Call for Obstruction (The Courier #1)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 9 (v.2) - Never Volunteer

Submitted: June 30, 2009

Reads: 257

Comments: 1

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Submitted: June 30, 2009

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Drivers gather around the OTG office, only a few recognizable from yesterday. No one returns eye contact. It’s easy to understand why they only care about themselves. I have no interest in making new friends either.

“Honey!” Margery calls out from where she sits at her table with Vern. “You made it today. On time even.” She looks happy to see me, but only for the coffee. Hope she doesn’t expect this to be a daily delivery service.

“Hey, kid, no diarrhea today?” Vern laughs and Margery joins in.

I grumble, agitated I’m the butt of his joke this morning. Walking across the room to deliver Margery’s coffee, I resist the urge to throw the steaming brew in Vern’s face.

Margery stands, takes the cup from my hand, then yells across the room. “Everyone, get your vans signed out and stick around! I’ve got an announcement.”

Instead of joining the other drivers, I tell her, “Some girl named Trisha over at the Purgalator says, ‘Hi.’”

Margery spits out coffee with the force of a firehose. A shower of hot liquid splatters on my face and shirt.

“Damn.” I wipe my face on the shoulder of my t-shirt.

With one hand in his pocket and a cigar in the other, Vern shakes his head and walks away. The rest of the room goes silent.

Margery leans forward with one hand on her hip and bobs her head while she speaks. “What did you just say?” Her orange hair is frozen in place like a helmet.

My voice rises in pitch. “Some girl at the coffee shop. She said to tell you—”

Her nostrils flare as she snaps back, “I heard you the first time.”

“Then why’d you ask?” After yesterday’s torture session I should think before I speak.

Margery rushes me. With each word, she darts her cigarette. “You. Stay. Away. From. Her. You. hear. me?” Holes scorch through my t-shirteven though she’s not touching me. Blisters pop up one after another. I cover my chest and turn my back to her. The pain nearly drops me to my knees. “Okay, okay.”

I hurry away from her throwing range and blow on my chest to cool the heat. Five minutes into my second day and she’s already on my case.

By the time I reach the bulletin board, the blisters are gone, but the burning sensation remains. Why would she let me off that easy?

The same clipboard as yesterday has my name on it. I sign the sheet with my true signature today, take the keys, and forcibly push my way back to where Margery stands.

While everyone gathers around, Margery smirks and watches over the crowd. “Hurry it up. Our schedule’s tight again.”

“Shit, overtime,” someone whispers.

Margery crosses her arms. “I heard that, and you’re right. You’re all working double shifts.”

The crowd lets out a low moan.

From beside the office entryway, Vern steps forward. “You can’t do this to us again.”

Everyone steps back.

Margery’s eyes turn black and her head pops a few sparks. “Do I have to remind you who’s boss around here?”

The room goes quiet.

“For how long this time?” he calls out then mumbles, “Bitch.”

“Double run for two of you tonight, and everyone else starts back-to-back shifts tomorrow. Who wants overtime tonight?” She stands on her tippy toes and scans the room for raised hands.

No surprise, no one volunteers.

“Fine. I’ll pick two of you,” she says. “Vern, since you can’t keep your mouth shut, you’re number one.”

Vern protests by scratching his chin with his middle finger.

Margery ignores him and scans the room with the tip of her cigarette, ready to do her magic on the next unfortunate schmuck. “And…”

I raise my hand. “I’ll do it.” My gut turns with instant regret for volunteering, but this could get me on her good side, if she has one. She might let her guard down long enough that I can find a way out of my contract. And even if I fail, the overtime will buy a new game unit and a few ounces of pot.

“That’s what I like to see.” Margery winks. “You two, see me before you leave. The rest of you, get on the road.”

Vern and I approach Margery’s desk.

“Why’d you have to go and pick me for overtime?” Vern’s whole body stiffens. His fists clench so tight his cigar snaps in half. The lit tip falls to the floor. “Besides my seniority, which oughtta count for somethin’, I’ve got a hot date tonight.”

Her nostrils flare and blow smoke like a bull. “Your time served around here amounts to nothing when you disrespect me.”

The two of them stand head to head. I take a few steps back, not wanting to be a part of whatever punishment Margery might dish out.

“Respect, ha! Where’s my respect for putting up with your crap for hundreds of years?” Vern breathes so hard, snots fly out of his nose.

Did I hear him right? Hundreds of years? Not a chance I’ll work for her that long. I take a few more steps back and nervously fiddle with the keys in the palm of my hand.

Vern walks away from her.

She steps out from behind her table and shakes her fist. “You get back here. I’m not done with you.”

“Too bad.” Vern sweeps his hand behind his back. “I’m done with you.”

Her face creases with rage while she takes a long drag off her cigarette. She takes aim with the cherry tip and bites down on her serpent-like tongue. The butt flies through the air and hits Vern’s back. It bursts into a tiny flame and incinerates, leaving a smear of ash on his jacket.

There’s nothing to do but wait for the worst to happen.

“Go ahead. Give me diarrhea, hives, or one of your other special gifts.” He throws open the office door, but it swings back closed with greater force. The glass surface smashes into his face. Blood sprays from his nose as he drops to his knees. With his hand cupping his nose, he sways like he might pass out.

Margery rushes toward me, almost like she’s floating. “Get on the road!” When she shoves me out of the way, electricity rushes up my spine.

I take off toward the door, but pause beside Vern. At first I recoil from the sight of the blood, then crouch down to help him to his feet.

“Get on the damn road!” she repeats. The door swings open by itself.

“Go ahead, kid.” He shakes blood off his hand, then wipes the mess onto his jacket. “I’ll be fine.”

I hedge my way through the door, expecting it to snap back again, but I get through safely. Outside, I run toward the back lot, dodging the vans as they leave the parking lot. Minutes later I follow them toward the highway, more than ready for a few hours away from Margery.


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