An Honest Day’s Work

Joseph prided himself on maintaining a forty hour work week. Many in his line of work did not, opting for the least work possible with the best return on their investment. It would be easy to do the same, to arrive only when he needed and leave immediately, but his father had been precise about such matters, so Joseph would be too.

It was a lazy man who didn’t put in his forty, his father would say. A man who didn’t understand the value of a dollar, or someone who didn’t have pride in their work. Grandad was a union man and fought to get that forty hours, and his dad dutifully maintained it with religious precision. Starched shirt and tie, out the door every day by eight-fifteen to catch the bus downtown. Joseph understood now that it wasn’t just to take care of his family, but also to take care of his soul.

Start slacking off, cutting corners, working less than the golden forty and a man becomes slothful. Thirty-eight hours was a sin against God, taking employment for granted. Lucky to have a job, so it deserves a full forty.

That’s why Joseph always set up thirty-nine hours and thirty minutes early. He didn’t need to—an hour or two would normally be sufficient—but he took pride in his work. It was because of that pride he was sought out. Joseph was a professional, and the men he worked for knew he would give the job his everything. That was his duty.

Joseph would occasionally sigh as the hours wore on and wonder about taking the easier route, but he always recoiled from these thoughts with a mental slap. That’s not how I raised you, his father would say. I thought you were better than that. I didn’t raise a slacker.

Joseph checked his watch, grimly sighed and stretched his back, then laid back down on his stomach. It was about that time.

Placing his eye to the scope, he shrugged his shoulders to loosen them up, adjusted the angle slightly, and waited for the door to open. Pull the trigger, sit up, disassemble and slip the rifle into his briefcase.

Five o’clock—time to go home.

A Reporter’s Private Journal

I always hope that the world will prove the stereotypes wrong. When the setting calls for a dark and stormy night, I anticipate a soft sunset and a warm breeze, the tall grass dancing its mockery of every bad novel with slashing lightning and sloshing mud. The world’s an ornery place that doesn’t play by our rules, and I count on its contrariness to make life a little more pleasant sometimes.

Of course, this self-inflicted reverse-psychology doesn’t usually work. Turns out the world doesn’t give two figs for what I think or want. That’s why on the night when Sargent Faithful and his boys marched into Colonel Rupert’s camp it was raining fit to drown a pig. The wind lashed at the empty tents still weighted down by the gear of dead men, and though all trace of lock-stepped boot prints had been washed away, I shuddered as the howling wind seemed to bring them back to us again.

The colonel had sent his squad out three days ago on a reconnaissance mission into enemy territory. None had returned, but HQ had sent him another squad anyways. That, too, was stereotypical.

I’d heard about Faithful before, though I’d never met the man. Military life has a way of changing a person, and it’s not uncommon for a man to lose his way after a battle or two. It’s hard to believe in a god out here. But not the sargent–he was a man who always knew exactly where he was. It was uncanny, in fact, how present he was. I always expect the religious to fix their stare into the other world, always dreaming about how things will be different someday, or how it should be. Not Faithful though, he was always here. Always right here.

Corporal Collins
Bragovia Army Corps
Summer, 642 TE.

I cast magic missile

“I see Ayn Rand as the paladin who walks around all the time with Detect Evil on.” – Jonny Carter

More on this later when I have time (hopefully within the next few hours).