As the door of the office burst open and his breathless apprentice Olivia stood panting in the doorway, Tarquinn De Knotface-Stringfellow looked up from the blueprints he had spread out on his desk.
A small pile of calculation-covered sheets of paper fluttered to the ground as the door twanged loudly against the newly fitted spring, designed to stop the deepening of the door-handle shaped depression in the wall. The door headed back towards the doorway. Olivia’s right elbow, stuck out in defence of her face, took the hit.
Tarquinn thought that it had already been amusing to fit this new mechanism. The increase in speed of the door returning from where it came was worth an extra chuckle or two, as well as the wall not needing re-plastering. He imagined that there might be a broken nose or two before the knocking-and-waiting-patiently-before-being-invited-to enter behaviour finally got through to his colleagues.
“What is it that’s causing so much excitement in you then Olivia?” he asked as the young woman gathered herself.
Olivia strode over to the desk and presented the piece of paper she was holding, once she finished rubbing pain out of her elbow.
“The client wants to add something new again Sir,” she said, “He wants a Dusk.”
“A Tusk? What’s that?”
“No Sir, a Dusk. The client apparently wants something put in between twilight and night. He’s put the specifications down there.”
Tarquinn sighed. Clients were, he was sure, getting more bloody difficult the closer they were getting to setting time going. In his experience as Director of Construction (Solar Systems and Related Largish Bodies (Not Stars)) he had worked for a good few clients and accommodated all their ideas. Some wanted just a few rocky planets all the same size, some wanted fifty planets made out of pure methane gas with twenty moons and those close to retirement just wanted one single planet to live peacefully on with no close neighbours and a pleasant atmosphere.
There was generally an agreed constant though. And, as he read these specifications, he became more certain that this client was now one of the most inconstant ones he had ever worked for.
“Modification: Dusk,” he read out loud in a trying-to-get-to-grips-with-the-concept kind of way “A time between twilight and night… What the hell?”
“I know Sir.”
“Do you know Olivia, I think this one is the most awkward out of the lot. I mean, he’s got some sort of thing for this particular planet hasn’t he? I already bent over backwards for his ‘how about a moon which is the perfect distance away from the planet to occasionally block out the sun?‘ request already, haven’t I? And the ‘how about a magnetic field around it that deflects all the nasty radiation emissions that Star department chucks out but also gives a great light show at the planet’s poles?‘ didn’t I?”
“You did Sir. Very clever too, I learned a lot from that.”
“But there’s rules though Olivia, rules. You’re an apprentice, you’re meant to learn the rules from me and here I am dealing with some bloody maniac wanting to mess with them all the time. I mean, it’s all very well pontificating about letting there be light and all that… but you’re meant to follow the bloody rules of light!”
“I’m learning a lot though Mr De Knotface-Stringfellow, Sir.”
Tarquinn screwed his face up at the sound of his full name. It was always touch and go whether anyone using it would manage to pick all the right threads enough to get it properly untangled.
“May I say Sir, the addition of a few seconds a day and slipping an extra day in every few years to make the maths fit was genius.”
Tarquinn felt himself warm up with a little flush at Olivia’s compliment but it was true, it was one of his proudest achievements. Only the one where he managed to convince the client that all the rubble left over from construction could be consigned to an outer region of the system – somewhere largely out of the way in to an orbit as ‘a rock feature I call the Kuiper Belt‘ – thus saving him the cost of shipping it out and dumping it properly was better, he thought.
“But it’s light you see Olivia, light. It’s agreed, not all the planets get exactly the same but there’s daylight and night, and in between twilight… It’s ‘ight‘ you see? ‘ight‘… all the lights get an ‘ight‘. How am I going to get an ‘usk’ in there somewhere? I’ll be honest, I think this client is a pain in the-“
Tarquinn and Olivia were interrupted by the sound of another thwack as the office door burst open, hit the spring and bounced back, followed by a muffled “Ow! Bastard *##* thake!”
It was the foreman, Bert. He was wearing the the regulation yellow hard hat – beloved of construction workers for protection purposes but, Tarquinn never had the heart to tell them, wouldn’t do much good against falling asteroids – and it hadn’t prevented his nose being the first thing in the way of the returning door.
Bert was standing and holding a piece of paper with one hand and holding his bloody nose with the other.
Tarquinn sighed. To be honest, he was expecting Bert to be the first one to break his nose. Also, one day he was going to ask Bert how you pronounced *##*.
“Yes Bert… Problem? Workforce? Accident?”
“Nah thir,” said Bert, holding his hand over his blood-stained face, “ith all fide… chus we got given thith to give to you.”
Tarquinn took the paper and read quietly to himself.
He put it down on the desk, silently walked over to the office door, took hold of the handle and bowed his head. He then proceeded to bang the door against his head.
“*##*! *##*! *##*!”
Olivia shouted “Stop it Sir, you haven’t got a hat!”
Tarquinn slumped to the floor and blubbed to himself quietly.
Olivia picked up the paper to read it.
“Modification: Between night and daylight, Dawn.’
This story is my March contribution to #BlogBattle on the word prompt of Dusk.
If you pop along via this link here you can read many other takes on the prompt and be further entertained. Or just entertained even.
Come back again soon, when I might write something good. Trying again and again even though you expect nothing new or different in the end is very popular these days.