• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 01

The New Mandarin

Rumors spread like wildfire among the cubicles, fueled the talk in the break room. Who was the new boss? The new Office Manager had scheduled a meeting, a "meet and greet" the memo read.

"I didn't get the memo," Sydney from the Copy Center said.

"It's not your department she's interested in," said Rick. "They've been trying to cut Archives for years."

"Well I know it's me she's cutting first," said La Teisha. "I applied for that job, you know."

The new boss came in wearing a red-orange suit, instead of the corporate slate gray. She was powerful and incendiary, her perfume a whiff of gasoline. Those of us who had gotten the memo wore our best black, fumbled with the powdered donuts.

"We're synergizing," she said. "There are too many redundancies. I'm talking mass extinction event. Survival of the fittest from now on. I'll be watching you." She smiled sharp teeth.

A new sign went up in the break room--WORK TIME MEANS WORK--

"Orange is the new black all right," said Sydney. She was wearing an orange watchband.

"Hail the New Mandarin," said Rick.

We learned to time our conversations, alert to the clicking of her high heels down the hall.


The New Mandarin

On Tuesdays, people were fired. She loved Tuesdays. On those days she wore the red-orange suit.

"You're all fired," she said, as she headed for the elevator, punched the button for the top floor. The elevator doors opened. She stepped inside, and we heard the scream as she fell down the elevator shaft, crumpled like a broken star at the bottom.

"What happened to that out of order sign?" La Teisha asked.

"What sign?" Rick said. "I'll call 911."

"Yes, yes. A terrible accident," La Teisha said.