The innocuous ping of the elevator doors reverberated through the terrified office, followed by solid footsteps and the swish of a scaly tail. Sagan scanned the silent, trembling crowd with yellow, smirking eyes. Then he spoke.
“Pathetic, miserable lot, they are. We will need to review each file, but I imagine most of them will be terminated.”
He was speaking to Malcolm, who stood behind him with a pen and pad to take notes. Malcolm nodded without expression and continued to scribble. Sagan appeared to have more to add, but at that moment Bos Grunnien emerged from his office on the far end of the room and cleared his throat.
Sagan flashed his sharp shiny teeth, “Ah, Mr. Grunnien. Good morning. I trust you have a few moments for me to speak with you.” Without waiting for Bos’s response, Sagan slithered towards his office, ignoring the still-paralyzed staff in their cublicles as he passed.
Bos seemed unperturbed and allowed Sagan space to enter the office. Before the door had completely closed, an eruption of nervous whispers had filled the air. Panic quickly took over in some of the junior staff members. Some huddled together, talking with rapid desperation, while others were already retooling their résumés or calling their financial advisers.
Bos’s door swung open unexpectedly. Heads all turned in unison to stare as Sagan cried, “This will NOT stand!” and burst back into the room. Bos plodded along behind him, accompanied by Serpentarius the secretary. “Mr. Grunnien, you have made a grievous error here today, and I will see that you do regret it.” But Bos showed no signs of distress, which caused Sagan to spit more savagely, “You have no RIGHT to abandon us at such an auspicious time!”
During this exchange, Serpentarius noticed that all the commotion that morning had caused a large amount of water to slosh out of Barnabus’s tank, and the puddle of liquid was spreading across the floor. He immediately knelt down just beyond Bos and his angry superior, attempting with a few napkins to sop up the mess. Sagan continued his rant.
“The audacity! The insolence! You cannot simply abdicate your responsibilities to this firm! No, sir! There will be repercussions for this! Yes! Malcolm, take this down! I shall have you blacklisted from every company on the map! You will never work again!” As Malcolm set to scribbling, Bos took a step forward and said, “Sagan, I’ve been offered a job with Buffalo Thunder as of this morning, and I plan to accept it.”
Sagan’s face burned with such rage that even his scales turned red. He barked, “Traitor! Subversive! Your betrayal knows no bounds!” He paused. “I supposed it is best, then. I cannot afford to have this kind of treachery within my own walls!” His glare traveled across the faces of a couple of cowering employees. “I see I have no choice. There is no telling how deep the corruption goes. Lepidoptimal must be wiped clean.”
Gasps rose from several cubicles, and Bos shook his head. “You can’t do that, Sagan. You will be stopped.”
Sagan laughed dryly, “Oh? And who is going to stop me, Mr. Grunnien?”
“They will stop you.”
Sagan snickered again, but his yellow eyes darted around furtively. “Nonsense. How could they?”
Vespa shot up from behind Bos’s big shaggy head and squeaked, “We’ll sue!”
Sagan threw his head back but only produced a weak, gurgling sound instead of a laugh this time. He then leveled his gaze at Bos and attempted to puff up his chest in an aggressive display as he backed away. Snarling, he made as if to turn for a dramatic exit, but he had failed to notice Serpentarius and the wet floor behind him. The secretary scrambled to get out of the way, but Sagan has already lost his footing and begun to slide.
Admittedly, Barnabus had sloshed a lot of water, but no one could have expected that Sagan’s slippery scales would carry him as far as they did on the tile floor. He surged headfirst into the open supply closet, crashing into the cleaning equipment and bringing an avalanche of toilet rolls and stationary onto his head. Nelson, Bos’s assistant, happened to be standing nearby. Acting with an uncharacteristic quickness, Nelson slammed the closet door. Then he turned with very wide eyes to Bos.
The staff erupted in cheers.