Category Archives: Stories

The Wicked Witch of the Underworld

The Wicked Witch of the Underworld

Somehow we ended up driving into the underworld.  Not knowing where we were, we made a u turn and continued on our way home.  A wicked witch followed us out though.  Something in me knew it too but I kept shrugging off as shadows and road noise.  At home that night I felt her presence and went into the back yard pondering where the safest place would be.  In fright at the dark clouds swarming fast on all horizons, I turned and ran back into the house and up the stairs.  She flew around me in a swirling gust.  I thought I had escaped her as I burst out onto the balcony and climbed onto the roof.  Feeling myself floating I grabbed the flag pole rope and held on in one last attempt to stay grounded.  “It’s no use,” she shrieked, “I’ve already given you the poison.” Her words echoed as Kevin’s sword flew through her apparition, its reflective light joining into my swirling, darkening vision.

I eventually awoke, realizing that my sleeping beauty fantasies were never something that I wanted to be true.   Blinking my eyes, I expected the vague form of Kevin hovering over me to bring me relief, but it didn’t.  “Kevin! Why do you look like that?” I exclaimed.  His Claymation face looked sad.  I reached up to his face asking him if it is really him, when I noticed my own hands had the very same cartoonish texture.  Frightened, thinking this must be a dream, the memory of the witch’s attack came back.  “But how did you get here?” I asked him as he showed me the mirror, “I thought she was only attacking me.

“She was.” He explained, “But I couldn’t fight her off and wouldn’t let her take you alone.  So I let her take me too.  I couldn’t be without you.  “What does she want with us?” I asked.  He didn’t know.  For weeks she has just been flying around like a mad spirit muttering spells as she experiments with the new power having us around gives her.  “She’s been gone for a few days, maybe that’s why you’ve woken up.”  My memory came and went over the next few days so it was easy to live in the cottage as if we always did.

But at random times a memory would come to mind.  “Do you still work at a bank?” I asked Kevin, half knowing his answer but feeling compelled like a child to ask anyway.  “Not since we’ve been here, no.  We’re prisoners here.  I have no idea how to get out.”

One day Kevin began to get spacey and forgetful of what words he had been trying to get out.  He fell into a conscious muttering sleep as the witch flew in.  “Good good, awake awake.  Get up!” she ordered.  I stood, shaky on my claylike legs under her spell.  A salt shaker appeared in my hand and I started sprinkling Kevin with salt as the witch flew around in apparitional ciaos.

The tornedo of wind put me into a black out and I awoke on horseback.  My hands tied in front of me with Kevin walking at my side, looking more and more Disney than Claymation.  We were slowly following the witch’s caravan through a small town.  Children were pointing in awe as the adults hustled them away from the road.  A band of teens threw rocks at us, threatening to break Kevin’s shoes, which were made of half an egg shell each.  Angrily he lunged at them.  Had his shackles not held him back, they probably would have been too scared to throw one last rock.  Egg shell shards spew in all directions, disheartened he turned to me.  “You have to try to remember, remember home.  It is the only way we can get out of here.” “Home…” I whispered as I woke up, Kevin snoring at my side.  I breathed a sigh of relief that it was all just some sort of dream.

Employee wants = business gain

Employee wants = business gain

Mark sat slumped in the uncomfortable auditorium room chair trying to keep his eyes open while his manager, Ray, was intently taking notes. “Employee wants = business gain,” Ray whispered as he jotted it down.

“Anyone understand what this means?” the presenter asked. The audience stared back blankly. “Remember our list of employee wants? Who can give me a recap?” A young, balding college student raised his hand and spoke, “We’re supposed to document what our employees want,” the presenter nodded and continued, “this is where we use that information. As business do we really care what our employees want?” the presenter put his hand to his ear, “I can’t hear you,” he yelled after a soft “no” was heard in the audience. “Do we really care what employees want?” “No!” yelled the audience.

“Exactly! We don’t care! What we do care about is how we can use that information to increase productivity, profitability, and get ourselves that promotion. And how can we do that?” The balding college student stood up again, gleaming at the recognition, “by using it as leverage, to, to, to…” he shuddered, “get what the business needs.” “Yes!” Exclaimed the presenter.

“For example, Mary is a single mother, you know she’s stressed but she’s compliant. She has accumulated 1.5 weeks of vacation time and wants to take a long weekend to take her kids to see their grandparents. Do we let her go?” Silence from the audience, “No. No we don’t let her go, not without getting something in return to make you look like a gracious and productive manager, any ideas?”

The audience shouted ideas out:

“Ask for overtime?”

“Work through lunch”

“Take on extra projects”

“All good ideas, you just have to make sure you know the labour laws. You can’t specifically ask her to work through a legal break period, but you can force them into working through a break by giving them extra projects. Plus breaking a labour law gives the employee power, and we don’t want that. You see, employees are the female in the employment relationship. A good manager keeps them off balance and instils fear of being rejected. Giving them power is the opposite of productive and profitable.

“But isn’t it a good thing to empower employees and encourage them to make their own decisions?” a confused woman in the back row asked.

“Yes and no,” the presenter answered. “It is good when it makes you look good and increases profits, AKA your bonus.” He smiled. “Making the employee work extra hard for a vacation she’s already accrued is a double win for the company. Employees will become accustomed to working harder for their vacations. Can anyone think of a third level of productivity that can be achieved?”

A mix of blank faces and contemplative smiles emitted from the audience. “The third productivity gain from this psychological game is that once employees learn that they need to improve productivity to go on vacation, they’ll naturally work hard before requesting the time off. Once they request the time off (or whatever else it is they want) you can ask for even more productivity (or whatever it is that would benefit your numbers) before the delivery date of their request.”

Mark’s manager turned to him with a smile and whispered, “This is such a great idea, how much do you think we could improve our numbers with this strategy?”

Mark clicked his pen and wrote shortly on his steno pad, and crumpled the paper. After grabbing his brief case, he stood, turned around and said, “Catch,” and tossed the ball of paper onto his manager’s lap. Confused his manager un-crumpled the paper and read “I QUIT” written in the centre of the page. By the time he looked up, Mark was slowly walking out of the auditorium doors.

 

San Francisco

San Francisco

Jane sat leaning on her bedroom’s bay window soaking up the sun on her face while she pretended she was laying on the beach in her hometown. Even though this was the first day in a week that the sun had broken through the dense San Francisco fog, the air outside, helped by the whooshing wind, still sent an annoying chill down her neck whenever she got lazy about tying her scarf correctly.

“It’s always 50 degrees here,” was her latest mantra since it was the first thing that came to mind every time people asked how she was enjoying her freshman year of college.

“Getting into a lot of trouble, I bet!” was another common one. She would stare back blankly or shrug. It wasn’t that she wasn’t enjoying herself; it was that her usual sources of fun no longer existed and the new ones being experienced weren’t reliable old friends she could turn too to ward off her boredom or need for excitement. They were simply fun new experiences with no predictable reoccurrence in her daily routine.

There was plenty going on. Parties, drunken dorm room chats, drama between roommates, and all the usual college campus life experiences that she came there to check out. She had new friends who were getting themselves into all sorts of random situations, but she was still on the outside of it all. Simply going with the flow and wasn’t sure how to breakout of herself.

Her boyfriend wasn’t helping. Even though he was staying home for college they wanted to stay together and still felt connected in their distance relationship, his opinions held her back. She bought a CD off a street performer playing the cello and played it over the phone feeling certain that John would appreciate it but all he said was, “why would you buy a shitty CD off a street performer? I can download something just like it for free online.” She sighed, “I just thought it sounded pretty that’s all. Besides it was only $5.00.” She changed the subject, “Are you coming to visit this weekend? Is your brother’s friend still driving up?” He complained, “Ugh, it is such a long drive, it’ll take like 6 hours.”

He complained. “He was never a good traveller,” his mom explained to her once. “I don’t remember a single time that we drove to Las Vegas without him throwing up. We resorted to sleeping pills once he was old enough, but then he just felt groggy and cranking for hours after we got there.”

He made the drive and was dropped off at his brother’s apartment in Berkley. When she called to tell him which train to take into the city, he was reluctant to take the 45 minute train across the bay from “We’re having a good time here, why don’t you just come join us.” She took the train.

She arrived late after having gotten side tracked by some usual dorm drama and a long deserved nap. He met her at the train station with a big hug and beer ridden kiss and suddenly she felt better. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Nothing, I just think I had a bad day, should be better now, I’m glad you’re here,” she replied with a deep breath and progressive smile. He took her hand and they slowly wandered to his brother’s place.

Happiness Tax

Happiness Tax

Brendan sat in his seat fidgeting with excitement as the reverend briskly began writing on the white board. “This course, my dear students, is designed to help you ease into adulthood,” said the reverend as he wrote “Introduction to Adulthood, Life 101 taught by Reverend Bertram” on the white board. “You’ve passed your exam, had your little summer break and now it is time to get to work. His assistant was busy passing out packets to each student.

“For the next 15 minutes, you are all instructed to read your packet to fully understand your job assignments; I will be available after that time to answer any questions you may have.”

Brendan eagerly opened the yellow envelope and read his job title, “Happiness tax collector.” His heart sank. His job was to be the person taxing people based on how much fun and enjoyment they received in life.

Cinderella in Finance

Cinderella in Finance

An adapted Cinderella story that is about finding ones success in life rather than true love. It is about a young woman facing obstacles to getting her ideas known to save a dying company. Her personal life is filled with loving people who all struggle financially. Her parents are depressed over lost retirement money. Her sister did college only after being laid off and is heavily in debt over the whole situation. Her being a major family source of income drives her to continue working for evil bosses and co-workers until one day there is an opportunity to get her ideas heard by the CEO. She succeeds, saves the company, and they all live happily ever after.

 

It’s about finally getting that lucky break to get the training and guidance needed to show the world what you can do.

 

There once was a CFO who hired a new Finance Manager.

“Everyone,” The CEO smiled happily I’d like you all to meet, Estelle.

This Finance Manager turned out to be pleasant to his face, BUT ill-natured behind his back. She soon gained the respect of two Senor Accountants who were just as unpleasant and together they slowly made everyone in the department miserable. The CFO had a financial analyst of his own, but once he retired leaving his position vacant. She soon become under the direction of the Finance Manager and Senior Accountants. They made her do all the messy and time-consuming work, and she was nicknamed Bea for beaver, because she was always getting in their way in an attempt to get her work done.

 

The CEO was bored and feeling low about recent declines in the company’s market share, so he decided to host a huge brain storming meeting to gather ideas from employees about how to increase profitability of the company. The meeting was an anonymous panel where employees pitched ideas from behind a wall. The evil Finance Manager and senior accountants were invited, but Beaver was not allowed to go due to a reporting deadline. The evil ones, tricked her into believing that it was causal Friday so she wouldn’t be dressed for the event. After they left, the CEO’s executive assistant rushed back into the office to pick up something he forgot and noticed Beaver still working. Appalled that she was still working, she quickly pulled a suit from behind her office door and gave it to Beaver to wear to the meeting. She let Beaver be driven across the company campus in the golf cart to get to the meeting on time. Before Beaver left, the executive assistant warned her to be home before midnight to submit the filling data by the deadline.

 

Cinderella was a hit at the meeting. The CEO fell in love with her ideas and asked her name. Just then the clock struck 11:45pm, and Beaver ran away to submit her reports. She was in such a hurry; she lost one of her power flats. It was the only clue the CEO had to find the girl full of great ideas to save the company. He went to every department in the kingdom and glanced at every young woman’s collection of work shoes under their desks to see if he could find the other power flat. The evil senior accountants didn’t have the same sized power flat, but Beaver did. The CEO promoted her to Chief of Innovation and they all lived happily ever after.

 

Dreams, spells, and finding the gods

Dreams, spells, and finding the gods

Chapter 1

Mylin set out in search of the gods equipped with a book of spells she wrote down after each dream that came to her every time she fell asleep by the town river. Her decision to get up a go came after one particular dream wherein she could not understand the spell. Try and try as she might to write down the words in her mind, they came out jumbled and twisted on the page. She decided at that point that she had had enough and needed to seek more expert council than the town sage, Moreagan, who was more concerned with the town wealth than the needs of its patrons. “If these spells don’t make money,” he once told her, “then they are no good to us. We need currency to exchange for better building materials, paper, and fabric from our neighbors, not a bunch of poppycock words.” He exclaimed as he slammed his fist on the open book, creasing the binding. Mylin winced. “Why don’t you get your head out of the clouds and just settle down like a good young lady with Toreagan, he’s going to need sons to manage all those fields someday. The sooner the better!” The sage shuffled Mylin out and slammed the door. Feverently, she knocked on the door, “Mr. Sage, my book!” Suddenly the side window opened with a furry and out tossed the book out the window into the sage’s trash heap.

With two fingers, Mylin picked up her precious book of spells, shaking off a banana peel, rotting opinion slice, and rogue caterpillar clinging hungrily to the edge of the delicious pages. She glanced, embarrassed at the townsman all chuckling at her situation.

Mylin hopelessly walked back to her cabin and tossed the book on her lonesome bed in the corner and went about preparing her dinner. “How is it that my own people do not understand me? Or maybe I just don’t understand them?” Mylin sighed a heavy sigh and decided to calm herself by reciting a spell seemed fitting for the moment. “Peace may come and peace may go,” she whispered stirring her soup, “Peace may come and peace may go, echos bid me follow so, peace may come and peace may go, peace may come and peace may go, fear not the shadows of which thy not know.”

That night, unable to either fully wake or sleep, Mylin tossed and turned at the often violent images that passed through her mind screen. At dawn she was finally able to wrestle herself up and out of bed. Grogey from not having a proper nights rest, she stumbled backwards over her bedside table and landed on top her book of spells. “OUCH!” She yelled leaping up in a panic grabbing both her head (which had hit the floor) and her right hip (which fell on the book). “What could possibly have burned me?” she thought to herself as she turned wide eyed toward a glowing light illuminating her floor. Rings of light danced off the book’s cover. Mylin, carefully touched the surface with her finger. The light was hot. Puzzled she wondered how it could not catch fire, surely it was just made of leather and wood paper. She opened it carefully to find the little caterpillar had eaten a hole in the pages and built itself a cocoon safely between the covers. It’s slimy, swirly tracks marking its path danced brightly along the cover leading to the edge where it entered the safety of the pages inside.

She jumped up to the mirror to investigate the burning sensation on her back. There it was, the shape of the caterpillar’s path, burned into her skin. “If the Sage won’t help me figure this out, I must find someone who will,” she thought to herself as she set about packing her belongings.

Chapter 2

 

Summoning past lovers

Summoning past lovers

In a brief moment of despair at not being in love for far too long, I summoned up my favorite lover from my memory.  After dancing the softness of his skin and reliving the sparkling spot in my soul where his memorizing eyes met mine, I finally remembered what it felt like to be in love again.  For a brief second the portal between us opened again, long enough for me to whisper “but i love you…”  Swooning once again in a state of ecstasy, he awoke from my spell, “Mareks…Mareks, darling are you still there?” said a sweet voice over the phone. “Hm, hmm, yes yes, uh blue, blue is a great color for the guest bedroom, look I’ve got to go, I’ll call you back when I’m on my way home” he replied….”Love you too….cheers….bye”.  He nervously stood up and looked out the window over Sydney Harbour.  He remembered too.

Robots

Robots

A friend of mine sat on a lawn chair in the pool area of our apartment building, leaning forward with his head in one hand and a cigarette in the other.  He hadn’t taken a puff of his cigarette for a few minutes so his cigarette looked more like a long ash stick than an actual cigarette.  I approached him cautiously and said, “Hey Frank, what’s up man, rough day?” startling him out of deep thought, he jumped and once he realized who I was he mumbled, “Oh, Rob, hey man, what’s up?”

“You don’t look so good, what happened?” I asked.

“Oh my girlfriend blew up last night.” He said.

“Another one?!?” I asked amazed, “Isn’t that the third one this year?”

Yeah another one and, no, fourth one this year. Remember I had two in January. That was a disaster also,” he said throwing his hands in the air and slapping them down on his thighs, “I thought that if I have two on opposite cycles of the month then I wouldn’t have to wait around for them to, you know, be in the mood.  It worked out great for the first month but I couldn’t afford the maintenance, then when I kept getting their preferences confused, like which on likes wine and which one likes beer, they both exploded…. But I didn’t even see it coming this time.  I don’t get it Rob,” he continued, “I read the manual three, even four times and followed it exactly.”

“What model did you buy?” I asked.

“The Edu…educated Showpiece 5000,” he replied with a stutter.

“Holy shit, Frank, no wonder!  Why you messing around with such an advanced model?  You got a 5000 series with an education package?” I exclaimed.

“I know, I know, but I’m just sick of the dumb ones,” he said sucking on his cigarette,  “I didn’t realize that the education packages think so much, I just thought it just makes conversation and advice better.”  He explained, head bobbing low, “I didn’t realize that I actually had to put so much effort into them.”

I hate to say it man but that’s advanced material,” I responded, “I’ve never bought higher than a 3000 series, I like to keep things simple. Actually I’m happier with the 2000 series actually, they don’t analyze my behavior so much and it is much easier to persuade them to do what I want them to do, ” I trailed off realizing that my words weren’t really helping.

“Now I have to start all over,” Frank mumbled head in hands again. “Build the whole relationship from scratch, if only they didn’t cost so much money.”

“Well, just try being single for a while then,” I replied.

“No, no, I’ve tried being single before, it messes with my mind man,” he said with wide eyes, “suddenly everything in the world has a sexual connotation.  This one time I walked into a grocery store to return something and the cashier was talking to me in plain English but I didn’t get what she meant.”

“What was she saying?” I asked

“She said something like, ‘This is past the return DATE sir, we have to GO OUT to the warehouse and speak with my manager. Most likely she will approve it because we like to keep up good RELATIONS with our customers.  COME along.’ Then she had me follow her to the back and all I could focus on was her….”

“I hear ya, you don’t have to give anymore detail…” I interrupted while tapping him on the shoulder, “but hey, lets go grab a drink, take a load off.  I’ve had girlfriends blow up on me before too, it always sucks at first but, hey, it’s a learning experience, that’s why you try different models.  You’ll get it down…”

“yeah you’re right,” he responded as he got up to head off to the local pub with me.

While walking out of the pool area we saw smoke flowing out of a second floor apartment where a couple was arguing on the balcony.

Suddenly the man on the balcony yelled, TAKE COVER!!!!” instantly we jumped under the nearest table just in time to hear a loud BOOM BOOM BOOOOOM.  As the shards of plastic and metal wires rained over us, I said, “See, you’re not alone.”

Reading Out Loud

Reading Out Loud

In fifth grade we would play a game called “popcorn” where the students would take turns reading out loud and when that student had read enough they would yell out “Popcorn!” and the name of another student, who would start reading where the previous student left off.  The process would repeat until the entire section was complete or the teacher got tired of hearing the word “Popcorn!” yelled in as many different ways as the class could come up with.

Once the “cool” kids (who were really just bullies) got a hold of the popcorn torch, I pretty much lost all chance of getting to read out loud.  One day my eagerness to read out loud caught up with me.  I couldn’t contain my excitement for the story and was reading silently along, eager to see how the story would unfold, when I started whispering the words only loud enough for me to hear.  Unfortunately I was so lost in reading that I started reading out loud along with the “cool kid”.  The girl looked up at me, confused.  She and I made eye contact; I shrugged my shoulders as if to say “opps” and blushed as she continued to read.  Luckily, no one else seemed to notice.  The awkwardness only lasted a second because I once again found myself engulfed in the story.

Change in the Air

Change in the Air

I sat outside the Sydney Airport, scanning the rather empty parking lot for the shuttle to the city that seemed to have forgotten about me, when a old Australian man struck up a conversation with me.

“Got a light?” he asked,

“no, sorry, sir, but that man on his cell phone over there just finished smoking, he probably has one,” I replied while motioning in a direction off to my right.

The man got a light and returned to the bench where I sat.

“American or Canadian?”  He asked me while blowing his smoke the opposite direction of me.

“American,” I said as cheerfully as I could having just been deep in thought about how I just landed half way around the world alone, “I’ve never been to Australia before, I’m excited.”

The man looked around as if he too was in a brand new world, “yeah, change is in the air.”

At first I thought he was being sarcastic in a way that I just didn’t understand, but in that moment I realized he was really being contemplative, basing his words off some sort of wisdom that I had yet to acquire.

I looked around not feeling change being in the air because my arrival was the result of a natural progression of events for me, and said, “well, everything seems normal around here, like, I’m sure this is how this place normally operates.” My voice cracked midway as I spoke as the emotion of realizing that I had really flown here alone hit me again, it came in waves.

“But you’re here,” the man said, “that’s a pretty big change, and not just for you, I tell you change is in the air, I can feel it.”

Just then the man’s ride pulled up.  He put out his cigarette and a woman, who looked to be his daughter, helped him load his luggage into the car.

“You take care of yourself, and enjoy Oz,” he said to me with a grim as he got into the car.

“I will!, thank you!”I responded just before he closed the door and the car drove off.

I sat there for a few minutes thinking, “I have really done this.”