by A.M. Arruín
Dawn frothed. Peach and pumpkin lit standing glass—for one minute, eggshell walls and carpets bloomed orange and blood. Phones sang and clattered their varied ring tones: Vivaldi, Anthrax, Johnny Cash and clickety clacks. Another day. The Wotan Global Finance Firm was alive.
Harlan, the Operations Manager, chanted fury at his subordinates. "When I arrive at six on the morning, he is already working!” He smashed his mug of honeyed scha-haaven to the table. “He's working at pace, and we have the temerity to question him. You should all be ashamed!"
Mr. Dent gently burped with shame. He prayed to Thor.
Cal stood and smoothed his shark fin trousers. "I would like to support Mr. Harlan. Gentlemen, if he has truly been here every day…”
"He is the Lord God!!!" Harlan screamed.
Pip, the stenographer, stood from his stool. "Sir, if he works that hard, innit his own dem fault?"
Mr. Dent dropped his glass of steaming ganoof. "Child! Speak not of that which supersedes thyself."
Pip snorted. "Innit his own problem, like them caterpillars what spin out of control and get th’ caterpillar anxiety disorder?”
"Pip Henry Alex Shouldice Jenkins—" Harlan grinned with fury.
Pip continued. "Them bugs should rilly get a whippin’ by the Lords of the Animal Kingdom, for perpetuating th’ imbalance.”
Levon, whose status at the Firm was mostly opaque, penumbral at best, stood. "UUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Dent ignored, but then acknowledged him. “We need to respect Levon’s heavings, as they have been inspired by Fánon and others. But they are not germane to Pip’s insouciance.”
“Or is it the other way around?” Cal whispered to his pants.
“Thor take us,” Mr. Dent muttered.
Pip brought himself to full height, four feet minimum. “I’m a-gonna…” He coughed, stood taller. “I cannot genuflect before...whatchimicall—” He tried to stretch up further, failed. “As men have spaketh: Get off the Tree. Odin needs the wood.”
“Ah.” Harlan’s scary voice: low static and sub woof sarcasm. “Well spoken, Pip. Articulate. Artic-yew-litt,” he spit. Harlan had a way of praising others that deployed a mobius-stripped children's play sprinkler of congratulation that flowed back on itself only to pour outward only to drain back to his Self only to spray out to others even as it used their water to irrigate his own yard, according to Dr. Klerk Schützenhammer, PhD, the professor of English Literature who briefly worked for the firm copy editing its monthly newsletter, The Firm.
The conference room door opened. In stepped an intruder.
“Data,” he suggested, mildly.”This all needs to be data driven or it means nothing.”
“Data driven!” Harlan screamed, turning from the shins.
“Data point!” Cal countered.
“Data points! Fuck you, Harlan the Harlequin!” Harlan was a harlequin. He dressed as such.
Associate Jarlana Hix-Schneiderhoff joined now the fray, baring her invisiline braces: “Data? Excellence!”
“This piece going forward.” Who said that? “This piece drives data and excellence!” Who?
“The fuck it does. Data driven excellence!”
“This piece. Excellence driven, no data!”
“The Excellence is Point of Order!”
The clown was now in his froth. “Point of order! Point of motherfucking information! Point of data driven data entry! Olden Gods destroy us in their fury!”
“Youth movement put a cap in yo ass!” Pip squealed, his ray gun set to going way forward facial fuck blast.
Harlan’s face exploded in shattered watermelon frenzy, slick and seedy bites of brain and ruby gore spattering the menus, bloody bobs sinking the water jugs, ice cubes chuckling, robot mops instantly squealing at their posts, restrainers stretching, bending...
The Old Gods smashed through the roof. The intruder pointed mutely with his plastic fork. A god’s hammer took his teeth. Plink! Plunk! Plank! The glass table pattered with enamel roots, and for one silent beauteous moment everyone realized just how many unfilled cavities the intruder’s mouth had been carrying, and how laughable he really was, how his appearance at the door had been a mirage of horror, just a man with unfilled cavities and sizeable pores and probably two teenage daughters.
The gods began their slaughter. Will Pip survive?
____________________________________________________________________BIO: A.M. Arruin is the author of Crooked Timber: Seven Suburban Faery Tales, and many short stories. He is currently squatting in the abandoned walrus exhibit at the Calgary Zoo, which is illegal. Whoops.