Author Topic: Black Rice  (Read 1522 times)

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on: 12:20 AM, 02/13/17
What follows is a series of internal memos I kept over the course of about a week at my day job.  Technically, it’s a violation of my contract to store these anywhere other than on the office computers, so I’m changing the names and other small details to protect my co-workers.  Otherwise, the facts of the matter remain intact.  I don't think anyone from HR will come looking for this, and I need to get it off my chest sooner than later.

1/9/17 1:17 PM

I was heading to my car for lunch to watch Youtube and eat in peace.  I don’t know if the rest of the office has caught on to this ritual of mine as they typically don't disturb me, but this time I was stopped at the back door.  My manager and a fellow co-worker had a worried but slightly bemused look on their face and yelled for me to not come any closer.  A little woozy from hunger, I complied and asked “Why?”.  My manager told me to walk around the perimeter of the parking lot to get to my car instead of simply heading in a straight line.  The distance wasn’t too much, so I did just that.

   Curious, I walked up to her after circumnavigating the blacktop.  I inquired about the strange request she made of me, forgetting entirely about my hunger pangs.  My co-worker, Dana, pointed to a black sedan with a busted front bumper about 30 feet away.  At the edge of the parking spot it occupied, just within the lines, was about a bag’s worth of black rice dumped on the ground.  I hadn’t noticed it before as it camouflaged so well with the asphalt, but could clearly see it once pointed out.

   I looked at my manager, Brenda, with an eyebrow raised, saying nothing.  Brenda then regaled me with a story of how the contractors we had in this morning saw some guy dump the rice behind the black sedan.  Brenda had asked if it was to kill the veritable colony of crows residing outside our little office.  The contractor had denied this, stating that it was part of some voodoo ritual to curse the owner of the car.

   I stifled a laugh, and thankfully so, as Brenda and Dana looked serious about the contractor’s words.  I asked if we knew who owned the car and why I had to walk around the long way.  Dana spoke up and said we didn’t know who owned the car, but that walking over the rice on accident might trigger the curse.  I smiled and agreed halfheartedly, taking my lunch back inside to the break room instead of to my car.  I figured I’d just take a short lunch and skip out of work early.  Hearing superstitious chatter over Youtube was not my idea of relaxation.

1/10/17 12:33 PM

This morning, half the office was abuzz with talk about the black rice curse.  Saanvi brought up a seemingly related anecdote concerning a picture frame that fell and shattered in her office.  She had arrived to work early before everyone else, when suddenly the frame fell from its perch with no discernible force behind it.  It mildly raised the suspicion of the others, but I turned back to my work and kept one ear on the chatter.  We were situated near a fault line, she probably just didn't notice the subtle quakes that tipped the picture over.

   People were throwing out Cambodian, South American, Indian, even Navajo rituals they had looked up on their phones.  No one knew what they were really talking about, but it fed into a half-serious rumor panic.  Chen, the assistant manager, said she hadn’t heard of such a curse before, but would look into it during her free time after work.  Everyone seemed satisfied with that and left the topic alone for the day.  Brenda took one last opportunity to remind everyone not to step over the rice outside.

   I’m not entirely sure how religious Saanvi, Chen, or anyone in the office for that matter, is.  I do know that I’m a skeptic and found the entire event had an interesting charm to it.  I used to study comparative religions and folklore, so I’ve decided to remain invested but distant should the situation develop more.

1/11/17 9:46 PM

   I’m supposed to be working, but no one else is at the moment, so I’ll break to jot this down quickly.

   Brenda and I found black rice at our respective work stations today.  On my desk in a small pile sat the onyx grains.  I scooped them up and put them in a cup to show to everyone.  After showing Chen and others, Brenda called all of us over to her office in an insistent tone bordering on harsh.  There in a larger pile than mine was black rice.  Square and center near the doorway, so that Brenda, or anyone else, would have to step over it.

   I had a smile on my face.  To me, this was a funny prank someone was playing around the office, independent of the discarded rice outside in the parking lot.  Brenda, however, was not laughing.  She asked everyone if they knew who had put the rice outside her door, starting with me.  I explained that it wasn’t me as I was targeted as well.  I told her I didn’t believe in any of this, but from my extensive knowledge of The X-Files I discerned that this random ricing was a harmless joke.

   Whoever placed the rice at our workstations didn’t come forward, furthering the fear in several of my co-workers.  Examples of bad luck and misfortune were spouted out, heads nodding in affirmation as the rumor mill all but caught fire.  I shrugged and went back to my seat to write this, the cup of black rice sitting behind my keyboard.  I’m personally done with whatever silly hysteria is going around right now and have a lot of work to finish.  I’m pretty sure Celeste is the prankster and I love her for it, but I’m signing off on this whole affair.

1/12/17 3:50 PM

   There was an altercation outside just around lunch.  A man and a woman were arguing near the black rice.  Animals refused to pick at the pile and the black sedan had not moved since the rice was placed down, leaving the pile mostly intact, and staining the ground beneath.

   They were yelling back and forth in what I assumed to be Mandarin, so I asked Chen if she could translate for us.  As half a dozen of us stood near a back office window, we silently listened as Chen slowly deciphered the vulgarities being spewed outside.  She could only catch small portions of the sentences as the man and woman were yelling over each other.  Before long we learned that there had been some car accident and someone’s child had been killed.  Blame and curse words were being screamed at a rapid pace.  When the words turned into fists, I turned around to fetch my phone at my desk and call the police.

   The gunshot rang out before I could finish dialing 911.  Sharp gasps and muffled sobs were all that I heard.  The woman had shot the man in the stomach, leaving him to slowly die.  I’ve told the police what happened and am trying to compose myself as I finish this.  I’ve already answered the officer’s questions and most everyone else is gone.

1/16/17 10:01 AM

   The office was closed last Friday.  I think management figured enough people were just going to call out because of the previous day’s events.  Not much is getting done around here right now and no one is speaking to one another.  I’m not sure why I’m still typing this here instead of my personal computer at home.

   I guess I want this all to stay here, so the images don’t invade my home life any more than they already have.  I’m haunted by what happened, constantly thinking of how someone could have stopped it all.

   What sticks with me is the image of the the woman, kneeling and clutching her gun, sobbing deeply at what she had done.  I don’t think she meant to kill him or give him a slow death, she was just enraged and heartbroken over her loss, looking for a justification or closure.  The police took her away without any resistance, pity painted across their faces.  The paramedics were too late on the scene, resulting in the man bleeding out, his head resting in the black rice.

   I still have that cup of black rice on my desk.  I don’t know why I keep it there.

Copyright Abysmii 2017
« Last Edit: 12:23 AM, 08/15/18 by Abysmii »