Huzzah for inspiration striking! After ages, I finally update this story! It hasn’t been proofread yet ’cause I have to go somewhere, but I might as well publish it while it’s still fresh. I’ll be adding the necessary links later.
If you haven’t been following the exploits of Robert Ericson, Toothpaste Finance Analyst Extraordinaire, you can check out the previous parts of his journey here:
Anyhoots, here’s Part 3 of Robert’s adventure. Enjoy! 😀
Phase One of The Grand Plan to Woo Ms. Vanessa Thompson and Eventually Father Her Adorable Children was going exactly as Robert Ericson had envisioned, only not quite so exact in its realization of his vision. The bit about playing it cool and seeming to ignore Vanessa, for example, manifested in the form of hurriedly walking away, buttocks clenched, as she approached. The Robert in Robert’s mind, however, saw these hasty retreats more as “I’m awfully busy and can’t be bothered with idle chatter” rather than “My breakfast has once again failed to come to a peaceful agreement with my stomach, and now World War III threatens to explode in my pants.” Conversation was indeed minimal, as most of Robert’s words came out in a series of beeps, stifled snorts, and the occasional slide-whistle. As for the limited polite interaction involving holding the door open for the object of his affection, he experienced no problem achieving it. In fact, of all the scenes that had played out in Robert’s mind for this phase of the operation, it was the door-holding he did best. He only had to master releasing the door in less than 5 minutes of googly-eyed gawking, and he would have perfected that detail.
At least, he reminded himself, he got everything he wanted out of Phase Zero. He held a janitorial job at the SMILE offices, which kept him paid and in proximity of the oh-so-enchanting Vanessa, and that was all that mattered now. It did bother him every now and then that he had to get crazy old Thorsen booted out to do it, but he easily brushed the feeling off. Those awkward 5 minutes of staring out a door he held open were worth it.
Slowly but surely, Robert made progress over the weeks. He had established himself as a senior analyst these days, working on the 40th floor and paying Morris off to play along. The charade was effective; being in a position of power – even one that was purely imaginary – gave Robert all the excuse he needed to come down and walk by Vanessa’s cubicle while going on his rounds. At times, Vanessa would ask him for some advice on the work, and he would manage to string a coherent thought before busily walking towards what everyone else assumed was the bathroom. Pretty soon, Robert thought, we’d be able to really talk, and then we’ll fall in love.
There were two particular flaws in this strategy, however, that Robert didn’t anticipate. The first of these errors was to include Morris in this plan. It was true that Morris did nothing wrong to Robert – in fact, Morris was one of the few people to notice Robert existing – but there was something about him that Robert just hated.
This often led to a rather testy internal conflict with Robert. Would hating Morris be racist because the focus of his smoldering rage was Indian? Would it be culture-ist because despite genetics, Morris was so incredibly Filipino, all the way down to a fascination for fake foreign designer outfit pieces? Would it be poser-ist because there was nothing more he hated than Morris’ put-on English accent? Of the three considerations, Robert decided he was the third, since the other two were far too offensive to the politically-correct Robert in Robert’s mind. He couldn’t convince himself, however; only lie.
The second flaw to the strategy was much more practical: given the amount of time he spent hovering about the delightfully-scented Ms. Thompson, he had significantly less time to work on his real job. The schedule Robert improvised – future happiness while the sun is up, scrubbing toilets while it’s down – was rather hectic, leaving little to no room for rest.
By the third week, the exhaustion had caught up with Robert. That, combined with the tiny meals he was having thanks to his new lower-than-Thorsen’s salary, drained him of every ounce of vitality one Thursday night in the office. Robert’s body had gone on strike, and the only way he could get it to cross the picket line was to give it some rest.
He fumbled for his janitor’s keys and, looking through them one by one, singled out the key that would save his sanity: the one that unlocked the janitor’s room. He inched his way towards the basement, eyes so heavy it felt like he was dreaming, and unlocked the door to what had once been Thorsen’s room. As soon as he heard the click of the tumblers, he felt a strange apprehension.
What if Thorsen was still in this room? Robert hadn’t really seen the old man leave the building; he only heard that he was fired. The crazy old coot could be waiting inside, ready to pounce on the man who stole his job. He did hear rumors of Thorsen attacking someone earlier in the company’s history.
Robert quickly brushed off any images in his head of Thorsen snacking on his spleen. He was tired, dead tired, and he didn’t really care whether or not a psychotic septuagenarian was lying in wait. He took a deep breath and opened the door.
To say that Robert didn’t find anything odd would be inaccurate, although the quarters were thankfully sans-Thorsen. There was, however, an assortment of large clay pots filled with earth lining the walls of the room. The shortest ones measured roughly up to Robert’s knees, while some reached his waist. Robert counted 6 of them.
Better than shrunken heads, I suppose, Robert rationalized. The old man did have a penchant for staring at the pots outside; perhaps the fascination extended into the bedroom as well. One thing was for sure, though – Robert was never going to touch those pots, not even if he were wearing gloves.
Thankful to see a mattress laid out, Robert crashed to the bed and dove deep into sleep.
He dreamt of tidal waves and a maze from which he had trouble escaping.
It was at about 4:52a.m. that an incredibly creepy combination of shuffling and heavy breathing stirred Robert from his slumber.
There was someone else in the room, and of all things, he was shambling. Shambling was never a good thing to Robert. It meant only one of two things: crazy person or brain-eating zombie. He couldn’t decide which of the two he would prefer killing him.
The person-thing sensed Robert was awake, and in the darkness, the shambling rose to a frenzied pace. Robert braced for his inevitable doom.
To his surprise, the intruder was moving away from the bed. A bout of temporary blindness confirmed that Robert’s guest was going for the lights, not him. Robert waited for the pulsing bits of color to stop dancing before his eyes before taking a look at the person who so rudely interrupted his sleep.
Sprawled on the floor, bloodied and wild-eyed, was Thorsen, murmuring on and on about “the little people.”
SHIT HAS GONE DOWN! I’ve finally decided where to take this story, so it actually won’t take me long to come up with the next parts. The challenge will be finding the time to write it all down. Hopefully, I can be efficient enough at money-making writing to finish this baby.
‘Till the next part; may you never find bloody hobos lying on the ground before your bed. 😀