Brian had been on ‘shredding’ duties for over a week. It had just been him, the machine in a tiny room on the seventh floor, away from the comforts of his desk, the camaraderie of his colleagues and, more pertinently, a long way from the coffee machine.

Geoff had promised him it was only a temporary assignment – there was a backlog of ‘sensitive’ data and apparently ‘extra hands were needed at the pump’.

This was all well and good, but why was it only Brian that had been seconded. Why not Trisha, or Dean? Why was it always Brian that got the rubbish jobs?

And why was he not with the other ‘shredders’ on the fifth floor? Why this isolation? Ok it meant he could skive a bit more freely with no-one watching him, indeed he’d spent a good two hours yesterday watching a film on Netflix, via the magic of his smart phone and the company WiFi, and no-one had checked in on him once.

But he did feel a bit like he was being punished for something.

Geoff couldn’t still be angry about that email he’d sent to the team.

Ok it wasn’t the most flattering of memes, but surely Geoff could take a joke.

Then again, perhaps not. The bags of ‘confidential waste’ did not seem to be diminishing in number and it seemed as if Brian could be up here for a while yet.

Aside from the numerous ‘shirking’ opportunities there were limited perks to this assignment. He did have access to customer’s credit card details and admittedly some fairly sensitive medical information, but Brian didn’t find any of it particularly useful.

Not that he hadn’t been a little tempted to commit identity fraud – he could certainly do with the money. But in the end he wasn’t convinced he possessed the requisite skill-set and the risks just seemed too great.

On balance he felt that prison sounded marginally worse than continuing in his current line of work.

Wearily Brian picked up the next pile of papers. The stupid machine could only take ten sheets at a time. Indeed, it professed to only be able to manage eight, but Brian had tested this claim early on and discovered that ten was feasible. Eleven was pushing it too far though and Brian had discovered on day one what happened when the machine was unable to cope. De-clogging it had taken most of the rest of that day.

He sifted through the next ten sheets, as was his habit, looking for anything interesting. Getting no joy, he fed them into the machine and picked up the next ten.

More customer forms. Nothing of note. In they went.

He held out little hope for the next ten, but sifted anyway. A print-out of an email exchange was in this bundle.

Worth a read, someone was disposing of it for a reason, but mostly he’d found that these documents were no more interesting than the application forms.

He read it anyway.

Then he read it again in amazement.

He read it for a third time, with a grin.


Blackmail was an ugly word, but Brian suddenly felt optimistic that his shredding days were about to end.

9 thoughts on “A Shred Of Hope

      1. Unfortunately I can’t answer that. Most of my short stories are just ideas for longer stories I might write one day but knowing me, I probably won’t. So it’s up to you what happens next…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. But you have hooked the reader to read the next chapter. And then perhaps the next, the next. You have opening page of a novel here. That will be quite a challenge. This company is up to something like in the book/movie THE FIRM.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hopefully I will turn this into something, but real life keeps getting the way of me developing my ideas into more than a few hundred words. But comments like your make me think I should try and take it to the next level. Thanks


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