What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter Two

Chapter One
Chapter 2

It was just after noon when Maisie returned from her car with her laptop when she almost bumped straight into Katie crossing the hall.

The older woman was all smiles again. Lunch will be served in a few minutes if you would like to join me. I hope you like homemade vegetable soup.

Thank you. Yes, soup sounds lovely.

OK, Ill take it to the Great Room, as it was called. I can fill you in on its history while we eat.

Maisie thanked her again before off-loading her laptop into her room.

The soup was delicious and Maisie said so as the two chatted at one end of the grand antique dining table that could seat twenty easily. I cant imagine sitting at this table filled with guests. Do you actually cook for them all?

Not so much these past ten years. I do remember assisting the housekeeper Hilda and a second cousin of Stans. She leaned forward as if to tell a secret. Cousin Merle stayed until she gave birth to her still-born son, but we wont go into that. She paused while she spooned another mouthful into her mouth and tore a small piece from her home baked dinner roll. When I married my husband Stan, we bought a modest cottage in town. I didnt want to burden his parents and grandparents with another mouth to feed and to be honest, I hated the house back then and it wasnt over friendly at times. Merle was a spoiled brat when she first came but I think her situation and Stans parents parenting skills changed her by the time she left. Katie ate a little more before speaking again.

Remember I mentioned Tom earlier? She waited for Maisies nod. Well he was courting me for a while before I met Stan. Oh, we all turned out to be good friends, especially when Tom met Suzie and married before Stan even proposed to me. We lived in town a few years before both Stan and Tom went off to the Gulf; Stan was Navy and Tom was Army. They never set eyes on each other again. Her voice was almost a whisper. She cleared her throat and continued. Stan was killed when his ship struck a mine just after his ship entered the Gulf. Tom returned a year later with an injured leg. He still walks with a limp. Anyway, Stans father wouldnt hear of me living on my own. Besides, I couldnt pay the bills or buy food for myself. She smiled at the memory. Stan didnt want his little lady working after we were married. She cleared her throat again. Now, where was I? Ah yes. There were no local jobs I could do so I was contemplating returning to Parramatta where I still had family色

How interesting, Maisie interrupted. Thats where I live. Sorry. Please go on.

Katie shook her head. Thats fine. Fancy that? Anyway, thats when the invitation came from Stans parents. Of course, I had to work for my keep and I was only asked to help where I could until I settled in. After a few months, I found myself taking care of Stans grandmother who by then was confined to bed. She was a cranky old thing but we grew to love each other and enjoyed spending long days together doing needlework and chatting. After she died, I took over the care of all the upstairs rooms. Oh, and Merle had returned to Sydney by then and became a mid-wife or so we heard. After guests left for the day, I cleaned and readied everything up. Here Katie smiled. I guess thats how I got into a habit of cleaning upstairs in the afternoon.

Maisie smiled too. So how was it that you were left with this huge place. Surely there were other family members around.

Sadly no. Stan wasnt the only son who died during the Gulf War. There were three other sons and three daughters. The youngest boys both died before they married. Stans eldest brother returned but never married. I think he died from a broken spirit. He never spoke much about the war but it was obvious that it caused him more than physical pain. Stans father died in his late seventies and his mother soon after. Stan and I hadnt been married long, so we had no children of our own.

And the sisters?

One went to Melbourne and married there. We heard soon after that she had died from natural causes. I never knew what. She was only in her early thirties. One sister, Christine, was living in town with her husband but they were much older than Stan and I. They never had children and Christine didnt want the place. She died only last year in a nursing home. There was one other sister, Marjorie. She was the youngest. The solicitor who managed the affairs when Christine died even tried looking for her back in Ireland. Nothing. It was like she just vanished into thin air.

After Katie had been silent for some time to finish her soup and bread, Maisie quietly asked about how she managed on her own for so long.

I down sized, I guess you could call it. I only cope with up to six guests at any one time. I open up the house on occasions for bus trippers but just for afternoon tea and a guided tour. It helps with the bills. She sat up straight. You know what? I havent given you the guided tour. I wont charge you, she laughed. I just know you would appreciate it.

WOW! Thanks! That sounds wonderful. Would this afternoon be a good time?

Give me an hour while I tidy upstairs. Its just you and me so it wont take long.

I can clean up these dishes if you like. Maisie stood and picked up her empty bowl.

Well, I dont see why not. Thank you. Youll find everything you need in my little kitchen. Oh, just put the lid on the soup pot and check that I turned it off. Ill deal with it later.

The afternoon was everything Maisie expected and didnt expect. The building and all its history turned out to be the perfect place to break her recent writers block.

穢 Chrissy Siggee – 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

What Became of Marjorie? – Chapter One

Chapter 1

It was a glorious night with an Autumn full moon and a canvas of twinkling stars that stretched out before Maisie. She stood now on the only second-floor balcony of this quiet country retreat. Huge Banksias all but obliterated the front of the historic building; the perfect location to write her new mystery novel. Taking in a slow deep breath of the crisp air she took the few short steps to the railing and took in the outline of the surrounding landscape beyond the front garden.

The Last Stop Hotel had been built in 1869 but was renamed Kellys Inn in 1880 after a fire partially destroyed the ground floor on the same day as Ned Kellys death. One hundred years later, it was converted to a bed and breakfast by an Irish family of the same name who immigrated during conflicts that took the lives of family members and friends. Generations later, Kellys Inn had still retained its name and function. It was inherited almost a decade earlier to the Australian born Gulf war widow, Katie Kelly.

Maisie gasped with surprise at the sight of a shooting star. She watched in awe until it disappeared from view. A squeak that sounded like a gate opening or closing, brought her back to the moment. The following echo of a click confirmed it. There in the moonlight off to her right was a hooded figure who was now heading down the path and into a dark shadowed area that she perceived as the bush-land she noticed when she arrived that afternoon.

With strained eyes focusing, she waited for further movement. Perhaps I just imagined it, she mumbled to herself. After all, she knew she had an imagination that freaked everyone she knew.

Closing the balcony double doors behind her, she headed for the bathroom to ready for bed. Tomorrow, Maisie hoped, would be a day of exploring and note taking.

 

Maisie woke to a faint tapping at her door. Blinking at the clock beside the bed she wondered for a second where she was. Another slightly firmer knock woke her fully. Come in, she said, before thinking about who it could be.

Mrs Kelly entered with a tray atop with a mug of hot coffee, a small creamer jug and a bagel filled with bacon and melted cheese. I dont usually serve breakfast in bed to my guests but I need to drive into town for more supplies.

Thank you. What time is it? This clock doesnt seem to be working.

So, youre not an early riser? The woman moved the clock back a little so she could place the tray on the side-table. The clock is working fine. Its five-thirty in the morning.

Maisie groaned but it was too late. Sorry, I often write late into the night.

Thats all right. She grinned. When I return, we can sit down and discuss your nocturnal needs and later breakfast times.

I should have mentioned it yesterday, but an early start would do me good today. I need to make notes and check out this beautiful place. Maisy looked around the ornately decorated room.

Katie Kelly went to the door before answering. Until I return, can I ask you to keep the checking out to the down stairs and surrounding grounds. She turned and smiled. I prefer to right upstairs after midday. She winked and left the room.

Maisie smiled as she placed her feet on the floor and reached for the steaming coffee.

 

The largest room downstairs had obviously been the 1880 refurbished dining room or perhaps a dance hall, which could explain the size and the raised section at one end. The chandeliers above glowed dimly, but the intricate embossed ceilings held her attention.

Your mouth is open. Mrs Kelly interrupted her reverie. Theres a few dust spiders up there that drop unexpectedly.

Maisie mouth slammed shut as the womans jovial laugh echoed down the long hallway toward the back of the house. She gathered herself and rescued her notebook that had dropped to the floor before following her host.

With a huge grin from Katie Kelly, Maisie stepped into the outdated but awe-inspiring industrial kitchen.

This kitchen is amazing.

Yes, its that. Too big when Im here alone during the colder months. I use the old domestic kitchen. She pointed to an open door beside the door they had come through. Take a look.

To her surprise the smaller kitchen was no bigger than an English utility room she had seen on one of those country-life television reality shows. It had all the basics a single person would need. In fact, it was better designed than her own kitchen in her Parramatta apartment.

So, how was your breakfast? Her host peered from behind the open door of the biggest refrigerator Maisie had ever seen.

Lovely, thank you. Im sorry I put you to all that trouble.

Nonsense, I enjoy spoiling my guests. Even nocturnal ones, she added with a wink.

Maisy couldnt help but like this motherly older woman. So, how can we make this work, Mrs Kelly?

For starters, stop calling me Mrs Kelly. Its Katie. Im not the old housekeeper. She paused before continuing. Well, old maybe.

They both laughed.

OK Katie. You can call me Maisie. Im so glad I came across your website. Which reminds me. Do you have WiFi?

No. We are too far out and I like to keep it that way. Katie closed the fridge door and placed the last of the shopping bags under the huge work-space that seem to possess the room. She leaned against it. I use the butchers computer in town. Tom is happy for my guests to use his WiFi too. Just be ready for his weird tales from the past…like the one he tells about the young newly-weds that stayed in the room above on the night of the historic fire. She pointed toward the ceiling before adding: then theres Old Ned himself but Ill let Tom tell his stories. Katie slapped her ample thighs. Lets go into the sitting room. Its warmer in there. First on the left, she pointed. Ill bring down a pot of tea.

The next few hours sped by filled with hot tea, scones and laughs. Katie answered historical questions about the house and family. Maisie interest peaked when Katie mentioned the family cemetery a little way passed the side gate.

Last night I thought I saw someone going through the gate. Actually, I heard the gate squeak.

Katie sat silent before answering. You must be mistaken, she snapped. That gate hasnt squeaked for years. Ill check it later when I dig up some potatoes for tonights tea. Will you eat with me? she continued bringing an abrupt end to their pleasant morning.

If its no problem. I can pay for any extra meals I have.

Now cut that out, Miss Maisie. Youre welcome to join me at any meal. As for breakfast, why dont I prepare it once you come downstairs each morning. Ill be somewhere down here. Probably in the kitchen. With that, Katie packed up the dishes and left the room.

It took a few minutes before Maisie moved. She was at a loss to the sudden change of mood. She was concerned that she had offended the woman and decided to immediately apologise. Entering the kitchen a few minutes later she searched for Katie but she obviously made herself scarce. With a deep sigh she returned to her exploring. It was too late to drive into town. I dont want to upset Katie again. Still mystified, she headed back to the large room she had visited earlier.

穢 Chrissy Siggee 2019

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Police Embarrassment

‘This is the Police. Come out with your hands in the air!’

Three police cars parked strategically around the front of the gas station. The alarm had been activated and the police were called in. There had been a spate of break-ins and they had finally caught the culprit in the act. Firearms used in the previous two robberies made the police nervous. They guarded themselves behind their cars where the faint smell of body odour and heated engine oil mingled. Neighbours awakened by the early dawn invasion, gathered cautiously outside their homes to observe the commotion.

‘Do you hear me? This is Police Officer Brody. Come out with your hands up!’

The door opened slowly, revealing a small laced-up boot. The officers dropped down behind their vehicles, guns cocked.

‘Please dont shoot’, a quiet trembling voice responded.

The door opened a little further and an elderly woman hobbled out. She was stooped low and walked with a cane.

‘What the? Please step out into the open and put down yourcane.’

She dropped the cane and raised her hands as far as her skinny arms would allow.

Officer Brody stepped forward to access the situation. He motioned Police Officer Mandy Walters to carry out a search. Brody steadied the shaken old lady with his powerful hand under her elbow. Officer Walters placed the crooked walking stick back into an arthritic hand. She obviously didnt want to embarrass the startled petite woman any further by searching her.

With an indignant expression, the woman faced the officer in charge. ‘I think there has been a mistake. You see, I left my keys in the bathroom and when I went back in, I noticed I had grease on my clothes.’ She rubbed at the spot on her weathered skirt.

‘I tried to wash it, but I had to take it off because the skirt wouldnt reach the faucet. I locked myself in so no one would disturb me. Unfortunately, I think the nice man at the counter must have closed up for the night and didnt realize I was still there.’

‘Where is your car?’

‘Sir! I dont own a car. Thats my motorcycle.’ She lifted her cane and pointed with her bent fingers past the police cars and confused police officers. A Harley Davison that sheltered under an ancient oak tree glistened in the morning sunlight.

‘I find this all hard to believe. Tell me how you were in there all night without triggering the alarm?’

‘Well, you see. I sat on the toilet seat to adjust my tights and I slipped off into the corner. I was stuck and didnt have the energy to get up until this morning. When I left the bathroom, I was aware that I couldnt get out so I shook the door. That pesky alarm just kept screaming at me.’

Brody scratched his head, completely mesmerized while she shuffled towards the Harley across the road. She mounted the motorcycle with a little difficulty, but unwavering. She placed an opened-face helmet over her greying, outdated hairstyle.

Using her key, the engine started up with a roar. Poking the cane into a side pouch, she flipped the kickstand up and drove off in one smooth movement. Officer Brody glanced at a smug-faced Walters before replacing his gun into its holster.

‘What are you looking at? You can do the report when we get back.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The Mystery of Keats Missing Endymion Solved.

Historian Albert Winslow sat at his desk in a sparsely furnished London office. Using two large wooden tweezers, he gently unrolled the manuscript. Faded calligraphy on tea coloured paper revealed its age and fragility. With a magnifying glass he studied the almost illegible signature confirming the author, John Keats.

Winslow peered over the top of his wire-framed spectacles. He studied the gentleman sitting opposite, who repeatedly wiped his balding head with a handkerchief. ‘Sir, where did you say you found this manuscript?’

I didnt exactly find it. Its part of my inheritance.’

Removing his spectacles, the historian studied the gentleman sitting on the other side of his desk fidgeting in his chair. ‘What did you say your name was?’

‘Kent. Michael Kent.’

Mr Kent, this signature doesnt appear to resemble a Kent.’

‘It was handed down on my mothers side. My mother changed my surname when she remarried.’

‘I see. Leave it with me, Mr Kent. Ill have it valued for you by tomorrow. Leave your details with my secretary on the way out.’ He rose and shook his clients hand.

 

Winslows secretary entered his office the following morning. He looked up as she reached his desk.

‘Miss Harwich, could you please place a call to a Lord David Keats of Hampstead? Give him my name and switch him through to my office. Give me a few minutes though, I need to talk to Scotland Yard.’

‘Yes, Mr Winslow.’

It took just moments for Lord Keats’s voice to be heard.

‘Lord Keats?’

‘Yes, this is he.’

‘I believe I have in my possession your great grandfathers missing manuscript, Endymion.’

The line was quiet for so long that Winslow thought he had been disconnected when suddenly Lord Keats continued.

‘How can that be? It disappeared after he died, in 1821? Its been almost a century?’

‘Yes, I know. I also know that your father, Lord Alfred Keats, passed away last week, my condolences.’

Thank you, but how do you know and what does his death have to do with my great grandfathers manuscript?

‘Your father paid me to know. You see Im a historian and a private investigator. Your father visited me here in London on December sixth last year. The manuscript had apparently resurfaced and he hired me to investigate its location. I sent him a wire last Monday about my findings before his heart attack. Did he mention it to you?’

‘No, and Im not sure why he would hire anyone. Until Christmas my father and I had been investigating the mystery disappearance together for almost a decade.’

Winslow carefully chose his words before proceeding. Perhaps, Lord Keats, your father discovered he hadnt been told when someone had found it. That someone decided to use it for his own financial gain.

‘What are you implying, Mr Winslow?’

‘Let me refresh your memory. Two years ago, your cousin, Michael Kent, inherited a meagre bequest. While clearing out his mothers writing bureau, Kent discovered a key to a safe deposit box that contained a letter from his grandfatheryour grandfathers younger brother. With that letter was your great grandfathers manuscript. The letter described in detail how your grandfather cheated him out of his share or their fathers estate. Your great uncle stole the manuscript after your great grandfathers death in 1821 before he could have it published. Are you following me Lord Keats?’

‘Continue, Mr Winslow. I find your hypothesis intriguing.’

‘Late last year, your cousin decided it was time to show his hand by attempting to blackmail your father. Because your father didnt want his conniving nephew to get his hands on his money, he came directly to me. We thought it was an open and shut case until I discovered that Michael Kent had an accomplicesomeone who wanted revenge for an unrelated incident years before. Unfortunately, that piece of information inadvertently killed your father. The accomplice was you. Am I right Lord Keats?’

‘Youre very clever, Mr Winslow. Theres one thing you havent explained. How did you get your hands on the manuscript?’

‘That was the easy part. After your fathers death, you and your cousin-initiated plan B: to sell the manuscript to a publisher and split the profit. However, your cousin decided to have it valued first. Unfortunately for you both, he came to me. I advertise my professions separately and I only display my name on the door.’

There was another notable silence followed by a murmur of voices at Lord Keats end of the line. ‘Youll have to excuse me, Mr Winslow. Apparently, I have visitors.’

‘Ah yes, my friends from Scotland Yard. Blackmail is a serious crime. Good day to you, Lord Keats.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Authors Notes:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

English poet John Keats, born October 1795 in Moorgate, London, died in February 1821 at the age of 26 from tuberculosis. His works had been the target of much abuse including his last epic poem Endymion. John Keats never married, which should indicate that the contents of: The Mystery of Keats Missing Endymion Solved set in the early twentieth century, is completely fictional.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

The Rider and His Horse (total gobbledygook)

Prickly wind struck his face repeatedly like razors and sweat stung his eyes as his horse zigzagged down the steep mountain. With every frightening turn he clutched the reins that were wrapped tightly round his raw and bleeding fists. His partly bare knees ached as they gripped firmly against the saddle, still his horse hurtled on further with sweat dripping from every inch of its petrified body.

The rider hung on frantically. With no power of control, they careered toward the valley below. He forced his head to turn to see the blazing inferno that threatened to overtake them and felt the searing heat insulting their already over heated bodies. The air was thick with blinding smoke but his horse continued to pursue an unknown trail heaving deep wheezing breaths as they went.

Rocks skidded from under foot causing the horse to lurch sideways and slide forward for a number of stomach-churning seconds. With stability regained the horse veered sharply left but theterrifying ordeal of the incline was not over.

Just as they plunged into the openness of the green valley a stampede of wild horses threatened their safety. The riders horse swerved to avoid collision. Regaining control, the rider eased his horse to a slow trot to allow its heartbeat to ease gently. But with the rapidly descending flames still raging toward the valley he needed to act fast.

Immediately the stampede had past, the rider steered his sweating horse toward a shallow stream. Without wanting to stress his faithful horse further he gently steered the horse with the reins toward a rugged landscape located on the opposite side of the valley. Once there he dismounted and led the horse through a maze of rocky crevices.

Above them a cloud of thickening smoke rapidly blocked out the sky. The ground beneath them altered from the luscious valley grass to a rocky path leading into a partially hidden opening in the side of the valley wall. The cave-like passageway was dark and damp as they edged forward to the echo of his horses hooves on the rocky surface. The horse’s wheezy breath gradually eased closer to a regular breathing pattern.

A gentle breeze carried a fresh earthy fragrance as they made their way through a tunnel that seemed to have no end. The man touched the wall and the ceiling above to find their way. Following a bend slightly leftward a faint light filtered in. Within moments they stepped out once again into the valley now blackened – burnt to ashes. A hundred yards further on, the stench of burnt flesh insulted their nostrils. The horse tried to push the man away from the scene but they couldnt avoid the hundreds of carcasses of wild horses that were scattered across the valley floor.

The riders horse reared and snorted. In awe and wonder the rider mounted and rode away from the valley of death.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

 

 

The Runaway

Connie searched the playground the neighbours and the sand pile behind the back shed. Her hand went to her throat to ease the pain that seemed to creep up from her hammering heart. Moisture blurred her vision.

ETHAN! Connies throat grew tight. She had no choice but to call the social worker that had assigned Ethan to Connie and her husband Carl, a few weeks earlier.

She grabbed the phone and dialled. Ethan is missing! She blurted out before Rebecca could finish her greeting. Ive looked everywhere. Connie found herself pacing.

Calm down Connie. Hes probably run away.

Connie stood still. Why would he do that?

I dont know. We get a lot of foster kids who run away. Ethan has been in the system a long time, and with numerous foster families. Hes run away before. She sighed. I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but its hard to tell with these kids.

Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. Hes a bright little boy. I thought he was settling in. She paused. Carl offered to take Ethan fishing when he returns from the office. He needed a file to work on over the weekend.

Okay, Ill call the local police and then come around. Just stay calm.

Carl came in just as Connie hung up the phone. Look who I found in the car under a blanket.

Ethan, you scared me half to death. She placed her hand over her mouth and sat down at the table.

Ethan hung his head. I was going to run away when Carl got to town but I fell asleep.

Why would you want to run away? Connie dared to ask.

I got scared. When the Bakers took me fishing, they got mad at me because I broke their new rod. They beat me with it and told me I was selfish.

Carl sat beside Connie and drew Ethan close. Youll never be beaten here, I promise.

Even if I wet my bed? Mrs Beasley wiped my face with the sheets and then made me wash them.

Connie gasped. Theres no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult. She thought for a moment before continuing. You havent wet your bed since youve been here. Do you think theres a reason for that?

I dont know, Ethan shrugged. Im not scared here.

What kind of things do you like to do?

Ethan tilted his head and bit his lower lip. He shrugged again.

Do you like going to the movies?

I dont know. Ive never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Websters. The other families didnt let me watch TV.

Football? Carl asked.

The beach? Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. I havent been anywhere muchjust school and the playground. A lone tear rolled down his face. I like the playground. He wiped the tear away. Can I go there again?

Connie looked at Carl for a long moment. She pulled Ethan onto her lap. He was short for a seven-year-old but it was his frail body and lightness that had surprised her.

Ethan stiffened but soon relaxed in Connies arms.

She kissed his cheek. We can go to the park together. How about a picnic of burgers and soda? She released her embrace. A tear stained face looked back at her.

Whats a pick nick?

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connies. Theres a lot we can do. I think a picnic lunch at the playground is the perfect place to begin.

A knock sounded at the front door. Rebecca. I forgot all about her.

Carl let Rebecca in and explained the situation.

Ethans lip trembled. He looked up at Connie. Will I have to go to another foster family?

No sweetie, Rebecca answered for Connie. But you need to talk to Carl and Connie in the future if youre unsure of anything.

Connie and Carl wont beat me. It was a statement rather than a question.

Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid off Connies lap. No, Ethan. This family is圬ifferent.

Ethan looked up at Carl then to Connie, then back to Rebecca. Why are they different?

Well firstly, Carl began. We really want you to be our sonto adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If thats okay, he added.

The corners of Ethans mouth turned upwards.

Really? Yes, please!

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

44

No one, especially not 44, would expect what followed after the invention of the Super Entertainment Network Systematic Active Technological Interactive On-track Node, which was eventually shortened to SENSATION for obvious reasons.

Eugene Gilbert Dwight, creator of SENSATION, sat smugly at his dusty computer watching the latest advertising video that would draw in millions of dollars to the company. It would also make a tidy increase in his personal bank balance over the next few months. Eugene pushed his thick glasses further up the bridge of his nose, clicked the end video link and sat back in his desk chair that had seen better days. He grinned until his face hurt.

’44’, the overhead intercom announced. ‘Please report to Mr Prestons office.’

Carl Preston’s an okay boss I suppose but he only climbed the ladder of success with out-dated software games. He rose and put on his jacket still smiling. With his hands shoved deep into bulging pockets of his baggy trousers, Eugene left cubicle 44. He strolled with his head held high between endless rows of doorless cubicles. Each cubicle was numbered and accommodating an unknown geek working monotonously in their narrow workspaces. At the far end of the long building he knocked on the door of Preston’s eight-by-eight square air-conditioned office.

‘You wanted to see me, Mr Preston?’

‘Yes, sit down 44.’

Eugene sat but he left his hands in his pockets. He fidgeted with an iPod in one pocket and his mobile phone in the other. He preferred multiple gadgets; not like these new all-in-one inventions they had been selling in this dump lately. He relaxed. It was a good feeling to know that SENSATION is too perfect for a delayed unveiling.

‘We have a media release tomorrow for SENSATION’, Preston was saying while continuing at his computer. ‘Well be using the video I emailed to you this morning.’ He sat back in his chair. ‘However, after considerable negotiations with both the Executive Management of this company and the media, its been agreed unanimously that Iwill represent SENSATION at the press conference.’

With hands suddenly still within his pockets, Eugene stared at his supervisor in disbelief.‘But its my invention. You know how hard I worked on this project. I worked unpaid overtime for sixmonths to develop SENSATION to perfection before I revealed it to you.’

Preston sighed and raised his hand, palm forward. ‘I know, I know. His voice more relaxed and sincere. ‘This is business Eugene. Your place is working on your next invention. Youll be rewarded financially for your design and efforts, but you have known from the beginning, whatever is invented in our workshop belongs to Super Techno Entertainment. Plain and simple.’

‘But thats not fair.’

Preston returned to his business tone. ‘Lifes not fair 44, but a contract is a contract. Ill send a copy of the paperwork you signed when you joined the company eight years ago if you want.’ He paused to lean forward. Ill tell you what. Ill ask if your name can be mentioned as part of the team for the invention. Its the best I can do. I have also informed 3 to swap with your cubicle after work tonight. I need a good man nearby. What do you think? Its a huge promotion from 44.

Eugene was still absorbing the team part. ‘Team? What team?’

Preston offered a little further expansion on his offer, which Eugene considered reluctantly, but he was still annoyed over his lost chance to make Eugene Gilbert Dwight known in the technology circles via this press conference.

‘It was a one-man teamEugenesone-man team,’ he mumbled.

Prestons tone became serious. ‘Its a take it or leave it offer.’

I guess that $10,000 bonus will help me out.’ A little self-esteem returned as he shook Prestons hand.

‘Ill see you again after we complete the press conference and media release,’ Preston said as he stood. ‘Youll be the first to see it.’

Eugene stood and forced a smile then left.

‘Oh, and Eugene’, he added apologetically. ‘Dont forget to empty all the rubbish bins in the workshop every day. Its part of cubicle 3’s allocated duties.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the authors imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace