• Jeff South

Cincinnati Chili: Injured

Reg Marsh strutted into the room and surveyed the situation. She bent over and picked up one of the pieces from the Sorry! game and regarded it like Yorick’s skull. She looked at Grover and then to Gwen, Legend, and the gang.

“Any of you hurt or injured?” she asked them. They all relaxed and shook their heads.

“Can I grab a smoke?” Legend gestured toward the back door. “I assume there’s a debrief coming.”

Marsh nodded and Legend ducked down the hallway and out the back. The Herpezoids dropped into various poses. Some leaned against the wall. A couple of others sat on the floor. One walked over to the Sorry! area and announced he would clean up the mess he made.

“Gwen?” Marsh asked. “Assessment?”

Gwen walked over to a bewildered Grover, stared at him for a few seconds, and shook her head.

“He’s not ready.” She walked away from him and headed toward the back door. “I’m gonna grab a smoke with Legend and then head out. See ya tomorrow. We can talk then.”

Marsh nodded again and faced Grover, who finally found his voice.

“What the hell just happened?”

“Training simulation.” Marsh stepped to him. “I told you it wasn’t accident that you received that email. Cincinnati Chili is program designed to test Corporate employees who demonstrate high potential and are thus deemed worthy of top secret assignments.”

“I’ve never been high potential.” Grover gripped the blaster, his anger seething. “So, why pick me?”

“Experimentation with mediocre talent. Can someone with no discernable skill elevate their performance under the right circumstances? Turns out, no.”

Grover gritted his teeth, released a primordial scream, and opened fire.

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