Monday, February 20, 2012


Malcolm, punctual as always, arrives at work on time.  He takes his place behind one of the teller counters and pushes his glasses up, putting on his “pleasant smile” face.  A pleasant smile is very important when dealing with customers.  Even the idiot ones.  Malcolm secretly suspects that he’s smarter than everyone, but he’d never say it aloud.  Not out of modesty, of course—he just also secretly suspects that he’s probably wrong.
Malcolm reaches into his bag below the counter for one of the dreadfully terrible fantasy novels he enjoys so much.  However, as his hand falls upon Claw of the Dragon by A. A. Tamerson, he remembers that he just finished the book—8th of the 9-book series—last night and he currently has no reading material.  He’ll have to find something else to do during the stretches between waves of customers.
He glances over at his coworker at the next counter.  Carrie Langford is a tall woman, a few years older than Malcolm, with a confident smile.  Malcolm’s always been impressed with how she handles children of customers and their younger customers.  He’s always liked kids, but never been particularly good with them.  Carrie, though, Carrie just has this way with them.  She’s not even really like a mother to them; just a cool big sister.  She’s cut her hair, Malcolm notices.  He’s generally fairly dense when it comes to picking up details like this, but her normally long brown hair has been cropped short.  It’d be hard to miss such a drastic change.  The change suits her, though.
“I like your haircut,” he says without thinking.
She turns and smiles at him.  “Really?  Thanks, Malcolm.  I needed a haircut and I guess I just got tired of having to deal with it all the time.”
He nods stupidly.  “It looks good on you.”
She smiles.  “So no book today?”
“Nah, finished another one up.  I’ll have to pick the next book up soon.”
The two chat for a while.  They’ve always gotten along pretty well, and something about her cute new haircut is…encouraging.  I mean, it’s not like he was serious about that Canadian girl, right?  It was just some harmless flirting between them.  I mean, he should maybe ask Carrie—
Nope.  Noooooope nopenopenopenope.  Uh-uh.  Not happening.  No way.  He couldn’t.
Or could he?
Fortunately, customers have started coming in, giving Malcolm an excuse for being a complete and utter pansy.  He focuses on working for a while until lunch break.
When his lunch break comes, his boss comes up and congratulates Carrie and him for their fine work.  The simple compliment overjoys Malcolm for some reason, and he pulls his Boss into a hug.
“Mr. O’Neil,” he says, “I appreciate your enthusiasm.  However, I feel it would be much better applied to dealing with our customers.”  The man pauses, then adds “Although it would be best if you didn’t hug them.  We don’t want to risk harassment charges.”
Malcolm pushes his glasses up, embarrassed, and looks down as he apologizes.
“You’re a strange one, Malcolm,” Carrie laughs as they head out the door for their lunch break.
Malcolm hastily apologizes, and is met with a rebuttal.  “Don’t apologize for who you are.  Nothing wrong with being a little strange every now and then.  The world’s too serious, anyway.”
It’s then that Malcolm blurts out a question before he has the chance to think about it and inevitably reconsider.  “Hey, you want to grab some lunch together?”  It’s not too drastic of a question.  After all, they’re co-workers who get along.  Nothing suspicious about that.  They’re not friends, but they’re friendly.
Carrie smiles.  “Sure.”  Malcolm manages to hide his relief at her answer as they walk down the street to a local deli.
Malcolm prays he doesn’t look nervous during their lunch conversation.  he suspects that he does, though.  Carrie casually tilts her chair onto its back legs as she takes a sip of her tea, appraising Malcolm.  “So what’s up?” she asks finally.  “Any particular reason you asked to eat together?”
He shrugs.  “Uh…just trying to be more outgoing, I guess.  You know.”
She nods.  “Well, in that case, how’d you like to visit a club with me tonight?  That’d do you some good, right?”
Malcolm freezes.  Was she asking him out?  No, of course not.  That’s ridiculous.  She sees his hesitation and misinterprets it.  “You’ve never been to a club before, have you?”
Malcolm shakes his head.  “No, not really.”  She laughs and gives him some instructions, telling him when and where to show up.  The two then finish their lunch and head back to work.
Night has fallen, and Malcolm finds himself outside The Diamondback, wearing a pair of jeans and a blazer.  He can faintly see lights coming from the cobblestone building’s giant glass windows, and he starts to panic a bit.  He’s overdressed, he just knows it.  No, wait, underdressed.  No, no, totally overdressed.  Unless…damn it, he can’t even tell.  He looks around, feeling very out of place, until his eyes rest on a woman a few yards away waving at him.  Carrie walks over to greet him, dressed in heels a sleek black dress that comes about halfway down her legs.  It’s not a date, Malcolm tells himself over and over.  It’s not a date, it’s not a date, it’s not a date….
“Hey!” Carrie says with a grin.  “You ready to go?  Trust me, it’ll be tons of fun!”
Malcolm swallows, pushes his glasses further up his nose, and nods, forcing a nervous smile.
And here is where we leave Malcolm O’Neil: outside The Diamondback, attempting to go clubbing for the first time.  What sort of occurrences or surprises await him?
Comments close 2/27/12

Sunday, February 12, 2012


As he groggily stands and staggers to the window, the fragmented pieces of Malcolm’s mind cling to a single word, muttered to himself under his breath.


With his obnoxious reference out of the way, Malcolm manages to gain some control over his senses.  He walks to the adjacent bathroom, turning the cold water on full blast, cupping it in his hands and splashing it against his face, gasping as it slaps him into alertness.

He checks his clock.  There’s still some time before he has to be at work.  Plenty of time for a shower and breakfast.  As he turns the knob, sticking a hand out to test the water, his clarity begins to return.  The bank.  He works at the bank.  He’s a banker.  One of the things Malcolm had always wanted to do was to go to work pantsless and smirk at all the customers who don’t know his legs are unclad.  But no…he realized in the first few days of the job that his fellow tellers would, in fact, know.  His pantsless banking nothing but a fantasy now, but he refuses to stop clinging to it.

I should put on something nice today for a change, he thinks as he steps into the shower.  Then he pauses.  “For a change?”  There’s a dress code, and it’s not even Casual Friday.  Malcolm’s pretty sure he would have gotten the memo about Casual Wednesday if there was one.  Of course he’s going to dress nicely.  Although…it might be a good idea to put on the suit jacket today as well.  Yes, he thinks, nodding as he squirts shampoo into his hand.  He’s going to put on the suit jacket.  Won’t he look dapper then, and won’t Rodney be jealous of his dapper swag?

As soon as he’s stepped out of the shower and dried off, he heads back into his room, heading for the glasses on his nightstand over a fresh pair of underwear, despite his current state of nudity.  He sighs contentedly as he feels the familiar pressure on the bridge of his nose.  Malcolm’s eyesight really isn’t particularly poor.  He certainly wouldn’t be “blind without them,” as some would put it.  But he still refuses to switch to contacts and panics when he’s not wearing them, just because when he’s not, it “doesn’t feel right.”

Once he has completed his daily ritual of dressing and complimenting his reflection on his appearance, Malcolm heads down the hall to the kitchen, where he painstakingly prepares a bowl of Cap’n Crunch (with Crunchberries, of course—Malcolm loves his Crunchberries) and glass of milk.  Some days, when he’s feeling particularly adventurous, he starts his day with some form of toaster pastries or a glass of orange juice instead of milk!

After finishing up his cereal, Malcolm glances at his watch and sees that he still has a few moments before he needs to leave for work.  It’s 8:34, he needs to be to work at 9:00, and it only takes him ten minutes to get to the bank.  That leaves him with fourteen whole minutes!  He decides to spend his time how every responsible adult would: checking his favorite fan forums.  As he places his dishes in the sink to wash later, he glances up at the kitchen window, suddenly struck with the sudden impulse to fling it open and scream something to the world.  Odd.  But that would be pointless, and either way, he can’t think of anything witty to yell.  After all, if you can’t say anything witty for an audience, you may as well not say anything at all.

Malcolm sits down at his computer and opens the internet.  Oh, look!  That girl in Saskatchewan sent him another e-mail!  But no, he doesn’t have time to respond right now.  Malcolm is part of at least five fandoms, and he needs to make sure that there haven’t been any major developments.  Fourteen minutes later and with his curiosity sated, he pushes his glasses further up his nose, stands, and heads out the door for work.

But what now?  Where does Malcolm’s story take him from here?  It is up to you to decide.

Comments close 2/17/12

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Meet Malcolm O’Neil.

Malcolm is a man of around twenty-five years of age, give or take a few. It depends on whether he’s trying to play “hip kid” or “mature adult.” However, there are plenty of documents that require him to give his birthdate, and from that, we would be able to glean that he has been twenty-six years old for at least a few months. If we were to study this awkwardly tall and gangly man a bit further, we might come to the conclusion that he’s been stuck in puberty for the past decade. The higher timbre of his feeble voice wouldn’t dissuade us from that conclusion, either.

So what sort of person is Malcolm? Well, he’s the guy whose glasses keep slipping down his nose, but he doesn’t get a new pair because it’s just become a nervous tic to push them back up. He’s the guy who’d be able to have a lengthy discussion with you about your favorite movie or book, and you’d never know that he’d never actually seen it. He’s the guy who’s worn a tin foil hat on occasion, just in case. He’s the guy who didn’t realize in high school that parroting the humorous quotes from his favorite movies made didn’t entertain his friends—or that the spouting of said lines just made him look like an obnoxious douche, for that matter.

Malcolm likes jeans and t-shirts, though he often likes to wear flannel shirts over his regular attire. He’s a pretty chatty guy when you get him talking one-on-one or in a small group, and probably has a modest theory on whatever subject you’re discussing. Just don’t bring up any form of science fiction or fantasy, because when it comes to any franchise he’s even remotely interested in, he no longer has theories, but opinions, which are always much less modest. However, despite his rambling outspoken nature in conversation, put him in front of a crowd and he’ll lock up and start stuttering, or mumbling, or stuttering at the general volume of a mumble.

Malcolm O’Neil was never particularly good with people, just because he tries to break them down logically or formulaically. He has yet to realize that reading people is an instinct and not a science, and he’ll probably be in for an unpleasant surprise when he finds out the woman from Saskatchewan that he’s been half-flirting with online for a while is actually a fifteen-year-old male.

In short, Malcolm is something of a dweeb.

And this dweeb is currently waking up to greet the new day. He’s not looking forward to work at the office or the tech support hotline or the chocolate factory or wherever it is exactly he works. Where was it again? He can’t quite remember. His half-asleep mind is still trying to figure out who the assassin bear’s next target is going to be.

And here is where our story begins: with Malcolm O’Neil sitting on the edge of the bed in his skivvies. Just sitting there. Unsure of what to do next. Lacking direction.

Well, what are you waiting for? Aren’t you going to tell him what to do next? He needs direction, you know. And at this point, his story is in your hands.