My latest short story "The Night the Lights Came On"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Death of a Salesman's Boss
A Story for Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge

Chuck Wendig runs a weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. This is my first time trying it out. Go check it out! Write your own! Here are the rules for this week:

I’m going to give you ten words. Your job is to work all ten of these words into a flash fiction story, ~1000 words in length. That’s it. End of mandate. The story’s due in a week: Friday, August 30th, noon EST. Post at your online space. Link back here.

The ten random words are as follows:

Here's my story:

Death of a Salesman's Boss, A Short Story |  © Dan Absalonson 2013

I was listening to my favorite band, Atomic Willow, to get psyched to ask my boss for a raise when I saw on the news that he had died. I dropped my spoon into my bowl of frosted flakes.

“Dead? Great! How am I going to get my raise to pay for that flyer now?”

I sat not moving for a moment, then picked up my spoon and scooped the last of my flakes into my mouth. Soggy! I hate it when they get soggy, like thin chips of clay. They figured out how to fly us to distant planets and terraform them into habitability, but they still couldn't keep my frosted flakes crunchy till the last bite.

I looked back to the screen with the stuffy mustachioed man reporting the details. What I saw on the vid-screen after lowering my bowl would captivate me for several minutes before I got up to leave for work. Right there on the screen was a picture of my boss for all to see. It was a bit unreal. My bowl in the sink, I pulled on my jacket and walked to my apartment complex hanger bay.

I got into my flyer, buckled in, and pushed my thumb onto the ignition button until it turned green. The engines started up creating a low hum. The computer greeted me.

"Good morning Dave. You have an..."

"Yeah, morning. Destination work. Local news feed to screen,"

“Yes sir, but first you have an urgent vidmail from work.”

“Fine. Put it on.”

“Yes sir.”

“Hey guys you may have seen the sad news but Mr. Stanton passed away last night so no work today. Everyone is to fly straight to the funeral. It starts at noon.”

So that was it. No chance to ask for the raise to pay for my new flyer. I mean it had everything. If I needed to I could live in the thing, but now I couldn’t make the payments. If only I had done the smart thing and waited until after I had secured a raise. I was due for one I knew, and my first payment was schedule for my next payday. If I didn’t get a raise I would have to sell all my junk and move into my flyer for real.

It had a sleek black hull with a mini kitchen, small lounge with one extremely comfortable couch, and even a bathroom. If only I had been in this bad boy last year when the skyway guidance rigs had malfunctioned leaving us all stuck in space. That was the one thing I couldn’t do in my new ship, manual flying. Sure if I had perfect eyes, was in great shape, and had the time to study for the test I’d get my pilot’s license. The only people I knew with one got theirs under the federation’s credit account in the military. If they were in a skyway and the traffic was bad they could just switch it into manual and fly off whichever way they wanted to go. Not me, but I finally had a new ship. I wouldn’t have to bum a ride to the bar after work to hang with the guys because I was too embarrassed of my own vessel.

As I flew to the skyway that led to my work I listened to the news. I learned the disease that had left my boss disfigured had actually been killing him the whole time. I wondered at the deceit. Had anyone known? Was it all just to keep the office running smoothly so people wouldn't waste time worrying about him? He was a great boss, a driven man, but sometimes I thought he cared a little too much about how efficient the office ran. But I guess that was his job. You can’t let your employees slack off when they’re in sales. Now he was finally able to rest.

* * *

At the funeral the pastor preached fire and brimstone, telling us to take this moment to think on our lives. I did. I needed that raise. I spent the time working up the courage to ask for it in what would historically be the worst timing ever. I approached the V.P. of our company on the way out.

“Hey Todd.”

“Hi Dave.”

“What a terrible tragedy huh?”

“Yeah, Richard was a great man. I’ll miss him.”

“Yeah me too. He was a great boss. Hey listen, I know this isn’t the right time but I was supposed to have a meeting with him this morning, about a raise…”

“You can’t be serious man. Are you kidding me?”

“I’m sorry I just have some things that it would really help with right now and I…”

“Forget it. Listen, now is not the right time. I have enough to worry about with the company. None of us were expecting this. May he rest in peace but the least the guy could have done was warn us. Look it’s going to take some time okay?”

“I understand.”

I’m screwed, I thought.

* * *

As I flew home the sun was setting over the canyon, like a huge balloon devoid of its helium slowly sinking back down to the real world to once again be among the rest of us. No longer could it fly up into the sky and gaze down upon all of the people and things which could not fly.

I got online and rented a space for all my stuff and a small cargo ship. I was moving out.

“Looks like I’ll get to see how great it is actually living in my T36 Luxo Sailer. Whatever, it was worth it.”

I often showered at work anyway after using our onsite workout facility, and the couch would make a great bed. Now I’d spend less time at home, and more time out - living my life. Maybe all this was a good thing. I still really wished Mr. Stanton had stayed alive for just one more day.


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