Maximum Miasma at
The tight cluster of formerly top exec lemmings jostled as if for slaughter in the basement of the new corporate headquarters. The air was toxic with fresh paint fumes and a clammy wetness arising from industrial carpet soggy with swamp water.
The Huddle of Terror
Chima stood at the center of the execs around whom they huddled for her protection. They had been stripped of every shred of identity and past connection to their company, and now sought some anchor, a thread for tethering to these unknown owners. Chima wished to reassure them of their value and place in an evolving world order, although she had no clue as to what that was.
But any chance to soothe their nerves and net floundering anxieties was burst by the full-throated blast of John Phillip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” emitted full-throttle from the boombox wielded by a skimpy shorts-wearing and leggy cheerleader who flew into the basement trailing pompom glitter. With a bit of effort to counter gravity on a middle-aged frame, she leapt onto a desk and twirled.
Tugs of War
Chima and the execs stared at the cheerleading show with a dread certainty that their lives were now in the hands of a circus. The music twanged off as the cheerleader poised a megaphone at neon-cherry lips and crackle-screamed “Welcome to orientation! Our first announcement is that you’re all fired!” She giggle-coughed as she shakenly twisted her thin body into a touchdown move.
“I’m Holly St. Maga with the good news! Our leader, the great Oswin Radcliffe Confingo, has decreed to hire you all back, but in all new jobs, woohoo!” To top off her performance, Holly blew into her whistle. “Now line up by height, c’mon!”
Just as the execs scrambled to recall grade school, and jostled to notice each others’ height, Holly interrupted their musical chairs moment to shout; “And take your shoes off. Make it REAL!” Numbed by the bullying, they dutifully tossed shoes aside, and waded into the soggy dark brine of the wet carpet to line up humiliatingly in order of height.
Not Gonna Make Any Exceptions
Stood outside of the line. Holly stared long and hard at her, exhaling a long and loud sigh, then intoned darkly; “There’s always one”, and pointed at Chima. With a deft click of her fingers, Holly signaled a violent flash of bright colors and a whirl of feathers of a huge multi-hued parrot who flew into the basement and madly flapped around the execs who were forced to scatter and break up the lineup. The parrot took the opportunity to peck crazily at each of the rattled execs, then alighted on Holly’s shoulder.
Holly had a quick stare-down with Chima, then spoke to her parrot; “What do we call her?”
The parrot answered with a guttural squawk’ “problem child”. Holly again pointed rudely at Chima, saying “Yep, that’s who you are.”
Chima suddenly stepped forward, still in heels, and daringly flicked her finger on the parrot’s beak. “Don’t mess with Ashton…he bites,” Holly warned. That engineered a throwdown comment Chima aimed at Holly; “Well, that makes two of us”.