Orcs and Offices
Because work wasn't hard enough before your boss was a snarling 9 foot ogre.
Prelude Emerging into a whole new world
"Paging Randy Matner. Randy, I need to see you in my office post haste. This is non-negotiable."
Randall James Matner took off his thick black rimmed glasses and rubbed his eyes. It was his boss. The tone of the voice over the phone was calm, it always was. There was never any emotional variation in Bill 'Mr. Friday' Faraday's speech. He could condemn a village of starving children to death, and it would still sound like a cost analysis report. Randy could practically see it.
"I'm here to proudly announce on behalf of Johnson & Blake and their shareholders our recent acquisition of your air! After reviewing the 2009 budget, we regret to inform you that as of today your rights to continued breathing have been revoked. Any future attempts at drawing breath will be considered unlawful use of Johnson & Blake property, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We're so very sorry about this, but hey, at least you won't have to worry about starving anymore!" The village stands there in silence, collective mouths agape. Mr. Friday gives a curt nod, shuffles the papers on his podium, and walks away into his private jet made of gold studded with blood diamonds.
Randy took out his trademark comb and ran it through his thick jet-black hair. He quickly patted his hand to make sure the gel held everything in a neatly business acceptable part straight out of the 1950's. It was compulsion rather than vanity that drove him to fuss over his hair, and he knew it. It's not like he didn't have a reason. There was never anything good lying in store for somebody headed to Bill's office. Unfortunately for Randy, Mr. Friday just loved picking on him. At first he told himself it was because he was the most junior member of the accounting department, but recently he thought it had to do more with the fact he was 5'9", scrawny, and said 'yes' to most things, including things he should have had enough back bone to say no to. He stood from his uncomfortable swivel chair and began navigating his way through the cubicle maze on lucky floor 13, home of Johnson & Blake's accounting department. Everything was painstakingly clean and organized. Oftentimes Randy felt like the accounting department personnel were under more pressure to maintain a pristine image in themselves and their floor, than they were for perfection in the work they did. It was quite like the time when a younger Randy managed to get lice in 3rd grade. His mother had gone on a rampage of cleaning in what he figured was an attempt to make herself feel better about the situation. He spent those awkward two weeks basically standing still, not breathing too loudly for fear of further purging. As far as he was concerned, there hadn't been a justifiable reason to throw away all his beloved stuffed animals, but when he pressed the issue, his father firmly asserted that at the tender age of 9 no boy ought to care about things like that. Randy kept his feelings of loss to himself then, silently lamenting the passing of his best friend, Dr. Bearenstein. Ahh, those were the days.
Memories of a different sort dredged themselves up when he managed to bump into Veronica DiPaola.
"What's up short stuff?" she ruffled his hair, most likely sending it back to the chaotic state it always appeared to Randy as in the bathroom mirror every morning. Despite being completely anal about his hairdo, he accepted the playful gesture. Honestly, being touched by Veronica was an event to be cherished even if it was just in jest. For a woman she was pretty tall, her 5'10" putting her slightly above Randy. It was even more noticeable with heels, which she always wore. Nobody knew her exact age. Nobody had the balls to ask. Nor did most people care. She was entrancingly beautiful. You could tell she was middle aged, but it did nothing to detract from her looks. Veronica was the walking-breathing definition of 'cougar.' Shoulder length red hair framed a deliciously sculpted face with pretty green eyes and a perfect olive tan. Her curves were in all the right places, and though few would admit to it, half the accounting department would stop in their tracks just to see her bounce down the stairs. She was a workout enthusiast, which was the only reason barring sacrifices to the devil that could explain her energetic nature and perfect form. As she retracted her hand, Randy lamented that the best part of his day was well behind him now.
not much. Going to Bill's office. He wanted to see me."
Veronica frowned. Like most people, she didn't like Mr. Friday. Though if the office rumors could be believed, there was an extra, more personal reason. It would be hard to imagine someone of Veronica's caliber willingly going anywhere close to 50 feet of Bill's pudgy balding countenance. Randy suspected the reality of it probably had to do with her turning down repeated advances from the loathsome man.
"What does he want to see you for?" she inquired, raising a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.
"He, uh, didn't say. Said it was important."
Veronica rolled her eyes. "I don't know how you do it Randy."
"Do what? It's my job
"Cow towing to that sleeze ball is nobody's job. Don't let him pick on you because you're a nice boy."
Randy let out a sigh. "I'll keep that in mind
Veronica smiled sweetly and walked away. She had always been somewhat motherly towards him. And she was always going on about the nice boy thing. It was a clear kiss of death, and one Randy was quite familiar with. 'You're such a nice boy! I hope I marry a guy like you some day.' was something he got in response to his advances on more than one occasion. The irony of the statement almost stung more than the actual rejection. Randy huffed, took a moment to fix his hair with his comb, and continued his death march towards his boss's office. Eighteen or so cubicles, coffee pots, and water coolers later he was at the door to Mr. Friday's office. The polished wood bore a plain black plaque that read 'Bill Faraday.' Randy hesitated. He knew that keeping his boss waiting will only make things worse, but he couldn't bring himself to open the door any more than he could muster up the will to punch himself in the throat. Evidently Mr. Friday had seen him from the glass windows on either side of the door way, for it swung itself open with all the gusto Randy had been trying to summon up.
"Ah, Randy, how good of you to come. Do come in!" Bill Faraday beamed. Every time he saw the man, Randy thought Mr. Friday would make a good walrus. He was nearly all bald, but with a ceaser's ring of thin greasy hair that was fighting for dear life to remain planted to the man's head. The most dominant feature of his face was an enormous grey streaked moustache that practically covered his mouth. He was a short fat man with a generous belly. Randy couldn't stop mentally adding in protruding tusks to the man's mouth.
"Well Randy, today is Friday, and well, they don't call me Mr. Friday for nothing. It's looking like I'll be lucky to leave at all today with everything they've assigned me to do! So how do you feel about being a great team member, and helping me out?"
It was the standard act. He was too busy to possibly do any work himself, so he shoves it off to the most gullible guy in accounting Randy. As a newbie accountant Randy thought, at first, that he was actually doing the man a favor, and enhancing his prospects for promotion. He thought that for the first year. He had doubts the second. And in his third year, he was reasonably sure that Mr. Friday was full of it, and that no raises would be forthcoming. Randy sighed imperceptibly, hoping moments later that it wasn't heard.
"Uh, yeah, I can help."
The larger man's pale blue eyes simply lit up with feigned joy. "Oh great, great. I can always count on you! I'm going to be tied to my office, so I'll need you to pick something up for me in the mail room. It's a decent sized package, and it should be the only thing coming to me. I'd leave it to the mailroom staff to deliver it, but I don't trust 'em. So many seedy fellows down there! Feels like I'm walking through the ghetto every time I visit. But you're young Randy, you probably understand inner city folk and their rap music. I may go out of office on call, so if I'm not here," Which Randy understood to mean his boss was most assuredly going to be gone or he wasn't a closet racist, "I'm going to need you to finish up purchasing's budget for this month. You'll need to phone a few people to get all the numbers straight, but I'm sure you'll get it done right." The walrus man paused, then added as an afterthought, "If I'm gone when you get back."
Randy nodded at the rotund man, and with his head angled downward started making his way out the door.
"Oh, and Randy."
The young accountant's blood and body froze. "Y
"Have a GREAT Friday!"
The 14 story elevator ride down to the basement mailing room did little to wash off the dirty feeling of being used Randy felt. The added gloom of the basement level didn't do much to help either. How was it that mail rooms are always so remarkably dingy, he wondered. Although there was something honest about the atmosphere down on the lower levels. There wasn't any of that well manicured masking people apply to their every word, their every action. Here at the bottom, you knew where you stood, and there wasn't any superficial need to pretend otherwise. Randy envied them for that, just like they probably envied him for his salary. The mail room was always a flurry of activity; all that human exertion mixed with the subterranean nature of the location made for a permanent musty smell. The visiting accountant pulled himself from his thoughts in just enough time to dodge a surly mail cart pusher. Without slowing at all the mail man muttered something that may or may not have been English, and was probably insulting to Randy or his mother. At least he got his daily dose of coarse Russian, or whatever the hell that was. Romanian maybe? It was something Slavic sounding anyway.
There was at least one guy somewhere in this flurry of activity that Randy knew, though all the bustle and bodies made it hard to single anybody out. Man, they really get busy down here. This is even worse than the day before payroll goes out. And he may not even be down here! Maybe he's making his rounds. Christ, he could be anywhere
"Hey Randy, you just askin' to get run over dude? You look lost." The owner of the voice was the very man the accountant had been seeking out. Raphael Barrios, the mail guy for his floor and department. "Shit man, you got demoted, didn't you? Don't worry, I got you. I'll show you the ropes and everything. You can start by doing my run up to your former office
"Ah, you don't need to. I still have it. The job I mean."
"Uh huh. Bro, you know I was kidding right?"
"Ok, well in all seriousness, what brings you to my world? You getting' that desperate for company up there in your ivory tower?"
"Well, no. Mr. Faraday sent me down here to pick something up. It's apparently important and
"Yeah, and that paranoid ass don't trust the colored folk, aint?"
I guess not. I mean
I dunno. He does seem to not like most of the staff down here. But then again
I'm not sure he likes anybody, so
"Aww save it Randy. You don't have to make excuses for that fatass. Besides, why bother? He can't be real swell guy if he's making you do all his work like some, well
Randy huffed. "Bitch?"
"Heh heh, you said it, not me. You get my drift though."
" Randy sighed. "Well anyway, about that package. Do you know what I'm talking about? He was kinda vague about describing it."
"Yeah, yeah I do. We don't usually get a whole lot in the way of large packages, especially not for senior management. Mr. Faraday sent us a memo that we were to hold it for you. Congratulations
" Raphael reached over and grabbed a package from a nearby counter and thrust it into Randy's chest. The accountant stifled a grunt as the box hit him a little harder than expected. "
you just got fucked by Mr. Friday."
Randy bitterly hoped it was as good for the walrus man as it was for himself.
"I say we take a look at it. Be funny it was a dildo or something, wouldn't it?" Raphael chuckled. "Besides, I work in the mail room bro, I can fix it up right. Won't know it was ever opened."
Randy shifted his weight. "Oh
I dunno about that
"Live a little, man. He puts you through so much shit, why not disobey your 'lord and master' just this once? Besides, wouldn't it just..oh I dunno
feel good to take his ass down for kiddie porn? You know, if that's what's in here."
Suddenly Randy envisioned himself being cheered on by that same starving African village as Mr. Friday is led away in chains. Everybody gets their air back. The private jet is disassembled and sold. The entirety of Ethiopia is fed with the proceeds. Randy wins the Nobel prize for awesomeness.
Sensing the accountant's momentary indecision Raphael yanked the parcel back and started pushing his way back further into the mail room. "Com'on Randy. We'll have a little look-see," he called over his shoulder.
wait. Hey!" the mail carrier was already out of earshot, barely visible from the flutter of letters, packages, and their transporters, all rushing about. "
it wasn't a yes." Randy sighed and ran his comb through his hair twice, and proceeded to chase the accounting department's mail man.
Several hurried sorries and excuse mes later, Randy caught up with Raphael in one of the side offices adjoining the mail room. Any hope the accountant had of saving his bosses box was cast aside like all the styrofoam peanuts from the package.
"Aww hell, I just wasted all my time for nothing!" Raphael muttered dejectedly. "Maybe there's something else in here
For a moment Randy felt it would be rude to interrupt his companion as he routed through the box for an as-of-yet undiscovered bits of incriminating treasure.
"Uh hey," he started, "what did you find?"
Without looking back Raphael extended his right arm backwards, holding a curious yellow orb in the palm of his hand. Instantly the accountant found it to be wondrous.
"Whoa, this looks pretty expensive!"
"Nah. My bro deals in trinkets like this all the time. It ain't worth shit. But maybe there's something else in here
" and with that Raphael was back to his rummaging.
The object was opaque, golden-yellow, and vaguely luminescent. He rolled the orb around in his hand a bit; it felt almost electric. There was a warm feeling to it, and Randy swore he could feel it pulsating. For a brief disgusting moment, he contemplated whether or not holding a human heart would feel the same way, sans all the blood that would be spraying everywhere. Or maybe it was the power core of a robot. Randy envisioned himself heroically jamming the mysterious yellow sphere into the chest of Optimus Prime.
"Optimus! You're alive! I
.I love you Optimus."
"I love you too Randy. NOW LET'S KILL ALL THE DESCEPTICONS!"
Randy's daydreams got put to rest by a sudden jolt from the not so imaginary robot heart. His knee-jerk reaction was to throw the damn thing, but for some reason it wouldn't leave his palm. It started to pulsate vibrantly; it felt like his whole body was being shaken.
"G...GET THIS THING OFF ME!" Randy shouted.
He could hear Raphael sigh as he slowly turned around. His expression went from dull annoyance to full on shock and awe in an instant.
"JESUS CHRIST MAN WHAT IN THE HELL?!"
The ball started crackling with golden yellow energy. The energy started circling the small orb creating a vortex. Randy was quite literally swept off his feet.
"AHHHH, GET ME DOWN!"
"Shit, I dunno how to help you man! Uh, I'm gonna get some help!" Raphael started for the door, but then threw himself against the wall as an arc of yellow energy narrowly missed him. The vortex was too large, there was no way to escape the room without being swept up in it. Randy's hand now burned like it was on fire, and the feeling was spreading down his arm to other parts of his body.
"GAAAAH IT'S KILLING ME! GETITOFF GETITOFF!"
It was no use. His only possible savior was now being swept around the room, caught in the tornado of energy like a newspaper. The burning sensation was advancing up his neck at a frighteningly quick pace. Everything was swirling, Randy could no longer even see the room or anything in it. He couldn't even spot Raphael. Nothing in Randy's life had ever been so terrifying, except for that one time his grandmother's over affectionate sheppard pounced on him when he was 5. And at least that didn't hurt. Finally whatever the sensation was made it to his head, and there was nothing but pain. Randy couldn't see, think, or hear, all there was only pain in his world.
And then, everything went white.