Ice Flue Chapter 3

4 Oct

Chapter 3

   The skeleton of a Dracun Lizard greeted Stan at work that morning. Splayed out on his desk like marionette, the skeleton gave off an aura of having recently been handled.

   Stan glanced up from his work desk laboratory. Not a single other soul stirred in Potion Control Chamber, his department at Ice Enterprises. Was today a holiday?

   Magenta and fuchsia bubbles surrounded the flu feelers of his two neighbors’ gage monsters, but there was no trace of a blue ectoplasm ghost harvest—a daily ritual of both his neighbors to stimulate the company’s senses—Ice Enterprises was, after all, a living breathing entity—and increase productivity.
   Something skittered past in the blacklight hull bulb above Stan’s row of laboratory cubicles. Sweat pooled on his forehead as it breathed hotly down upon him. So this was how it felt to be finally found out: the burglar police had infested his work dream space with hunting worms because of the incident with Heiferwaith.
   “Stan? Stan?” The furry hunting worm coiled around Stan’s shoulders.
   Stan blinked. It was not a furry hunting worm after all but his octopus-headed boss, Dennis.
   It was like coming out of a dream. No, it was more like taking a deep breath of air after being forcibly held down in a plasma chamber.
   Dennis’ shaking intensified the longer Stan neglected to perform the recognition ritual.     
   Finally, rather dimly, Stan said “Good morning sir and welcome to Ice Enterprises. How can I be of assistance? I am your personal scientist forever.”
   Dennis slapped Stan on the back jovially. The gesture was overly familiar. Dennis, the pendulums in his grandfather clock earrings trying to lull Stan back to sleep, appeared blurry.
   “Whoa there, buddy. I just wanted to know if you’d seen Hoagy or Heiferwaith. You know, your neighbors? We’re running low on ecto ghosts in Chamber 23 and my data is showing no harvesting on this quadrant level. I know it’s not your job, but would you mind reigning in a few ecties for the health of the company?”
   Although Stan nodded with enough vigor to satiate the cloying Dennis, some time passed before he began to do Hoagy and Heiferwaith’s job for them. He’d kept remembering the sound of his sculpta brick smashing the cartilage in Heiferwaith’s kneecap. He’d managed to free the Dracun Lizard, that was certain, but his memory after that had gone patchy. The world had gone completely black once he’d left Heiferwaith’s apartment tube dwelling. A stew bubbled in an enormous cauldron on the stairs to his tube dwelling, the severed head of Heiferwaith floating beside some Dracun Lizard skulls and peeled vegetables in the broth.
   “Why’d you do it, Stan?” The floating head of Heiferwaith gurgled from inside the boiling stew. “Did you think you could get away with it?”   

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