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Cubical Spawn:
It Came From the Water Cooler

By Tom Skuja

A woman from the office went out on maternity leave a few months ago. Today she brought in the results, to prove she wasn't lying about being pregnant.

The child is hideous.

I'm not a baby connoisseur, but I know what ugly is. And that kid is ugly. When I poked my head out of my office and saw Ethel holding it in her arms, my first instinct was that a small woodland creature had been hit by a car and she was nursing it back to health.

As nasty as the little beast was, it still gathered a cooing, smiling crowd of women, who offered a flood of nonsense words and pointing fingers. I assume they were only pointing because they knew the gremlin's teeth hadn't busted through its gums yet.

"What's going on?" T.R. asked me, bobbing out of his cubicle.

"Ethel brought her baby in," I said, nodding at the gathering.

"That's a baby?" T.R. asked with amazement.

I nodded.

"What happened to it?" he asked.

I shrugged.

"Looks like it needed some more time," he said.

I shrugged again.

Not one to passively collect information, T.R. got out of his chair and bravely approached. My secretary, Alice, saw him coming. She was beaming happily, as if the arrival of this twisted abomination had made her day.

"Look," she said to T.R. "Isn't he adorable?"

"Yeah," T.R. said, shoving his hands into his pockets and stopping a respectable distance away. "What happened to him?" he asked Ethel.

"What do you mean?" Ethel asked.

"I don't know," T.R. shrugged. "Did you.drop him or something?"

"Drop him?" Ethel asked confused. "Why do you ask?"

"No reason," T.R. said, thinking quickly. "He just looks like a slippery little guy."

"Oh, he certainly is," Ethel said proudly. "He wriggles like crazy. He's my little worm, he is."

This description sent the throng of women into gales of coos and murmurs. "Are you her little worm?" "Are you a wriggly boy?" "Are you a slippery guy?"

"What is that thing?" Don asked me, appearing by my side.

"He's her little worm," I told him quietly.

"Worms grow that big?" he asked, horrified.

T.R. pressed on, searching for answers. "What does your husband do?" he asked.

"He's in construction," Ethel said.

"He doesn't work with radiation at all?" T.R. wondered.

"Not that I know of," Ethel answered.

"Oh," T.R. said, confused. "Is your house by the power plant? Are there live power lines really close to your bedroom or something?"

"Why are you asking all these questions?" Ethel asked, slightly perturbed.

T.R. tried to think of an answer and couldn't think of one. "Nice to see you again," he said, and spun on his heel to join Don and me on the sidelines.

"Go ask her what kind of drugs she used in college," T.R. ordered Don.

"No way," Don said.

"You're not curious?"

"No," Don said.

"Tom?" T.R. asked. "You want to ask the drug question?"

"I don't think so," I said. "I'm not sure it would be appropriate. Since I'm her boss."

"Appropriate?" T.R. asked. "For Christ's sake, when have you ever been concerned with appropriateness? Look at what you're wearing."

Don and I looked at T.R.

"Sorry," he said. "Just slipped out." He sighed impatiently and turned back to the spectacle on the office floor. "I feel the need to understand."

"There are some things man was not meant to understand," Don said sagely.

T.R. and I nodded, even though we had no idea what he was talking about.

There was an ominous rumbling in the creature's diaper that we could hear even though we were clean across the room.

"Did my little worm make a poo?" Ethel gurgled, lifting the malformed freak high into the air.

I realized we were dangerously downwind. "Meeting in my office?" I suggested suddenly.

Don and T.R. quickly agreed.

We made it inside and shut the door firmly behind us.


Tom Skuja spends a large amount of his time working for Pink Productions. More time than he should, really.


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