Friday, September 28, 2018

#FridayFlash - Spring Water

“Uh, Mark, you, uh...you need to come see the new water end cap.”

The manager in question didn't look up from his computer screen, letting Jesse fidget in the doorway for a moment. The young man was always too nervous, so Mark couldn't imagine whatever was happening on the floor was that important. “What's going on that you can't just fix it?”

Jesse sputtered and ducked in and out of the doorway; he would be a hysterical wreck later this afternoon, no matter what Mark did at this point. “You just need to come look.”

He saved his produce order and stood up, barely repressing a sigh. He even manager to keep sarcastic comments to himself, knowing it would trigger the young man further. Jesse was reliable enough normally, and a hard worker, right up until something set him off. There was no calming him down at that point, only letting him cycle and process.

Mark was glad his unit had had no high strung men like Jesse while in Afghanistan. “Let's go.”

Jesse started to fill him in while they headed through the warehouse to the floor, but his babbling was barely coherent. “So this lady went up to Dani and told her something was wrong with the water, and Dani thought she meant the pump wasn't working and just needed refilled, so she told her that she'd get someone to check on the machine and came and got me.” He tittered nervously; his pseudobulbar affect was stronger once triggered.

“I thought this was about the end cap,” mark said in an attempt to keep the story brief.

“Turns out it was, but I didn't know that when I went up to the machine. I did what I was supposed to, and I looked it over, but everything was working. So I went to find out who'd had the problem, and the lady found me, and she was all bitchy when I told her the machine was working just fine. She said I needed to do something about the crazy lady by the spring water display and stop playing around with machines.”

Mark gritted his teeth, unable to keep the exasperation out of his voice. “So why didn't you just tell me there was a crazy lady that needed kicked out?”

“But...I...she's-” Jesse's lower lip quivered and his eyes went wider. He looked like a kicked puppy, and it only irked Mark further. “You just need to see her,” the young man whispered finally.

He turned from his subordinate and stomped toward the display in question, wishing he'd have brought one of the handsets with him. Would make calling 9-1-1 that much easier.

Mark heard the commotion before he saw it, and hurried forward, heart in his throat. A crowd had gathered, and they murmured at the woman shouting threats. He tried to push his way through, barely registering what it was she was saying.

“Keep your vulgar hands to yourselves! Your theft will go unpunished if you but move aside and let me return home with what is mine. Continue to gawk, and my wrath will be mighty.”

He made his way to the front of the crowd where he could finally see the crazy woman. “Ma'am, we're going to have to ask-” Mark's voice died in his throat at the sight of her.

She was clearly humanoid, having the standard arrangement of limbs and face, but there was no way she was human. Barely four and a half feet tall, long and willowy, a stiff breeze could have knocked her over, but she wielded her quarterstaff like a trained warrior twice her size. White hair cascaded in a waterfall from her topknot, highlighting the blue shade of her skin. Of which there was a lot; her armor consisted of moss and weeds that revealed as much as it protected.

“You there!” she said, pointing her staff at him menacingly. “You appear to command this gawping crew.” He nodded once, to stunned to do much else. “Return my blessed waters at once.”

“I-” He swallowed, shaking his head once to clear his shock. “I can't really do that. The vendors don't tell us where it-”

She stepped forward, thrusting her staff at his face. “Knave! Those are the incorrect words. Shall I show you what befalls those that cross me?”

Mark really didn't want to know what would happen. It would be better to cross corporate than this tiny naiad. “I'll go get the pallet jack.”

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