#98 The Phantom of the Office

by Mark Budman

Every day, the office phantom—we call her Fanny—gets into the fridge where we keep our lunches and steals something.

John, the manager, is pissed though she doesn’t take much. Sometimes it’s a slice of cheese or a cold cut, sometimes it’s a can of soda. She could take more valuable things. After all, we have batteries, printer cartridges, software, and even a LCD projector in the supply cabinet next to the fridge. But she takes only a bit of food. We all see her quick, furtive shadow as she glides through the wall, enters the fridge and then leaves. But what can we do? Pepper-spray her? Call the cops? Tell her that stealing is morally wrong?

I’d say, let her be. Maybe she’s hungry. Maybe she needs attention. Would it be better if she sucks our blood when we take a nap? John is not amused. One day, he brings this BB gun loaded with silver pellets.

I tell him it’s stupid. Silver bullets only kill werewolves. And you can’t kill a thief anyway unless she threatens your life. It’s illegal in our state.

Does he listen? No way. As soon as Fanny sticks her head inside the fridge, he fires. The pellets pepper the ceiling. Fanny darts and she is gone.

“Who pushed me, folks?” John shouts, shaking his fists. “Is someone in cahoots with her?”

I roll my eyes. I’m not in cahoots with anyone. Stupid ideas never work. I’m just trying to prove this rule.


Anonymous said...

He shot, you pushed, Fanny fled. This leaves open a number of questions: was John shooting to kill or shooting to scare; what exactly was his idea? How do you know what he was really thinking, and did swift Fanny flea empty-handed?

Mark said...

A story can go walk along many paths, but the writer chooses only one.

Andrew said...

Terrific story, Mark.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Feels like a fascinating beginning to a longer piece.

Sam Knight said...

I really liked it. I love the idea that the protagonist sympathized with the ghost. I was curious as to the manner in which the physical objects left the fridge, though... Did the visibly float away, or were they converted to non-corporeal?