An extract from Different Planet – a story about 5 days in an English office available here on Amazon.

Albert Merton reversed his Hummer out of the driveway. Immediately there was a screech of brakes and the honking of a horn. Merton looked behind him and saw the bus driver gesticulating wildly.

 

Merton got out of his vehicle and walked down the road to the bus.

 

“What’s the matter with you, you fat bastard?” he enquired diplomatically.

 

“You pulled out right into my path,” replied the driver regarding Merton’s large forehead, small, piercing eyes, and two-day’s growth of beard with some alarm.

 

“For your information,” said Merton pointing at the driver, “I always pull out of my drive at this time on weekdays; I think you’ll find you’re five minutes early on your route. Don’t let it happen again. By the way, do you like my mode of transportation? Does about 10 miles to the gallon, but I can afford it.” Without waiting for a reply, Merton returned to his vehicle and sped off to work ignoring the speed limits as he went.

 

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Merton had worked in the IT department of Britannical Suppliers, a large manufacturing company, since leaving school at the age of 18. That was 14 years ago. His latest task had been to write a daily update of the database that took 26 hours to run. Merton didn’t see any problem with this until his manager, Jon Wood, pointed out update programs were supposed to be run at the same time each day.

 

“We’ll just have to run the update every other day, won’t we?” said Merton, after arriving at work.

 

“I’ll pass this over to Greg, to see if he can speed it up,” replied Wood rubbing a bushy eyebrow with his finger. Greg Laurence was a contract developer working on Wood’s team for six months.

 

“You can’t give it to that fat scouse bastard, it’s my program, it’s mine.”

 

“This is a team environment, Albert, so we’ll see what Greg can do.”

 

“We’ll see that Greg will bugger it up,” said Merton, “he’s a contractor, he doesn’t care whether it works or not – he’ll make it run quicker by not updating all of the database.”

 

“My decision is final,” said Wood.

 

“My god, talk of the devil, here’s Greg now – hello Dreg, how are you?”

 

“Hello Martian,” said Laurence,” how’s life on the Red Planet?” Greg Laurence’s jowls shook as he laughed at his own remark.

 

“Why do you call him Martian, Greg?” asked Wood.

 

“I am from planet Earth, Jon” replied Laurence, “and that idiot is from a different planet from me. It’s only three letters different from his own name, anyway. His parents were trying to send us a coded message – they couldn’t call him “Alien” could they? He’s from the red planet.” Greg combed his thinning brown hair across his head with his fingers, a gesture he repeated a hundred times a day, if anyone could be bothered to count.

 

“You’re the alien, you fat git, don’t ever go swimming in Loch Ness because you’ll soon be surrounded by tourist boats taking pictures of you.”

 

“Eh, you two lovebirds, take your tiffs outside,” said Alison Greaves, who delivered the internal mail. Her hair shone under the artificial lights.

 

“You’re looking very lovely today, Alison,” said Greg straightening his tie, “does your husband know you’re wearing your loveliest skirt and stockings today? And those black shoes look very expensive and elegant.”

 

Alison looked hopefully around – “He’s actually gone to Bristol for a couple of days, so I will be all alone tonight.” She moistened her lips slightly and checked her red-pleated skirt was showing off her figure well.

 

“You’re disgusting, you know that?” said Merton after Alison had walked away, “you’d squash her to death.”

 

“She’d die with a smile on her face,” replied Laurence, “no better way to go.”

 

“It would be a grimace from having all the air knocked out of her lungs by your belly.”