Chapter 8

by D.M. Jewelle

 Sedna lifted the pile of binders from the workstation and carried them to the bookshelves, where they were neatly stacked against more binders. He ran a finger through the side labels to make sure he’d put them all in alphabetical order. Satisfied, he placed his arms at his waist, beaming from ear to ear.

“Osh!” he exclaimed. “Master’ll be pleased to see the room neat and tidy!” He pulled the bandana off his head, his light blue fringes falling back onto his face. He had spent the whole day tidying Finnegan’s office, without so much as an order from Finnegan himself. Records were resorted and recategorised before placing them on the bookshelves. Reference books were sorted by title and ISBN number, the drawers stuffed with odds and ends were sorted and placed into storage trays with the contents clearly labelled. The dishes that Finnegan ate his take-out meals from (on the days when Finnegan refused Sedna’s cooking, that is) had been washed, dried, and arranged on the rack in the cabinet where Finnegan kept his personal articles. The workstation where Finnegan’s mainframe sat humming with activity was dusted clean and stray wires folded and bunched together without accidentally pulling the plug, while Finnegan’s futon lay rolled up under the desk. Most importantly, the World project was still connected to the mainframe, running without Sedna tripping into it or accidentally rolling it out of the office. Everything was as Finnegan had left it, and yet the room was still clean; Surely his master would be pleased!

 Sedna sat cross-legged in the middle of the floor. He looked forward to Finnegan’s return; while washing and folding the clothes he and Finnegan left in the attached storage room (Finnegan was a workaholic, thus he often made his office his home…and Sedna would follow suit whether he wanted it or not), he’d found something that would certainly amuse Finnegan once he returned from his business. Sedna was a strong believer in his master’s personal privacy and seldom asked where Finnegan went, so he hoped that this news would either brighten a gloomy day or make Finnegan happier, whichever was better.

The door was thrown open, jolting Sedna back to his feet. His master stood at the door, panting with one hand on his knee and the other holding to the door frame for support. His tousled hair suggested a dire need for a comb, though it was the last thing on his mind.

“Master Finnegan, welcome ba-”

Finnegan headed right for the bookshelves in large strides and proceeded to pull out a binder, flip through it, then toss it over his shoulder. The binder clattered and landed face-up, loose papers slipping from the rings. His spindly fingers hooked the spines of a dark green and a sky blue binder, peered at the contents from above, then tossing them too into the fresh pile behind him.

“Master, is there something you-” Sedna grabbed the binder flying towards him, sending him a little ways back on the floor.

“Less talking more looking!!” Finnegan shouted as the binders flew off the bookshelf faster and faster. Pieces of paper fluttered about as the pile grew higher, undoing Sedna’s handiwork. “Not here…no…”” Finnegan rushed to his desk, pulling the drawers off their rails and turning them inside out, spilling the carefully-kept staplers and stationery to the floor along with more stray pieces of paper. He prayed that one, ANY one of these would be what he needed.

“Master Finnegan…?”

“GOD DAMMIT WHERE THE HELL IS THAT F’KIN STATEMENT!” The In/Out tray clattered to the ground as Finnegan’s knees finally gave way, his hands clutching his head so tightly Sedna feared Finnegan would pull his hair out.

The blue-haired youth thought it would be worth a try to cheer up his master. He scooted on his knees to approach him. Carefully, he tilted his head so as not to jolt Finnegan.

“You know Master Finnegan, something funny happened today.”

“Sedna, I’m not-”

“I was cleaning your office for you, Master Finnegan, and when I was taking the clothes out to the laundromat, I came across this envelope in one of my pants, see,” Sedna said, reaching for his pocket. The soft rustling of paper in Sedna’s pocket had Finnegan lifting his head.

“I was wondering where’d in the world it’d come from, then I remembered sometime round December, before we went back to my home planet in January, you’d been licking envelopes and putting money in them to be sent out among a whole lot of stuff, and this was one of the envelopes I’d seen on your “Out” tray that day…it was addressed to the Accounts department…”

Finnegan’s shoulders tensed. His back straightened.

“So I thought I’d do you a favour, Master Finnegan, and post it on my way to the grocery store and stuff.”

A loose thread on the carpet was hooked loose as the black-haired God’s hands balled into a fist, nails digging deep into the flesh of his palms.

“I suppose something must’ve happened, because turns out I didn’t mail it at all, and I’d clean forgot about it!”

Had Finnegan grit his teeth any tighter, the sound of gnashing and grinding would have echoed in the room. His right eye twitched uncontrollably.

“And it’s been about ten months since and I’ve just found it now, could you imagine how filthy the pants were? I tell you, a little longer and the moths would’ve eaten holes through it! I thought I always did the laundry every week, I’m still wondering how those pants escaped the wash, I really must’ve been out of it that day. Maybe it was the cold weather or something” Sedna leaned closer. “…….Master Finnegan, what’s wrong? You look rather pale, was it something you ate?”

Finnegan’s upper body faced Sedna, right fist pulled back; it was trembling, waiting, getting ready to-

*****

The intern jogged down the hall carrying a stack of papers. Despite the menial chores handed to her by her supervisor, she was in rather high spirits. It was a few minutes more to lunch, and she looked forward to the surprise a fellow intern had promised her. Nothing could possibly wreck her day-

A scream, and large flailing figure flew out of the open room on her left, crashing face first into the wall opposite. The girl yelped and threw her arms to the air, sending stacks of stapled documents raining down. She stumbled backwards, tripping on her heel, and landing on her butt, momentarily paralyzed by the shock.

The figure slid to the ground in a tangle of limbs and several long light-blue braids weaving in and out. A black shoe stomped on the figure’s grey top, the toe digging into its spine. It belonged to a slender, extremely ferocious man-beast, his eyes obscured by long wavy fringes; the guttural growl coming from him was so loud she thought him demon spawn. A clawed hand reached down and flicked a braid aside to grab the neck. The foot got off the body, and he lifted it off the ground. The intern thought she heard the body moan, but she wasn’t sure.

With almost superhuman strength, the red beast sped off dragging the body, the rapid thumping of footsteps on wall-to-wall carpeting fading with him.

The girl collected the papers off the floor, her body still trembling. She picked up the last piece and fled in the opposite direction. No way was she heading the same path as that murderous monster; whatever it was or whereever the hell it was going.

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