“Professor Icicle, sir! Professor Icicle! Excuse me, have you seen Professor Icicle?” A high-pitched, anxious voice asked a few cubicle rows over.
Professor Icicle hung his head and took a deep, calming breath.
“Who’s that?” Lady Mystery asked.
“My temp,” Professor Icicle said, rolling his eyes.
“What happened to Marcus? Did he find another job?”
“In a manner of speaking. He died during last month’s attack on the lobby.”
The lobby was still under renovation after Doctor Fuzzle and his slime minions attacked the Starbuck’s stand, attempting to negatively impact productivity at Heroes Incorporated!
Several line graphs suggest he succeeded.
Flying Girl had been demoted to ‘acting elevator’ for those unable to fly.
“I’m sorry to hear about Marcus,” Lady Mystery replied. “He seemed like a good guy. I remember one time—“
“Oh! Professor Icicle! There you are, sir!” Alan, the temp, called from three cubicles away. “Oh goodness! It took me ever so long to find you… The mayor of Reno is on the phone! I can transfer her over to… uh… uh…” He looked at Lady Mystery and obviously did not know her name.
“Lady Mystery, a pleasure to meet you, Alan. Welcome aboard,” Mystery said, standing and shaking Alan’s hand. Professor Icicle caught the smirk she threw in his direction. He always had the worst luck with temps.
“Yes, Lady Mystery, nice to meet you. I can transfer the mayor to Lady Mystery’s line for you, Professor Icicle, sir!” Alan said, beginning to salute, thinking better of it, and instead put his hands behind his back.
“That won’t be necessary, Alan,” Professor Icicle replied, adjusting the lapels of his tweed jacket. “I really should get back to my desk anyways.”
“And I should finish this expense report before you-know-who gets up in arms over it,” Lady Mystery said, nodding towards Mike, the Middle Manager.
“Good luck with that,” Professor Icicle replied, turning and following Alan back through the cubicle farm.
“I asked the Mayor to hold and came to find you immediately. She offered to leave a voicemail, but… well she is a Mayor so I figured she deserves priority service,” Alan said.
“You put the President of Bolivia into voicemail while his home was being attacked by killer robots,” Professor Icicle pointed out.
“Yes, but this is an American mayor,” Alan said, emphasizing all of the wrong words in that statement.
Professor Icicle grimaced. “All of our clients are important, Alan.”
Had he gotten the Bolivian call when it came in, Professor Icicle would currently be enjoying a celebratory glass of champagne with the President and his wife.
Instead, someone with a higher paygrade was franctically working to keep the former Bolivian Vice President from cancelling the contract.
“What does the Mayor of Reno want?” Icicle asked.
“Serious problems with the Winter Festival,” Alan said, lowering his voice, “the snow machine has broken!”
Alan’s hands fluttered in what Professor Icicle concluded was Alan’s attempt to show excitement at what he considered a wonderful opportunity.
“Super,” Professor Icicle replied icily.
Mayor Margaret was his most troublesome client.
Not troublesome like the Mayor of Toulouse who, as the former President of the Planet Frinx, suffered from regular assassination attempts by the Galactic Waste Collection Union.
Nor was she troublesome like Mexico City, which sat atop a 15,000 year old Titan named, Brock, who kept breaking his chains of imprisonment and clawing his way to the surface.
No, Mayor Margaret was the type of trouble that called when an ice machine was broken. Or the city hall’s HVAC system was on the fritz. Or her lemonade was tepid.
“Okay, transfer her over,” Professor Icicle said, standing at his desk.
“Done!” Alan said, rushing over to listen in on the call.
Professor Icicle watched the phone, waiting for the transfer light to blink.
“Alan, she’s not here,” Professor Icicle said.
“She must be,” Alan said, leaning over the cubicle wall and grabbing at Professor Icicle’s phone. “Huh… I’m sure I transferred her. Let’s see…” Alan dug in his pockets and pulled out a slip of paper. “Hit hold. Transfer. Hold. Hashtag. Star. Park. And Hang-up.”
“And you entered my extension?” Professor Icicle asked.
Alan looked confused. “Of course, I did. Right after… No before… I mean…” Alan blushed. “I’ll get her on the phone right away.”
“Thank you, Alan, that would be great,” Professor Icicle said, settling down in his seat.
“Oh! And there were a few messages while you were away from your desk,” Alan said, holding out a ball of crumpled pieces of paper.
“Why didn’t you come and get me sooner?” Professor Icicle asked.
“They were foreigners,” Alan whispered, before hurrying back to his desk to get Mayor Margaret on the phone.
Professor Icicle pulled the crumpled pieces of paper apart and smoothed them out.
‘Vatican under attack by Lord Conductor.’
‘Alien spaceship hovering over Sydney playing Bananarama on repeat.’
‘Canada has disappeared.’
Professor Icicle took a deep and cleansing breath.
“Hey there, Ice. How’s it going today?” Mike, the Middle Manager, asked, popping his head around the cubicle wall.
“Fine, Mike, and you?” Icicle asked.
“Not so great if I’m honest. I’ve been getting a lot of 411s from your clients and, golly, if they aren’t angry. Why don’t you swing by my cube when you have a chance so we can pow-wow the sitch, alrighty?” Mike said, giving Professor Icicle a thumbs up.
“Fine,” the Professor said. “Just fine.”
“Okay, she should be there now!” Alan said, running up to the cube and bumping into Mike as he turned to walked away.
Professor Icicle glanced over at his phone and waited for the light to blink.