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A Business Carol

They Come Out at Night

By Gerard DiLeoPublished 4 months ago โ€ข Updated 4 months ago โ€ข 5 min read
The Lowly Trinity

๐…๐ž๐›๐ซ๐ฎ๐š๐ซ๐ฒ ๐–๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ž ๐‚๐ฅ๐ฎ๐› ๐๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฉ๐ญ (๐”๐ง๐จ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐ข๐š๐ฅ ๐‚๐ก๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ž๐ง๐ ๐ž): ๐Ÿ. ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐Œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐”๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐๐ž๐


I live a full life. I try to live fully every single day. I am a circadian sentience who rises daily and falls nightly. My biorhythms are diurnal and biphasic.

As such, I live two lives.

My day life is one of volition, prudence, bettering myself, and seeking and accomplishing my daily goals.

But my night life is beset with terror, for there is a triumvirate of monsters under my bed. Every night they arrive. Every night I am visited by three entities who seize me in self-appraisal. I am frightened every single night. If one of them doesn't "get" me, one of the other two will.

I cite, for example, just last night.

Monster the First: the Cooda

Coodas in their natural habitat.

I wax hypnogoguic in Sleep Stage 1/N1, in which my body has not yet fully relaxed. The first monster visits me.

It is the Cooda.

It wraps its tentacles around the synapses of my limbic system. Therein, my primieval actions of the day come into play. The Cooda looms large over me, drooling the things I could have done to promote myself, to ingratiate myself, to reward myself. From the Cooda drips saliva laced with dopamine.

Today, I could have taken credit for the windfall revealed at the business meeting. It would have felt great but, frankly, it wouldn't have happened without Carl. Yet, taking a victory lap, plumage aflame, is a one-man job. As it turns out, my job. All would have accepted my win for the team as fact, without reservation, except Carl.

Carl is a newer employee who has been working 12-hour days to pay some family medical bills. He needs to. And he will continue to work tirelessly like that, especially if I take the credit that will result in my bonus. I make a great salary, multiples of what Carl makes. But after all, I was down there once. I paid my dues. It's only fair! The Cooda shrieks in terrifying laughter. It is a cruel laughter. I start and my legs become restless.

Because my body isn't fully relaxed in this initial sleep stage, itโ€™s easy to wake up; but I don't.

Monster the Second: the Wooda

A family of Woodas.

I move on to Sleep Stage 2/N2, and I become more relaxed. My temperature drops and, with it, a chill wafts into my subconsciouness. My brain starts to slow down, which lowers my resistance to my second visitor, the Wooda.

The Wooder invokes short bursts of activity that coalsesce into sleep spindles; as such, memories begin to flood in. They are many and are unvetted as of yet. The spindles, however, directed by my hippocampus, parse the deluge, pruning away the inconsequential events of the day.

Carl is inconsequential. Carl's personal problems are inconsequetial to the Wooda and, thus, to me. From the Wooda drips saliva laced with serotonin.

I would have shared the credit with Carl had he ever approached me to offer his help. With my career, that is. Has he even taken the trouble to know me? What has Carl ever done for me? If he had, I would have. But he didn't, so I wouldn't.

Nevermind that he doesn't owe me anything. That's not how business works, Carl. You selfish little sycophant! Backs are made to be mutualy scratched. But there's this always doing and overdoing, working and overworking. Going over and beyond โ€” to make people like me look bad. Is that it? You can't make yourself look good except by making me look bad? Look, I know chemothrapy's expensive, especially when those insurance thieving bastards called it "experimental," but is that really my problem? Do I owe you my life? Live your own! No one lived mine for me. Grow a pair, Carl. The Wooda howls with evil, its eyes glowing hot-poker red.

I could awaken at this point, but I won't. I would if my visitations were finished, but they're not. I move on, into the deep repose of Sleep Stage 3/N3.

Monster the Third: the Shooda

Shooda in bilocation.

The Cooda and the Wooda take their leave. A calmer presence, the Cooda, takes me by my hand, in my dreams of business, meetings, employee rivalries, and the other quotidian events of my daily life.

But it's hand is a deceit, because it is cold, and its nails, sharp. It easily draws blood. I grind my teeth. I bite my tongue. It is why I have TMJ problems during my days at meetings and panels and crossing the Ts and dotting the Is at my deadlines.

The Shooda is a blend of Shooda and its evil twin, the Shoodna. It is a dichotomy of terror, weighing what should have been done vs what should not have been done. What was needed now vs what could have been put off. From the Shooda drips saliva laced with epinephrine; from the Shoodna drips saliva laced with prolactin. Action or refraction. It's going to be a vicious struggle.

I should have given Carl an accolade to set the record straight. Or, alternatively, should I have not done so? You don't know how they are at Corporate. One false move and they jack up the quarterly percentage expected out of you. And beancounters are executioners.

Sooner or later I'm not going to be able to make my numbers. It's easy for people like Carl, because he's new โ€” his numbers are much lower. He doesn't have to hit percentages as high as mine. For what? To buy one more round of chemo for his wife. I don't even know her! Maybe he needs another vocation. I mean, whether his wife lives or dies won't make any difference to me. I'm sorry to say that, Carl, but it's the truth. I mean, I care. But only up to a point. I'm a big shot. It takes a lot for me to maintain, if you understand what I'm saying.

Now the Shooda and the Shoodna begin to tug at me. I begin to feel the violence in the vivid dreaming that accompanies my entering Sleep Stage4/REM.

My eyes are going crazy; my mind's eye is even worse. I'm looking to my left. I'm looking to my right. Fast. I'm looking up and down, side to side, and from upright to upside down. Carl is there just watching me. Why does he not jump in to help me? Could he? Would he? Should he?

The fight is bloody and loud. Pain is loud.

That's when I realize that Carl is as helpless to aid me as he is to alter the course of his employment.

Could I? Would I? Should I? I could. I would. I should. But it's really up to me, not Carl. All Carl can do is watch how I fare with the three monsters that come out at night. This night it's Carl. Another night it'll be my estranged daugher. Yet another, my faith in Man and God.

My monsters are busy; there's a lot to do. But my REM sleep bridles my memory and my creativity. My saliva tastes of oxytocin.

Perhaps things will go differently for me tomorrow... and perhaps for Carl, my dauhter, and my morality. Oh, as a thought creeps in as a comforting aside, and Carl's wife.

Choices Make the Man! Sleep on it.

Short StoryPsychologicalHorror

About the Creator

Gerard DiLeo

Retired, not tired. In Life Phase II: Living and writing from a decommissioned church in Hull, MA. (Phase I was New Orleans and everything that entails. Hippocampus, behave!

[email protected]

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (2)

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  • Gerard DiLeo (Author)4 months ago

    Inspired by

  • That is freaking brilliant, Gerard! I love how the story develops around the Cooda, Wooda and Shooda. Beyond clever. I think we all grapple with these monsters throughout our lives. Poor Carl (and his wife)!

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