Day 283: Why your boss should give you a raise.


“Marisa, please send in Mr Carmichael.” The voice that came through the small speaker was tinny and distant, but still drove fear into Geoffrey’s heart like a spike. He rose slowly from the small plastic chair that seemed to belong in a child’s classroom than the waiting room of his boss, then headed through the door with a gulp.

Inside, there was a second small plastic chair in front of a large mahogany desk. Behind the desk sat his boss, Mr Zebub. Geoffrey couldn’t see his face as he was shrouded in darkness, but upon the desk lay mounds and mounds of food. It ranged from fantastical creations of spun sugar and delicate chocolate all the way through to a sad, lonely McDonald’s cheeseburger, deflated in its wrapper. “Mr Carmichael,” he said, slurping his way around the words, “I understand you’re here to discuss your pay?”

“That’s right, Sir.” Geoffrey moved forward to the small chair, briefcase held in his white-knuckled hand. “I’d like to petition for a raise.”

“This should be interesting. Go on.” A hand appeared from the darkness, folds of fat bulging around a ruby ring on every finger. It snatched up the cheeseburger then disappeared back into the dark. The sound of a cheeseburger being swallowed whole echoed around the large office.

“Well, Sir, I’m the best employee here. I’m a good worker.”

“Pah, none of you are good enough.”

“I’ve been effectively running my department following the budget cuts. I seamlessly integrated O’Leary’s role with my own following his termination.” Carmichael hesitated on the word termination, feeling his Adam’s apple move in his throat like a target for a hungry wolf.”

“Well, that’s in the job description.”

“Was the Uprising in the description, Sir? Seeing as I led the seventh floor in the charge that “won the day”, including the retaking of the prints and supplies cupboard, along with the break room.”

“True, I’m not sure how we’d have coped without the coffee. Jenkins barely survives without the stuff.” Zebub slurped and snorted, the hand once again emerging to snatch a precariously balanced muffin. “Then there’s Donna and her staples. She’s a madwoman with that bloody stapler.”

Carmichael gave a small cough, raising his slender fingers to his mouth. “Indeed. I also redirected the attentions of Miss Kimberley Watts, age seven and a quarter, away from the more secretive aspects of the building. Even after she was most insistent.”

“I did tell the higher-ups that “Bring Your Child To Work Day” was a bad plan. Even so, it’s definitely all there in the description. Take a look.” A piece of paper unfurled from the desk, rolling down to stop at Geoffrey’s feet. At the bottom were four lines of writing, detailing everything he’d just said. He pressed his finger against it and found that the ink was still wet. “See, right there in the description. Now, if that’s all, I’ve heard rumours about the Ninth having a party after work and I want to see if there’s a buffet.”

Carmichael stood up and turned to leave. He looked around the dark office, the portraits hanging on the walls, then wheeled back round. “Actually, Sir, that’s not all. You see, I also have a number of photos to show you.”

Zebub’s chair creaked as he leaned forward. “Photos? I’ve never really been one for art.”

“I think you’ll like these.” The briefcase popped open and the first photo was removed. It showed a shadowy bedroom, with Zebub’s secretary lying naked on a bed and a fat hand with a distinctive ruby ring on each finger working its way up her thigh. “How would your wife feel about this photo, Mr Zebub?”

Zebub’s laugh shook the windows. “She knows! You think you can come in here and blackmail me with some pictures of me screwing the secretary? My wife sometimes joins in! Come one, Geoff, either try harder or get the fuck out of my office.”

Carmichael smiled to himself. His next photo was a surefire raise winner. He passed it to Zebub, who snatched it from his trembling hand.

Fifteen minutes later, Carmichael walked out of the office holding a signed agreement for an increase in his salary. He looked down at the photo of an extremely fat man holding an oversized cheque for £1,000,000. The recipient, in this case, had been the British Heart Foundation. The photo below showed another cheque going to UNICEF. Then one for Make A Wish. Fifteen photos in all. He looked back at the glass-fronted door and the words etched in gold on its frosted surface.

B. L. Zebub
Prince Of Hell (Gluttony)

It wasn’t always a fun job, but Geoff got by. There were certainly worse places to work than Hell.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 280: Put two characters, each of whom wants something from the other, in a room together.Neither of them is allowed to ask for it straight out. Give them five minutes with only dialogue to get what they want.


“My Lady, the Baruvian delegation has arrived.”

Ilyanna Seabreeze looked around the room. Her courtiers all looked at her with the last hopes in her eyes. “Very well. Send in Lord Baristojk. I will treat with him alone.”

“But, my Lady,” The Magus, Bortian, looked up in horror. “He is Baruvian! Evil itself spawned there, and…”

“Are we to judge the sins of a nation by the actions of one wayward son?” Ilyanna shook her head, sadly. “I will not be the one to plunge my nation into the grip of mass hysteria. Send in the Lord. Then, once formal introductions have been managed, you will all leave us.”

The courtiers and attendants looked at each other. This was a breach of the standard protocol, but what were they to do? The Light of Pernicia had spoken. While they all grumbled, they did as they were bidden. The crowds petered out to leave them alone. Lord Baristojk of Baruvia, haughty and standoffish, and the Lady Seabreeze, radiant and hopeful.


“Lord Baristjok, within this hall you will refer to me as “My Lady” or “Lady Seabreeze”. You surrendered your right to abandon formalities long ago.”

“Very well, my Lady. You know why I have come.”

“I do indeed. However, it has to be said that I am loathe to hear your requests.” Ilyanna sniffed and tried to look down her nose at him. She knew she should have asked for the throne to be placed on a raised platform. As it were, he simply stood tall and stared directly at her with his deep blue eyes.

“Lady Seabreeze, the Gemstone Rebels have taken Pravia. Within forty eight hours, they could be marching upon Baruvia.”

“Yet you have none to blame but yourself. Had you kept a tighter leash on the Lion Cub, we wouldn’t be having this issue.”

Anger blazed in Lord Baristojk’s eyes and his next sentence came through gritted teeth. “Ilyanna, I came to treat with you fairly. If you consider this an excuse to belittle me and to discuss my faults-”

“Olja, your faults are numerous and indescribable. My statements are exactly that – statements of facts. Now, unless you are prepared to state your business directly, I have no further time for you. So,” she said, eking out every last drop of venom she could find, “Why are you here?”

The Lord Baristojk stared at her, then turned on his heel. His long strides took him to the entranceway quickly, but then he lingered. A hand, calloused and scarred from countless hours of training with sword and axe, rested on the handle. “You know why I came, Ilyanna. Leave me my pride, at least.” He pulled open the door and began to walk through. His last words dawdled in their passage to Ilyanna, long enough for the door to have closed behind him. “I’m sorry for the past, Ilyanna.”

The courtiers streamed back into the room following his departure. “My Lady, are you okay?” The Magus asked, looking at her rigid form. “Has he hexed you?”

Ilyanna broke from her reverie. “No, I am fine. I got what I wanted from the meeting. Now it is time to see to it that he gets what he wants.”

“And what is that, Lady Seabreeze?”

“We will send the Twelfth Legion to Pravia. They mobilise tonight.”

In this piece, I wanted there to be a mystery. What’s going on, who wants what? In the end, deciding on my character having very different desires for the meeting was easy. Baristojk wants support to defend his nation and is acting on a political level, while Ilyanna wants an apology. I haven’t decided what Baristojk did just yet, but I’m fairly sure it was bad that Ilyanna holds a grudge. 

Still, everyone got what they wanted in the end?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 269: Write a story from the point of view of a homeless man or woman who falls asleep on the bus and accidentally ends up “on the other side of the tracks”, in a quiet neighborhood late at night.


Daniel Harker is coming to the end of his shift. It’s late at night and his back’s playing up again. He hates the late shift and only took it so that Jerry could go to his daughter’s play. He shifts in his seat, clicking and cracking his bones.

He pulls into the depot, out in Deerport. He’s supposed to do proper checks at the end of every evening, checking for litter and drunks passed out on the seats. But after the mess with all of the traffic lights in town getting stuck on red, he just wants to get back. He checks his mirror and all of the seats seem empty. He checks his watch, the hands waving at him as he sees the wrong side of two in the morning. “Fuck this.” He says, then gets off the bus, leaving the doors open as is company policy. It allows the buses to air, or some nonsense. That’s where his part in this story ends.

An hour later, Frankie wakes with a start. “I’ll goddamn kill you!” He shouts into the empty air, wild eyes raging as he swings a fist. Frankie, whose last name has been lost for years in a sea of booze, eventually stops his swearing and fighting with nobody. He stops for a second, eyes squinting and his head lolling from side to side. “Where in fuck am I? It’s so bloody dark.”

He makes his way down the aisle of the bus, feeling his way through the cracked leather and discarded cans. He finds his way to the open door and promptly falls through. He doesn’t even make a pretense of walking, he simply makes the move from vertical to horizontal solely with gravity’s assistance. He manages to spit out the first part of an expletive before he starts eating tarmac.

He starts crawling, making his way towards a light source across the way that he can see. It’s got the familiar sodium glow of a street light, but Frankie’s head is buzzing. There’s something missing but he just can’t place it at the moment.

He stumbles through an opening, wide enough for a couple of buses to enter the depot at the same time. He holds up a hand against the light and looks up and down the quaint, idyllic street. Picket fences, check. The occasional doghouse, check. The pieces come together in a horrifying rush.

“Oh shit,” he says, “I’m in Suburbia.”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 254: Describe an electronic in the future that you won’t be able to operate


“Okay, so I’ll just access a search engine and we’ll find a relevant…” The teacher immediately looked for a terminal, voice trailing as realisation began to dawn. A tentative hand rose in the class and a girl’s voice came out of the crowd, weaving its way through the giggles and chuckles.

“Sir, remember that we can now use Thought-To-Holo stream in order to access things like that.” She smiled sympathetically at the teacher who had gone almost as red as his choice of trousers.

“Yes, thank you Deyna. Now, appearing behind me you’ll find…” The chuckles erupted into full blown laughter and Deyna’s face matched the teacher’s in hue. A three-dimensional model of her face had appeared. “Umm… Well, not that. I was… Well…”

“Sir, umm…” Her voice had gone very quiet. “You have to consider public browsing first. Then, well, umm, this won’t happen.”

“You will see that the Holo of the mantis shows… For fuck’s sake, what is it now?” He turned to observe what was being projected as the front row, who so far had managed to hold it together dissolved into fits of laughter. “Oh.” He took off his glasses and cleaned them against his tweed jacket. “You know what, we’ll call this one quits. See you all on Thursday. Dismissed.”

This arrived from memories of teachers typing Google into search bars to begin searching for things and other such painful experiences. Nothing quite as bad as this, but still. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 249: Toto, if we’re not in Kansas anymore, where are we?


“Welcome, welcome, to the Fallen Sky. Home to the scum of society, rogues, thieves, lost royalty, lone wanderers, peasants, odd-jobs, maggots and even the occasional myth.” A roar went up from the assorted patrons as I pushed through the heavy door, a clamouring of tankards against tables and armour. “As you know, we’re a diverse bunch. For those less learned, we’re all different. Davey, that means urghhhh.” The big man standing on table gestured towards another patron, who responded with a grunt of his own. This, of course, drew much amusement from the assembly.

I picked my way across the various obstacles, corpses that hadn’t yet been disposed of, empty barrels, a passed out monkey; forging my way through to the bar. The barman, a weasel-faced gentleman with a single beady eye, stared at me as if I’d been recently passed through a dog’s digestive system and had ended up on his boot. “What do you want?” He asked, or at least that’s what I think he asked. It sounded much more along the lines of “Whadjewain”, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“I’m looking for someone.” I replied, my voice shaking and cracking to betray my fear. “His name is…”

“Never heard of him.” Again, I might be wrong. Either way, he swiftly turned on his heel and oozed his way to the other end of the bar, shouting at the man on the table as he did so.

“We must remember,” the big man yelled, “that we are only able to gather here due to the kindest gestures of our host, Bravo. A toast to Bravo!” He took a swig of ale from his tankard then spat it out across the crowd. “Long may he piss in his beer!” A thunder rolled through the small room, clattering and clunking accompanied with fresh peals of laughter. “Now, to business…”

I stopped paying attention as a hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled me into a corner. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” My questioner was incredibly… Average. Average height, medium build, brown hair and blue eyes. He glared at me. “You do not belong here. You must leave. Now, quickly.” His mouth was firing the words like arrows from a trained archer’s bow, swift and deadly.

“Woah now. I need to find…”

“I know the man of whom you speak. You will not find him here. This is not your cosy little hometown. You must get out.”

“Look, I’m not from around here.” I told him, biting my lip as I considered how best to tell him my story.

“I know. You are from the Outworld. You smell wrong. Like I said, you don’t belong here. Go home. AT least go away. Before, well, you die.” He grimaced and drew a finger across his throat. “There is a back door from the cellar. Head west. Go quickly. I have already obtained the key from Bravo.” His eyes blinked, sideways, as he pushed the big brass key into my hands. “Now, go. I have work to do. Why are you still standing there? Go!” He shoved me towards the cellar door before I could ask any more questions.

I stood for a moment in the dark of the cellar, wondering what the hell was going on. At least my strange new friend had told the truth about the back door. I fumbled the key into the lock, straining my eyes against the darkness. The lock, clearly mistreated and unloved, took a lot of work before the key slowly turned. I stepped out into harsh winter sunlight, and took a deep breath, convincing myself that if I didn’t breath I would be safe.

Before me, scales glinting in rippling hues of bronze and aged copper; looking regal and majestic against the backdrop of freshly fallen snow, was the head of a dragon. The dragon’s eye, larger than my hand with my fingers spread wide, flashed open as I took a step away. It shook its head to clear the remnants of its dream, then his mouth opened, exposing me to a vast array of teeth and heat as though from a furnace. Words followed and my own jaw fell open in a much less awe-inspiring way.

I certainly wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 245: Your face is on the evening news. Write a short news story to explain why.


“The local man pictured behind me is wanted in connection with a great number of illegal acts, including but not limited to smuggling, piracy, selling drugs, illegal distillation and manufacture of spirits, prostitution. It is believe that he is armed, dangerous and in the South Welling area. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact South Welling police station on the number below, or if this is an emergency, please dial nine nine nine. Back to you Cathy.”

“Thanks James. Now, you’ll see behind me a picture of local man Andrew and his prize marrow. Taking the top spot in the Giant Vegetables Comparable Unity National Tournament was tough enough, but now Andrew has his sights set on the big time. Perhaps in the days to come we will be welcoming a new star into the South Welling fold. For now though, with those thoughts of Murders and Marrows, we bid you goodnight.”

“Goodnight. South Welling.”

James Buchanan removed the earpiece from his from his ear, uncomfortably warm under the studio lights. “Why did we go with the Marrow man and not supercop?”

“Because Marrow brings in viewers and Supercop makes people uncomfortable. Now, shut the fuck up and get on with the prep for nine o’clock. Fucking marrows, man. I couldn’t give a shit.” Cathy lifted the glass of clear liquid to her mouth and took a long sip. “That’s good… Water.” She trailed off as a producer approached.

Marrows. They’re the future. 

As it turns out, yesterday evening my laptop suffered a catastrophic battery failure. By which I mean I forgot to charge it… Fear not, here is the offering as it was. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 240: Write a scene in which a woman is fired after only a week on the job. Just a week earlier, the same person who is now firing her was very persuasive in convincing her to take the job.


“Lisa, look, this isn’t coming from me. It’s from the higher-ups. Something about restructuring, or downsizing.” Glynn slid his hand over his slicked back hair, looking ruefully at the papers in front of him. “They told me I had to cut four people from the department, you see. As the newest and least experienced, I’m sorry but, I’ve just got to let you go.”

Lisa stared at him intently, waiting just long enough for it to become uncomfortable before she said, “Are you for real?”

“Look, I need to say again. This wasn’t my decision.”

“Don’t hide behind that excuse. Why did you tell me to go for this job, if you knew that the company was going to be downsizing?”

“I didn’t know! Honestly!” He was putting on an honest face, but Lisa could see the smirk hiding behind his grey eyes. “Look, all I said was that you’d be a great fit for the company and that there were positions opening up. I was all for you working here.”

“To get me fired.” There was something about Glynn that was bugging her, something familiar. “Why did you do this? I changed everything for this. I moved halfway across the country to rent a flat in a shitty suburb that consists of one small room and a kitchen you couldn’t swing a mouse in, let alone a cat. I broke up with my partner who thought I’d gone mad to go chasing a job here…”

“Yes, Jason Todd. Does he still play rugby?” Glynn asked, those little grey eyes turning to steel and the smirk finally emerging onto his pudgy face.

“He hasn’t played since college… Jesus Christ, Strasbourg?” Lisa’s hand flew to her mouth, attempting and failing to cover the shock that coursed through her body.

“It’s Michaels now. Turns out that there is somebody who could love me. Even though you told me nobody ever would.” He stood up slowly, easing himself from his chair as if he was attached with velcro. “That’s right, ’tis I!” A flourish to his captive audience. “Glynn Strasbourg, loner. Glynn Strasbourg, geek. Glynn Strasbourg, recipient of every cruel name under the sun but now, now, I am getting my revenge.” He cackled. He actually cackled.

Lisa grabbed her bag and headed for the door. She had to get away. To head back home. See if Jason would have her back. She turned and looked at the fat little man behind her. “You’re a right dick, you know that?” She whirled away and through the door, leaving Glynn laughing in his office, raucous and deep echoing through the halls.

What would she do now?

Oh dear, what’s next for our protagonist? Will she head home and try to fix all of those smouldering bridges? Or does she anchor in and work in the new life she’s got? Who knows? We may come back to her later.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 239: Write from the point of view of a nurse who hates the patient that she is charged with helping


Mr Aristocles. He turned eighty just the other week and as such decided that the whole ward was free reign. Of course, because he’s eighty, it’s not exactly like I can slap him when he says some sexist comment, or pinches someone’s bum on their way past. He talks down to me and, let’s face it, I run the show here.

I can only imagine what the others think of him, if he manages to rattle even me. Especially when the other girls call me the “Hospital’s Thatcher”. I choose to take it as a compliment. That woman was certainly something to behold.

Anyway, I was doing my rounds of patients today and Aristocles takes it too far. He pinched my butt. Now, don’t get me wrong,  I work out for this ass, as well as spending twelve hours on my feet every time I’m in this hellhole, but that doesn’t mean some geriatric just gets to touch it because he’s old. I whirled on him, about to give him a piece of my mind.

Then he just looked lost and old. And alone. That’s the thing that really gets to me, when they look alone. I can deal with the sickness, I can deal with the age.I can’t deal with the fact that they keep looking to the door for someone coming to visit. Half the time, there’s nobody coming except possibly one money grabbing kid or grandkid. The rest are too busy deciding what to do with Granddad’s money.

I tutted and walked out the room. Kira and Misha were at the nurses’ station, so I dove straight into conversation with them. They’d been discussing their worst patients.

“I had one guy, right, who decided that aliens were coming out of his nipples. Now, I get it that it’s wrong to laugh but… Aliens from your nipples? That’s just be painful. Oh, hey Shaz.”

“Hey Kira. How’s the board looking?”

She shrugged. “You know how it is. Long periods of inactivity coupled to brief periods of excitement. Aristocles’ winning though. All he needs for the full run is to have a full breakdown or a heart attack. Extra points if he dies.”

“Well, I’d rather he didn’t. He may be a dirty old pervert but he’s still human. As you should know, Kira.” Kira at least had the decency to look sheepish. Misha looked about ready to bolt.

“Well, we just thought it would lighten the mood around here.”

“He’s still a person. Even if…” The alarms began to wail on the desk behind her, hungry children clamouring for feeding. Their ma turned around and checked all the blinking lights, before she realised. “Shit. Henri’s having a heart attack.” She pointed towards the other two. “Go get the kit. Now!”

Her words were obeyed instantly, even as she disappeared toward the door. She might hate Aristocles’ guts, but she wasn’t going to let him die. Not without a fight.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 238: Share that embarrassing story your relatives always tell about you.


I had, as a child, a tendency to fall asleep in my dinner. Nobody was entirely sure why, the main theories involved the act of chewing being rhythmic enough to send me right away to cloud cuckoo land.

Now, there isn’t one specific incident of this. Oh no, this was a regular event. I’m talking, nearly every mealtime. My favourite time, according to the family, was when the dish involved was nice and saucy, something like chilli or a nice spaghetti bolognese.

Forkful goes in, then chew, chew, chewwww… Face first into the bowl.

I was a goddamn cool kid.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten over this and can pay attention for an entire meal now. A whole drink however… That’s a little more tricky.

Just a short one to finish today, but we’re back on track. I’m not kidding either, my family love telling people this story. Along with showing photos of me as a kid, with adorable curly blonde hair. 

Heaven only knows what happened to me. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 237: You’re the White House head chef, preparing a state dinner for the president of India. What do you serve, and how does it turn out?


This is the story about how I got fired from the White House. Now, I know, you’re not supposed to ruin the ending of a story before you start, but I just wanted to let you know. I fucked up. I fucked up bad.

So it started with the chicken… I thought it was a great idea but the Indian Prem was less of a fan…


“Mr Corman, I told you. I need these 150 portions ready for 1900. Now, I know you were in the Army and as such struggle with numbers occasionally, but I’m sure you can manage that. Get a move on!”

“Yes, Chef!” Jem shouted back at me, bustling through with the chicken pieces. I could hear Rita wittering behind me, fussing as she always chose to do.

“What is it, Ri?”

“Well, Chef, are you sure this is a good idea?” She always bit her thumb when she was nervous and by this point I was worried she’d chew it down to the bone.

“Of course it is! Fusion dishes are the way forward. Now, be a good girl and get on with the soup.” She turned around and I patter her on the ass as she walked away. What, I’m the head chef, I can get away with that kind of thing here. Here in my stomping ground, I am the king.

So, it all seemed to be going fine. Then, I stood at the head of the table as the servers brought the food out. The presidents were chatting away, all smiles and laughs, with two gorgeous women either side. The first ladies of their respective countries, one had to assume. Damn, I have got to get into politics! Well, maybe not after this fiasco…

So, the servers bring out the dishes and there I am, every eye in the room staring at me. “Mr President, Mr President, Madams First Lady, allow me to present a fusion dish, joining the blessed histories of our two nations. Before you, you will find curried chicken in a crisp breadcrumb coating. I call it… Gandheep Fried Chicken.” I grinned our towards the crowd who had a variety of facial expressions. None of them seemed to be happy though…


As it turns out, the Indian president is vegetarian. I really should have known that. Plus the attack on their cultural heritage. I thought it was a bit of fun, but they didn’t see it the same.

All of this, plus the sexual harassment suit from Rita? Yeah, I was out of a job.

So that’s how I ended up here, in Bernie’s kitchen. Now this, this is a whole other story…

A combination of long days and late nights has conspired against me, leaving me again postless yesterday. However, as is my want, I will be attempting to do two. If I don’t get the second one out, I’ve fallen asleep. 

S’all good!

The Idiot in Tin Foil