The Has-Been
rating: +25+x

The grey little man was gathering his belongings.

Not many of those. A microfiber towelette he used to clean his monitor, a few spare ink cartridges he thought no one would miss, his green stapler, that cheap plastic wizard figurine he got at a garage sale a few years back. Thirty years of service packed in less than half of a cardboard box.

It was just like the HR man said. The grey little man remembered the plastic smile the HR man plastered on when he told him the news.

"Your service record is impeccable", he said, "but your expertise is simply no longer needed nowadays."

A plastic bird with a long neck dipped its head into a small container of water as the HR man explained the conditions of his 'early retirement', as he called it. The walls were plastered with happy and oh so very current Foundation personnel in motivational posters, raising beakers and firearms and documents as they all smiled blankly at the grey little man from their high abodes.

"It's not like we don't appreciate what you do, you understand, but what you do simply isn't done." The HR man seemed to barely pay any attention as he enumerated one by one the reasons for the little grey man's obsolete nature. "You used to be an expert on the Bronze Crusaders, and they're no longer around. Then you transferred to the Prism Program, and we all know how well that went, eh? Then there was that thing with the training, and the less said about that, the better…"

And on and on. The little grey man sat there for what seemed like a small eternity as the HR man droned on and on. He was going to get a pension, of course, quite respectable, and a little bronze plate somewhere on the site to commemorate his contributions to various projects. Maybe even on one of the new benches for the garden, the HR man suggested. They would be happy to provide him with recommendations for any future endeavors he might want to participate in, though those would have to be fabricated in advance, and could he clear his desk by Wednesday? That would be great.

Wednesday has come, and the little grey man was on his way out. Someone left a goodbye card on his desk. The man was touched for a moment, then he noticed they spelled his name wrong. From the common room, he could hear the sound of the farewell party held at his honor. No one noticed he wasn't there, of course. From the sounds of it they were just cutting the cake.

Oh well. He was diabetic anyway.

Lifting his little box, the grey little man left his office for the last time. Maintenance had already removed his name from the door.

He walked through the site that has been his home for the last thirty years, and though some gazes lingered on him briefly, no one called to him. He reached the foyer. The secretary was new and paid him no heed. Box in hand, he shuffled his way to the long wall facing the front entrance. It was covered in little bronze plates, each bearing the name of one retiree or another. Shiny little monuments to lifetimes of world saving labor.

Was it sad that the little grey man could recall none of them?

He did not know.

The secretary did not look out as he left the site for the last time.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License