The short story “The Small Print” was shortlisted for SFX magazine’s The Writing Dead competition. There’s no print version, but you can read it exclusively below. I tag this one as “John Grisham with zombie subcontractors”, but feel free to disagree.
I started working at the Where Value Corporation on the same day that my first wife died. I didn’t think anything of it at the time: we hadn’t spoken directly to each other for nearly two years, and even our lawyers were sick of the sight of us.
With hindsight, I should have paid more attention to the fact that my lawyer was sick of the sight of me. I pointed out that a potent cocktail of emotional distress and legal ennui may have influenced my decision to sign on with the corporation.
“I can show you a copy of your contract,” my boss offered, “although obviously I’m under no obligation.”
“Perhaps you could read it out to me,” I suggested, “although obviously you’re under no obligation.”
As he read it out to me, my mind wandered.
My first day on the job, the day my wife died, the day my lawyer screwed me in the most lawyerly way you can imagine – well, that day was not so bad. Where Value is a great company to work for (up to a point, but we’ll get to that point a bit later): the work is rewarding, the perks are amazing, the buffet is satisfying. I was rewarded, I was amazed, I was sated.
“Glad to have you working with us,” my boss told me repeatedly, in that first week, and he meant it.
“Glad to be working with you all, Glenn,” I told him, and it was true. I thrived at Where Value: recruited into the Hypothetical Matter department, researching potential applications of dark fluid, promoted to the Chaplygin Modelling unit. I started dating my co-worker Crystal Haight, who was considerably more attractive and intelligent than my dead wife, and played non-Euclidean Ultimate Frisbee for the department in the company league.