Writing project, June 2020

This month’s word is task, meaning “a definite piece of work assigned to, falling to, or expected of a person; duty”.

I’ve been given a job, a little job, a simple task, really. But it’s mine, mine, mine. At last a chance to prove myself, to show off my skills. To “demonstrate my capability”, as my bosses always tell me just before they fire me.

“You never demonstrate your capability,” they say, and then they fire me.

But they never give me a chance! If they would just tell me what they wanted, but no, it’s all “be a self-starter, Phil”, “take some initiative, Phil”, “why can’t you just try harder, Phil?”. And my name’s not even Phil. It’s Theo. Not even close to Phil.

I mean, I did steal Phil’s name, ID badge, job, home and identity, but it still annoys me to be called by his name. I guess I should’ve stolen the identity of someone whose name I liked better. Something to consider next time, I guess.

Just so you know, I didn’t kill him. He died of natural causes. Maybe. I’m not a doctor, I couldn’t really tell you how he died, but the point is that I didn’t kill him. I just found his body, saw we looked similar, and decided this was my chance to escape from a few minor mistakes I’d made. Nothing too serious, just some fraud and embezzlement, but I mean, nobody got hurt, right? It’s just money, it’s not even real. It’s all just numbers in a computer. Right? Right. Victimless crime, as they say.

So back to my task. My little joblet, as I call it. It should be easy. I hope. I haven’t checked yet. I’m nervous, worried, not about actually doing the task, but about the opportunity it presents. The chance, finally, to impress the big bosses.

“We’ll be watching your progress with interest,” is what my boss said. I think that’s good. It must be, right? Yeah, definitely. They’re taking an interest in me. That’s got to be good. Finally I can get the recognition I deserve. Well, that Phil deserves. Maybe I’ll get a promotion. Maybe I’ll get my own office. I really hate these cubicles. Sometimes I dream about having a door I can close. Think of all the naps I could take on work time! All the porn I could watch, if I watched porn. All the online shopping I could do with the corporate credit card that would obviously come with my promotion. And I can almost taste the steak I’ll be ordering on my company expense account. Yep, this promotion is going to be awesome.

I pick up the envelope and take a deep breath. This is it, this is finally it. I open it slowly, carefully, enjoying the anticipation. I close my eyes and slide my fingers into the envelope, pulling the contents out and placing them on my desk. I open my eyes and look down.

There’s a cheque for £15,000 and a letter on company headed paper. Odd, I wasn’t expecting money. They probably need me to buy some equipment or something.

I pick up the letter.

“Dear Phil, we know you’re not really Phil. Please take this money in lieu of notice. Do not return to the office or contact us again. We won’t be able to give you a reference, and if questioned, will deny you ever worked here.”

I stare at it, stunned. How could it all go so wrong? And who told them I wasn’t Phil?

I slam my fists on the desk, causing heads to pop up all over the cube farm. I breathe in and out, slowly, forcing my rage down, put the cheque and letter in my trouser pocket, grab my jacket and force myself to saunter slowly out.

I was tired of this place anyway.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 21 Jun 2020

What have I read this week? Quite a few; I guess I’m making up for the last few weeks of minimal reading.

The Need by Helen Phillips

This is a novel about a woman named Molly who is a paleobotanist who has found some anomalous artefacts at the site she is working at. I didn’t like this. I couldn’t relate to Molly’s character at all, and I didn’t find the plot very interesting.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

This is a retelling of Norse myths. I enjoyed these, although I would have liked a bit more about the motivation for their actions, especially Loki. They’re detailed enough that I wanted more than “that’s just how they are” to explain why they did what they did.

Queer Africa: Selected Stories edited by Makhosazana Xaba and Karen Martin

This is an anthology of short stories by queer African authors. I enjoyed these; they were interesting and well-written.

The Collapsing Empire: Book 1 of The Interdependency Series by John Scalzi

This is a science fiction novel about a far-future society where humans travel through space via the Flow, but it has begun to collapse. I enjoyed this. The characters were interesting, as is the world, and it’s an easy read. I definitely want to read the rest of the series.

The Consuming Fire: Book 1 of The Interdependency Series by John Scalzi

This is the sequel to The Collapsing Empire, and I enjoyed it a great deal. It’s just as good as the first book, and carries on the story in an engaging way. I look forward to reading the third book.

© bardofupton 2020

Reading project, week ending 14 Jun 2020

What have I read this week? Just one, but at least I finally finished something!

The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams

This is a science fiction novel about a woman called Jane Kamali who lives in the far future when technology in the galaxy has been partially and unevenly rolled back by a phenomenon called the pulse. I quite enjoyed this; it’s a fun read and I enjoyed the characters and the world.

© bardofupton 2020