office life

Life after the greathappening is hard, even in an office.

StoryKettle » PAIN » office life

Copyright © 2009, Michael M Wayman

We lived in one room together in a big building. Mom called it offes, but it was just a big building like all the others. Mom, my two younger brothers and me. I'm trundel and they are littelwun and litteltoo.

There was not much in the room, chairs to sit upon, tables to sleep on and of course the flingcabnet. Everybody slept on the tables though they were just as hard as the floor. You could open the windows, you had to open the windows when the flingcabnet was burning – the smoke had to go somewhere.

Flingcabnets are funny things, they are normally black, but when you first find them, they are grey. You pull a little handle and it opens up and usually there is some fuel already in it – very thin flat pieces of wood – quite handy really. We call it flexiwood – it comes in various colours and thicknesses, but usually white and very thin.

We burn the flexiwood in our flingcabnet to keep us warm in the winter and also to cook the cats and dogs that we eat. But you can't just burn a pile of flexiwood. No, you have to take each piece and scrunch it up. You have to keep adding scrunched up balls of flexiwood – too little and the flames go out – too much and you choke on the smoke.

My job every day is to find more flexiwood and catch cats and dogs. We go to the other big buildings to find flexiwood. There is always something interesting to find. Bags are pretty useful – Mom calls them plastickbags – we just say bags. We wear bags. I like black ones. Soon it will be winter again, so we need more bags. You can put scrunched up balls of flexiwood into your bags to keep warmer. But this makes it difficult to hunt cats and dogs – too much noise as you move about.

A dog will keep us fed for two or three days. When we catch something we take it to Mom to look at. She normally refuses rats – we give them to the other people – but sometimes in winter you have to eat what you can find.

Mom cuts the nastybits out with her letteropener. If it's a dog we stuff fresh grass or leaves into where the nastybits were, mix rainwater and dirt together, and rub the mud all over the dog's fur. This makes it easier to cook, that and the big stones in the flingcabnet. First we get the flingcabnet really hot, then we cook the muddy dog over the flames and then we leave it to cook through on the hot stones in the flingcabnet. I prefer cats – they taste better.

In the evenings, when we can't see, Mom tells us stories. She says they are true – stories of times before the greathappening. She uses words we don't know. They are happy stories, but just stories. She says that one day I will be as big as she is, perhaps bigger, I will be a man. She says that all the men disappeared just before the greathappening. I will find a woman, like roly nextdoor when she is big too, and have children just like I am now and roly and my two brothers.

Roly lives in next room. I like roly, she does nice things to me, she puts her hands into my bags and squeezes me sometimes. I don't let my two brother see this though. I once put my hand into roly's bags, she liked it too, but Mom saw me doing it. But she did not shout at me, she just laughed.

We got it open, the metal doors to the funny room at the end of the floor. But useless, there was nothing inside, no windows, just a big hole and some ropes. We did find a funny thing – littelwun found it – you pressed it together and when you let go it opened up again. We took it to Mom and she said it was a pejorator and she showed us how it made two holes in a piece of flexiwood. Useless! But my brothers played with it for days – you could get it to jump in the air. Useless! We had no time to play – I hid it.

Soon after littelwun got ill – we were all unhappy – littelwun died. There was nothing we could do. We carried littelwun outside, we had to, it was sad. Mom said we had to dig a hole and bury him otherwise the dogs would eat him. Why not I thought – the dogs have got to eat something. No, no! said Mom, I don't want that. We've got to bury him properly.

And I want you to bury me properly when I die. Promise me, trundel!

Oh, no! How could that happen? What would we do without Mom. I cried.

Have you read toddler's tale and go Nottingham?