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Flash Fiction – The Year King August 14, 2010

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Got a little stuck on Nox and Grimm, so I did a true flashfic peice to get the ol’ muse up and running again.  I’ll return to the serial very soon 🙂

———-

James woke up with his mouth hanging open and his cheek resting on a puddle of drool.  Again.  He really should have gotten up off the couch and gone to bed the night before, but he just couldn’t see the point.  He had been unemployed for over a year, and the money was running out.  Most of his furniture had been sold and replaced by pizza boxes, or ratty old pieces like the couch that he had found while out dumpster diving.  He had written the last rent check two months before, and it was only a matter of time before his landlord put him out and called in a hazmat team to clean up the mess.   Hell, he should probably stick around to watch that, maybe the hazmat guys would take pity and clean him up a bit too.  From the smell of his clothes, he needed it.

James flicked on the power for the Atari, another dumpster find that miraculously still worked. He jammed in a cartridge and was about to settle down for another thrilling day of blowing up asteroids when the phone rang. He didn’t jump up to answer it.  Long experience had taught him to screen his calls for trolling creditors.

His own voice mumbled drunkenly out of the machine.  “Make it good,” he had recorded, followed by a long burp instead of a beep.  A chipper female voice replied.  “Hello Mr. MacNair!  This is Stella from Celestial Temps, a full service staffing agency.  I found your resume online and I believe we have a job for which you are uniquely qualified.”

By the time she had gotten to the word ‘resume,’ James had jumped off the couch, gotten tangled in the joystick wires, tripped, banged his toes on the sofa leg and fallen just short of the phone.  He reached up and knocked the receiver off its cradle and dragged it to his ear.  “Hello? Hello? This is James! Damn, where’s that pen…”  He snagged a pizza box and a sharpie, scribbling madly all over the lid. “Uh huh, yes, sure!  Keeping the client confidential is fine. Yes, I’ll sign a form to that effect.  One hour?  Uh, okay.  Yeah, I can be there. Thank you!” he said, and hung up the phone.

A quick inspection in the bathroom mirror told him that he was long overdue for a date with a razor. He got showered and shaved in record time, and pulled out the one pristine object in his entire apartment – his interview suit.  Forty minutes later he was flagging down a cab and handing over the last of his cash to make the trip across town.

Celestial Temps operated out of a typical office park.  There was nothing to differentiate it from the hundreds of other buildings that grew up like mushrooms on every flat stretch of land for miles around the city.  The only thing of note was a large, white sedan with diplomatic plates parked out front.  James smiled to himself. Government work could mean big dollars, and he had learned to keep his lips shut during the legal debacle that had wrecked his former employer.  Stella was right, he was more than qualified to keep an execs’ dirty secrets.

The automatic doors swooshed open as he walked up to them, and a shimmering sound rang in his ears as he passed through.  Great, knowing his luck he was probably getting tinnitus.  He caught a glimpse of himself in the doors, and corrected the now habitual slouch.   A perky twenty-something in a snug white business jacket and skirt came out from behind a desk to greet him.  “Hello Mr. MacNair, I’m Stella. The client is already here.  Right this way please.”

Two security guards, who probably wore their Ray-Ban’s 24/7 stood outside a conference room door.  They frisked him and ran detectors over him before waving him inside.  The man waiting there was not what James had expected.  He looked like a strung-out junkie, thin with wispy hair and a nervous tick under one eye.  His suit was impeccable though, and almost blindingly white.   He waved to the chair across from him.  “Have a seat, James.  I’m glad you decided to accept the call.”  He said the last word as if it held a special significance.

James gave him a professionally polite smile.  “How could I resist so charming a girl as Stella?  I’m sorry though, I wasn’t given your name,” he said, and held out his hand.

The man’s nervous tick jumped a little faster.  “No, not yet. I have to be sure, you see?”  He added nervous drumming with his fingers on the tabletop as a counterpoint to the tick.  “What are your views on religion, James?”

James settled back in his chair.  “Is that important for the job?” he asked, a little surprised, what with all the anti-discrimination laws.

“Yes, it could be very important.  You will have to deal with members of many different beliefs if you accept the position.”

“I’m an agnostic,” James said.  “Not an atheist, just not willing to commit to anybody else’s ideas on God.”

The man smiled, and held out his hand.  “Perfect.  You’ll want to remember that, down the road, and stick to it. No matter how persuasive the others can be.”

Later, James looked down at his crisp white suit, and had to laugh.  If deities were just temps, it was no wonder everyone had a different idea about God.  Or Gods, for that matter.   Not to mention the mess they all made of the world.  The earth didn’t come with an instruction manual, and each year the new King of Kings had to figure out how things worked while simultaneously trying to make deals with his fellow supreme beings.  James still didn’t know what would happen when his year was up, but he was betting the retirement benefits were phenomenal.   He straightened his tie and grinned in anticipation.  It was time to get down to work.

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Comments»

1. lauraeno - August 14, 2010

ROFL! I love the concept – deities as temps. While I’m sniffling over no Nox and Grimm, I totally understand the need to write something different to jar the muse awake. It’s hard to keep up a running serial.

techtigger - August 15, 2010

yeah, I want to make sure that if I post something for N&G, it’s my best stuff. That story is my baby! *lol*

2. Marisa Birns - August 14, 2010

What a cushy job he has for a year. Wait…now that I think of it, it’s also going to be very long hours and needs lots of patience!

Inspired and amusing. Your muse was awake and playful!

techtigger - August 15, 2010

My muse has a strange sense of humor 😀 Glad you liked it!

3. Maria Kelly - August 14, 2010

Hahaha…puts a whole new spin on ‘playing God.’ Very unusual…yes, I agree with Laura & Marisa, the muse led you down a very playful path. You had fun with this and it shows. 🙂

techtigger - August 15, 2010

*grinz* It certainly explains the biblical plagues – “Darn, where did put those locusts?”

4. J. M. Strother - August 14, 2010

That was fun. I did not put two plus two together, so the end was a delightful surprise for me.
~jon

techtigger - August 15, 2010

Thanks! and thank you for the nudge last night, that convinced me to stay up and write 🙂

5. Gracie - August 14, 2010

So that’s how it’s done. Very interesting.

Great story, and very imaginative. Good muse.

You do need a break from your serial now and then. I sympathize. I have an open doc for mine waiting right now. Even though there’s a plan, I’m having trouble engaging. #WeSeWriMo’s a bit more difficult than I expected! Good luck with yours. N & G will be back in just a minute, I’m sure. 🙂

techtigger - August 15, 2010

I know what you mean, I had this all planned out and then my characters decided to go in a different direction. It’s like herding cats, I tell ya… 🙂

But yes, they’ll be back soon!

6. Tony Noland - August 14, 2010

I can only imagine what the headhunter’s commission is for filling this position.

Nice one.

techtigger - August 15, 2010

Thanks! Hmm, what would the commision be… you’d have a God in your debt, even if it wasn’t a permanent hire…

7. antisocialbutterflie - August 14, 2010

That was great. The thought of a future God dumpster diving for an Atari is a pretty awesome mental picture.

techtigger - August 15, 2010

heheheh Thanks! I may use this idea for NaNoWriMo. I can think of all sorts of delightfully blasphemous things to write!

Memo to Cherubim:

Quit playing that damned harp music, or I swear to ME I will kick your feathered asses to kingdom come!

-God

Mari Juniper - August 16, 2010

Gods as temps? It’s totally a NaNo idea. Go for it Angie!

I had a blast reading this one, almost as much as N&G. Almost, heh.

8. asthemoonclimbs - August 15, 2010

Too fun. This is like a mix of Bruce Almighty and the Piers Anthony series, Incarnations of Immortality. Of course, it makes me wonder why the job is only for a year… I say NaNo it up!

9. Cecilia Dominic - August 15, 2010

Very nice! I didn’t expect that particular twist. 🙂

CD


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