|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
Karen Gets A Phone Call
“They never will come through though, they’re too entwined in their own silly nonsense. You could wave a homecooked brown sugar cinnamon coffee cake under their noses and they wouldn’t budge, these humans are just going right at it.”
Chuck inhales through the crutches of two joints, one pinched between the thumb and pointer fingers of each of his hands, burning the entirety of both Cannabic bodies and sucking the remains deep into his lungs.
“Of course, if you were to wave a cinnamon bun from the lovely That Mom And Pop Shop down the street from Cape under their noses, well, the result may be different. The difference, of course, lying in the preparation of the delectable desserts. The homecooked brown sugar cinnamon coffee cake may have been cooked at home, but it was made using powder bought in a box that was on sale at the local suburban grocery store. The cinnamon buns, however, were hand-crafted from scratch; the dough was made from freshly harvested grain that Pop sickled up in the field on the floor above the shop, the cinnamon bark was pulled from their trees ground up moments before the buns were dusted and placed into the hot oven by Mom, and the icing? You don’t even want to know where the icing comes from; if you found out, you would have a nagging, empty feeling in the pit of your chest for the rest of your life, like you’re missing something, something that you will never experience for yourself.”
Chuck pulls a massive blunt, two inches in diameter, out of his right sleeve and lights it with his left ring finger, taking no less than nineteen hits before passing the remaining nineteen-twentieths of the monster to Karen.
“That is a fantastic point, homecooked from a box is infinitely inferior to homemade with love, but the true superior, the one real übermacht? Homegrown and rolled in the leaves of the plant that the buds came off of, just like these puppies we’re all toking on today.”
‘Christ in a can of cranberry sauce Chuck, you grew this stuff yourself??’
“Well, technically no, a very experienced gardener grew it in the grow room on floor negative forty-four, but it’s that Cape Cookies, so you know it’s of tip-top-tier quality.”
Chuck turns to Karen and smiles as she passes him the blunt, a very apprehensive look cast unto her face. “What’s wrong Kar, is my potent too Cannabis for you?”
Karen, who sat in silence watching the man who doesn’t sign her digital paychecks speak these long-winded toils of nonsense out loud to himself, is… yeah, she’s a bit put off by that. He literally just started speaking out of nowhere, nothing provoked him. Like, what the hell? When Chuck didn’t go all out celebrating the Holiblaze yesterday, Karen was almost proud of him, fighting cultural norms and such. She probably should have assumed that he would just double down the next day but hey, when one assumes, they make an ass out of u and me, and I’m not even involved in the conversation.
Karen opens her mouth to try to excuse herself from the room, or at least what was a room; the office is probably still a room, given, but Karen can’t be sure because of the marshmallow-thick Cannabis smoke that’s currently manifesting every cubic inch of the space’s volume. As luck would have it, she doesn’t have to excuse herself because Chuck, out of nowhere, decides to float out of his seat, eat the bonzoblunt with the hole that opened up in the palm of his hand, and then sprint full speed through the air, never touching the ground once, towards the small laundry chute that Karen implored him to install so she could wash his clothes because he never does and their clients are starting to freaking notice. It’s not quite big enough to accommodate a full-grown Chuck, but he still manages to fit himself inside. With a squirm and a squeeze and a puff of his leaves, down the rabbit hole he goes.
Located in the depths of Karen’s purse is a remote control that was built to remotely control the office’s ventilation systems and do nothing else. This doesn’t need an explanation but it’s getting one anyway: Chuck smokes an imperial fuckton of Cannabis on a daily basis; in fact, that daily basis baselines to a level that no daily basis should ever baseline at, even on the Holiblaze. Or in this case, the day after the Holiblaze, because poor wittle Chuck had to work.’
When the air is air again, Karen’s phone starts to ring, almost as if on cue. Her caller ID reads Poor Wittle Chuck. Oh joy, he must have gotten stuck in the laundry chute and forgotten that he’d just seen her. Agai– wait, no, this has never happened before. Huh. After watching her rectangular piece of glass jingle one ding short of voicemailitude, Karen answers.
“Hello boss, how are we today?”
“Great Karen, absolutely fantastic, stupendous in ways you couldn’t even understand. I need you to do something for me.”
“What else is new?”
“Me. Listen, I have a few box sets of dominoes stashed in the unused closet of the right wing of the office, next to the minifridge where I keep all my unlabeled Cee-Bee-Dee juices. Well, the closet was unused, before I started growing all my ‘Shroomies in it. Heh. Anyway, I need you to go into that closet, but try to step over the Mushrooms or else they’ll step over you and write about it jokingly in their collective mycelial diary. Okay, are you in the closet yet?”
Karen lowers her phone from her ear and just kind of looks at it for a minute. Then, “Uh, I… we’re gettin’ there, bossman.”
“Okay, I’ll just keep going as you walk. Grab one of the boxes of dominoes, any one that you’d like, there are literally trillions of boxes of dominoes stashed away in this building Karen, trillions of them! If we sold them all for half a cent each then I could retire tomorrow! Tomorrow Karen! And so could you, and your mom! But not Sigmund! Heh, hahaheh, no, Sigmund would keep working, he loves his– bahahahah, he loves his job here so much, ohhhhh SHIT! Anyway, do you have the dominoes yet?”
Karen, standing with her communicator caught in the crevice between her neck and her shoulder, stays silent as she takes the second from the top box of dominoes out from behind the four-foot-tall Psilocybin Cubensis Mushrooms growing in the closet. The top box seemed like it was dirty, like it had a bunch of spores on it or something, so she picked the next best alternative. She looks inside and it appears to be a regular set of dominoes.
‘No, that can’t be. There has to be something hidden in here.’
Following her incredibly accurate human intuition, Karen peels back layer upon layer of the domino set’s innards until she reaches the bottom of the tin. Son of a gun, it’s just a normal set of dominoes.
“Yeah I got ‘em.”
“Great. Listen, do NOT open the box under ANY circumstances, you’ll find out why in a bit. Go on back into the office, close the door to the mushRoom behind you.”
She closes first the lid to the tin, then the door to the mushroom room behind her. Chuck continues.
“Now, put the unopened box into the top right drawer of my desk. I can’t stress this enough, it’s very important that it goes into the right drawer. If, if you’re standing on the side opposite of where I sit, it looks like the top left drawer. If yo–”
“Okay okay, yeesh dude. I got it,” she cuts in before Chuck has the chance to explain her ear into a state of cauliflowerility.
… … …
“All right, it’s done.”
“Inside that box of dominoes is an advanced black box wireless hacking instrument.”
“…All righty, I’ll be taking the rest of the day off, then?”
“Yes, that would be lovely. Have a nice day, Karen.”
“You too, boss.” click “Ya freakin’ lunatic.” She sighs.
Karen gathers up all her notebooks and papers from her desk and stuffs them in her purse. The only thought that comes to her mind as she waits for the damn near comforting elevator to haul its way up to the forty-second floor is consumed by the uncertainty of whether or not she will get paid for today, or if she’ll be able to finish the unlabeled thing she may or may not have been writing all this time before the end of the week!
Karen can hear the elevator approaching when she feels her uPhone buzzing off the hook deep within the catacomb that is her purse. The phone requires a Montana Jones style archaeological dig to find, and it takes three times as long as it needs to, according to the dig site’s manager. Apparently, the lazy laborers (Karen’s hand) were forced to stop for a moment when the elevator doors opened. Excuses, excuses. Upon retrieving her artifact and unlocking its mysteries, Karen reads a text from Chuck saying:
if you see me, dont acknowledge the fact that this phone call happened. in fact, it didnt happen. you just hallucinated. hows that taste
Duly noted, and point proven.
The hip-hop/rap-accompanied elevator ride to the waiting room takes much longer than Karen feels like it needs to. Normally after work she would just go to her home on the tenth floor and relax with her cats, maybe watch a little bit of Webflicks, but not today. Today, she’s going to treat herself to one of the cinnamon buns that Chuck was raving about to himself earlier, and then she’s going to order one dozen to be sent to every animal shelter operating within one hundred miles of the city, and those operating within the city itself. With the company card. ‘It’s what Chuck would want.’
The elevator doors slide open to reveal the posh waiting room, decorated by none other than Karen herself. Someone has to bring some culture and class to this place, and it sure as heck isn’t going to be Chuck! Speaking of which, that’s exactly who she sees laying on the purple carpet of the waiting room – her boss, Chuck Leary, sprawled out upside down against the wall, covered with smudges and dust, tears ripped all over his poor, defenseless suit. And what’s worse, he’s accompanied by… Sigmund, and some teenage-looking kid for whatever reason. Suddenly, Karen desperately wants to not know what’s going down at Cape today.