by D.M. Jewelle
(Thus ends Finnegan’s story for now)
Finnegan twiddled his thumbs; crossing and uncrossing, wringing his hands nervously. In his anxiety, he’d even forgotten about his assistant lurking and peering from the chair’s backrest, dangerously close to Finnegan’s shoulder. Across him, the auditor studied the statement, comfortably leaned back, her light green eyes shifted slightly with every line she read.
After what seemed like forever, the auditor put down the paper. The chair’s wheels squeaked as she leaned forward, reaching for a rubber stamp under her desk.
“Well Mr. Finnegan, I see no problem with this statement. An authorisation from us, and it’s good to go.”
Finnegan heaved a sigh of relief, placing his arms on the chair’s padded handles as Sedna threw his arms up to the air, clapping and cheering.
“Whew, glad that’s done with. So, when can I claim my damage money?”
The auditor’s face remained expressionless as she pressed the rubber stamp onto the ink pad. “What damage money?”
“You know, for the ink accident?”
“That? It’s been rejected,” she said. The thump of the rubber stamp cut the room’s joyous atmosphere short.
Finnegan’s smile curved downwards. “Say what?”
“The damage claim has been rejected, Mr. Finnegan.” She opened the yellow folder sitting in the “Out” document tray and inserted the paper into a plastic sleeve.
Finnegan pointed to the folder. “But I brought the statement!”
“Yes, and now your records are complete; Thank you for your cooperation.” The folder closed with a slap of plastic, and placed back on the Out tray.
“You said as long as I brought the statement you wouldn’t reject it!”
“You misunderstand, Mr. Finnegan.” She rested her elbows on the table, hands facing him. “I said you had to bring the statement in five minutes – You took two hours and fifteen minutes.”
“That’s because you had a two-hour lunch break!”
“I got tired of waiting.”
“You can’t possibly count lunch hour!”
“It wouldn’t make a difference, you still took fifteen minutes.”
“Oh come on, stop screwing around and approve it!”
“I can’t, I’ve already sent it off.”
Finnegan banged his palms on the desk. “I’m not leaving until I get it approved!”
Leaning forward until he was inches from her face, he narrowed his eyes, teeth bared. “I did not waste two hours and fifteen hours – including my lunch hour – to play the accounting department’s version of The Crying Game, now you will approve my damage claim and you will approve it now.”
The auditor coolly looked back. “What’re you going to do about it?”
His voice lowered to a whisper. “I can sit here and let him,” his thumb pointing at Sedna, “Annoy you the whole day.”
“It’s already two.”
“Believe me, three hours is more than enough.”
They both turned to the glass partition and saw the same group from earlier frantically shaking their heads, arms waving and flailing in horror. The velociraptor pointed to her bandaged ankle, one woman and the grey mouse were praying, while two men covered their ears, mouthing “No more, no more!”, fogging the glass. She cocked an eyebrow, staring quizzically.
“I don’t know what happened because I was unconscious, but I think it has something to do with the twelve empty cans of 100-Plus at the waiting bench.”
“…You don’t say.”
Sedna turned to look. His face lit up, and waved cheerily at the group. They responded with muffled shrieks and fled to the safety of their cubicles, save for the velociraptor who hopped off on her good leg. She reached out to her colleagues, pleading them to not leave her alone with the blue-haired monstrosity in their midst.
“Wait,” she turned back to Finnegan. “Twelve cans of 100-plus? Doesn’t he need to-”
Finnegan shrugged, ” I think it has something to do with him being a Legendary Hero™ in his world; Saves time or somecrap, I’m not sure.”
The auditor looked up at Sedna, Finnegan turning around to follow suit.
Sedna could have been the poster boy of Legendary Heroes™: the unkempt sky-blue hair, long loose fringes falling over his bright blue-green eyes, with a naturally charming wide-mouthed smile, the sort that instilled confidence in the hearts of oppressed villagers everywhere that yes, he was a Legendary Hero™ and he would keep his word and never ever let his spirit waver in the face of adversity!
The only discrepancy was the multitude of thin braids starting from his neck and reaching down to his thighs, a questionable method of keeping his long hair in check. On one hand they were undeniably stylish and produced a unique look, but seeing Sedna absent-mindedly pick at one braid while chewing the tuft of another in his mouth out of boredom did nothing for his image.
They lingered briefly, then resumed staring down each other.
“Are you sure? He looks like a Legendary Village Idiot.”
“I’ve seen it for myself; hard to believe, but true.”
She frowned. “Wait, if he’s a Legendary Hero™, he can’t be more than seventeen, are you sure he’s-”
“-Are you going to approve my claim or what?” Finnegan demanded.
Finally retreating to their respective chairs, the auditor pushed her cornrows back. “Technically, you can get it approved…”
Finnegan waved her on, “…But….?”
“You’ll need to ask them to void the rejection so you can start reapplying.”
“Them? Who’s them?”
“The Complaints and Actions Bureau, of course.”
The black-haired God paled, “What?”
“They’ll pull out the file, examine the case, and if all goes well, you can resubmit the claim by the end of this week.”
“…Isn’t there an alternative? Can I just bribe you?”
“I’d rather not go there, Mr. Finnegan.”
“But-but-but the bureau HATES me! They hate EVERYONE! They’ll take hours! Months! Decades! I’ll miss work! They’ll hunt me down! I swear they’ve got a record of people who’ve died waiting!” Finnegan tried to grab the auditor’s collar, but was swatted away.
“While I really can’t say anything in their defense, that’s how it has to be done. I wish you the best of luck, Mr. Finnegan.”
Finnegan slumped backwards. Things had gone from relatively good to bad to absolutely worst. What he initially thought a simple procedure had gone to hell in a handbasket. Not only would the process take forever, he would have to deal with a department that loathed Parliament for the amount of work they brought in. Worst of all, he imagined at that very moment, they were devising new protocols to confuse and sap the will of anyone who dared enter with a complaint, or anything that needed a form, for that matter-
Suddenly a bright light filled his eyes.
Amidst the swirling colours, the auditor held a small metallic red digital camera in her hands, a finely-manicured fingertip on the shutter button.
“Ooh, this is definitely going to the bulletin board!” She cooed at the screen.
Sedna lifted Finnegan’s arm over his shoulder, carefully hoisting the momentarily-blinded God off the chair and out of the office.
“Well, we’ll be going now, bye Ms Sozreeniggsha Heimpsalywag!” Sedna waved.
“It’s Sophy Hanch, the plaque’s in Runic,” she pointed out, amazed at the young man’s spirited stupidity.
Sedna looked at the plaque once more, then back at the auditor. “I was wondering why you had five q’s in your name!”
After the door clicked shut, she sighed, and her head landed on the desk with a thud.
At least lunch was good.