The Servicing and Maintenance of Wayland Snowball

Chapter One - Who Cares?


"But what would you do with two women?"


"Well, the same as you would with one."


"I don't get it, if you've only got one...thingy...and there are two...wotsits..."


Wayland put his bucket down heavily and looked at Marlo. "You do know what to do to a woman don't you?"

"Of course I do," w-ailed Marlo indignantly, "I've seen all those education videos you got off Two-book Tim. But they only showed one man and one woman. Where does the other woman go?"

Wayland sighed, "It doesn't really matter, on your face, on the first one's face, use your imagination!" He snatched up his bucket and crawled off down the narrow metal tunnel. Marlo sat back on his heels, brushing his head against the air vent roof. He was the taller of the two, about five feet ten in old money, with slightly curly mousey brown hair and grey eyes. His overall appearance was one of a neglected building, still lived in but not completely functional. It was often said you could see someone moving about in there, but no one was answering the door.

An image had formed in his mind, a dull, flickering image, but when you have a dull, flickering brain what else can one expect? The picture was of a middle-aged woman sitting on Wayland's face. She was rather fat, fully clothed, complete with gloves and handbag, and looked a lot like his aunt Colin. Wayland's face was pressed almost flat underneath. Somehow, Marlo didn't find that at all erotic, except the bit about his aunt in gloves.

A curse of pain from up ahead dispelled the picture forever. Marlo grabbed his bucket and crawled towards the sound.

Wayland had found another scrote, the strange, flattened creatures that did the job of rats on this planet. They had sharp spines under their greasy fur. Not being the brightest of animals, they crawled into the air conditioning vents and died of starvation, not even a scrote on its death-bed would consider eating another scrote. So they sat here and stank, well, they stank all the time, but more so when dead. When the resultant odour got too strong someone had to come up here and fish the bodies out. It was considered the worse job on the planet, usually reserved for punishment detail.

Wayland was nursing a cut on his finger, it was a tiny scratch, but men are martyrs to pain, being very sensitive souls. He was about five feet eight, but acted taller. His hair was black, almost jet. He wasn't conventionally handsome, in fact some said he was bloody ugly. This wasn't quite true, but he was no oil painting. Eyes of a dark brown and a slightly rounded, getting fat, physique completed the description.

"That one was still alive," wayland explained as Marlo emerged from the metallic gloom.

"Well, it isn't now. Look, its innards are now outards." Marlo peeled a long piece of scrote gut out of the grill where Wayland had thrown it. He wound the intestine around his finger, stretched it and swung it around, like he was playing with chewing gum, but even he wasn't stupid enough to put it in his mouth. After several minutes he finally got bored with it. Marlo retrieved the rest of the carcase, wiped it's guts off the vent and threw it into his bucket.

"Why do they call him Two-book Tim anyway," asked Marlo.

"Because he's only got two books; The pop-up, scratch and sniff, wipe-clean version of the Kama Sutra, and the Bible. Takes then everywhere he goes. One dog-eared and worn, the other virtually brand new."

"Which is which?" Marlo wondered wide-eyed.

"Which do you think, you tit."

"Well, I don't know, perhaps he's very religious, perhaps he reads the Bible every night before going to sleep."

"It's not likely though is it? I mean, if he was religious what's he doing with the Kama Sutra?"

"Perhaps he's into indian cookery in a big way." Wayland sighed and shook his head, "We really are going to have to do something about your cherry aren't we."

"I haven't got any fruit with me, but..." Marlo stuttered to a halt under Wayland's glare.

"I think it's time for a break." Wayland decided. He unwrapped a long brown parcel from around his middle. "I borrowed this from the lab. Sonson told me it had certain medicinal properties." Wayland opened the parcel to reveal a leaf, which opened out to five feet from tip to stalk and about three feet across.

"What is it," breathed Marlo.

"Ganja, man." replied Wayland in a totally unconvincing jamaican accent. Marlo's shoulders sagged, "How the hell are we gonna make cakes up here?"

"What the, you dick-head, Ganja, not ginger. You know, drugs! You smoke it. Look." He pulled out a packet of cigarette papers, pulled one loose and replaced the pack. With a small penknife he cut off a section of the enormous leaf, rolled it up and wrapped the paper around it. After several attempts at lighting the green leaf it finally began to smoulder. Wayland sucked in the yellowish smoke. Apart from a coughing fit, nothing much seemed to happen.

"Yuck, that's horrible, wait 'till I get my hands on that Sonson." He stuffed the over-sized leaf into his scrote bucket and threw the smouldering dog-end on top. Wayland laid down on the cool metal of the ventilation shaft, light coming through the grill made a pattern of square shadows across his face. "I'm still having a break, got any of those bananas?"

"Yes, there are a few left." Marlo dug into the pocket of his stained overalls and pulled out a battered paper bag. In the bottom were a few of Wayland's favourite sweets, sugar bananas. They were yellow and vaguely banana shaped, there the similarity to any real fruit ended. Wayland ate the lot, then threw the empty bag into his bucket.

"What else could a man want," sighed Wayland, continuing his earlier theme, "money, power, a big house, a nice fast sports car or three, a shit load of sugar bananas and two good looking women with big tits. Perfect. What have we got? A shaft full of scrotes!" He sighed deeply.

"I still don't understand why you need two women," Marlo laid down with his feet to Wayland's head. "From what I've heard you can't handle one."
"What! Who told you that!" Wayland shot up right, his head clanged into the roof of the vent. He laid back down nursing the top of his head.

"I read it on the wall in the ladies toilets on floor two."

"It's a lie, I can keep my end up with the best of...What were you doing in the ladies toilets?

"I was looking for you." Replied Marlo.

"Anyway, that's not the point." Said Wayland ignoring the insult, "If I had two women to practice on I would be really good. Have you ever noticed how buckets are really sexy?

A curl of yellowish smoke wafted down the vent, drifting on the lazy currents of the air-conditioning.

A passenger in a space ship approaching the planet Greenshy would first see what would look like a green snooker ball on black felt. Here and there, as they got closer, long, thin lakes of greenish water would become visible. Closer still and the individual features would appear; Tree clad mountains, forested valleys, rippling plains of lush grass. In short, sodding plants everywhere. Moving ever nearer, a cluster of buildings would come into view. The colony town called Pity. Being human dwellings they are naturally designed to fit in to the surroundings, so are a dull beige colour. Rose bushes, imported at great expense, fight a losing battle against the native plant-life.

When the planet was first discovered a message was sent back to base. Part of the message, a personal, fairly colourful comment by the mission commander, read 'I pity the poor bastards who will have to live on that green shyte hole'. However, the message didn't make it across the light-years intact, what finally arrived was 'Pity...Green shyte...' Thus, with a little judicious pruning, a town was born.

In one of the buildings a small window reveals three people gathered around a desk, the important one sitting behind it, the other two, being more impotent than important, stand sheepishly before it.

Wayland and Marlo stood in the managers office. They were both attempting to look inconspicuous yet smartly efficient. They failed miserably. The manager, one Mr Hardstaff, was looking through a thick manilla folder. The name Wayland Snowball was clearly stencilled on the front cover. Mr Hardstaff snorted through his large nose several times, closed the folder and fixed Wayland with his watery grey eyes.

"So, you are back again, the second time in the same week. That must be some kind of record." Marlo smiled, "Oh great, I've always wanted, I never said a word." he faltered under the glare from Mr Hardstaff. He was a big man, wide shouldered and very muscular.

umour had it that he broke a piece of the gym equipment by pulling too hard. The manager dropped the file onto his oversized desk. "Remind me, why is it you were in the ventilation system?"

Wayland mumbled and shuffled his feet. Marlo merely mumbled, he couldn't get the hang of doing two things at once.

"Come on, Wayland, surely you remember?" He did indeed remember, it still turned his stomach when he thought about it. "We were on punishment duty, sir."

"Yes, but what for?" Mr Hardstaff intertwined his long, thin fingers, leaned back in his executive chair and waited.

Two figures rolled along a darkened corridor in the middle of the night.

"Thsnotheway." slurred the first.

"Wha." Said the second, too drunk to even say the question mark.
"I say, this not the way to hour 'umble stablishmen'."

"Well whooz jumble stable mint is it the way to."

"Dunno, but if iz go' a bar itl do." A door suddenly jumped out at them, stopping them in there tracks. A sign on the door read 'Mr A. Highcock, Assistant Manager.' But neither of the two were in any state to focus, never mind understand the importance of those words.

"This'll do, 'old don, were goin' nin." The door was unlocked, a big mistake around drunkards. Wayland fell in first, followed quickly by Marlo. They crawled around until a light caught their eye. The pair managed to get into a crawling position and made their way over to the light. Two faces peered into an aquarium.

"Was' at then? Look slike a fish ina tin." said Wayland.

"Tha's one a them te-pins. Like a toytoyse only they cun 'old their bref."
"Tha's clever. I woulda givenun you one athem fu yu burfday if i'd known."

"Tha's real nice fort tha' is. But you got me tha colander wi' them wimins on it wiv big carumbas."

"I'll get ya' one nesyear, I promis'" Marlo smiled dreamily, then suddenly grinned widely. "Jew know wha' Te-pin means?"

Wayland, at a pivotal moment in his life, rushed blindly down the path marked 'Oh shit'. "I have no idea wha' it means, please do tell."
"Is a old red ingin word meaning 'edible'.

Mr Hardstaff suppressed a smile. "But that's nothing to your latest escapade. I can't believe even a brainless moron like you would light a fire in a ventilation duct in the residential block."

"I don't remember any ducks," whispered Marlo. Mr Hardstaff ignored him, continuing, "Not just an ordinary fire though was it, oh no, you have to go one better and light up a five-foot spliff."

"I didn't realise it had lit sir, the dog-end must have been smouldering when I put the paper bag in the bucket, which caught fire...

"I am not in the slightest amount interested in the whys and wherefores of the deed. The fact remains that once again the assistant manager as had to suffer the consequences of your actions."

Wayland began to bite down on the inside of his mouth to stop himself from laughing, he had heard what had happened to Mr Highcock's wife, and the resident Vet who had been treating Mrs Highcock's tabby cat. According to his sources, the first outlet the smoke had gone down was the one nearest the Highcock flat.

"Mr Sidebotham, the Veterinary surgeon, performed an emergency caesarian section on Mrs Highcock's rare Classic Tabby British Shorthair cat, under the influence of that damn drug." Mr Hardstaff was shouting now, to keep the smirk off his own face.

"I'm really sorry sir, I didn't realise the cat was pregnant." said Wayland, trying to sound sympathetic.

"Not only was the cat not pregnant, it also wasn't female. He's shut himself in the family microwave oven and refuses to come out, even to have his tummy tickled, which is his favourite thing in the world according to Mrs Highcock."

"This brings us neatly to the lady herself, who was found unconscious on the kitchen floor, stark naked, clutching a cucumber in one hand, a bottle of sunflower oil in the other and a wide grin plastered across her face." Mr Hardstaff had to turn away this time, the image made even his tough exterior crack.

Wayland and Marlo stood very quiet until the Manager turned back. "There were other reported incidents, most of them minor. Some of the residents actually asked for the 'air-freshener' to be injected into the system again. They said it made them feel relaxed. Now, Mr Highcock has asked that you be punished very severely, his actual words were 'wring the living shit out of the little turds'. Unfortunately, although this colony is run along military lines, we are not in the army, so I can't have you shot. I can, however, punish you according to union guide-lines."

Wayland smiled inside, which is a neat trick. He knew that the worst punishment was to clean the scrotes from the shafts, and they had already done that. As if reading his mind the manager spoke again. "I know you think cleaning the vents was bad enough, but I've discovered another, much more fiendish punishment for the two of you." With some considerable effort he pulled a stack of computer print-out almost a foot thick out of a desk draw. "Stocktaking," he said triumphantly. 

Wayland groaned, Marlo seemed deep in thought.

"You, Snowball will start at 'A', you, Brandon, will start at 'Z'. When you meet in the middle you may consider yourselves punished."

"But sir, I thought we had computers and robots and things to handle the stores, hardly anyone ever goes in there now." Complained Wayland.

"True, but it is a legal requirement that once a year a real live human checks the stock, we can't spare any, so you two will have to do. Besides, being away from people might do you good."

"But sir, that warehouse contains everything needed to run this entire colony, that must be millions of items, it'll take years." Moaned Wayland.
"So get moving, the quicker you start, the quicker you will finish." Mr Hardstaff turned his attention to other matters.

"He was a painter wasn't he?" piped up Marlo. Wayland and Mr Hardstaff turned in bewilderment towards Marlo.

"You know, that guy Caesarian." Wayland batted him around the head to save Mr Hardstaff the trouble, and pushed him out of the door.

Chapter Two - One, Two

Wayland was half way down page four, with another six hundred odd to do. He had been at the job almost three weeks now, and had hardly got anywhere. It didn't help that although the print-out was alphabetical, the stock on the shelves wasn't. The items were stacked according to part numbers, which confused the hell out of Wayland. He was already bored out of his tiny mind, the thought of all those pages left almost made him cry.

Somewhere in this vast complex his only friend Marlo was doing the same. He had hoped they would meet, perhaps he could trick Marlo into doing all of the work, then he could skive off somewhere. But the warehouse was so big he didn't hold out much hope. He hadn't seen his friend since that first day, not even after work. His head hurt so much after all this concentrating that he was forced to go straight to his room and lie down.

Every morning at the sound of his alarm a dread crept over him. With increasing effort he dragged himself from his pit and slunk towards the warehouse. The covered walk-way looked out over alien vegetation towards a yellow lake. The view was interesting if a little bright for his liking, but it was this that kept him going. Dreaming of one day being free of all this, of one day being manager himself and playing golf all day.

The present manager, and one whose position was not under much threat from Wayland, stood beside the door as he did every morning, checking Wayland was doing as he was told. He never spoke, just smiled knowingly and held the door open. Marlo, who entered from the other side, missed out on this daily treat. Mr Hardstaff didn't have the time to reach the other side of the large building. Wayland often wondered why the manager singled him out. It was very unfair.

So Wayland would turn to the last item with a tick next to it and start again. Walking down endless parallel rows of shelves ten metres high, climbing ladders, risking his life. And for what? Just to count tubes of anal cream and packets of asymmetric screws.

Every so often one of the robot shelf stackers would come whizzing down, forcing Wayland to run for cover. They were supposed to be human friendly but Wayland didn't trust anything mechanical around here. They did keep him alert though, at least most of the time. But this job was so mind numbingly boring only someone completely brain-dead could do it for any length of time. He had tried finding an empty shelf and sleeping, but the warehouse made strange noises when he closed his eyes, as though something was teasing him, so he had to give that up.

Half way through a typically boring day when not even the shelf stackers attacked him, an unusual noise somewhere up ahead and to his left made Wayland stop. Listening carefully he was sure he could hear voices. In the vain hope that it was Marlo talking to himself he ran towards the noise. As he neared he was disappointed to hear that the voices were female. Realising what this could mean, his disappointment turned to hope and he doubled his speed.

His silicon soled shoes trotted quietly down one of the long rows of shelves. The voices had stopped. When they started again he realised he had gone too far and began to back-track. A flash of orange as something moved told him he was in the right place. Peering through the stacked shelves he could make out a young woman, dressed in the regulation orange overalls, leaning against a large packing crate. She had long blonde hair, green eyes and was very pretty. By moving his head slightly he could see the other person, also a woman, but dressed in a business suit. She was obviously older by six or seven years, also quite pretty but a little stern looking. Quietly Wayland moved a few of the tins in front of him so he could see them both.

The two women were talking quietly, almost whispering. By pressing close to the shelf he hoped to hear better, but without being discovered, then if things worked out he could attract their attention. Two women would certainly make this job more enjoyable. To Wayland's infinite surprise the one in the suit leaned forward and began to undo the overalls of the younger one. The baggy orange garment opened to reveal a shapely chest supported by a white bra. The suit ran her hands over the breasts, searching for the fastener.

Wayland was amazed when the bra popped open from the front. What will they think of next he thought to himself. The suit pu lled the cups aside, revealing firm breasts with small nipples. The younger woman meanwhile was opening the blouse and skirt the other woman wore.

It's a well known fact to most people, women especially, that men have hollow spines. This has nothing to do with weight-to-strength ratios or an indication of the lack of courage. The hollow is to allow the man's brain, when it turns to jelly, to slip down into his pelvis. It isn't known how, or even if, the reverse process works. This jelly effect can be seen in action by studying men in the presence of women with a large cleavage, a see-through top, or a pair of shorts so far up her crack it's a wonder she can walk. The speed of the brain-to-jelly transformation is speeded up in the presence of 'mates' and slowed almost to a stand still in the presence of mother-in-laws and wives with large biceps.

Wayland's jelly effect kicked in quite fast. He leaned most of his weight against the shelf, his eyes flicking between the four brown nipples. The orange overall slipped to the floor revealing tiny white knickers. The suit leaned back to admire them, obviously a gift from her. Wayland's member throbbed harder as the young woman turned, exposing tight buttocks, the tiny panties disappearing between them.

The rising organ between Wayland's legs pushed harder against a jar of extra thick chunky-chilli relish on the shelf at crotch height. The jar pushed against another which swivelled around a third, sending it crashing to the floor. The sound of breaking glass echoed around the virtually silent warehouse. Wayland froze in horror. The suit pulled her blouse together and rushed over to the shelf. Behind, the orange overalls quickly covered the exotic underwear.

The suit shouted, "Who's there? Who's that spying on us? Is it that pervert Mr Highcock again?" The woman was reaching through the shelf clearing a way to get a better look. Wayland did the only thing a man could do in these circumstances. He ran for it.

"Quick, he's running away, after him." A voice shouted. As quick as he could, Wayland pelted down the row, hoping that a junction would come up on his side soon, one that would take him away from the two women. He dragged his bulk along the row, his feet hurting on the concrete floor. Wayland was too young to have a beer gut, his stomach was rounded because of his glands, he would say. It ran in the family, which is more than could be said for Wayland, who needed a lift to turn out his bedside light.

The sound of pursuing voices was close now, despite his head start and obvious male superiority. Suddenly up ahead he could see a junction, a gap between almost endless shelves to allow the robots to move from lane to lane. He rounded the corner just ahead of the voices, and ran straight into a shelf-stacking robot. His head bounced off a wooden pallet the robot was carrying, sending him staggering backwards.

"Caution," said the robot, "Warning, danger, heavy machinery. Stand aside." The robot kept on, not waiting for him to move. Dizzily, he lurched backwards, stepped into a row and watched the robot slide past.

"Bloody things, I thought they had detectors and things." He said to its retreating back.

"You would of thought so." Said a voice behind him. Wayland spun around, making his head hurt. The two women, now decently dressed stood before him, arms folded over their lovely chests. Wayland dragged his eyes away, tried to look at their faces. A pink blur shot out from the dark suit, a fist smashed into his gut doubling him over, toppling him to the floor in surprise.

"We'll teach you to spy on us you pervert, is that how you get your kicks?"

Wayland was incensed, knocked to the floor by a woman! He leapt up, anger keeping him upright. "I don't hit girls, so think yourselves lucky, now go on, before I change my mind." The woman in orange overalls stepped forward and belted him in the eye with a satisfying crack. "Right, that's enough, if you want to fight, you got it. Wayland lifted up on his toes like he'd seen all the best kick boxers do. He'd watched plenty of martial arts films, he knew what to do. Skill-lessly, he skipped towards the suit and aimed a punch at her face. She dodged easily, grabbed his arm and twisted, forcing him down. At the same time her knee came sharply up and connected with full force against his genitals, squashing his nuts against his pelvic bone. Despite what you see in the movies, a man, once kneed in the knackers is good for nothing for several days.

Wayland clamped his hands over his crotch without touching the offended articles, then, slowly, very slowly, he collapsed to the floor. The next few minutes past in agony, he was vaguely aware of being verbally abused and laughed at. Then all was quiet. In the eerie silence he could hear the beating of his heart, he cursed every thump as his balls throbbed with pain.

An hour later he was still there, huddled in a heap, thinking how god must be a woman to put these things on the outside. He had read once that birds and reptiles have their gonads on the inside. Why can't we? Wayland made himself a promise, as soon as he was rich enough he was going to have surgery, have them tucked up inside out of the way.

After another hour or so he was able to stretch out, then to stand up. Walking like he's crapped himself, Wayland made his way back to the Catering section; condiments and relishes. A small robot like a metal dog with a wide mouth had just finished cleaning up the smashed jar. The robot turned towards him at his approach. "One jar of Chilli relish will be charged to your salary, do not let it happen again." it said in a reedy voice. 

"Oh piss off you over-grown dildo, I'm not in the mood." Replied Wayland caustically.

"There is no need for that tone young man, it won't make matters any better." The machine added. Wayland stepped forwards and kicked the robot square in its low face. He had the satisfaction of seeing several bits bend or fly off. Unfortunately, the robot turned out to be quite hard, being made of metal. A sharp pain ran through his toe, up his leg and bit his already tender testicles. Ouching loudly he slumped back onto an empty shelf, vowing not to move for at least a week. The small robot gathered up its displaced parts and trundled off shouting "Mechanic, mechanic."

Back in his room later he stripped and inspected the damage. A lovely purple eye had developed, swelling it almost closed. There was a fist shaped bruise on his gut, his ribs and backside ached, and he had been frightened to death when he'd pee'd blood. His scrotum had gone a lovely black colour and had swelled up, he tried not to look, but his eyes were constantly drawn back to the fascinating sight. And to cap it all his toe was bloodied where he had kicked the robot.

"Shit, shit, shit!" He shouted eloquently, it didn't help. So he tried having a shower instead, which did make him feel a little better. Afterwards, he layed on his bed, legs apart and a packet of frozen mange-tout on his knackers. The existence of this particularly delightful way of eating of peas had completely passed him by until now, but he doubted he would be able to eat any after this.

The next morning, ritual psyche session over with, he stepped out into the corridor. Almost immediately the intercom crackled, "Wayland Snowball to the managers office, Wayland Snowball." There was the usual titter whenever his name was mentioned, then the speaker fell silent. Wayland was ecstatic. Could this mean the manager had finally decided enough was enough? No more stocking! The thought filled him with such joy he almost forgot his nuts were on fire.

The joy soon turned to despair when he stepped into the managers outer office. The two women from the warehouse were sat primly on a chairs just outside the inner door, obviously first in the queue to tell their story. They were both dressed in suits today, the younger one looking a little uncomfortable in hers. But they both looked really shag-able thought Wayland, in better days of course, when the swelling had gone down. He sat opposite the two and smiled when they looked his way. Not surprisingly, they returned only frosty glares.

The inner door opened and the frame filling bulk of Mr Hardstaff appeared. "Right ladies, if you would like to come in." He smiled his most charming smile. Turning to Wayland his smiled dropped instantly into a scowl. The door closed firmly behind the manager, leaving Wayland in a sweat in the waiting room.

What seemed a very long time later the door opened again and the two women trotted out. Looking down their noses at Wayland, they walked out of the door and disappeared. "You, in here." Mr Hardstaff said simply. Wayland stood and walked slowly into the lions den, legs akimbo.

"I don't want to hear a word, before you start, the two ladies have told me all that happened and I naturally believe everything they say. Wayland Snowball does it again. I don't believe you, I really don't." Mr Hardstaff leaned back in his chair, which creaked alarmingly. He steepled his fingers, looked Wayland straight in the eye. "You are on punishment detail, you mess up, get put on further punishment detail and mess up again. What is your problem?" He asked metaphorically. Wayland, who didn't know what meta-bollok-thingy meant, was thinking up an answer when the manager continued. "I have had enough of this. How long before you screw up big time and kill somebody? As manager of this place I have responsibilities. To the staff and the shareholders, who have invested heavily in this venture. I have no option but to transfer you."

Wayland looked up, a look of pure terror on his face. The transfer certainly wouldn't be somewhere nice. Like the spaceport, where all the exciting things happened, or the main admin block, where the crumpet was three deep. The only other place was...

"So, as from nine a.m the day after tomorrow you will officially work for the department of alien flora testing."

The arsehole of the planet. If seen from space the various department buildings and locations were spread across the continent in the rough shape of a human body, D.A.F.T was slap between the legs, were the sphincter should be.

"Sir, no, that place is dangerous. Everyone know about that alien fungus that feeds on human nipples. And what about that time when that scientist was killed?"

"Those are only rumours Snowball, all blown up out of all proportion. That man had no right doing what he did to the melon-tree. Besides, that was a long time ago, I'm sure things are all under control now."

"But sir you can't send me there." Wayland snivelled.

"Can't Snowball? What grade are you boy?" Snarled Hardstaff.

"Er, c.a. sir." mumbled Wayland, looking at the floor.

"Exactly, clerical assistant. In the scheme of things, where does a clerical assistant figure?"

"Lower than whale shit, sir."

"Exactly, lower than a particularly deep whale's shit. The only thing lower than clerical assistant is office junior, and we don't have any of those do we?" Mr Hardstaff demanded.

"No sir." sighed Wayland, not enjoying this one bit.

"Right, now, I'll give you the rest of your time here to pack and to say goodbye to your friends...friend. He will be staying here." Wayland looked up in surprise, Marlo, staying here? What would he do on his own?

"Yes, that's right, Marlo has expressed a wish to be moved to warehouse duties permanently, he says he really feels at home there. As you won't be here to lead him astray I have agreed. Although it isn't strictly necessary. The computer system can handle all that perfectly well."

Catching the look on Wayland's face he said, "Yes, that's right, I lied. All that stocktaking you did was completely unnecessary. Any problem with that?"

"No sir." Said Wayland through gritted teeth.

"Right, off you go then, I would come and see you off, but you know how it is." Wayland turned towards the door. "Oh, by the way," Added Mr Hardstaff, "What is that bulge in your trousers?"

"Mange-tout, sir." Wayland answered.

"Oh, carry on then." The manager turned back to his desk.

- Copyright Steve Dean