Wednesday July 20th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the blitz.

At 9 o'clock when I unlocked the door at the bakery there were about 15 people already lined up and waiting. By 9:40 we were sold out of cinnamon buns, croissants (all 96 that were baked this morning), and butter tarts.

There was still a fair bit of bread on the shelves, but still. Good lord, you guys.

Most of the customers who came in after that were disappointed to discover the lack of sweets. So of course we told them to get there earlier tomorrow. So of course they all said they would.

So... yeah, tomorrow morning should be more of the same.


"Good evening class."

"Good evening Mr. Tucker."

"Ah, such loyal little soldiers."

"I'm sorry, what was that?"

"Don't worry about it, Kevin. You're hearing things. Yes, again."

"... oh."

"Before I get on with tonight's lesson, I just wanted to check in with everyone to see how things are going with last week's assignment."

"What? But I tho-"

"Relax, Jessica. It's not due until the end of the month. Yes, Victor, you may go to the washroom to try to clean yourself up. I hope you've brought a spare pair of pants in your backpack? Good."

"I'd like to go first, Mr. Tucker!"

"Of course you would, Dean. Go ahead."

"As everyone will surely recall, the assignment was to come up with a marketing campaign for a local business and then convince them to implement it. A perfect example of putting theory into action, if I may say so myself."

"You may. Go on."

"I decided to go a less conventional route than my classmates, so I-"

"You don't know that!"

"Yes, I do, Martin."

"But you don't know which businesses the rest of us chose!"

"I have my ways, Martin. May I continue now?"

"Please do, Dean. Martin... another interruption and I'll have you cleaning my office for the rest of the semester."

"Thank you, Mr. Tucker. As I was saying, I made the daring choice to develop a campaign for the local Salvation Army store."

"That's not a business, that's a charity!"

"Really, Alex? You still believe that, after all that Mr. Tucker has taught us? Everyone is out to make money. Everyone."

"Indeed. So what's your campaign?"

"I'm so glad you asked, Mr. Tucker. I printed out a promotional brochure, complete with promises of eternal damnation for those who do not support the Salvation Army, and blitzed the entire city with them."

"Excellent work, Dean. And how did you get the Salvation Army to get on board with your idea?"

"Oh, I'm sure they'll come around to it once they see how effective it is."

"You mean to say you didn't t-"

"Talk to them first? What a waste of time that would've been! No, I decided to take the bold step of combining the implementation of my campaign with the argument to get them to back it. Great stuff, right Mr. Tucker?"

"Potentially. But, just to be on the safe side, I think I'll have you removed from the class list until this one blows over."


Greg said...

That's a very popular bakery: I hope you handled the rush as well on Thursday morning! I'm not at all surprised that you sell out of the sweet pastries so fast though, they make for great breakfast food :) And I really like cinnamon.
It's always nice to get a slightly longer piece from you, and though you've only provided the dialogue it's nice to see that it's easy to tell who's speaking at any given time. It is slightly worrying that I had a teacher called Mr. Tucker when I was younger, but I don't think he was as Machiavellian as yours. Though I think he would have liked to have been.
I think my favourite character in this is Dean, with his bold ideas and his rapid action... though it sounds like this may yet be his downfall!

The blitz
Night had fallen. The windows of the factory office looked out into consuming darkness on three sides, but the fourth side was illuminated by the moon. It hung heavy and jaundiced in the sky, bright enough that the stars around it were invisible. The sky was otherwise clear and the mottling of its surface was entirely down to the activities of the Unified Authority and its space programme. If the night-birds made any noise they were drowned out by the steady hum and occasional systolic thump of the engines that extracted phlogiston.
Inside the office green-shaded bankers' lamps made pools of light at two desks and the factory manager and the Auditor looked at one another. The Auditor was half-standing, leaning against the manager's desk and holding a leather-bound ledger in one hand. His eyes were accusatory. The manager was sat on low wooden stool, the same one he made his direct reports sit on when he was interrogating them on factory performance and business. Behind them both the coloured crystal panels in the manager's desk glowed softly, their light washed out by that of the moon.
The manager nodded. "I see," he said. "Then yes, we will reduce production to 3%. I can blame it o--"
The manager's face crinkled, first in puzzlement and then in annoyance. "Really! I haven't had an intrusion or a workforce issue in seventeen and a half months. Why should I suddenly have one now? It would make more sense to have a mechanical failure that partially blocks the number-two shaft. I can slow down repairs easily enough by allocating the wrong men to the repair."
The Auditor stood up straight and stretched, then walked round the manager's desk. The manager's eyes observed him the whole way, but the man made no effort to stand. The Auditor's hands moved over the crystal panels.
"The Authority has recently proclaimed that its Engineers are the best in the world," he said. "A mechanical failure at a major phlogiston producer would send the wrong message. Politically."
"As if there's any other message." There was no trace of sarcasm in the manager's voice.
"However, it could be said that the methods you've taken to keep the workforce happy have been so successful that rebellious elements have grown desperate and mounted an attack."
"Ultimately futile," said the manager. He stared now at the floor. The Auditor finished touching the panels, and his hands hovered over the desk.
"But succeeding nonetheless in... inconveniencing us."
"Can I at least send three of the men home?"
The Auditor's hands came down on the crystal panels.
A high-pitched hum filled the room and soared rapidly beyond the range of hearing. For seven agonizing seconds there was silence, and then there was a bright flash of light, a blitz. The noise of the electrical discharge reached them half a second later, and then the smell of ozone filled the room, so much better than the charred flesh smell that followed it.
Only then did the screaming start.

Marc said...

Greg - I suspect that you would enjoy the products our bakery makes. You should come try them out sometime :)

Great details here. I really enjoy your tales from this world. And that ending... oof.