Opening the store as she did every morning, Moira had scooped a few spoonfuls of coffee into a filter before she noticed the notice, taped neatly to the front of the shelf.

“To: All BirdLand™ Employees (Including Management)
Coffee Is
thank you

She pressed the brew button and spent more than a minute making sense of the sign before ripping it away. The owner didn’t speak to her often, choosing instead to communicate in these passive aggressive telegraphs. This was fine. He could make whatever edict he wanted, but Moira was the one running the store, and she couldn’t do that without first a cup of coffee.

All of her staff came a few minutes late, and she had to remind them that she was required to give them all demerits, though she wouldn’t. “But please, be on time. I know we don’t get customers this early, but it’s still important.”

She hated scolding these kids, because they weren’t kids. They were in their twenties. Some were even in their thirties, older than herself. They were only late because they didn’t want to come to work. She understood. The feather caps were but the smallest of their daily humiliations.

“You know what? Let’s not wear the plumages today,” she said, and she waited for them to understand. “Don’t follow your sentences with birdcalls either. In fact, let’s be human beings today.”

They seemed confused, but she urged and assured them. “Just relax.”

“She said take off your hats! F—weewweet!

As they set up displays and checked inventory, she poured herself a cup of coffee. On her computer, she opened a new document and started typing.

“Coffee for management and customers only”

#animals, #authority, #chain-of-command, #hierarchy, #humiliation, #retail, #sheeple, #work


Congratulations on your new pet fish! Though you can’t necessarily “pet” them, goldfish can still be fun and rewarding friends for you and your whole family. As long as you feed it and keep its water clean, your goldfish will prove a faithful companion for years to come.

These precious, metallic fish friends have long been popular among city dwellers who have neither time, space or energy to devote to another creature, yet who still want to feel their lives matter to someone. Your goldfish will swish around excitedly every time it sees you approach, and when you pinch some food into its bowl, it will not know the difference between hunger and love. Despite what people say, goldfish remember what they want to remember, and once it realizes you are keeping it alive, it will remember you. You have power over life! You’re important! The goldfish thinks so.

Always make sure your goldfish has clean water. Your new “pet” is a very good listener, but it can’t complain when it’s uncomfortable. When you’re unhappy, you can take steps to improving your situation. You can eat a candy bar or a box of donuts. You can smoke a cigarette or down a bottle of spirits. You can buy a goldfish! Your goldfish has no such luxury, and if you forget about it for even a day, it will be suspended in a tank of horror, starving, soaking and breathing in its own leftover filth, with no possible escape. Worst of all, it will think you’ve stopped caring about it. In its last clogged and painful gasp, it will think of your best moments together, and regret that it couldn’t keep you interested.

Try singing to your goldfish! Take off your clothes and feel comfortable! Don’t you love it?

#animals, #city-life, #fish, #love, #microfiction, #negligence, #power


The office was somewhat colder than the air outside, and he kept his jacket on even though he had been told he could take it off. Mr. Jennings would be just a minute, the receptionist had told him. He shivered. The room must have been less than fifty degrees, and he didn’t have anything to do but shiver.

The man came in like he’d been skiing, in full parka and followed by a St. Bernard. Terrence felt out of place in his business suit, especially as the dog came over and rubbed itself all over him.

“Down, Bully! Down!” shouted Randall Jennings, CEO of FullStop Software. “I’m very sorry, but you’ll be happy to know she’s an excellent judge of character.”

Terrence gathered enough composure to nod. The dog’s prolific slobber had made him wet, and he felt colder. “It’s quite all right,” he said. He cleared his throat. “As I’m sure you’re aware, I represent an up and coming team of developers who, though they may not command the resources you—“

As the dog started barking, Terrence forgot how he’d phrased his proposal. He’d spent all morning rehearsing it.

“Bully! Don’t mind her, Mr.… what did you say your name was again?”

Terrence was about to answer the question when the dog revealed her fangs. The sight was startling, as a St. Bernard’s jowls rarely recede. Her bark was deafening, and her growl shook the room.

“Do you mind if we lose the dog?” he yelled.

“I never do any business without her,” Mr. Jennings yelled back. “She’s an excellent judge of character.”

She lunged forward and tore into Terrence, who had no time to react. The medics came quickly. Jennings did all the talking.

“Bully wouldn’t hurt anyone,” he said. “Get him out of here.”

#animals, #business, #character, #inner-demons, #microfiction


The house was sterile most days. The nights even more so; not only still, but quiet. Only in the mornings as the people left and in the evenings when they returned did anything happen at all.

This was fine. Ollie spent his time alone asleep. Twice a day he would make his rounds, lest the house lose his scent, but otherwise he was content to lie asleep on his favorite person’s bed. She smelled like him now. When she came home, she made clicking sounds and gave him food. He didn’t even have to ask.

He heard her clicks and ran to the kitchen. The floor slid under the force of his paws. He approached his bowl and looked inside, though he could tell it was empty from a distance. He looked up at the people gathered around him. They laughed, and he felt his coat bristle.

His favorite person held up her hand. He wasn’t sure what she was doing, and he looked around for answers.

Next to him on the floor was a strange glowing circle. It wobbled slightly, and he lifted a trepidatious paw. They were watching him, more attentive than usual. They wanted him to get rid of the circle, and they were withholding his food until he did their bidding.

He made a lunge for the intruder, but it seemed to dissolve at his touch. It waited next to him, unafraid. That arrogance would not go unpunished, and he made another swipe. He thought he had it, but it darted away from him. At his next attempt, it careened wildly, and as it came to a stop, disappeared without a trace.

They laughed again and dispersed. She poured some food and left him on his own.

The house smelled like the dot.

#animals, #cat, #laser-pointer, #microfiction, #uncertainty