Frank walked down the row of cubicles, checking everyone to make sure they were at their computers and doing their jobs. He felt a wave of apathy among his employees today, and it struck him too, but he knew that work just needed to be done. He passed Roger Clevus, working on a spreadsheet of some sort. Check. He passed Rick Moriband, also doing work on a spreadsheet… with Youtube paused on his other monitor. Check… He passed Renee Monteil, who had three separate tabs of Youtube open on each of her three monitors. Check…
But then he got to the last cubicle and found fucking Dan Whitten. With a fucking bag on his head.
“Why do you have a fucking bag on your head?” Frank asked. Dan raised his hand to gesture and begin speaking, but Frank waved him away. “No, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. Just take it off.”
“I can’t,” Dan said.
“Yes you can, now do it,” Frank said. He began walking away towards the next row of cubicles, but he stopped when he realized Dan was making positively no motions towards taking the bag off his damn head.
“You really aren’t taking the bag off your damn head,” Frank said.
“No I am not,” Dan said.
“You’re not? You’re fired.”
Dan jumped when he heard this. “No! You can’t do that. Please, no. I need this bag on my head.”
“I’m not going to fire you if you take it off,” Frank said, not realizing how, out-of-context, this could have sounded very conspicuous.
“Sir,” Dan began. “There’s a very good reason I have this bag on my head. Just let me explain.”
Frank sighed. “Go ahead.”
“You see, most Clipart Stories end very badly for the titular characters. They die, they get depressed, they are maimed, they develop brain cancer… I don’t want my face to be shown and end up being marred by the constructs of the storyteller.”
“It’s not! I can’t do it. You’re the POV character; you should understand the importance of staying true to your character. I don’t like it when weird, trippy stuff happens to characters in Clipart Stories and I don’t want it to happen to me.”
“It’s not always bad, you know,” Frank said. “Sometimes the characters turn out just fine. Sometimes nothing happens at all.”
“I don’t trust it. I don’t trust any of it. There’s always some big twist or some hidden message that ruins everything for the protagonist.”
“I don’t care. Take the bag off your fucking head or you’re fired. And that’s final.” With that, Frank walked away, and did not look back.
Dan slowly, with great caution, took the bag off his head. He looked at the brown paper in his hands and looked around at the cubicles close to him.
After several minutes, he went back to work.