This story is dedicated to my husband, Roy Froud, who told me to write a story about my very own arch-nemesis, Mr. Procrasto!
The rope that held Captain Workhard to the table cut into his wrists. He could hear the whirring of the computer as it loaded and tippy-tapping of Nate’s typing. A robotic arm moved the screen across the room and brought it down over Captain Workhard’s face.
“You won’t get away with it this time, Mr. Procrasto!” he shouted, twisting his face away from the screen and screwing his eyes shut. “I won’t look!” The muscles in his arms bulged as he tensed with fear.
“Quick Nate!” Mr. Procrasto shouted. “Open up his emails! Captain Workhard won’t be able to resist us then!”
“Once upon a time,” Captain Workhard mumbled to himself, “there lived a small girl. No, no that’s not good. C’mon Captain Workhard, you can do this. Don’t let them distract you!” He will himself to think. He wouldn’t let Mr. Procrasto get away with it this time. He blocked out Nate’s tippy-tapping and ignored Mr. Procrasto’s glee. He took a deep breath. “Once upon a time,” he began again, calmer this time. “There was a little girl. She lived in a little house on a little hill and each and every day, she would visit poor old grandmother, who lived in the next village.” Mr. Procrasto was very unhappy indeed.
“Forget the emails!” Procrasto shouted to Nate. “Load the funny home videos – now!”
“NO!” screamed Captain Workhard. “I won’t look!” He screwed his eyes tighter but could see the glare of screen through his eyelids. He opened them just a peep and then screamed in pain. “Aaaargh!”
“Mwahahaha! You’ve got nowhere to hide Captain Workhard!” Mr. Procrasto laughed with glee at his prisoner.
“Nowhere to hide,” Nate repeated and rubbed his hands with glee.
“Shut up, Nate!” Mr. Procrasto snapped. “Ramp it up another notch – make them dog videos!”
Captain Workhard whimpered and tensed some more. His face was warped as he avoided looking at the screen. “Once upon a time,” he started again, slowly. “There was a little girl. She lived in a little house on a little hill and each and every day, she would visit her poor old grandmother, who lived in the next village.” He growled in frustration and concentration. He couldn’t let Mr. Procrasto and Nate win. He had to get this story done in time! “The little girl was named Claire. On her way to her grandmother’s house each day, Claire would pick some flowers from the mountainside and- aaargh!” He screamed in pain and fury as the light of the dog videos danced behind his eyes. Just one little peek, he thought to himself. One video? Surely that can’t do any harm. But no, he fought on.
“She picked blue ones and yellow ones and red ones and pinks ones. All the flowers in her grandmother’s favourite colours. The hillside was huge, so she was never in fear of running out of flowers and so each day, she picked and picked.”
“It’s the end for you, Captain Workhard. I’m taking over your brain!” Mr. Procrasto roared. “There’ll be no more stories from you any time soon! Mwahahaha! It’s time to release my ultimate weapon: Facebook!”
“Mwhahaha!” Nate repeated in a smaller, tinier voice. Whimpering, Captain Workhard screwed his eyes closed even tighter.
“Please Mr. Procrasto, not Facebook. Anything but Facebook, I can’t take it. I need to write this story now.” Captain Workhard’s chin wobbled in fear. He’d never get his work done with Facebook staring down at him from the screen above.
“Logging in now sir,” Nate said. “Typing the password in.”
“Please…I…” Captain Workhard could make out the blue just behind his eyelids.
“We’re in,” Nate said and Mr. Procrasto looked on with glee.
“And on her way home each day,” Captain Workhard whispered to himself, mentally blocking out the screen above him. “On her way home, she would pick more flowers – some for her mother, some for her aunt next door, and some for her very own room: more flowers than you could ever imagine.” Each word got progressively louder, and with each word, his muscles tensed just a little more.
“Oo look!” Mr. Procrasto said. “Sally has got a new dog – aww, isn’t that cute?”
“Yes, Mr. Procrasto, it’s cute,” Nate said. “It’s cute Captain Workhard, and you’re missing it!”
“Then one day,” Captain Workhard said, released the tension in his eyes just a little, “she put on her coat and her shoes and she went into the garden.” His voice got louder and louder.
Mr. Procrasto was worried. He had to act quickly.
“Oh look who’s getting married, Nate! Don’t you want to know who’s getting married, Captain Workhard?” but Captain Workhard ignored him.
A smile grew on Captain Workhard’s face as he continued his story, and he could feel the threads of his binds snapping, one by one by one. “She skipped through the lane and out of the gate. She made her way to the mountainside and when she got there she stopped, aghast, and gasped! ‘Oh no,’ she cried-”
“NO!” Mr. Procrasto screamed in anger. “Look at the screen, Captain Workhard. Look. At. The. Screen. Sam and Tom are arguing about politics again, and Jill is looking for attention. Don’t you want to see? You don’t want to miss out do you?” Nate shivered in the corner as he watched the panic on his boss’ face grow.
It was Captain Workhard’s turn to laugh now. “‘Oh no,’ she cried! ‘Where have all the flowers gone?’” Captain Workhard’s eyes were fully open now, and his hands shot up from the table as the rope snapped. “‘The hillside looks so bare and ugly,’ she declared with sadness in her voice.”
But Captain Workhard’s expression wasn’t sad. He was joyful as he knocked the screen out of the way and leapt from the table. His voice was loud and proud. “‘You took all my flowers,’ the hillside said to the little girl. ‘Now I am plain and ugly, and it will be many, many weeks before my colour returns.’”
Mr. Procrasto and Nate cowered in the corner as they watched Captain Workhard recite the rest of his tale.
“The little girl burst into tears. ‘I’m sorry hillside,’ she cried. ‘I didn’t realise. I won’t take any more flowers every again.’ The hillside smiled and said ‘It’s okay little girl, I will only be sad for a little while. And when the flowers come back, you can take some but not so many every day. Take a few but leave enough and then both of our homes will be beautiful.’”
By now, Mr. Procrasto and Nate were crying as Captain Workhard stood over them – he had defeated them again!
“Take that, Mr. Procrasto!” Captain Workhard cried. “Take that!”
For more short stories and other bookish nonsense, go to www.rileyjfroud.com; or if you really want a laugh, why not buy Riley J.’s book, John Sharpe: No.1,348?