Surprises Suck

The product manager’s office is a hodgepodge of papers, wires, and screens, a veritable labyrinth of modern industry.

Illuminated only by the blue light of a desk lamp, the lone figure of the manager hunched over his keyboard, his eyes reflecting the glow of countless lines of code. He’s a man more familiar with pixels than daylight, more at ease with keystrokes than human touch.

His suit is worn at the elbows, his tie loosened with an air of perpetual exhaustion. He’s a battle-hardened soldier in the world of tech, his fingertips worn from years of typing, his mind filled with deadlines and deliverables.

He has weathered his share of software storms and triumphed over impossible timelines. Yet tonight, he’s about to learn a hard lesson about the perils of surprising his clients.

Suddenly, the creak of the office door breaks the symphony of silent computation. A woman glides in like a ghost, her figure slender and commanding, wrapped in a dress the color of midnight.

Her ebony hair cascading down to her shoulders, a silver moon-shaped pendant dancing at her throat. Eyes, sharp and curious, framed by dark lashes, hint at a life spent weaving mysteries.

Her crimson lips are pursed in dissatisfaction. She’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma, wearing a designer perfume.

He looks up, his weary eyes betraying a spark of interest. She’s a vision out of place amidst the cables and screens, a splash of vibrant color in his grayscale world. He clears his throat, shuffling some papers aside to reveal a solid gold bar glinting under the stark light.

“Look here, doll,” he says, pushing the bar towards her, “A token of gratitude for your loyalty. All yours.”

Her eyes widened, shifting from the gold bar to his tired face, and then back again. “You gotta be kidding! This thing weighs more than my ex’s empty promises. What am I supposed to do with this?”

“Well, sweetheart, it ain’t exactly a feather. It’s pure gold. Just for you.”

Her eyes narrow, her hand reaching out to touch the bar, her red nails glinting against the metal. “And where do you expect me to keep this? What if someone thinks I’m a thief? What’s a gal like me to do with a gold bar?”

He shrugs, leaning back in his chair, the faintest hint of a grin playing on his lips. “Options abound, doll. Trade it, melt it, or, hey, wear it as a necklace.”

She stands up abruptly, her chair screeching against the cold office floor. “Oh, sure, and paint a target on my back? You’re trying to get me killed!”

He rises from his chair, extending his arm to quell her rising anger. “No, not at all! We’ll arrange for a discreet hand-off.”

She exhales a scoff, pacing the room, her heels clicking like a ticking clock. “And how about taxes? This damned thing will make my tax returns look like a maze!”

“Well, gold appreciates, you know,” he suggests, eyeing her warily. “A chat with your tax guy should sort things out.”

Her face twisted in annoyance, her hand rises to deliver a well-deserved slap. But he’s ready. He catches her wrist mid-air, the electricity of their touch sending a jolt through the room. “This is nothing but trouble! A golden albatross! You’re the pits!”

His grip loosens, his hand falling back to his side. He looks at her, then at the gold bar, his face etched with confusion.

“I didn’t expect this reaction to a gold bar, doll.”