Calum Kerr, 6/17/2013

Current Occupation: University Lecturer
Former Occupation: Web-designer
Contact Information: Like most writers, Calum Kerr has had a varied work history, from stacking shelves in a supermarket to designing websites and working behind a series of desks. Luckily he now gets to spend most of his time with words, as a writer, editor, lecturer or as Director of the UK’s National Flash-Fiction Day. He lives in Southampton, UK, with his wife, step-son, two cats and a dog. More information about his activities can be found on his website at www.calumkerr.co.uk.

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Very Civil War

 

They built their barricade from three desks and a broken photocopier. Boxes full of paper were used to plug the gaps and perched on top to create battlements, allowing them to see the enemy’s approach from a safe vantage.

    They took shifts throughout the day, taking turns to watch out for invaders in-between answering the phones and putting invoices in envelopes.

    When the alert was sounded, phones were simply abandoned, tinny voices calling out, “Hello? Hello? Anyone there? What were you saying about a conservatory? That sounded quite interesting…”; piles of invoices cascaded in drifts over thigh-jostled desks; and battle-stations were personned behind the defences erected in the centre of the third floor corridor, outside the office which housed Sales and Finance.

    They rushed to their posts and waited for the advance sorties of the Design and Manufacturing department.

    “Wait for it!” Maureen instructed her troops, as a head peered from behind the display ficus in front of the lift.

    A second face became visible lower down, and then Tommy and Dave were swarming up the corridor, elbows dragging them along the nylon carpet, keeping low and moving fast.

    Barbara launched a stapler over the barricade. It landed on the floor and bounced, catching Dave on the ear as it passed.

    “Ow!” He stopped swarming and sat up, clutching his ear. “What did you do that for?”

    “You had it coming!” shouted Maureen. “You were going to nick our milk! As usual!”

    “But we’re all out!” Dave shouted back, climbing to his feet. He pulled his hand away from his ear. There was blood on his fingers, but not much.

    “How is that our problem?” Maureen asked.

Barbara was readying another stapler, but Derek took it off her. It was his.

“You could share. Or… we could swap?”

Maureen didn’t answer immediately. This was a new development. “Swap for what?”

“Tea bags?” Dave ventured.

“Got plenty,” Maureen retorted.

“Coffee?”

“Real or instant?”

“Erm… instant.”

“No deal. What else?”

Dave looked at Tommy and the two conferred for a moment.

“Penguins?”

Maureen felt Barbara’s hand clutch at her in excitement, but Maureen kept her voice steady as she spoke. “At what rate?”

“One biscuit for four splashes.”

“One for two!”

Dave shrugged. “One for three?”

Maureen looked at her colleagues who all nodded their approval.

“Deal!” she called back.

Dave and Tommy both sagged in relief. “Great, thank you!”

Maureen nodded, glad that her plan had worked. Quid pro quo was all she asked, rather than the constant illegal depletion of their milk supplies. “Right, then,” she said to the two manufacturers. “Help us take this down, then. And, Barbara? Get the kettle on.”

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