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Threat Level: Cubicle

By J. L. Ender

The rich aroma of coffee flooded my gray bottlenose. I picked up my mug with one flipper and sighed happily. My break had arrived, that relaxing island of time. A chance to drink coffee and think about my favorite video game, Call of Da Sea.

I gazed longingly at a chair, wishing I had a butt. Sipping the last of my coffee, I reached for the coffeepot. It slid away and shattered against the tile floor. Flippers. At least nothing spilled on my white button-up.

“Here, let me help, Petey.” Tom Octon slithered into the break room. He grabbed a fresh coffeepot from a cupboard full of coffeepots with one tentacle, used another tentacle to start brewing coffee, another tentacle to grab a mug, another tentacle to scratch his eye, another tentacle to grab the Reader’s Digest swimsuit edition, and another tentacle to grab a donut.

“Thanks, buddy.” I sighed. “I don’t know how I’ll finish my fiscal reports in time.”

“Ah, geez. Forgot that was due today. What’s your typing speed like?”

“Two. Sometimes three if I use my nose.”

“Oh dear.”

I shuffled toward my cubicle with a steaming mug of coffee, still worrying.

Shelby, my cubicle neighbor, popped her head out. “Hey, you’re getting a fax, Petey.”

I poked my nose over the gray fabric of my cubicle. The old fax machine buzzed away. Abruptly, the paper jammed. Caught on my blowhole inhaler. Asthma.

I shoved my inhaler aside and watched the machine hum and clank green-and-white-striped paper.

“Adolphus Godolphin,” I read aloud. “For Your Eyes Only.” I frowned at the paper. “Weird.”

Tom slithered up holding four cups of coffee. “What’s it say?”

Now he’s just showing off.

“It looks like spy stuff. I don’t really get it.” I shrugged and dropped the dot matrix paper into the shredder. “Back to work.”


“And so”—I jammed my nose onto the space bar. “That is how we saved money this year in business.”

Night had fallen. Besides Shelby, I was the only one left in the office. But I’d finished my fiscal report.

Bleary-eyed, I stood, knocking over a few coffee mugs. I’d been back to the break room.

A deep voice like melting whiskey drifted through the office. “Did anyone in this room receive an important spy fax?”

I spun, knocking over more mugs. A dolphin in a tuxedo stood in the aisle, examining cubicles. He had thick blond hair, stylishly gelled up.

“Petey O’Porpoise did.” Shelby pointed at me.

I fiddled with my yellow tie. “I didn’t understand what it meant.”

“You’ve read my mission briefing!” The dolphin slammed his flippers on my shoulders. “Tell me what it said!”

“Baron Ornreé Orca plans to blow up a school bus full of children with a fax machine if you don’t deliver one million dollars in gold bars to him by midnight.”

“Where is this going down?”

“Five East Street.”

“Ugh, I’m no good with addresses. You have to come.”

“Come? I’m a financial dolphin! I can’t do spy stuff.”

The dolphin reached into his pocket and handed me a gold badge. “There. Now you work for Adolphus Godolphin.”

I studied the badge. It had wings. “This says ‘Junior Pilot.’”

“Never mind that. It’s a real badge. I’m commissioning you or whatever. I don’t care.” He drew an enormous pistol and chambered a round. “Let’s do this.” He eyed my fax machine. “Bring that.”

I followed Godolphin to the elevator, fax machine in one flipper.

“Good luck, Shelby.” I tried to give her a thumbs-up, but you know. Flippers.

“Thanks, Petey!” The turtle flashed a claw-up. Show-off. She eventually turned back to her computer. One hand slowly descended. She was still typing that letter when the elevator door closed.

Outside, Godolphin slid across the hood of a black Mercedes. “Put the fax in the back, Peter.”

I did, then got in front and buckled my seatbelt. Godolphin eyed the seatbelt, snorted, and took off without strapping in. “Address, please.” He swerved around a van full of trout. The lead fish poked his mustached face out and shook a fin.

“Five East Street.”

He plugged in the address. The GPS immediately chimed, “You have arrived.”

Godolphin slammed the brakes. We were… at a skyscraper across the street.

“Well.” He flicked blond hair from his eyes. “That was easy. Grab the fax whatever.”

“Why? What’re you going to do?”

“Save the world.” Godolphin popped the trunk, then holstered his pistol and withdrew two enormous machine guns. “Let’s rock.”

Lugging my fax machine, I followed Godolphin. He slammed through the skyscraper’s revolving doors. They kept spinning as we darted into a cavernous atrium. Dozens of shark goons in plaid suits stared at us. A school of young fish gaped from the windows of a yellow bus, tucked beside the escalators. They couldn’t help gaping. Fish.

An orca with a monocle strode forward. “Where’s my gold, Godolphin?”

“The only glitter you’re going to see tonight is muzzle flashes, Ornreé.” Godolphin opened fire. Bullets filled the air.

I dove behind the receptionist counter and stumbled into a fax machine. I unplugged it, plugged in my machine, then scooted behind a ficus.

“Stop, Adolphus! I’ve got the bus wired to blow.” Ornreé stood over my fax machine, flipper hovering over the print button.

Godolphin aimed a rifle at the baron. The sharks lay scattered across the atrium, sleeping with the fishes. The dolphin winked at me. “Join the new millennium, Baron. People use pagers now.”

“Very well! I’m pushing the button!”

The baron pushed the button.

Then pressed it again. “Ugh, should have gotten the extended warranty.”

“You should have kept the receipt… for your life of crime.” Godolphin clubbed him over the head.

Adolphus helped me up. “Great job shielding that ficus with your body. You’ve got the makings of an agent!”

“Actually, I think I wanna be a game designer.”

“Well, good luck, buddy.”

We grinned at each other, and not just because our faces are stuck that way.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

J. L. Ender is the author of the superhero series Steel Fox Investigations, as well as a number of novels and short stories across several genres. Ender has worked as a dishwasher, a beef jerky labeler, a warehouse worker, a shelf stocker, a greeter, a traveling technician, a laser engraver, a package handler, a copywriter, a graphic designer, a librarian, an editor, destroyer of worlds (in an unofficial capacity), a dispatcher, and a phone operator.


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4 comments - Join the conversation

Leave a Reply to SC Steamer Cancel reply

 

  • This had me laughing so hard! I couldn’t begin to count the sea animal references that cracked me up. “A school of young fish gaped from the windows of a yellow bus, tucked beside the escalators. They couldn’t help gaping. Fish.” So funny!

  • very funny! i’m trying to visualize a dolphin carrying a fax machine, then plugging it in with a flipper.

    • Given his typing speed, it’s not easy, I’m sure 😂 I think there’s a certain level of telekinesis going on in this world, otherwise I’m not sure how anything would get done… 😂

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