This week’s #fridayflash is part 3 of my new serial. It seems to be going quite well, so I thought I would continue with it. I still intend to post other flash fiction stories during the week, so keep checking back with me. If you like this story, you may wish to start at the very begining (it’s a very good place to start). Click here now for Chapter One, and here for Chapter Two. Do let me know what you think of the series and my characters. I’d be interested to know what you think is working and what isn’t.
The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange
In which Ms Pinky returns to save the day.
Alice looked up, surprised and confused at her boss’s request.
‘But I’m just your secretary, Fiona, I don’t do fieldwork.’
Fiona sat back in her swivel chair and sighed.
‘Alice, do you remember the reason I gave for hiring you?’
Alice thought for a second.
‘You said it was because of my unerring ability to face up to disgruntled and flagrantly psychotic clients.’
‘Actually, I said it was your unnerving ability to face up to disgruntled and fragrantly psychotic clients, but that doesn’t matter,’ continued Fiona, standing and walking around the desk, ‘Alice, you are a singularly unflappable individual. You are also the only available person this side of the Atlantic with the ability to converse with The Kraken. I don’t know why you took that evening class in cephalopod communication, but I’m jolly glad you did.’
Fiona looked her secretary in the eye.
‘Alice, we need you for this assignment. It means a pay rise and a fieldworker’s license.’
‘When would I have to leave?’
‘Immediately. The Norwegian government is breathing down my neck on this and it might take a while to locate him; it seems the tracking device we supplied isn’t working.’
‘I can’t leave today,’ said Alice, ‘someone from D.E.A.D is coming tomorrow. I’ve been working on our presentation for weeks.’
‘Remind me who D.E.A.D is again?’
‘The Department for Efficiency and Downsizing. They want to cut our budget.’
‘Well, leave the files with us. Neil’s here too. I’m sure between the two of us we can manage.’
Alice looked a bit sheepish.
‘Oh,’ said Fiona, ‘It’s all in your head, isn’t it?’
‘Sorry Fiona, you know that’s how I work best.’
‘Don’t worry. We’ll sort something out. In the meantime, you need to get yourself ready for the North Sea. It’ll be cold.’
‘What are you going to do without a secretary?’ said Alice, heading into the reception, ‘there’s loads on this week; we’ve a live link up with Santa Claus on Thursday for a start.’
‘What on earth for?’
‘He needs two replacement reindeer; Dancer and Prancer both got injured on a training flight last month. Loads of animals have applied; practically a herd.’
‘Yes, I remember now. I did see his fax. What else is there?’
Alice looked in the office diary.
‘Well, let’s see, this afternoon you’re interviewing for maternity cover for the Beast of Bodmin and I’m supposed to be going through applications for the Ashdown Forest tree sprite jobs. I had no idea there were so many sprites looking for work; we received over fourteen thousand applications. Of course, most of them will be highly unsuitable; goblins with grudges and pervy pixies mostly I shouldn’t wonder.’
Alice took a breath.
‘Then,’ she continued, turning the page, ‘the Palace is sending its man over on Friday.’
‘Oh God!’ said Fiona, ‘The Balmoral Haunting. I’d forgotten.’
‘Plus,’ said Alice, closing the diary, ‘all the usual things: criminal record checks, allowances, expense receipts, litigation enquiries. Oh, that reminds me, I’m due in court tomorrow at ten.’
‘Giving evidence against the Sasquatch. He claimed he was a Yeti on his application form. The Nepalese authorities are suing him.’
Fiona sat down on one of the reception’s chairs, staring blankly at the job vacancy board.
‘We’re buggered,’ she said.
‘Who’s buggered?’ asked Neil, breezing into reception.
‘We all are. How are your secretarial skills?’
‘Non-existent. My last department said I lacked the organisational qualities pertinent to a role in the modern workplace.’
‘And so they sent you here.’
‘And things have never been the same since,’ said Neil, winking at Alice.
‘Seriously Neil,’ said Fiona, ‘we need a new secretary. Yesterday.’
‘Hold on a minute,’ said Alice, ‘when I was up in the coffee shop just now, I bumped into that fluffy pink thing who was here for the recurring nightmare job.’
‘That’s it. She looked a bit despondent. Well, I think that’s what she looked like; hard to tell with yellow eyes. Anyway, I asked her what she would do if she didn’t get the job, and she said she could always go back to being a secretary.’
‘That thing! A secretary?’
Fiona glared at Neil.
‘That “thing”, as you so indelicately called her, happens to be a most charming creature. I wonder who she worked for.’
‘I’m going up to Gino’s to see if she’s still there,’ said Alice, heading for the door.
Two minutes later, she reappeared, dwarfed by the seven foot, pink, furry monster.
‘Here we are then,’ said Alice.
‘Ah, Ms Pinky,’ said Fiona, ‘thank you for coming back down.’
Ms Pinky smiled, showing three rows of serrated teeth.
‘It’s a pleasure. I believe you are looking for a secretary.’
‘That’s correct. Alice says you have the necessary experience.’
‘It’s all on my CV I gave you earlier,’ said the monster, proudly, ‘twelve years as secretary to The Sandman’s nightmare department.’
‘I was under the impression that you were the nightmare.’
Ms Pinky’s eyes widened to the size and colour of large blood oranges.
‘I mean professionally of course,’ finished Fiona quickly.
‘Oh I see what you mean,’ laughed Ms Pinky, ‘yes, I did both jobs together. The nightmares I do at night time in my sleep.’ She looked at Fiona. ‘Miss Macalister, I assure you I am quite able to be your secretary. I am conversant with all the latest office technology and I shan’t be scared to deal with some of your more difficult clients.’
The monster smirked, yellow eyes twinkling mischievously.
‘Ms Pinky,’ said Fiona after a brief pause, ‘welcome to the Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange. Alice will brief you on your responsibilities before she leaves, then Neil here will give you the tour.’
Neil smiled nervously at Ms Pinky, nodding.
Ms Pinky lowered her head and fluttered her naked eyelids.
‘You’re a handsome man Neil,’ she said, ‘I shall look forward to that.’
© flyingscribbler 2010