Hell, But Without The Central Heating

Fear sat across from Wrath trying to work out what to do with his hands. All of a sudden, he had too many limbs and they were uncomfortably present. Wrath eyed him over the desk, folding the agenda with one well-manicured claw.

“How are you finding the Department of Apathy and Minor Bureaucracy?” Wrath asked, already bored with the answer he had not yet heard.

“Oh, great,” lied Fear. “I’ve had so much room to-” he paused, unable to find a suitably positive verb. “-to challenge myself.” Because you are wildly incompetent morons who wouldn’t know how to manage a scam in a timeshare sale, he didn’t add. In general, as with humans, honesty was to be discouraged in any management meeting. This was an exercise in flattery and the ability to pretend everything was fine. If the office was on fire, the best employee would always be the one who smiled and said they didn’t mind a little warm weather. The one holding the fire extinguisher was the one to march into a disciplinary as a trouble maker.

“Well,” replied Wrath smugly, flexing his horns. “We do aim to provide the maximum amount of tedium and hoop-jumping at this firm. I personally try to introduce eight new procedures each day. I take micromanagement on as my personal mission, you see.”

“Well,” replied Fear, with no small amount of honesty, “You are certainly exceptional at that.” Wrath nodded, tapping his tail on the table.

“Unfortunately, you sometimes seem unable to keep up with my ludicrous and pointless attempts to echo the deranged control of a mad emperor.” Wrath sat back in his chair, waiting for Fear to burst into tears and cry for mercy at his hooves.

“Oh yes,” agreed Fear. “I definitely do. You’re just so good. It’s remarkable. Sometimes it feels like you aren’t even torturing our consumers, it’s like you’re torturing me. I can’t even tell you the times I’ve thought, goodness, it’s almost like Wrath has anticipated I’ll forget to fill in sadism spreadsheet 402,013,294 today. You truly show your worth here, Wrath. I can only hope to be as appalling with empathy and people management as you someday.”

Wrath almost blushed at this grotesque feat of grovelling. “Well, I’ve been here a few more hundred years than you, so I guess I’ve had the experience. The trick is to make sure that everyone feels like they are at breaking point, constantly. It gets results.”

“Oh, it does!” agreed Fear, again. “I personally feel like I can get no work done at all due to your insane, maniacal power plays and meddling. Five hundred meetings a day? Genius. Calling me in randomly with no notice? My anxiety is through the roof!” Wrath was blushing now, grinning thoughtfully at the appraisal form.

“Well, I try. We all do.”

“And the random key performance indicators around root vegetables, dragon hiccups and mercury toad levels? They have absolutely no bearing on our actual deliverables. I love it. It’s like you are constantly reimagining how to make your employees feel horrifyingly useless even if they are top of their game.”

Wrath was beaming now from ear to ear, almost completely forgetting the torture he had planned to put Fear through. This was the way of it, sadly, Fear thought. Flattery, nepotism and lying. Talent was wildly irrelevant to success.

“Of course, I’m going to have to drag you into a torture meeting another eight times this week. It’s really vital to undermine you and make you feel worthless when I feel a bit insecure, you see.” Wrath smiled, filling in the end of the appraisal. “It’s just my little quirk. You know, random powerplays when I feel threatened. My girlfriend says it’s cute.”

“Oh, it definitely is,” replied Fear. “I love it. So exciting. Why else would anyone wake up at all but for the insane micromanagement, lying and backstabbing of a deranged sociopath? It keeps you on your toes.”

“Well, I’m certainly a fun manager!” Wrath laughed, enjoying the obsequious nonsense and quietly hoping for more.

“You’re definitely exciting!” Fear replied. “How lucky I am. It’s thrilling to lie awake at night wondering what ridiculously minor issue you are going to have me guillotined over in the morning.”

Wrath sighed. “I can’t take all the credit, Fear. I’ve learnt from the best. Satan has a great training programme in management. He ensures he gets the worst possible results by breeding a culture of fear and resentment, and encouraging us to pass the blame down the chain. I’d be lost without him.”

“Oh, totally,” replied Fear. “But don’t let self deprecation damage your self esteem. You chose to behave like a power crazed monster who would rather risk someone’s livelihood than take some criticism. That takes dedication, Wrath. I get it.”

25 year old with an awful lot to say about everything. Opinions entirely my own. Usually. madelaine@madelainehanson.co.uk