Non-Compliance Notice (NCN)

By Thea Maeve

The fourth one today. Joshua slouched so far into his seat he thought he might crash through the floor until he burrowed six feet deep. Were the cubicles smaller than before? No. Well, maybe. He couldn’t tell. But he could have sworn he had more space when he first started here.

“Lovely day today.” Marci was back from lunch. He didn’t know much about her role, Empowerment Team Leader, aside from terrorizing the other employees.

Nobody responded to her. The most she got was a “yeah” from Cindy.

Outlook pulled up another notification. Another Non-Compliance Notice. Failure to follow up with a prospect sixty times in a month.

This time, he swore the cubicles did move. They were notably smaller. Had to be. A genius idea came to him. He ripped a small piece of paper and slid it on the outside corner of the partition.

“What are you doing?” Cindy asked. Joshua stopped at her boobs before looking all the way up. She was a bombshell. And suddenly, he was embarrassed. What was he doing, exactly?

“Nothing,” he said, his face reddening, then hustling to his seat.

“You’re fucking weird,” Cindy said before walking to the bathroom.

Another Non-Compliance Notice. This one from Marci. Failure to correct previous NCN within a 24 hour period. Click the link.

“Marci, I did correct this already.”

“Not according to our system,” she said in her sunshine voice.

“Well, I did.”

“Okay,” Marci said. “Just make sure it is updated now.”

Sitting at his computer, he found notifications coming in rapidly. Twelve unread emails in the NCN folder.

“What the fu–?” He pulled up the folder. Fourteen now. All from Marci. Eighteen. Twenty-Seven. Forty. He couldn’t keep up.

“Marci. What is this?”

Both his shoulders were bumped together. The cubicle walls now squeezed against him, like a lover cuddling up to him, or a boa refusing to let him escape.

“Lovely day today,” Marci said behind him. But he couldn’t turn around.

The NCNs were over a thousand now and the numbers spun upward like a slot machine. His shoulders caved in and the cubicle walls were against his ears. Blood and organs leaked onto the floor. The last thing he heard was a slurping from behind him, as if Marci was sucking his body up through a straw. And she was.

Her tongue formed a long, thin straw, curling around in Mickey Mouse loops before arriving at the back of Josh’s neck. His body, if it could be considered a body any longer, funneled into Marci’s tongue, until the workstation was perfectly clean and ready for the next employee.

Cindy came back from the bathroom, hardly glancing at Marci before sitting in her chair.

“Hi Cindy, I just want to let you know,” Marci said. “Josh is no longer with us.”

“Cool.” Cindy popped a mint in her mouth while opening the Non-Compliance Notice in her email.

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