James Holden: Pencils

Huw felt he was being subjected to death by presentation. At his age he frankly didn’t care for “achieving key message cascades through third party stakeholders”. He could read the words but found them unintelligible. How much this business had changed – did anyone at the board table understand what “synchronicity in the brand/user matrix” meant?

As the slides passed by he wished there was some way for him to stop the whole process. He could walk out, or maybe suicide was the best way to escape the meeting’s tedium. Looking down at the notepad and ballpoint pens in front of him, he recalled the most popular way to commit suicide during exams was sticking two pencils up your nose and pressing down so hard they went into your brain. He could do that. Pencils he wrote on the pad in front of him, but couldn’t think of alternatives achievable under exam conditions. Maybe students kept cyanide capsules in their pencil cases.

The speaker droned on and Huw wondered if he was already dead. If he was, he must be in hell, or at best purgatory: listening to this jargon-filled presentation was like constantly pushing a stone up a slope, or having your liver eaten only to find it regrown later.

Huw started jotting down the opening comments for his obituary – as Company Chair surely they would include something in the corporate e-zine he could never manage to open. He suddenly became aware of silence – everyone was looking at him. He cleared his throat. “Well, that was first class. I won’t invite comments and instead move us on to today’s next item…”

Looking down the agenda he spotted a fresh circle of hell for him to pass through before they would be finished: Securing Brand Connectivity Through Social Media Channels.


About James Holden

Brought up in Yorkshire, James has washed up on the shores of London. He spends his days working as a political geek. His short stories have previously been read by the Liars League.
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