By Derek Alan Jones
Okay, look. I did push the button. Carl told me not to push it, but, I mean, have you ever been told not to push a button? It does something to you. Next thing you know, every muscle you have is aching to push that button, and your brain goes “guys, we better not,” but then the brain gets curious too, and, well, here we are. Besides, it’s my first day. I’m a temp, for God’s sake…
Alright. That was a poor choice of words. But what I’m saying here is I never should have been left alone with that button. If anything, someone should probably talk to Carl about his training practices.
So, yes. I pushed the button. I honestly thought it was probably a light switch. Then there was this loud bang and a bright light in that inky black thing over there, and, not gonna lie, It was exhilarating. I mean, you push a button, it makes a noise – it’s a good time. At that point, I figured you’re probably not supposed to push it because it’s loud – like, really loud – but I was still assuming it’s some kind of light switch. I mean, it was kind of gloomy in here, then it got brighter, and I thought “well, this is alright.”
And obviously, I understand now that it was a mistake.
So, anywho, after a few minutes I realize there’s a bunch of stuff flying around in that inky black thing, and that’s when I start thinking “man, this might not be okay.” I tried to call Carl, but he was on his lunch break – for an extra twenty minutes, I might add. Now, all of this stuff in there that had just begun… existing, I guess, starts to smash together and make, well, stuff, I suppose. All of these lights with these little balls going around them. I see that blue and green one and I think “that one’s kind of pretty.”
Then I notice there’s stuff happening on it. There are plants all over it, and little things moving around. It’s kind of neat, but the plants have pollen, and I have allergies, so my throat starts getting a little scratchy and I pop in a cough drop. I’m just watching these things move around, and some of them are getting really big, and I guess I got too close, because – again, allergies – I sneeze and that cough drop shoots out and hits one of the green parts, and most of the things on the ball quit moving around so much.
At first I thought I broke the thing, and I honestly didn’t know if that meant I was in more trouble or less trouble, but after a while things start moving around again. Then some of these things start moving around on two legs, and, I’ll be honest here, at first they’re my favorites, but I’m telling you now, these things are trouble. Not the black and white things on two legs that hang out at the bottom of the ball sliding around on their bellies on the ice. Those guys are alright. But those other ones — the ones with the pointy sticks? Yeah. Those guys are assholes. They start poking at everything with those sticks, and it’s not long before they start making little fires everywhere. Don’t know where they learned it, but I swear I didn’t show them.
About that time I notice it’s getting pretty cold in here, so I go looking for the thermostat. It takes me a while to find it because Carl didn’t show me where it is, but I find it, and I turn it up a few degrees, and when I get back, everything on that ball has kind of gotten out of hand. The two-legged things have started building stuff, and apparently they got bored with poking holes in other things, because now they’ve started poking holes in each other. There are a lot more of them by that point, too, which seems counter-intuitive considering how good they’ve gotten at poking holes in each other.
Well, as they’re all poking holes in each other and building stuff, I realize that the more of these things there are the more fires they make, and then I start worrying, because if those fires get out of hand I’m definitely going to be in trouble. So I grab Carl’s mug – the one that says “No Coffee, No Workee,” which I thought was a little unprofessional, honestly – and I fill it up at the water cooler. Now, I was just trying to put out the fires, but I guess I went a little overboard, and I got the whole ball pretty soggy. Most of the two-legged things just seemed to think I was trying to get rid of all of the other two-legged things.
I think this is where I really screwed up, because then I tried talking to them. I was just trying to tell them, you know, be careful with the fires, and maybe cool it with the poking holes in each other. Also, hey, don’t eat the things that give you trichinosis. Obviously they didn’t understand what I was saying because at this point they start poking even more holes in each other, mostly because they couldn’t agree on what I should be called. I thought one fella had a pretty good grip on what I had been trying to say, but, well, things didn’t end so great for him.
Around then, my wife called, and I know we’re not supposed to answer personal calls when we’re on the clock, but I thought it might be an emergency. Turns out she just wanted me to pick up some rice on my way home so she could make her paella. It’s mediocre, but she’s pretty proud of it.
When I got off the phone, things back at the blue and green ball had really gone to shit. The pinkish ones were essentially running amok, going all around telling everyone else to call me what they called me or else they’d poke holes in them, then, most times, poking holes in them either way. They painted a bunch of pictures of me and of the guy for whom things didn’t end so great, but they weren’t very accurate. There were also some pictures of what I think might have been Carl, and while they don’t really look like him with the hooves and whatnot, I feel like they capture his essence.
From then on they just spent most of their time thinking up new ways to make fires and put holes in each other, and by that point I had more or less given up. Before too long they had all joined up into two teams to try to put as many holes in each other as possible, only this time, none of them seemed to really be sure why. When they finished, they all said “well, let’s not do that again,” then, almost immediately, did that again. After they wore themselves out the second time, they switched up the teams and started talking about having a third go ’round, at which point I lost interest and went to lunch.
Listen. Mistakes were made. I understand that. I shouldn’t have pushed the button, and I could have done a better job of managing the unpleasantness that followed. I assume that the temp agency will send me somewhere different tomorrow. Honestly, I’d much prefer to just do some filing or fill out some spreadsheets. But the question I have now is, that other button. The one to shut the whole thing down. Should I just push that button? Carl never said anything about that button …
Bio: I’m afraid there’s not a lot to say about me. I live in Kansas City, I work in a warehouse, I write when I can, and my publication history is essentially non-existent. That’s about the long and short of it.