Paper Cut Revenge (Flash Fiction)

Sometimes relationships with your co-workers are tenuous at best. I was lucky; most of my co-workers were ambiguously nice. My boss was somewhat indifferent to me, but I was a temp worker at a huge company, so I didn’t expect much else.

There was only one office resident that I had a mutual loathing for.

I’ll never forget the first day we met.

For months the office had been buzzing about it. Our new copy machine. One of these “multifunctional devices” that could print, scan, and copy all in one. All of the administrative support were in a tizzy over it.

The day it arrived, I watched warily as the tech guys wheeled it in. It was supposed to be some fabulous new device to ease our workload, but it sat, enormous and ominous, glinting evilly in the corner of our copy room.

We got off to a bad start. The very first thing I printed, I held my hand out for the documents, and the force with which the pages spewed out sliced several papercuts across my hand.

I yelped and made the universal “I just got a papercut face,” immediately sticking my hand to my mouth to suck up the blood.

From that day forward, we were at war. If anything could make a bad day worse, it was that machine.

And I’m pretty sure it was just me. Nobody else seemed to have the same issues. I couldn’t print more than a page or two at a time without a paper jam or other issue.

I was nearing my wits end one day, and my boss, who had barely ever acknowledged I existed, sought me out. He was frantic.

“I need this report printed and collated ASAP. I’ve emailed you the documents and the color insert I need. My meeting is in an hour.”

This was the meeting, too. Everyone in the office had been buzzing about it. The biggest account we had, and the boss wasn’t ready for it. Normally he relied on his personal assistant to put this sort of thing together, but she was out on maternity leave and my fellow temp had left early for a dentist appointment.

So it was just me and the machine.

I swallowed and eyed the printer nervously. Why me? “Please work, you stupid piece of crap,” I muttered.

I sat down at my computer, pulled up his report, chose the proper printing settings, and hit print.

Nothing happened.

I tried again. What was going on? Was it lost in cyberspace? I still didn’t quite trust this supposed printer “network.” How did something know to print without being plugged into the computer that it was printing it from?

“I hate you” I muttered under breath. Just then, it roared to life, but then it sighed and sputtered and caused a paper jam.

I let out a frustrated yell and stomped my foot, but it just sat there, red lights flashing.

I checked the clock. I had time for one last try.  There were only minutes until the meeting. I knew my ass was on the line. I hit print, and…

It started printing.

Thank the Lord, I thought to myself.

I pulled the first packet off the tray, and couldn’t believe my eyes.

It was the report I had tried to print three days ago that had never printed. I had ended up plugging in my old printer to print.

I kicked the thing as hard as I could. The flimsy plastic paneling cracked and came loose, but other than that, it just kept printing. Incorrectly. Two hundred pages that I could only stop by yanking out all of the trays. And for some reason, any time I tried to put paper back in it, it was convinced it needed to keep printing that particular job.

I checked the clock again. No time to call the tech guy. Besides, I had called him before, whenever I had problems with it, and he had just shrugged, not sure what the problem was.

When my boss finally came to collect the report, I had only made half of the copies he needed, because I had resorted to using my old, broken printer again.

He glared at me over the pitiful stack of incomplete reports.

“The printer…” I began.

He stalked over to the machine, pressed a few buttons, and the rest of his reports spewed out, perfectly collated, in a matter of minutes.

He didn’t say a word to me as he stalked into his meeting, ten minutes late.

The next day, our HR person called me into her office. I knew what was coming.

“I’m sorry, Janet, but this just isn’t working out.”

Fired. Let go because of that god damned machine.

I walked past the copy room and was overcome with pure unadulterated hate. Hate like I had never felt before. Glowing embers of anger, oozing black sludge of hate.

I was taking that damn thing with me.

That weekend, with the last of my savings, I rented a truck, purchased full coverage insurance for $20, took the copy of the key I had made of the office, and let myself in.

There it sat, smug and pristine. The panel I had kicked and broke had been replaced.

I violently ripped free all of the network cables and the power cord, and pushed it out the door. The truck waited for me at the loading dock, where I shoved with all my might and dumped it into the back.

I started driving after that. I drove outside the city limits to an old, crumbling parking lot. I pushed it out of the back of the truck, and went to work on it.

I took a sledgehammer to it and beat the living shit out of it. Stroke after stroke, taking out my frustrations on the devil machine. I was broke. No job. No money. No prospects. All I had left, ruined by an inanimate object.

When I was tired, I got back into the truck, backed up several yards, and drove full speed towards it.

The resulting crash sprayed black plastic and bits of machinery everywhere. The front of the truck was also in bad shape.

I shrugged, got back into the truck, put it in reverse and ran over the printer again. And again. There was nothing left when I was done.

Revenge was mine.

Come Monday morning I wasn’t at work, of course, but neither was the printer from hell.

Nobody ever found the body.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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