Author: Chuck Durfee
Disclaimer: I should have done things differently.
As is the case with all jobs, there was too much for too few to do. He hit the send key without really giving it another thought.
Across the continent, the message was read. And acted upon.
He got the reply some time later. Terse, bitter. Horror! He called in vain, but the phone rang empty. He took a walk around the building, watching others wandering to and from their square cages, before getting back into his own.
People began to visit his cage. Fellow l33t. Suits. Sales drones. No one knew how to respond to the silence.
He became a ghost needing help passing on, floating from meeting to meeting. Each time his boss came near, he anticipated the coup de grace.
His boss: "Hey, buddy, how are you?"
In some quantum reality, his boss continued, "I'm glad to hear that, because you're fired."
His co-workers: "What happened?"
"I made a mistake. It shut them down cold for a while, but they're back up."
The look: "What a dumb ass! Thank goodness it wasn't me! I need to be more careful!"
Sales drones: "What are you doing?"
"Waiting for them to call." I wish they'd call.
The blow never came. After a couple of days, he dared to hope, to dream. He's learned his lesson. He'd made it through. He was reborn, a support engineer with a purpose!
He: "I don't think they'll fire me."
Confidant: "I sure they won't. They'd be fools. Besides, I once set fire to a customer's hardware lab. I'm still here."
But still, something niggled at him. He still anticipated the coup de grace, yet all swords were sheathed.
A few more days passed.
His boss: "Can I talk to you for a moment?"
Bang. The unmistakable stench of gunpowder.
Once the pride of the stable, he was brought to the glue factory: a small conference room with no windows and less sympathy.
"We've decided that today is your last day," the director droned. He shook as they shat upon his accomplishments and villified him. He raised objection, but the director needled him, "This isn't the only incident, you know!" Put to sleep, he quickly faded into acquiescence.
An hour later, he stood before his truck. Four years encapsulated in a cardboard box. Things he couldn't do without -- and barely thinks about any more. That morning was cold, but the sky was blue and the office receded happily into the distance.