Kick Me. A short short story

He sat stiffly behind the keyboard, fingers perched on the keys in their proper home position. He faced straight ahead at the dying embers of a computer display stuck on one screen for far too long. You could almost hear the chair beneath him squeaking, like it did when he first started the job and bounced up and down at the thought of an exciting career opportunity.

Things changed, though, as the harsh realities of the corporate world made themselves known. Meetings ran long, and started only after days of squabbling over e-mail about the little details – Where? When? Who was going to run it? In the meantime, he sat behind his keyboard trying to look busy for all the world to see as it passed by his desk.

He was the new guy, so he had no right to complain. He had to grin and bear it. He had to look alert and interested in every minor detail. He had to soak in the “corporate culture,? catch glimpses of intergroup rivalries in offhanded comments made in smaller meetings, and learn just how anal the guys in the data center could be. Were they monitoring his e-mail, as well as his IMs and web browser history? Were they going to pounce on him for checking his home e-mail during the day or, heaven forbid, checking that news site to see what was going on in the outside world, far beyond the windowless world that confined him nine hours a day?

Oh, sure, he had an hour a day for lunch, but if he didn’t spend that in the cafeteria with the other little drones talking about work, he might as well pin a “Kick Me” sign to his backside.

It was all the moments in between those times of “excitement” that killed him, though. It was those days when nobody had the time to show the new guy what was going on. It was all the times his questions went unanswered, his requests ignored.

Slowly, he slipped away.

That was why his skeleton sat perched at the keyboard, the bony protrusions once known as fingers locked into the middle row of the keyboard. He was dead to the world, but he had to look busy.

(c) Augie De Blieck Jr. 2007

Author’s note: And here you thought I’d never do a zombie story.! Not that it’s really a zombie story.  It’s more an allegory .  And this was written a while back, so my current employer needn’t feel worried that I’m talking about them.  Please don’t fire me, boss.