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Happiness. Such an odd word when you work for the DMV. Every once in a while some young punk will mug for the camera when I take their photo, but I just scowl and retake the picture.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I felt happy. I’m not saying my job is bad, just boring, and boredom can do strange things to the mind.

Like a power converter that changes direct current into alternating current, I turned my boredom into apathy.

My boss was an overweight, vindictive bitch who used to bring food in for the clerks every Wednesday. At first, we thought it was a nice gesture, until Tom said that he didn’t like her crab puffs. The change in her demeanor was total and terrifying.

Tom didn’t work there much longer. He just didn’t show up one day.

No one criticized her food after that, no matter how bad it was. We ate whatever concoctions she made as she towered over us, waiting for approval. No one dared to hint that it wasn’t the most delicious thing they had ever tasted.

For months we endured this forced feeding. If you looked back over the records, I’m sure you’d find that the most absenteeism occurred on Wednesdays.

I say this as I hang by a pair of handcuffs chained to her basement rafters. I guess I shouldn’t have said I hated her corn dogs, but I just didn’t care anymore.

The door opens and the stairs creak as she descends into the basement. She is wearing a plastic smock over her clothes, and a smile. Of the two, the smile seems more odd. It isn’t warm or friendly, but the look of someone who has struggled with the balance of sanity and finally teetered over into ‘unhinged’.

“Comfortable?” she asks as she lumbers over to a large wooden table with a meat cleaver stuck in it.

“What are you going to do to me?” I ask, trying to remember how I got here.

“Nothing. I just came down to get a roast from the freezer for tomorrow. It’s Tuesday night, and I wouldn’t want to disappoint your coworkers.”

She pulls a roast out and sets it on the table. I glimpse the marking on the package and retch.

“What’s wrong? Are you sad you won’t be there? Don’t worry, I’ll save you some leftovers. You need to keep your strength up.”

She pinches my cheek, then mounts the stairs again. I watch her go, hoping one of them will snap under the strain and the fall will break her neck.

No such luck.

She pauses at the top and looks back.

“It’s a good thing you came along when you did. This was my last piece of meat.”

Memories flood back to me as she slams the door.

The parking garage.

A handkerchief over my face.

And worst of all, the marking on the roast that said, ‘Tom’.

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Michael Kelso is not an educated man in the conventional sense, but his love for reading and his vivid imagination led him to write his own stories. He has self-published three short stories, a horror anthology, and a novella on Amazon, and has finished his first novel. His work won the November 2015 site-sponsored Horror writing contest on Fanstory.com and has been featured on thepalmerhotel.com. It is Michael’s wish to share his stories in the hope that they may engage readers and challenge their perceptions. Michael lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife and children.

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