The Office

It is Wednesday, and i am at work. I'm trapped in a frustration-borne sort of tunnelvision, unable to stop watching Ipse. Ipse's lips have pulled back and curled up slightly, revealing a large mass of glistening teeth. The naive would probably consider this a smile, but i know better. For this is Ipse's only expression, whether he is joking lightheadedly with coworkers, engaged in what would appear to anyone but himself as a losing debate, or being reprimanded by our boss, Typhon. At this moment, he is industriously organizing the small plastic container with which he deftly manages his paper clips. This is his fourteenth method of organizing the paper clips this morning.

"Want a drink?" asks Tentwort, my only friend in the office.

I take the cup of water and gulp it down quickly.

"Before, i could watch him for hours; he was an endless source of amusement. Like a building that looks as if it's about to fall over, he always appears on the edge of adding that last, critical amount to the continuously accruing column of stupidity, which would turn him into some kind of hyper-super-imploded mass of infinitely pulsing ignorance. No, wait, maybe that already happened. Err.. anyway, now, it's as if he's a curse on my soul, a bane to my existence. Once i begin watching him, i can't stop and i just spiral downward into a bottomless pit of despair..." i fade off into silence.

Tentwort smiles pleasantly. "You really shouldn't let him get to you. I mean, you're you and Ipse is Ipse, and you are in perfect control of your world."

"I suppose that's the irony of the situation, here i am, or there i was i suppose, a normal, sane, well-fed individual, and there he is, and probably always will be, the pathetic moron, driving me out of my Feuillantine mind." Tentwort and i developed a code for the common, obscene words after Herr Typhon's "no obscene language" directive.

"He's not that bad" says Tentwort good-naturedly. And with a grin, "At least not yet."

"But doesn't it get to you? The endless, self-assured babbling? The void of reason? The lack of justice?" i plead.

Smiling, he says, "No, i guess not, i don't really think about it that much."

I sigh. "I guess i'm over-reacting."

"This weekend, i had twelve people over at my house, and we had such a great time," says Ug. Ug's desk is much too close to mine, because Ug has no lack of conversation. "And my cat, well, you know my cat, Asbestos. He just sat there, chatting with the seven tulips Mr. Squirm had brought me the week before out of gratitude for me spending so much time on the Liverslime project, but there Asbestos was, around all of those people with not a care in the world when..."

My brain reports that it is on the brink of suicide. Unable to bear the deluge of self-aggrandizing gibberish, it has chosen the most pleasant option. I imagine myself heckling Ug viciously in order to postpone the death of my brain.

"...guess who came by, and started trying to feed Asbestos and myself marinated, breaded carrot, but Dauke, of course, and he just wouldn't leave us alone. Why are you smiling like that? What's so funny?"

Apparently, my cranial self-placation has generated something of a pleasant expression on my face, which is altogether unfortunate. I am now the object of Ug's attentions.

"Are you allergic to basted, breaded carrot?"

"I thought you said, 'marinated, breaded carrot'."

"Either type, i'm allergic to both" Ug says, smacking gum cheerfully.


"So what do you think about that person who had eleven six-inch nails driven into his skull? I had surgery once, on my little finger, and it did hurt! I'd hate to be that person, how about you?"

And so it goes, each day, until one day, Herr Typhon (as he not-so-jokingly reminds us to call him) enters the room. Ug and Ipse pause in their routine, and quickly assess Herr Typhon's mood.

"So, how are you lower life forms doing today?" he says in a friendly manner, not unlike that of a hunter gloatingly staring into the dead, glassy eyes of a large mammal he has just killed with a dirty piece of lead.

Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. I try to tolerate the jocularities, but i begin to grow nauseous and must stop. Typhon's unblinking gaze drifts my way, and i can almost here his mind clicking and clattering as it notes the nausea, disgust and dread swimming on my face.

"Well, i don't want to take you away from your work," he says with a subtle, conscious-evading emphasis on the middle of the two syllables, "but i just thought i'd stop in" (from his office 15 feet down the hall) "and give you the good news."

I strangle a sigh about to escape with my next exhale. (This is something i've been working on; people were beginning to take note.) Nothing makes more plain the chasm of decency that lies between Herr Typhon and myself than his "good news."

"Ipse here has been promoted to Assistant-Vice-President-in-charge-of-Subordinate-Visceral-Fluids," says Herr Typhon.

I imagine myself pounding my head on my desk, which makes me feel better.

"That just goes to show, if you work hard, and apply yourself, you can be part of the team down the hall, too."

"Oh, and here you go, why don't you re-write this with an emphasis on what it's going to do for me, okay?" says he, dumping my 239 page proposal back on my desk. The title:

200,000 Inefficient and Unnecessary Office Procedures Which Could Be Readily Eliminated to Increase Work Efficiency by 1,278%

has been completely lined-through in red pen.

I meet his eyes, recognizing that indeed, some sound did come out of his mouth, but i choose to try and interpret in a foreign tongue i do not understand. Later at lunch, i corner Tentwort.

"It's not fair! I can't believe it! This place is such an incredible load of donkey excrement that it's unbelievable."

"Yeah, i know what you mean."

"It's so maddening, i can't stand this much longer."

"Oh i'm sure things will get better."

"I don't think so. We're in Hell, and someone's simply removed the signs." I get up from our table and begin to search the room.

Tentwort chuckles, the sensitive laugh soothing me. I break into a smile, thinking of the silliness of the situation. I come back to the table to sit down but as i pass him i notice something in his ear.

"What's this?"

"Oh, nothing to worry about, i'm sure."

"No, in your ear. It has something printed on it: 'Do Not Remove'."


I pull the plug from his ear; there is an instant transformation.

Tentwort is shouting:

"I can't take it anymore these ghoddamn sonsabitches deserve to be skewered on hardened rat feces and broiled alive thousands of times and chewed up into hamburger with teeth of broken glass...if i get my way they will all die die die die die!!!!!"

I step back from him as his head begins to swell, the spout of vileness pouring from his mouth:

"and that time Ipse spilled my coffee all over my desk ruining the last 12 hours of work and didn't even apologize i should have cut off its nose with my paper-opener and shoved it into its right-eye until the brain hemorrhaged..."

All the while his head was growing and growing, unbelievably. And i was stumbling backwards, away from Tentwort, until, with a loud crack, his head gave way and exploded, showering a thick, yellowish-green mixture over myself and the entire room.

And for some reason, i was not really surprised by this.