cubicle is just another word for cage

I posted this a long time ago, then deleted it, fiddled with it and set it aside because it’s too short and too weird to really do anything with.  But, some of you may like short and weird, so I’m posting it again.  I know my posts have been kind of fiction-centric lately, but that’s the frame of mind I’m in.  Hey, one day I hope to get paid for this stuff!
Hope that everyone who is hacking their way through the corporate jungle emerges whole enough to enjoy their weekend. Remove the poison darts, tend to your wounds, cause it all starts over again on Monday!

 

The hyenas have cornered a lion in the conference room. I can hear their yipping and snapping from the hallway. Peeking through the sidelight, I see the clan advance, bravely stealing nips from the old king’s flank. Snarling savagely, the lion rears back and disables the aggressors with one arc of his massive paw. A potted fern and next month’s budget analysis are destroyed in the attack. The sniveling hyenas fall back, huddle under the conference table and prepare to regroup. The lion uses the lull to lick his wounds and check his Blackberry.

I continue on my way to the water cooler to refill my canteen. In the hallway, the sheep are congregated, quietly bleating to each other. I approach slowly, head lowered, but they still panic and scatter as I pass. Half nibbled spreadsheets flutter in their wake. It’s disconcerting that I’ve worked here for over nine years and they still bolt at the sight of me. I make a mental note to bring them donuts.

On the trek back to my desk, I spot the rattlesnake coiled by the copy machine. The procedure review meeting must not have gone well; she is hunting for a scapegoat. Her cold, tight smile and unblinking stare are disturbing and she knows it. Her rattles are raised, but she is not yet set to strike. I don’t stop as I say “good morning” knowing it’s only a matter of time.

Rounding the corner, I pass the intern hunched at his desk. Panicked, he minimizes the website he was intently viewing. His voice squeaks a little as he says hello. I note his ever growing stubble and the gnawed pencils. If he’s lucky, he’ll take time off to travel after graduation, maybe not come back. I give him the warmest smile I can fake and keep walking.

Easing into my chair, I sigh. I open a few files and spread them around to camouflage my lack of work ethic. A new email appears in my inbox, the subject line reads: New S.O.P. – PLEASE READ! I delete it outright and try to remember why I didn’t travel after graduation.

A soft shuffling from above redirects my attention. I look to see the bats hanging from my cubicle wall, pretending to sleep. I join them, arms folded, and listen. A jumble of voices, ringing phones, rustling paper. Above all I hear the drums and I am restless.

i’m boxed in, like cheap wine

The fluorescents are too bright.  I feel washed-out.  Cave crickets are translucent due to the perpetual darkness.  I am colorless from too much unnatural light. 
Even the furniture is painted and upholstered in shades of non-colors: beige, taupe, gray.  All outlined in stark black like an illustration of something that should be real.  Is this life or the manual? 
(See Fig. 1 – Female Employee slumped over cubicle desk.)
The coffee is flavorless but the creamer is synthetic.  The sugar looks too white to be trusted.  Much like the management.
The steady rhythm of telephones and the copy machine is like distant drums.  When they stop, the silence is unnerving.
Surrounding me are inanimate objects that demand my attention: blinking monitors, email notifications, stacks of folders and papers.  Yet the living avoid contact and look down when passing in the halls.  The only conversation I’ve had today was with my printer, coaxing it to give up a piece of jammed paper. 
Here, all my natural instincts are considered signs of aggression.  I have to remember to speak softly and not show too many teeth.  Sudden movements and off-hand references from obscure movies cause confusion and fear. 
(See Fig. 2 – Female Employee fashioning primitive weaponry from  rubberbands, paperclips and hi-liter ink.)
It is safer to not draw too much attention so I keep my head down.  Documents are strewn across my desk, multiple windows opened on my monitors.  Looking busy is my camouflage. 
I pretend that I am biding my time, waiting for just the right moment to attack and unleash my fury.  It’s a hard ruse to maintain.  For now it is only about survival.  Towing the line while trying not to hang myself with it. 
There is hope, though.  I am preparing a signal fire.  Every day I gather a little more fuel, building it bigger and higher.  When conditions are finally right, I’ll set it ablaze and the smoke will rise above the canopy and  my rescue will come.
(See Fig. 3 – Female Employee dousing cubicle in kerosene exactly three seconds before she realizes that the whole signal fire thing was supposed to be a metaphor.)