Simon's Bad Day
Simon had always wanted to be a guard at the Art Gallery. His grandfather had been one, and his father had too. He had grown up with the idea that he too would one day be a guard. He didn't mind the pressure; he himself had decided that having one of those shiny guard badges and wearing one of those well-ironed uniforms was his dream.
So as he made sure that the cuffs were rolled just correctly on his Grarrl-sized uniform shirt, he was ecstatic. Today was his first day on the job. He would be guarding the first floor of the gallery today. He grinned toothily at himself in the mirror and adjusted his shiny badge.
"Today," he told his reflection (which was a yellow Grarrl with a big smile), "is going to be the best day ever."
After triple-checking that his collar had no creases, he sauntered out of his door. He lived on Roo Island and was only a quick walk away from work. He was there in no time, and he proudly unlocked the front door with his very own set of glossy brass keys.
Steve the nighttime janitor was asleep against the front desk, his mop hanging limply in his hand. Steve was a friend of Simon's father, and Simon had known him from a young age. Simon coughed and Steve bolted upright, shouting something about carrots.
"It's just me, Steve," Simon said, shaking his head. "Did you have a good sleep?"
"That ain't funny," Steve mumbled. "You made me anxious, wakin' me up like that!"
"You'd be much more than anxious if Hal found you asleep," Simon said. Hal was the owner of the Art Gallery, and was a very strict sort of individual.
"Ah," Steve said, waving his hand, "Hal couldn't fire me even if he tried. D'you know how hard it is to find a nighttime janitor? It took Hal five years to find me."
There was a noise outside the door of faraway laughter.
"You'd better go home and rest," Simon told Steve. "Go, before the tourists come and see you. You'd probably scare them and they'd never come back."
"Ah," Steve said again, "I doubt you'd look as good as me if it were you stayin' up until the wee hours of the mornin', scrubbin' away at the floors and the walls."
"Probably not," Simon relented. The laughter was getting closer. "Now go!"
"Alright, alright!" Steve said, walking stiffly away, dragging his mop behind him.
No sooner had Steve disappeared through the back door did a large bunch of tourists meander into the building.
"Hello!" they all chirped. "We're looking for the Poogle section!"
"Oh... erm..." Simon said. It was at this point that he realised that Jami, the clerk at the front desk who usually directed people where to go to find specific artwork, wasn't anywhere to be found. "Well... I think the Poogle section is upstairs."
"You... think?" one of the tourists, a pink Poogle, asked slowly.
"Erm..." Simon mumbled. "The third door on the second floor, I think..."
"O-okay," the pink Poogle said, and the group moved upstairs, muttering amongst themselves.
It was at this point that a rainbow Cybunny burst through the door and hopped quickly over to the front desk.
"Nice to see that you could make it, Jami," Simon said wearily as the Cybunny jumped onto a chair at the desk.
Simon had learned through word of mouth that Jami was often late for work. He was hardly surprised at her late arrival.
"I'm sorry!" Jami whimpered guiltily. "I slept in! Did I miss anything?"
"Well, yes," Simon said uncomfortably. "A group of tourists asked to see the Poogle art, so I sent them to the second floor and told them to look behind the third door..."
"Oh dear," Jami muttered. "That's not the right door at all!"
"Oh..." Simon said awkwardly. "Well... what is behind the third door on the second floor?"
"A broom closet," Jami replied.
"O-oh..." Simon said, feeling his face go red. "Well... perhaps they are also broom-enthusiasts!"
Jami shot him a look.
"You never know," Simon said hopefully. "A-anyways, I have to go guard... things."
"Right," Jami said, "and I'll just sit here and deal with the complaints from the tourists that you just sent into a closet."
"It's your fault! You should have been here," Simon said. Angry voices could suddenly be heard from upstairs. "Oh... I'd better go!"
Simon quickly bolted into another room, followed by Jami's loud retort. He hid in a room full of Uni art and took a deep breath.
"Well," he said to himself, "that wasn't a very good start to the day... but it can't get any worse, can it?"
Feeling optimistic, he looked at his reflection in a nearby pane of glass. His collar was askew and he straightened it, only to end up with three wrinkles in it. Three! Grumbling, he turned away from the glass to be met by a large group of Unis.
"H-hello!" he said in a surprised tone.
The Unis didn't reply. They split up and wandered about the room, staring at the paintings. Simon started to walk around the room, not sure if he should talk again or just remain silent.
Suddenly there was a loud intake of breath from behind him. Simon turned around just in time to see a painting fall to the floor. The glass casing shattered and the wood frame snapped. A red Uni had knocked down the picture and was currently scrambling out of the room, followed by the others.
"Hey!" Simon shouted. "Hey, get back here!"
He started to run out of the room, but then he heard the glass crunch under his heavy boots. He couldn't just run out of the gallery to chase the Unis. He had to clean up the glass, or else someone could get hurt. He grudgingly walked out of the room and upstairs to the broom closet to get something to sweep up the glass. He reached for the handle and realised that the door was locked.
"Help!" several voices inside yelled. "Help!"
Simon grabbed his keys and jammed one into the lock. It ended up being the wrong key, and as he took it out it became scraped. The beautiful brass was now mottled and ugly. Clenching his teeth, he tried another key. The door swung open and a heap of worried Poogles fell out.
"Somebody told us that the Poogle art was in that room!" they said. "Then we ended up getting locked in and..."
They trailed off as they recognised Simon. Their faces changed from thankful to furious.
"CHARGE!" the pink one shouted suddenly.
"W-what?" Simon asked, but he soon found out what the command had meant. All of the Poogles got to their feet and then pounced at Simon. With a yell, the poor Grarrl raced down the hall, followed by the pack of Poogles.
"I DIDN'T MEAN ANY HARM!" Simon screeched, his uniform flapping about as he slid around a corner. "HONESTLY!"
He rounded another corner and then groaned. It was a dead end. The only hope was an open window at the end.
With a roar, Simon dived out of the window. He fell face-first downwards and landed on a large shrub. He felt his poor collar getting punctured by a stray twig.
"NEVER UNDERESTIMATE POOGLES!" the Poogles from above him roared. Simon didn't reply. He couldn't, actually – his mouth was full of leaves.
After the Poogles had left, Simon spat out the leaves and sighed.
"You know," he said to himself, "I didn't plan on jumping out of a window on my first day."
He tried to get up from the bush and then realised that there were thorns holding him down. Grimacing, Simon managed to rip himself off of the plant, leaving behind most of his uniform jacket.
"Oh, not the jacket!" Simon groaned. He picked his badge off of a piece of fabric that was stuck to the bush. He attached it to his shirt and straightened up. "Time to get back to work."
He turned around and found that he was facing the back door. He walked towards it and slowly opened it up. He saw Jami directing a group of Usuls up the stairs.
"H-hey, Jami," Simon said, walking in through the door. Jami turned around in her chair to face the back door. She made a noise in the back of her throat.
"What happened?!" she asked, staring at him. "Why are you covered in leaves?!"
Simon reluctantly explained what had happened. When he had finished, Jami nodded in a professional manner. Then she burst into laughter.
"You jumped out of a window?!" she screeched.
"Be quiet!" Simon pleaded.
"You do realise that guards aren't supposed to run away from people, right?" Jami giggled. "It's supposed to be the other way around."
"There were, at the least, fifty Poogles chasing me!" Simon replied icily.
"More like five," Jami grinned. "Now... go clean up that glass! I doubt you want more angry mobs chasing after you."
"Oh, get back to work," Simon snapped, walking towards the stairs. He climbed them slowly as Jami continued to snicker down below.
Simon reached the broom closet and opened the door, half-expecting an angry Poogle to jump out at him. Instead, he was greeted by many brooms and buckets. He let the door shut behind him as he chose a broom. He took several deep breaths. He contemplated leaving work early with "a sudden case of NeoPox".
"I'm sure it will get better," he told himself as he picked up a broom and headed towards the door. He reached for the handle and tried to turn it, but it wouldn't budge. "Oh... oh no."
He pulled at the handle harder, but it wouldn't turn. He tried and tried, yet the door was locked. He was trapped.
"YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!" he bellowed. He started hammering on the door with his fists.
After five long minutes of waiting for someone to open the door, Simon heard footsteps. As loudly as he could, he shouted, "I'M IN HERE!"
Halfway through his sentence, the door swung open, revealing Hal, with a very annoyed expression on his face. Simon ended up shouting the word "HERE" straight into Hal's large Acara ears.
"Oh!" Simon squeaked. "Hal! I'm... I'm so sorry! I... I... I was locked in here and..."
"Right," Hal said stiffly. He surveyed Simon's tattered uniform. "Well, you look like you've been... productive today."
"I... I was getting a broom and I..."
"Enough," Hal said coldly. "Get back to work. I didn't expect this from you. I thought you'd be just like your father and grandfather."
With slumped shoulders, Simon dejectedly walked out of the closet and down the stairs. He passed Jami, who was still laughing, and entered the Uni art room. He slowly swept up the glass into one large heap.
"There," he muttered, "now all I need is a... dustpan!"
He had forgotten to get a dustpan. Now he had to brave the broom closet once again, probably under the awful gaze of Hal. He groaned and started towards the door. He grabbed the handle and tried to turn it. It wouldn't budge.
He was locked in.
Simon slumped to the floor. He looked down at himself. His uniform was ruined. There were thorns all up his sleeves and tears in the fabric. His once shiny badge now had a large dent in it. He pulled out his keys and stared at the one with the ruined brass. He sighed and pocketed them.
"Well, at least the day is almost over," Simon said to himself. Or was it? He looked at his watch.
He had only been working for an hour.
Simon slowly tore his gaze away from his watch. In one hour he had gotten customers locked in a closet, let a painting get smashed, jumped out of a window, and gotten locked in not one but two rooms. He sighed.
"Maybe I should become a baker," Simon said to himself.