Monday, February 21, 2011
Story 194: Risk Averse
WillG: I can't just throw away five years of my life. I've got seniority in this department, and they're talking about maybe getting me that certification next year if they can make the budget work. You've never held down a job more than a year, it's easy for you to suggest something stupid.
Nancy Incredible: This isn't stupid, William. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.
WillG: I know this is hard because you're a high functioning sociopath, but just try to put yourself in my shoes. What would you do if you were here for five years?
Nancy Incredible: You mean five minutes?
WillG: No, five years.
Nancy Incredible: No, you're confused. You mean minutes, maybe days on the outside. Asking me what I would do after five years here doesn't even make sense, it's like asking me what I would do if confronted with a magical wish-granting unicorn in that it has no relation at all to reality.
WillG: Please, just hypothetically...
Nancy Incredible: No, see, you still don't get it. There's not even a hypothetical situation where I would stick around that long. I mean, maybe if some guy had a gun to my head but even then he'd have to sleep some time, right? I'd give it two days of that shit before I tried something foolishly heroic. So, you know, even given some time for the authorities to find my bullet-riddled corpse and process it and everything and then a while to plan the funeral I would say the answer would be that in five years I would have been buried for four years and, like, eleven months. Does that help?
Nancy Incredible: Well, that's not my fault, it was a stupid question. I mean, really, like the security guard wouldn't do something about someone walking around the building holding a gun to my head? You don't even think about these things before talking, do you?
WillG: I hate you.
Will rolled away from his computer and picked up the flyer Nancy had left on his desk. It was awful, clearly made in about ten minutes with a basic paint program. There were clip-art of people jumping into the air holding wads of cash, and also for some reason a beach ball. There wasn't a lot of text, and yet somehow it managed to contain every terrible idea known to man. A risky investment, unproven science, and activities that were legal only through an oversight.
The header had too many exclamation points, too.
He knew that Nancy would be stopping by in person soon to try and convince him, but he also knew that due to the extreme disconnect between what sounded like a good idea to her and actual rational thought it wouldn't be hard to resist. He looked at the flyer again, trying to imagine what anyone could possibly see in it. Judging from which words were bolded, the author of the flyer seemed to think the draw involved EUROPA, GENETIC HUMAN ENHANCEMENT, a ONE TIME INVESTMENT, and SPACE. None of those things sounded appealing to Will.
Nancy popped he head around the corner, and he was surprised to see she wasn't smiling.
"Listen, Will. I'll make this quick and I'll be serious. You hate this job, they're never going to approve that certification or invest in you in any way, they haven't given you a raise since you got here, you'll never get around to using any of that vacation you've built up and rumor is that they're going to cap it which means you'll lose most of it at the end of the year. The only difference between this venture and your horrible job is that if it goes wrong it will be a better reason for you to feel sorry for yourself and if it goes right it will be way less likely to kill you. Also, while I personally don't find you attractive I know of several very nice single girls that are signing up for this thing and I know you want to date someone at some point before your soul finishes leaving your body. Get off your ass and do something stupid or so help me I'll get you fired myself. You know I can."
And with that, she was gone. Will just sat there, staring at the empty space she had been occupying. He had been totally prepared to fend off he insane assertions about how fun it would be, but this tactic had him floored. His phone rang, and he answered it still in a stupor.
"Will, yeah, this is Bryant. Listen. The certification is on hold for now because we're still having trouble with the budget, but we want to offer you something else instead. You know how we let Reggie go? Someone needs to do his job and we've got a hiring freeze going on so we can't replace him. It would be a huge help to us if you could step in and do that. We can't give you a raise, but it would look really great on your review which might mean that this certification thing gets pushed through next time. How about that?"
Will crumpled up the flyer and threw it away, sighing. "That would be fine, sir."
Tags: Short Fiction