Sal LaMasters Must Evade The Meeting

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Every meeting for seventy years had a fair mixture of oddballs. From overtired accountants to undervalued interns, long rows of Sherman Shires Enterprises staff members flooded each Tuesday at 11:32 am. Among these and without delay, phone salesman Sal LaMasters sat at the corner of the table, right next to the gaggle of marketing goons and an inch away from the CEO.


“He’s going to die, isn’t he?” Angie lowered the clump of papers her husband handed her.

“You read ahead.” He knew she didn’t. Albert was a hack and he couldn’t quite get his wife to just let the work in full speak for itself. Always pick, pick, pick.

“No I didn’t.” She gave a pitiful frown. “I mean, if he makes every meeting for seventy years, I bet the only reason he’d avoid, not ‘evade’, this one is that the meeting is with death. Am I right?”

Albert said nothing. He looked at the cat video he had paused. The title read “CAT SITS ON A LOG!!!” To his disappointment, the cat was, in fact, sitting on a bundle of sticks.

“Also, how old is this poor man? Seventy, seventy years? That’s past normal retirement, and only five years past if he joined the company fresh from the womb.”

Pick, pick, pick.

“It never said he was seventy. The company has held meetings every Tuesday for seventy years.”

“It’s unclear.” Sipping her mug liquid, Angie gently tossed the story back to Albert. “Fix it before you hand it in. Oh, and knowing you, Sal likely has no personal motive for fearing a meeting with death. Call me when you’re sure it’s good enough.”

He thought it had been. Possibly for some magazine, but it might put him on a map, not that maps made any one location stand out more than others.

Albert looked it over. It had always been this way. He crafted a potentially charming story, she pushed him to fix it, and lo and behold, the story would become better. But then Angie would astonishingly hate the new product even more and insult him to the point of scrapping it altogether. She was his muse and his paper shredder. If he wanted an abusive inspiration, a boa constrictor could have done the job just as well.

He moaned and got to work.


No one would have married Angie if she lacked craftiness. Known in her town as The Whip, she used her sharp intellect (and sharp tongue) to convince Albert he wasn’t good enough for her or the literary world, which drove him to want her. Albert was not her first pick, but he was the best looking of insecure boys. Two years later, they live off of her salary and his fear of not living up to her standards. She was complete.

Usually, it took two hours complete with sobbing sounds to rewrite the story. But, as Angie noted, five hours and not even a whimper floated through the hallway. In a moment of genuine concern, she tiptoed to his den to investigate.

She did not find Albert, nor a paused cat video, but a few pages of the revised story. Here is what she read.


Every meeting for seventy years had a fair mixture of oddballs. From overtired accountants to undervalued interns, long rows of Sherman Shires Enterprises staff members flooded each Tuesday at 11:32 am. Among these and without delay, phone salesman Sal LaMasters sat at the corner of the table, right next to the gaggle of marketing goons and an inch away from the CEO.

Despite being in such close proximity with such a powerful figure, Sal cringed at the sight of him. Mr. Lowman made him pass on retiring by making the senior believe he’d have nothing to live for if he was not with the company. Many rival companies over the years noticed the merits of Sal LaMasters and wanted to bring him to their side. Each and every time, Lowman chipped away the courage of his star underling’s talent and, each and every time, LaMasters declined the offers.

At 11:00 am on one cumbersome gray Tuesday, Sherman Shires Enterprises was visited by a man in a three-piece suit, so black in its hue that light seemed to be sucked away from it like a vacuum. The receptionist, typically able to give the customer a blinding white bed of bones she humbly called teeth, could not look at the stranger’s face for more than a second at a time.

She called Mr. Lowman’s office and described the gentleman. For thirty-three seconds, the pretty ear of the receptionist was permanently and slightly deafened by the other end of the line.

The receptionist instructed the stranger to take a seat and if he needed anything to ask her. The man thanked her and watched as she tried to restore her hearing by popping her finger in and out of her ear. He made everyone else nervous.

Lowman rushed over to the man and hissed. The stranger laughed, not condescendingly, but not kindly either. The two knew each other well as partners, but as they had not been in contact for years, Lowman knew what the man was after. He was going to take more than just the life of Sal LaMasters’ dreams this time. Death had come for a broken spirit.

“I will attend the meeting today and… offer, yes, I’d say offer Mr. LaMasters a deal. And after this, you will take full credit for the death of anyone’s dreams you made me kill.”

This meant Lowman would receive due blame and inner remorse for the death of crushed dreams, and all at once would completely shatter his head and heart.

“Listen there, Archie,” for this is what the stranger’s name was, “I’m an old man myself. If you kill him, th-that guilt will pile over me and kill me too!”

Archie smiled. It was condescending as all get out this time. “I know. I love a bargain, don’t you?” Then he walked off to the assembly room with laughter ringing the halls.

Lowman stood there dumbly while the receptionist found something unpleasant in her left ear and teasingly tried to smear it on Brad from accounting. The only way to save himself was to save…

Should he cancel the meeting? No, he desperately needed to address the all-too-common shenanigans of teasing among the vulgar young ladies of the office. He would not die with good men like Brad from accounting covered in earwax. So how would he save LaMasters?

Sitting at his desk, Sal LaMasters fussed over his hands. He had been with the company since he was in the womb, as his mother first worked there, with the baby becoming something of an honorary employee. Honorary retroactively became literal when they found a job even a baby could do and years later gave back-pay.

Quite literally, Sherman Shires Enterprises was his home, even if the slightly-older Lowman Junior used tricks to make him stay instead of valuing him. He would never take those offers.

Maybe if they just talked about it a little instead of falling into roles.

Lowman discovered quite horribly that LaMasters was already waiting at his spot and not at his desk. The meeting would have to go on. He was old, why not give up?

Then he had a flash of brilliance. The receptionist managed to give Brad from accounting a facial using things found in the various holes in her head.

11:32 am came. “Before I begin, I would like to announce that Sal LaMasters will become my partner and off-site business consultant. He will no longer come to work, but instead advise me from the comfort of his home. Or Honolulu. Or wherever. Does that sit well with you, Mr. LaMasters?”

Sal LaMasters laughed uncontrollably and accepted, to a true and fair round of applause. Lowman beamed arrogantly at the defeated Archie, scowling comically and rubbing a ring molded to look like a rat skull, he hoped.

“To business. Brad from accounting, why do you have earwax and mucus on your face?” The receptionist giggled.

Had Lowman been paying attention, he’d have caught Sal and Death trading thumbs-ups.


On the final page, Angie found a note saying something about how Albert was willing to be with her before she broke him and how unlike the story, it’s too late and he wants a divorce and don’t come near because he’s buying a boa constrictor to replace her and he’ll have his lawyers and friends get his things and they’ll have meetings and don’t look for him and had a lovely questionnaire for her to give a sincere and honest opinion about the story.

But she barely read it. Instead, she found all of the stories he wrote that she made him scrap and found a high-profile publisher to tell her soon-to-be ex-husband’s stories, under her name of course, to the world. In an unfortunate turn of events, Angie was in fact correct; Albert’s stories only sold 3,580 copies worldwide, and had he published the stories, Albert would have become as embarrassed as Angie.

Albert, scarred from the constant criticism of his stories,  decided after finishing Sal LaMasters to put away the pen and take up snake-ranching. He felt after Angie, nothing could hurt him again. Although he was bitten by a python once and screamed for two hours, but still.

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Stapler and Tape

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The end came not from fire or ice, but from protein drinks. After the first tainted Power Fountain beverage claimed a human life, the world and Power Fountain LTD shortly broke down from there.The world was survived by the employees of the dissolution of society.

Holed up in a skyscraper for four years caused strain upon the 217 remaining people on Earth, even if it did come with new friendships, greater understandings, astonishing romances between accountants and marketing reps, births, clarity of demise, factions, deformed births, a short-lived quest for a legendary lost game of Solitaire removed from the computers to maintain productivity, lost births, murders, suicides, murder suicides, suicidal murders, muimimal surcers, and very little filing.

By the end, 215 people had died. This is the story of how the remaining one and a half people spent their final day on a planet that would be be inherited by the smarter iguanas.

The CEO that started the kerfuffle coughed out a gold tooth. It was not natural gold; not when he first started guzzling his own protein drink. Once the water fountains broke down and the maintenance staff dissolved into a puddle of protein years prior, Gonson Gobsmack (CEO) opened the vault that held the last untainted Power Fountain cans and issued them to the final nine humans.

To his immeasurable regret, even though they were untainted, sitting in aluminium cans for years had adverse effects on the consumer. Seven died. Two remained; Kevin Beecher (Data Entry Clerk) survived off of pen ink due to insurmountable fear of the protein drink. Gobsmack fared better only a day longer than the other seven who drank.

He was essentially dead, but delusion kept the man who sucked the world away busy.

“Beecher, file these folders for me, would you? Got to have things orderly for our clients. Appearances give us power. Power Fountain. Power…” Then he died.

Kevin nodded. He knew the last CEO on Earth had been confused, but who was he to ignored a dying man’s request?

He took the colorful folders to the cabinets and began sorting them by state. New Jersey (now barren, orange and musty ash within a month of the tainted shipment), Ohio (survivors lived there for a week until a turtle raced into them and caused the living corpses to shatter), Montana (a revolutionary form of suicide was invented there, but no one was around to document it), and Michigan (the only state with an inhabitant, Kevin Beecher).

He placed the folders into the correct slot, coldly pretending that he wasn’t just shuffling the names of corpses around a hollow coffin. Even seeing a folder with his own mother’s first name on it couldn’t distract him from his menial task.

The last data entry clerk wiped away a smudge from his lips. It had always been a disastrous habit of his, drinking slightly toxic pen ink at work. But it had been a large company, and he had enough experience with data entry that he could pretend he wasn’t there for Quality Assurance purposes, watching the world melt off while drinking a pen over a vat of protein-enhancing liquid.

“Gibson, Kristen. Hewlett, Stewart.”

He told himself that it started when a cute girl in marketing laughed at the ink on his face. Not a mean laugh, but a “chase after my heart” laugh.

“Larson, Alison. Brie, Brie.”

But he knew it was a predispositional habit of his spawning from middle school. He just chewed his was through a pen and liked the taste of it. Now he needs it to survive.

“Seofusall, Demi.”

Kevin Beecher realized with horror that his work is done. Nothing could distract him anymore. He rose and turned from the standing metal caskets. His footsteps kept time with the blinking of iguanas, more and more spawning each day.

He continued trudging past the marketing girl, who had died drinking the “clean shipment” only a day gone. She had been his office wife for three years but never bore him a child. They couldn’t justify it. They saw the world; it was not a world of hope.

Finally, he reached the center of the office. For five hours, Kevin gyrated wildly, saying nothing and looking eager for a vacation day. At last, his voice shone through his dance.

“And… done! Well, now that that’s over with, better go get the handgun my boss keeps in his desk and blow my brains all over the office.”