robin_arede: An image of Medusa (Medusa)
[personal profile] robin_arede
We all have false starts, ideas, stuff tucked away. I tend to be able to come back to older projects and start up again, but there are some things I'm finding in old files that I doubt I will ever finish. So I thought I'd post a few over here!

This piece is dated 1999, and has languished undone ever since it was begun in what I totally admit was a fit of rage.



Working Title: A Green Thought in a Green Shade
Started: June, 1999

Margaret unlocked her office door, juggling her work bag, purse, and a stack of mail consisting mostly of sale catalogs from book companies. Before she'd become an English teacher, she'd enjoyed going through bookstores and book catalogs slowly and randomly, finding all sorts of hidden treasures serendipitously.

Now, she tended to throw all the catalogs into one corner of her office to go through when she had a few spare moments. At the end of each academic year, she'd go through a few catalogs, realize she'd missed all the deadlines for discounts or sale prices, and then throw the stack away, ducking every time a large cockroach darted out of the musty pile.

She flipped on the light, dumped her pile on the desk, and started sorting. Noticing some difference in her office, the amount or quality of light, she looked up, ready to toss the stack of glossy catalogs into the three-foot pile. The catalogs slipped out of her hands, unnoticed.

A tree was growing in the corner of her office.

Margaret swallowed hard and fell into her chair. She blinked and rubbed her eyes.

She wasn't seeing things. Instead of a pile of book catalogs and the box of "to be recycled" paper which had lurked in the darkest, dampest corner of her office, a tree stretched its trunk from the floor to the high ceiling, branches reaching in all directions.

Margaret stood, cautiously. She started to approach the tree, but tripped over her book bag. Kicking it away, she crept forward, arm stretched out. Her hand touched the trunk.

The tree was huge--bulking out from the corner walls--and not entirely in her office, as she could see now. Margaret didn't recognize the species, but then she didn't know many trees beyond the pine tree/oak tree distinction. She ran both hands over the trunk.

The bark was smooth, greenish gray in color, with streaks of white. Looking down, Margaret couldn't see any roots. The trunk ran straight down through the office floor. Stretching, she could touch one of the lower branches which forked out from the trunk a few feet above her head. The big lower branches stretched out some distance before smaller branches and leaves began appearing. The leaves were as big as Margaret's hand, light green almost silver.

Looking up, Margaret tried to glimpse the top of the tree, but she couldn't. As far as she could see, branches and leaves. The trunk was almost warm under her hands, and Margaret realized she was leaning forward, stretching her arms as far around the trunk as she couldn't. She couldn't reach very far. She could feel the bulk of the tree supporting her body. Tears ran down her face.

The things that had been happening on campus recently could have been coincidence, weird, but coincidental. But this...tree, this impossibility, coming the morning after she had despaired, asking for one small sign, was a blessing greater than she could have ever dreamed.

* * *

Across campus, in the complex of offices around the presidential suite, Iris, one of the numerous assistants to the Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, poured hot fresh coffee into a china cup. Carefully measuring a half spoon of sugar and two spoons of heavy cream, she stirred. Then she checked the time.

Just 8:05 a.m. The Vice President made it a rule to be in at 7:45 a.m. every morning. As a proponent of VBM, the Very Best Management philosophy, he said he wanted to set an example.

Iris knew he really wanted to make sure everyone else arrived no later than 7:55 a.m. After his morning tour of inspection, he wanted his first of three cups of coffee.

Iris carried the tray through three doors and into his office.

The minute Iris took her eyes off the coffee (he hated it when liquid sloshed into the saucer), she screamed and dropped the tray, the coffee making an ugly stain on the pale rose carpet which graced all the upper administrators' offices.

Instead of the slim dark-haired man with the grey patches over each ear (which Iris told her best friend Molly had to be dyed, they were just too perfect) and the matching three-piece grey suit, a weasel was sitting in the crushed leather chair, blinking at her. It had grey patches on each side of its head.

Iris backed up to the door, fumbled it open, and ducked through it. She slammed the door, ran to the nearest desk and called campus security.

Four different security patrols arrived more or less at the same time because of all the reports from the top administrative offices. The President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Vice President of Student Affairs were all missing.

And somebody, probably one of those animal rights terrorist groups the Chief of Security said, had released weasels in the offices.

Iris, overhearing the Chief lecturing the officers, wasn't sure. She thought the animal rights terrorist group went around releasing animals, not locking them up.

Luckily the animals seemed so terrified that the security teams didn't have much trouble catching them, as soon as they borrowed some nets from the City Animal Control office.

The problem came when they carried the animals, wrapped in nets, out of the building to load in the Animal Control truck.

That was when the weasels suddenly turned into the President, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost, and Vice President for Student Affairs. The men, wrapped tightly in nets, were dropped by the startled security officers.

The next problem became apparent when they tried to return to their offices and turned back into weasels.

Iris and the rest of the support staff were given a day off with full pay and sent home with strict instructions from the Vice President for Marketing not to talk to any press. Loose lips, he told them, sink ships, and anyone caught talking to the media would immediately lose their job and all benefits and be blacklisted forever and their kids would be kicked out with failing grades.

Iris went home and made a large pot of tea. She sat down on her balcony and thought about what had happened. She was one of the few assistants who wasn't working on campus so their children could get free tuition, but she still didn't want to lose her job.

Still and all, she thought, picking up her cell phone and punching in a number, she wasn't going to talk to any of the media. She knew someone who worked in the English Department from the creative evenings at the local coffee shop. She could talk to Margaret.

Date: 2009-07-12 01:40 pm (UTC)
lady_ganesh: Conrad, looking dorkily awesome (conrad is awesome (KKM))
From: [personal profile] lady_ganesh
Even if you hadn't confessed you'd written in anger, the weasels would've been a bit of a hint that there was karmic justice going on. Having said that, this is pretty intriguing!

Date: 2009-09-06 11:38 pm (UTC)
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)
From: [personal profile] jumpuphigh
Too bad this has been relegated to the dead pile. It's interesting and I'd love to read more.

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robin_arede

August 2009

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