“Internship,” by Mark Kaufman

Dec 20th, 2015 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Blurch the Earthworm spat out a mouthful of putrid soil. Although he badly wanted to scowl, he lacked the musculoskeletal qualities to do so.

Ostensibly, Blurch resided in an annelid utopia: Coastal Northern California, where the misty land was drenched in water and the verdant environment left an abundance of floral decay upon the forest floor, waiting to be churned inside an earthworm’s gizzard.

Unfortunately for Blurch, a portable toilet had been placed atop the soil that he had spent his life burrowing through—a place he called home. Confronted with a ceiling that now leeched a noxious blue acid, Blurch promptly sought alternative means of shelter.

He left the only home had ever known, inching with optimism towards a new life. Not ten yards to the north stood one of the tallest corporations on the planet, a redwood tree. Beneath its shady embrace life flourished; the soil was rich in rotting fungi and moss.

Upon arriving at the redwood, Blurch was directed to the Division of Decay Processing where he met its under-secretary of Employment Vacancies, Mr. Drinch. Like Blurch, Mr. Drinch did not have a face, but if he did, it would have held a stern, unemphatic stare. Mr. Drinch opened his mouth to speak, but coughed up a bit up spongy mold matter. Instinctively, Blurch sucked it up.

“Blurch,” Mr. Drinch began, “We appreciate your interest in an entry level position as a Rot Consumption Specialist. However, we are not accepting applications at this time.”

Blurch struggled to grimace.

“However,” Mr. Drinch continued, “We are accepting applications for some internship experiences.”

Blurch’s setae (bristles used for locomotion) straitened. “I’m interested.”

Mr. Drinch shifted positions to release pressure on his clitellum. “But before I delve into the expectations of the position, I need to ensure that you meet our minimum qualifications.”

Blurch nodded his faceless head.

“Have you any experience processing Polypodium scoulerii?”

Blurch was dumbfounded, but his lack of face saved him from detection. “Of course.”

Mr. Drinch leaned forward. “Oh really? Where?”

Blurch straightened his body and responded confidently. “Just ten yards south of here. Why, I have been consuming it my entire life.”

Mr. Drinch sagged his head, as if to sigh. “Blurch, there is no Polypodium scoulerii ten yards south of here. Based upon the fact that you are alive, I suspect that you’ve been processing an adequate amount of rotting flora. However, I regret to inform you that we’re looking for candidates that have had extensive experience processing this particular type of fern that grows exclusively in this corporations’ canopy—it rarely falls ten yards south of here.”

“But it’s an internship!” blurted Blurch “Isn’t that the point? To gain experience at a novel task in a professional environment!?”

Mr. Drinch was unmoved. “I really wish to avoid belaboring this. I do recommend that you watch for other potential internship opportunities with us, as they arise from time to time. Although you have an impressive skill-set, there are other candidates who have more competitive resumes.”

As Blurch turned to leave, Mr. Drinch observed the pleasant manner in which Blurch wiggled, and slithered quickly after him. He whispered through the thin membrane above Blurch’s cerebral ganglia. “There are, however, exceptions that can be made—qualification limitations that I can be persuaded to ignore.”

Blurch knew what this meant, but because offensive acids were leaching into his former home, he had little choice but to consent to sex with Mr. Drinch. Like all earthworms, both Blurch and Mr. Drinch were hermaphrodites, so mating was of little difficulty.

Blurch’s greatest grief, however, was not the outrageous harassment experience. Rather, Blurch wondered if he might outlive the mandatory one year internship commitment, which he did not.


Defenestration-Mark KaufmanMark Kaufman enjoys reading short story fiction as much as he enjoys writing it. He is poor at discriminating, and will delve into dirty realism, speculative fiction, and the absurd. He hails from the once quaint pueblo community of Los Angeles, but his work at national parks leads him most everywhere. His last stop was in Alaska’s Katmai, where bears outnumber people, but typically don’t eat them. Read more of Mark’s work at Peculiartales.us.

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