Nowhere But Up

Johann is the junior intern to a slush reader, and his life has nowhere to go but up. Just once, he wants to do something to change the world. Set in the present day.

     Johann liked to imagine that his pen was a sword cutting through the swathes of shoddy manuscripts that always found their way to his desk. His job didn’t have many perks, but he tried to make the best of it. He leaned back on his chair, picturing himself as a samurai, defending the public from badly written prose, represented by enemies that looked suspiciously like his idiot Italian brother-in-law…

            CRASH! He swore loudly as his chair slammed him backwards to the ground. He’d been making a stink to get a new one for weeks now, but as a junior intern, and a slush reader to boot, he was as far down on the office food chain as you could get, without calling yourself Ug and speaking in grunts. He sighed loudly as he reattached his chair to its base, and gingerly sat down. Now, not only was his elaborate fantasy ruined, but he would have to keep working with a splitting headache, and a sore behind. He briefly toyed with his letter opener, contemplating quitting, and picking up a McDonalds application, but he put it down, and picked up the top manuscript on the pile.

            Whoever had sent it seemed as though they had little or no faith in the postal service, because it had about seventeen layers of packing tape underneath about 20 meters of stout twine. If Johann ever had to send anything valuable or breakable by mail, he thought he would want this author to wrap it for him. Unfortunately, the difficulty in extricating a manuscript from it’s packaging rarely corresponded with it’s quality.

            With a little help from his trusty letter opener, Johann picked open the knots in the twine. He opened his junk drawer, and tossed it in. He thought it might come in handy in the future if he had to rappel down from his third floor office, something he’d always wanted to try. He tried to get through the packing tape for a few minutes, but he couldn’t even find an end. He reluctantly opened his junk drawer in search of scissors, only to realize that he couldn’t see any of it’s contents due to the large mass of twine he had just stuffed in there. Of course, even without the twine, he wouldn’t’ve been able to find much. He knew the importance of organization, sure, just like he knew the importance of socializing, but that didn’t stop him from spending home every night with the internet and his cat. Going through his junk drawer, even when he could see the contents, was always an adventure. He never could predict what he would find. He occasionally made half-hearted attempts to clean it, usually when the boss was scheduled for a visit, but it never helped. He guessed he was just doomed to live in squalor.

            Johann screwed up his courage, and plunged his hand into the drawer. Almost immediately, he felt something sharp cut the back of his hand, but he bravely forged on. After finding three capless sharpies, a stapler shaped like a fish, a horrible knitted sock from his aunt Marion that he used as a mop in case of spills, and what he dearly hoped was silly putty, he located the handle of a pair of garden shears. He didn’t really want to subject his hand to more dangers, so he decided the shears would be sufficient, and he pulled them out. He was greeted by the sight of his hand leaking a worrying amount of blood.

            He didn’t start swearing, or hit something in frustration. He cradled his wounded hand in the other one, and let his head fall to the desk, narrowly missing the package and the shears. Today was going to be one of those days.

            He remembered his broke chair just in time, and stood up just in time to have the chair snap in half beneath him. He visualized himself picking up the pieces of chair, hurling them across the room, and then going and getting a job at a less dangerous company. He sighed, shook his head, and left in search of a bandage.

The End

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