The Bookkkeeper and the Otherworldly Hot Chocolate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Was this the tastiest hot chocolate in the world,
or
was the sinister Director planning world domination.

The Bookkeeper and the Otherworldly

 Hot Chocolate

 

By

Sharief Hendricks

 

Penny Counter was a twenty seven year old qualified accountant. All she had to look forward to was her job, which made her sad most of the time. She felt like an underachiever. She accepted that as a bookkeeper, she had to report to a Financial Manager. Her company had a history of hiring unsuitable FM's, which added to her already heavy workload. She did most of the FM work without any recognition. She was a shadow. Not always visible and hardly said a word, but you knew she was there.

The Universe Group was an internationally listed company, which produced and supplied a vast selection of consumer products. Their number one seller was the world's third-highest consumed product, hot chocolate. Coffee and tea ruled the world. The hot chocolate was so popular that it was the only hot chocolate brand that recorded the same high sales numbers in all four seasons. Yes, winter or summer, their hot chocolate flew off the shelves. Demand had exceeded supply for thirteen years consecutively. The hot chocolate boom started shortly after the last meteor fell to earth. New World Hot Chocolate was the only brand in the world enjoyed without using any milk or water. You just threw two teaspoons into a cup. Pop it into the microwave for thirty seconds, then out came a deliciously smelling frothy hot beverage that was too enjoyable to put down unfinished. It was like magic. It was hailed as otherworldly by millions of satisfied consumers. They claimed that the taste transported them to another universe where their every fantasy became a reality. As per the last customer survey, 90% of consumers said they felt much calmer after consumption. Other’s wondered what the secret ingredient was?

Penny was the first employee hired that met the internal qualifications and experience criteria. She worked more hours than any of the other thousands of employees. Penny didn't have anything else going on besides work. She was obsessive and as comfortable with figures as she was socially awkward. It was a struggle and an effort to converse with humans. She enjoyed keeping to herself and focus on her very ambitious career goals. Sadly, to get ahead in this sphere, you had to have two things to be considered for a senior financial position, one, a penis and two, silver hair. She had neither, but she had journals full of determination.

Penny hid behind her bifocals. Making eye contact was like visiting the dentist. She spoke hesitantly with her big brown eyes focussed on peoples shoes. This trait didn’t win her many successful job interviews, but it certainly made her a shoe expert. Just by listening to footsteps, she knew who was approaching. She had guesstimated each employees shoe size to near perfection. She learned that men with smaller feet were office bullies and ladies with big feet peed louder. Maybe the real reason she was such a shoe expert was because she allowed her friends and colleagues to walk all over her.

Alex from IT stepped into the elevator to find Penny standing in front of the full-length lift mirror staring at her feet.

“Hey, it’s Penny right, yes I always wanted to tell you that you probably have the coolest name that also fits your profession," Alex said while scanning the buttons.

“Going up?”

“Err, yes to the Director," she replied without lifting her head.

“Ouch, that can’t be fun. Fortunately for me, I was never summoned to the Director's dungeon. His computer works like a dream. I don't even know what he uses up there, but whatever it is, it sure uses tons of memory and probably must run on multiple servers. Penny Counter or PC for short, ha! See what I did there? I took your initials and made an IT joke, and they say us tech guys don't have a sense of humour."

“Funny.”

“Well, this is my floor. By the way, Penny, you do know it looks a bit creepy standing in front of a mirror just staring at your feet, right. Most girls can’t ignore mirrors,” Alex said as he and the elevator doors parted ways.

Penny remained standing quietly in front of the mirror as her black hair hung by her side with her eyes fixed on her feet.

On her way back to her floor, she ran into Myrtle, the resident office gossiper. She enjoyed chatting with Penny because, unlike the other employees, Penny didn’t shrug her off. Penny couldn’t shrug anyone off.

“So, Penny, did you hear the latest?”

"Huh-uh."

“So, rumour has it that the Director is sick.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, think about it, we only ever see him once a month, not that I wanna see more of that greasy thing. His PA isn't saying anything, but she looks more scared than normal. Well, I suppose if I reported directly to the heartless Director, I would look that way too, poor thing.”

“Who, the PA or the Director?”

"Penny, you are hopeless. Are you going to eat that apple? Thanks," Myrtle sunk her brown teeth into the granny smith before Penny could object.

Just then, Bella from the warehouse came by.

“Miss Penny, you really shouldn’t let people take advantage of you like that. You know what you need?”

“No.”

“An alter ego, you know, like Beyonce, whose alter ego is called Sasha Fierce, and she becomes her when she goes on stage. Try it. You’ll be surprised how liberating it is."

"Thanks, Bella. I am working on it.”

"Good for you, Miss Penny. I hope you embrace it and rule the world, hehe.”

________________**___________________

The distinctive loud ping from the private-elevator signalled that the Director had arrived. The private-elevator doors opened to bated breath as the Director, followed by his PA, stepped out to be greeted by a nervous crowd. He walked with his long nose pointing to the sky while he scanned the area and anxious staff with piercing eyes. The Director was a stocky, awkward man, wearing his customary silver pinstripe suit and black pointy shoes. His head looked as if he had no neck as it danced on his shoulders like a bobbing car doll. The Director resembled the evil character Gru from Despicable Me. For someone so powerful, he didn't have a very manly walk. His physical appearance was quirky, but no one dared stare at him. Some feared he had eyes in the back of his head. Anne, from HR, was let go within hours after staring and observing the Director. He was a creature of habit and never missed his inspection walk-through the company on the first day of every new month. He wouldn’t say a word but would nod to his PA if he was unhappy with something. The PA would make a shaky note in her pad. An hour later, an official company memo would circulate. If not a memo, then an employee packed up their workstation and was escorted from the premises. He wasn’t the tallest, but he knew how to make people shrunk. The Director was the most feared yet most successful leader in the history of the Universe Group and always ensured maximum profits and nearly zero losses. He ruled his universe with an iron grip.

Later that evening, Penny was hammering away at her oversized calculator when Myrtle barged into her tiny office and flung the door closed.

“Penny, we are all in danger!”

"Say what, Myrtle?”

"I know you all think that I am just a gossip monger, but you have to, believe me, we're all in grave danger."

"Calm down, Myrtle and tell me what you mean."

"There is no time. It's the hot chocolate. I drank it. Now my life changed. I don’t like what it is doing to me. It’s changing me into something else. They are after me, Penny. They going to get me!" Myrtle said as she flew out of the tiny space.

“Wait, Myrtle, you know employees are not supposed to drink the hot cho-.”

Penny was a nervous wreck because that was the last time she saw Myrtle, the office gossiper, over a week ago.

"Hello, Alex."

"Oh well, I don't believe it. You left your table to visit IT, Penny.”

“Please check something for me, but you have to promise to keep it a secret.”

"Ok, cool, but excuse my surprise, I didn't picture you to be into porn. I guess it’s true what people say about the shy ones, hey."

"No, Alex, this is serious. I need to find Myrtle. I haven't seen her for some time."

“Oh, I am sure Myrtle loose lips ran off with her crazy boyfriend. She isn't the most responsible person, you know."

“Alex, please just check her payroll for me.”

“I can get into trouble for this. Why not just ask HR?"

“No”

“Ok, no need to get excited, there you go. According to Payroll, loose lips is on study leave for three months. Happy now? Don't worry about it. I didn't even know you guys were friends."

"We not, and Myrtle didn't enrol for any study classes. Thank you, Alex. A secret, please,” Penny said as Alex made a gesture that his lips were closed, and he threw the key away.

That evening Penny tossed and turned. Around three in the morning, she got up and looked out of her window. She lived in her apartment for thirteen years but never got used to the view. Smoke filled the air as police sirens cried out everywhere. People attacked each other on the streets. The world was in turmoil, and it would not get better anytime soon. She longed to make the world a peaceful, more caring and tolerable place, but she was a long way away from achieving that near-impossible goal. Since the meteor hit the earth, things became much better, but there was still so much violence and hatred on earth.

"I am so useless," Penny whispered as she crept back into bed.

__________________**________________

The following morning Penny and the rest of the over two thousand staff were greeted by an official company memo from the Director. This memo was not only distributed to head office but to all branches across the globe. That was roughly the same number of employees as McDonald's, just under two million.

Universe Group

Memo: To all staff

It has come to the attention of the Director that some staff have been consuming our number one selling product, New World Hot Chocolate.

This breach is in serious contravention of the company's strict employee consumption policy. Due to the backlog of customer orders, it is strictly prohibited for staff to consume New World Hot Chocolate, whether at work or in your private capacity.

Any employee found to have broken this rule will be dismissed, with immediate effect. The same goes for employees trying to find out what the secret ingredient is.

The Universe customer comes first. Employees will be allowed to consume the product at zero expense (free!) after supply is on par with demand.

Until that time comes, please be disciplined and responsible.

Our customers are the number one priority, always.

Ps. All production and distribution staff will work 24-hour shifts starting immediately, and all leave cancelled.

Thank you for your co-operation.

The Director: Universe Group.

_________________**_________________

“Psst!”

“Alex, what are you doi-” Penny was snatched and dragged into the copier room.

“Shhh, Penny, listen to me. Ever since we checked Myrtle's Payroll, strange things have been happening. Someone or something is following me at night. I heard them but couldn’t see them. I know they are there. It must be the Director’s hot chocolate police. They after me because I didn’t finish it.”

"You're not making any sense Alex, finish what?" Penny said as she freed herself from his grip.

"Be careful, Penny. I am not the same person I was before. I couldn’t resist. It was so simple, just put it in the microwave. Whatever you do, DON'T drink the freaking hot chocolate!"

Before Penny could fix the crease in her favourite floral blouse, Alex from IT was gone.

That evening, Penny was hard at work trying to balance her master sheet and was the last one left in the building. She was surprised to find a single-serving sachet of New World Hot Chocolate under her desk when she stretched her legs.

“Strange.” Penny studied the little sachet that appeared from nowhere.

No one ever came into her tiny space, not even the cleaners. She would have seen it when she wiped her table down a few days ago. Then her heart started to race.

"Oh, no, Myrtle, what have you done!”

Penny was, hypnotized, by the mysterious pocket-sized sachet in her hand. Then she took the hot chocolate sachet and her tea mug and hesitantly made her way to the staff canteen. Penny didn't know her way around the canteen. She hardly ever ate there or anywhere else. She stood motionless in front of the microwave with the sachet and mug in hand.

____________________**_______________

Two days have passed since her secret meeting with Alex in the copier room. No one has seen him since.

“Hot chocolate police," Penny whispered as she shook her long black locks. She tried to focus on the profit and loss journal she was preparing for the FM to approve before the Director had to sign it off.

"Are you talking to yourself? Guess those figures are driving you bonkers."

"Oh, it's you, Bella, you startled me," Penny said with bewildered eyes.

"Why so jumpy, Penny, and when are you ever going to eat something besides literally an apple a day?"

“Oh, I do eat Bella, just not in front of people."

“I noticed that much, it’s, like you on some starvation diet, and what were you mumbling about hot chocolate police, better stay away from those sinister things."

"So, it's true, Bella?"

"We shouldn't talk about that, Miss Penny. Just don't drink the Flippen hot chocolate, then you will have nothing to worry about, ok. Let’s just say the Director is serious about keeping his secret ingredient a secret. I work in the factory and warehouse, but I don’t even know what it is, it gets added automatically by a machine in an enclosed room. I said too much, see you."

"Wait, Bella, I just want to know if-” Penny wanted to run after her, but her profit and loss journals were due, and the Director didn’t take kindly to delays.

A few hours later, after everyone had gone home and Penny had posted her journals. She checked her inbox and saw a message from the FM for Penny to sign off the journals and deliver them to the Director's PA.

Penny packed up hastily and made her way out of the tiny office towards the elevators. Suddenly she flung her long locks around as if she were auditioning for a shampoo advert. She stopped dead in her tracks.

“Hello, is anyone there?”

She held the journals tight against her bosom and continued to make her way to the elevator, convinced someone was following her, but she dared not turn around again. She panic-pressed the buttons on the silver reflective elevator wall when she noticed a figure over her right shoulder. When she turned around, there was no one there. It felt like an eternity waiting for the doors to open. As she stepped into the lift and the doors started to close, she saw part of a male foot in a black leather shoe. She didn't know who the strange foot belonged to, and that unsettled her.

Finally, she reached the top floor. When the doors opened, she paused for a moment to confirm the coast was clear. She stepped out then suddenly someone grabbed her, and the journals went flying.

"Oh, my gosh, Penny, you scared me. Are you ok?" said the PA with her hands on her chest.

"I'm fine. I was just startled," Penny said as she exhaled a ton of relief while scrambling to get the journals together.

"You know Penny, by now I should be used to you being the last one in the building, you and the Director, of course,” said the PA as she took the journals from the shaken bookkeeper.

"The Director has approved you to use his private elevator again to get to the car park."

"That is very kind of the Director."

"You got that right, Penny. You are the only one allowed to use his private elevator. He appreciates your hard work. Ok, Penny, good night,” said the PA as the distinctive loud ping from the Director’s private elevator startled them both.

“Good night PA," Penny said with her head down as the doors of the private-elevator closed.

The PA took in a deep chunk of air and mustered up the courage as she made her way to the Director's office. She hoped he would be sitting quietly and statue-like as usual at his desk so that she could pop in and out quickly.

“The daily profit and loss journals are on your nightstand, sir. I will be going home for the night. Have a good evening, Director,” said the personal assistant nervously as she closed the self-locking ceramic revolving door behind her.

“Good night PA.”

The Director tapped the bottom of the oak desk twice, then suddenly the ceiling above him parted effortlessly and silently and beamed him up, desk, chair, and all. Then the floor closed under the desk, sealing the secret room. He got up awkwardly and walked past the door that led to the private-elevator. In the corner of the enormous room was a floating frameless mirror. The secret room had hundreds of 10” tablet-sized monitors floating in mid-air, playing video images of New World Hot Chocolate being drunk and auto zooming into the change as it occurs. Hard faced frowns turning into gentle smiles.

“13 million of 7.8 billion people, attitude-change achieved from aggression to compassion!” flashed on every tablet.

On the nightstand next to the profit and loss journals laid the only remaining piece of meteor rock, which collided with earth thirteen years ago that disappeared after impact but gave birth to the Universe Group.

The Director stopped in the centre of his secret room and reached around his non-existent neck just below the plastic hair. He gave his flesh mole a gentle tug.  Suddenly his head unzipped and split wide open. The rest of his body followed as his silver pinstripe suit parted down the middle of his back, stopping just above his butt-crack. After a few neck circles to relieve the stress of another successful day. He wiggled his hips to loosen the pinstripe suit as it dropped to the floor and landed in a heap. The Director stepped out of the silver pinstripe suit with its fake human skin as he left a gooey trail behind. 

In the corner of the secret room stood a naked woman covered in gooey fluid in front of the floating mirror. Her long black hair hung by her side, with her eyes fixed on her feet.

 

 

The End

 


Submitted: June 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Sharief Hendricks. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Serge Wlodarski

Nice twist at the end!

Tue, June 1st, 2021 1:34pm

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much Serge !!!

Really appreciate the kind comment sir !

Tue, June 1st, 2021 7:55am

bloodman

Funny ending. Great work.

Tue, June 1st, 2021 3:46pm

Author
Reply

Thanx sooooo much bloodman.

I really appreciate the read and cool comment !

Tue, June 1st, 2021 10:02pm

Rob73

A well written mystery crime thriller story.

Mon, July 19th, 2021 5:12am

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