by Jacob "Blue" T. Fox
©1998 Jacob "Blue" Fox -- all rights reserved
Another day of draining my bank account dry. Living off a college work-study check is not a good thing. Mac and cheese every day, the occasional sandwich from the deli, but this was Friday and it was payday. I looked down at my watch and saw it was two minutes before five and I was about to charge out of my cushy chair and to the ATM for money for a pizza. I already had my paycheck in my hands and with the joys of direct deposit I waited for five, so I could magically find money in my checking account.
"Hey Joey. Since you have been working Ann's shifts here's a coupon to 'The Cat.'"
Damn! I knew my boss was nice but this was going overboard. He handed me the coupon for thirty percent off at the Chinese restaurant downtown. I never knew the name of the restaurant but everyone in town called the place "The Cat."
"It's five Jake. I'm outta here." I yelled from my secretary's desk. "See ya."
I didn't bother writing down my balance as I guessed that I had about sixty bucks in the bank. I'm lazy I'll admit it. As I walked down the highway I couldn't help but smile, with the coupon I was finally going to have a decent meal. I was walking by the Science Building but then I saw the renovation sign being hung from the head of the door. It was about time Johnson University started to use the grants they squeezed from the government. Most of the people in the building were being forcibly escorted out, I'm the curious type so I had to go in. The last of the lab students brushed by me like I was nothing. Truth. In the University's mind, I was nothing. An average student, government paying my bills, and I wasn't a member of any group on campus. I was about to enter when a large man blocked my way.
"I'm sorry you can't go in."
I smiled and used the best lie I could think of. "I need to grab my book in the lab on the second floor."
"You can't go in."
"Fine give me the two hundred dollars for the book because I need it now!"
I could tell he was a union guy by the IBEW sticker on his hard hat. He swallowed once and envisioned the large check he was going to hand me. With a doorman like gesture he opened the door.
"Five minutes, just don't tell my boss."
"I won't." My smile widened and I began to roam. It didn't look like much on the ground floor but new lights and names branded on all of the doors. A glass door that matched the other doors of the building was finally replacing Dr. Jenkins' old wooden door. The second floor was where all the action really was. I quietly tiptoed up the stairway, that was until I realized how stupid it was to be tiptoeing in a disaster area. Half torn carpet and plastic covered windows were the highlights of the second floor renovation. I was about to give up any hope for the campus improvement committee when I saw the soda machine was missing. Carefully stepping over broken glass and other bits of rubble to try and see what was replacing it.
An ATM! Finally we were going to have a automated bank teller in the Science Building. At last, no more long walks in the rain to go to the machine on the other side of the campus. Under the machine was a hand truck and it looked as if the workers just dumped the thing right there.
The digital display was on and I wanted to be the first one to try it. I just hoped there was money in the thing. It was exactly like the machine at the Union Building and using it had become a mindless thing for me.
As I typed in my PIN I looked up to see the three security cameras above me. "Going a bit overboard on the security guys?" I said as I looked up at the cameras.
I did my usual stupid face routine for the cameras, you know sticking the tongue out, the eye brow wiggle, the semi-foolish evil face while I waited for the beeps of the machine and hit the buttons without looking.
The only time I did look down was when I thought that the machine was a little slow to respond. The screen was a sick green color and it read,
"Please stand still?" What no "Please wait?"
My eyes turned back up to the cameras and the central lens was changing. It was opening like a photo camera's lens would. Little metal leaves were pulling away and there was a red bulb underneath.
A large red beam shone right into my eyes. I was blinded and I passed out. When I was in the darkness I thought I heard wet sloshing sounds mixed with snaps of twigs. My eyes opened and my vision was blurred and I couldn't see any colors. I tried to pull myself up but my body wouldn't allow me to go any higher than all fours. My mind was still in a haze; I didn't know what was up until I saw my reflection in the metallic base of the ATM. It wasn't my face that was looking back at me but it was... a dog.
At first I thought it was my mind playing tricks on me but then I took a step forward, with my forelegs. I was a red fox.
The nameplate on the bottom right corner of the machine was within my line of sight: