She shouldn’t have red hair. Also, it shouldn’t be the red that it is. It is a dye job, a bad dye job. She should act her age, but it’s not clear what that age might be. She has too much energy for her skin. Her skin has the pale of age, old age, too many years, is the phrase I would use. Her skin had too many years on it for the energy she had. Her thin pale epidermis indicated she should be slow moving, if not immobile, bed ridden maybe, but not walking faster than all the other employees. People so much younger, so much stronger, should have so much more life than she had. Her energy and her fire engine red hair, they just weren’t right.
If she were nicer, more considerate of other’s feelings and opinions maybe I wouldn’t have noticed. Maybe I would have let all the incongruity go by, float on into the sky like most incongruities of life. Many things don’t make sense so why bother thinking about them. They go away eventually, well mostly they do but not Anne. I was hoping she would go away. Just leave the office as abruptly as she came to it. One day she was just there. No one questioned her appearance. I know I didn’t. But then she was always there. I noticed that. She was there when I came in and there when I left. It was like she never left the office. She acted like that too. Like she was the only true resident of the office. That she was in charge, not just a few people’s boss but everyone’s boss, but it wasn’t clear what she actually did. She was just there and full of inappropriate energy.
It was the incongruous fire engine red hair and the energy that made me suspicious though. The hair was wrong, everyone, anyone could see that. Why would anyone do something so inappropriate, so incongruous? And then I noticed. I noticed that, when I was, am, near her, it is not just that she moves faster than I do, that she has more energy than I do, but, okay, this didn’t make sense to me at first, but, well, I have less energy around her. I started timing myself as I walked down the hallway. When I got near her, my times actually lengthened. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense, but I, yes, I moved slower. And she moved faster. Okay, so it might just be a psychological thing, a Freudian thing or something. Anyway, just all in my head, but I kept timing. I bought one of those runometer computer thingys, just in case I was making this shit up, but I wasn’t. No really. It said the same thing. I have graphs if you don’t believe me. So, what am I saying? I have no idea actually. Anne though, she is incongruous with real people. Anne is not right.
I wanted to confront her. I wanted to flesh her out. Tell her I’m on to her. Not that I am, but maybe she would leave if I said such a thing to her. I don’t understand what’s happening here, but if you are doing something bad and keeping it a secret, wouldn’t you leave if someone came up to you and said, “I’m on to you.” I know I would run for the hills. I have always wondered about that expression. Where are those hills? What do they provide? Anyway, I fight with myself at home at night about confronting her. One side of me says, go for it, the other side, well that is the hill side. The run-away side. She actually frightens me. She did before with that pale ancient skin and blazing hair, but now with the energy sucking, I just get more and more scared. I don’t know what to do.
Okay, well, I decided, I decided to make a stand. “Don’t be a pussy!” My girl friend said to me. Well, she’s actually my former girl friend. I hate it when men say that to me, and it is worse when a woman says it, so I went in yesterday to confront Anne. That monster Anne, that energy vampire Anne. So, I went up to Anne. Her eyes were old too, too old for someone alive. I had never looked into her eyes before. They were scarier than I could imagine. But still, I didn’t want to be a pussy, so I took my deep breaths and said, yes, I said to her pale dead face. “I know what you are up to.” I expected, well, something different from her than a smile. It wasn’t a dead smile though. It was the only thing, outside of the excessive, inappropriate energy, that wasn’t dead. Her smile was not only alive, but hungry. Mouths are for consumption and clearly, this one wanted to fulfill its purpose. I just could feel it. I also felt weak, weakened by the consuming smile and just weak. And Anne just smiled more intensely, as if her smile was sucking energy too.
“That’s okay dear.” Anne said in some way as to not disturb her smile. And her hands were cold upon my face. It was like being touched by stone. “There isn’t much left of you anyway.”
She said that or rather I heard that. Her lips only smiled. But I couldn’t stay. I could barely stand. I would have run away if I could, but walking was all I could do. I didn’t even tell my real boss I quit. She’ll get the idea when I am no longer around. I quit with my feet. That is another of my former girl friend’s expressions. She would call me a pussy though. I am, I guess. So, I won’t tell her either. Not that we talk anymore. I will just go. Let Anne suck that office dry. I don’t care. What did they ever do for me? But I don’t like being scared. I would like being dead less I bet, but scared and weak, I didn’t like at all. Pussy me. I quit with my feet, well actually my car. I searched the GPS for hills, but only got some mountains. Anne will need too much energy to find me up there. That’s why you head for the hills, I guess. The climb is a deterrent for anyone that will follow. Maybe I will actually cry when I get up there. Maybe I’ll have the energy again to cry? Maybe there will be an echo?
Image – google images.
4 thoughts on “Anne: Office Monster by Michael W. Clark”
This one keeps you off balance. I was prepared for a “Oh, yeah, we all know one of those …” and get something entirely different. True, maybe I didn’t quite get it, but I like it better with it’s air of sad mystery. Unexpected, and well done.
I really enjoyed the characters voice. The story intrigued me until the very end!
A bit of a dip into madness … or maybe Anne really is a kind of succubus. Works either way thanks to the strong narrative voice.
I think most of us have worked with a gaffer that sucks you dry. I had one who seemed to be the nicest person in the world but she was the most exhausting, infuriating, passive aggressive person I’ve ever known.
If Anne was an energy vampire that is a damn sight more acceptable than her just being exhausting!!
This is a clever piece of writing that puts a nice little twist on the recognisable.
All the very best my friend.