Gavin Tierney
Consolidation


          Jonathan had failed to save the world. The yellow post-it note he had written as a reminder was stuck to the top of his computer.
          "This is bad," Jonathan said out loud, once he saw the reminder. It was Friday afternoon, five minutes after five. Most of the office had already gone home for the weekend. He was five minutes past his deadline, five minutes too late to save the world.
          "There was that report I needed to write," he said to himself. "Plus, I had all of those files to sort." Jonathan knew, however, that these were poor excuses. He had been procrastinating for weeks, ever since he heard about the consolidation. The company had announced that it was cutting back and merging departments. The day the consolidation was announced, Jonathan had been approached by his manager.
          "Jonathan, how are you doing today?" Mr. Needleton had stood outside Jonathan's cubicle, looking down at him.
          "Fine, sir, and how are you?" Jonathan craned to look at his boss. He never liked speaking with Mr. Needleton, who was constantly mentioning cut-backs and time management.
          "Good, good. Now, Jonathan, I have a special favor to ask." Mr. Needleton stared down at Jonathan through the glasses that sat on the end of his nose. His hair was the color of crushed Oreos and was parted perfectly on the right side.
          "Yes, sir, what is that?"
          "Well, Jonathan, you know that the company is consolidating and there are going to be some cut-backs," Mr. Needleton inspected Jonathan's desk, making sure everything was in proper order.
          "Well, our department has taken on some new tasks, projects sent over from other departments." Jonathan nodded, even though Mr. Needleton had started surveying the office of cubicles and no longer looked at him.
          "So, you should be expecting some new work to be coming your way in the next day or so. Now, while I don't want you to fall behind on your regular work, these new projects are of the utmost importance." Mr. Needleton then tapped Jonathan's cubicle with his hand and walked away.
          The following day, when Jonathan received the memo that he had two weeks to save the world, he had no idea where to start.
          He dared not ask Mr. Needleton for clarification in fear of looking ignorant. He asked Peggy, who had a cubicle next to him filled with postcards of impressionists paintings, if she had gotten any new projects.
          "Yeah, I have to create a spreadsheet on all previous employees and where they are working now," replied Peggy, obviously annoyed with her new task.
          Roger, with whom Jonathan often ate lunch, also had received a new project, rewriting the first forty pages of the workers handbook; nothing as potentially hazardous as Jonathan's task. When Jonathan told Roger about the project he had been given, Roger said that he had "best get started right away."
          It certainly didn't help that Jonathan was behind on his regular reports. He was in the middle of creating a database of all of the company's contract labor over the past three years. He knew it would take two weeks just to complete the database, much less worry about saving the world. Considering Roger's advice, Jonathan decided to take the work home with him. Still, two weekends in a row he was busy doing laundry and fixing a leak in the bathroom. At night, he was just too tired to think about saving the world and watched TV instead.
          Every morning on his way to work Jonathan promised himself that today would be the day he would save the world. He thought about how nice it was going to be when he was done with that project and was able to again focus only on his databases and reports at work. He thought about the luxury of having his weekends and evenings free again, even though he had not actually worked on anything during those times.
          It was the end of the day on Wednesday when Jonathan stuck the post-it note to his computer, knowing full well that he couldn't forget or put off the assignment another day. Still, at 5pm on Thursday, he cursed himself when he saw the post-it and realized he had forgotten to save the world again.
          Friday morning, Jonathan wrote a note on his hand, but the note smeared and he had a difficult time remembering what it had said. Seeing the post-it note, Jonathan decided to work over lunch and get that annoying project done. Then Roger and Peggy invited him to go eat at a new Thai restaurant. Jonathan had planned on getting the food to-go but, when they started talking about the tri-annual productivity report, that didn't happen either.
          At five o' five Jonathan stared at the post-it note. He had missed the deadline; he had not saved the world. He looked at the stack of reports that he had spent his week compiling, hoping that they would be impressive enough for Mr. Needleton to forgive him, possibly give him an extension.
          Jonathan decided to sneak out of the office and face Mr. Needleton on Monday morning. However, as he approached the front door, a large explosion threw him backwards, blocking the entrance with debris.
          Jonathan pushed the cubicle wall off of him. He inspected a tear in his pant leg. He looked up to see Mr. Needleton marching from his office towards him. Mr. Needleton's face was red and he cursed loudly. Jonathan heard a series of explosions coming from outside. Two more blasts came from behind him, near the men's room. He had messed up, he knew it. Still, Jonathan knew he could explain himself to Mr. Needleton. He just needed the reports he had finished that week. He crawled to his cubicle, which was now in flames. Jonathan found that his reports had burned in the third explosion. He wished that he had not procrastinated. He blamed his company for consolidating in the first place. Why couldn't he have just been allowed to work on his reports? Mr. Needleton yelled Jonathan's name as he crawled over a burning copy machine. Jonathan huddled behind the one remaining wall of his cubicle. Mr. Needleton was obviously mad and Jonathan felt a bit scattered at the moment himself. Perhaps, with some time, he could explain it all. Mr. Needleton continued to holler at Jonathan as he crawled to avoid the flying wreckage. Jonathan knew that he was going to be fired.
          Luckily, before Mr. Needleton was able to reach Jonathan, the world exploded, destroying everything, including Jonathan, who spent the last moments of his life crouching in the remains of his cubicle tearing the post-it note into tiny pieces.