Flash Fiction Month #1: Coping With Workplace Feedback
I’m trying something new and presumably interesting this July! Each of this month’s posts will be a self-contained story, most likely of about the usual 400-500 word length. I make no guarantees of subject, style, or anything else, and this one actually turned out a little lengthier than expected.
“Pac-Man with a goatee? That’s… frightening.”
Jim Simmons had been working as a concept artist for Bandai-Namco for an entire week, but he was sure he wouldn’t make it to the second. Nobody seemed to appreciate his design ideas, and his boss had already yelled at him on Wednesday, almost begging him to stick to illustration.
“If my count is correct, you’ve submitted at one hundred twenty nine separate proposals to change our character designs in the last two days,” she’d said. “This includes fifty one changes to the Tekken roster, fourteen variants of the King of All Cosmos, and no less than twenty five separate and sometimes conflicting redesigns of Pac-Man. Absolutely none of these are salvageable! What were you thinking?”
In the present, Jim’s boss sighed and slowly, almost delicately tore his latest image (entitled “Pac-Riker”) into uneven strips of paper. It wasn’t ideal, but his previous artistic efforts had jammed her office’s shredder. After depositing the scraps in her trash bin, she had to jam her foot down on the ensuing pile to keep it from overflowing and covering the floor with garbage.
It was 4:01 PM on a lazy Friday. Jim was trembling outside his cubicle, almost certain that within the hour, he’d be summoned back to his boss’s office for an immediate termination. One thing was certain – he absolutely had to find a way to prove his worth within the hour in order to have even the slightest chance of keeping his job. He looked at the stack of recent drawings on his desk, and finally decided that conventional means weren’t going to work – these were hasty and incomprehensible even by Jim’s standards. One of them caught his eye, though – a nondescript humanoid of ambiguous species and most everything else, except for a strangely flat and angular head – Jim suddenly had a flash of brilliant insight. He was working in the wrong medium! With that idea suddenly animating him, he stood up from his desk, collected his portfolio, and headed for a nearby copying machine.
With five minutes to go before the workday ended, Jim’s boss left her office, intending to cut Jim loose and therefore save her company. She’d barely opened the door when she heard a bloodcurdling scream to her left. The firing would have to wait; she sprinted towards the source of the awful noise, only to slip on something red, damp, hurtling towards her-
It was somebody’s blood. The boss scrambled to her feet, desperately trying to find out what was going on. She soon saw that Jim was repeatedly slamming the lid of the copier down onto the head of her secretary. To be honest Remy’s fastidiousness and demands for exacting precision occasionally got on even her nerves, but his administrative skills still had made him the star of the department up to that point; in an office full of creative types, that was quite an achievement. However, it looked like Remy wouldn’t be able to perform his duties any more – Jim’s constant bludgeoning had smashed his head open and flattened his skull into… was that a rectangle?
Jim finally noticed his boss had arrived on the scene, and gently lifted Remy’s mutilated corpse off the copier, presumably to demonstrate his handiwork.
“What do you think of my Remy redesign? It’s a little drastic, but I’m hoping you’ll like it,” he said to her in the calmest voice he’d mustered ever since she’d first trashed his drawings.
“…I actually quite like it,” she responded. Then she fainted.
Needless to say, Jim’s handiwork didn’t go over too well with the police.