A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 184,867,935 Issue: 484 | 4th day of Running, Y13
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Oh No, Not Again...: Part Two


by fuzzymonkey31

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I woke up early the following morning to the sound of the intercom blaring into my room.

     Ms. Vladderly had an intercom set up in the building a few years ago so that if someone came to talk to you she could let you know without having to shift from her chair in her little office—well, truthfully, it wasn't a particularly little, but the percentage of if left when she occupied it made it quite small—downstairs.

     In theory, this was a good idea. But Ms. Vladderly abused her power dreadfully. She turned the volume up to max and she didn't take the time of day into account.

     This particular morning she was saying that there was a frightening visitor here for me. I didn't know what she meant, but I shouted into the reply microphone in the wall above my bed and told her to give me a few minutes to wake up.

     I rolled out of bed and slithered out of yesterday's outfit—never changed out of—and into something semi-clean I found on my chair. I grabbed my Captain Coat from the foot of my bed and exited my apartment.

     When I made it to the foot of the stairs, I stared at who had come to meet me this early in the morning.

     "Hey, Bif! I kind of had this desire to come to Kreludor for breakfast and I thought I could drop by and we could eat together!" Sloth said. He was wearing a red and black striped scarf in addition to his normal attire, and he had two slips of paper in one of his hands, which he waved in my direction.

     "I have coupons!"

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     I don't know how I came from that moment in time to sitting across from Sloth in a booth at Café Kreludor, but it wasn't until that point I really got a grip on myself.

     "I hope you don't mind Orange Rambus Burger," he said, mouth full of something purple. "You were rather quiet when the waiter asked you what you wanted to eat, so I just selected the yummiest thing I saw on the menu." He swallowed noisily and sat back in the booth. I stared at the burger on my plate because it was less embarrassing than looking at my boss.

     He must have noticed my awkward silence, because he put his food-thing down and leaned forward with his fingered steepled and his elbows on the table.

     "I know this is most odd, but I wanted to show you how truly sorry I am for our past, odd, random adventures. I promise we will do no more tangling with faeries (I honestly don't know what I was thinking!) and no more trips to the NC Mall."

     He smiled sheepishly. "Y'know, Bif, I'm almost sorry I gave you that brown paint brush."

     I looked up suddenly. I certainly wasn't sorry.

     "I really enjoyed whenever people mistook you for a girl. It'll be so different now," he explained, upon seeing my startled face.

     "I'm truly thankful you went for the compassionate choice, rather than the more humorous one, sir," I said, glowering at him and picking up my burger. I pulled the orange-flag toothpick out of it and took a bite.

     "I know," Sloth said, looking out the window. "But still, those were good times." He chuckled into his hands, trying not to make eye contact with me. I don't blame him; the way I was looking at him he might have gotten a dagger square in the pupil if he had met my gaze.

     "But no more. I promise," he said, and went back to eating his purply thing.

     I nodded. "Good," I said through a mouthful of orange rambus.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     I worked the rest of the morning cleaning out Sloth's filing cabinets. I moved files that were in the wrong place to their proper slot; threw away files that were rotting; and stabbed, with a routinely sharpened pencil, the files that had been there so long they had mutated into the vicious, finger-eating, gooey masses.

     I left this job around 2 o'clock to go soak my hands in boiling water for about ten minutes to clean off all of the disgusting bacteria and germs, and the especially disgusting entrails of mutant files.

     I went to the kitchen to get to Sloth's snack and met Lt. Fish over a pot of boiling something-or-other.

     "Bif!" the old, greying Yurble exclaimed. "Good to hear you're back!"

     Lieutenant Fish has been around since any of us can remember. He trains all the newcomers and even people in ranks above him treat him with amazing respect. He hasn't been promoted since Y4, some people say. Others say he was born old. But no one can really pinpoint why he's so likable, and in relation to that, why he's been working for Sloth so long. He's not the sort anyone would ever call evil or even slightly devious.

     "Hey, Lieutenant! How have your knees been?" I asked pleasantly. Lt. Fish complained about his aching body so much that every time I meet him I ask for an update on how their functioning. It's not a normally pleasant topic, but Lt. Fish is the sort who can make a stomach virus sound amusing and cheerful.

     "The knees are as knocky and knobby as ever, soldier!" Lt. Fish said jovially. That's another thing about Lt. Fish; everyone he meets he immediately assumes to be in some army or other.

     "And how are your ears?"

     "Eh?"

     "Your ears!" I repeated.

     "Well, that tells you all you need to know then!" Lt. Fish said, winking.

     "And your bowels?"

     "No improvement, to my great misery!" said Lt. Fish with as happy a face as anyone ever had that has bowels filled with great misery.

     "Too bad. How are the new recruits?" I queried, smiling wider with every second. It's impossible not to like Lt. Fish. He's portly, cheerful and a bit lacking in the head. But the more senile he gets, the more you like him; the more you're happy to find his glasses should he drop them, or read the fine print on something for him.

     "Eh, silly-headed as ever! But I'll whip them into shape!" he said, eyes twinkling with a joy only obtainable when half of your brain mass is retired.

     "You always have!" I said, my mouth aching with the all the grinning I had been doing. "Well, I gotta bring snacks to the boss!" I said, lifting the plate and cup off the counter.

     "Ah, jolly good! Carry on then, soldier!" Lt. Fish said, playing with his cane and smiling amiably. He tottered off to do whatever he did and I proceeded down the hallway to deliver the snack.

     Dear Fyora, I've missed this job!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     Sloth took his biscuits and milk from me and nodded appreciatively.

     "Thanks, Bif! Your punctuality never ceases to amaze."

     "Yes, sir," I said, and turned to leave. But I was curious. "Sir, how long has Lt. Fish been working for you?"

     Sloth looked at the ceiling, thinking deeply. "Oh, I don't know, I think ever since the beginning. But I can't remember a time when he wasn't ancient. Why?"

     "Oh... I was just curious," I said, and with all honesty. People never believe me when I say that I was "just curious", even when it was very true. Sometimes we just want to know things for the sake of knowing, you know? So stop suspecting we have ulterior motives!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     After Bif had left, the little slips of paper were collected from their pile of Sloth's desk, color coded, then arranged within their colour groups alphabetically, then put away into their many recipe boxes they inhabited.

     Sloth smiled and sat back in his chair and stuffed the last of the meepit biscuits into his mouth.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     I sat in a beanbag in the rec-room. A mutant Grundo and a mutant Usul played at darts. The Usul was winning and the Grundo couldn't figure it.

     I flipped through the magazine in my hands for a few minutes, but soon tired of it. Everything was feeling too quiet. I was so sure any moment that Sloth would run in with a pan of muffins, or that the Darkest Faerie would kidnap someone or something would go horribly wrong.

     I suppose I really should trust Sloth when he says that there would be no more of that sort of things. But if you're the type of creature that trusts evil overlords when they say nothing is going to go wrong, you won't be long for this world.

     And I, for one, intend to be here awhile.

     The mutant Grundo was now holding the mutant Usul a few feet above the floor, demanding to know how the other she was so good at darts. The Usul said it wasn't important, but the Grundo insisted it was of the utmost importance.

     I sat back further into the beanbag and closed my eyes. I only had a few minutes left of my break before I had to go get the plate and cup from Sloth's office. I wanted to make this nap count.

     "It's nothing I can teach you!" the Usul insisted.

     "Just tell me already, Jenny!" the Grundo whined.

     "No, Duncan, I won't!"

     I sat up.

     "Duncan? Jenny?" I queried. The other two looked at me and squinted.

     "Bif?" Jenny asked.

     "Yeah!" I said, trying to leap out of the beanbag, but failing due to Beanbag Exodus Principle: It is impossible to execute a sudden exit from a beanbag chair, or something of similar consistency.

     "What happened to you guys? Last time I saw you, you guys were twin Unis!" I said, now standing up from the beanbag with less gusto.

     "We became test subjects!" Duncan said proudly, setting Jenny down.

     "And a pay raise!" Jenny said proudly.

     "But look at you!" Duncan said, elbowing me in my head. "You're brown!"

     "Yeah, Sl–" I paused. I didn't feel quite right telling the truth of how I had changed colours. "Yeah, a great friend gave me the paint brush."

     "Wow, awesome!" Jenny said.

     "So–" I began, but the loud-speaker interrupted, asking all test subjects to report to testing room 2B.

     "Ah, sorry, we've gotta go!" Duncan said, and he dragged Jenny out of the rec-room. "Bye, Bif!"

     I stood still, glued to my spot.

     Y'know what? I'm not quitting this job in a month of Sundays, man! Besides not being able to get a job anywhere else, there's too many memories.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     The office was empty when I entered in. I picked up the dirty dishes and left as quickly as I could, in case Sloth did another sneak attack like he did the day before. I took the dishes to the kitchen, greeted the cook, then went to find something to busy myself with.

     I saw so many familiar faces, heard so many voices I hadn't noticed I had missed since I quit, I smelled so many... interesting scents. I sat on the bench hidden behind the potted Mutant Chokato tree where you could sneak a nap and no one could find you. I stood in the middle of the main foyer, feeling everyone moving around me.

     I'm home, I murmured to myself. I can never leave forever.

     Just as I felt sure my life had finally been settled into perfection, I heard my name being called for over the PA system:

     "Bif, report to Testing Room, 2B."

     I stiffened. What did they want with me?

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Oh No, Not Again...: Part One
» Oh No, Not Again...: Part Three
» Oh No, Not Again...: Part Four



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