This week, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while. Hope you enjoy it! The following story was written by using a prompt contained in “The Amazing Story Generator” by Jason Sacher.
They’d been working him way too hard. Just last week alone, the night watchman had put in over 60 hours. It was all because the company that he worked for was too cheap to hire enough help. He kept warning them that he wasn’t going able to keep up the pace for much longer, even going so far as to send an e-mail to the corporate office practically begging his supervisor to hire another person. It wasn’t bad enough that all of the hours were killing him. The job site wasn’t helping much either.
The company had placed him at a 24 hour pawn shop, on the overnight shift. In the beginning, they had told him that this was a temporary assignment. Every time that he had asked for a transfer, there was always another excuse. There weren’t enough employees to cover all of the shifts as it was, he was so good at the job that the client wanted to keep him there, or that they didn’t feel that he was a good fit at other locations due to various nonsensical reasons. The only thing that he knew for sure was that he wasn’t sure how much more of it he could take.
Night after night, he watched drug addled and drunk men and women dragging their young children into the pawn shop in order to sell their meager belongings, hoping to get enough for their next fix. One night close to Christmas, a young mother came into the shop around two in the morning. She was thin and bedraggled, but at least she had enough sense to bundle up in the cold weather. The baby was another story. The baby was only wearing a flimsy onesie , with nothing but a thin summer weight blanket wrapped around it.
He wanted to call the police, but when he phoned his superior he was told that he would be fired if he did so. She said, “You are there to protect the merchandise and the employees of the pawn shop, not to play social worker.” Luckily she hung up on him before he could ask her how she could be so cold. This was the night that things started to change for him. Between the hours and the nature of the business he was surrounded by each night, he could feel himself slipping.
At first it was little things, such as the night that he was propped against the counter keeping an eye on a young guy who had brought in a bunch of knives to be pawned. It was obvious that this guy had some kind of problem. He moved with jerky motions and laughed when no one was talking. Right before the night watchman’s eyes, the head of the clean-shaven young man began sprouting hair. By the time he left the shop with his money, his hair was down to his shoulders.
The watchman knew that this couldn’t be right, so he didn’t say anything. Night after night, things like this kept happening. He knew that it was because of his levels of exhaustion, and he called corporate every day, asking them to hire someone else to help him on the third shift. Weeks turned into months, and he was still working at least 60 hours a week. His calls for help went unanswered, so in an act of desperation, he sent the e-mail almost begging for relief.
He waited for a few days, but finally saw a reply in his inbox. Relieved and anxious, he opened the message which read:
If you feel as though you aren’t capable of handling your responsibilities, you may feel free to tender your resignation. We have made every effort to work with you, even though the results have not yet been to your satisfaction. Should you decide to resign, we require a two-week notice so that we will have the opportunity to send your replacement to your location in order for you to train them. Our hope is that you will stay, as the client is still very happy with your presence. You are a valued employee, and we would hate to see you throw your career away. If you choose to quit, it will be very difficult for you to secure a position with another firm. Please consider your choices carefully.
After reading the message, he felt deflated, angry, and defeated. For the past three months, the watchman had been filling out job applications left and right to no avail. In this economy and job market, positions were hard to come by. It was time for him to leave for work, so he closed his laptop and got into his car. The next thing he knew, he was standing in his supervisor’s office at corporate headquarters. Looking around the room for her, he finally spotted her lifeless body on the floor at his feet.
The night watchman screamed in horror, realizing that he must have done it. He looked at his reflection in the mirror on the door and to his utter disbelief, he noticed that he had sprouted an extra arm. That had to be it! That’s the only explanation for how he had gotten there and why he had killed someone. It had to be the arm. Surely, the extra appendage had taken over. He didn’t know what he was going to do. His mind raced. What else was the arm going to get up to?
Remembering the knife that he kept in his pocket, he grabbed it with every intention of sawing the evil new appendage off. As if the night wasn’t weird enough, he must have blacked out again. The next thing he knew, sunlight was coming through the window and he heard voices screaming at him-wanting to know what the hell he had done. He looked down and noticed that he was still holding the knife and was cutting at the air. The extra arm was gone. Immediately his eyes went to the floor, but it wasn’t there either. He yelled at the two men standing in the door to run.
When the police arrived, the night watchman was sitting in the middle of the floor mumbling about the arm. When the officers asked the two men what was going on, they explained that they had found him like this and that all he would say was that the extra arm had done it and escaped. As they handcuffed him and took him out to one of their cars, his glazed eyes kept scanning the ground in search of the arm.