SEQUESTERING AFFECTS EVERYONE • by Zack Conley

At the end of the day, Marcus had five good reasons to think the universe was out to get him. Everything started simple enough. He had left his job at the office, sipping a cup of coffee, and slowly made his way towards the parking lot. After ten minutes of increasing panic he finally stopped looking for his car. It should have been next to the lamppost, but the only thing sitting there was a motorcycle. It was a nice ride, sleek, black and well maintained. It just wasn’t his car. He was annoyed but figured some executive must have towed it.

Marcus, still unaware the universe hated him, decided the best course of action was to walk to his girlfriend’s house. She only lived a few blocks away, after all. His timing was perfect. The second he knocked, she opened the door and slapped him.

“Violet called,” she spat at Marcus as he stood there, stunned. “She’s a banker who lives a few towns over. Is that where you were this weekend? Anyway, she says that she can’t stop thinking about you, and wants you to meet her as soon as possible. Have fun.”

“Sally…” but Marcus couldn’t finish as the door slammed shut.

Marcus still trusted the universe, deciding someone at work must be pulling a series of nasty pranks. As he dejectedly walked towards the bus stop, his phone began to ring. It was his father calling. Apparently his brother had suffered some weird allergic reaction and was now in the hospital. Whatever it was, it had left his face covered in spots.

Yet it was only when he finally reached his home and weighed himself on the scale that Marcus decided the universe was out to get him. People just didn’t gain twenty pounds overnight, or have the name Violet suddenly tattooed on their left arm. Someone out there must really not like him.

***

Dazzle sighed and conjured herself up a cup of coffee. Rubbing her temples and her pointed ears she turned to look at Razzle as he scribbled a number on a piece of paper, before running a hand through his neon green hair.

“This sequester is killing us,” she remarked, only for him to grunt in agreement. “I don’t think I can handle this for the next few centuries.”

“Yeah, half the people, half the funding, but the same amount of work,” he responded. “At least people are happy.”

Dazzle looked down at her list again. They were almost there, just a few more decades to catch up on. Perhaps if they finished wishbones and bottles by the end of the week, their boss would let the rest slide. He understood the pressure they were under, of course, but he also had a quota to keep and someone breathing down his neck.

Razzle had good news to brighten her day, though. “I’ve met our quota on lamps,” he said without looking up. “If I start on birthdays, could you do miscellaneous? We’re only a few decades behind on that file, and I got through a few of them yesterday.”

Dazzle nodded and picked up the file. The first page had a big checkmark next to the name.

Marcus Roberts
Age: 16
Condition: 5 pieces of magic candy
Wishes:

  1. “I had a motorcycle”
  2. “Violet Ecker would fall in love with me”
  3. “For my perfect older brother to have a face full of zits”
  4. “To bulk up 20 pounds”
  5. “To get a tattoo”

Dazzle moved the form to the completed pile and picked up the next one, this time concerning a magic coin.

***

Courtney had reason to think the universe hated her when she woke up to find a pony sitting in her fifth floor apartment.


Besides fiction writing, Zack Conley is an experimental baker, apologist, and graduate student of biochemistry. He is currently stationed in Houston, Texas, waging war against the antibiotic resistance. He is also a contributing editor, “The Motley Advocate”, for the Science ACEs Blog and tweets @ZConley42 whenever he remembers he has a twitter.


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