Something woke him as they slept. He looked at the ceiling of their bedroom. Keeping his head still, he looked at her, embracing his left side, her hair still bright even in the darkness. He closed his eyes but his heartbeat felt like it shook the room. She moved.
"Johnny... are you awake?"
His breath was louder than the gentle sounds of distant traffic.
"Sorry I woke you. Say, what do you like about me?"
She squeezed him tightly and moved her head so she could see his face. Through the darkness of the room, she could see the glistening of tears in his eyes.
"...I like, no, love... how you help me feel safe. When I'm with you, I feel lik
'The holiday season was supposed to be easy... I'm not ready for this...'
The computer repair technician was breathing shallowly as she approached the executive wing of Eville Medical, her stylish winter jacket keeping her warm, but perhaps too warm because she felt her forehead sweating.
'Their meeting is about to start... what if I can't get the projector to talk to the computer in time? I only have a few minutes... this isn't good...'
There were fancy snacks outside the boardrooms.
'No, I can't have any! Even if I did, I need to make sure this works first!' She looked around for the big meeting that the helpdesk paged her about five mi
"tganks again for covering cash 4 lunch
ill get lunch @ urban junction
irs at 8th & polaris"
The furniture mover, on a rainy day off, took the bus into Eville to meet one of the people she briefly worked with on a larger move. Partially, the trip was to get out of the house, maybe meet up with some new people, but mainly it was to see if this hip establishment could rekindle her guitar playing interests.
"OK, I'm out front," she texted back.
She debated between waiting in the lobby, where she most certainly would have awkward conversations with patrons and employees about with whom she was meeting up with and such, or, waiting out in t
The team's recently-promoted computer repair technician had just returned from her first urgent ticket. It was a high-priority issue where a computer wouldn't start for one of the doctors over in Oncology after multiple attempts. The team was short-staffed even without one of their team being out sick for a few days. Sammohini returned with a bit of a sweat to Hank's desk as he wrapped up assigning out tickets.
"Thanks for stopping over, Sammohini."
"Oh yeah, sure thing!"
"Since I'm in the ticket now and it was an urgent one, I'll go ahead and close it out in your name. What was the fix?" Hank swiveled his chair so his eyes went from his c
"Why's this taking so long? It must be back to working order promptly."
There was a haze around the office, lined with leather-bound wealthy books and well-traveled ornaments, as the computer repair technician averted her eyes away from the small printer on the desk that was not working to the customer, an older woman wearing dusty clothing.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, usually these things don't take this much time."
BEEP... BEEP. BEEP!
She rolled off the couch to turn off the alarm.
The sheets she'd kicked off in her sleep had all but padded her fall, except for her right leg, which shot out in pain. T
"Hey Hank, I've been trying to reach Tighearnán all day about something. Do you have any advice?"
"T-oh- y'mean Tear? Yeah... ya get one question per day with him. He's, unfortunately, that busy. Oh, and lemme see the question, too."
The senior-level computer repair technician, Hank, locked his computer and jumped out of his chair to see the computer screen of Sammohini, a junior-level computer repair technician that had joined his team some months back.
Sammohini unlocked her computer and let Hank sit down.
"Oh, yeah, I can see why he didn't reply. So, umm, I know you've been working a lot on trying not to talk so much... and sum
The two friends sat in an empty cafe just outside a side road leading out of town. "I'll tell ya, Jane, now that I'm off the phones, it's really something different! The work's harder, sure, and more competitive, but the freedom you've mentioned is nice." Jane stayed quiet, chewing her cod sandwich, as Sammohini kept chatting. "But I miss the ease of helpdesk work. If you don't know it, add your notes and escalate it!"
Jane's sandwich fell apart. She picked at it with a plastic fork.
Jane's childhood friend had been going on the same tangent for about five minutes now, but she was so excited about getting her promotion and she knew her well
There was a rush at the Sneaker Transport warehouse to unload everything off of three trucks one muggy Evillain morning. Their loading docks were slammed full of outgoing furniture already without the three trucks scheduled haphazardly at the same time. They could have sent them packing, only to return later, but the decision was made to have two stalling out in the yard and all hands on deck to carelessly unload all the incoming furniture.
The warehouse was uncharacteristically empty.
They had five regular works and seven part-timers, including Jane, a former computer repair technician that had fallen onto some hard times but was working t
"Click up there in the upper right corner, next to the X, there's a button with a little line in it, no, up more, OK, now over to the left, other left, no, near the X, not the X, near it, where there's a little line, not the bigger box, the little box on the left, no, not on the left side of the screen... do you mind if I sit down and do it?"
The nurse relinquished her spot.
"OK, so I was thinking we should close this window, or, I mean minimize it, so we can... oh yeah, I wanted to check to make sure the printer settings were alright, so what I'll do is next I'll..." the nurse watched as the stylishly dressed technical support woman clicke
"This is the second time you've called out sick this month!"
"I know, I was feeling really sick, really tired, and just couldn't-"
"Those aren't excuses!"
Everything was black, except for outlines of her boss and their cube area.
RED, FLASHING, BLUE
She awoke to darkness.
Her sweatpants were covered in sweat.
The blanket was on the ground next to the couch.
It was 4:47 AM.
She had intended to wake early, but not this early.
Memories from the dream flooded in.
More than anything else, she wanted those thoughts to go away. It was hard enough to deal with at the time, especially the repercussions she was still feeling even now, but to have t
"OK-lure, when in this console window and connected to this server, simply type in this, this, this switch and... are you paying attention?"
The nervous computer repair technician broke her rhythm of looking up at the screen, looking down to write the esoteric command in her notepad, to look over at the more seasoned computer repair technician, Nils.
"Forget it. I'll do it. I'll paste console notes into the ticket when I close it."
Sammohini returned to her desk.
She had just started to work at Eville Medical a few months ago and everything from computers to professionalism was still sinking in. When concepts were too overwhelming, she'd
"Sorry I brought up bad memories." The two furniture movers were just leaving the highway on their way back from an arduous trek across the E1000 highway in worse than normal traffic. Through talking with the driver, Andrius, on their route, Jane had started the process of getting over long unresolved deep psychological issues at her last company. "N-no, thank y-you for listening." "We have a little more time if you'd like to keep going."
Jane rubbed her eyes with her hoodie sleeve.
"Yeah, there was something else I was thinking about. It, uhh, was probably the thing that made me realize it was a toxic... place..." Jane had been staring out
The new widescreen computer monitor arrived the afternoon before Sammohini, the newest member of Eville Medical's second-level computer repair team, drove to the clinic to install it. She scheduled time in the late afternoon since it was faster to then drive to her parents's house for the weekend from the clinic and she could drop off the old one next week. As she walked through the clinic doors carrying the monitor box, Sammohini felt nervous.
"Hi! I'm Sammohini, with IT. This is for Deepika!"
Sammohini had rehearsed that line more than a few times on the drive over, since this was her first time in the South Eville Clinic, even though fro
"What else's on your mind? We're still, like, 30 minutes to base."
The two furniture movers, driver Andrius and passenger Jane, were over one hour later to their anticipated clock out time, already, and traffic on the E100 was just starting to loosen up on the formerly blazing Evillain summer afternoon.
"Can I tell you about this one time that really got me fuming bad?"
Andrius looked over, his foot firmly on the break.
Jane breathed in deeply and then out.
"So, this one manager stopped over once. He wasn't one of the big wigs or anything, but everyone seemed to treat him that way, because he was one of these new guys ther
"Thanks for the lesson yesterday afternoon, Hank! I, uhh... have a question for you, if you don't mind, about..." The recently-hired computer helpdesk technician paused after self-doubt made her realize she'd been rambling. "No worries. Please, feel free to sit down. I've got a minute. What's up?" She looked around, found the guest chair in Hank's cube, politely sat down, and flipped open her large notepad to a section that had a circle around it.
She quickly re-read the question.
"So, umm- you were showing us the QIT system and there was a particular part in it that I didn't understand about assigning out tickets to various teams. What did
The freshly-graduated technology student went to bed early in anticipation of her first day working at Eville Medical, a dream job for her, yet the excitement kept her from falling asleep as easily as normal as she thought about who she might meet, befriend, and what new adventures might unfold. Vast pastel vistas unfolded into a picnicking hillside with puppies, imaginary animals, and her beloved- Her alarm clock went off. Time to go to work!
She imagined the hospital as she made breakfast.
The building was huge! Who would she meet? What would she learn? She looked at the clock and realized she had been daydreaming at the kitchen table dur
The small apartment had only one functionless piece of decoration: a gaudy customer service award hanging from a nail that had long been painted into the infrastructure in a prominent spot in the living room. "Employee of the Month: Jane Lanyard, IT." She couldn't miss reading and re-reading it as she spoke on the phone with one of the few recruiters that might occasionally reach out. "We know transportation has been an issue for you..."
She nearly didn't get that award.
The recruiter opened with "an exciting direct placement role" before leading into that passive-aggressive dig, explaining that the role was in a city that was a
"IT, this is Sam!"
"Hey, Sam, this is Vincent Preminger in Finance... looks like I'm locked out. Are they trying to tell me I'm fired?"
"Oh, umm... well, let's take a look at your account!"
Sammohini clicked around on her small computer screen, through a few labyrinthine programs, before finding Vincent's name. The rookie helpdesk technician contracting at Eville Medical looked at the account details, and with knowledge of corporate policy, proceeded to tell Vincent...
"...OK, you're unlocked. Give it another go!"
"OK." She typed quickly into the QIT ticketing system to track the call and the actions done during the phone call. "Hey, I'm
It's past 6 PM and the view of the parking lot was just as stale for Jane as it had been three hours ago. The studio apartment was cluttered with a cheap brown couch that had a broken pull-out bed, shaky desk for a computer, a cheap dining table with three mismatched chairs, and an acoustic guitar collecting dust. She hadn't been outside all day, other than four times to smoke on the balcony, reading erotica.
She had no work scheduled today or tomorrow.
Before February, that would have been the perfect time to load up on enough alcohol to get wasted throughout the day, then drive out to the Bad Seed for some fun. Didn't matter the consequen
"Since we're stuck in traffic, what else is on your mind?"
The two furniture movers sat in traffic that moved ever so slightly then stopped suddenly every few minutes, with the driver, Andrius, keeping an even pace with leg muscles refined through years of playing football. Jane, meanwhile, had been glancing through a technical book before they got on their impassioned previous employers topic.
"Why do you think bosses act like that? Rude, passive-aggressive bit-"
A loud car horn to their left censored the question.
"Oh, I dunno." "Maybe it's because they're insecure? My last boss at the library was nice to me for all of about a week befo
The clock on the dashboard of her truck read 9:23 PM as she pulled into a parking stall in the run-down apartment complex on a Friday evening after a long work day. Jane, a former computer repair technician currently picking up hours moving furniture, had been awake since 3:30 AM for a full day of work. All she could think of as she parked her truck was making sure not to crash before crashing on her couch.
Jane parked and grabbed her lunch pale and purse from the passenger's seat.
The parking lot was nearly empty. As she walked up to her studio apartment, she thought about how she would be out there too, probably t
"Thanks for showing me around, Hank! I've never been over to the Surgery department before! Well, other than on a tour... I would've got lost...!"
Two computer repair technicians walked through a white corridor.
"No worries, Sammohini. Let's say hello to the charge nurse first, just in case there's a last-minute booking before we gown up."
They arrived at a window cut into the wall.
"Namaste, Sona. We're doing surgery on OR3's mouse."
"You're clear, Rockstar. Who's this?"
Sammohini jumped over. "Hi! Sona! We've talked on the phones! Hey, I'm Sammohini. Good to put a name to the- a face to the name!" She didn't knock ov
"Nice! I'm glad it's working as well!"
Sammohini, an entry-level Eville Medical computer repair technician was talking to a nurse, Ariel, over the phone while she was remotely connected into the computer that Ariel was using out in the hospital's ER. She had just confirmed that a fix had resolved an issue successfully on the computer and was nervously moving the cursor around on screen in a wide concentric circle.
"Same here! Why'd it happen?"
The spinning stopped.
"Oh, umm... let's see, when the network was acting up a little bit on your computer, what ended up happening was although it didn't see- seem to relate, it ended up causing the
"Hi~i! Ja~ane!! How's it go~oin'!"
Jane hadn't seen Karina this week.
"Good. You? Haven't seen ya lately."
"Yes! Tha~ank ya~a~ou!"
Jane and Jim had a furniture pick-up at the same location, a humble retirement home in a forested area outside of Eville, just as Karina and "Ruckus" had a drop-off.
"Oh, hi, Karina. I heard what happened, from Jane and Abe. Is everything alright?"
"Yes, tha~anks for the s~support, Jim. I~I~ w~was~ss in r~rough shape."
Karina carelessly dropped the liftgate while holding onto a cart.
"Have you been to any meetings yet?" The liftgate reached the bottom. "Yeah, my sister joined me for a few~w! I haven't