The Dragon and the Princess

Everyone except Thomas Creighton-Smiths granddaughter, Ada, knew Rosie was more than just a pig. Adas ideal retirement for Rosie was to explore the ancient land of dragons by day and visit the kitchen for under-the-table dinner scraps in the evenings before dreaming by the fireplace.

At breakfast one dank April Friday, Grandma had suggested they have roast pig for Sunday lunch complete with the traditional three vegetables and brown gravy made from the juices of the roasting meat. It was while Grandma chatted on about where she would insert the large rotisserie rod that Ada ran from the kitchen with Rosie close at her heels. ‘It will help tenderise the old sow,’ Grandma was saying without acknowledging she had heard the back door slam.

Thomas put down his morning paper. ‘I just wanted to take the pig to the abattoir to recoup some of our loses. After all, this is a working farm,’ he muttered as he left the house in search of Ada.

His eyes scanned the landscape for a sign of the two gallant explorers. In spite of himself, old Thomas didnt envy the little girl. He had grown up in Beatrix Potter country and the fantasies she created in the stunning Lake District would have been more practical for Adas school holiday fantasies. He shook his head. Maybe we should have stayed in Ambleside and taken up trout farming.

It was two days before St Georges national holiday and Thomas needed to take that fat old pig for a road trip but Grandma was fixed on having tough pork and bacon. He stood at the garden gate and looked around. Where are they?He squinted into the fog that settled over the bogs as he recalled his mothers favourite story that dated back to the 6th century. What was it, again? Oh, yes. St George rescued a young maiden by slaying a terrifying fire-breathing dragon.He slipped his hands into his warm pockets and headed for the main road.

So she wouldnt fall over, Ada held up her long flowing medieval princess costume as she marched down Old Kent Road. Rosie trudged slightly behind with cardboard toilet cylinders on her pointy ears and three black bows tied onto her limp tail.

They stopped near a red telephone box just beyond the intersection where the road-signs crisscrossed a wooden post. ‘Oh Rosie, how could Grandma say such horrid things? I wont let them eat you.’ Ada stomped her foot splashing slops of mud over both of them.

She lifted the old play dress above her waist to search the pockets of her faded jeans beneath. With 10p in her hand she stepped into the telephone box. Finding the correct number from the list beside the chunky black phone, Ada dialled and waited. Rosie grunted, shuffled and squeezed in until she jammed herself tight between Adas knees.

‘Hello,’ Ada shouted into the mouthpiece. ‘Please help me. Theyre going to kill Rosie!’

Approaching the end of the lane where it met the road, Grandpa looked left then right. Their farm was located two miles due east of the abattoir between Dover and Holyhead. He sniffed the thick foul air. This neighbourhood is likened to the lowest-priced property on the English Monopoly board. A few moments later he decided Ada would have headed away from town so off he trudged.

Minutes later he heard an ear-piercing squeal followed by a shout from young Ada. He quickened his stride. The telephone box a little ways past the next farm on the opposite side of the road seemed to be alive as it shook and groaned. Grandpa stopped in mid-step; his neck craned forward. There was someone, or something, in the telephone box. There were too many legs to count. He saw what looked like horns and a tail with blades. There was a lot of banging and bumping going on behind the grime and moss streaked glass.

‘Oh my, it looks like a dragon!’

Ada screamed again jolting Grandpa from his trance. Manoeuvring the door open to avoid swishing his granddaughter, he grabbed Rosie by the tail and dragged her squealing from the booth.

Later, after the local Bobbies had their explanation and had a good laugh, Grandpa and Ada sat down to rest at the nearby bus-stop.

‘Did you know, Ada, only forty-five to fifty percent of animals at the abattoir can be turned into edible meat products, fifteen percent is waste, and the remaining forty to forty five percent is turned into by-products like bath soap, candles and glue? Mmm夙lue suits her.’

‘But Grandpa’

‘Its okay, honey. I rather like rescuing my little princess from dragons. Come on, lets go home and break the news to Grandma.’ He winked at his granddaughter. ‘There will be no more talk of bacon and roast pork.’

穢 Chrissy Siggee

AWOL

– a fictional short read based on a true incident.

Snaking up the mountain road was miserable, and not just because great droplets of rain were exploding on the windscreen before the wipers could whisk them away. Susans eyes were strained from weeping most of the night since her brother, Ron, phoned her. After picking up her friend Annie, just after 6am, they began the long drive.

‘How could she get out?’ Susan cried. She squeezed the steering wheel tighter. ‘How could they let this happen?’

‘Please, Susan, you need to stay focused; otherwise, Ron will need to send out a search party for us too.’ Annie sighed. ‘Hopefully, shell be found before we arrive. Those new GPS tracking shoes for Dementia and Alzheimer patients are well worth the expense in situations like this. Youll see.’ She sent up a silent prayer as Susan drove into the storm.

Ron met the two women at the car with an umbrella. He shouted updates as they scrambled across the parking lot and into the foyer of the nursing home. Inside, a young aide that Susan had recognized from her visit the previous week, greeted them with mugs of steaming coffee. Annie accepted hers with enthusiasm, but felt a twinge of guilt when she heard Susan decline.

‘What happened? Whos responsible?’ Susan demanded.

‘Please,’ Ron soothed. It doesnt matter now whos to blame. The important thing is that everyone is doing their best tofindher.’

‘Youre right.’ Susan held the mug of steaming coffee between her hands but didn’t drink.

A man wearing a search and rescue uniform stepped toward the siblings. ‘Ms Cummings, Im OMalley. Im in charge of the team. Ive been here with your brother since late last night.’ He offered his hand.

Susan shook OMalleys hand and took a quick sip of coffee before speaking. ‘Susan, please. Ron tells me you have people out looking for our mother. How far could she possible get in this weather?’

‘We dont know. It wasnt until almost midnight that the um存ituation had been fully realized.’

The space between Susans eyebrows creased. ‘What do you meansituation?’

Ron replied for OMalley. ‘Mum had evidently dressed in a hurry. Her slippers arent here and her GPS shoes are still under the bed. We think she may have followed someone elses visitor or a member of staff out the front door around 9pm. With the rain, they would have been concentrating on getting to their vehicle. Being so late well…Who would think?’ He paused to wipe rainwater from his face.

‘Ms Cummings…Susan,’ O’Malley spoke above the sudden clap of thunder. ‘We are almost certain she couldnt have gotten very far but this constant rain has slowed us down’

‘Ron called me at 11.15pm last night. She looked at her wristwatch. Its almost eight thirty. If shes exposed to this weather much longer, she色Her words faded with the reality hitting Susan with a jolt. She handed the coffee to Annie with shaking hands. “Okay… O’Malley, what can we do? Where do we go from here?’

 

There was still no sign of their missing mother by the time the rain eased at midday when the siblings and Annie returned toswallowdown coffee and sandwiches. While O’Malley was updating the family and his search team, a small bus loaded with local volunteers arrived. After quick handshakes all round the meeting continued. Annie, Susan and Ron had searched south along the main street questioning storeowners and shoppers. The search team had walked a few metres apart through an adjoining cornfield to the westand the vacant overgrown paddocks beyond while O’Malley had conducted a search of out buildings, laundry and kitchen facilities at the nursing home. The night staff had been requested to report in with any information that may or not be related to the missing patient. O’Malley and a staff member also conducted interviews with a few patients who were with her shortly after seven last night. No clues or explanations were discovered. With directions for the original team to take a short break, eat and get dry, the new team were given maps for the north and east of the nursing home.

Susan and Ron took off on foot to cover the area between the car park and where they started their search that morning. Annie stayed behind to help serve coffee to the morning’s search team.

 

An hour later Susan and Ron returned chilled and wet from another soaking downpour with no news that would help with the search. Other searchers returned in groups of two and three’s over the next few hoursall quietly murmuring their disappointments but at least the rain had completely stopped.

Finally, Ron suggested to Susan that they drove around up and down every street and lane. He looked at his watch then up at the clearing clouds. ‘She has to be somewhere. It’s been too long and you know how Mum doesn’t like standing still for too long. Perhaps we’ll have more success now.’ His face suddenly paled. ‘There’s also the railway station.’ He grabbed Susan’s arm and led her to the parking lot with Annie close behind.

Just as they were putting on their seatbelts, the nurses aide approached the driver’s side window of the SUV with O’Malley. Ron press the down arrow switch to hear her better. ‘I think I found something that may help.’ She handed him a book opened at a page with a recent date at the top and stepped back.

Ron read from his mothers diary. ‘I have to know for certain if my Harold went AWOL. If he has, I know where he could be. We often met at our secret place before he went to war.’

‘Why would Mum think Dad had gone AWOL?’ Susan asked.

‘I dont remember Dad ever going AWOL, Susan. Obviously shes confused.’

Annie, who had been relatively quiet in the back seat, spoke up. ‘Isnt there an old army storage unit around here?’

‘Well yes, but it’s almost three kilometres from here. O’Malley replied. It sounds a long way for an old woman to walk.’

‘When I was here a few months ago with Susan,’ Annie continued, ‘I remember their mother had an old newspaper clipping about it.’

‘Youre right.’ Susan gasped. ‘I wondered at the time why Mum had kept the article.’

‘Okay,’ Ron said, taking charge. ‘Well check the railway station on the way. If we cant find her there, well continue on to this army place.’ Ron swapped the diary with a folded map with O’Malley who had quickly circled a crossroad to the east.

O’Malley nodded. ‘I’ll grab some first aid gear and blankets and meet you at the Army storage unit.’

Ron thanked him and drove off.

 

At the railway station Ron and Susan raced in opposite directions down the platform. It was silent and empty. ‘Let’s go! This is a waste of time,’ Susan shouted to Ron who stood with his hands on his hips at the far end and gawking down the tracks that disappeared in the distance.

A clear starry sky abruptly brought the long day to a close; the three entered the old army storage unit with OMalley and two military personnel. Within minutes they had found, huddled in a skeleton of a storage shed, their mother. She was cold and wet but uninjured. With her dirt-smeared face looking up at Susan, she apologized for ruining her slippers.

Susan knelt beside her mother. ‘Thats okay, Mum, we know of the perfect pair to replace them with. Lets go home.’

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.

Graffiti King

The lunch bell rang. The din of chairs screeching, student chatter and books slamming closed echoed in the classroom.

Peter Mason, Id like a word with you in my office over lunch.

Yes Sir.

Peter had only been at this school for six months. His fathers job regularly moved them from state to state. This was his second school in three years, making it difficult to make friends and to be accepted by his peers.

Hey Mason, whats Olsen want to see you for this time? Jeremy Spears sniggered.

Jason shrugged and kept walking.

Mason, Spears shouted after him. See you after school usual place.

The gym was his favourite place. Oddly enough, it was the only class he didnt share with Jeremy. He entered the locker room and quickly changed into his gym gear.

One of the teams pole-vaulters came over while Peter was placing a sweatband around his head. Mason, I didnt think you were going to show. Good to see you. He snickered and slapped Peters back.

Peter turned but the guy was gone. Whats he on? Peter pushed open the swinging doors, entered the gym and did his usual warm-up routine.His favourite apparatus were the rings, and he was grateful he had them to himself for the next hour.

Mason, the coach shouted. Didnt you hear the bell? Go shower. Principal Olsen is waiting.

He showered quickly, dressed and was running his fingers through his matted hair when the coach entered the locker room.

Mason, you have an ability that will get you to the 2024 Olympic Games. Dont waste your time painting walls in your spare time.

Coach, I 色 But the coach had already left.

What is it with these jerks? He stormed off to the administration block, notified the secretary he had arrived and plopped in a chair to wait.

Come in, Mr. Mason. Take a seat.

Principal Olsen didnt even look up when he stepped behind his desk and sat down on his swivel chair. He picked up a newspaper and started reading.

They both sat in silence for a few moments before Principal Olsen spoke. Its come to my attention again, that you were seen immediately following the latest graffiti incident here at the school. Somehow your picture and story made front page news. He emphasized his last words by tossing the folded newspaper across the table for Peter to read.

Peter stared at the photo, obviously taken by a security video camera, and the caption below. Graffiti King Identified on Camera.In the hood of his jacket was a pressure-pack can.

How? Spears, it had to be Spears. Sir 色

Id like to believe you, I really would. However, Spears is seen here. He pointed to a gate, to the left of what appeared to be Peter. He may have avoided the camera rotation but 色

Why would I carry a spray can in my hoodie, Sir? Peter felt his pulse racing.

Im sorry, Peter. This time I have to issue a suspension. Your father has been notified. You can collect your things now before classes resume. Return to the office to collect your suspension letter for your father and leave while everyones in class to save face.

Peter left in a daze. He couldnt believe it.

He emptied the contents of his locker into his backpack and shut the door. He made his way back to the gym and wandered over to the rings. He was overcome with disappointment. He took one last look and turned to see the coach standing nearby.

Its only for the remainder of the term, Peter, and unfortunately, Olsen wont let you use the school gym after school hours either. I tried, but he wont budge.

Coach, I didnt do it. Honest.

His coach sighed. He placed his hand on Peters shoulder and spoke with compassion. Look, stay away from Spears. Hes bad news. If you can keep out of trouble, Ill talk to Principal Olsen about a summer training program.

Peter smiled weakly. Thanks Coach.

With regrets, Peter returned to the administration block, collected the letter and headed home determined to hold on to the hint of hope that his coach had given him.

穢 Chrissy Siggee

Don’t be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

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.

Annoying Cousin Gertrude

It was Erics third morning of his mountain holiday. Hed just nestled back against the decaying roots of a fallen tree that lay balancing over the edge of a large waterhole. The trickle of a lazy waterfall created tiny ripples across the surface of the water where sunbeams played. The peace was interrupted by the sound of a twig snapping.

What the? Howd you know where Id be?

Gertrude giggled and approached Eric. I got up early to follow you. I thought you might be lonely fishing by yourself. Besides, this is one of my favourite places.

Well, Im not lonely, so you can go home.

Gertrude paid no attention and began to toss pebbles into the water. I can catch fish too, you know. She stepped into the water and inched her way toward the waterfall, splashing about as she went. Here, fishy, fishy.

Eric rolled his eyes. He looped a worm, spearing it onto his hook with the last turn. He was two years older than his pain-in-the-neck cousin and he didnt particularly want her around. His parents decided the summer holidays with thirteen-year-old Gertrude at her familys mountain property, would be good for Eric. He doubted it.

Get out of the water and keep quiet, youll scare the fish.

Only if I can help.

Eric scanned the parameter of the waterhole and began to work on a plan. Okay, I need more worms. Lots of worms and they have to be long, fat ones. You could try over there.

He pointed towards a small opening in the rocks behind the trickling waterfall, almost twenty feet away. The waterfall is really only a trickle and the water doesnt look deep. Shell be fine. He smiled at the thought.

Eric cast his line, leaned back and closed his eyes. This is nice

* plop *

Eric opened his eyes towards the sound. His bait tin had blown into the water. It was then that he noticed the dark clouds overhead and the strengthening breeze. He reeled in his line and scrambled down to retrieve his tin. He paused. Uh oh

Gertrude, where are you? Wed better get back.

He did a quick check of the area. I guess she took the hint.

Light rain fell as he packed up his fishing gear, but by the time he put his backpack on, it had become a heavy downpour. He was about to leave when he thought he heard his name being called. He stopped and listened.

Help me, Eric.

The call repeated and although it was faint, it was definitely Gertrude. He couldnt tell where it was coming from. It seemed to be coming from under the ground. Eric was baffled.

WHERE ARE YOU?

Her reply was barely audible. Im in here. Behind the waterfall.

Eric dropped his backpack and ran straight through the waterhole. He climbed over slippery rocks and slid behind the falls that now flowed steadily down the rock face. The ground inside the narrow cave was muddy and he struggled to stay on his feet.

Gertrude, where are you?

This way! Be careful, the walls collapsed. Her voice echoed faintly but Eric could now hear her clearly.

He gingerly felt his way along a dark tapering, downward tunnel. Gertrude色

Right here.

Eric almost tripped over his cousin. He crouched and felt the ground around them. Mud had covered her legs.

Can you move?

Yes, but I hurt my ankle when I slipped with the mudslide.

Eric dug the mud away with his bare hands and eased Gertrude to her feet.

Lean on me, he said gallantly.

Once they were moving and fumbled their way back up through the short tunnel to the opening behind the falls, Eric found himself whispering. What is this place?

Gertrude grimaced and leaned heavily on Erics arm for support. This whole area around the waterfall is a maze of caves and tunnels. Ill show you around in a few days when the ground dries out. Heavy rain comes unexpectedly up here I should have known better. The upper streams dont take long to fill and create enormous changes in the falls and waterhole.

She paused momentarily. Hopefully, we can swim back to where you were fishing, before the water rises.

With their back against the wall, they eased their way around to the far end of the waterfall where its flow was less intense. They jumped simultaneously into the water below. Cascades of water plummeted down on them, thrashing them below the surface.

Coughing and breathless, they finally dragged themselves onto the bank and into the shelter of a huge rock.

He watched Gertrude shiver and squeeze the water from her shirt. She wasnt really a kid.

Gertrude, he asked quietly. Why do you have to be so, so…

Annoying? I dont know. I just wanted to be friends.

He studied her face. Can we start over?

After a few moments Gertrude nodded causing drips of water to fall from her hair and spill down her face like huge tears.

Okay, but call me Trudy. I hate Gertrude.

They both laughed.

So, Trudy, what do you want to do when the rain stops?

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.

PIRATES, HIDDEN TREASURE AND …

Fourteen-year-old Electra sat perched on the edge of her chair facing the small group that sat cross legged on her bed.

‘It happened a long time ago,’ she began, ‘but it seems like yesterdayprobably because Ive told the story so often. The only reason why I tell the story is because its why my family is the way it is. You see, we are a family with roots. Oh, you think your familys has roots too? Okay, let me explain what REAL ancestry means.’

Electra put the empty popcorn bowl on the floor before continuing.

‘In 1801, my great, great, great, great grandfather, built this house. He had been a pirate ever since he ran away to sea and became a captains cabin boy. The ship was called the Black Raven its captains name was..’

‘Electra! Will you please stop telling that tale.’

‘Aw刑ad. Why not? It sure beats the real story.’

‘Theres nothing wrong with our familys history, or your family home. And, dont forget the reason why you were named Electra.’

Sandy, one of the girls at the pyjama party, bounced off the bed. ‘Tell us, Mr Chapman. We really want to know about your house and your family.’

The other girls joined in the pleading.

Electra stood and took the freshly made popcorn from her father, pointed the bowl toward her chair where she had just been sitting, and motioned him to take over the narration.

‘Electra was right about the year. Thats when the house was built, but thats where the truth of her story finishes.’ He waited for Sandy and his daughter to join the other girls on the bed. Electra passed the popcorn round before he continued.

‘Basically, my father bought this house to save it from being bulldozed. The locals wanted it demolished for safety reasons. My father made an offer, bought it and renovated it. Its been our family home since I was a boy. There are a few rooms that have never been restored but its stable.’

Sandy stared at nothing in particular. ‘You mean those rooms could be haunted?’

Electra burst out laughing. ‘You must be kidding.’

‘Please continue,’ one of the girls requested, her eyes focusing on Electras father and ignoring his daughters outburst.

‘No, the house is not hauntednot that I know of. The rooms have just never been needed. Theres no great mystery, only the family who my dad bought it from. They lost all their fortune and the house was left empty for years.’

Sandy looked puzzled. ‘Is that it? Electra, I think its a great story. Tell us Mr Chapman how did Electra get her name.’

‘Its not all that interesting,’ Electra commented casually, wriggled back against the bed board and stuffed popcorn into her mouth.

Her father paused and took a moment to continue. ‘Electras mother was beautiful. She had red hair’

‘That explains your hair,’ Sandy teased.

Electra pushed Sandy playfully off the bed, causing Sandy to squeal and the others to laugh.

‘She died in child birth’ he continued unperturbed. A hush filled the room before he continued. ‘I didnt know what I would do or how I would bring up our little girl on my own. I brought her back here to my family home where my parents helped until they passed away. Not only was Electra born with red hair but she looked like she had a shock that caused her hair to frizz. Her grandmother named her. Over time her hair lost its frizz but the name stuck. Her hair still reminds me of her mother.’

He stood and left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

The girls remained speechless. Electra climbed off the bed and placed the popcorn on her desk before anyone spoke.

Sandy followed Electra and stood behind her, hesitating before speaking. ‘Youve never told me the real story, Electra. Why wouldn’t anyone like the true story about your family and this house?’

Electra turned, her eyes glistened with tears. ‘I wish I knew my mother but I do know a lot about her. Dad and my grandparents made sure I knew everything about her. Every birthday I tell my pirate story so I dont get sad. I guess I didnt realize, until today, just how sad my dad gets.’

The girls gathered around their friend for a group hug. ‘Your family sounds wonderful,’ Sandy exclaimed. ‘Your family home is beautiful. Why dont we ask your dad to show us around?’

Electra smiled and wiped her eyes. ‘Thats sounds like a great idea. Maybe well find some pirate ghosts or some lost treasure,’ she added with a giggle. She took Sandy by the hand and led the girls from her room in search of an adventure.

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.

 

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 squad 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?’

‘Maam, please step out into the open and put down your.. cane.’

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 skirt.’ 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, maam?’

‘Oh! No sir! I dont own a car. Thats my motorcycle.’ She lifted her cane and pointed with her bent fingers past the squad cars and confused police officers. A Harley Davison sheltered under an ancient oak tree glistened in the morning sunlight.

‘Maam, 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.

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 in five minutes.’

Carl Preston’s an okay boss I suppose, Eugene thought,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 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 twelve-by-twelve 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, 44.’

‘Okay, okay. 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,’ Preston 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.