Friday, July 27, 2007

Free Write Friday

Okay, in the forty minutes I have left of my Friday...

This week's winner is last week's winner, because I skived off last week for whatever reason. Harry Potter, I think, and visiting out-of-town friends. Also, the dog ate it.

Becca wins a very intense discussion on the outcome of the latest Harry Potter novel for the following suggestion:

"Sam - 23 - finds a magic 8 ball that is actually magic and will tell the future. Anything he asks it. Yes it works..."

And from now on, no more italics. It's just easier on the eyes this way.


Sam had almost always been superstitious. Never stepped under a ladder. Always threw salt over his shoulder and never once broke a mirror. He also never caught his reflection in a broken mirror, for the problems that may cause. For his key chain, he carried a lucky rabbit's foot, despite the obvious problem of it having held no good luck for the rabbit to which it was previously attached. He ran from black cats. He never went anywhere on Friday the thirteenth and never set foot on the thirteenth floor of a building. So it was no big surprise when, on his 23rd birthday, all of his co-workers at his brand new job pitched in to buy him...

"A Magic 8 Ball?" He looked the thing over, still in its purplish box with the swirls, the instructions. He had received several dozen of them over the years, always from people who thought it was a laugh, just what he needed. He felt as predictable as they must have found him.

"Yeah, well, you know, for when you need help making're so superstitious you may need some sort of guidance." This from a man who orders pens based on the color jersey his favorite sports team of the moment happens to be wearing.

"Well, thanks, Heath," Sam said. He didn't mean it. "I guess I could use some guidance from a fifteen dollar toy." This struck him as odd; not the fact that they had clearly left the price tag on the box, a symbol of how little they truly cared, how this birthday present was merely a team building gimmick created by the HR people at Vanderheyden Financial Services, the company for which he was an office drone. This was how he described his job to himself; his business card said he was an accounts management representative. No, the price tag didn't make him frown. The price did. Certainly he had seen these, even at the novelty shops where prices are usually higher than the box retailers, for less than ten bucks.

"Ask it a question!" Meredith tittered, eager to watch Sam use this toy, the same way she seemed eager for everything; even watching Merle, the intern, replacing the jug in the water cooler made Meredith giggle. Not appeasing her would have brought immeasurable pleasure to Sam, but then again, as her last name was Brown, that gave her thirteen letters in her name. She held some power that Sam registered on a very deep subconscious level.

He opened the box and removed the eight ball. It felt slightly heavier than he remembered the Magic 8 Ball to be, but perhaps it was because over time, the only one he ever really used, the one originally given to him on his seventh birthday by his grandfather, had leaked a little of the magic blue fluid. Or perhaps, Sam reflected as he faced the circled 8 upwards, they were just made out of better stuff these days. "Is this the best birthday present ever?" he asked the Magic 8 Ball. He turned it over and was startled by what he saw.

"What's it say?" asked Edith, Meredith's boss, her identical twin in every way except twenty-six years older. The two of them bounced on the balls of their feet to try and get a look.

Sam stared at the window on his new toy. He had expected a response along the lines of, "It Is Decidedly So" or "Outlook Not So Good." He had trouble processing what he was seeing.

"Well?" asked Heath.

"Um, yes. It says 'Yes,' so it looks like you guys win the best present ever award. Thank you."

"Well, we all picked it out," Edith explained.

"But Ed went and picked it up at the store, so maybe he picked out just the perfect one," Meredith completed. The two twittered again.

"So it would seem," Sam said, this time more to himself. He looked down at the 8 ball, where it still displayed the answer to his question.

"Yes, Sam," the 8 ball said. He turned it back over and smiled at everybody.

Thank you. Now, I guess we should get back to work, huh?" Everybody smiled politely back, and dispersed to their cubicles. They had clustered outside of his own, so Sam had only to turn around and take two steps before he was in his allotted partition of the universe.

He set the 8 Ball on his desk and stared at it. He thought of asking it some more questions, to see if maybe somebody had tampered with it, or if it was so expensive and heavy because it was custom. He picked it up and said, under his breath, "Is someone pulling a joke on me with this 8 ball?"

He turned it over to read the response. "No. No Jokes, Sam."

He turned it back over and asked, "What do you want from me?"

He flipped it for the answer. "What do you want from me?"

"I'm getting a little freaked out," he said, to nobody. He looked back to make sure the 8 Ball had really asked him a question, but he saw that it had changed without him turning it over.

"No Need to Freak Out."


"I'm Here to Help."

Sam put the 8 Ball back on his desk and stood up, staring at it, afraid it may start acting more strange if he let it out of his sight. He picked up his phone and dialed the office operator. Shelby answered after two rings, as always.

"Operator," she said, in her flat tone.

"Get me Ben Stevens, please," he said.

She sighed. "Sam, how long will it be before you just dial his extension?"

"Until his extension is no longer star thirteen."

"Aren't you a little old to be superstitious? I mean, should you be superstitious about the number thirteen?"

"Should I be superstitious about the number thirteen?" he asked absent mindedly, not taking his eyes off the 8 Ball. His cubicle neighbor bumped into their adjoining wall, knocked his desk a little and causing the 8 Ball to roll just enough for Sam to see the answer.

"No, But To Each His Own."

But Shelby had obviously taken his repetition of the question to signal the end of their exchange, as Ben Stevens was now answering his phone.

"New Accounts, this is Benjamin." There was faint music coming through the handset.

"Ben, it's Sam."

"Sammy, what up buddy?" The music increased in volume.

"I'm not entirely sure. I have this thing I need to show you..."

"Dude, if this is about the Carlisle account, I know. They adopted and then had a baby of their own, that's why the kids' birthdates are like, three months apart. Nothing to worry about."

"No, it's not that..." Sam trailed off, looking at the display as it turned blank, something he had never seen on any other 8 Ball.

"Are you okay, Big S?" Ben asked.

"Am I okay?"

The 8 Ball display came to life again. "All Signs Point to No, Sam."

Sam abruptly hung up the phone and picked it back up, dialing his supervisor to inform him that he would be taking the rest of the day off.

"I don't understand why you eve came in, Sam," Gary was saying from somewhere in his deep, plush armchair at his desk. "It's a Friday and it's your birthday and most of our clients are on vacation so they probably won't be calling for questions...I would've just taken a three day weekend myself."

"Well, sir, it's just that my horroscope said not to break routine this month, but something's come up."

"Right, your birthday. Take it easy, it's okay, have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Monday. Just don't be late for the meeting with the honchos...they're going over the new procedures for the new 401(k) management program."

"Would I be late for that meeting, Gary?" Sam asked, trying to act like he thought office workers should, with a level of humor he could never really pull off. But then the 8 Ball dereailed him.

"Most Definitely You Will Be Late."

Gary was still chuckling, obviously pleased with Sam's response when Sam spoke again. More to the 8 Ball than Gary, he asked, "Why would I be late?"

Gary laughed again, blown away by Sam's unassuming sense of humor. But the 8 Ball just read, "Can Not Predict Now" and promptly turned blank.


Okay, sorry, that's all I got for now, it's almost midnight anyway and therefore no longer really Friday.

Sorry for the last few weeks...I'll get back in the swing of things, I promise. Starting...NOW!


Becca said...

Brilliant! AND I've been postponing my HP discussion with everyone else, just so we can discuss (however, I've only read the last book once so far... haven't had time to read it a second time yet, but once I have, well, you had better watch out).

gerald said...

cliffhanger! is this some sort of joke? what happens to sam? perhaps that should be the suggestion this week. offer up elements that shall lead to the event which keeps sam from showing up on time for monday's meeting.

the wife said...

Gerald- I need your email address- I miss hanging out and now that Elliot will no longer be working on the weekends we have a whole another day to do stuff :) I need to have an artsy graphic design discussion with someone :)

gerald said...

i'm in! smelly should have my emai, but let's just bypass the middle man.