(1 of 1. Originally posted on January 20, 2023 for the prompt “What lies beneath.”)
The message alarm bleeped one time for each word. Audo thought he counted nineteen bleeps, but they came so close together he couldn’t be sure. He chugged one more swig of amber-colored “headache medicine” from his bottle, then twisted the lid back on and dropped it in the bottom drawer just as Aurora burst into the room with a handful of message slips.
“Hey, Audo,” Aurora eyed his cluttered desk, her iridescent wings fluttering in disdain. “I’ve got an urgent nineteen-part encoded message. I need you to verify nine of them, ASAP.”
Audo groaned as he took the first one. He blinked a couple times to clear his vision. What was that starting letter? Definitely a four-letter word ending with ‘e’. Probably an ‘a’ in the middle. Is that a ‘b’…?
Aurora tapped her finger on the desk. “Pick it up, Audo, we’re lagging.”
“I’m going as fast as I can. That’s not helping.” Audo shuffled through a stack of papers to find the ‘b’ list, then skimmed it until he found a match. He wrote the word on the back of the first slip, then took the next one that Aurora held out for him.
It looked almost right. He scribbled corrections on it, and the third. On the fourth one he skimmed the entire ‘g’ list without success before finding something worked in ‘h’. Quick changes on five and six.
He barely glanced at seven. “This one looks right. I’m sure I’ve seen it before. No change on seven.”
Small tweak on eight. But, of course, the last one stumped him. “Who writes this mess? I’m eighty percent sure it starts with ‘in’ and it has an ‘st’ in the middle somewhere, but the rest is totally muddled.”
Aurora’s tapping increased in tempo.
That nagging ache in the back of Audo’s head flared again.
They told me this was a promotion. Moving up from the factory floor to a desk job. Ha! More like a punishment for some undefined offense.
Audo growled under his breath. He’d searched the whole list. Twice. He spun his chair around and opened the filing cabinet full of addendums. He flipped through them to the ‘i’ folder.
“Here,” he grabbed one that matched the pattern, and copied it onto the final slip. “This one’s close, it’s probably right.”
Aurora took the stack of modified slips and flew back to the front desk, wings buzzing like an angry stinkbug.
Audo waited for the door to close before he pulled his bottle out and took another swig.
The alarm bleeped again.
I need a vacation.
Friday, January 20
Hey bane, Ill hit three hum for a whole, than I’m thinking oc catching a movie late. You Iniesta?
Hey *babe, *I’ll him *the *gym for a *while, *then I’m thinking *of catching a movie *later. You *interested?
*hit the gym…audocorrect ducks