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> GET LAMP

You don’t need a lamp in here. It’s perfectly well-lit.

> GET ALL

What? Why? It’s not even your stuff!

> S

You’re back in the room with the humming sphere. There is a lever here. There is an empty bottle here, because you dropped it on the floor, like a slob.

> PULL LEVER

Nothing happens. Again.

> GET SPHERE

It’s six feet across. Where would you even… no.

> PULL SPHERE

Oh come on.

> PUT LEVER ON SPHERE

This is stupid! Look, you have to float the sphere by blocking up the drain in 5B/2, is that clear enough?

> HINT

I HATE YOU

Pippa

Every Thursday, the Inhuman Resources Department shuffles in to remove the hated printer and replace it with one that is, in some unique and specific way, worse. The test page is a ritual of dread.

“It can’t be as bad,” says Pippa, “as the invisible ink cartridge.”

“Or the two-in-one, with the crosscut shredder–”

“It doesn’t print capital letters,” says Railyn, examining the results in slow horror.

“HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO MAKE MEETING TRANSCRIPTS?” frets GLARTH.

“What kind of idiots wouldn’t test that?” Railyn shrieks.

“Idiots? Please,” says Pippa. “Only a genius could only produce such fresh hells.”

Chalcedony

Being a guest of Honor isn’t very different from being a guest of Privilege or a guest of Obsequiousness. It’s better than being a guest of Pain.

Chalcedony’s been couchsurfing in Conceptua since she lost her lease, or rather since the definition of “lease” blew out the window one breezy April day. It’s not so bad. She misses her privacy, but she gets to go through her hosts’ things when they’re not home.

Honor’s secrets are trite and disappointing: bribe money in the freezer, sexts from Hate. Chalcedony almost misses those drawers full of mousetraps, where Pain hid nothing at all.

Timberleigh

Timberleigh sees Dark Unicorn for the first time in the forest that adjoins their back yard, flickering among the trunks by moonglow. The creature’s eyes and nostrils flare with beauty; Timberleigh throbs, breathless.

“I’m conflicted,” he confesses the next day during their lunch period. “Dark Unicorn is calling, but his dangerous path frightens me!”

“Is this your way of coming out?” asks Margot.

“This isn’t about sex!” says Timberleigh. “It’s about how I need to ride Dark Unicorn all night, every night, because I can feel his love like the fire of an ulraviolet sun!”

Later he buys special unicorn-riding chaps.

The Organizers

During the Decline everybody gets bored with gladiation, so the organizers flail for new stunts to lure back audiences. Men fighting women! Men fighting lions! Every spectator gets a free pair of sandals! Women fighting lions! Men fighting with potatoes! Men fighting a fire! Every spectator fighting a fire! That one is sort of a retroactive promotion and they promise to build better exits.

Then there’s the sack, of course, and they try out a new promotion: men fighting the organizers! Also lions! And a fire! But the Vandals don’t make any money off it (they are total crap at marketing).

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