Unthinkable Cramps | Mac & Nova.The Great Escape

Nova Olsen jams papers into the fax machine while looking around to see who’s watching. The papers crumple and pile up. The machine complains at her with flashing lights and grinding gears. Nearby, Mac tries to peak his head up the slot in the vending machine. Nova grabs him by the arm.
Nova: Mac, get over here quick.
Mac: This thing’s not giving me my bag of tree bark I paid for.
Nova: That stuff’ll rot your teeth. Now come here.
She pulls Mac to the fax machine and shoves the papers in his hands.
Nova: So here’s the deal. This is the perfect spot.
Mac: Perfect spot for —
Nova: Shhh. Look around.
Mac stares at her, confused. Nova takes his head in her hands and moves it from side to side.
Nova: You see that? You see it. I know you see it.
Mac: See —
Nova: Everything. You can — this is like one of those what are they? Bird’s thing. View from a bird’s head or something?
Mac: Bird’s eye view?
Nova: Yes. See? You’re a genius. I knew you were the right fit for this team.
Mac: Team?
Nova: Yeah my team, Mac. I’m forming an elite group for my great escape. And you, my friend, are the lookout.
Mac: Where’s the rest of the team?
Nova: Team? Who said anything about a team?
Mac: You just said —
Nova: These people don’t trust me. Why would anyone trust me? I’m a terrible person. They know better than to let me put them at risk.
Nova snorts a line of Ajax off the back of her hand.
Mac: Then maybe I shouldn’t —
Nova: No you’re good. Trust me.
Nova spins around in a circle pointing to all the cubicles where managers are hidden.
Nova: Just keep an eye on all of the them and we’ll be golden.
Nova is about to take off when Mac grabs at the sleeve of her bohemian cardigan. It’s nice and soft. He didn’t think it would be. He didn’t know what to expect really. He assumed the sweater would be more like her: rough and abrasive. He wondered, if only for a brief moment, whether this soft sleeve could be a reflection of who she truly is on the inside. There wasn’t a lot he knew about her, he realized. All the years working together and he hasn’t even scratched the surface of a single co-worker. He imagines peeling back the layers of Nova until he can reveal her inner cardigan. She’ll trust him with her raw emotions and deepest desires. He’ll feel validated for the first time. He envisions cuddling up inside of her warm, cozy cardigan and nestling into her chest, getting as close as humanly possible to being one with her. He feels his heart skip a beat. And another. Then another. He looks down to see Nova punching him in the chest with the back of her fist.
Nova: Hello? Did ya get that or was it too much for your tiny pea head? There’s no way they fit a whole brain in there.
Mac: Yeah. Yeah. Sweater. I got it.
Nova: Sweater?
Mac: I mean…
Nova: I’m gonna sneak over to that fire exit right there by that sign that says ‘exit’. And I’m gonna go out it. And no one is gonna know. Slip right out into the night and you’ll never see me again. Remember: You’re my birdman.
Mac shuffles papers in his hands while keeping one eye on Nova and the other on the cubicles she pointed out. All is clear as Nova approaches the fire exit. Just as she picks up her pace to accelerate through the door Geronimo appears in her path.
Geronimo: Hey, bestie! Long time no see. I love working here so much. I love all my co-workers. And yes that includes you. I see you getting sad. Don’t be sad, girl. I have so much love for you. I mean now that we sit across from each other and everythang. Mac’s a little weird. Sometimes I think, “is he—“
Nova: Great catching up. I think Mac’s looking for ya.
She points over to Mac. He looks suspicious standing by the fax machine not faxing anything. He tries to smile at Nova, but his face doesn’t know that routine.
Geronimo: Yes! Party!
Geronimo claps his hands with excitement and shouts in Mac’s direction.
Geronimo: Mac! Over here! Mac, baby! That’s what you call him right? Over here Mac, Baby!
Nova panics and looks around for the managers. Mac does the same. Geronimo jumps up and down clapping. A tour group enters. The second person in line happens to be a young fan of the exhibit. She wears the hoodie, the hat, the shoes, the backpack and even sips from the water bottle that were all purchased from the gift shop after her previous visits. A hardcore fan that knows every detail of the cubicle and the cubicles within the cubicles. She spots Geronimo as soon as she enters and can’t withhold her excitement.
Hardcore Fan: A new employee! A new employee! Who is that!? I need to know!
Elizabeth the Tour Guide: Now. Now. Let’s wait for everyone to catch up and I’ll fill you in on all the new happenings here in the cubicle. Cubicle happenings. Cubippenings? Cubiclappenings?
Nova puts her head down and tries to cover her face. She slides past Geronimo and tries to open the door. It doesn’t budge.
Hardcore Fan: Hey, Nova! Big fan! Who’s the new guy? Is he replacing you? Is that why you’re leaving?
The managers crawl out of their cubicles and slither to the fire exit, surrounding Nova like she’s fresh prey. One of them catches her in a large fishing net. She fights and squirms, setting herself free with a switchblade she keeps buried in her boot.
Mac is gripping the papers so tight they begin to tear. His eyes as wide as oceans as he watches Nova run to the corner of the room and bounce off adjacent walls making her way up to the ceiling. She braces herself at the top and pushes in a celling tile. The managers try and jump to grab her legs, but are too short. They catch her feet in the net as she dangles in mid-air.
Mac: Go Nova!
Mac surprises himself with this sudden outburst. Caught up in the action he made it known who’s side he’s on. But it felt good. He feels excitement. The second time he’s felt that today. And both times Nova was the reason why.
Nova kicks the fishing net off and pulls herself up into the ceiling and disappears.
Nova: You guys were holding out. There’s some crazy shit going on up here.
Mac shreds the papers with joy and tosses them in the air.
Mac: Yes!
He takes his eyes off the ceiling after a long moment. The managers stare at him from across the room. They lick their lips through cycles of heavy breathing. Mac feels his heart skip. He checks to see if Nova is punching him again. Nope. This time it’s real. He steps away from the fax machine with caution and inches backwards toward his desk. He keeps his eye on them every step of the way as they huddle together and sniff in his direction.

*** ** *** **

For table of contents or to start from the beginning of Unthinkable Cramps click here, right here and nowhere else.

Published by tony espino

a human. for now.

2 thoughts on “Unthinkable Cramps | Mac & Nova.The Great Escape

  1. Oooh! The tension! Had me at the edge of my seat. Did Nova really get away?
    Geronimo reminds me of a big baby who always wants to play.
    Poor Mac. Just when his feelings for Nova were getting through to his own mind.
    And now the managers can sniff a rat. Run Mac! Run!
    Loved how you brought Nova’s sweater to life.
    Great storytelling, Tony. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Terveen! Nova thinks she’s gotten away. But her path to freedom won’t be so easy. Mac certainly needs an escape plan though. If he’s smart it won’t include Geronimo. But he’s like that kid you never wanted to play with when you were little and he keeps coming over anyway. Eventually you find a use for him.

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