. Though the thought of something “booming nasally” grates on my mind.

    • Yeah, that really could do with rephrasing, couldn’t it?

      I’m glad you enjoyed it other than that, though – and welcome! 🙂

  5. An enjoyable story which serves to remind the reader that there is always something worse, so you should make do with what you have.

    Of course, wishing away someone bad isn’t making do. 😀

    Good job on the story!

  6. Still giggling. Thanks! 🙂

    ~ Lyn

  7. Loved it. Just a bit of balance. She needs to quit and become a writer. You don’t know bad management until your characters become your boss.


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