1. For prospective new members, a word of warning: don't use common names like Dennis, Simon, or Kenny if you decide to create an account. Spammers have used them all before you and gotten those names flagged in the anti-spam databases. Your account registration will be rejected because of it.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Since it has happened MULTIPLE times now, I want to be very clear about this. You do not get to abandon an account and create a new one. You do not get to pass an account to someone else and create a new one. If you do so anyway, you will be banned for creating sockpuppets.
    Dismiss Notice
  3. If you wish to change your username, please ask via conversation to tehelgee instead of asking via my profile. I'd like to not clutter it up with such requests.
    Dismiss Notice
  4. Due to the actions of particularly persistent spammers and trolls, we will be banning disposable email addresses from today onward.
    Dismiss Notice

Taylor Hebert, Medhall Intern [Worm Fanfic]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Ack, Feb 26, 2019.

Loading...
  1. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    8,698
    I, personally, feel like the bit where her shopping bags get stolen in public a bit much. Especially because they throw the clothing on the floor and all.

    They're being extremely aggressive in their entire approach, which is something that directly counteracts what they're saying. (Taylor is the thief. Taylor is the one with drugs problems. However, she looks completely normal, not drunk or high, and 3 girls walk up to her and start verbally abusing her and taking her stuff.)

    It's SoD breaking, to be fair.

    I very much enjoyed the rest of the chapter, especially Greg taking his first steps to realising what Medhall actually is.
     
    Ibskib, Mecrazyfang, Cailin and 11 others like this.
  2. preier

    preier Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    944
    On the mall scene I was cringing too...
    But there are two separate payoff I theorize, one with the trio and that agression, the second with Greg and that 'random' encounter before leaving.
     
  3. Zackarix

    Zackarix ...

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    3,419
    Why can't Emma fall into a sewer and vanish? I know Being Taylor is Suffering, but still.
     
    Ack likes this.
  4. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    8,698
    If this is how the regularly act it's a legitimate miracle they haven't been Darwin'd yet. Taylor letting it happen also destroys the credibility she has been building with the reader over the last few chapters. That being intelligence and good at thinking on her feet.

    I have a lot of problems accepting that the trio acts like this, as it's just plain dumb. I have more problems with nobody doing anything. Hell, it gets explicitly said that people are watching and interested.

    I have far more issues than those combined with trying to reconsile this Taylor shown there with the one that nailed her fire drill.
     
  5. ShellOG

    ShellOG Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Messages:
    412
    Likes Received:
    2,448
    This made my blood boil. Why the fuck are the people around Taylor just watching, and acting as if she's the villain. For my own sake and sanity, I'm writing this:



    “Stolen property?” I wheezed. “You’re the ones who’re stealing my property.” I turned to the people around us, trying to appeal to them. “Can’t you see it? They’ve been doing this stuff to me for months.”

    “I’m sorry, folks,” Emma said sweetly, once again stealing the initiative from me. “We try so hard, as her friends. It’s so easy to believe her, unless you know what she’s really like.”

    “If she’s been shoplifting, as you say, maybe we should hold her for the the police,” said one man uncertainly, taking his phone out.

    Madison tried again for my bags. I pushed her away, but Sophia tripped me. As I put my hand down to catch myself, she grabbed the second one from the shop and yanked it out of my grasp. I clung to my shoulderbag and managed to hang on to that, at least.

    "What the fuck?" a police officer shouted, before shouting "Don't FUCKING MOVE BITCH," as Sophia turned aggressively towards the cop.

    Emma tried to say something but was cut off by another person, the man from before. "I have it all on my phone, those three girls attacked that girl, and took her stuff."

    "Dispatch, Officer Daniels at Weymouth mall requesting backup, C-293."

    "Roger," the radio responded soon after.

    Emma and Madison looked nervous, seeing as they had a gun faced towards them. Sophia looked pissed.

    I held my smile, delight and joy.

    Today was truly a good day.


    --

    Not the best, and I don't even consider this as an omake. This is just something for my own sake.

    Also, Ack, I love your writing and am pleasantly enjoying the story. I don't consider this SoD breaking.

    To be clear, in case you misinterpret my words (for whatever reason), I like this.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2019
  6. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    665

    Something like that has happened to me. Not the theft, but being attacked in public, with people just ignoring it.

    You have SOD issues? I don't. This shit happens. Most people just walking by don't want trouble, and don't know how to deal with it if it is trouble.



    If it's a real problem, they have to act, so they refuse to see it as a problem.
     
    SilverBadger, Death by Chains and Ack like this.
  7. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    Okay, first? They don't throw the clothing on the floor.

    Second: They aren't verbally abusing her. They are accusing her of shoplifting, but Emma and Madison are phrasing it in a 'more in sorrow than anger' way (because they've had practice at this shit) and they're justifying what they're doing as they do it.

    It'll happen.
    Exactly and precisely.

    Crossposted from SB:

     
    preier, Simonbob and Death by Chains like this.
  8. Rentoba

    Rentoba Shocked Panda

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    976
    I suppose you might be able to claim they weren't being verbally abusive, but Sophia was being physically abusive. She assaulted Taylor, she ripped her property from her hands, punched her in the gut. Shit like that should have gotten a response, surely.
     
    Cailin, Prince Charon and Ack like this.
  9. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    She's good at the sneaky gut-punch.

    And people don't want to get involved.

    So when someone makes a loud case for why they're justified, people tend to go along with it.
     
  10. Rentoba

    Rentoba Shocked Panda

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    976
    Taylor doubled up gagging from the punch. That is not even remotely subtle! These people would need to be blinder then a bat to not have noticed.
     
    Ibskib, Cailin and Prince Charon like this.
  11. Simonbob

    Simonbob Really? You don't say.

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2014
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    665
    Nose broken in public.(Damm bullies)

    It happens.


    There are sometimes people who see, and act. But, that's not that often.


    My little sister was robbed once, was struggling with the 3 girls who were attacking her. The only people who came to help, were a couple who ran from over half a block away. This was in the center of Sydney, there must have been 50+ people closer.
     
    SilverBadger, Death by Chains and Ack like this.
  12. Rentoba

    Rentoba Shocked Panda

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2014
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    976
    ...Fine. I give. If this sort of bullshit actually happens in real life then I'll accept it happening in story. But I expect a thorough comeuppance for the trio Ack! There had better be a heck of a payoff here for all this suffering. That's your thing after all. Shit shows getting better and all that rot.
     
  13. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    Comeuppance is coming.

    Bystander effect:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSsPfbup0ac

    However, Taylor screwed up because she's unaware of the helper effect.



    If she'd pointed at one specific person and asked them for help, she would've been much more likely to get assistance.
     
  14. Threadmarks: Part Three: One of Us
    Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    Taylor Hebert, Medhall Intern
    Part Three: One of Us

    [A/N: This chapter beta-read by Lady Columbine of Mystal.]
    [A/N 2: Due to the large number of people left less than happy about the ending of the last chapter, here’s the next one. Cheers.]



    As I crossed the parking lot, I saw Sophia run around the corner of the building. She spotted me a moment later, and headed straight for me. I increased my pace; fortunately, I had a significant head start, and the bus was just pulling into the stop. Still, it was close. I climbed up the steps just before she arrived at the bus.

    “Come on, Hebert,” she said, following me in. “Get off the bus. Blackwell wants to see you.”

    I looked at her, and I looked at the bus driver. He gave me the same look the people outside the mall had given me on Friday evening; I don’t want to get involved. It hadn’t mattered that I’d been in the right, or that Emma and her friends were blatantly stealing my property. They’d loudly proclaimed that they had good reason to do it, and the people had accepted it, and so they got away with it. As they always did.

    Sophia took hold of my arm. “Come on, I said.”

    The driver nodded toward the school. “Maybe you should go, kid. Whatever you’re in trouble for, running away’s not gonna help any.”

    I looked at him, then I looked at Sophia, and I decided, fuck it. If ever I was going to draw a line in the sand and say this far and no farther, now was the time. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the small canister of pepper spray Dad had given me a while back, just so I’d be safe while I was out and about. I hadn’t had it on Friday because my denim skirt didn’t have pockets.

    When Sophia saw it, her eyes widened, which was the exact wrong thing to do. Maybe she expected me to flinch, or choke, or just fold and go meekly. Nine times out of ten, I would have. Scratch that; ninety-nine times out of a hundred. But this was that one percent of situations where I was not prepared to cut my losses and walk away. I had tasted something new with my internship; the chance to be in a situation where things could be better. Even as she was reaching for it, I gave her a half-second spray, full in the face.

    Coughing and choking, she fell backward out of the bus and rolled on the ground, scrubbing at her eyes and mouth with the sleeve of her track suit. Inwardly, I winced; my reading on the subject had indicated that rubbing the afflicted area only made it worse. Well, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. I turned to look at the driver as I put the spray back into my pocket. “Can we go, now?”

    “Listen,” he said. “Like I said, I don’t know what sorta trouble you’re in, but that ain’t gonna help at all.”

    “And when I want your attention, I’ll ask for it,” I muttered, and dug in my backpack, reaching into my shoulderbag. My questing fingers found the Medhall pass-tag they’d issued me on Friday, and I pulled it out.

    The driver looked at it, and his eyebrows rose. “Aren’t you a bit young to be working there?” he asked.

    “Who are you, the age police? I’ve got an internship,” I explained. “I don’t want to be late. Any other dumb questions?”

    “Right, right.” He pulled the lever to close the doors and hooked his head back to the seats behind him. “Siddown. You always pepper-spray your friends?”

    “She’s no friend,” I explained tersely. “Anyway, who are you to care? Just shut up and drive the bus already, will you?”

    “Right, right, fine.” The driver shook his head and muttered something along the lines of ‘fucking Winslow’. He’d just started the bus and put it into gear when I saw movement at the school doors. For a moment, I thought it was Emma or even Blackwell, looking to bodily drag me off the bus where Sophia had failed. Honestly, at this point I wouldn’t have ruled out them calling the cops on me. Well, the pepper spray canister still had some of its contents. I wouldn’t go down without a fight.

    But then I recognised Greg. “Wait,” I told the driver. “Can you hold up a moment?”

    He looked dubiously back at me. “Is that another one of your not-friends? Because I don’t want any more pepper spray in my damn bus, thanks.”

    “No, no, this one’s an actual friend. He’s doing an internship, too.”

    For the longest moment, I thought he was going to drive off anyway. But he pulled the lever to open the doors again, and waited. Sophia, writhing on the pavement outside, choked out dire threats in between fits of coughing. She was unable to stand, much less come into the bus and attack me again, but I was still relieved when Greg came puffing up.

    “Th-thanks,” he managed, clambering up the steps into the bus. “Thought you were gonna leave me behind.”

    “I was,” said the driver laconically. “Thank your friend there that I didn’t.” He closed the doors and started the bus moving as Greg was just sitting down.

    “Whoof!” grunted Greg, flopping into the seat. “Wow, that was close.” He paused. “Wait, was that Sophia on the ground outside? She looked like she’d been maced.”

    “Sure was,” I confirmed, not sure if I wanted to know how he knew what the effects of pepper-spray looked like. “She didn’t want me to go to Medhall.”

    “But why not?” He looked confused. “She hates you. I mean, even I know that. I would’ve thought she’d be glad to see you out of Winslow, at least for a half-day.”

    I rolled my eyes. Greg was as oblivious as ever, it seemed. “Yeah, she hates me, just like Emma and Madison do. Me doing this internship is good for me. I might even get a great job out of it. They don’t want me having anything nice. So they’re going all-out to fuck it up for me.” I slumped back in my seat, arms crossed. “You wouldn’t believe how far they’ve gone already.”

    The metaphorical light-bulb that popped into existence above his head would’ve blinded me, if it were real. “Oh, so that’s why you got called to the office! That was them!”

    “That was them,” I agreed sourly. “So I’m in the shit tomorrow. Especially since Sophia’s gonna absolutely complain about me pepper-spraying her. But if I let them hold me back today, I wouldn’t get to go anyway.” It was beginning to dawn on me that as cathartic as pepper-spraying Sophia had been, I’d probably shot myself in the foot. Still, it was almost worth it.

    “Yeah, no.” He grimaced. “That’s really, really sucky. I wish they’d just leave you alone.”

    “Trust me,” I said, “I wish that every single damn day.” I also wished he’d offer more than ‘I wish this would happen’, such as any kind of actual assistance, but I couldn’t have everything. To take my mind off darker matters, I looked him over. His clothing looked more practical for janitorial work; less white collar and more blue collar. “Ready for a hard day fetching left-handed screwdrivers?”

    He blinked at me. “Is that a thing?”

    I snorted. “Not usually, no. If they send you down to get something and it sounds weird, look them in the eye and ask them if they want a DVD rewinder with that. If they’re just hazing you, it’ll clue them in that you’re awake to it. If not, they’ll say no, they actually want whatever it is. I’m not saying it’ll fix the situation, but you might actually get to do some work instead of running around in circles.”

    Of course, they might just ignore his attempt to straighten things out and keep hazing him, but there was a limit to what they’d be allowed to do. Or at least, I hoped there was. In any case, it was the best advice I could give him.

    Ironically, I’d actually seen a DVD rewinder once. Kurt had given one to Lacey as a gag gift, once upon a time, and I hadn’t stopped laughing for two hours. From the look on his face, Greg must have thought I was pulling his leg. “Really?”

    “Really.” I shrugged and turned away to look out the window.

    Though the sun was shining—it was actually a nice day outside—my thoughts insisted on going down a dark path. I had no idea what story Emma had spun to get Blackwell to call me to the office, but it must have sounded good on the surface. Momentarily, I wondered if she was pushing the ‘shoplifting’ scam all the way, attempting to get me in trouble with the police, but I discarded that notion due to the lack of cop cars outside Winslow when I left. Of course, there may have been plainclothes officers on site; I had no way of knowing.

    Either way, between ignoring the bogus summons and pepper-spraying Sophia, I had no doubt that Blackwell was going to be seriously pissed with me when I got to school on Tuesday, and that would be without Emma and the others gleefully stoking the fire. Thinking about the police made me briefly wonder if I should reconsider my instinctive decision on Friday not to bother going to them. On the one hand, what Emma and the others had done constituted flat-out theft. If I’d had any support from the crowd at all, I could maybe have had the chance to contact mall security and have them take the receipt into the store I’d bought the clothing from. From there, I could maybe call the cops and report the theft.

    But Emma was all too good at convincing people that her side of events was the only side that mattered. No matter what I said, she had plenty of practice at twisting my words, or making them seem inconsequential. Plus, her dad was a lawyer. If I called the cops on Emma, Mr Barnes would get involved and that meant Dad would find out. And while I knew he’d back me up, I honestly could not be certain if the cops would take my side over Emma and her father. It wasn’t like any other authority figure I’d turned to had ever helped me in any meaningful way. And if it went bad, Dad would probably lose his temper at some point and then he’d get in trouble, all because of me.

    At least Emma couldn’t get me ‘fired’ from Medhall. It wasn’t Winslow, so she couldn’t bat her eyelashes at the security guards and get them to throw me out. (And if she tried it on Bradley, he would probably loom at her until she slunk away with her metaphorical tail between her legs). I was pretty sure her father had no influence there either, so he couldn’t call Max Anders and have me dropped from the internship.

    My train of thought skidded to a halt.

    He wouldn’t call Medhall … but Emma might. She’d already shown how intent she was to cost me my position there. A simple phone call, purporting to be me … once upon a time, she’d actually been pretty good at imitating my voice ….

    “Shit!” I sat bolt upright, scanning the street ahead. Phone box, phone box, phone box … come on, where’s a phone box when I need one?

    “What’s the matter?” asked Greg, looking at me with concern. “Is there a cape fight or something?”

    “No, I just need to make a phone call, and if I stop the bus at a pay-phone, he’ll probably drive on, and I’ll be late to Medhall anyway.” I scrubbed my hands over my face, trying to prevent myself from crying. No matter how hard I fucking tried, Emma was going to win. Because being me was suffering.

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

    “Use mine.”

    “What?” I didn’t look around, too busy trying to scan both sides of the street at once.

    “Use my phone.” Something bumped my shoulder, and I looked around. Greg—beautiful, glorious, wonderful Greg—was holding out a cell-phone. It was already open to the main screen, the wallpaper portraying … well, okay, I hadn’t known people had done artwork of Alexandria in a bikini. A very skimpy bikini. But right then, I didn’t care.

    “Thank you,” I babbled. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I may have taken the top layer of skin from his fingertips with the speed that I snatched the phone from his grip. Pulling my purse from my pocket, I found the contact card for Medhall and dialled the number with shaking hands.

    “You have reached Medhall Corporation,” an impersonal female voice answered. “How may I direct your call?”

    “Uh, yes, my name is Taylor Hebert,” I said rapidly. “I’m supposed to be interning for Tracey Grimshaw this afternoon. Could you please put me through to her?”

    “Certainly. Ms … Herbert, was it?”

    “Uh, Hebert.” I spelled my name out as slowly as I dared. “She’s expecting me to come in soon.” I hope.

    “May I ask the reason that you are calling?”

    “I just need to talk to her. Please.” I tried not to let the desperation strangling my chest through into my voice. The very last thing I wanted was for her to think I was a crazy and hang up.

    “Contacting Ms Grimshaw now.”

    Then I heard the ring-tone of Tracey’s phone. It rang once, then twice. Pick up, I silently urged. Please pick up.

    On the third ring, it was picked up. I heard Tracey’s voice. “Hello?”

    “Tracey, it’s me!” I said urgently. “I need to talk to ….”

    My voice trailed off as I realised she couldn’t hear me. Instead, the anonymous lady on the switchboard was talking to her. “I have a Taylor Hebert on the line for you, Ms Grimshaw. She says that she is coming in for her internship, and insisted on being put through to you.”

    When Tracey answered, I heard honest puzzlement in her voice. “Taylor? She’s coming in?”

    My hand clenched on the phone until I could hear plastic creaking. Emma must’ve called and left a message. Fuck fuck fuckity fuck.

    The switchboard lady was as calm and professional as ever. “That is what she told me. Do you wish to speak with her?”

    To my profound relief, Tracey didn’t hesitate more than a second or so. “Sure, put her through.”

    “Hello?” My voice nearly failed me, but I managed to squeak out that one word.

    “Hello, Taylor.” If I wasn’t much mistaken, Tracey’s tone was somewhat on the cool side. “I’m a little surprised to hear your voice, after the message you left earlier.”

    Oh, God. “What did the message say—no, don’t worry about that,” I hastily amended. “That wasn’t me. I’m coming in. I should be on time, but I’ll just need to change and ….” I grimaced, wondering exactly how well my blouse had survived (however carefully folded) in my backpack with my books and shoulder-bag. “Uh, do you have a place I could maybe iron my top?”

    After a brief pause, during which time my heart began to plummet in the direction of the Earth’s core (do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars) she chuckled. “Well, that’s definitely the Taylor I recall from Friday. Sure, we’ve got an iron in the break room. I’ll get the board set up and the iron hot for when you get here.” Her voice became serious. “But I’m going to need you to tell me what’s going on here. If that message wasn’t from you, who left it and why?”

    The massive knot of tension that had somehow replaced most of my internal organs was slowly dissipating. I felt tears of sheer relief standing in my eyes. “Trust me, I will fill you in on everything when I get there. I’m on a borrowed phone right now, you see. But we’ll be there soon. Me and Greg.”

    She sounded bemused when she answered. “I’m definitely looking forward to it. See you then.”

    “See you soon,” I said, and hung up. With a shaking hand—the amount of adrenaline that had been coursing through my bloodstream could probably have lifted a rocket into orbit—I handed the phone back to Greg. “Thank you,” I said softly. “You have no idea how much that meant to me.”

    “Hey, we’re friends,” he said simply. “It’s what friends do.”

    I leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. “Yeah,” I said. “It is.” Greg, I decided, might come across like a barely housetrained puppy from time to time, but maybe that was because nobody had taken the time to housetrain him. He’d saved my bacon in no uncertain terms; being his friend in return was the least I could do.

    <><>​

    “Wow,” Tracey said when I showed up at her office. “You look terrible, Taylor. What happened?”

    I tried not to take offence. After all, I had been through a thoroughly crappy weekend and morning. “My life,” I said simply, putting down my backpack so I could pull out my shoulder-bag and under it, my skirt and blouse. True to my expectations, the blouse was somewhat creased. The skirt was less so; denim was good like that. Last, I pulled out my new shoes.

    “Ooh, those are nice. May I?” Tracey zoomed in on the footwear.

    “Sure.” I shook out the blouse and took it over to the ironing board that had been set up in the little break room. “Thank you so much for being so understanding. And for taking that call.” Spreading the blouse over the board, I checked the settings on the iron then started to work it over the yoke. The act of ironing was calming, requiring care and attention, and deliberate movements. It helped settle me down.

    “Well, to be honest, I nearly didn’t,” she confessed. “Your message—whoever left that message in your name—was mean and spiteful, and made it clear that you didn’t want to work here. Whoever it was even sounded like you. I just …” She shook her head. “Deep down, I couldn’t bring myself to believe that the smart, professional girl who was here on Friday could have such a drastic turnaround. So I held off on informing Ms Harcourt. And then you called, and I wasn’t sure if you were back for more abuse, or … what. So I took the call.” She put my shoes down on the bench and spread her hands with a smile. “And here we are.”

    I sighed. It had been a long time since Emma had pranked someone by impersonating me over the phone. The impression wasn’t perfect—it wouldn’t fool anyone who knew either of us at all well—but Tracey had only known me for one afternoon, two days previously. She could’ve been excused for accepting the act at face value, but she’d had her doubts. For which I was profoundly grateful. Also, she’d called me smart and professional, which put a tightness in my chest and my throat. To have such a compliment from someone who embodied those characteristics brought tears welling to my eyes.

    I started on the sleeves, concentrating on getting the creases just right. Tracey moved to stand opposite me, across the board. “Okay, so what’s going on?” she asked softly. “When you started here on Friday, you were so shy and withdrawn, it took me all my time to get you out of your shell. By the time you left, you were on top of the world. Today, you’re ten times as bad as you were Friday morning. What happened over the weekend, and why did someone leave a message, pretending to be you?”

    When I thought about burdening Tracey with my woes, I felt a sharp pang of disquiet. She was my friend now, but if she got any sort of hint of the absolute shit my life had become, there was a good chance she’d dump me like the hot mess I was. What if she decided Medhall didn’t need an intern with my problems? I shook my head. “Can we not talk about this? It’s just personal stuff.”

    “Nuh-uh.” She crossed her arms. “I’m your supervisor. Anything that impacts the quality of your work here is my job to know about, and this most definitely threatens the quality of your work. So I want to know who has it in for you, and I want to know why. And most of all, I want to know whose ass to kick for making you show up here today on the verge of tears.”

    I took a deep breath. If I could talk to anyone, I could talk to Tracey, right? “You might want to sit down. This is gonna take a while.”

    Now we’re getting somewhere.” She pulled out a chair and sat, then rested her elbows on the table and her chin on her interlinked fingers. “Spill all, and don’t miss a detail.”

    I ran the iron over creased cloth, transforming it to a smooth expanse. “I once had a best friend called Emma Barnes ….”

    <><>​

    By the time I was done talking, Tracey was leaning forward on her elbows, her eyes hot with indignation. I rounded it out by telling her how Greg had loaned me his phone, then I put my hands over my face—I’d long since finished ironing the blouse—and leaned back in the chair. “Now you know,” I told her. “I’m sorry to put all this crap on you.”

    “How in God’s name does this even happen?” she demanded. “If I didn’t know better, I’d assume someone set up your life to garner the maximum amount of pain for the least amount of effort. I mean, seriously, when they stole your clothing bags, you didn’t even try to get the cops?”

    “Why bother?” My voice was hopeless. “It never helps. Every time I’ve had stuff stolen, I’ve complained to the teachers and I’ve complained to the principal. Nothing ever happened. If I told a cop that some girls stole my brand-new office clothing, along with the receipts—that I’d paid for with cash, so there was no card number in the shop to go off—would he even bother checking? All they have to do is say they didn’t do it.” It was how things had always turned out before.

    “It really doesn’t work that way.” Her voice was firm. “Which shop did you go to in Weymouth, anyway?”

    “Beautiful Me,” I said. “They’re amazing.” I nodded toward the shoes, now on the floor. “That’s where I got those.”

    “I thought so.” Tracey smiled and brushed her hand across her own lapel. “That’s where I shop.”

    I blinked. “I thought the cut of the clothing looked familiar. Wow. They’re really, really nice.”

    “They are.” Tracey paused, looking thoughtful. “So you spent nearly all the payout in that one store, just so you’d look more professional here?”

    “Yeah.” I nodded heavily. “I wanted to fit in better. See how well that worked.”

    “No, no, it was a good idea.” She smiled brilliantly. “But we’ve spent enough time getting to the bottom of things. We might need to go and do some work before Ms Harcourt turns up and demands to know what she’s paying us for.” She rolled her eyes. “Well, me, anyway.”

    It was a fairly weak joke—I wasn’t being paid, of course—but I managed a watery smile anyway. Getting up, I went and got changed into my office clothing; such as it was.

    At least the shoes were as comfortable as I remembered them to be.

    <><>​

    It was almost a relief to get back into the routine of scanning documents and checking the OCR results. I was a little rusty with the first few, but I quickly got into my stride once more. Tracey had her own work to deal with, then she made a series of phone calls. At one point, she gave me a smile and a thumb’s-up, which I took to mean that she was pleased she wasn’t dealing with the scanning of dusty documents. Especially when silverfish and daddy-long-legs ran out from between the pages and across my hand. Eugh.

    But random arthropods aside, I actually managed to lose myself in the work. Scan; check; fix. Scan; check; fix. It was amazing how a flyspeck in the wrong spot could change one letter to another. I actually found myself smirking once, as the OCR managed to translate a perfectly harmless word into quite a rude one. “Away with you,” I muttered, changing it back.

    “Taylor.” A pause. “Earth Bet to Taylor. Come in, Taylor.”

    At last, I registered that Tracey was calling my name, and I looked up somewhat guiltily from my screen. “Sorry,” I said. “I was in the zone.”

    “You certainly were.” The speaker was a tall blond well-built man in his late twenties or early thirties. His very posture shouted out that he was someone of note. He smiled warmly at me and extended his hand. “Alexander Grayson. I’m from Legal.”

    “I, uh, I’m pleased to meet you,” I said, as my hand was engulfed by his. The cut of his business suit could not disguise the fact that he was fit as hell, and I wondered what sports he played. Then I wondered if there were any he didn’t. And if he’d teach me some. Bad Taylor! Down, girl! No ogling the hot guy from Legal! “Uh, is there a problem?”

    “None for you,” he assured me, his smile making the corners of his eyes crinkle. “I understand you’ve been having troubles of a criminal nature with other girls at your school. Winslow, wasn’t it?”

    I was beginning to feel a certain amount of envy toward Tracey, for being allowed to work at a firm with all these hot guys just dropping into her office whenever she needed a chat. I dismissed it as being unworthy; we needed to deal with the problem at hand. “Winslow, yeah. There’s three ringleaders, and maybe a dozen hangers-on. And about three dozen who help out if they’re asked.” It put a certain thrill down my back to hear what they’d been doing to me described as ‘criminal’, but I figured he knew what he was talking about.

    “Hmm.” Slowly, he rubbed his chin with thumb and forefinger. It was probably a calculated move to make him look thoughtful, but god damn, it worked. I wondered if he did any work in the city as a lawyer, because if he did, he’d blow Alan Barnes out of the water. I could see him captivating a jury within thirty seconds, and have them voting whichever way he wanted inside of five minutes. “In your personal opinion, if the initial three were removed from the equation, so to speak, would their confederates continue this campaign of targeted harassment?”

    Wow, he can get them expelled? I didn’t doubt it for a second. “Uh, maybe? They pretty well don’t do anything if Emma and her friends aren’t there to see it. Except for the emails, of course.”

    “Emails?” He raised his eyebrows.

    “Hate mail.” I grimaced. “It gets pretty nasty.”

    “Can you log in and show me?” he asked, gesturing to the laptop I was using.

    “Sorry.” I shook my head. “I don’t know how to get into the outside internet.”

    “That’s because it’s not set up for it,” Tracey said briskly. “Here, use mine.” She clicked her way through a few menus, then stood up from her chair to make way for me.

    “Uh, wow, thanks.” I stood up and made my way around to her desk. “Winslow’s got its own proprietary email servers. Each address can only handle about a thousand messages before it clogs up, and you have to open a new one.” As I spoke, I navigated my way to my email address. “I go through about one email address a month.”

    “What, because the school assigns you so much homework?” From the sound of her voice, Tracey didn’t believe that. But she wanted to.

    “Nope.” I opened the latest email folder and got up to make way for Mr Grayson. He sat down with murmured thanks, and began to click on emails. Tracey, reading over his shoulder, went pale after the second one, and turned her head away after the sixth. Machine-like, Mr Grayson read each email at a glance, even the ones that covered a page with vituperation. He clicked his way through them, the only change in expression showing as a certain tightening in his jaw.

    Finally, after he’d read over a hundred, he closed the folder down and swivelled Tracey’s chair to face me. “I am satisfied that you’re being unduly and unreasonably harassed for no fault of your own,” he pronounced. “To an extent that we could prefer criminal charges, if you so wished.”

    “What?” I blinked. “You mean … they could go to prison?” I definitely hadn’t thought that far ahead.

    “Juvenile detention, certainly.” He smiled broadly, showing an even expanse of gleaming teeth. “This sort of thing has been known to drive the victims to depression and even suicide. Coupled with the malicious and deliberate attempt to break you off from the internship, and the criminal assault which resulted in the theft of your clothing, just to name the most recent incidents, I could certainly make a case that would see all three of the ringleaders indicted and charged, and possibly tried as adults. If we can link them to any of the emails, that’ll be icing on the cake. Jurors love the written word. It’s so definite.

    Tracey grinned. “And if the trial was loud enough, their hangers-on would evaporate like fog on a summer morning. Nobody wants to be linked to something like that.”

    Mr Grayson gave her a measured nod. “That would also be a desirable outcome. So, Taylor. If you can give me the names of the ringleaders, I can set proceedings in motion.”

    “Um, sure.” I took a deep breath. “Emma Barnes. Her father’s Alan Barnes, a divorce lawyer.”

    There was the faintest hint of a derisive snort from Mr Grayson. “So noted. The second one?”

    “Sophia Hess. I think she gets away with stuff because she’s a track star.”

    Mr Grayson’s brows rose. “Interesting. Is there more than one Sophia Hess at Winslow? On or off the track?”

    I shook my head at once. “I’ve never heard of one. Why, do you know her?”

    “I personally do not.” Mr Grayson looked mildly interested. “A young lady of my acquaintance, around your age, has mentioned the name. An African-American girl, as I recall. She’s known among the high schools as quite the athlete. And the third one?”

    “Madison Clements,” I said. “Emma’s the one who pulls out details from my life to hurt me, Sophia’s the one who uses physical force, and Madison thinks up pranks.”

    “I believe I understand the dynamic. An unholy trinity, so to speak.” Mr Grayson stood up. “Thank you for reaching out to me, Ms Grimshaw. I will be in touch with any developments.” He favoured me with a brief nod. “Taylor.” Turning, he strode from the room like a conquering hero.

    “Wow,” I breathed, once I was sure the door was closed behind him. “Is he married?”

    Tracey snorted with laughter. “Unfortunately, yes. His wife’s a lovely lady who subs as a nurse in the sickbay when needed. Just a word to the wise, though. Don’t call him Alexander the Great.”

    “Why not?” The name had already popped up in my brain as a perfect nickname for him, especially given how he owned a room just by stepping into it. “Does it offend him?”

    “No.” She shook her head and chuckled. “He loves it, and he actually hams it up even more.”

    “Oh. I see.” It was an interesting glimpse into Mr Grayson’s personality. “Uh, should I have told him about how I left Winslow today? I don’t want you guys being blindsided by any blowback from that.”

    “Don’t sweat it,” she advised me. “I already told him and Ms Harcourt about that, and the circumstances behind it. If there have been any calls from Winslow, they haven’t trickled down this far yet. Which means that either your Principal Blackwell hasn’t tried doing anything about it yet, or she has and Ms Harcourt pinned her ears back for her.”

    I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall for that, but there were still problems I was worried about. “I pepper-sprayed Sophia, though. That’s criminal assault.”

    “You were assaulted and robbed by Sophia Hess, three days ago,” Tracey pointed out accurately. “You knew you hadn’t done anything to warrant being called to the principal’s office, and the timing there is extremely suspicious. In fact, as of the end of that lesson, you were no longer officially part of the student body. You were leaving. Sophia laid hands on you, which is assault in and of itself, especially given that she’s not an authorised truant officer, and tried to prevent you from attending a legitimate workplace experience. If anyone can spin all that into a case of ‘not guilty due to fear of further assault, your Honor’, it’ll be Alexander Grayson.”

    “Okay, this is what I can’t understand,” I said helplessly. “Why me? I’m just a temp. An intern. I’m nobody. I’m eminently replaceable. Why are you all going to this effort for me?”

    “For one thing, you’re not nobody.” Tracey put her hands on my shoulders. “You’re Taylor Hebert. I’ve seen your induction scores, including the security footage of you filling out the form. Remember the trash can o’ flames? We have a blooper reel of people reacting badly to it, and we have a training reel for how to do it right. You’re on the second one. You’ve got the third best time ever of getting the fire put out, and that includes trained firefighters. Then you wanted to know how we worded the form rather than how much money you could gouge out of us. And then you went and spent the money on clothes to make you fit in with the rest of us.”

    I blinked. All of this praise coming from left field was making me dizzy. “I … I don’t know what to say.”

    Tracey smiled and ruffled my hair, ignoring my half-hearted protest. “Say you’ll stay. All of that aside, you’re good company and you’ve definitely got an eye for detail.” She leaned in close and lowered her voice. “Now, I wasn’t going to spring this ’til later, but just between you and me and the inevitable listening bugs, at the end of the month, we’re going to offer you a part-time salary to keep doing what you’re doing. Now, at the time, you can act as surprised as you like, but what do you say?”

    I stared at her. “B … b … bwah?” Salary? My brain gibbered and ran in circles. I could do this as a job?

    Raising an eyebrow, she tilted her head as she looked at me. “Sorry, was that a good ‘bwah’ or a bad ‘bwah’? I can never tell the difference.”

    “Um … um … um … can I think about it for a second?” My head was spinning so fast I was surprised I wasn’t generating miniature tornadoes.

    “Sure, take your time.” She reclaimed her chair and spun idly in it, looking up at the ceiling. “You’ve got all month, after all.”

    There was a knock on the office door. Grateful for the opportunity to break my brain out of spin cycle, I headed over and opened it. A guy from a courier service, about eighteen years old or so, was standing there. “Taylor Herbert?” he asked in a nasal voice.

    “Um, Hebert, but yes,” I said. If I had a dollar for every time someone mispronounced my name … I’d have a few dollars. Just saying. “What’s this?”

    “This’z-f’you,” he said, shoving a paper-wrapped object into my hands. “Sign-’ere.” Off his belt, he pulled an electronic terminal.

    Wondering what the hell I was getting at my workplace, by courier even, I precariously balanced the parcel on one hand and signed with a scribble that was almost but not quite entirely unlike my regular signature. The delivery guy didn’t look, or even ask for ID to compare. He literally didn’t care. “’Ave-a-nize-day,” he said over his shoulder as he headed off down the corridor.

    “Uh, thanks,” I muttered. Stepping back inside with the parcel—about twice the size of a football, and even heavier—I bumped the door closed with my butt.

    “So what is it?” asked Tracey, standing up and coming over with curiosity in her eyes.

    “I have absolutely zero idea,” I said. “Who even knew I was here?” A quick flash ran through my head, of Emma and the others devising some sort of prank like a stink bomb, and sending it to me. “Oh, shit. What if it’s from Emma and her friends?” Because there was no way I could rule that out, and I didn’t want Tracey getting hurt because of me.

    “Nah.” She shook her head definitively. “We’ve got pretty good security here. Nothing dangerous gets through.” Producing a box-cutter, she handed it to me. “So open it. What’s in it?”

    My own curiosity was also nudging me, so I carefully slit the paper and pulled it back. Within was some very familiar-looking tissue paper, and within that ….

    “Oh, my God,” I gasped, putting the box cutter down on the desk, and taking the coat out of the scented tissue paper. On the inner wrapping was the logo of Beautiful Me, the store I’d originally bought my business wear from. A quick check ensured that yes, it was the same cut as before. Beneath it was the top I’d picked out for it. “How … I mean, how …?”

    Tracey rubbed her finger over her lips. “Well, it may just be that someone had a word with Ms Harcourt about your dedication to Medhall. And we may have disbursed funds from petty cash to replace your stolen goods. Most of us shop there, after all, and they were quite happy to check your original order and replicate it. So what—oof!”

    I had taken the time to lay the coat down carefully before I tackled her with a hug. “Thank you,” I said fervently. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

    She returned the hug. “That’s all right.” Gently, she touched her forehead to mine before we let each other go. “This is Medhall. We look after one another, here.”

    “Wow, yeah.” I held up the coat, then impulsively pulled it on. It draped neatly on my shoulders, feeling like a second skin. “How do I look?”

    A familiar smile spread across her face. “Professional. And smart.”

    I returned the smile. “Thanks.” My cheeks were starting to hurt from all the smiling I was doing. It was a burden I could definitely bear. “So … you weren’t joking about the part-time job?”

    “Not in the slightest,” she assured me. “Have you reached a decision yet?”

    I whirled in place, so that my suit coat spun out from me. “Well, duh,” I said, then paused.

    She raised an interrogatory eyebrow, but from the incipient grin, she knew what I was going to say.

    I spread my hands wide, to encompass the office. “I’ll take it.”


    End of Part Three
     
  15. HearthBorn

    HearthBorn Getting sticky.

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2014
    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    52
    Always great to see Taylor treated right in a story. Definitely worried about the size E88 shoe to fall, proving that no matter what, being Taylor is suffering.
     
  16. SamueLewis

    SamueLewis Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2016
    Messages:
    340
    Likes Received:
    779
    I'LL TAKE IT ALL. First this office, then Medhall, then entire city. By the end of the summer, I'll be the Queen of the Bay and all will prosper or perish under my rule.
     
  17. SailorOfMyVessel

    SailorOfMyVessel Writer of plot, with some Plot for pleasure.

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2016
    Messages:
    1,211
    Likes Received:
    8,698
    While I feel like my points regarding the characterisation of both the Trio and Taylor previous chapter stand, I would like to commend you for sticking to your guns.

    This chapter was written very quickly, is of good quality, and gives the reader exactly what they'd hope for.

    As a writer myself I know how hard negative feedback can be to deal with, and I realise that I was a large part of that. Compliments for being able to just keep going and not changing the story!
     
  18. Zackarix

    Zackarix ...

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2015
    Messages:
    740
    Likes Received:
    3,419
    I really like the way this story is handling Greg. He's socially awkward, but has his heart in the right place.

    I'm glad you updated so quickly because it provided a much needed catharsis after the end of last chapter. It showed that while the trio stealing from Taylor may have hurt to read it served a purpose to the story. It was great seeing Taylor get so much support. But for some reason I doubt they would have been so eager to drop everything and help her if she wasn't the right color.
     
  19. Starfox5

    Starfox5 Experienced.

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2015
    Messages:
    2,508
    Likes Received:
    16,054
    Kaiser: "A black track star bullying and stealing from a smart white girl? Christmas came early this year, and Santa is an E88 member!"
     
  20. ShellOG

    ShellOG Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Messages:
    412
    Likes Received:
    2,448
    My initial reaction to this was: "No fucking way...." my jaws practically dropped.

    Then as I read this chapter, I KNEW this was going to be epic.

    You definitely have a signature canon Taylor thought here.

    Now I know for a fact that your either meming people here posting this a chapter ago or just making fun of this joke.

     
  21. preier

    preier Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2015
    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    944
    Oh ack you magnificent bastard I've read, am reading and will read your stories.

    Many beautiful tidbits and the interactions with Greg remain a highpoint while he remains the oblivious teen that may be a bit too familiar for comfort ;)
     
  22. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    "Yes."

    Mwahahaha.

    I can't help but wonder if the positive response to this chapter would have been so overwhelming if I hadn't posted the previous one as a counterpoint. :p
     
  23. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    This is a very common error among both Worm fans and fanfic authors alike — pronouncing Taylor’s surname as heebert. But that’s wrong, her name is actually French according to Wildbow, and pronounced more like hey-bear. No one who has heard her say her name would ever mistake it as herbert, only someone who has only seen it written — the two names sound nothing alike.

    This is particularly relevant with Medhall, given who they’re a front for and the particular individuals Taylor has encountered during her internship, because heebert is a German name that means Jew. The hey-bear pronunciation is unrelated to heebert and has a completely different meaning.

    If she were named heebert it is highly unlikely she’d have received the internship in the first place. They don’t like Jews there, after all.
     
  24. ShellOG

    ShellOG Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2015
    Messages:
    412
    Likes Received:
    2,448
    Many people who are critical in writing, (authors for example), would agree to what you've said. Me personally, as a fanfic reader though, would be positive nonetheless. I don't personally need a counterpoint. I feel like writing like this, fits well in a book/novel/web-serial.
     
    bearblue, preier and Ack like this.
  25. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    1) Hebert and Herbert are both from the same root (French and British, respectively) descended from from Old French Herbert, from Frankish *Hari-berct, from a Germanic source heri "army" + berht "bright".
    2) Wildbow has specifically noted here that it's pronounced 'Hee-bert'.
     
  26. Blacsparrow

    Blacsparrow (Verified Shipper) (Lover of Rarepairs)

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2019
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    10
    I like how Tracy has known Taylor for all of two day's and already knows what the rest of us do. "Being Taylor Hebert is suffering". Well at least Taylor works at a completely legit and totally respectable company without any kind of shady back room dealings.

    ... Why do I hear laughing?
     
    Scopas, bearblue, 1oldman and 5 others like this.
  27. Gindjurra

    Gindjurra Not too sore, are you?

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Messages:
    312
    Likes Received:
    1,152
    Hmm, someone gave me a link a while back that said hey-bear, and was purportedly said by Wildbow, so I don’t know which link is right.

    But I do know that if you look up the meaning of the name Hebert, Jew is what comes up.
     
  28. CURRENT YEAR GUY

    CURRENT YEAR GUY Know what you're doing yet?

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2018
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    517
    How is is it possible there this much fluff in a worm fic?
    But seriously, I really liked the last chapter.
     
    Scopas, bearblue, preier and 2 others like this.
  29. Ack

    Ack (Verified Ratbag) (Unverified Great Old One)

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2014
    Messages:
    6,617
    Likes Received:
    46,979
    Citation, please.

    I looked up the meaning of Hebert and got 'bright army'. From the Germanic, even.

    And the link I posted goes to a Space battles post by Wildbow.
     
    Scopas, Zackarix and preier like this.
  30. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2013
    Messages:
    5,731
    Likes Received:
    10,779
    The dramatic tension here is almost painful. Taylor's got support. She has people who have her back. They're listening and not putting up with the shit she's been going through. And... they're secretly Nazis.
     
    Scopas, Zackarix, Ack and 5 others like this.
Loading...